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Thursday, February 14, 2013

South African Sprinter Oscar Pistorius Detained in Murder Charge

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, South African model Reeva Steenkamp, who died of multiple gunshot wounds at his home in Pretoria on Thursday morning. Neighbours of the couple in the upmarket Silver Lakes gated community said that they had heard “screaming and shouting” consistent with a domestic altercation on Wednesday night. Initial speculation in local media said that Pistorius might have mistaken his girlfriend for a burglar and shot her in a Valentine’s Day surprise gone wrong. Police spokeswomen Denise Beukes denied these reports, saying that these reports did not originate with police officers and that they had already been called to the house on different occasions. “I confirm there had been previous incidents of a domestic nature at his place, but this will form part of the investigation,” she said. Pistorius had spoken enthusiastically to the New York Times last year about his gun ownership and had told the author of his profile of an incident at his home where he had “grabbed his gun and tiptoed downstairs” when he thought his property had been broken into. Local officials said that Pistorius will be questioned for 48 hours and will appear in court on Friday.

‘Grexit’ Risk Drastically Reduced, Says Bank of Greece

The Governor of the Bank of Greece, George Provopoulos, has told the AFP news agency that the risk of a Greek exit from the Eurozone has “drastically receded“. He said the country had progressed significantly on its programme of reforms that have put Greece back into “a virtuous circle”. The 62-year-old central banker added that the government still had to move faster in the implementation of the reforms listed as conditions for further financial aid from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund. “We have quite a long agenda of things to do, regarding privatisations, reform in the product and services market, improving the tax collecting mechanism which has a number of weaknesses and so on”, said Provopoulos. Officials from the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) are due to visit Greece later this month to check on the implementation of reforms. Their appraisal will determine whether the country will have access to the next €2.8 billion aid tranche.

Veterinary Painkiller Found in UK Horsemeat

The UK Minister for Food and Agriculture, David Heath, has told Parliament that eight horses slaughtered for food in the country tested positive for phenylbutazone, known as bute, a veterinary painkiller. “It is unacceptable that bute at any level has been found in horsemeat. We are investigating and anyone found to have broken the law will be dealt with”, he said. Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Offficer for England, said that “the trace levels detected are very unlikely to have harmed any human, child or foetus”. She added that a person would need to eat more than 500 horsemeat burgers to ingest bute in harmful levels. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said on Thursday that horse carcasses would no longer be released from abattoirs until they had been tested for the painkiller and received a negative test, with results being ready in 48 hours.

Teenager Killed in Protests Marking Failed Uprising in Bahrain

Riot police in Bahrain shot dead a 16-year-old boy on Thursday morning as thousands marched across the country to mark the second anniversary of a failed uprising in the country. The boy was shot in the village of al-Daih, located west of the capital Manama. His death was announced by the country’s main opposition party, al-Wefaq, on Twitter. He was reportedly targeted with birdshot at close range and died of severe injuries to his stomach. Other protesters were reportedly injured in clashes, but chose to be treated in private homes to evade arrest by the country’s security forces. Amnesty International has called on Bahrain to release what it called “prisoners of conscience”. “The government of Bahrain cannot carry on imprisoning people simply because it can’t take criticism”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty. Bahrain maintains it holds no political prisoners.

Apple Loses iPhone Trademark in Brazil

Brazil’s Industrial Property Institute (INPI) has ruled that Apple does not have exclusive rights for the use of the iPhone name in the country. The ruling is in favour of a local electronics company, Gradiente, who had registered the name six years before the U.S. giant, in 2000. The decision allows Apple to continue selling iPhones in Brazil, but also gives Gradiente the right to sue for brand exclusivity in the country. INPI spokesman Marcelo Chimento told the BBC that the decision applied only to handsets and that Apple would continue to exercise exclusive rights to the product name in other products such as software, publications and even clothing. “As Apple started its applications for iPhone in 2006, they were denied because Gradiente had a very similar register for cell phones applied some years before the American company”, said Chimento. Apple has already lodged an appeal with INPI against its decision.

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