- - Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UNITED STATES

Judge dismisses lawsuit by al-Awlaki’s father

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the father of U.S.-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki that sought to block the U.S. government from targeting the fugitive terror suspect for assassination.

Citing the difficulties of a “unique and extraordinary case” involving an American citizen abroad, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates in an 83-page decision ruled that the obstacles in determining the merit of the constitutional challenges “require dismissal of this case at the outset.”

The judge specifically said he was not ruling on the merits of the case, noting, “the serious issues regarding the merits of the alleged authorization of the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen overseas must await another day or another [non-judicial] forum.”

But the case raises what Judge Bates described as “stark and perplexing questions” about whether the United States can target an U.S. citizen for death without judicial scrutiny.

WEST BANK

Protest leader’s case sparks scrutiny

OFER MILITARY BASE | The tiny courtroom at an Israeli army base was packed with European diplomats, straining to follow proceedings in Hebrew and Arabic through translators whispering into their ears.

The target of such unprecedented interest was Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, a leader of Palestinian protests against Israel’s West Bank separation barrier who has been feted by some in the international community, from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to former President Jimmy Carter, as a courageous defender of human rights.

Israel views the West Bank school teacher as an instigator of violence and wants to keep him in prison, even though he has completed his yearlong sentence. Israel says the demonstrations are violent riots since some of the marchers routinely throw stones at Israeli troops.

However, prominent figures in the international community have embraced the demonstrations as peaceful resistance to Israel’s 43-year military occupation, and say Israel’s crackdown is an attempt to stifle dissent.

CHINA

China picks bishops, despite Vatican pique

BEIJING | China’s bishops opened a meeting Tuesday to choose leaders of the government-backed Catholic Church amid tensions with the Vatican after it denounced the recent ordination of a bishop who did not have the pope’s approval.

The meeting in Beijing to elect new heads of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Council of Chinese Bishops will be another source of friction because the Vatican disapproves of such assemblies, saying both organizations run counter to Catholic doctrine.

If clerics more interested in shoring up Communist Party control are elected into top positions, it likely will hinder the tentative efforts at outreach made by Pope Benedict XVI.

Chinese authorities also are pressuring some bishops to attend the Beijing meeting, a Vatican-affiliated agency said.

HAITI

Expert: Cholera likely from U.N. troops

PORT-AU-PRINCE | A contingent of U.N. peacekeepers is the likely source of a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed at least 2,000 people, a French scientist said in a report obtained Tuesday by the Associated Press.

Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux concluded that the cholera originated in a tributary of Haiti’s Artibonite River, next to a U.N. base outside the town of Mirebalais. He was sent by the French government to assist Haitian health officials in determining the source of the outbreak, a French Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

“No other hypothesis could be found to explain the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in this village … not affected by the earthquake earlier this year and located dozens of kilometers from the coast and [tent] camps,” he wrote in a report that has not been publicly released.

The report also calls for a further investigation of the outbreak, improved medical surveillance and sanitation procedures for U.N. peacekeeping troops and better support for Haitian health authorities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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