In brief: Toronto council strips Mayor Rob Ford of meaningful powers

TUESDAY, NOV. 19, 2013

TORONTO – Scandal-plagued Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was stripped of the last of his meaningful powers Monday after a heated City Council debate in which he argued with members of the public, charged hecklers and knocked a councilwoman down.

Ford called the move a “coup d’etat” and vowed an “outright war” in next year’s mayoral election.

The council lacks the power to remove Ford from office unless he is convicted of a crime. Instead, members voted overwhelmingly in favor of slashing Ford’s office budget by 60 percent and allowing his staff to move to the deputy mayor, who now takes on many of the mayor’s former powers. Ford now effectively has no legislative power and no longer chairs the executive committee, although he retains his title and ability to represent Toronto at official functions.

The debate became raucous after Ford paced around the council chamber and traded barbs with members of the public. The speaker asked security to clear the gallery and a recess was called, but not before Ford barreled toward his detractors, mowing into Councilor Pam McConnell.

Ford said he was rushing to the defense of his brother, Councilor Doug Ford, and accidentally knocked McConnell down.

Syrian rebel unit says leader died

BEIRUT – A rebel commander who built the most effective faction in northern Syria of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army has died of wounds he suffered last week in an airstrike on a meeting of high-level rebel and opposition figures, his unit announced Monday.

Abdul-Qadir Saleh had been taken to Turkey for treatment of the injuries he had suffered Thursday when forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad targeted the building where he was meeting with other key rebel leaders outside the contested city of Aleppo. His unit, the Liwa Tahid brigade, initially reported that his injuries weren’t serious, but he died shortly after arriving at a medical facility in Gaziantep, Turkey.

Three other high-ranking commanders were killed and the group’s political director was wounded, the group said.

Saleh’s death was seen as a massive setback for the future of moderate Islamist rebel factions.

Palestinians cast first vote in U.N. assembly

UNITED NATIONS – Palestine’s U.N. delegation cast its first General Assembly ballot Monday to a warm round of applause, which its ambassador called a symbolic step toward full membership in the world body.

U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour voted in the assembly’s election of a judge for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Koffi Kumelio Afande of Togo was elected to the court.

It was the first time that a Palestinian “state” voted in the General Assembly, almost a year after the 193-nation body elevated it to non-member U.N. observer state, the same status the Vatican holds.

German court closes case against bishop

BERLIN – A German court says it’s shelved a case against a German bishop removed from his diocese by the Vatican over a furor caused by the cost of his new residence.

The Hamburg administrative court said Monday the case against Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst would be closed upon his payment of a $27,000 fine.

The bishop was accused of giving false statements in a case he brought against Der Spiegel magazine over its report that he flew first-class to India on a trip to visit poor children.


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