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Belgium moves towards public ban on burka and niqab

Belgium today moved to the forefront of a campaign to restrict the wearing of the Muslim veil by women when a key vote left it on track to become the first European country to ban the burka and niqab in public.

The home affairs committee of the Brussels federal parliament voted unanimously to ban the partial or total covering of faces in public places. "I am proud that Belgium would be the first country in Europe which dares to legislate on this sensitive matter," the centre-right MP Denis Ducarme said.

Daniel Bacquelaine, the liberal MP who proposed the bill, said: "We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen. "It is necessary that the law forbids the wearing of clothes that totally mask and enclose an individual. Wearing the burqa in public is not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society."

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Swiss say legal immunity protects Pakistani leader

Switzerland will not reopen a money-laundering case against the Pakistani president as long as he enjoys legal immunity — a welcome answer Wednesday for the U.S-allied leader after the Supreme Court forced his government to request the case resume.

The Swiss decision marked the latest development in a monthslong struggle between the government and the court since the latter revoked an amnesty that protected President Asif Ali Zardari and thousands of other politicians, bureaucrats and party workers from corruption charges.

Washington has watched the dispute with concern that it could distract Pakistan from its fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants, some of whom stage cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

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TVNL Comment: Another example of US support for corrupt leaders who play the game our way.

Russia: U.S. Aiding Afghan Drug Trade

Russia has accused the United States of "conniving" with Afghan drug producers by not destroying opium crops as U.S. troops advance in Helmand Province, one of the major opium growing regions.

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Despite row, U.S. and Israel sign massive arms deal

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel's defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal.

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Despite row, U.S. and Israel sign massive arms deal

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel's defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal.

According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes. The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million.

The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel's defense industry. The deal will be covered by American foreign assistance funds. The Pentagon will issue a formal announcement on the matter on Thursday evening.

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UK: Israel behind passport forgery in Dubai killing

There are "compelling reasons" to believe the Israeli government was responsible for forging British passports used in a plot to kill a Hamas leader in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday.

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New east Jerusalem homes approved hours before Netanyahu-Obama meet

The Jerusalem municipality has given final approval to a group of settlers construct 20 apartments in a controversial hotel in east Jerusalem, Haaretz learned on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington smoothing over ties with the United States over the latest settlement-related tensions, and hours before the premier was to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington.

The Shepherd Hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was purchased by American Jewish tycoon Irving Moskowitz in 1985 for $1 million. Moskowitz, an influential supporter of Ateret Cohanim and heightened Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem, plans to tear down the hotel and build housing units for Jewish Israelis in its place.

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