Conflict & Justice

Chatter: NATO soldiers hit by Afghan suicide bomb




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Need to know:
At least 14 people are dead, three of them NATO soldiers, after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. Another 60 were wounded when an explosion struck a convoy of international troops in the eastern city of Khost.

Taliban rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack. They say their targets were coalition soldiers and the Afghan security forces that they train. At least four Afghan policemen were among those killed.

The bombing comes the day after two Americans and three Afghans were shot dead in eastern Wardak province, when a "misunderstanding" triggered a gun battle between the allies' soldiers. That incident took the US military death toll in Afghanistan over 2,000; it looks like it will continue to climb.

Want to know:
South Africa has opened its inquiry into the deaths of 44 people during a strike at the Marikana platinum mine.

Thirty-four miners were killed in a volley of police gunfire on August 16, in the single deadliest police intervention since the end of apartheid. Another 10 people, two of them policemen, had already been killed in days of preceding clashes.

A judicial commission of inquiry, which opened this morning with a minute's silence for the dead, will attempt to establish what role the police, the government, the mine's owners, Lonmin, and unions played in the bloodshed. Investigators have been given four months to complete their inquiry.

Dull but important:
It's not time to throw out that "Free Pussy Riot" tee-shirt just yet: a Russian court has adjourned the appeal hearing that was to see three of the band's members challenge their two-year prison sentences.

Proceedings were halted this morning almost as soon as they had begun, when one of the women informed the court she had fired her defense lawyers. The prosecution claims the move was a "delay tactic."

Band mates Ekaterina Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were convicted in August of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," which is how a judge perceived their anti-Putin "punk prayer" in Moscow's largest cathedral. Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and now the Russian Orthodox Church have added their voices to the international calls for their release – only if they repent, though, the Church made sure to stress.

The women's lawyers have already indicated that repentance is not on the cards. Their appeal resumes on October 10.

Just because:
The US Supreme Court starts its new session today, and this term looks set to be just as controversial as the last.

From now until June, the nine justices will be tackling cases that stand to have a huge impact on how the American system judges fairness and equality. There are three big issues to watch: affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights.

GlobalPost gives you a preview of the rulings that you'll definitely be hearing more about.

Strange but true:
The bods over at Iranian news agency Fars aren't the only ones to have fallen for a fake news story from The Onion. But they're probably the first to defend
themselves for the mistake by saying that the magazine's made-up satire speaks to a higher truth.

Fars editors published a truly exceptional apology-that's-not-an-apology this weekend, in response to international amusement at a report that appeared on their website citing totally bogus survey figures indicating more US voters would choose Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over Barack Obama. Where had the numbers come from? Only "America's Finest News Source!"

The Iranian site's admission that its fact-checkers were caught napping was qualified with the statement that "we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the US, a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the US political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen." And then a long list of things the BBC once got wrong.

Other headlines you can look forward to reading on Fars soon (we hope) include: 'Netanyahu Feeling Like Trip To US To Start World War III Went Pretty Well,' and 'Eating Rest Of Thing Way Easier Than Putting It Away.' So true!