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Suicide bomber kills 20 in Iraq Sunni mosque
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Sunni mosque in central Iraq, killing at least 20 people in the middle of a sermon on Friday, police and medics said.
The explosion took place in the town of Wajihiya in the ethnically and religiously diverse province of Diyala, which has seen an increasing number of attacks in recent weeks.
It was not clear who was behind the blast, which appeared to be part of a sustained campaign of militant attacks that has prompted fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds and Shia and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise.
Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, which has drawn in Shia and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.
Sunni Islamist insurgents, including the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, have been regaining strength in recent months, security sources say.
More than 460 people have been killed in militant attacks in July so far, according to violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
Caracas brought talks with the US to an abrupt end over statements made by Samantha Power, the nominee for UN ambassador. Venezuela blasted Washington for backing Power’s “meddling agenda” after she criticized human rights in the country.
Russian opposition leader Navalny released
A Russian Court on Friday released opposition leader Alexei Navalny from custody less than 24 hours after he was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison.
The release came after a surprise request by prosecutors, who said that because Navalny is a candidate in this fall’s Moscow mayoral race keeping him in custody would deny him his right to seek election.
The release, under the condition that he not travel outside Moscow, will extend until appeals of his conviction are completed.
After the Friday decision, a smiling Navalny emerged from the caged-off defendants’ section of the courtroom and thanked supporters who held protest rallies on Thursday after his conviction.
Presentation of the appeal and the decision by the court for the Kirov region took little more than an hour, a sharp contrast to the droning 3 hour verdict reading and sentencing in a lower court the previous day.
Navalny, a popular blogger and corruption-fighting lawyer, rose to prominence among the opposition during a series of massive protests in Moscow against President Vladimir Putin’s re-election to a third presidential term in March 2012.
The conviction prompted criticism from the United States and the European Union.
Navalny began his rise to prominence by blogging about his investigations into corruption at state-owned companies where he owned shares, reaching hundreds of thousands of people.
He and his team of lawyers and activists have plumbed property registers abroad to identify top officials and lawmakers who own undeclared foreign assets and hold foreign citizenship.
Navalny’s blog quickly became an Internet sensation not only because of his exposures but because of its engaging illustrations, funny images and witty catchphrases.
It was Navalny who first called the dominant United Russia party “the party of crooks and thieves,” a phrase that still dogs Kremlin loyalists.
The opposition leader’s investigations targeted a wide circle of Putin loyalists, from members of Parliament to state bankers, threatening to discredit the system of governance he has built.
Detroit bankruptcy challenged in court
Detroit’s bankruptcy was challenged in court by government workers fighting to protect their retirement benefits as Michigan’s governor insisted it is the only way for Motown to survive.
A county judge ordered that the proceedings be halted because it violates the US state’s constitution, but it’s not clear how much weight that would carry in federal bankruptcy court.
The order was immediately appealed by Michigan’s attorney general on Friday. Saddled with more than USD 18 billion in debt and a shrunken tax base, the birthplace of the US auto industry has been so strapped for cash it can’t even keep the streetlights on.
“Now is the opportunity to stop 60 years of decline,” Governor Rick Snyder said at a news conference a day after approving the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history.
“We will come out with a stronger, better Detroit and a format to grow this city. The citizens of not just this city but the state deserve it.” Once a bustling beacon of industrial might, the Motor City is now a poster child for urban decay, its landscape littered with abandoned skyscrapers, factories and homes.
Detroit has seen its population shrink by more than half from 1.8 million in 1950 to 685,000 today as crime, flight to the suburbs and the hollowing out of the auto industry ate away at its foundations.
The bankruptcy is expected to make it harder for municipalities in Michigan and other US states to borrow money, by undermining confidence in what used to be among the most trusted bonds available.
Snyder insisted there was no other “viable” option because the city is “broke,” with 38 percent of its budget spent on debt and pension obligations.
The situation in Detroit is being closely monitored by government workers across the country who are fearful that they too may see their retirement benefits slashed by cash-strapped states and cities.
About nine billion dollars of the city’s debt is owed to the pension funds and retiree health care benefits of the Detroit’s 10,000 employees and 20,000 retirees.
State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr said the city simply does not have the money to cover all its outstanding debts.
“Yes, there are 10,000 employees. Yes, there are 20,000 retirees. But there are 700,000 citizens who don’t deserve 58 minute (police) response times,” Orr told reporters.
Judge denies BP bid to deflect liability from 2010 Gulf spill
A federal judge has denied an attempt by oil giant BP to reduce its liability by billions of dollars in the massive 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “BP has not produced any evidence that would warrant the court taking the drastic step of shutting down the entire claims program,” said Judge Carl Barbie. BP said in a statement the ruling was “wrong under the law” and that a pause of all claims payments was prudent and necessary. Attorneys for BP asked Barbier on Tuesday to place a preliminary injunction to suspend payments on private claims until an investigation into alleged misconduct by the office overseeing the payment program was completed.
Two civilians killed in rocket attack on Egypt’s Sinai
Two civilians have been killed and one wounded after militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the El-Arish army checkpoint in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, medical sources said. One of those killed had his legs and head blown off, hospital sources told AFP. According to security sources, the assailants hit a residential house near the checkpoint by mistake.
Italian court convicts 3 of Berlusconi’s former aides
A Milan court has convicted three of Silvio Berlusconi’s ex-aides of procuring prostitutes for the media mogul’s infamous ‘bunga bunga parties’. The ex-Italian PM has already been sentenced to seven years with a ban on holding public office for paying for sex with former teenaged dancer Karima El Mahroug, known as Ruby the Heartstealer, when she was a minor. But due to the peculiarities of the Italian justice system, none of the sentences will take effect until all appeals have been exhausted.
Derailed Quebec train had ‘insufficient brake force’ – investigators
The braking force was insufficient on the train carrying crude oil which derailed, devastating a Quebec town and killing dozens, Reuters reported, citing investigators. Donald Ross, chief investigator at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said on Friday the TSB would ask the federal government to review its regulations to ensure that trains carrying dangerous goods are not left unattended on the track.
Berezovsky had unpaid taxes worth $151mn in UK – reports
Russian fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who died in London in March, owed 100 million pounds ($151 million) to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), media reports said Friday. Grant Thornton, which was entrusted to audit Berezovsky’s assets, told the court that the assets the Russian businessman left after his death are not enough to pay off his debts, Itar-Tass reported. Berezovsky, 67, was found dead by his employee at his Ascot home, Berkshire County, on March 23.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood gathers thousands for Morsi rally
The Muslim Brotherhood mobilized followers to march in Cairo and elsewhere Friday for a protest dubbed “Breaking the Coup” in support for former President Mohamed Morsi. The Brotherhood claimed that supporters would take to the streets in 18 locations across the Egyptian capital following noon prayers. At least 400 protesters marched through northern Sinai Peninsula’s main city of el-Arish, CBS News reported. Pro-Morsi supporters also took to the streets in the northern coastal city of Alexandria and several Nile Delta cities.
British police find evidence of explosion at mosque
British counter-terrorism police said Friday they had found evidence of a three-week-old explosion outside a mosque in central England. The Wolverhampton central mosque was evacuated on Thursday night following the arrest of two Ukrainians suspected of involvement in explosions at two other mosques in the area. Police said debris from an explosion was found on a roundabout, and early indications suggested it had blown up on June 28, AFP reported. Two Ukrainian men aged 22 and 25 were arrested on Thursday as part of an investigation into explosions near mosques in the nearby towns of Tipton and Walsall.
Israel stations Iron Dome battery in Eilat
Israel has stationed an Iron Dome missile defense battery near the southern city of Eilat, the military said on Friday. The move comes amid growing instability in the Sinai region caused by unrest in Egypt. Iron Dome batteries are placed in different areas of Israel from time to time in response to the army’s assessment of security conditions, Israeli media quote an IDF spokesperson as saying.
Polish prosecutor, experts to examine presidential plane wreck again
A Polish prosecutor will travel with four experts to Russia next week in order to conduct an additional investigation of deceased President Lech Kaczynski’s plane that crashed near Smolensk, Russia in 2010. “Starting Monday, July 22, a prosecutor and four experts in physical and chemical evaluation will spend two weeks in Smolensk,” RIA Novosti quoted the spokesman for Poland’s Military Prosecutor’s Office, Captain Martzin Maksyan, as saying. The visit was approved by Russian authorities. The experts will inspect the crashed airplane’s seats and gather material for additional lab studies in Poland. A Polish Tu-154 plane carrying the former president, his wife, and officials crashed near Smolensk due to thick fog on April 10, 2010, killing 96 people.
5 killed in Turkey landslide
5 killed in Turkey landslide
A landslide triggered by heavy rains has killed at least five people near Turkey’s border with Syria, an official said. The landslide, which struck early Friday, demolished six hillside houses near the town of Dortyol in the border province of Hatay. At least 12 people were hurt. The government’s disaster management agency said at least nine people were rescued by helicopters.
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