Category:April 28, 2005

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News briefs


Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Blair government in the United Kingdom concealed warnings it was given over the doubtful legality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in which it played a pivotal part.

The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith's 13-page, 7th of March 2003 letter expressed serious misgivings, according to both Channel 4 and The Guardian, but further refinements brought his advice to a short 300 word 'summary' giving his go-ahead for an invasion on the 17th.

In the original letter he warned that if war went ahead without a United Nations Resolution it would probably be deemed illegal if hard evidence on Saddam's alleged non-compliance and non-cooperation with weapons inspection teams was not uncovered.

A leaked summary of the original letter has led the Blair government to release the full 13 page document.

The new Italian government, led by Silvio Berlusconi, received a vote of confidence from the Italian House of Deputies on Wednesday. The tally was 334 pros, 240 cons and 2 abstentions.

The vote gives Berlusconi another year in office to gain support from skeptical voters if he is to win a second term.

Europe's human rights body openly condemned the United States yesterday for using what it termed "torture" and asked European countries not to cooperate in interrogating Guantanamo detainees.

According to an AP report, the resolution adopted by the Council's Parliamentary Assembly said in part "the circumstances surrounding detentions by the USA at Guantanamo Bay show unlawfulness on grounds including the torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees."

A U.S. Pentagon spokesman said they were running "a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terror."

Edvard Munch's most famous painting, "The Scream," together with "The Madonna," might have been burned.

Both paintings were stolen in August 2004 from the Munch Museum. Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reports that both "The Scream" and "The Madonna" might have been burned in order to destroy evidence.

According to Dagbladet three persons have been arrested, but the two persons who did the actual robbery are still at large.

By an overwhelming 109-1 margin, the Lebanese government won a vote of confidence in parliament Wednesday, coming just a day after what was touted as the “full and final” Syrian occupation withdrawal.

The confidence vote, ushered in by the new Prime Minister Najib Mikati, is a step which allows for May elections called for by constitutional law and demanded by anti-Syrian opposition groups.

Speaking to parliament, Mikati said, "We will not hesitate to carry out this constitutional requirement on time."

The next step for Mikati and government leaders is to draft new election laws. Lebanese President Lahoud said he was discussing among their leadership the possibility of asking for U.N. technical assistance in drafting the laws. A completed draft would be presented to parliament for passage in an approval process.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency says it has finished interrogating around 105 Iraqi scientists it has been holding over weapons of mass destruction. In many cases the wrong people were detained and subjected to questioning by "inexperienced and uninformed" interrogators.

"The WMD investigation has gone as far as [is] feasible. After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted," Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), wrote last month in an addendum to the group's final report, issued last autumn.

Dutch Minister Alexander Pechtold's radical suggestion to legalise cannabis in the Netherlands has been supported by the mayors of 20 out of 30 of the largest Dutch cities according to an investigation by the Dutch newspaper Trouw. Pechtold promoted the legalisation of cannabis throughout Europe earlier this week. Pechtold's plans are opposed by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner however, who is advocating a tougher policy against cannabis.

The possession, consumption, and selling of cannabis, though not strictly legal, has been tolerated in the Netherlands for a number of years. The cultivation of cannabis, however, still poses a problem to most cities. Utrecht Mayor Annie Brouwer noted fire risks, tensions with residential areas and the illegal tapping of electricity as reasons to get cannabis cultivation to the surface, so that it can be regulated. The mayors also argued that a successful test could show Europe the benefits of legalising cannabis.

The auction hammer came down Wednesday, in London, on Judy Garland’s blue gingham dress, worn in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.” It sold for £140,000.

The identity of the buyer, who sealed the deal on the telephone, was not immediately revealed. Bonham auctioneers told reporters there was a pre-sale estimate of £35,000.

The dress, one of the most recognizable in the movie world, was made for the 17 year old Garland who had a 27-inch (68-centimetre) waist. Her name is still on a tag on an inside hem. It was auctioned as part of a sale of rock and film memorabilia and was described as a “cherished memory for millions of fans worldwide.”

Actress Hunter Tylo is reported to have rejoined the cast of The Bold and the Beautiful, in the latest chapter of a rocky relationship between Tylo and the casting office. Tylo played the role of Dr Taylor Hamilton Forrester from 1990 until 2002, when she was killed off by the show's villainous Sheila Carter, played by Kimberlin Brown. According to Soap Opera Weekly, history has been rewritten so that Taylor, in reality, did not die from her gunshot wounds back in October 2002.

With two large deals made with Air Canada and Air India, Boeing has shown itself unshaken by competitor Airbus. The Air Canada deal included 18 777s and 14 of the new fuel-efficient 787s, while the Air India deals was for 50 of the new design - solid sales indicating the acceptance of different airlines model focused on more flexible scheduling.

News Bullets from Wikipedia's current events

  • Death toll in the Amagasaki rail crash in Japan rises to 104. Rescuers find the body of the train's driver.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives votes 406-20 to rescind controversial Republican ethics rules, in order to end a stalemate in the evenly-divided Ethics Committee since their introduction in January.
  • In Nepal, the former Prime Minister is arrested for alleged corruption after refusing to appear in court.
  • Two Palestinian teenagers are arrested in a checkpoint near Jenin after explosive charges were found on them.
  • The new Airbus A380 performs its maiden flight in France. The A380 replaces the Boeing 747 as the world's largest passenger plane.
  • In central Sri Lanka a passenger train crashes into a bus on a level crossing; 35–50 persons are feared to be dead.
  • The date of the next elections in Lebanon is set for May 29.
  • President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia sacks four top army generals for disagreeing with his army reforms.
  • In Togo, opposition resistance against election victory of Faure Gnassingbé escalates into violence. At least 33 have died in the clashes. Opposition leader Bob Akitani declares himself president.
  • In Mexico, president Vicente Fox accepts resignation of his attorney general Rafael Macedo and orders review of the contempt of court case of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
  • Amnesty International appeals to the government of Yemen to stop execution of Amina Ali Abduladif. She is sentenced to death for murder and the execution is to take place May 2.