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Pakistan court moves killer of American journalist Daniel Pearl to safe house

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2021)

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Pakistani-British man acquitted of the 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl off death row and moved to a government “safe house.”

Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who has been on death row for 18 years, will be under arrest and will not be allowed to leave the safe house but his wife and children will be able to visit him.

The Pakistan government has been trying to keep Sheikh in prison after the Supreme Court last Thursday upheld his acquittal in the death of Pearl, triggering outrage by Pearl’s family and the US administration.

Pakistan’s government as well as the Pearl family have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking it to review the decision to exonerate Sheikh of Pearl’s murder.

The US government has said that it would seek Sheikh’s extradition if his acquittal is upheld. Sheikh has been indicted in the United States on Pearl’s murder as well as in a 1994 kidnapping of an American citizen in Indian-ruled Kashmir. The American was eventually freed.

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US officially rejoins Paris climate pact

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(Last Updated On: February 19, 2021)

The United States officially rejoined the Paris climate agreement on Friday.

The US State Department said in a statement on Friday that President Joe Biden signed the instrument to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement on January 20. 

Nearly 200 countries across the world have adopted the Paris pact, the landmark international accord to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the US State Department, the Paris Agreement’s purpose is “both simple and expansive: to help us all avoid catastrophic planetary warming and to build resilience around the world to the impacts from climate change we already see.”

“Now, as momentous as our joining the Agreement was in 2016 — and as momentous as our rejoining is today — what we do in the coming weeks, months, and years is even more important,” the statement said.

“Climate change and science diplomacy can never again be “add-ons” in our foreign policy discussions. Addressing the real threats from climate change and listening to our scientists is at the center of our domestic and foreign policy priorities,” the statement read. 

“It is vital in our discussions of national security, migration, international health efforts, and in our economic diplomacy and trade talks.”

“We are reengaging the world on all fronts, including at the President’s April 22nd Leaders’ Climate Summit. And further out, we very much looking forward to working with the United Kingdom and other nations around the world to make COP26 a success,” the statement concluded.

Former US President Donald Trump in 2017 announced his intention to withdraw the US from the treaty and officially notified the United Nations in 2019.

The US officially left the agreement on November 4, 2020.

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Gunmen storm Nigerian school, kidnap ‘many’ students

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(Last Updated On: February 17, 2021)

Unidentified gunmen attacked a secondary school in Nigeria’s Niger state overnight and abducted many students, the state governor’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, the assailants stormed the Government Science college in the Kagara district at around 2 am, overwhelming the school’s security detail, according to local residents.

The spokeswoman said many students had been abducted but did not specify how many.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday condemned the raid, and dispatched security chiefs to coordinate operations to rescue the abducted students, his spokesman said.

According to Reuters, militant Islamic group Boko Haram and a branch of ISIS are active in northern Nigeria, but kidnappings by other armed groups – mostly for ransom – are also common.

The latest attack came two months after gunmen stormed a secondary school in northwestern Katsina state and kidnapped nearly 350 boys, who were subsequently rescued by security forces.

About 100 of more than 270 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok in 2014 are still missing.

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Biden reviews Guantanamo prison, aims to close it before leaving office

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(Last Updated On: February 14, 2021)

US President Joe Biden’s aides have launched a formal review of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, reviving the Obama-era goal of closing the controversial facility with the aim of doing so before he leaves office, the White House said on Friday.

Aides involved in internal discussions are considering an executive action to be signed by Biden in coming weeks or months, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters,

Asked whether Biden would shut the high-security prison located at the Guantanamo Naval Station by the time his presidency ends, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters: “That certainly is our goal and our intention.”

Reuters reported that such an initiative is unlikely to bring down the curtain anytime soon on the facility, due largely to the steep political and legal obstacles in the way of closing it. .

Set up to house foreign suspects following September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, the prison came to symbolize the excesses of the US “war on terror” because of harsh interrogation methods that critics say amounted to torture.

Former US President Donald Trump kept the prison open during his four years in the White House. Now, 40 prisoners remain, most held for nearly two decades without being charged or tried.

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