World briefs – December 4

A renegade faction of Guinea’s presidential guard opened fire on the African country’s leader Thursday, slightly wounding him amid rumours of deep divisions within the army nearly three months after a military-led massacre of protesters at a peaceful rally.

Guinea’s president wounded in attack by military aide

CONAKRY, Guinea — A renegade faction of Guinea’s presidential guard opened fire on the African country’s leader Thursday, slightly wounding him amid rumours of deep divisions within the army nearly three months after a military-led massacre of protesters at a peaceful rally.

President Moussa “Dadis” Camara was shot at by his military aide, who heads the presidential guard, Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif said. A statement read on state TV said the 45-year-old president had been slightly wounded but that his life was not in danger.

“The president of the republic is still the president of the republic and he is in good health,” Cherif said as military helicopters and sporadic shooting could be heard in downtown Conakry.

Cherif said Camara had left the country’s main military barracks from where he has been running the country since seizing power in a military-led coup 11 months ago. He headed downtown to a military camp housing hundreds of men under the control of Abubakar “Toumba” Diakite, the president’s aide-de-camp. The shooting occurred inside the camp.

The incident underscores the deep rifts inside the military clique that grabbed control of the nation of 10 million on Africa’s western coast just 11 months ago. Camara had initially promised to quickly organize elections, but then reversed course and began hinting that he planned to run for office, prompting a massive protest Sept. 28.

Toumba is accused of having led the presidential guard that opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators that had gathered inside the capital’s national stadium. At least 157 people were killed and dozens of women were raped by the red beret-wearing presidential guard who also assaulted them with bayonets, rifle butts and with pieces of wood. At least 20 women were kidnapped and driven away in military trucks to private villas where they were drugged and videotaped while they were being gang raped over several days, according to three survivors as well as several human rights groups.


Secret Service puts three on leave over gate crashing

WASHINGTON — The head of the Secret Service asserted Thursday that the security breach at last week’s White House state dinner was an aberration but has put three uniformed officers on leave. President Barack Obama says his confidence in the agency remains unshaken.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, said the country is fortunate the affair in honour of visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not end in a “night of horror.”

Meantime in an interview at the White House, Obama said that even though “the system didn’t work the way it was supposed to” last week, he still feels safe in the mansion and trust the agency fully to protect not only him but his wife and children.

“I could not have more confidence in the Secret Service,” Obama told USA TODAY and the Detroit Free Press.


U.S. student tells Italian court she is no ‘assassin’

PERUGIA, Italy — American student Amanda Knox, fighting back tears, told the Italian court trying her for the murder of her British roommate that she doesn’t want to be branded an assassin.

With her voice breaking, Knox addressed the eight members of the jury Thursday, just before they were scheduled to begin their deliberations, possibly Friday. It was her final statement to the court.

Knox said she was afraid she was losing herself, frightened of being branded “what I am not.”

“I am scared of having the mask of an assassin forced onto me,” she told the court, speaking Italian.

Knox is charged with murder and sexual assault in the slaying of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old who was studying in Perugia. Also on trial is Knox’s boyfriend at the time of the slaying, Italian Raffaele Sollecito. All three were students in Perugia.

Prosecutors are seeking life sentences. Both defendants have pleaded innocent.


‘Sexting’ common among young Americans: poll

WASHINGTON — A new poll shows that more than a quarter of young people in the U.S. are “sexting” — sharing nude photos, videos and chat by cellphone or online.

The practice is fairly commonplace among young people, despite sometimes grim consequences for those who do it, an Associated Press-MTV poll found.

That includes Sammy, a 16-year-old from Northern California who asked that his last name not be used.

Sammy said he had shared naked pictures of himself with girlfriends. He also shared naked pictures of someone else that a friend had sent him.

What he didn’t realize at the time was that young people across the country — in Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have faced charges, in some cases felony charges, for sending nude pictures.

“That’s why I probably wouldn’t do it again,” Sammy said.

Yet, “I just don’t see it as that big of a problem, personally.”

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