World/nation briefs

  • Updated: January 19, 2013 - 5:54 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Gun-sale loophole rises on agenda

As Senate Democrats grapple with how much of President Obama's gun-control agenda is achievable or even desirable, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said that moving to tighten background checks should be a priority. A legal provision permits unlicensed gun sellers to sell to people without conducting background checks. The view of Leahy, who has a history of supporting some gun rights, is crucial because he is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which will be central to advancing any gun legislation.

CIA drone strikes get an exemption

The Obama administration is nearing completion of a counterterrorism manual that is designed to establish clear rules for targeted-killing operations but leaves open a major exemption for the CIA's campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan, U.S. officials said. That would allow the CIA to continue pounding Al-Qaida and Taliban targets for a year or more before the agency is forced to comply with more stringent rules spelled out in a classified document that officials have described as a counterterrorism "playbook." The document marks the culmination of a yearlong effort by the White House to codify its counterterrorism policies and create a guide for lethal operations through Obama's second term.

MYANMAR

Cease-fire with rebels fails to take hold

A cease-fire ordered by the government failed to take hold, with rebels and the government blaming each other for continued fighting. But ethnic Kachin rebels said the fighting was less intense than in previous days. The government and the rebels have called for a negotiated settlement, although they seem far from agreeing on the question of how much autonomy the Kachins should have.

INDIA

A Gandhi rises to No. 2 post in party

Rahul Gandhi, the heir apparent of an Indian political dynasty, was formally elevated to the No. 2 position in the ruling National Congress Party, making him second only to his mother, Sonia Gandhi. But whether he will serve as the party's candidate for prime minister next year is unclear. Gandhi's uncertain political skills and seeming reluctance to assert himself have held him back.

PAKISTAN

Official: More Afghan detainees to be freed

Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas said more Afghan militants will be released to boost the peace process in Afghanistan. Pakistan has released 26 Taliban prisoners in recent months. Kabul has been pressing its neighbor to release more prisoners to get the Taliban to negotiate.

BULGARIA

Opposition leader escapes assault

The leader of the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Ahmed Dogan, gave up the chairmanship of his party after being threatened on stage with a gun. Dogan had already been expected to resign his post and lend his support to his deputy prior to being attacked during his speech at his party's convention in Sofia. After taking aim, the 25-year-old ethnic Turk was prevented from firing his weapon after he was tackled by party members. The assailant's motive was unclear.

JORDAN

Party leader arrested ahead of elections

Authorities arrested a prominent candidate days ahead of parliamentary elections. The Amman prosecutor general announced that Mohammed al-Khushman, president of the centrist National Union Party, was being detained for two weeks for using money to "sway in the influence of voters." Khushman was the fourth candidate to be detained for alleged election fraud this month.

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