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Blasphemy arrest incites furor in Pakistan

SOMALIA

New parliament has 215 members

Somalia convened a new Parliament Monday, swearing in a government to replace the internationally backed transitional government that has tried to assert control over the embattled country in recent years.

The 215 members were sworn in at a ceremony at Mogadishu's airport to complete what international officials call the road map toward stability after two decades of war. But while the nation's transitional period of governance has officially ended, the new government is considered a caretaker because it was not directly elected and springs from a constitution that must be ratified by public referendum.

Once the parliament has elected a speaker, a process expected to take a few days, legislators are due to vote in a new president. He would appoint a prime minister, who in turn would choose a Cabinet.

Los Angeles

Porn industry shuts down over syphilis

Jolted by the possibility of a syphilis outbreak in its ranks, a Los Angeles-based trade group that represents the adult film industry announced a nationwide moratorium on X-rated productions while more than 1,000 porn actors are tested.

The Free Speech Coalition issued the call on its website after reporting that one performer had tested positive for syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, and begun notifying sexual partners of that information.

The moratorium was announced Saturday, a day after the Los Angeles County Public Health Department said it was investigating a cluster of possible syphilis cases within the porn industry. The agency said it had received reports of at least five cases within a week.

Elsewhere

California: A huge wildfire sparked by lightning in Northern California burned to the edge of the small towns of Manton, Shingletown and Viola on Monday, about 170 miles north of Sacramento. About 3,500 homes were threatened.

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration on Monday accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of making "wild assertions" about U.S. persecution to deflect attention from sex allegations he faces in Sweden. Assange is fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden.

Myanmar: The government said Monday that it would no longer censor private publications, a move that journalists described as a major step toward media freedom.

KEY WEST: Diana Nyad slogged across the Straits of Florida for a third straight day Monday, trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

Times wires

Pakistan

BLASPHEMY ARREST INCITES FUROR

The arrest of a Christian girl accused of violating Pakistan's blasphemy laws stoked a public furor Monday.

The police jailed Rimsha Masih and her mother on Friday in Islamabad after a local cleric said Rimsha had burned pages of the Noorani Qaida, a religious textbook used to teach the Koran to children. Later, a number of the girl's Christian neighbors fled their homes, fearing for their lives, human rights workers said.

Senior government and police officials agreed with Christian leaders that the accusations against Rimsha were baseless and predicted that the case would ultimately be dropped.

The emotionally charged issue of blasphemy has polarized Pakistani society in recent times.

Blasphemy arrest incites furor in Pakistan 08/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:20am]

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