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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Storm Death Toll Mounts in Northern Europe

The St Jude’s Day storm that battered much of southern England with high winds and heavy rain barreled on towards northern Europe on Monday, killing at least seven people in Germany and four people across Denmark, France and the Netherlands. Falling trees killed several drivers in Germany, with one man drowning in torrential waters and a 66-year-old woman killed by a wall collapsing on her. In Amsterdam, a woman died when a tree fell on her while a 24-year-old man was killed while cycling in Veenendaal when a tree branch struck him. In France, a 47-year-old woman was swept out to sea in Brittany. Sweden reported no injuries, but there were widespread reports of blown-off roofs and fallen trees.

US Senate to Review Country’s Surveillance Operations

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Californian Democrat and the head of the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee, said on Monday that a “total review of all intelligence programmes is necessary” and that she was “totally opposed” to the NSA’s spying on world leaders from France, Germany, Mexico and Spain. “Unlike NSA’s collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed. Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased”, said Feinstein. She added that unless the country was at war or there was an “emergency need” for such information, the US should not be “collecting phone calls and e-mails of friendly presidents and prime ministers” without presidential approval. Obama administration officials have said that the US president was aware of spying on “adversarial countries”, but not on allied world leaders.

China Says Beijing Crash ‘Linked to Terrorism’

Chinese authorities have asked Beijing hotels for more information on at least eight suspects thought to be involved in the car that burst into flames and killed five people in Tiananmen Square on Monday. At least seven suspects were Uyghurs from Xinjiang province in western China, but a prominent Uyghur intellection caused against using the incident to impose further controls on the region. Illham Tohti said that there was no evidence that had yet linked the incident to Uyghurs, but that extremists could not be ruled out. Uyghur separatists have already carried out attacks, such as an attack that killed 23 people in Kashgar in Xinjiang province in 2011, but were not thought to be capable to strike in China’s major cities in the east of the country.

Leader of Plot to Kill Mandela Jailed for 35 Years

Five leaders of a white supremacist plot to kill former South African President Nelson Mandela and purge the country’s black population were sentenced to decades in prison after a trial lasting more than 10 years. Mike du Toit, ringleader of the Boer supremacist group, was sentenced to 35 years while with the other 19 co-defendants were sentenced to between 10 and 30 years depending on their involvement with the 2002 plot to overthrown the country’s first post-apartheid government. Many of the convicted will go free, however, because the trial judge took into consideration their time behind bars while the case was on-going. The plot hatched by the Boeremag, or “Boer Force”, would plunge the country into chaos through bomb blasts. The group would then take over military bases, replace the government with a white supremacist dictatorship and expel blacks and Indians from the country.

British PM to Unveil Islamic Bond Plan

The UK is set to become the first non-Muslim country to sell Islamic bonds. The announcement was made by the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) by Prime Minister David Cameron, who wants to attract more Muslim investors to the London Stock Exchange by make it clearer which companies match their criteria as under Islamic rules no interest on business dealings can be charged. “I don’t just want London to be a great capital of Islamic finance in the Western world, I want London to stand alongside Dubai as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world. There are some countries which naturally look inwards, pull up the drawbridge and refuse to recognise that the way the world is changing affects their future success. But Britain will not make that mistake”, said Cameron.

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