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Briefs, November 21, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 3:05am
 

Portuguese merchant shot dead in Corsica

BASTIA - A Portuguese businessman was shot dead in Corsica, the 18th person killed on the French island this year, despite a security build-up in the region with Europe's highest homicide rate. Victor Ribeiro, 45, a contractor for public works projects, was gunned down at a petrol station in Prunete-Cervione, south of the port city of Bastia, a police source said. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira pledged to "re-establish the rule of law" on the island in the wake of the killing. AFP
 

Tourists still welcome to toke in Amsterdam

THE HAGUE - Dope-selling coffee shops in the Dutch capital won't be shutting their doors to foreign visitors any time soon after a u-turn by the government. The city of Amsterdam welcomed changes in the national government's drug policies as a green light to let tourists keep rolling in to the city's 220 world famous cafes that sell cannabis, marijuana and pre-rolled joints. Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten announced he was scrapping a nationwide rollout of the so-called "weed pass" that was designed to keep non-Dutch residents out of coffee shops. AP
 

Sarkozy ally selected conservatives' head

PARIS - Rightist Jean-Francois Cope, a protégé of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, claimed the leadership of France's main conservative party in a closely fought contest marred by mutual accusations of fraud. Cope, already the incumbent leader of the UMP party, beat centrist former prime minister Francois Fillon by 50.03 per cent to 49.97 per cent - a margin of just 98 votes out of almost 175,000 cast. The victory could pave the way for Cope either to run for president in 2017 or stand aside if his mentor Sarkozy re-enters politics. Reuters
 

4 charged in murder plot linked to al-Qaeda

LOS ANGELES - Four men have been arrested in southern California and charged with plotting to kill Americans overseas by joining al-Qaeda to engage in an Islamic holy war, the FBI said. Other charges include plotting to bomb government facilities and conspiracy. Officials said Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, travelled to Afghanistan, where he planned to introduce the other suspects to his al-Qaeda contacts. Afghanistan-born Kabir is a naturalised US citizen. He formerly served in the US Air Force. Reuters
 

Greenhouse gas levels hit record high in 2011

GENEVA - The volume of greenhouse gases rose to a new high last year, the UN World Meteorological Organisation said. Levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide all reached new highs, with that of carbon dioxide - the single most important man-made contributor to climate change - rising to 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, 2.0 ppm higher than in 2010 and 140 per cent over the "pre-industrial level" of 1750. AFP
 

Croatian ex-PM jailed for 10 years over bribes

ZAGREB - Former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader was sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes from two foreign companies, becoming the highest state official to be convicted of corruption in the future European Union member state. A Zagreb county court found Sanader guilty of agreeing in 2008 to accept a payment from Hungary's energy group MOL of €5 million (HK$49.5 million) in exchange for granting it full management rights over Croatia's oil concern INA. Sanader has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the trial as politically motivated. Reuters
 

Polish police foil 'plot to bomb parliament'

WARSAW - Polish officials said they had arrested a radical nationalist who planned to detonate a vehicle loaded with four tonnes of explosives outside parliament, possibly when the president and prime minister were in the building. Prosecutors said the man, a scientist who works for a university in the southern city of Krakow, had assembled a small arsenal of explosive material, guns and remote-controlled detonators, and was trying to recruit others. A video recording taken from the suspect showed what prosecutors said was a test explosion leaving a large crater in the ground. Reuters
 

France ends combat mission in Afghanistan

NIJRAB BASE - France ended its combat mission in Afghanistan, withdrawing troops from a strategic province northeast of Kabul as part of a speeded-up departure from the war-torn country. Paris has said all French combat soldiers will leave Afghanistan next month, two years before allied nations contributing to the 100,000-strong International Security Assistance Force led by the United States are due to depart. Taliban insurgents called on other foreign forces to follow France's example. Paris decided to accelerate its withdrawal after a string of deadly attacks since last year. AFP
 

'Foreign agent' law angers Russian NGOs

MOSCOW - Russian rights groups pledged to boycott a new rule forcing top NGOs to carry a "foreign agent" tag on the eve of the implementation of the law, which has become a symbol of President Vladimir Putin's opposition crackdown. Following unprecedented protests against his decade-long rule, Putin in July signed off on a law that requires NGOs who receive foreign funding to register with the authorities as "foreign agents". The legislation, which takes effect today, has caused huge concern among Russian NGOs that say the law will stigmatise them in the eyes of everyday Russians. Several top Russian NGOs said they would not comply with the law, while others pledged to actively resist the new measure and fight it in courts. AFP

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Briefs, November 21, 2012

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