- - Monday, November 22, 2010

IRAQ

Aziz seeks pardon from Iraqi president

BAGHDAD | Lawyers for Tariq Aziz, the longtime international face of Saddam Hussein’s regime, said Monday they will seek a presidential pardon to spare him from execution.

Attorney Giovanni Di Stefano said Aziz’s defense team would ask for the pardon instead of appealing his death sentence last month for Saddam-era persecution of Shiite Muslim political parties.

It is a risky legal move, considering Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has granted few, if any, pardons in his more than five-year tenure and could be prevented from doing so in this case. It comes amid pleas from the Vatican and several anti-death-penalty nations in Europe for amnesty for Aziz, the only Christian in Saddam’s inner circle.

UNITED KINGDOM

WikiLeaks to release more secret papers

LONDON | WikiLeaks’ next release will be seven times the size of the Iraq war logs, already the biggest leak in U.S. intelligence history, the website said Monday.

The organization made the announcement in a brief message posted to its followers on Twitter, giving no information about the content of the coming release or its exact timing — although it did refer to “the coming months” in a separate tweet about an hour later.

Although it isn’t clear what WikiLeaks is planning to release next, it allegedly has a huge cache of classified State Department cables whose publication could give a behind-the-scenes look at American diplomacy around the world.

SAUDI ARABIA

King heads to U.S. for medical tests

CAIRO | Saudi Arabia’s 86-year-old king flew Monday to the U.S. for medical treatment and left control of the world’s top oil producer and key American ally in the hands of an 85-year-old half-brother who has suffered his own serious health problems.

The smooth transfer of power from one brother to another served as a reminder of the advancing age of the generation of the royal Al Saud family that has ruled the kingdom for the past 60 years. It also revived a long-standing question that may be taking on greater urgency: Can the rulers maintain stability when it comes time to pass the throne to a new generation?

Before King Abdullah headed for the United States, Saudi officials had been making a strong push to reassure the public and its international allies there is nothing to worry about.

NEW ZEALAND

Hopes wane at mine; gas prevents rescue

GREYMOUTH | Hard rock layers slowed the progress of drills boring into a New Zealand mine Tuesday as rescuers waited impatiently for a chance to test whether air quality underground is safe for them to go in to pull out 29 trapped miners.

Family members have expressed frustration with the pace of the response as officials acknowledged for the first time it may be too late to save the miners, who have not been heard from since a massive explosion ripped through the Pike River Mine on the country’s South Island on Friday.

A buildup of methane gas is the suspected cause of the explosion. And now the presence of that gas and others — some of them believed to be coming from a smoldering fire deep underground — are delaying a rescue over fears they could still explode.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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