- - Thursday, December 29, 2011


Afghan soldier kills 2 French NATO troops

KABUL | An Afghan army soldier fatally shot two French NATO troops Thursday, the French government said in what was the latest attack by members of Afghan security forces against their coalition partners.

A statement from the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a soldier in the Afghan National Army opened fire on the two, who were serving with the 2nd Regiment of the Foreign Legion.

This year has been the deadliest for French forces in Afghanistan since the international operation began there in 2001. Thursday’s deaths bring to 26 the number of French troops killed this year, and 78 over the entire 10-year conflict.

They also bring the December toll for NATO troops killed in Afghanistan to 25, while the year’s toll so far is 541.

The yearly total is considerably lower than for 2010, when more than 700 troops died. The number of wounded has remained high, dipping only slightly from last year’s total of more than 5,000 service members.


Lawyer goes on trial in dissent crackdown

BEIJING | A former lawyer and veteran activist left disabled by past police mistreatment went on trial Thursday, the third dissident in a week to be prosecuted as China presses a sweeping crackdown to deter popular uprisings like the ones that shook the Arab world.

Looking thin and frail, Ni Yulan lay on a bed and used an oxygen machine to help her breathe during the hearing, her daughter, Dong Xuan, said afterward.

Ms. Dong said she told the court about her mother’s run-ins with police since 2002 and how police beatings left her crippled.

“Seeing my mother lying on that bed, it made my heart ache,” Ms. Dong said.

Mrs. Ni is charged with fraud and is accused of falsifying facts to steal property. She also is charged, along with her husband, with causing a disturbance at a hotel where they had been detained by police.

Mrs. Ni and her supporters deny the charges and say she is being punished for her years of activism, especially her advocacy for people forced from their homes to make way for the fast-paced real estate development that remade Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.

Her outspoken defense earned her the enmity of officials and developers. Her family’s house in an old neighborhood in the capital’s center also was razed, and the couple became homeless.

The couple’s trial comes near the end of a year in which Chinese authorities use disappearances, house arrest, lengthy prison terms and other means to prevent activists from drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring protests.


Anti-graft legislation faces parliament test

NEW DELHI | India’s government and ruling Congress party faced a tough battle to pass its proposed flagship anti-corruption law on Thursday, as the upper house of parliament prepared to vote on the draft.

The legislation to create the post of an ombudsman tasked with investigating public officials was approved by the lower house of parliament Tuesday, before being taken up by the upper house, where the ruling party is weaker.

The Congress party had been lobbying furiously behind the scenes and was counting on independents, small regional parties and its unreliable parliamentary ally the Trinamool Congress in the upper chamber known as the Rajya Sabha.

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