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Afghan parliament descends into chaos after lawmakers brawl over appointment of a new speaker
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's parliament descended into chaos on Sunday when lawmakers brawled over the appointment of a new speaker, an inauspicious start to the assembly which was sitting for the first time since chaotic elections last year.
Results of last October's parliamentary election were only finalized earlier this month after repeated technical and organizational problems and widespread accusations of fraud.
Sunday's incident underscored the turmoil in Afghan politics ahead of presidential elections that are taking place in the shadow of talks between U.S. diplomats and the Taliban about a possible settlement of an 18 year conflict.
On Saturday, Mir Rahman Rahmani, a top businessman, ran for the speakership of the 247-seat house but fell short of a majority by a single vote, triggering a clash between supporters, who declared him the winner, and opponents, who said he had not secured the necessary 124 votes.
"We will never accept the new speaker and there must be a re-election with new candidates," said Mariam Sama, a lawmaker from Kabul.
Video footage widely shared on social media showed a brawl among lawmakers, with members of parliament seen blocking the speaker's seat and calling for a re-run of the vote.
Rahmani is the father of Ajmal Rahmani, a rich businessman popularly known as "Armored Ajmal" after his business selling bulletproof vehicles to the Kabul elite.
"He has secured a majority of the votes and one vote is not an issues, so he is our new chairman," said Nahid Farid, a lawmaker from Herat who supports Rahmani.
The repeatedly delayed parliamentary vote on Oct. 20 was marred by widespread allegations of fraud, vote rigging, inaccurate voter lists and technical problems with biometric verification equipment.
(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi, Editing by Mark Potter)
A group of vets are raising money for pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medal to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.
The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.
A doctor who treated accident victims has a radioactive isotope in his body. Russia says it came from his diet
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities said on Friday that a doctor who treated those injured in a mysterious accident this month had the radioactive isotope Caesium-137 in his body, but said it was probably put there by his diet.
The deadly accident at a military site in northern Russia took place on Aug. 8 and caused a brief spurt of radiation. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said it occurred during testing of what he called promising new weapons systems.
Groundwater at the Air Force Academy is contaminated with the same toxic chemicals polluting a southern El Paso County aquifer, expanding a problem that has cost tens of millions of dollars to address in the Pikes Peak region.
Plans are underway to begin testing drinking water wells south of the academy in the Woodmen Valley area after unsafe levels of the chemicals were found at four locations on base, the academy said Thursday.