Chatter: US transfers Bagram prison to Afghan control




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Need to know:

The United States has transferred control of the controversial Bagram prison to the Afghan government.

Following a handover ceremony this morning, 3,000 prisoners, including Taliban fighters and terrorism suspects, were transferred to Afghan authorities at the prison north of Kabul. Washington will retain control over some of the detainees.

Bagram, dubbed "Afghanistan's Guantanamo," has been at the center of allegations of prisoner abuse, and there are concerns the transfer could leave prisoners vulnerable to further abuses.

Meanwhile in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, a suicide attack today killed at least 16 people including 11 policemen.

In the southern province of Helmand, Britain's Prince Harry is being targeted by the Taliban. A Taliban spokesman said the group aims to kill the prince during his deployment in Afghanistan as a military helicopter pilot. 

Want to know:

Rights activists in India are outraged over the arrest of political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on charges of sedition.

Trivedi was detained in Mumbai over the weekend for a series of politically charged cartoons, many of which focused on government corruption. Today, free speech advocates and opposition figures led a protest on his behalf in New Delhi.

The cartoonist, who has participated in the anti-corruption movement led by campaigner Anna Hazare, defended his work as an honest response to societal ills. "If telling the truth makes one a traitor, then I am happy," Trivedi told India's NDTV.

Dull but important:

Unsurprisingly, the euro crisis has dominated campaigning for Wednesday’s parliamentary elections in the Netherlands.

The Dutch like to think of themselves as fiscally prudent defenders of sound finances, and have opposed bailouts for the Greeks and other spendthrift nations.

But Europe's economic woes have also radicalized voters, writes GlobalPost's Paul Ames.

This is reflected in polls that show large numbers expected to vote for candidates who want to ban the Koran, grant constitutional rights to animals, or believe rape victims don't get pregnant. 

Just because:

Bernard Arnault, France's richest man, wants to be Belgian.

Arnault, head of luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton, Moët and Hennessy (LVMH), lodged an application for Belgian citizenship in Brussels last week.

The reason? French President Francois Hollande's decision to impose a 75 percent wealth tax on marginal income over 1 million euros, a move aimed at helping to pull France out of debt.

But Arnault, whose fortune Forbes magazine put at 32 billion euros, doesn't actually plan to move to Belgium. He said he just wants to be Belgian to "develop" his financial interests there.

Strange but true:

"Airplane," the 1980 spoof film, has topped a list of the world's funniest movies by scoring the highest number of audience laughs per minute.

Surely you can't be serious?

Well, the Amazon-owned Lovefilm movie supply service conducted a laugh-a-minute test on 10 comedies chosen by subscribers, and here were the results:

"Airplane" generated three laughs a minute, beating out "The Hangover," which got 2.4, and "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad" at 2.3. Next on the list were "Superbad," "Borat" and "Anchorman."

Interestingly, it was a different result altogether when Lovefilm members were asked to vote for the funniest film: they chose Monty Python's "Life of Brian."

Always look on the bright side.