- - Tuesday, August 9, 2011

IRAQ

Parliament approves press-freedom law

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi parliament on Tuesday approved a law aimed at strengthening journalists’ rights in a country that tops the list of unsolved killings of members of the media.

The law “aims to promote the rights of journalists and protect them in the Republic of Iraq,” according to the second article, the text of which was posted on parliament’s website after its adoption.

“Journalists shall not be questioned or investigated for a crime attributed to them linked to the practice of journalism, except by judicial decision,” according to the law.

It also says newspapers cannot be prevented from publishing or be confiscated except by judicial decision.

ISRAEL

White House ‘deeply concerned’ over Jerusalem housing project

The Obama administration said Tuesday it is “deeply concerned” by Israeli approval of new housing construction in disputed East Jerusalem.

The State Department said such “unilateral actions work against efforts to resume direct negotiations” and the spirit of the peace process. In a statement, the department said it has raised its objections with the Israeli government.

Last week, an Israeli planning commission approved 930 new housing units in the Har Homa neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Actual building is at least two years off.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and claims it as part of its capital. Palestinians hope to establish their future capital there.

EGYPT

Protesters seize weapons, torch police station

CAIRO — Dozens of Egyptians angered by the absence of police protection in their town set fire to a police station on Tuesday, after looting its armory and freeing jailed inmates, security officials said.

The officials said that the crowd stormed the police station in the southern town of Garga in protest at what they said was the police’s failure to protect them from attacks from a neighboring village.

They seized the weapons to defend themselves, the official said.

The trouble between Garga and the neighboring village of Nagaa Uweis began on Saturday after a fight between two motorists, one from Garga and the other from Nagaa Uweis, escalated into a gunfight that left two people dead.

A third man died on Monday from his injuries.

TUNISIA

Panel seizes luxury cars from ex-president’s cronies

TUNIS — A government expropriation commission has seized 234 luxury vehicles owned by allies and relatives of toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, media reported Tuesday.

Most of the vehicles seized by the commission, which operates under Finance Minister Jaloul Ayed, were put into the care of the army until they could be sold or used, the newspapers said.

Among them was a German model tailor-fitted for Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Trabelsi, a birthday present that cost an estimated $1 million.

A list of the seized cars showed that the couple’s youngest daughter, a student, owned at least 10 of them.

The Ben Ali and Trabelsi families and their allies were keen car collectors and vied with each other to own the latest models.

The ex-president’s son-in-law, Sakhr el Materi, and Ms. Trabelsi’s brother, Belhassen, had their hands on large portions of the Tunisian economy, including the automobile sector.

Both fled Tunisia when the Ben Ali regime fell on January 14, after weeks of popular uprisings in Tunisia that spread across the Arab world. They are the subject of arrest warrants still to be executed.

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