World briefs 5/1/07

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Virgina closes loophole in state gun law

RICHMOND, Va. -- The governor on Monday closed the loophole in state law that allowed the Virginia Tech gunman to buy weapons despite a court ruling that he was a threat and needed psychiatric counseling. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine issued an executive order requiring that a database of people banned from buying guns include the name of anyone who is found to be dangerous and ordered to get involuntary mental health treatment. Seung-Hui Cho was told to get counseling in 2005 after a judge ruled that he was a danger to himself. But because Cho was treated as an outpatient and never committed to a mental health hospital, the court's decision was not entered into the database, which gun dealers must check before selling a weapon. Cho did not disclose his mental health problems or the court-ordered treatment in a form he completed before buying the guns.

Turkish prime minister appeals for unity

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appealed for calm Monday after the stock market dropped amid a deepening conflict between his Islamic-oriented government and pro-secular forces backed by the military. Pro-secular forces are locked in a showdown over the presidential aspirations of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, whose ruling party they accuse of steering Turkey away from its long secular tradition and toward Islamic rule. At least 700,000 pro-secular demonstrators protested against the government Sunday, and opposition and business leaders are calling for early general elections to replace the government. The military, which has led several coups in past decades, has hinted at intervention in the crisis. Amid the turmoil, Turkey's benchmark IMKB-100 index closed down 4.01 percent Monday after opening with a drop of 7.99 percent.

5 men get life sentence for London bombings

LONDON -- Five al-Qaida-linked men were sentenced to life in prison Monday for plotting to bomb a nightclub, power plants and an Iraq contractor in London -- a plan that exposed links between their terror cell and the suicide bombers who attacked London's transit system in 2005. The five, all British citizens, were convicted Monday of plotting to attack the London targets with bombs made from a half-ton stockpile of fertilizer after a yearlong trial in which prosecutors and an FBI informant claimed the group was linked to al-Qaida leaders. It was Britain's longest terror case. Surveillance teams tracking the five men stumbled onto the transit attackers more than a year before they killed 52 commuters July 7, 2005, but officials failed to piece together intelligence in time to halt the blasts. Khyam, 25, Anthony Garcia, 25, Jawad Akbar, 23, Waheed Mahmood, 35, and Salahuddin Amin, 32, were sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to cause explosions.

War report criticizes Israeli prime minister

JERUSALEM -- In extraordinarily strong language, a high-level investigative panel sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday for "severe failure" in his handling of the war in Lebanon -- a potentially fatal blow to his political survival. Whether Olmert can hang on to his job will depend on how the Israeli people respond to the panel's report, which blamed him for "hastily" rushing into a war the army was not prepared to wage -- and that many Israelis think emboldened the Jewish state's enemies. Olmert vowed to remain in office despite calls for his resignation from coalition partners as well as opponents.

-- From wire reports

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