Bolivia back in drug treaty
Bolivia has been allowed to return to the UN’s main anti-narcotics treaty, after winning an opt-out allowing its population to keep chewing coca leaves. Bolivia withdrew from the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs last year in protest over the coca leaf being labeled an illegal drug. Chewing coca leaves is a centuries-old tradition in Bolivia. The leaf is also the raw ingredient for cocaine. President Evo Morales has been to international conferences protesting the ban. Now the UN has come up with a plan allowing Bolivia to rejoin the convention, with a “reservation” regarding coca leaf chewing. Reaccession to the treaty would be allowed provided fewer than a third of the convention’s 183 member states objected. UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said that 15 countries had objected to Bolivia’s optout in the 12 month consultations that ended on Thursday.
Death Star petition rejected
President Barack Obama’s administration dashed the hopes of Star Wars geeks across the galaxy by rejecting an official petition calling for the government to build a Death Star, the fictional planet-destroying space station featured in the Star Wars movies. “The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon,” said Paul Shawcross, head of the White House budget office’s science and space branch. “The Administration does not support blowing up planets,” Shawcross wrote in a response to the 34,435 people who signed the petition on the White House Web site. The White House accepts petitions and responds to the most popular ones. Most of the petitions on the Web site address weighty policy issues. However, in recent weeks, national attention has been drawn to quirky petitions, such as one that supports the minting of a US$1 trillion platinum coin to avoid a debt default if Congress fails to raise the debt limit next month.
Police crack child-sex ring
Police have broken up a pedophile network with international ties that used social media Web sites to swap pornographic images and videos of children. Security Ministry officials said on Friday that federal police carried out 61 raids last week to dismantle the ring as part of “Operation Oliver.” The covert operation began in February 2011 after local police and Interpol in Britain detected sites in London publishing and swapping pornographic videos with servers in the country. Officials say there are 64 people charged, but no arrests have been made. Several computers with images of minors were seized during the raids in nine provinces and in the capital, Buenos Aires.
Officials charged over crash
A court is charging two former government officials and the owners of a train company in connection with a crash that killed 51 people last year. The Buenos Aires federal court on Friday ratified charges previously filed against former transportation secretaries Juan Pablo Schiavi and Ricardo Jaime. The court also charged Sergio and Mario Cirigliano, owners of the Buenos Aires Train company. The court revoked an order by a lower judge last year that relieved the train’s machinist and the ex-head of the National Transportation Regulation Committee of any blame. The train was packed when it slammed into a metal barrier at Buenos Aires’ Once station on Feb. 22. It marked one of the worst tragedies in the country’s deteriorating rail system.