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World in Brief: 08/05/14

YEMEN: The US has temporarily closed its embassy in the country, officials said yesterday, citing recent attacks on Westerners in the capital Sanaa.

A US State Department spokeswoman said it would reopen “once it is deemed appropriate.”

Earlier this week, gunmen in Sanaa opened fire on three French security guards working with the European Union mission, killing one and wounding another.


HAITI: Hundreds of secondary school students protested in the capital Port-au-Prince today, angry that a pay strike by teachers forced the cancellation of classes for a third day.

Boys and girls in school uniforms marched near the National Palace and blocked traffic while some hurled rocks at police. 

State schools have been closed because teachers are refusing to work until they receive wages delayed by the government.


SAUDI ARABIA: A blogger has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes on charges that he insulted Islam in an online forum he created.

The Jiddah criminal court also ordered Raif Badawi to pay a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals.

Mr Badawi was previously sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.


JAPAN: A former Fukushima worker is seeking  ¥11 million (£64,000) in compensation from the operator of the nuclear plant for exposing him to high levels of radiation after the 2011 tsunami.

The worker was part of a team sent to lay electric cables in one of the reactors 13 days after the disaster.

He said in a 2012 interview that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co should have known about the high radiation levels and warned them.


NEW ZEALAND: The country banned synthetic drugs today after Prime Minister John Key conceded an attempt to regulate the “legal highs” market had failed.

The sale of products such as synthetic cannabis and legal “party pills,” was banned after the government introduced legislation this week.

“All psychoactive products now become unapproved and it will be an offence to possess, supply or sell them,” Health Minister Tony Ryall said.


ISRAEL: Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners staged a one-day hunger strike today in solidarity with others who have been fasting for two weeks in protest at imprisonment without trial.

“About 90 have been refusing food for two weeks,” said Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman.

Palestinian Prisoners Minister Issa Qaraqe said around 120 detainees were on open-ended hunger strike.

“They are determined to continue their strike until their demand for the abolition of administrative detention is met,” he warned.


HONG KONG: A corruption trial involving property tycoons Thomas and Raymond Kwok got under way today, with all five defendants pleading not guilty to bribery.

The billionaire Kwok brothers, who jointly chair development giant Sun Hung Kai Properties, were arrested along with Hong Kong’s former chief secretary Rafael Hui by the city’s anti-graft watchdog in March 2012.

The Kwoks are accused of bribing Mr Hui.


INDIA: The state air monitoring centre made a rare admission today that pollution in New Delhi was comparable with Beijing, but disputed a WHO finding that the Indian capital had the dirtiest atmosphere in the world.

“If we compare yearly averages for each year from 2011-2014 then both cities are almost comparable,” Gufran Beig from India’s state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research admitted.


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