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Briefs, February 6, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 6:02am
 

Vatican official open to form of gay civil union

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's top official on family policy has opened slightly to the possibility of rights for gay civil unions, although he also stressed that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. "Marriage is a clear legal dimension. There are then multiple other types of non-family cohabitation for which solutions should be found in terms of individual law and in my view also in terms of property law," Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said. His comments were widely seen as a reference to gay couples. "I think this is a terrain that politicians should begin to approach," said the archbishop, adding that legal rights for non-traditional families would "prevent injustice against the weakest". AFP

 

Boeing asks to resume Dreamliner test flights

WASHINGTON - Boeing has asked the US Federal Aviation Administration for approval to resume test flights with the 787 Dreamliner while the plane remains grounded during an investigation of battery faults. The FAA was still considering that request, said an agency official. The plane-maker would operate any such flights with existing test aircraft, Marc Birtel, a company spokesman, said. Flying test planes would let Boeing study the Dreamliner's lithium-ion power packs while the 50 787s in service stay parked. Regulators and Boeing are still trying to determine what caused a battery fire on one jet and a cockpit warning that spurred an emergency landing by another, which in turn triggered grounding orders worldwide on January 16. Bloomberg

 

Saudi cleric says baby girls should be veiled

RIYADH - A Saudi cleric has said baby girls should be veiled to avoid sexual harassment, in remarks broadcast on television that sparked outrage in the conservative kingdom. "Girls should wear the veil from the age of two," said Abdullah Daoud, adding that Saudis should follow the example of South Asian countries. "If a girl is sexually desired, her parents should cover her face and force her to wear veil", to protect her against perverts, he said. AFP

 

Lebedev paper wins London TV franchise

London's Evening Standard newspaper, backed by the family of Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev, has won a London television franchise, beating four other bidders with a package offering live news from the paper's West London offices. Britain's telecoms regulator is offering 21 licences for local digital TV stations, most for single cities. Evgeny Lebedev, Alexander's son, tweeted the winning bid would "change London for good". Reuters

 

One year jail for rape claim woman, reporter

MOGADISHU - A woman who said she was raped by security forces and a reporter have been sentenced to one year in prison. A court official said the court based its decision on medical evidence the woman was not raped. Rights groups have decried the case as politically motivated because the woman had accused security forces of the sexual assault. Farah said the woman's prison term would be delayed by one year so she could care for her young child. The woman as charged with making a false accusation, among other counts. Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur was charged with insulting a government body and inducing the woman to give false evidence. AP

 

French-led troops advance further north

PARIS - Troops from France and Chad have moved into the north Malian city of Kidal and its airport as they seek to further squeeze Islamist extremists who had seized control of a swath of the African country. A French military official said 1,800 Chadian troops had entered Kidal. French troops had taken control of the Kidal airport and were working to secure it so that they can bring in more forces. The French-led military intervention against advancing Islamist fighters started more than three weeks ago and has pushed quickly northward. AP

 

Vote held despite assassination bid

YEREVAN - Armenia's presidential elections are set to go ahead on schedule on February 18 after a candidate injured in an apparent assassination bid said he would not press for a delay. Veteran politician and Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan was wounded in the shooting attack last week, in a crime that rocked the political establishment in the Caucasus state. Under the Armenian constitution, Hayrikyan had the right to ask the courts for a two-week delay in the elections, but he has declined to do so. AFP

 

Australian suspect in Bulgarian bomb blast

WASHINGTON - An Australian was among the suspects in a bus bombing that killed five Israelis and a driver in a Bulgarian resort last year, two Western officials said. US officials expect Bulgarian investigators to link the militant group Hezbollah to the July 18 attack in the coastal city of Burgas, in which a bomb ripped through a tourist bus. Bulgarian authorities were expected to release their findings yesterday. AP

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