Officials: Man Smuggled Cocaine In Body

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Authorities say a German man tried to board a flight from Las Vegas to London with more than a kilo of cocaine inside pellets in his digestive system.

Officials said Wednesday Christopher Adiegwu, 43, was charged in an indictment with one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

Adiegwu was inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at McCarran International Airport Aug. 17 as he was about to board a Virgin Airways flight to London, court records indicated.

For undisclosed reasons, officers suspected he was carrying narcotics and took him to a hospital for an X-ray, the Sun said.

Adiegwu took a laxative and eliminated 81 pellets. The cocaine weighed about 1.2 kilograms, officials said.

Court records show Adiegwu is a citizen of Germany and a native of Nigeria. He arrived in the United States at Los Angeles International Airport under a visa waiver Aug. 5, officials said.

Adiegwu faces a maximum penalty a possible 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine if convicted.

His arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 9

Tymoshenko: Case About Ukraine’s Future

KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko told a court in Kiev her corruption trial could influence the country’s future.

Tymoshenko is on trial in connection to a 2009 gas deal she helped broker with Russian energy company Gazprom while serving as prime minister. The deal prompted Gazprom to resume gas supplies to the country, though the current government in Kiev said it came at a huge financial cost.

Tymoshenko told the court the case isn’t related to her personally, the judge or Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

“It influences Ukraine’s future,” she said in statements posted on her Web site.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, in an August statement, said he was reminded of Ukraine’s refusal to get dragged back toward totalitarianism. He added, however, that democracy is “fragile,” noting recent developments in Kiev suggest more work is needed to reinforce the country’s achievements.

Washington, meanwhile, has said it believes the charges against Tymoshenko are politically motivated. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement this week Kiev was practicing “selective prosecution” that reminded him of the Soviet era.

“This isn’t about me,” said Tymoshenko. “This is about our country, our European strategy and Ukraine’s European prospects.”

Protesters Gather Outside Ethiopian School

PETAH TIKVA, Israel, Sept. 1 (UPI) — About 300 Israelis of Ethiopian descent protested segregation outside Nir Etzion, a school attended almost entirely by Ethiopian children.

The school, considered an “Ethiopian ghetto,” was supposed to be closed and its students integrated into other schools, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni spoke to protesters at the school in Petah Tikva on Thursday morning.

“Your struggle is not only the struggle of Ethiopians; it is the struggle for all of us in Israel. They tell you everything will be fine,” Livni said, “and that it will take time. For these kids … we cannot wait around.”

Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee Alex Miller, who passed a law prohibiting discrimination against students, said that an emergency meeting in response to the protest would address the fate of Nir Etzion.

“‘Ethiopian only’ schools are a disgusting and condemnable phenomenon that stain the entire education system”, he said, “There is no place in the state of Israel for concentration camps for Ethiopians.”

He continued, “a series of problematic cases require us to organize an immediate and urgent check of the entire education system in Petah Tikva.”

Iran Warns Of Western Role In Arab Spring

TEHRAN, Sept. 1 (UPI) — There will be major problems in the Muslim world if Western powers are allowed to exploit the so-called Arab Spring, Iran’s supreme leader warned.

A protest suicide sparked the Jasmine Revolution in December that ended Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s tenure after more than 23 years in power. That revolution spilled over to Egypt, ending President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade grip on power, and threatens similar regimes in Yemen, Syria and Libya.

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, warned Muslim nations they had a “very important and sensitive responsibility” to prevent Western nations from hijacking the revolutions in those countries.

He said if “arrogant powers,” a reference to the West, “take the lead” in the Arab Spring, the Muslim world will “definitely” face “big problems” for several decades, state-funded broadcaster Press TV reported.

Washington expressed recent concern that Iran was helping the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad with his brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters. Iran is also accused of aiding Shiite militias in Iraq and serving as a close ally to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Khamenei noted Iran, however, has been able to act as a bulwark against the West since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Prison Break Reported In Iraq

BAGHDAD, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Dozens of prisoners escaped from an Iraqi prison following a deadly August, though the U.S. military said it was its best month since the start of the war.

Iraqi officials said Thursday they recaptured 21 of the 35 prisoners who escaped from a detention center in northern Ninawa province. Abdul Rahim al-Shimmari, chairman of the provincial defense committee, told the Voices of Iraq news agency all of the prisoners were in jail on terrorism charges.

One Iraqi soldier was killed and two others were injured Thursday by unknown militants in Salah ad Din province and similar accounts were reported in a bombing attack in Baghdad. Roughly 100 Iraqis were killed in various bombings throughout the country in August.

For U.S. forces stationed there, July marked the deadliest month in three years with 14 service members killed. In August, however, the U.S. military said it marked a milestone with no fatalities reported in Iraq.

U.S. Army Col. Douglas Crissman told The New York Times it was hard to imagine the progress given the level of violence just four years ago when Iraq was on the verge of civil war.

“I think this shows how far the Iraqi security forces have come,” he was quoted as saying.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan in an August interview with the Pentagon Channel said the Iraqi military has made impressive gains since it was dismantled during the 2003 invasion.

Iraqi officials, however, blamed national security forces in part for the series of attacks in August.

U.S. military forces are looking toward pulling the remaining 47,000 troops out of the country by the end of the year.

Mother Allegedly Shoots 2 Children, Flees

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill., Sept. 1 (UPI) — An East St. Louis, Ill., mother allegedly shot two of her children and fled the scene by car before being apprehended, police said.

The woman, identified as Yokeia Smith by relatives, was caught by police in downtown St. Louis Wednesday after hitting three pedestrians with her vehicle, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

East St. Louis police Capt. Bobby Cole said police received a call about a shooting in an apartment building at 6:03 p.m. Wednesday. When officers arrived on the scene, they found the children, 4 and 5, dead, but Smith was gone.

Police and relatives says there is no determined motive for the shootings.

“We don’t have a clue why,” Cole said. “Until we go speak with the lady, we won’t know anything.”

“I don’t know why the babies are dead,” said a cousin, Virginia Brown.

Brown did say that Smith had been recommended medication for depression or another mental illness not long ago.

Final Canadian Province Bans Road Texting

EDMONTON, Alberta, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Alberta became the 10th and final Canadian province Thursday to ban drivers from using hand-held cellphones and texting behind the wheel.

Among the other nine provinces, Alberta’s law is seen as more wide-ranging, as it give police officers the discretion to lay charges of distracted driving for other things such as reading or programming a global positioning system device, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

Drivers who appear to be focused on eating, drinking, applying makeup or watching computer devices can also be charged, the law says.

Police officers throughout the province have been told to use their discretion and not lay charges for simple acts like sipping a coffee or smoking a cigarette, the Calgary Sun said.

Motorists have been told they can still use GPS systems, but they must be programmed in advance and not while on the road, the report said. Hands-free telephone use is permitted.

Those convicted of distracted driving face a $172 fine, police said.

All 10 provinces now have similar bans. Among the three territories, Yukon has a cellphone driving ban in place, while the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be implementing a similar law Jan. 1.

Boko Haram Has Ties To Al-Qaida

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Nigerian Islamic group Boko Haram in the last year has solidified its relationship with al-Qaida groups, a U.S. official familiar with terrorist groups said.

Boco Haram told the BBC it carried out last week’s attack that left dozens of people dead and many more injured at the U.N. offices in Abuja.

A car bomb crashed through security barriers into the reception area, witnesses told the BBC. U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham, the top U.S. military authority working in Africa, had told the BBC earlier this month there were growing ties between Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African branch of al-Qaida.

A review of internal intelligence reports from Nigeria by The Wall Street Journal found Boko Haram members were trained by al-Qaida affiliates in Afghanistan and Algeria.

The Nigerian report suggested Boko Haram groups began training with al-Qaida as early as 2002. A 2007 trip to Afghanistan was for training in the use of improvised explosive devices, the report adds. AQIM, which took responsibility for a suicide bombing of an Algerian military academy last week, also has a strong relationship with Boko Haram, the Journal notes.

A U.S. official who spoke with the newspaper on condition of anonymity said the Nigerian group has solidified its relationship with AQIM within the last year.

“What we’re seeing now is probably the result of the additional radicalization of their viewpoints and the training,” the official said.

Nigeria authorities announced Monday they’ve made several arrests in connection with last week’s bombings but have provided few details. The United Nations said it was reviewing security details across the board in light of the attack.

Sarah Palin Confirms Weekend Tea Party Rally

INDIANOLA, Iowa, Sept. 1 (UPI) — After hours of conflicting reports, organizers confirmed potential presidential candidate Sarah Palin will speak at a Tea Party rally in Iowa.

Consultants from Palin’s team threatened to withdraw her from the rally if former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell were present at the event, Politico reported.

O’Donnell was uninvited from the rally, scheduled for Saturday in Indianola, Iowa, late Wednesday at the request of Palin’s people, the report said

“Palin has confirmed,” Tea Party of America organizer Charlie Gruschow told Politico. “O’Donnell will not speak or be present.”

This is not the first time Palin gave O’Donnell the cold shoulder. O’Donnell asked Palin to campaign with her shortly before election day in 2010. Palin reportedly attended a New York Jets game instead of participating in O’Donnell’s campaign event.

Organizers of the Tea Party rally estimate an attendance of 10,000 people coming from all over the country. Palin is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the rally.

After her appearance in Iowa, Palin is scheduled to make a stop in New Hampshire.

Scepticism Over Korean Gas Pipeline?

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A natural gas pipeline passing through both Koreas is expected to surface on the agenda in multilateral talks set for late 2011, sources said.

Russian gas company Gazprom and the South Koreans agreed to consider gas deliveries in 2009. Moscow said it could start shipping gas for Seoul by 2017.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in an August message to North Korean officials said Moscow was eager to cooperate with the North Koreans “in all directions of mutual concern.”

North Korean officials early this week said both sides were likely to discuss a natural gas pipeline from Russia during November meetings.

One unidentified official, however, was quoted by South Korea’s official Yonhap News Agency as saying it could be a while before concrete plans develop.

The official said “only a little bit of progress” has been made recently. “We also have to further study the issue of forming a three-way forum or commission,” the official added.

Gazprom, meanwhile, said it was working on plans to update its national gas transmission system in the Far East part of Russia. Officials at the gas monopoly had said they were focused on expanding their Asian footprint.