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World in Brief: 21/05/14

UNITED STATES: New Mexico environment officials have said that over 500 barrels of nuclear waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory were packed with cat litter absorb leaking radioactive damp.

State Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn gave the Department of Energy and the contractor that runs the waste isolation pilot plant until May 30 to detail plans for permanently sealing underground rooms where more than 300 barrels are stored.

PHILIPPINES: Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged today that a “death squad” that targeted criminal suspects in Tagume city was organised by the former mayor and had been responsible for nearly 300 killings over the past seven years.

HRW said it had documented at least 12 killings from between 2007 and 2013 based on accounts of former hit men, witnesses, victims’ relatives and police officers.

Former Mayor Rey Uy has denied the allegations.

SPAIN: The ruling Popular Party’s top EU election candidate has apologised for a sexist remark that could damage his chances.

Miguel Arias Canete said last week that he had felt restrained during a debate with Socialist candidate Elena Valencia because “a debate between a man and woman is very complicated. If you abuse your intellectual superiority you look like a male chauvinist cornering a defenceless woman.”

ISRAEL: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman brushed off world criticism today and rejected demands for an investigation into the deaths of two Palestinian youths killed by Israeli forces last week.

Washington and the United Nations had called for an investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of the teenagers after video footage was released released by Defence For Children International and B’Tselem which showed the shootings had been unprovoked.

CHINA: President Xi Jinping signed a 30-year gas delivery deal with Russia today that was valued at up to £235 billion.

The agreement was 10 years in the making and was signed after last-minute negotiations during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Shanghai.

The deal will take pressure off Mr Putin and allow him to deal with EU-US sanctions over Ukraine.

CHILE: The government said on Tuesday it would respect the environmental regulator’s decision to block work on the Pascua-Lama mine despite harsh criticism from Argentina.

The £5 billion project straddling the Argentina-Chile border has faced environmental lawsuits by indigenous communities in Chile.

In May 2013, Chile’s environmental regulator blocked work at Pascua-Lama, citing “very serious” violations of the work permit.

KENYA: Rock-hefting students clashed with gas-throwing police in Nairobi on Tuesday over fee rises.

Demonstrations hit at least four cities, but the protest at the University of Nairobi was the most violent.

Police chased the students into university classrooms and fired tear gas inside.

Some tried to leave the gas-filled rooms with their hands up but police chased them back inside, beating them with batons.

LIBYA: The Interior Ministry announced its support today for renegade general Khalifa Haftar’s military campaign against Islamist MPs and extremist militias.

The ministry said in a statement posted with the agency yesterday that it was backing General Haftar’s offensive against Islamist groups, which the government had described on Tuesday as a coup attempt.

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