North America Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. Sun, 23 Nov 2014 07:22:46 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb Mexico ex-police official arrested in student abductions imageMEXICO CITY: A former police chief in Cocula, the Mexican town where witnesses say 43 missing students were massacred, was arrested for allegedly participating in handing the young men over to a criminal gang, prosecutors said Friday.

Cesar Nava Gonzalez was arrested on November 16, the statement said, calling the former official a "member of the Guerreros Unidos criminal organization."

The teacher college students' disappearance and presumed slaughter has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006.

Lawyer Vidulfo Rosales, who represents the parents of the missing students, said the families were told earlier Friday of the latest arrest at a briefing with officials.

The students were taken on September 26, after the mayor of the city of Iguala allegedly ordered police to confront students, sparking a night of violence that also left six people dead.

Members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang have told investigators they killed the students and burned the bodies after police had handed them over.

The then police chief Nava Gonzales, who had been on the run since soon after the crime came to light, has confessed to responding to a call from the Iguala police chief on the night of September 26, to help with detaining the students, said lawyer Rosales.

Nava Gonzales said he helped take the students to the entrance of his town to deliver them to the Guerrero Unidos cartel, Rosales said.

Iguala's police chief remains at large, but the Iguala mayor and his wife have both been arrested.

Prosecutors accuse the mayoral couple of colluding with the gang and ordering the attack over fears the students would disrupt a speech by the mayor's wife, who was head of the local child protection agency.

Officials have stopped short of declaring the students dead, pending an Austrian university's DNA tests on charred bones. Federal authorities continue to search for them in Guerrero.

Highlighting their deep distrust of the authorities, families of the missing say they will only trust DNA test results from independent foreign forensic experts.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:28:34 +0000
Obama presses on with immigration plan as clash looms imageLAS VEGAS: US President Barack Obama staunchly defended his unilateral move to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation Friday, pledging to implement his controversial plan despite furious criticism from congressional opponents.

The controversial overhaul, praised by many immigration rights activists, provides three-year relief for millions of undocumented people who have lived in the country for more than five years and have children that are US citizens or legal residents.

According to the president, it also channels more resources to the US border with Mexico and shifts deportation priorities toward expelling felons.

"I have come back to Del Sol to tell you, I'm not giving up. I will never give up," Obama insisted at the Las Vegas, Nevada high school where he launched his immigration reform efforts two years ago.

"We're going to keep on working with members of Congress to make permanent reform a reality," he added.

"But until that day comes, there are actions that I have the legal authority to take that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just, and this morning I began to take some of those actions."

He wasted little time, signing two elements of the orders.

"Don't let all the rhetoric fool you," Obama said, referring to repeated Republican claims that the administration has done little to beef up border security or stem illegal crossings.

Obama said the overall number of people trying to cross illegally was now at its lowest level since the 1970s.

Crucially, the reforms do not offer a pathway to citizenship, something Obama was quick to point out to the largely-Hispanic American crowd after they broke into chants of "Si se puede" -- the Spanish version of his original 2008 campaign slogan "Yes we can."

Republicans have nevertheless heaped scorn on the plan, calling it "executive amnesty," "illegal" and "unconstitutional," bringing tensions between Washington's warring camps to a boil.

Already emboldened by their sweeping midterm election victory, Republicans vowed to thwart Obama's plans.

"With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms he claims to seek," House Speaker John Boehner declared.

"I will say to you: the House will in fact act."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:13:43 +0000
Criminal investigation closed against Bogota mayor imageBOGOTA: Colombian prosecutors closed a criminal investigation Friday into Bogota's mayor, who was temporarily removed from office last year following a months-long battle in court.

Gustavo Petro, a former leader of the now defunct M-19 guerrilla group, was elected to serve as mayor of Bogota, home to seven million people, from 2012 to 2016.

But he was sacked in December by Colombia's inspector general, who said Petro had abused his powers by eliminating private garbage collection contracts to replace them with a city-run service.

In the midst of the convoluted political saga, President Juan Manuel Santos then reinstated Petro in April, following a request by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

"The closing of the criminal investigation against me is a triumph for all of Bogota. For a democratic and progressive Bogota," Petro said on Twitter.

Petro, himself a former guerrilla, had argued that his removal from office would undermine confidence in peace talks currently under way between the Colombian government and leftist FARC rebels.

The controversy over Petro's sacking ignited numerous protests in Bogota in support of the 54-year-old economist.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:11:24 +0000
Immigration row fuels early 2016 US presidential race imageWASHINGTON: When President Barack Obama unveiled his immigration plan and Republican rivals howled their disapproval, the drama signaled not just a clash of political positions: it kicked off the 2016 presidential campaign.

Several likely Republican White House contenders -- and a very prominent Democrat, Hillary Clinton -- provided some of the most visible early reactions to the president's controversial executive order.

Their statements helped draw the battle lines of Washington's immigration warfare that is sure to extend all the way to the next national election, when Republicans will be seeking to end their eight-year White House drought.

And how both parties handle the deeply divisive issue may ultimately help decide who their next presidential nominees will be.

Obama's Democrats appear eager to lock in the Hispanic vote early.

"I support the president's decision to begin fixing our broken immigration system and focus finite resources on deporting felons rather than families," Clinton, the 2016 Democratic frontrunner, said in a statement that earned attention in part for the swiftness of its release after Obama's announcement.

Clinton often declines to weigh in quickly on sensitive issues, keeping her options open ahead of a likely declaration of her candidacy some time next year.

There was no hesitation on immigration, as she justified her support of the plan by calling congressional inaction an "abdication of responsibility" on the part of House Republicans.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a potential presidential challenger from the left, also said action was needed due to House Republicans failing to act after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill last year.

"If House Republicans won't do their jobs, it's time for the president to do his," she said.

Republicans claim they want to return the presidency to its constitutional principles and leave the legislating to Congress, a paramount guidepost for conservatives who feel Obama has abused his executive authority.

"President Obama is not above the law and has no right to issue executive amnesty," Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite for 2016, said of Obama's plan to temporarily shield millions of undocumented migrants from deportation.

"I will not sit idly by and let the president bypass Congress and our Constitution."

- Crucial Hispanic vote -


Paul is likely in a tricky spot. For months, he has positioned himself as his party's compassionate supporter of minority groups.

But opposing Obama's plan could put Paul at odds with an increasingly influential Hispanic voting bloc, some 71 percent of whom voted for Obama in 2012.

And yet in order to win the nomination, Republican presidential contenders will need to prevail in primary races where core party values are front and center.

Conservatives, who largely oppose immigration reform, are often the all-important voters in Republican primaries.

The White House is well aware that an all-out sabotage of immigration reform by Republicans would not sit well with the broader American electorate.

"Reality check: No one who promises to reverse this executive order will be elected president in 2016," David Axelrod, a former senior advisor to Obama, posted in a Republican-goading tweet.

Democrats may well have fast-tracked Obama's deportation deferment in order to force Republicans into an internal war, pitting House Speaker John Boehner against his caucus's rebellious conservative faction.

Boehner is aware that a conservative plan to insert anti-immigration language into must-pass spending bills could provoke a government shutdown, a potential disaster for Republicans just as the party takes control of both chambers of Congress next January following victory in midterm elections.

Squeezed in the middle are two Floridians: presidential brother Jeb Bush, a former state governor who has emerged as a leader of substance for the Republican Party, and Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican author of the Senate comprehensive immigration bill loathed by many conservatives.

Both are believed to be mulling White House runs.

Bush called Obama's unilateral action "ill-advised," but also said in a statement that "action must come in the form of bipartisan comprehensive reform passed through Congress."

"We must demonstrate to Americans we are the party that will tackle serious challenges and build broad-based consensus."

As potential candidates build their cases for succeeding Obama, the Democratic and Republican parties telegraphed the immigration debate's importance: both fired off immigration-related fundraising emails to supporters within hours of Obama's announcement.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:10:21 +0000
Ailing Thai King unable to meet ministers imageBANGKOK: Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej missed a planned meeting with two government ministers, palace officials said, amid ongoing public concern over the state of the ailing 86-year-old's health.

The two ministers were supposed to accompany junta leader General Prayut Chan-O-Cha to meet the world's longest serving monarch on Friday evening to swear an oath in front of him before taking up office.

But the palace said his medical team had advised against the king going ahead with the ceremony.

"A team of royal physicians recommended that the king is not ready to grant an audience. Therefore the date of the royal audience is postponed," a statement from the Royal Household Bureau said late Friday.

The elderly king has suffered from a series of ailments in recent years and is treated as a near-deity in Thailand.

In early October he was rushed from his palace in the southern seaside resort of Hua Hin to a Bangkok hospital, where he underwent an operation to remove his gall bladder and has remained admitted since.

He has also recently suffered from repeated bouts of colon inflammation which have been treated with antibiotics.

Earlier this month he was briefly escorted into the hospital grounds to sit on the river bank and pay homage to a statue of his father in an event shown on public broadcaster Thai PBS.

Well-wishers bowed before the monarch and chanted "Long live the king" in what the broadcaster said was his first public appearance since he was hospitalised.

Thailand's military took over in a May coup after months of street protests.

The country's long-running political conflict broadly pits a Bangkok-based middle class and royalist elite, backed by parts of the military and judiciary, against rural and working-class voters loyal to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The military said their coup was needed to restore calm and order to the Kingdom after years of instability.

But the generals' reach into Thai politics is also being driven by anxiety over what happens once the six-decade reign of the Bhumibol ends, observers say.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Sat, 22 Nov 2014 05:49:50 +0000
Mexico police, protesters clash outside National Palace

imageMEXICO CITY: Riot police clashed with protesters outside Mexico City's National Palace on Thursday, after a massive march against the government's handling of the investigation into the feared massacre of 43 students.

Police sprayed water at the protesters, some of whom kicked the officers' shields, after powerful firecrackers were thrown at the palace, which President Enrique Pena Nieto uses for ceremonies.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:46:06 +0000
Clashes as Mexicans hold rally for 43 missing students imageMEXICO CITY: Tens of thousands of black-clad protesters angry at the presumed slaughter of 43 students marched in Mexico City on Thursday, chanting for President Enrique Pena Nieto's resignation.

In the latest day of nationwide demonstrations, protesters waved blackened Mexican flag, shouting "Urgent! Urgent for the president to resign!" and "He will fall, he will fall, Pena Nieto will fall!"

Parents of the 43 male college students, who reject claims their sons are dead, led the march to the historic Zocalo square, in front of the National Palace.

It was the latest protest over the government's handling of a crime that has infuriated Mexicans fed up with corruption, impunity and a drug war that has left more than 100,000 people dead or missing since 2006.

The case has turned into the biggest challenge of Pena Nieto's nearly two-year-old presidency, on top of another scandal over a mansion his wife bought from a government contractor.

Prosecutors say a drug gang confessed to slaying the students and burning their bodies after receiving them from corrupt police in the southern state of Guerrero in September.

"Mexico is used to tragedy, robberies and corruption, and we need to begin to exercise our rights as citizens to get the government working," said Lili Correa, 46, wearing black.

The demonstration coincided with the anniversary of the start of the 1910 Mexican revolution, prompting the government to cancel the annual parade.

Before the march, masked protesters threw firebombs and used bazooka-like tubes to launch firecrackers at riot police, who hit back with tear gas to disperse the group on a street near the airport. Around 15 people were detained.

Hundreds of protesters blocked the main road to the airport for an hour, while police vehicles picked up passengers walking with their suitcases along the road.

Thousands protested in several other cities, including Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, the violence-plagued southern state where the students vanished nearly two months ago.

Thousands more marched in Bolivia and some 200 took to the streets in El Salvador.

Mexico and Real Madrid football star Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez tweeted a picture of himself wearing a black hoodie and the hashtag #WeAreAllAyotzinapa, referring to the young men's Ayotzinapa teacher-training college.

"This is a nationwide problem. Nothing like this happened before and Pena Nieto doesn't care, he's useless," said Luis Angel Garcia, a 19-year-old Ayotzinapa student.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:13:29 +0000
Shooting at US university leaves 3 wounded, gunman dead imageWASHINGTON: A gunman opened fire at a major university in Florida early Thursday, leaving three people injured, before officers killed the shooter, police said.

The latest episode of America's epidemic of gun violence, happened just after midnight at Florida State University in the state capital Tallahassee.

A gunman opened fire outside a library, and when challenged by campus police to put down his weapon, he declined and was shot dead, Tallahassee Police Department spokesman David Northway told reporters.

He declined to say if the victims had been shot or to say if they were students, saying only they were being treated in a local hospital.

Northway said the investigation remains underway as to the motive of the shooting.

With midterm exams coming up next week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the library was open 24 hours a day and students were inside at the time of the shooting.

Students at the huge university with a student body of more than 40,000 told US media that as many as four shots were fired, although they said it was inside the library, not outside.

One of the students who was at the library, Blair Stokes, described the early moments of the drama. She said she was on the first floor of the library and "this guy comes up and says someone has a gun," she told CNN.

Stokes said police quickly swarmed the building after shots were fired. The university had quickly put out an alert warning of a "dangerous situation" on campus.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:06:12 +0000
Tory first to be jailed in Canada for election fraud imageOTTAWA: A Conservative campaign worker became the first person in Canada to be jailed for vote fraud Wednesday, landing a blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ruling party ahead of elections next year.

Michael Sona, 26, who was convicted in August, was sentenced to nine months in prison over a scheme that misdirected Canadian voters to fake polling stations during the last election.

Harper is already reeling from last month's conviction of his former parliamentary secretary for overspending in the 2011 election and falsifying records to try to cover it up.

Prosecutors and the judge in the Sona case said they believed others were involved, but nobody else has been charged. Sona had claimed he was a scapegoat.

Public Prosecution Service of Canada spokeswoman Ruth McGuirl said she hoped the sentence would "discourage" others from engaging in election fraud.

A flood of complaints from across Canada prompted the probe into "robocalls," but all were dismissed except one involving Sona in Guelph, west of Toronto.

Sona was charged with planning and unleashing a misleading robocall -- or automated call -- that affected 6,000 voters in Guelph in an attempt to keep them from casting ballots in the May 2011 federal election.

Harper said that the Conservatives had absolutely "no role in any of this."

After three back-to-back minority governments, the Tories on May 2, 2011 won 166 out of 308 seats in parliament, gaining their first majority government since 1988.

The Guelph Conservative candidate whom Sona had worked to get elected failed to defeat the Liberal incumbent.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:06:17 +0000
Texas judge approves execution of mentally ill man imageWASHINGTON: A Texas judge on Wednesday refused to postpone the scheduled execution of a convicted killer who suffers from mental illness and is set to face lethal injection on December 3.

Scott Panetti, who has had schizophrenia for three decades, has won support for his case of groups such as Mental Health America, psychiatrists, former judges and prosecutors, evangelical Christians.

The European Union urged Texas Governor Rick Perry to grant Panetti clemency.

"The execution of persons suffering from a mental disorder is contrary to widely accepted human rights norms and is in contradiciton to the minimum standards of human rights set forth in several international human rights instruments," the bloc wrote in its letter.

Still, district judge Keith Williams refused to give attorneys more time to reevaluate whether Panetti was criminally responsible for the 1995 killing of his wife.

"As an obviously severely mentally ill man with schizophrenia, Mr Panetti should never have been allowed to represent himself in his death penalty case," his attorney Kathryn Kase said.

He "should not have been allowed to reject a plea deal that would have saved his life. Now, Mr Panetti must not be executed without a competency hearing.

"This is the last chance to prevent an injustice from turning into an immoral tragedy."

Though individual US states choose whether they will implement the death penalty, in 1986 the US Supreme Court barred execution of the mentally ill as cruel and unusual punishment.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 20 Nov 2014 03:41:49 +0000