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Friday, December 21, 2012

U.K. High Court Blocks Drone Intelligence Case

The U.K.’s High Court has rejected an attempt to force the government to reveal if it was cooperating with the U.S. in the identification of targets for potential drone targets. The case was brought forth by Noor Khan, a Pakistani man whose father had been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. Khan attested that the government’s signal intelligence centre, GCHQ, was committing a war crime by helping the CIA to select targets. His father was killed in March 2011 while presiding an outdoor meeting of local elders who had been attempting to settle a commercial dispute when the assembly was struck by a missile. All 49 people in attendance were killed. In its judgement, the High Court wrote that “the response of the secretary of state has been to invoke the consistent and conventional policy of neither confirming nor denying the assertions; to do so would risk damaging the important public interest in preserving the confidentiality of national security and ‘vital’ relations with international partners”. Khan’s attorneys said they wold appeal against the court’s decision. A parallel case is being heard in Pakistan over the local government’s supposed involvement in drone strikes.

British Army Doctor Punished Over Death of Iraqi Detainee

A former British Army doctor was removed from the medical register after his misconduct over the death of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi detainee being held in Basra in 2003. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) said Dr Derek Keilloh was aware that Mousa had sustained 93 injuries after having been hooded, handcuffed and severely beaten by soldiers, but failed to report them. A former hotel receptionist, Mousa had been arrested by soldiers who believed he had been involved in the murder of four of their colleagues a month earlier. While the MPTS recognised that Dr Keilloh did “everything possible” to save the victim’s life, they also ruled he must have seen the injuries and failed to act on them. The panel questioned his honesty after he lied to Army investigators about the injuries and also said he did not to do enough to protect his patients from further mistreatment, breaking “a fundamental tenet” of the medical profession. In July 2008 the Ministry of Defence agreed to pay £2.83m to those who were mistreated in Basra. The money was divided by eight surviving men, Mousa’s family and the brother of another man who was mistreated, but died later in an unrelated incident.

Clashes Between Protesters Injure 32 in Egypt

Clashes broke out in Alexandria between supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and opponents shortly after morning prayers on Friday, according to the state-run Nile TV. The fighting began near the Al-Qaed Ibrahim mosque, also the site of clashes last week. The supporters of President Morsi were supposedly inspired by the words of the mosque’s imam, Sheikh Ahmed El-Mahlawy, who encouraged his believers to demonstrate in favour of Egypt’s draft constitution. They chanted “God is Great” and “With blood and soul, we redeem Islam”. Opponents of the draft constitution, who say the document does not protect minorities, chanted slogans against the document. Both sides threw stones at each other and riot police had to step in to keep the groups apart, using tear gas. The fighting subsided after 90 minutes. State news agency Mena said 32 people had been injured in the clashes. If the constitution is approved in the second round of voting, after being approved amidst low turnout in last month’s first round, then the country will hold new elections within three months. Executive and legislative powers would remain with President Morsi in the interim period.

Parliamentary Commission Says U.K. Banking Reform Should Be Tougher

The U.K. Parliament’s Commission on Banking Standards says that the government’s plan to ring-fence banks in order to protect retail banking from the considerable risks of investment banking will “fall well short of what is required”, according to a report released on Friday. The commission wants the government to “electrify” the fence so that banks will not try to “game” the rules. “The latest revelations of collusion, corruption and market-rigging beggar belief. It is the clearest illustration yet that a great deal more needs to be done to restore standards in banking”, said Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the commission. “That’s why we recommend electrification. The legislation needs to set out a reserve power for separation; the regulator needs to know he can use it”, he added. Speaking to the BBC, the chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association, Anthony Browne, was not enthusiastic by the commission’s proposals. He said such regulations would stifle the global competitiveness of banks and discourage lending to homeowners and businesses.

Two Dead in Argentina Amidst Widespread Urban Looting

Widespread looting in Rosario, Argentina’s third largest city, left two dead and 13 seriously injured on Friday in the latest of a string of similar outbursts across the country. Looting also occurred in other cities in Argentina on Thursday night and into early Friday morning, according to local officials. In Rosario, one woman was declared dead in hospital after being brought in with stab wounds. A 22-year-old was killed after being shot in the south side of the city. The city’s mayor, Mónica Fein, asked the federal government for assistance and security forces to try to calm down the situation. The shops raided by looters were mostly owned by Chinese immigrants and were located on the outskirts of the city centre. In Bariloche, in the south of the country, local officials said the looting was caused by anger over a blackout that had left most of the city and surrounding Neuquén province with no power on Wednesday. Early on Friday local media also reported that crowds had attempted to raid a supermarket in the outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires, but were pushed by back by police forces.

Weekend Read: The song of Song

Song Jiaoren had just led his Nationalist party to overwhelming success at the parliamentary elections of 1913. But the shot that killed him in Shanghai that year might have changed the course of Chinese history. In The Economist.

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