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Nation/world briefs for 03-06-2013


March 06. 2013 12:04AM


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WASHINGTON


Senate panel OKs CIA pick


The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Tuesday to approve President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the CIA after winning a behind-the-scenes battle with the White House over access to a series of top-secret legal opinions that justify the use of lethal drone strikes against terror suspects, including American citizens.


John Brennan’s installation at the spy agency has been delayed as Senate Democrats and Republicans have pressed the Obama administration to allow a review of the classified documents prepared by the Justice Department. The senators have argued they can’t perform adequate oversight without reviewing the contents of the opinions, but the White House had resisted requests for full disclosure.


NAIROBI, Kenya


Election process questioned


A slow ballot count in Kenya’s presidential vote raised questions Tuesday about the election process, but it was a decision involving hundreds of thousands of rejected ballots that made it appear likely the election will be decided in a runoff.


Nearly 330,000 ballots — the number keeps rising — have been rejected for not following election rules, raising criticism of voter education efforts.


The election commission chairman announced late Tuesday that those spoiled ballots, as they are called here, will count in the overall vote total. That makes it very difficult, given the tight race, for either top candidate to reach the 50 percent mark needed to win outright. A runoff election between the top two candidates is expected.


WASHINGTON


Taliban attack count nixed


The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan will no longer count and publish the number of Taliban attacks, a statistical measure that it once touted as the measure of U.S. and allied success, but now dismisses as flawed.


The move comes one week after the coalition, known as the International Security Assistance Force, acknowledged in response to inquiries by The Associated Press that it had incorrectly reported a 7 percent drop in Taliban attacks in 2012 compared to 2011. In fact, there was no decline at all, ISAF officials now say.


The mistake, attributed by ISAF officials to a clerical error, called into question the validity of repeated statements by allied officials that the Taliban was in steep decline.


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip


U.N. cancels marathon


The United Nations on Tuesday canceled a planned marathon in Gaza after the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers banned women from participating, in a new attempt by the Islamic militant group to impose its ideology inside the crowded coastal strip.


The dispute threatened to further strain the already delicate relationship between Hamas and the United Nations. Gaza sportswomen met the news with resignation, saying their conservative society had made it difficult to train even before the ban.


Since seizing power in Gaza in 2007, Hamas has issued a number of edicts meant to constrain the freedoms of women. But a number of these initiatives fizzled in the face of public opposition, making the ban on female runners somewhat surprising.




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