CAIRO – Egypt’s interim president reshuffled the country’s top military council Thursday and installed the nation’s military chief as its leader for the first time, part of a series of decrees that experts say gives the military more independence as its current leader is widely expected to run for president.
Adly Mansour’s decree is part of series of declarations related to rearranging the country’s sprawling security and military establishment nearly two months before presidential elections. It puts the military chief – now Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi – in charge of the top military council known as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Whoever succeeds el-Sissi, who will have to step down to run for president, will be the head of the council.
El-Sissi led the July overthrow of Islamist Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, following days of demonstrations by millions of Egyptians who demanded that he step down.
Syria attack worst on human rights list
WASHINGTON – A chemical weapons attack in Syria last summer that the U.S. says killed more than 1,400 people was the world’s worst human rights violation of 2013, the Obama administration concluded Thursday.
The survey singled out some countries that appear regularly in this annual roundup of abuses: Iran, for manipulation of elections and civil liberties restrictions; North Korea, for rampant reports of extrajudicial killings, detentions and torture; and Belarus, for beatings of protesters and lack of checks and balances by the authoritarian government.
British editor paid public officials
LONDON – Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks admitted in court Thursday that she sometimes paid public officials for information, but insisted she only did so when it was in the public interest.
The ex-chief of Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. newspapers had authorized payments “half a dozen” times.
Brooks said she didn’t know the name of a defense ministry source The Sun had paid for stories over a period of eight years. The Sun is part of the Murdoch news group she headed and she served as the tabloid’s top editor from 2003 until 2009.
Scores of vehicles crash near Toronto
INNISFIL, Ontario – Blustery snow squalls caused a pileup of nearly 100 vehicles on a busy highway north of Toronto, police said.
Ontario provincial police spokesman Sgt. Dave Woodford said officers counted 96 vehicles involved in the chain-reaction crash Thursday morning on Highway 400’s southbound lanes.
No major injuries were reported.