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Monday, July 15, 2013

Spanish PM Says He Will Not Resign Over Slush Fund Scandal

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Monday that he would not resign over fresh revelations of links to a suspect in an illegal payments scandal. “The rule of law does not bow to blackmail and the institutions, the administrations of justice, the judicial police and tax administrations have acted and are acting and will continue to act with absolute independence. I insist that this is a serious democracy and I will submit myself to investigation”, he said during a press conference at the Moncloa Palace, his official residence in Madrid. The calls for resignation stem from a revelation that his party’s former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, took donations from construction firms and handed them over personally to party leaders in cash, with El Mundo newspaper adding on Monday that Rajoy had sent text messages of support to Bárcenas when he was arrested.

Italian Minister Cécile Kyenge Faces Fresh Racial Slurs

Cécile Kyenge, an Italian citizen born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the country’s Minister for Integration, has been compared to a orangutan by Roberto Calderoli, leader of the right-wing and anti-immigration party Northern League at a rally on Saturday. “When I see images of Kyenge I cannot help but think, even if I don’t say she is one, of the resemblance to an orangutan”. This is the latest in a series of repeated racial slurs against Italy’s first black cabinet minister, who has in the past been referred to as a “Congolese monkey” and “the member of a bonga bonga government”. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said the episode was “another shameful page for our country on this issue, Italy today is in the world’s press for this reason, it is shameful issue that hurts our country” and that Kyenge had his “full support”. Kyenge herself did not call for Calderoli’s resignation, but said he should “reflect deeply” about this words.

Bangladesh Sentences Former Islamist Leader to 90 Years in Prison for War Crimes

A Bangladeshi tribunal investigating crimes in the country’s 1971 war of independence has sentenced the former leader of the country’s main Islamist party to 90 years in prison for crimes against humanity. Ninety-one-year-old Ghulam Azam, the former head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was found guilty of planning, conspiracy, incitement and complicity to commit genocide during the 1971 war, when the country broke away from Pakistan. The verdict led to clashes between party activists and the police in the capital, Dhaka, as well as the port city of Chittagong and Rajshahi, Comilla, Bagerhat and Barishal. The tribunal has convicted another three former Jamaat leaders to death and another one to life in prison in what opposition leaders have said is a politically motivated bid to hurt the party.

India to Compensate Families of Those Missing in Himalayan Floods

The Chief Minister of the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna, said on Monday that officials will begin distributing financial aid to the families of the more than 5,000 people missing after a month of flash floods. He had earlier said that those not found by today would be declared dead and their families would be able to receive up to 500,000 rupees, or US$8,300, in compensation. Family members will have to sign an affidavit promising to return the money if the missing person is found, with the official death toll standing at 580 people. “It is a big nightmare for us. But there is always hope against hope. Let us pray that they are alive somewhere”, said Bahuguna. The minister also said 250 villages in the area would be completely rebuilt. “We will prepare a model village considering all the factors like seismic zone and local requirement and then replicate that model in all the villages”, he said.

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