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Jumat, 19 April 2013
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• Dzhokhar Tsarnaev taken into custody after police standoff
• Suspect, 19, found hiding in boat in Watertown backyard
• Obama: 'Our nation is in debt to the people of Massachusetts'

The 22-hour manhunt for the surviving Boston bombing suspect reached a dramatic and surprising conclusion on Friday night when 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive after being surrounded by heavily armed police in a suburban backyard.

Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat in the yard of a home in Watertown, the small town where his elder brother Tamerlan was fatally shot by police after a chase which began on Thursday night. The pair had been identified as suspects in Monday's double bomb attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 170.

For about two hours, Tsarnaev had been surrounded by Swat teams and hundreds of other officers, surviving a barrage of gunfire and flash grenades. At 8.41pm, it was finally announced over the police radio: "Suspect in custody".

The suspect was injured in Thursday's shootout and had suffered significant blood loss. Police said he was in a serious condition in hospital on Friday night.

When the news came through that Tsarnaev captured alive, Thomas Menino, the mayor of Boston who has been a stalwart throughout the week despite struggling with his own health issues, reacted by saying: "We got him." A large crowd gathered near the location of the suspect's arrest began clapping and shouting "Thank you" as a police ambulance carrying the suspect drove by.

At a jubilant press conference after the arrest, the sense of relief among law enforcement officials was palpable.

Massachusetts police colonel Tim Alben said: "We are so grateful to bring justice and closure to this case. We are grateful for the outcome here tonight. We're exhausted, folks, but we have a victory here tonight."

Explaining the breakthrough that had led to Tsarnaev's capture, Edward Deveau, the Watertown police chief, praised local residents. "It was a call from a resident of Watertown," he said. "We asked you to remain vigilant and you did. We got the call and we got the guy."

In a statement at the White House, President Obama said: "Tonight our nation is in debt to the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts. All in all, it's been a tough week, but we've seen the character of our country once more."

But he said there were many unanswered questions. "Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to this violence?"

Shortly before the arrest, police in New Bedford, Massachusetts, confirmed that the FBI had taken three people into custody for questioning at a housing complex where Tsarnaev, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, may have lived.

Tsarnaev's apprehension brings to an end five days of high anxiety that began at 2.50pm on Monday, with the blasts, 12 seconds apart, near the finish line of the marathon. The FBI say the brothers had dropped bags containing bombs made from pressure cookers packed with nails and ball bearings.

More than a million residents of Boston and the surrounding towns had been told to stay inside their homes for most of Friday as hundreds of law enforcement officers went door to door in Watertown searching for Tsarnaev. He had managed to flee Thursday's shootout on foot.

The final flurry of frenzied police activity began shortly before 7pm on Friday, just minutes after police chiefs had come before the TV cameras and told the residents of Watertown that they were ending the citywide lockdown, despite admitting that they had lost track of the suspect.

A renewed bout of gunfire of about 30 rounds ripped through Watertown as Swat teams and dozens of police vehicles raced to the area of Birch Road, a leafy street with about 14 houses in it. Police immediately ordered people in Watertown to stay indoors, while officers evacuated nearby households, helping families flee across an adjacent field.

A resident of Watertown had called police to report he had found a man covered in blood hiding in the boat standing in the yard of a house in Birch Road. Officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect as they surrounded the boat. There was no chance this time that the suspect could escape.

It is now believed that Tsarnaev may have been holed up in the boat all day, eluding the door-to-door search that was going on elsewhere. Birch Road is just a couple of blocks outside the 20-block exclusion zone that the police had set up early on Friday in an attempt to contain the suspect.

Amid fears that Tsarnaev may have been wearing a suicide vest or carrying explosives, officers were extremely cautious about moving in. As darkness fell, the barrage of forces ringed around the boat was reinforced by specialist FBI squads dressed in full military gear, wearing protective helmets and vests and equipped with nightvision goggles. Bomb disposal experts, equipped with a robot, were also brought in.

Police used a helicopter to monitor the boat from overhead, reporting early in the operation that there was visible movement coming from underneath the tarp, suggesting that Tsarnaev was at that point still alive. Minutes before 8pm there were flashes of light and booms thought to be grenades thrown into the board.

Around 150 people had gathered at the end of Franklin Street to watch the police operation. Most were neighbours who lived within one or two blocks. Many had waited here for an hour or more after hearing police had the second suspect cornered.

The first sign that Tsarnaev might have been taken into custody or subdued came when a uniformed officer walked away from the top of Franklin and vigorously clapped the hand of a fellow official. He looked down at the ground and clapped his hands two or three times.

The crowd read the signal and broke out into applause, cheering. "Did you get him?" one man shouted. An officer nodded his head. The cheers intensified.

"It feels great," said Bill Forbush. He lives two blocks away from where Tsarnaev was apprehended. He and his wife, Ann, had been standing on the corner for an hour and a half. They had heard the first gunshots, and heard the sounds of what reportedly were flash bang grenades. They had also spent 20 hours indoors while the town was locked down.

"It's nice to be out in the spring air and be relieved," Bill Forbush said. "There's a great sense of relief."

As he spoke police vehicles and officers began to stream out of Franklin Street. Each vehicle and each official was cheered. "Great job, you guys," shouted one man, over and over.

Tsarnaev had proved to be exceptionally adept in eluding the combined forces of some of the most highly trained and heavily armed law enforcement agencies in America. By that point he had managed to evade capture for more than four days.

The drama began around 10.30pm on Thursday night when the two brothers, of Chechen origin, ambushed a police officer, Sean Collier, 26, on the campus of MIT. They then carjacked a black Mercedes, sparking a car chase with police that ended with the huge gunfight in Watertown in which pipe bombs and other explosive devices were thrown by the suspects.


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Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 20 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/20/boston-suspect-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-captured-alive
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Earthquake which hit shortly after 8am local time strikes same area that was devastated in 2008

A powerful earthquake jolted China's Sichuan province on Saturday, killing at least two people in the same area where a devastating quake struck five years ago.

The Chinese government's seismological bureau and state-run television said the quake hit shortly after 8am in Lushan county in the city of Ya'an, home to China's famous pandas.

The news office for the Sichuan provincial government said on its official microblog account that two people were reported killed in Lushan and that two townships had suffered severe damages.

The bureau initially measured the quake at magnitude-7, while the US Geological Survey recorded it at 6.6-magnitude, powerful enough to cause severe damage. Its depth was shallow, less than 8 miles (13kms), which could magnify the impact.

The Xinhua News Agency said that the quake rattled buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, 70 miles to the east.

The provincial news office said the quake was felt in neighbouring provinces.

The epicentre lies along the same Longmenshan fault where the devastating 7.9-magnitude quake struck in May 2008, leaving more than 90,000 people dead or missing and presumed dead.


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Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 20 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/20/earthquake-china-sichuan-province
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Judicial investigation launched over claims ex-French president's election campaign received €50m from Libyan regime

French prosecutors have opened a judicial investigation into allegations that Nicolas Sarkozy's successful 2007 election campaign received illicit funding from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The inquiry does not name anyone as a suspect, and centres on claims of corruption, influence trafficking, forgery, abuse of public funds and money-laundering.

It is based on allegations by a Franco-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who, during questioning by officials in December, said he had proof that Sarkozy's successful campaign was illegally funded by the Libyan regime between 2006 and 2007. Takieddine said the funding amounted to at least €50m (£35m).

He claimed Claude Guéant, who went on to become Sarkozy's chief-of-staff at the Elysée and later interior minister, had given a key figure in the Libyan regime bank account details for money transfers. Guéant has dismissed the claims as "absolutely ridiculous" and is suing Takieddine Takieddine for defamation.

The Lebanese businessman is under investigation in a separate affair over arms sales to Pakistan in the 1990s.

In April 2012, just before Sarkozy failed to get re-elected, the investigative website Mediapart published a document it said was signed by a senior Libyan figure stating the regime approved a payment of €50m.

Sarkozy told Canal+ television on Sunday that the document was a "fabrication" and "disgrace".

Referring to the international coalition that helped oust Gaddafi in 2011, he said: "Who led the coalition to topple Gaddafi? It was France. I was perhaps the leader. Do you think that if Gaddafi had anything on me I would have tried to oust him?"

Sarkozy took legal action against Mediapart over the document.

Shortly after Sarkozy's election in 2007, Gaddafi was invited to Paris and pitched his Bedouin-style tent in an official French residence near the Élysée as part of a controversial state visit.

After France took a key role in the 2011 international coalition that eventually deposed and killed the Libyan leader, Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam claimed the regime had financed Sarkozy's campaign. "Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything," he told the Euronews network.

Sarkozy, whose supporters say could still try to make a political comeback in 2017, has faced various legal troubles since he was beaten by François Hollande in the 2012 election and lost presidential immunity.

Last month, a Bordeaux judge filed preliminary charges against Sarkozy over allegations he illegally took donations from the France's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, in the 2007 election campaign. He has denied any wrongdoing.

He is also at the centre of an investigation into whether he misused public funds to pay for opinion polls while in office.


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Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 20 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/19/french-inquiry-gaddafi-sarkozy-2007-campaign
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Tom Dart speaks to residents who lost everything but their lives in Wednesday's fire and blast

As rescue workers continued their search through the wreckage of dozens of buildings razed by the Texas fertiliser plant explosion, clothes piled up on tables in the breakfast room of a hotel that has become the temporary home of residents who have lost everything but their lives.

Boxes of doughnuts and cookies were stacked next to hundreds of garments donated as part of the relief effort for the victims of Wednesday's fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small Texas town of West, near Waco. The Czech Inn is five minutes' drive from the blast site and most of its 70 rooms are occupied by displaced, disheveled residents.

A wide area around the plant remained sealed off by police on Friday as frustration grew among those unable to return to their houses – or what remains of them.

Andrew Malinovsky said that his home about 11 blocks from the plant had largely escaped damage but that he was not permitted to get back to access his medicine. "I'm a diabetic, disabled veteran. They won't even let me get to my house to get the essential stuff I need to live: medications, my breathing machine," he said in the hotel lobby.

Malinovsky was sitting in his living room when the plant exploded. "It was like somebody went wham and slapped my whole body from front and back," he said.

Anissa Adamson was relieved that her son happened to be on an evening shift at the Czech Stop bakery and convenience store on Wednesday night. He lives next to the plant in an apartment complex that is now just a tattered metal skeleton. "We're lucky, everyone in my family got out," she said. Most of her relatives live close to the plant but only one cousin required hospital treatment. Adamson herself moved out of her son's building less than three weeks ago.

Hundreds gathered on Thursday night at a packed church service for the victims near West's modest downtown, many wearing red and white jerseys bearing the logo of the town's beloved Trojans high school football team. The field was used as a triage center. "Our town of West will never be the same, but we will persevere," Father Ed Karasek told mourners. T-shirts that say "GOD BLESS WEST" are now in fashion.

International media, charities, politicians and state and federal agencies are crowding a town that normally only expects to welcome large numbers of outsiders for its annual Czech heritage festival.

Even before the number of dead and their names have been formally confirmed, even while locals can only assess the destruction from gossip among neighbours and the apocalyptic footage being aired again and again on television news, life's practical necessities are imposing a framework on this crushed community, giving it structure amid the shock.

Roads are busy. Many shops are open. Spirited polka music was pumped out from the Village Bakery on to a sidewalk still littered with broken glass from shattered windows. Children need to go back to school on Monday – somewhere. An insurance company has set up a stall outside an antiques shop.

Another has parked a mobile crisis response unit at the main entrance to the town, the Stars and Stripes on its tall portable flagpole whipping from side to side in the heavy breeze. A Dallas-based law firm issued a press release saying it is "investigating possible lawsuits" – call now!

At the moment the town is still too traumatised to think about recriminations, still more interested in compassion than consequences. The cause of the disaster remained unclear Friday afternoon. Adamson said she did not blame them for anything. "It's not their fault, I know those people. We don't point fingers here, we just help," she said. "Bad things happen to good people."

One of those presumed dead was Joey Pustejovsky, a West volunteer firefighter, the City Secretary. "I worked with him for a while, he seemed to be doing a really good job, very dedicated … he had a lot of ambition," said Suzy Price, a semi-retired photographer.

Jimmy Matus, owner of a welding business, is also reported to have perished. A friend said he restored old fire trucks and used to dress up with his wife as Mr and Mrs Santa Claus to greet kids at community events. She died in 2011, aged 52. Also believed dead is "Buck" Uptmor, owner of a fencing company, and former rodeo rider, who was helping a man move horses to safety.


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Tom Dart 20 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/19/west-texas-town-fertiliser-explosion
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Campaigners in east Delhi have marched to the hospital where a five-year-old girl is in a critical condition following a rape

The alleged rape of five-year-old girl by a male neighbour in the Indian capital Delhi triggered a protest march on Friday to a city hospital by her relatives and political activists, reawakening concerns about safety for women and girls.

Despite a public holiday, several hundred people gathered outside a municipal hospital in east Delhi, where the girl was admitted for treatment on Thursday.

They demanded better law enforcement and chanted slogans on gender rights, television reports showed.

The girl's rape, which left her in a critical condition, revived memories of the brutal gang rape by five adult men and a teenaged boy of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus on 16 December in Delhi. That woman died of her injuries.

BN Bansal, a doctor from the Swami Dayanand hospital, told reporters that the young victim had undergone an operation.

"The next 48 hours will be crucial for her."

The girl, whose parents work as labourers and live in a slum in the outskirts of Delhi, went missing from home on 15 April, according to Manish Sisodia, an official of the Aam Aadmi party, which organised Friday's protest.

She was found with bruise marks on her body in the suspect's house in a semi-conscious condition on Thursday by police after her parents had registered a complaint, media reports said.

The suspect, who fled, allegedly held the girl hostage for three days during which he raped and tortured her.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was deeply disturbed by the incident, a statement from his office said.

The unprecedented protests by thousands of people across India after the December assault had forced Singh's government to pass tougher laws to fight gender crimes in March.

But activists on Friday said the laws were not enough to deter sex offenders in India's largely patriarchal societies.

"If you thought just bringing in a new law will stop crimes, you are wrong. They will reduce, but won't stop. You need community policing to stop these crimes," activist Kiran Bedi told an Indian TV channel.


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Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 20 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/19/rape-delhi-girl-neighbour-protest
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• Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, on the loose after escaping police line
• Brother Tamerlan killed in shootout after high-speed pursuit
• Swat teams moving house-to-house in search of suspect

Keep up to date with the latest from our live blog

Boston and surrounding towns are in a state of lockdown while heavily armed police hunt for the surviving marathon bombings suspect who escaped after a car chase and shootout in the early hours of Friday.

The man, identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, remains on the loose, more than 16 hours after he and his brother Tamerlan, 26, committed an armed robbery at a 7-Eleven store in Cambridge, sparking a chain of events that continued through Friday. The men had been identified earlier on Thursday as the main suspects in the bombing that left three dead and more than 170 injured.

After the robbery, the men killed a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in what law enforcement officials described as an ambush-style attack. Sean Collier, 26, was shot multiple times at about 10.30pm as he sat in his police cruiser within the MIT campus.

In the ensuing shootout with police in the suburb of Watertown, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed, but his younger brother managed to break through the line of officers and escape.

Hundreds of officers are now amassed in Watertown, supported by bomb squad robotic equipment and armored vehicles, giving the quiet town the appearance of a war zone. Across the greater Boston area almost a million people remain confined to their homes, mass transit systems are suspended and a no-fly zone has been imposed as the hunt for the fugitive continued. Boston Bruins and Red Sox games scheduled for Friday night have been cancelled.

Swat teams, carrying military-style rifles and protective shields, are proceeding house to house in Watertown. State police said that a controlled explosion would take place on Friday afternoon at an address on Norfolk Street, which was surrounded by police snipers earlier in the day.

National Guard helicopters have also landed at the campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student. The campus was evacuated on Friday.

The brothers were said by officials to have Chechen heritage. The family moved to Cambridge in 2003 from Kyrgyzstan, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev was born, according to an uncle. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Dagestan.

NBC and the New York Times reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had travelled to from New York to Moscow in January 2012, returning to the US in July.

Their father, Anzor Tsarnaev, speaking to the Associated Press from the Russian city of Makhachkala, described his younger son as "a true angel", who was studying medicine. "He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here," the father said.

But their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Montgomery Village, Maryland, described the brothers as "losers" who had brought shame on all Chechens. Speaking on live television outside him home, he urged his nephew: "Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness."

Maret Tsarnaeva, an aunt of the brothers, said from her Toronto home that Tamerlan seemed not yet to have found "himself yet in America, and recently went from being a devout Muslim who prays no more than once per day to one who prayed five times a day.

She described the boys as "normal young men" who are "athletic" and "smart." Their father, she said, doted on the boys. "Anzor is a very loving and soft-hearted father."

The apparent Chechen connection prompted immediate speculation that the bomb attack was motivated by the Islamist separatist movement there, but no link has been established so far.

Dzokhar appears to have been a good student, having received a $2,500 scholarship from the city of Cambridge in 2011 to pursue college. He was also named a wrestling all-star at his high school the same year.

According to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's own account on the Russian social networking site VKontakte, he attended School No 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, from 1999 to 2001, graduating from the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, a Massachusetts high school, two years ago.

On his VKontakte page, Tsarnaev says he considers "career and money" most important in life. As his worldview, he wrote: "Islam".

The page says Tsarnaev speaks English, Russian and Chechen, and belongs to a number of groups devoted to Chechnya. Dagestan, a republic neighbouring Chechnya, maintains a small Chechen minority.

A local TV station in Maryland interviewed another uncle, Alvi Tsarni. He told the reporter that he had heard about his nephews' involvement this morning from a sister-in-law. "She was crying and she said that Tamerlan was killed.

"I can't believe this, it's not possible. My nephews can't do this," Tsarni said. "I don't believe any of my nephews [are] involved in this horrible incident."

In imperfect English, Tsarni, who said he had lived in the United States for 10 years, said he had not spoken with the brothers for a long time because of "problems family." Then "yesterday he called me," Tsarni said – he appeared to be referring to Tamerlan – "and said 'Forgive me, and we will talk to this now. From now we will be together ever."

The uncle said that if his nephews were confirmed as the marathon bombers he would personally kneel in front of the families of the victims of the blasts and beg forgiveness.

The dramatic events began around 10.20pm on Thursday night with the armed robbery at the 7-Eleven store in Cambridge Central Square. About 10 minutes later, the men killed the MIT police officer Sean Collier, then hijacked a black Mercedes SUV, holding the driver captive at gunpoint for the next 30 minutes before they released him uninjured.

The car then sped in the direction of Watertown, prompting a huge police chase with local, state and federal law enforcers in pursuit. Towards the end of the chase, the suspects threw explosive devices out of the car. One bomb, described by eyewitnesses as resembling a pressure cooker, exploded in mid-air, causing a fireball and injuring many police officers.

Seconds later, Tamerlan Tsarnaev ran towards police, where he was either tackled or shot, lying prone on the ground before he was taken captive and rushed to hospital, where he died at about 1.35am. His younger brother escaped, driving a car straight through the police line, heading west. The car was abandoned a little further down the street, and the younger Tsarnaev made off on foot.

"There is a massive manhunt under way, [and] a lot of law enforcement involved in that," Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick told reporters on Friday morning. "We've got every asset that we can possibly muster on the ground right now."


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Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 20 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/19/boston-lockdown-armed-police-hunt-suspect
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Dreamliner fleet was grounded by FAA in January after incidents of fire and smoke in the batteries of two planes

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is set to fly again after the US authorities gave the go-ahead Friday to a redesign of the plane's troubled lithium-ion battery system.

The Dreamliner fleet was grounded in January after incidents of fire and smoke in the batteries of two planes. The global grounding came as just 50 of the planes had been delivered and was the longest of a commercial model in the jet age.

The company has been working on a solution with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA administrator Michael Huerta said: "A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision."

"The FAA set a high bar for our team and our solution," said Boeing chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney. "We appreciate the diligence, expertise and professionalism of the FAA's technical team and the leadership of FAA administrator Michael Huerta and secretary of transportation Ray LaHood throughout this process. Our shared commitment with global regulators and our customers to safe, efficient and reliable airplanes has helped make air travel the safest form of transportation in the world today."

The FAA will publish regulations on how to alter the batteries in the US Federal Register next week, allowing Boeing and airlines to proceed with the fixes. The company is believed to have come up with a solution that involves greater separation between the batteries' cells and a venting system for any potentially flammable gases.

Top US safety inspector the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) and Japanese authorities are still investigating the original causes of the two incidents, one in a plane parked at Boston's Logan airport and the other during flight in Japan.

The plane's grounding marked the first time since 1979 that FAA had banned every plane of a particular type from flying. That ban, on the Douglas DC-10, followed a fatal crash and was lifted within a month.

The 787's problems have been compounded by its hi-tech design. The Dreamliner is the largest passenger plane to make such extensive use of lithium ion batteries, which are lighter and can hold more energy than other types of batteries. The batteries, however, have also proved volatile and caused fires in smaller planes, cars, computers and mobile devices.

Next week the NTSB will hold the second set of hearings this month on lithium-ion batteries and the fire that broke out on the 787 at Logan. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman has been critical of the "assumptions" regulators used before clearing the ground-breaking use of the battery. The NTSB has also criticised Boeing for making statements "inconsistent with our expectations."


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Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 20 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/apr/19/boeing-787-dreamliner-cleared-fly-faa
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Former military dictator returned to 'save' Pakistan but must now face possibility of being tried for treason

Pervez Musharraf, the man who was once Pakistan's all-powerful military ruler, was taken into police custody on Friday following a judge's ruling that he should be tried on terrorism charges.

Any hopes the former president might have had of clinging on to some dignity by being held under house arrest were dashed when police officers came and escorted him from his luxury home on the outskirts of Islamabad to the city's police headquarters.

He has been remanded in custody for two days while police investigate claims that his sacking of top judges towards the end of his eight-year rule in 2007 amounted to terrorism.

Earlier on Friday he had appeared in one of the city's small, clammy courts where a judge ruled that he should be held under house arrest.

That ruling followed extraordinary scenes on Thursday when a high court judge refused to extend the "pre-arrest bail" he had been granted last month and ordered his arrest, prompting the former army chief to flee from the court and take refuge in his home.

His arrest on Friday ended a potentially embarrassing situation where Musharraf remained at large despite an order from a judge that he be taken into custody.

But after just a couple of hours of detention at home he was taken into police custody for two days.

Earlier Musharraf, a keen user of social media, took to Facebook to decry the charges against him.

"These allegations are politically motivated and I will fight them in the trial court, where the truth will eventually prevail," he said.

The former president certainly has few friends among Pakistan's feisty legal community, who still rage at his 2007 dismissal of judges, including the chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who Musharraf feared would challenge his re-election as president.

In his judgment on Thursday Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ruled that confining judges to house arrest was an "act of terrorism".

He said Musharraf had "spread fear in the society, insecurity among the judicial officers, alarm in the lawyers' community and terror throughout Pakistan".

The former president, who seized power in a coup in 1999 before being harried out of the country in 2008 by his opponents, faces several court challenges, including claims of conspiring to assassinate Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, by not providing her with enough security and for ordering the killing of an important separatist tribal leader.

Some analysts believe he will ultimately be able to defend himself against the charges. More serious would be if he was accused of treason for imposing emergency law, a charge that can carry the death sentence.

However, only parliament can press treason charges and so far it has been reluctant to do so.

On Friday the senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for Musharraf to be tried for treason.

Some politicians expressed anger that Musharraf had not been immediately taken into custody.

During a campaign trip to Baluchistan, the election frontrunner, Nawaz Sharif, said that the police had been in contempt of court by letting Musharraf flee without being arrested on Thursday.

"If any common man would have done what Musharraf did, then he would've surely been behind bars right now," said Sharif, a former two-time prime minister whose last time in office was cut short by the military coup orchestrated by Musharraf in 1999.

"Why was he escorted home safely by Islamabad police? Because he was an army chief earlier?" He was quoted as saying by local media.

Musharraf has faced a series of setbacks since he flew into Karachi from his self-imposed exile in Dubai on 23 March, announcing he was going to "save" Pakistan. He appeared to be unaware that his political support in the country has largely evaporated since he left in 2008.

He has received scant support from the public or any of the leading political parties in his attempt to get elected in next month's historic polls.

His dream of re-entering politics has been crushed by election officials who ruled this week that he was ineligible to stand for any of the four seats he had applied for.

Many analysts believe that the country's still-powerful military establishment, anxious to prevent civilian courts trying former officers, will try to intervene to help him.

Others are not so sure. "I don't think the army was in favour of him returning and tried to dissuade him," said General Hamid Khan, a former senior army commander. "But he decided to come, and now he has to face this. The army is staying out of it."


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Tom McCarthy, Paul Owen, Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver 19 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/19/pervez-musharraf-custody-charges-terrorism
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