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23 November, 2012


Death penalty dropped from Ugandan anti-gay bill to be passed by Christmas

­Execution has been dropped from a controversial bill set to be debated and passed in Uganda as a “Christmas present” to its advocates, a Ugandan parliament speaker announced. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, but the new bill proposes a life sentence for “aggravated homosexuality,” such as having sex with a minor or sex while HIV positive, UPI reports. The bill has been strongly condemned by Western governments.


­NYC to lift fuel rationing

New York City will end gasoline rationing Saturday, after implementing it due to dire consequences following hurricane Sandy. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Friday that “more than 85 per cent of gas stations in the city are now operational, and the available supply of gasoline and diesel fuel is only expected to continue to increase.” The rationing was ordered on November 9 after flooding from Sandy damaged the fuel infrastructure leading to fuel shortages and huge queues at gas stations.


Pakistan to suspend cellular phones for two days

The Pakistani government will suspend cell phone service in most parts of the country over the next two days to prevent attacks against Shiite Muslims during a key religious commemoration. Extremists frequently detonate bombs using them. Several bombings targeting Shiites earlier this week killed over a dozen people. Saturday and Sunday are the most important days of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, which is especially important to Shiites.


Israel and Turkey resume talks to end diplomatic crisis – reports

Yosef Chechnover, an envoy from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, has met with the director of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Feridun Sinirlioglu, to discuss a reconciliation to their diplomatic falling out, Haaretz reports. The meeting, which took place in Geneva earlier this week, was another attempt to find a solution to the Gaza flotilla crisis acceptable to both governments. In May 2010, nine Turkish activists aboard a ship bringing aid to besieged Gaza were killed by IDF fire. Turkey then expelled the Israeli ambassador from Ankara, withdrawing its own ambassador to Israel.


Cyprus agrees multi-billion euro bailout with international creditors

The Mediterranean country has become the fifth eurozone member to seek help from abroad. Cyprus made the request to its European partners and the International Monetary Fund for help to revive its banks in June 2012. The deal, which is expected to include €16 billion in loans, is to be confirmed later. Cypriot banks have a debt totaling €152 billion – eight times the country's gross domestic product.


China bans hospitals from refusing AIDS patients

China’s health ministry has urged all its hospitals from turning away patients with HIV-AIDS, guaranteeing them treatment. The order concerns both sufferers already known to have the condition, as well as those whose infection was discovered while undergoing treatment. The ban comes two days after a 25-year-old lung cancer patient was turned away for being HIV positive in the city of Tianjin. Vice Premier Li Keqiang personally intervened, demanding the man be provided essential treatment.


Russian state officials to declare expenses starting from 2012

The State Duma has approved several laws aimed at controlling the expenses of government officials. The laws come into force on January 1, 2013, and require all officials to declare their expenses and those of their spouses and children. The law applies to considerable purchases, including real estate and vehicles. Any deal which increases an official’s family income for the last three years is subject to declaration. The prosecutor’s office will have the right to confiscate illegally purchased property.


Former Russian Defense Ministry official accused of embezzlement

Investigators believe that Evgeniya Vasilyeva, former head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s property relations department, is implicated in an embezzlement case involving Oboronservis, a company affiliated with the ministry. According to law enforcement agencies, she aided in the embezzlement of more than $11 million, in which company officials sold real estate belonging to the ministry at reduced price to affiliated companies. The investigation will apply for Vasilyeva to be placed under house arrest. Police have conducted 18 searches of the cottages of a health and recreation resort where former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and other ministry officials resided.


Russian warships ‘sail to Gaza for possible evacuation of citizens’

­A group of warships from Russia’s Black Sea fleet is headed to the Gaza Strip, a Navy source told RIA Novosti news agency. The ships will evacuate Russian citizens from the troubled region should the Israel-Gaza conflict escalate.


Glonass boss resigns as police uncover $200 million fraud

­The Director General of the Russian Space Systems Yuri Urlichich has resigned due to his state of health. On Friday the police revealed they have uncovered the misappropriation of 6.5 billion roubles ($200million) in Russian Space Systems during the development of the GLONASS satellite positioning system.
The allegedly embezzled funds account for about 5.6 percent of total GLONASS funding, estimated to be about $3.7 billion. The state planned to spend over $9.5 billion by 2020 for GLONASS development.


South Korea holds memorial for victims of North’s 2010 attack on Yeonpyeong

South Korea held a ceremony on Friday to mark the second anniversary of a North Korean artillery attack on the South-controlled Yeonpyeong Island. Two civilians and two marines were killed when the North shelled the island on November 23, 2010. South Korea will open a memorial hall and hold naval drills as part of the ceremony, and Pyongyang warned it would retaliate against “any provocation.” The South Korean PM said that the attack on Yeonpyeong meant that "war in the Korean Peninsula has still not ended," and that “we are confronting a very violent and unpredictable group.”


Suicide bombing kills two, wounds 40 in eastern Afghanistan

­At least 2 people were killed and 40 injured when a suicide bomber blew up a car filled with explosives in Afghanistan’s eastern Wardak province. Some of those wounded are believed to have sustained life-threatening injuries. The blast occurred at around 7.30 am local time on the same street as an ISAF and Afghan military coordination office.


4 killed in Nigeria ‘blasphemy riot' – report

­A massive riot that reportedly killed four people broke out in northern Nigeria due to a rumor that a Christian man blasphemed against Islam, police said. The unrest began after a Christian tailor, talking to his Muslim neighbor, mispronounced the name of a dress while speaking in Hausa, the main dialect spoken in the north. He supposedly changed the meaning of the word to ‘the Prophet has come to the market,’ AFP reported. The unrest broke out the same day the new head of the Nigerian Anglican Church, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, called for religious tolerance in a country that has seen over a decade of violence since the end of military rule.


Kazakhstan busts 24 'terrorist plots,' convicts 148 in 2012

­Twenty four alleged terrorist attacks have been prevented by Kazakhstan's security services so far in 2012, Deputy Prosecutor General Johann Merkel told a press conference. Over all, Kazakh law enforcement say they discovered 112 crimes related to extremist activity, leading to 148 convictions on charges related to terrorist crimes.


­One dead after dive boat capsizes off Florida

A woman has died after a diving boat capsized off the coast of Florida, police have confirmed. Another person has been hospitalized after the 45-foot catamaran carrying 23 people was overturned by a massive wave. Rescue crews have managed to save 22 people.


Man accused of killing, cooking wife pleads not guilty

­An elderly Californian cross-dresser has pleaded not guilty of killing, dismembering and cooking his elderly wife days before Thanksgiving. Frederick Hengl, 68, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday after being arrested last Friday when pieces of his wife Anna Faris were found in their Oceanside residence. The police stormed their home after a tip-off from a neighbor of a faul smell. Once inside, Faris’ severed head was found in the freezer and pieces of her body were discovered in cooking pots on the stove. Freshly cut bones, a saw, and a boning knife were also discovered by the police. Hengl remains in jail on $5 million bail.


Teenager shot dead after confronting public urination

­A teenage girl has been killed in New Delhi after she tried to stop a public urination. The 17-year-old was fatally shot and her mother critically wounded after they tried to stop a neighbor from relieving himself outside their residence. The man fled the scene, and police are searching for him.


FARC frees 4 Chinese workers

­Four Chinese oil workers have been released by Colombia's FARC rebels after spending 17 months in captivity, police said Thursday. The three contractors and a translator were the only foreigners still held by the group. Their release comes just days after the government of Colombia entered peace talks in Cuba with the FARC. In February, the rebels denounced kidnapping for "political prisoners" or "economic" hostages. No ransom was paid for their release. For a half century, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia used kidnapping as means to finance their activities.