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Monday, April 22, 2013

US Prepares Charges Against Boston Bombing Suspect

Surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev is in hospital and unable to speak because of a wound to the throat, thwarting federal interrogators who were hoping to question him on his and his deceased brother’s motives for carrying out the attacks last Monday. The interrogators did not read Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, which would guarantee him the right to remain silent or his right to be defended by an attorney at no cost to him. The Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino, told ABC News that he didn’t know “if we’ll ever be able to question the individual”, but hoped that federal prosecutors would “throw the book at him” when levelling charges. If charged with using a weapon of mass destruction with the intent to kill, he could face the death penalty. The state of Massachussetts may also decide to file separate charges. Other reports sustain that Tsarnaev had been responding in writing to investigators, including on questions about more cell members or other explosives. He was found hiding in the backyard of a house in Watertown, a suburb of Boston, hiding inside a boat last Friday.

EU Eases Syrian Oil Sanctions to Help Rebels

The European Union agreed on Monday to ease economic sanctions on Syria, allowing for the purchase of crude oil from opposition groups. The move opens a potentially important financial lifeline for those fighting the government forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The decision will allow European companies to buy oil from Syria as long as the purchase is authorised by the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition umbrella group. “Anything that can help more resources to be available to people affected by the crisis of course is welcome”, said Kristalini Georgieva, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid. “It is important for us to send a signal that we are open to helping in other ways, in all the ways possible”, said UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. The easing of oil sales comes after the UK and France failed to convince their EU partners that the bloc should ease an embargo on the sale of weapons to Syrian rebels. Some countries, such as Germany and Sweden, blocked the move out out of concerns that some weapons could be diverted to Islamist militants.

Heavy Clashes Kill 185 in Northern Nigeria

Heavy clashes between the Nigerian military and northern Islamist militants are reported to have killed at least 185 people in the remote town of Baga, near the border with Chad. An exchange of heavy gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades destroyed some 2,000 homes, causing a number of deaths among the local population. The insurgency led by the Boko Haram, as the group is known, has caused the deaths of thousands of Nigerians since 2009. Some of the city’s residents, who had fled into the forest in order to flee the militants on Friday, returned on Sunday to find Baga destroyed and corpses littering the streets. Bashir Isa, a resident of the town, told the Associated Press that “everyone has been in the bush since Friday night; we started returning to town because the governor came. To get food to eat in the town now is a problem because even the markets are burnt. We are still picking corpses of women and children in the bush and creeks.” The goal of the Boko Haram insurgency is to create an Islamic caliphate in the north of Nigeria.

Boeing ‘May Never Find 787 Battery Fault Root Cause’

The general manager of Boeing’s 787 division has told reporters in London that the company may never discover what caused the battery malfunctions that resulted in the entire global fleet of 787 Dreamliners to be grounded since January. “It is possible we will never know the root cause. It is not uncommon not to have found the single root cause. So industry best practice is to look at all the potential causes and address all of them”, said Larry Loftis. His words come after the Federal Aviation Administration, the US aircraft regulatory body, approved a new design for the batteries in the aircraft, which will allow 787s to return to the skies once they are fitted with the new equipment. They are not in use in flight, but are operational when the plane is parked, with the engines off, and are used to power the aircraft’s lights and brakes. “We did an exhaustive study of potential causes, and addressed all of them. We do feel that with all the work we have done, we have tackled the potential problems”, added Loftis.

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