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Friday, March 8, 2013

Kenyatta, War Crimes Suspect, “Wins” Kenya Election

Uhuru Kenyatta, the man who is accused of crimes against humanity and has served as deputy prime minister, has won the Kenyan presidential election by a slim margin of 50.03 percent, preliminary results showed today. The country’s Electoral Commission announced the provisional figures early Saturday (it will be 4:00 a.m. in Kenya by the time of publication) among concerns that delays and computer glitches may have tainted the votes. Kenyatta’s election poses ethical issues to other nations, most notably the U.S. and the U.K., which have treated Kenya as a partner in the fight against terrorism, exchanging intelligence.

Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law Pleads Not Guilty to Conspiracy Charge

Suleiman Abu Ghaith, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons-in-law and a prominent figure in the terrorist network Al Qaeda, pleaded not guilty today at a court trial in New York to a single charge of conspiracy to kill Americans. A spokesman for the organisation, he is one of the most senior operatives ever to be prosecuted in the U.S. He was arrested on February 28 and flown secretly to the U.S. the next day. The prosecution said it will use a 22-page document that compiles Abu Graith’s remarks since his capture, as well as a video in which he appears to be speaking for Al Qaeda. “Among other things, Abu Ghaith urged others to swear allegiance to Bin Laden, spoke on behalf of and in support of Al Qaeda’s mission, and warned that attacks similar to those of Sept. 11, 2001, would continue,” the indictment read. He agreed to letting court-appointed lawyers Martin Cohen and Philip Weinstein represent him. U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to charge him in a civilian court, rather than consider him an “enemy combatant” and have him interrogated by the military, rose concern among Republican ranks.

Hiring Accelerates in the U.S. as Unemployment Rate Drops

Companies hired at a faster pace than expected in February, with 236,000 new workers added to U.S. payrolls, according to the Labor Department. This compares with a forecast for 165,000 in a Bloomberg survey of 90 economists, and follows a 119,00 increase in January, revised down from the initial estimate published last month. The unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent to a four-year low of 7.7 percent. The number accounts both for people who found work and people who gave up looking. The sector that hired the most was construction, with the steepest gain in six years. The numbers herald an acceleration in economic growth for the U.S., analysts say, though sovereign debt troubles in the European Union.

Chávez Funeral Brings Together World Leaders

The funeral of Venezuela President Hugo Chávez gathered delegations from 55 nations today, including Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Cuba President Raul Castro, Belarus President Alexander Lukaschenko, former Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former Canada Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Ecuador President Rafael Correa, Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos, but also American actor Sean Penn. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the street to mourn their “comandante,” whose body will be embalmed “like Ho Chi Minh, Lenin and Mao” and exposed “for eternity,” said Nicolás Maduro, who was anointed by Chávez as his successor. Venezuelan Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel opened the ceremony leading the country’s youth orchestra for the national anthem. Maduro was sworn in later today as acting president until new elections take place.

South Dakota Will Allow Guns in Classrooms

A new law signed today in South Dakota will allow teachers and volunteers to carry guns into schools. This is the U.S.’ first legislation of its kind, and supporters say it will help prevent massacres like the one that occurred on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, and resulted in the death of 20 elementary-school children. “I think it does provide the same safety precautions that a citizen expects when a law enforcement officer enters onto a premises,” Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard told the New York Times. Opponents, including the state’s Associated School Board and teachers association, testified last month that the new law was rushed and wouldn’t make schools any safer. On the contrary, it will increase the chance of accidental shootings, they added. It will come into effect on July 1.

Weekend Read: The Professor, the Bikini Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble

Paul Frampton, a British physicist who taught for 30 years at Chapel Hill in North Carolina, is in prison in Argentina for believing a beautiful model he met online. In the New York Times.

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