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Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit Files for Bankruptcy

The city of Detroit, once the symbol of American manufacturing, has filed for bankruptcy with debts of at least US$18 billion. Detroit becomes the largest US city ever to file for bankruptcy and is seeking protection against creditors including public-sector workers and related pension funds. Michigan state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr said that bankruptcy was “the first step toward restoring the city”, while mayor David Bing said that “paychecks for our city employees will continue and services will continue”. The bankruptcy filing also means an automatic stay will be placed on most lawsuits against the city, including challenges by union members. An editorial in the city’s largest newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, said the city’s move was a “betrayal of its retirees” and that the “city’s financial problems aren’t their fault”.

Australia Unveils ‘Hardline’ Asylum Programme

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has signed a new refugee agreement with Papua New Guinea. Under the new scheme asylum seekers that reach Australia by boat will be shipped to Papua New Guinea for processing and, if found to merit refugee status, will be resettled there. “As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia“, said the prime minister, adding that the programme was “not inexpensive”. Asylum seekers will be sent to Manus Island and other locations in Papua New Guinea for processing as soon as health and security checks are complete and local officials will rule on their asylum claims. ”I understand that this is a very hardline decision. But our responsibility as a government is to ensure that we have a robust system of border security and orderly migration, on the one hand, as well as fulfilling our legal and compassionate obligations under the refugees convention on the other”, said Rudd. Greens leader Christine Milne called the scheme “absolutely immoral”.

Russian Protest Leader Released from Jail

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been released from custody on Friday one day after thousands protested a five-year jail sentence against him for embezzlement. “Thank you to everyone, that with your decisiveness you forced them to free me and Petya”, wrote Navalny in a blog post, referring to his co-defendant Petr Ofitserov. “It doesn’t matter if this is temporary or not, people decided their own fate”, he continued. Navalny come to prominence during the mass protests that took place in Moscow last year shortly before Russian President Vladimir Putin returned to power after four years as prime minister. He plans to appeal the verdict, which found him guilty of embezzling 16 million roubles while advising the Kirov region in 2009. He will now be able to take part in the election for mayor of Moscow, to be held in September.

Suspected Bomb Found Near Wolverhampton Mosque

Wolverhampton Central Mosque was evacuated late on Thursday “as a result of urgent enquiries” after two Ukrainian men believed to be working at a local software company were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences. A military bomb disposal squad was sent to a nearby roundabout, the “seat of an explosion and debris”. “The debris, found on Fiveways roundabout, has been declared safe and further detailed forensic inquiries will be conducted at the scene throughout the day. Nothing was found at the mosque itself which has now been reopened for worship”, said a police spokesman. This is the third device targeting Muslims in the West Midlands in a month and an English Defence League protest in Birmingham in Saturday should heighten community tensions in the area.

Weekend Read: Life in Transit

Mohammed Al Bahish, a Palestinian refugee, has been stuck in Kazakhstan’s Almaty International for four months. He admits it is driving him round the bend. In BBC News.

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