Nation/World Briefly: U.S. drops terror charges against 5 Gitmo detainees

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — The U.S. military abruptly dropped charges against five Guantanamo Bay detainees, including one who allegedly plotted to detonate a “dirty bomb” in the U.S., after a prosecutor accused the military of suppressing evidence that could have helped clear them.

But despite the decision, announced Tuesday, there are no plans to free the men. New trial teams are taking another look at the evidence, the military said, and after consulting with intelligence agencies will recommend whether to reinstate charges.

That means the administration of the next U.S. president will probably get to decide what to do with the cases, including that of Binyam Mohamed, accused of plotting with U.S. citizen Jose Padilla to set off a radioactive bomb and fill apartments with natural gas to blow up buildings.

Padilla was sentenced in Miami to more than 17 years in prison.

India: Moon mission launched

Chandrayaan-1 — which means “Moon Craft” in ancient Sanskrit — launched from southern India early today in a two-year mission aimed at laying the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions. Chief among the mission’s goals is mapping not only the surface of the moon, but what lies beneath. The United States won’t jump in this race with its new lunar probe until spring, but it is providing key mapping equipment for India’s mission.

Sudan: War crimes trials blasted

Sudan’s move to put a Darfur militia commander, Ali Kusheyab, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes on trial at home is merely “window dressing” that won’t bring justice to the victims of the war-torn region, a leading human rights group said Tuesday. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Sudanese judiciary is not equipped to hold war crimes trials and Khartoum’s move in reality aims to block international investigation into Darfur atrocities.

Somalia: Pirates’ captives freed

Somali gunmen, part of an unofficial coast guard, freed a hijacked Indian vessel and its 13 crew members on Tuesday after a battle with pirates off the country’s northern coast, a Somali official said. Four of the pirates were captured during the shootout and four others escaped, he said. No crew members of the dhow — a traditional wooden vessel — were wounded.

California: San Francisco weighs decriminalizing prostitution

San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution if voters next month approve Proposition K, a measure that forbids local authorities from investigating, arresting or prosecuting anyone for selling sex. The ballot question technically would not legalize prostitution since state law still prohibits it, but the measure would eliminate the power of local law enforcement officials to go after prostitutes.

@3. Headline News Briefs 14 no:Protester tries handcuffing Rove

An anti-war protester confronted former Bush administration aide Karl Rove while he spoke at a San Francisco mortgage bankers’ meeting. A statement by the group Code Pink identified the woman as 58-year-old Janine Boneparth, who tried to handcuff Rove in what she called a citizen’s arrest for “treason.” Rove elbowed Boneparth away as she was escorted off the stage.

D.C.: Passenger screening rule

The final rule for the nation’s air passenger screening program — delayed several times over privacy concerns — is to be announced today, with the hope that it will minimize the number of people mistaken for terrorists. Once the rule is implemented early next year, the government will screen passengers against terrorist watch lists before they board planes. The new program, called Secure Flight, is supposed to validate travelers’ information so that there’s less chance an individual could be mistaken for someone else on a terrorist watch list. Currently, passenger screening for domestic flights is handled by the individual airlines.

N.Y.: Vote set on mayor term limits

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to extend New York’s term-limits law was put on the fast track for a vote Thursday in City Council, even though some members are still undecided about bypassing voters to give themselves and the mayor a chance at third terms. The bill needs 26 votes to pass the 51-member council. The latest count shows 21 have declared they will vote against it, about 17 publicly support it and the rest say they are undecided.

From Herald news services

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