Tuesday, March 9, 2010

360 Degrees: The World Tonight

Germany: Man Jailed For Cindy Crawford Extortion

A German man who tried to blackmail supermodel Cindy Crawford with a photo of her bound and gagged 7-year-old daughter was sentenced to two years in jail Tuesday.

Edis Kayalar, 26, was found guilty after confessing that he tried to extort €100,000 ($135,888) from Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber last year using the photo, the court in the southern German town of Kirchheim unter Tech said.

A U.S. affidavit filed in the case said Kayalar believed he could have received $500,000 from the tabloids for the photograph and that he deserved more money from Crawford and her husband. Kayalar said he "was not trying to destroy a little girl's life, but the release of the photograph was not going to be something positive for the victims' image," according to the document.

The picture which showed the child gagged and tied to a chair was reportedly taken by a former nanny during a "cops and robbers" game. Kayalar, lived illegally in the U. S. from 2007 to 2009, had an affair with the nanny and stole the photo from her last year, Judge Joachim Spieth told the Associated Press.

In July 2009, Gerber met Kayalar, paid him $1,000 "for his troubles" and got a print of the photo. But Kayalar came back asking for more. After being deported to Germany from the U.S. for an immigration violation, he upped his demands to €100,000, Spieth said.

Because that sum was never paid out, Kayalar was sentenced only for attempted extortion, Spieth said. The German court took up the case because Kayalar was in Kirchheim unter Tech when he demanded the €100,000, Spieth said. The maximum sentence for attempted blackmail is five years. The sentence is lower because the plaintiff confessed, he said.

Greek PM Urges US To Crackdown On Speculators

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou says President Barack Obama reacted positively in a meeting Tuesday to European ideas about cracking down on currency speculation.

Papandreou said he outlined European proposals during his session with Obama. He says the issue would be discussed at the next meeting of the Group of 20 summit of leading and emerging economies in June.

Earlier Tuesday, European officials urged the U.S. to curb certain financial instruments.

A market frenzy in recent weeks saw traders make bets worth billions of dollars against the euro and on the chances of Greece not repaying its massive debts. Those market worries have undermined the 16-country currency.

Bangladesh 'Ignoring Plight' of Staving Burma Refugees

An American medical charity has warned that thousands of Burmese refugees in Bangladesh are facing starvation.

Physicians for Human Rights said government authorities are preventing the Rohingya, a Muslim minority, from receiving adequate care.

It accuses Bangladesh of obstructing efforts to help the Rohingya, who have fled Burma to escape persecution. The government has dismissed the allegations as it did similar reports by MSF last month.

US Apologizes Over Gaddafi Comments

The US State Department has apologised for comments made about Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's call for jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland.

Department spokesman PJ Crowley, who made the dismissive comments, said they did not reflect US policy and were not intended to offend.

Col Gaddafi had criticised a Swiss vote against the building of minarets and urged Muslims to boycott the country. Mr Crowley described it as "lots of words, not necessarily a lot of sense."

Libya and Switzerland are embroiled in a long-running diplomatic conflict.

Nigerian Army 'Ignored Warning of Massacres' in Jos

The governor of Nigeria's Plateau state has accused military commanders of ignoring warnings of an attack on Sunday near the city of Jos. Hundreds died during attacks on three villages in the area between the mainly Christian south and Muslim north.

The massacre is seen as revenge for a previous bout of killings in January.

Earlier, a Christian group also accused security forces of failing to stop the clashes. Nigerian police spokesman Yemi Ajayi categorically denied the claims.

The army has not yet responded to the accusations but troops are patrolling the area to prevent further clashes. There were fresh reports of gunfire in villages near Jos late on Tuesday, and some villagers have been fleeing the area.

U.S. VP Attacks Israeli Plan for East Jerusalem

Vice-President Joe Biden has condemned Israel's approval of 1,600 new homes for ultra-Orthodox Jews in East Jerusalem. Biden, in Israel as part of US attempts to kick-start the peace process, said it was "the kind of step that undermines the trust we need."

Palestinian leaders also condemned the controversial move. Israel insisted it was a procedural step with no connection to Mr Biden's visit.

The international community considers East Jerusalem occupied territory. Building on occupied land is illegal under international law, but Israel regards East Jerusalem - which it annexed in 1967 - as its territory.

In a strongly worded statement, Mr Biden said: "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem."

Reuter's, BBC; Sky News, IRIN. Edited by 360

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