Briefs, November 2, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2012, 5:03am

Man sentenced to 17 years for terror plot

BOSTON - A man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison in a plot to use remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives to blow up the Pentagon and US Capitol. Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Massachusetts, was sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty in July to various charges. Ferdaus was arrested last year after federal employees posing as members of al-Qaeda delivered materials he requested, including grenades, machine guns and explosives. Authorities have said the public was never in danger. AP

Hollande's popularity rating takes a dive

PARIS - French President Francois Hollande admitted facing a "very hard" situation as his popularity rating dived to a new low amid anger over double-digit joblessness, mass layoffs and shutdowns. Hollande's defence came as his rating dropped by five points compared with last month, with only 36 per cent of French people expressing confidence in him. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault fared worse at 34 per cent in the poll conducted by TNS Sofres-Sopra for Le Figaro magazine. Hollande's score in the six months after a presidential election was the lowest since Jacques Chirac tallied 37 per cent in 1995. AFP

Voting age lowered to 16 in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina has approved a law to lower the legal voting age to 16 in a move that could strengthen President Cristina Kirchner's populist bloc ahead of next year's legislative elections. Voting is compulsory for Argentinian people aged 18 and older, but will be optional for some one million people aged 16 and 17. Critics said the move is aimed at winning a large enough majority to change the constitution to allow Kirchner to seek a third term the following year. AFP

Canada bans wearing of masks during riots

OTTAWA - The Canadian Parliament passed a ban on masks in riots that punishes violators with up to 10 years behind bars. The measure, adopted 153 to 126, aims to target the "growing threat" of vandalism and violence, said Blake Richards, who sponsored the bill. Lawmakers are especially targeting the Black Bloc anarchist group, whose members hide their faces with glasses, scarves and hoods. Opposition members said the law was not necessary because the criminal code already sets punitive measures. AFP

Kuwaiti opposition leader freed

KUWAIT CITY - A Kuwaiti court ordered the release on bail of opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak following a night of violent protests that left dozens hurt, his lawyer said. Barrak was arrested on Monday and two days later his detention was renewed for 10 days, triggering the angry demonstrations. He has been charged with undermining the status of Kuwait's emir at a public rally on October 15 for which he could face five years in jail, his lawyer said. AFP

Israel admits killing former PLO No 2 in '88

JERUSALEM - Israel has for the first time admitted assassinating the PLO's former No 2, Abu Jihad, in a raid on the movement's Tunis headquarters in 1988. A report published in Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said the operation was planned by the Mossad spy agency and carried out by the Sayeret Matkal commando unit. Abu Jihad, whose real name was Khalil al-Wazir, was a long-time friend of PLO leader Yasser Arafat. He played a leading role in directing the intifada uprising against Israeli occupation that began in 1987. AFP

Journalist on trial for publishing bank list

ATHENS - A Greek investigative journalist went on trial for publishing names from an alleged list of Swiss bank accounts that the government is accused of not investigating. Costas Vaxevanis says ministers responsible for vetting the list for possible tax evasion did nothing for two years. Vaxevanis, briefly arrested on Sunday and released to prepare his defence, has been charged with breach of privacy and faces a maximum three-year prison sentence if convicted. He says the Greek justice system is bowing to a corrupt political system. AFP