Briefs, October 16, 2012

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2012, 4:19am

Mexico files WTO complaint over China

GENEVA - Mexico has filed a complaint at the World Trade Organisation to challenge China's support for its clothing and textile industries. The complaint cites exemptions from income tax, value-added tax and municipal taxes; discounts on loans, land rights and electricity prices; support for the cotton sector; and cash payments from government agencies. China now has 60 days to give a satisfactory explanation or otherwise meet its concerns. After that, Mexico could ask the WTO to adjudicate on the case. Reuters


Minister denounced over cannabis call


PARIS - France's Socialist government was forced to reassert its opposition to legalising cannabis after the education minister drew howls of outrage by calling for a debate on the issue. Education Minister Vincent Peillon said legalising cannabis was a "serious question" that warranted debate. France's right-wing opposition pounced on the remarks, prompting Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's office to insist government policy had not changed. Peillon later said his comments reflected his "personal opinion" and were not "contrary to the complete and total solidarity" within the government. AFP


Anti-capitalist women stage St Paul's protest

LONDON - Four women chained themselves to the pulpit in St Paul's Cathedral in support of the anti-corporate Occupy London movement, before cutting themselves free after being threatened with arrest, police said. The women from the Occupy London and Christianity Uncut movements said their four-hour protest was also a show of support for the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Reuters


Singer on trial over Turkish hate song

BERLIN - The lead singer of a far-right band went on trial for incitement over a song praising the killing of immigrants by neo-Nazis. Daniel G, 42, faces a possible five years in prison if convicted for singing the Doner Killer Song, which appeared on a CD entitled Adolf Hitler Lives. The song praises the killing of 10 people, primarily Turkish small businessmen, between 2000 and 2007, known in German media as the "doner killings" after the popular Turkish food. AP


Driver jailed over death of Cuban dissidents

HAVANA – A Cuban judge sentenced Spanish driver Angel Carromero to four years in prison for involuntary homicide over a July car crash that killed leading Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya. Prosecutors were seeking seven years in jail for Carromero. Paya’s family has called for an international investigation, suggesting the involvement of Cuba’s government. The decision by a court in Granma province can be appealed by the convicted party or prosecutors. Another dissident, Harold Cepero, 31, also died in the crash. AFP


Chinese workers in Africa abducted

BANGUI – Two Chinese nationals working on a road project in the Central African Republic were kidnapped in an attack three weeks ago on a border post along the Cameroonian frontier, a police source said. Gunmen abducted the Chinese after opening fire on a toll stop at a border post in eastern Cameroon on the night of September 23-24, said a source in the Central African Republic’s gendarmerie. At the time of the attack, Cameroon’s state broadcaster reported that rebels had carried out the raid, killing two people including the head of the border post. AFP


Syria-bound plane halted for checks

ANKARA – An Armenian plane enroute to Syria’s battered second city of Aleppo was ordered to land in Turkey for security checks on its cargo, an official at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said. Armenia said the landing of the plane, carrying humanitarian aid, was pre-planned. The move came days after Turkey forced a Syrian plane flying from Russia to land because of what it called suspect cargo. Turkey later gave the all-clear for the plane to continue its journey. AFP


Kubilius's final cut: his post as prime minister

VILNIUS - Lithuania's left-wing and populist opposition parties opened talks on forming a new government, after austerity-weary voters evicted the Conservative-led coalition. In power since 2008, the defeated Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius drove through biting spending cuts amid one of the world's deepest recessions, but the resulting economic recovery failed to woo voters. AFP


Aid workers abducted by gunmen in Niger

NIAMEY - Unidentified gunmen kidnapped six people, including four aid workers from Niger and Chad, from the town of Dakoro in central Niger, the aid workers' employers said. Nigerien security sources said troops had been deployed on the ground to look for them and aircraft were monitoring traffic into the Air Mountains, where the hostages might be taken. Gunmen linked to al-Qaeda have taken hostages to neighbouring Mali in the past. Reuters


Ruling alliance suffers from voter backlash

PODGORICA - Montenegro's ruling alliance must form a coalition government with lawmakers from ethnic minorities, after voters tired of economic stagnation and corruption denied it a majority for the first time in 11 years. With nearly all the votes counted, the alliance of Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists and two small parties looked set to get 39 seats in the 81-seat parliament. Djukanovic, as either prime minister or president, has dominated politics in the nation since communist Yugoslavia collapsed 20 years ago. Reuters