Suicide bomber kills 20 in Iraq Sunni mosque
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Sunni mosque in central Iraq, killing at least 20 people in the middle of a sermon on Friday, police and medics said.
The explosion took place in the town of Wajihiya in the ethnically and religiously diverse province of Diyala, which has seen an increasing number of attacks in recent weeks.
It was not clear who was behind the blast, which appeared to be part of a sustained campaign of militant attacks that has prompted fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds and Shia and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise.
Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, which has drawn in Shia and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.
Sunni Islamist insurgents, including the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, have been regaining strength in recent months, security sources say.
More than 460 people have been killed in militant attacks in July so far, according to violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
Caracas brought talks with the US to an abrupt end over statements made by Samantha Power, the nominee for UN ambassador. Venezuela blasted Washington for backing Power’s “meddling agenda” after she criticized human rights in the country.
Russian opposition leader Navalny released
A Russian Court on Friday released opposition leader Alexei Navalny from custody less than 24 hours after he was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison.
The release came after a surprise request by prosecutors, who said that because Navalny is a candidate in this fall’s Moscow mayoral race keeping him in custody would deny him his right to seek election.
The release, under the condition that he not travel outside Moscow, will extend until appeals of his conviction are completed.
After the Friday decision, a smiling Navalny emerged from the caged-off defendants’ section of the courtroom and thanked supporters who held protest rallies on Thursday after his conviction.
Presentation of the appeal and the decision by the court for the Kirov region took little more than an hour, a sharp contrast to the droning 3 hour verdict reading and sentencing in a lower court the previous day.
Navalny, a popular blogger and corruption-fighting lawyer, rose to prominence among the opposition during a series of massive protests in Moscow against President Vladimir Putin’s re-election to a third presidential term in March 2012.
The conviction prompted criticism from the United States and the European Union.
Navalny began his rise to prominence by blogging about his investigations into corruption at state-owned companies where he owned shares, reaching hundreds of thousands of people.
He and his team of lawyers and activists have plumbed property registers abroad to identify top officials and lawmakers who own undeclared foreign assets and hold foreign citizenship.
Navalny’s blog quickly became an Internet sensation not only because of his exposures but because of its engaging illustrations, funny images and witty catchphrases.
It was Navalny who first called the dominant United Russia party “the party of crooks and thieves,” a phrase that still dogs Kremlin loyalists.
The opposition leader’s investigations targeted a wide circle of Putin loyalists, from members of Parliament to state bankers, threatening to discredit the system of governance he has built.
Detroit bankruptcy challenged in court
Detroit’s bankruptcy was challenged in court by government workers fighting to protect their retirement benefits as Michigan’s governor insisted it is the only way for Motown to survive.
A county judge ordered that the proceedings be halted because it violates the US state’s constitution, but it’s not clear how much weight that would carry in federal bankruptcy court.
The order was immediately appealed by Michigan’s attorney general on Friday. Saddled with more than USD 18 billion in debt and a shrunken tax base, the birthplace of the US auto industry has been so strapped for cash it can’t even keep the streetlights on.
“Now is the opportunity to stop 60 years of decline,” Governor Rick Snyder said at a news conference a day after approving the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history.
“We will come out with a stronger, better Detroit and a format to grow this city. The citizens of not just this city but the state deserve it.” Once a bustling beacon of industrial might, the Motor City is now a poster child for urban decay, its landscape littered with abandoned skyscrapers, factories and homes.
Detroit has seen its population shrink by more than half from 1.8 million in 1950 to 685,000 today as crime, flight to the suburbs and the hollowing out of the auto industry ate away at its foundations.
The bankruptcy is expected to make it harder for municipalities in Michigan and other US states to borrow money, by undermining confidence in what used to be among the most trusted bonds available.
Snyder insisted there was no other “viable” option because the city is “broke,” with 38 percent of its budget spent on debt and pension obligations.
The situation in Detroit is being closely monitored by government workers across the country who are fearful that they too may see their retirement benefits slashed by cash-strapped states and cities.
About nine billion dollars of the city’s debt is owed to the pension funds and retiree health care benefits of the Detroit’s 10,000 employees and 20,000 retirees.
State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr said the city simply does not have the money to cover all its outstanding debts.
“Yes, there are 10,000 employees. Yes, there are 20,000 retirees. But there are 700,000 citizens who don’t deserve 58 minute (police) response times,” Orr told reporters.
Judge denies BP bid to deflect liability from 2010 Gulf spill
Two civilians killed in rocket attack on Egypt’s Sinai
Italian court convicts 3 of Berlusconi’s former aides
Derailed Quebec train had ‘insufficient brake force’ – investigators
Berezovsky had unpaid taxes worth $151mn in UK – reports
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood gathers thousands for Morsi rally
British police find evidence of explosion at mosque
Israel stations Iron Dome battery in Eilat
Polish prosecutor, experts to examine presidential plane wreck again
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