Fake degree scandal roils Pakistani politics

Scores of Pakistani lawmakers may lose their seats for allegedly lying about their academic credentials. Up to 160 elected officials — more than 10 percent of the country's federal and provincial legislators — are said to have produced fake degrees to comply with a 2002 law that required candidates for office to hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent. The Supreme Court has ordered the Elections Commission to vet the credentials of about 1,100 federal and provincial lawmakers. If enough lawmakers are found ineligible, there are rumblings that a midterm election may be needed. The scandal has drawn some frustrated reactions from lawmakers besieged by an aggressive media. "A degree is a degree! Whether fake or genuine, it's a degree! It makes no difference!" Baluchistan province chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, who claims a master's in political science, shouted at reporters Tuesday.

SEOUL, South Korea

Chemical castration okayed for sex crimes

South Korea's parliament voted Tuesday to legalize chemical castration as punishment for convicted child sex offenders after a series of violent assaults sparked outrage nationwide. The bill was first introduced in 2008 in response to a high-profile case in which a 58-year-old man raped and assaulted an 8-year-old girl. Government policies, including the installation of more security personnel near school grounds as well as multiple surveillance cameras, have not prevented other cases. The legislation, which requires the South Korean president's signature to become law, would take effect a year after being signed.

JOHANNESBURG

Post-circumcision deaths cause alarm

South African health officials said Tuesday they are alarmed by the rise in deaths among men who had botched traditional circumcisions after 39 young men died in the last month. Health officials say at least another 120 young men are in hospitals nursing their botched wounds. Eastern Cape provincial health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the practice is common in the province. Eighteen-year old boys generally undergo circumcision rites during school holidays, in midyear or at the end of the year. The procedure is performed outdoors by a traditional leader who uses a spear to remove the foreskin.

NEW DELHI

26 officers killed in paramilitary ambush

Gunmen believed to be Maoist rebels killed at least 26 paramilitary personnel on Tuesday during an ambush in the eastern Indian state of Chattisgarh, authorities said. The gunfight, which lasted for about three hours, occurred in the state's heavily forested Bastar region as the 63-member Central Reserve Police Force patrol was returning from a "road-opening mission" ahead of a threatened two-day rebel strike expected to start today. Maoist rebels, who control a large swath of Indian territory, often erect roadblocks in jungle area they control, which the government tries to raze to reassert its authority.

Elsewhere

Haiti: Haitian President Rene Preval set Nov. 28 as the date voters will choose his successor as leader of the earthquake-shattered Caribbean nation. Haiti's current constitution mandates elections be held the last Sunday of November in the fifth year of the president's term.

Italy: Massimo Tartaglia, 42, who struck Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the face with a statuette after a rally in December, fracturing his nose and breaking two teeth, was declared unfit to stand trial Tuesday.

Mexico: The government lifted the alert for swine flu Tuesday, ending the health emergency in the country where the illness first appeared 14 months ago.

Times wires

Fake degree scandal roils Pakistani politics 06/30/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 12:03am]

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