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Showing posts from January 21, 2013



Controlling uncertainty

The ECB's monthly bulletin for January 2013 includes an article on the relationship between uncertainty, confidence and economic performance. The basic finding should not come as much of a surprise. High uncertainty tends to lower confidence among consumers and investors; lower confidence tends to weaken economic performance. As with many articles in economics, the strength of this piece lies not so much in the novelty of the finding as in the elegance with which the authors demonstrate their empirical support. Nevertheless, the authors do add a wrinkle with the notion of 'uncertainty shocks' -- sudden events that confound the views of consumers and investors, with lasting consequences for economic performance. This addition is important because uncertainty is not only the result of unforeseen or unforeseeable developments, like the weather. To a certain extent, uncertainty in the markets -- as in all areas of human en…

UN says Afghan prisoners still being tortured

Forms of abuse included hanging prisoners by their wrists and beating them with cables, a new report says.

Last Modified: 20 Jan 2013 18:29

Afghan authorities were still torturing prisoners, such as hanging them by their wrists and beating them with cables, according to a UN report.

More than half of the 635 detainees interviewed had been tortured, according to the report titled Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody: One Year On, released on Sunday.

The figure is higher than the UN found in its first report in 2011, when 24 percent of transferred detainees were tortured.

In multiple detention centres, Afghan authorities leave detainees hanging from the ceiling by their wrists, beat them with cables and wooden sticks, administer electric shocks, twist their genitals and threaten to shove bottles up their anuses or to kill them, the report said.

"Torture cannot be addressed by training, inspections and directives alone."

- Georgette Gagnon, the head of human righ…

Drone strike kills al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen

At least eight people killed by suspected US drone strike in Marib province, including two known al-Qaeda fighters.

Yemeni military officials have said eight people have been killed in two suspected US drone strikes in Abieda valley in central Marib province.

Residents contacted by The Associated Press say that at least two of the eight people killed in Saturday evening's strikes were known al-Qaeda militants of Saudi nationality. They identified one as Ismail bin Jamil.

They say at least three of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.

Security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to media. Residents spoke anonymously for fear of reprisal.

The US has carried out dozens of suspected drone attacks against al-Qaeda in Yemen, which Washington considers the group's most active branch.

Heavy fighting in Kabul after suicide blasts

Gunmen and suicide bombers have attacked a Kabul police compound in the west of the Afghan capital. A gunbattle is ongoing between security forces and heavily armed assailants.

"A group of terrorists, two or three or four, tried to enter the traffic police building, Mohammad Zahir, of the Kabul police, said on Monday.

"Two of the bombers were shot dead at the entrance and one has likely entered the building and is shooting sporadically. Our security forces are in the area."

Local police report at least four police and six civilians have been injured.

A witness said the top floor of the building was on fire. He said the initial explosion "very very big -- it was massive", and was followed by several other explosions and gunfire.

"There are firefighter trucks, ambulances and police all over the place. The gunfire comes from that direction and the building's top floors are on fire," he said.

Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said at …