- - Thursday, December 15, 2011


Afghanistan asked to block U.S. drone flights

TEHRAN | Iran’s foreign minister demanded Thursday that Afghanistan stop allowing the U.S. to use bases there to launch drone flights over Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran has displayed a pilotless U.S. aircraft it says was forced to land two weeks ago during a mission over Iran. The U.S. says it went down because of a malfunction.

“We have demanded the government of Afghanistan study the case seriously and not allow such an incident to happen anymore, otherwise it will be seen as an unfriendly act,” Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, according to the report.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Wednesday that the U.S. will continue the operations.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, said his country doesn’t want to be involved in any “adversarial relations” between the U.S. and Iran.

Earlier this week, Iran summoned an Afghan envoy to protest the violation of its airspace by the U.S. surveillance drone.


Two bodies found buried at student group office

MEXICO CITY | Two bodies have been found buried at the office of a student association in the western Mexico city of Guadalajara.

The Jalisco state prosecutors office said Wednesday that the bodies were found at the headquarters of the Federation of Guadalajara Students.

The office said it is investigating whether they are among five people who were reported missing after a dispute with the group’s officials.

The federation is an independent student association that often has clashed with other student groups in Mexico’s second-largest city.

The University of Guadalajara on Wednesday reported that four students and one of their fathers had disappeared after complaining about demands for payment by federation members.


Army defectors kill soldiers police in Daraa province

BEIRUT | In one of their deadliest attacks, Syrian army defectors killed at least 27 government soldiers and police Thursday in clashes in the south, activists said.

The escalating political unrest prompted Canada to become the latest country to urge its citizens to leave Syria.

The fighting took place around daybreak in the southern province of Daraa, where the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime began in March.

Attacks by army defectors have been escalating in recent weeks, raising concerns the country is headed toward civil war.

Sanctions by Western powers and the Arab League have added to the growing pressure on Mr. Assad from within Syria.


Official tells nations to end executions of gays

GENEVA | The U.N.’s top human rights official urged countries Thursday to abolish legal discrimination against gays, including the death penalty for consensual sex, days after the U.S. government said it would use foreign aid and diplomacy to promote gay equal rights.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said governments also should outlaw all forms of abuse based on sexual orientation and set the same age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual activity.

Ms. Pillay’s appeal came in a report released Thursday to the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council, which in June approved the global body’s first resolution condemning discrimination against gays.

That vote was hailed as historic by the United States, European countries and others, but decried by some African and Muslim nations.


Police crack down on highway protest

MANAMA | Bahraini security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters attempting to protest alongside a highway leading to the island kingdom’s capital Thursday.

The clashes follow 10 months of unrest between Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy and an opposition movement led by the country’s majority Shiites.

They came during a visit by the U.S. State Department’s top human rights envoy, who expressed concern about the government’s use of tear gas and other tough tactics against protesters.


Appeals court explains why it cleared Amanda Knox

MILAN | The Italian appeals court that cleared Amanda Knox in the slaying of her British roommate gave the reasons for its ruling Thursday: The evidence that had been used by a lower court to convict the American and her Italian boyfriend of murder just didn’t hold up.

Those shortcomings included no murder weapon, faulty DNA, an inaccurate time for the killing, and insufficient proof that Miss Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were even at the location where the crime occurred.

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