- - Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Britain rolls back on tough terror laws

LONDON | Britain on Wednesday overturned some of its most unpopular anti-terrorism measures imposed after the Sept. 11 attacks, but stopped short of ending the contentious practice of ordering suspects not charged with any crime to live under partial house arrest.

Home Secretary Theresa May told lawmakers she had overhauled draconian powers that were “out of step with other Western democracies,” but acknowledged stringent curbs were still needed to curtail a small number of extremists.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and 2005 suicide bombings on London, Britain introduced some of the toughest laws in the West, allowing police to hold suspected terrorists for up to 28 days before they must be charged or released. Tony Blair, prime minister at the time, had made an unsuccessful bid to have Parliament approve a 90-day limit.

U.S. authorities have seven days and French police have six. Under Mrs. May’s regime, British police must now lay charges within two weeks.


Roadside bomb casualties rise

KABUL | Roadside bombs killed 268 U.S. troops in Afghanistan last year, a 60 percent increase over the previous year even as the Pentagon employs new measures to counter the Taliban’s makeshift weapon of choice.

The number of U.S. troops wounded by what the military terms improvised explosive devices also soared, according to U.S. defense figures obtained Wednesday.

There were 3,366 U.S. service members injured in IED blasts - up 178 percent from the 1,211 hurt by the militants’ crudely made bombs in 2009, the figures showed.

Defense officials attributed the rise in casualties to the surge in U.S. forces in Afghanistan last year.


Thousands march in anti-Abbas protests

GAZA CITY | Thousands of cheering Hamas supporters in Gaza on Wednesday burned effigies of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior aides in the rival Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, denouncing them as traitors.

The protests came in response to reports by Al Jazeera satellite TV about leaked documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Al Jazeera, which has been releasing the documents gradually this week, says they show Mr. Abbas made far-reaching concessions on Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million people are refugees from the 1948-49 war that followed Israel’s creation or their descendants.


No proof WikiLeaks broke law, inquiry finds

LONDON | A company asked by Visa to investigate WikiLeaks’ finances found no proof that the group’s fundraising arm is breaking the law in its home base of Iceland, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press.

But Visa Europe Ltd. said Wednesday that it would continue blocking donations to the secret-spilling site until it completes its own investigation. Company spokeswoman Amanda Kamin said she couldn’t say when Visa’s inquiry, now stretching into its eighth week, would be finished.

Visa was one of several American companies that cut its ties with WikiLeaks after it began publishing a massive trove of secret U.S. diplomatic memos late last year.

U.S. officials have accused the site of putting its national security at risk - a claim WikiLeaks says is an attempt to distract from the memos’ embarrassing content.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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