Saturday, 14 January 2012
Friday, 13 January 2012
Can i make a request? Is anyone willing to post this and leave it on your status for 1 hour? It is special education week & autism & ADHD & ADD Awareness month, and this is in honour of all children who struggle every day, I am re posting this but would like to add tourettes to the list, as for kids with T.S life is a daily struggle as well
Karen army, Burma govt agree to ceasefireSaw Jawni from the KNU speaks to reporters at a welcome dinner for ceasefire talks in Hpa-an (Reuters)
A Karen National Union delegation who met with government officials today for ceasefire talks talks say they have reached an agreement for a truce in the volatile eastern state.
A reporter in the Karen town of Hpa-an said both sides had agreed to a four-point ceasefire. “There are four points: the ceasefire itself, as well as opening of liaison offices, freedom to move around in the region without weapons, and to follow up with more talks”.
It becomes the strongest signal yet that peace may finally come to a region devastated by the world’s longest-running civil war, although deep scepticism still remains. The KNU’s vice-chairman, David Thakabaw, told DVB earlier today: “Our past experience dealing with the government has always been tricky. They’re not very honest – they say good words but today is just like before [when talks broke down].”
The 19-strong delegation will travel to the Eastern Regional Military Command headquarters in the nearby Mon state capital of Moulmein this evening to discuss “military matters”.
The Karen refused to join a ceasefire process in the mid-1990s that saw many of the country’s armed ethnic groups agree to truces, many in exchange for business concessions from the government. This included the Kachin Independence Army in Burma’s north, but that deal broke down in June last year and fighting has since engulfed large parts of the northern state.
The KNU enjoys widespread support among the state’s population, much of which has been subject to decades of debased treatment at the hands of Burmese troops. Thackabaw said that Karen people were wary of what the outcome of a ceasefire might mean for the state.
“A quick ceasefire now would be tantamount to surrender – that’s what the people are worried about,” he said. “We will be very cautious and look at the problem from all angles.”
The KNU has also demanded that the Burmese army end attack against ethnic minorities across the country, although it is unclear if this formed part of the deal today.
In addition to the conflict, the government has neglected development in eastern Burma, where poverty levels outstrip those in urban areas and where more than 500,000 people are classed as internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Karen officials told DVB prior to leaving yesterday that they would press the government to prioritise development there.
Additional reporting by Francis Wade
LIVE: Burma prisoner amnesty – five DVB staff go freeWin Maw is the latest DVB reporter to be freed from jail today (DVB)
We will be keeping you updated with breaking news as the day progresses. Updates in Rangoon time (+6.30 GMT). Confirmation hard to get, so note when labelled rumour
13.40pm: DVB reporter Win Maw has been released from Kyaukphyu prison in Arakan state. He becomes the last of the named DVB reporters to be freed, although several more whose names were kept anonymous so far remain in prison. More on Win Maw here.
13.25pm: We’ve got confirmed names of 87 political prisoners released so far today, but that doesn’t include the 82 released from Insein prison, so number so far around 172. The count continues…
13.00pm: Grandchildren of Burma’s first dictator Ne Win among the 82 political prisoners released so far from Insein prison in Rangoon. Others include members of the Karen National Union, activist group Generation Wave, NLD members, monks arrested in 2007 and former military intelligence officials, says The Voice.
12.53pm: Former PM Khin Nyunt says he will cease political activities and concentrate only on social and religious work, according to economist Khin Maung Nyo who met with him this morning.
12.33pm: Khin Nyunt tells crowds he is “in good health”.
“I’m happy and so my is family. But my men still remain in detention and some of them deserve to be free. It would be the best if everyone is released and could reunit with their families.
“I feel that it’s a bit self-centered that only they are being released like this. I wish everyone could be released and hope that they will be at one point since the current government is taking one step after another.”
after his release today (DVB)
12.15pm: News just in - DVB reporter Hla Hla Win has been released from Kathar prison in Sagaing prison. She was serving a 27-year prison sentence after being caught with video interviews of monks criticising the former junta’s crackdown on protesters in September 2007. More about her here.
Four DVB reporters have so far been released from prison today. Chief Editor Aye Chan Naing said: ”I am very happy for the release of some of DVB’s journalists. I hope all our journalists will be free today.”
11.53am: Quote from released Shan leader Khun Tun Oo: “Firstly I would like to say it is important to free those who remain [in detention]. It would be best if there’s no one left in the prisons.
“I feel no emotion at all to be released because I wasn’t supposed to be arrested in the first place. I didn’t commit any of the crimes they accused me of – there was no national treason. I have wasted seven years of my life for something I didn’t do and there’s nothing to be happy about now.”
11.45am: Journalist Zaw Thet Htwe is among those released from Taunggyi prison, according to his wife. Kyaw Kyaw Htwe (aka Marky) released from Insein Prison, according to The Voice.
11.40am: Shan ethnic leader Khun Tun Oo, one of Burma’s most famous political prisoners, released from Putao prison in northernmost Burma close to the China border. He was serving a 93-year sentence on charges of sedition and planning to overthrow the former junta.
11.35am: From Sittwe prison in Arakan state, Weekly Eleven reports the following eight political prisoners have been freed – Dr Thet Lwin, Than Tin (aka Ko Gyi Than), Pyi Phyo Hlaing, Aung Aung Kyaw, Zeyar Oo, Payit, Kyaw Zin Win and Dawpon Nay Nay.
11.30am: Prominent blogger Nay Phone Latt among those released from Hpa-an prison in Karen state. He was serving a 20-year sentence. Also freed from Hpa-an: Nyi Pu (1990 People’s Parliament Rep), Nanda Sitt Aung, Thant Zin Aung (jailed alongside Zarganar), Kyaw Kyaw Naing, Pyi Phyo Aung and Nyan Linn, according to The Voice.
11.21am: Two more activists from the 88 Generation Students’ Group, Panatee Htun and Nilar Thein (f), released today.
11.15am: IMPORTANT: Today’s amnesty announced under Act 401(1) - “When any person has been sentenced to punishment for an offence, the President of the Union may at any time, without conditions or upon any conditions which the person sentenced accepts, suspend the execution of his sentence or remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he has been sentenced” (our italics).
Past amnesties have been done under Article 204(b) of the constitution: ”The power to grant amnesty in accord with the recommendation of the National Defence and Security Council”.
So it seems today’s releases have not been done with full consent of the powerful National Defence and Security Council, and that some may only be suspensions. We’ll try to find more on this…
11.08am: Sage words from the 21-year-old DVB reporter Sithu Zeya, who was released today:
“As for the president, I think he’s pretty decent as he is [enacting reforms] under a lot of pressure. But also it depends a lot on the men behind him – just one decent person won’t make the change happen. We need all-inclusive cooperation from both sides to build a democratic system.”
11.06am: The following political prisoners have been released from Buthidaung prison in Arakan state, according to Weekly Eleven:
Sithu Maung, Thant Zin Myo, Kyaw Min, Htun Nyo, Htay Kywe, Aung Zaw oo, Pyay Kyaw, Wunna Pantha, Kyaw Win San and Maung Maung Latt.
11.03am: NLD spokesperson says amnesty a ”positive sign. We welcome the release. Some (dissidents) are on their way home already,” AFP quotes.
10.56am: 12 political prisoners released from Mingyan prison, including female activist Htet Htet Aung.
10.48am: The Voice journal reports than former Burmese prime minister Khin Nyunt has been released from house arrest, along with his son. He was detained in 2004 after falling foul of former junta chief Than Shwe.
1044am: Freed DVB reporter Sithu Zeya says conditions attached to his release – if he commits any crime in the future he will be forced to serve his full 18-year sentence. “It’s like we are being freed with leashes still attached to our necks. So I’m happy but with a leash still on my neck.”
Not clear if this ruling applies to all political prisoners released today.
10.42am: Hla Htwe (monk Vilasakka), Lah Yang Kywe, Ko Ko Naing, D Nyein Linn and Nobel Aye (f) freed from Monywa prison, according to Weekly Eleven magazine.
10.40am: Ngwe Soe Linn’s release brings to three the number of DVB reporters freed today. More on Ngwe Soe Linnhere.
10.39am: The following political prisoners released from Lashio prison, according to Weekly Eleven – Min Zeya, Min Han, Zarni Aung, Naing Oo (monk Pyinya Wunthua), Myint Naing, Aung Than Myint (Maggin monastery abbot Einraka), Ngwe Soe Linn, Min Htun, Myat Linn Htut, Honey Oo (f).
10.35am: 11 political prisoners, plus former military intelligence officials under Khin Nyunt, released from Taungoo prisons.
10.30am: The Voice magazine says Min Ko Naing was released at 10am (Rangoon time) today, along with 26 other political prisoners from Thayet.
10.25am: Confirmed that 88 Generation activists Zaw Htwe, Jimmy and Mya Aye are among those release from Taunggyi prison, according to Zaw Htwe’s wife. Still not clear if Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi are free, although we got a tip-off that Min Ko Naing’s family is en route to meet him.
10.20am: Comedian Zarganar writes on Facebook that jailed monk U Gambira, who had been severely tortured in prison, has been released.
10.16am: Rumours that leading 88 Generation activists, including Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, will be released. Reuters quoteed from an official at Thayet prison saying Min Ko Naing will walk.
10.10am: Second DVB reporter U Zeya, father of Sithu Zeya, has already been released, according to reports from inside Burma. More details soon
09.50am: The 21-year-old DVB reporter Sithu Zeya was among the first political prisoners to be released today. He was given an 18-year jail term for videoing the aftermath of the April 2010 grenade attacks in Rangoon. Sithu Zeya had been forced to reveal under torture that his father was also a DVB journalist.
Sithu today walked from Henzada prison and will be reunited with his family.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Myanmar starts freeing more political prisoners
By Aung Hla Tun
YANGON (Reuters) - Political prisoners began to walk free from jails around Myanmar on Friday in an amnesty that officials said could cover a total 651 inmates, as one of the world's most reclusive states opens up after half a century of authoritarian rule.
The United States and Europe have said freeing political prisoners is crucial to even considering lifting the economic sanctions that have isolated the former British colony, also known as Burma, and pushed it closer to China.
There was no official word on how many political prisoners would be included in the total, but among them was Sai Nyunt Lwin, 60, a prominent ethnic minority Shan politician and secretary of the former Shan Nationalities' League for Democracy (SNLD), who was released from Kalaymyo prison.
Contacted by telephone, he told Reuters: "I have confirmed all remaining leaders of the SNLD, including Chairman Khun Tun Oo, were released from different prisons across the country today."
"I was sentenced to 85 years but released today after seven years. I am in good health. I'm flying to Yangon this afternoon," he added.
Family members and prison officials said many more political activists, including members of the "88 Generation Students Group," young dissidents who led a pro-democracy uprising in 1988 when thousands of protesters were killed, would be released in the second major prison amnesty in four months.
Among them were Min Ko Naing, a top leader of the group, and Shin Gambira, a well-known Buddhist monk who led 2007 street protests, prison officials said.
Former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, who was once the powerful chief of military intelligence (MI), was being freed from house arrest, a senior prison official said.
"Out of 651 released from different prisons today, 308 are what you call 'prisoners of conscience' like Min Ko Naing and Shin Gambira and 148 are former military intelligence personnel, including former MI chief and Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt," he said.
Appointed prime minister in 2003, Khin Nyunt began implementing a then much-derided seven-point "roadmap to democracy" but was purged the following year in circumstances that were never fully explained. He has been under house arrest since then.
Secluded Myanmar has initiated radical reforms since a civilian government was allowed to take power in March after almost half a century of rule by the military.
The authorities freed about 230 political detainees in a general amnesty on October 12.
Media curbs have been eased and the government has initiated a dialogue with Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has led the fight for democracy and was herself released from years of house arrest in late 2010.
Last month Hillary Clinton, the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Myanmar in more than 50 years, said Washington stood ready to support reforms and possibly lift sanctions.
The next major step in the reform process will be April by-elections in which Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) will take part.
Min Ko Naing would be freed from Thayet Prison, a prison official and a member of his family told Reuters. He was arrested in 1989, released in 2004 and then arrested again in 2007 on charges of organising protests.
Shin Gambira was a leader of the All-Burmese Monks Alliance, which played a prominent role in the 2007 protests that were violently suppressed by the junta. He was 27 years old when he was sentenced in 2007 to 68 years in prison.
"Ashin Gambira will be freed later today," said a prison official in Myaungmya prison, southwest of the commercial capital, Yangon, using an honorific for monks.
An official from Taunggyi prison in Shan State said two other prominent activists, Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko (Brother) Jimmy, and Ko Zaw Thet Htwe would be freed there.
"We are going to take them to the bus terminal later this morning," the official said.
Ko Jimmy's wife, Nilar Thein, will also be released from Tharyawadi prison in the centre of the country, a family member said. Both celebrated members of the 88 Generation Students Group, they were given 65 years in jail for their role in the 2007 protests, a sentence that effectively orphaned their infant daughter.
Another 88 Group leader, Htay Kywe, was being released, his brother in law said, adding that he had heard almost all members of the group, including another prominent activist, Khun Tun Oo, were being freed.
The exact number of political prisoners is unclear.
Rights groups and the United Nations have put it at about 2,100. But Minister for Home Affairs Lieutenant General Ko Ko told U.N. Special Rapporteur TomÃ¡s Ojea Quintana in August the number was 600, or about 400 after the October 12 amnesty.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a group that tracks prisoners, had identified 1,536 "political prisoners" before today's release.
But diplomats and some independent analysts question those numbers and say they depend on different definitions of political prisoners and whether rebels or those who used force to oppose the government are included.
A review of the AAPP's list of prisoners by European diplomatic missions in Thailand suggested the number of non-combatant "prisoners of conscience" appeared to be about 600, or about 800 before October's amnesty.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy provides help to more than 460 people it considers "prisoners of conscience," according to Naing Naing, the party official in charge of its assistance, adding that there "a few dozen" more who did not seek its help.
(Writing by Jason Szep and Alan Raybould; Editing by Robeert Birsel)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Thursday, 12 January 2012
'Israeli soldiers leak classified info'The Israeli Army has been grappling with massive leaks of classified information by its own soldiers.The Israeli Army has been grappling with a series of massive leaks of classified information by its own soldiers through online services, a report says.
Israeli Army secrets are beaming around the world, mostly from the inside, Russia Today reported.
The report added that with just one click, everything that a few years ago might have been off limits, is available to millions of people simultaneously.
Israeli Colonel Bentzi Gruber has recently received a threat for "killing children in Gaza."
The colonel's name was on a website listing the phone numbers and other personal information of Israeli soldiers involved in the last Gaza war.
"They have, in the list on the site, more than 200 names," Gruber said. "I do not think this is from Facebook or from Myspace or stuff like this. I think that it is inside information."
The report concluded that there are many Israeli soldiers, who spend their army service keeping track of what is happening online.
Military recommends court-martial for Bradley Manning
Published: 13 January, 2012, 02:30
Bradley Manning is escorted from the courthouse at Fort Meade (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)
The US military officer that presided over the recent Article 32 hearing of PFC Bradley Manning has recommended that the alleged WikiLeaks contributor face a court martial for the crimes.
Manning, now 24, was charged with 22 counts stemming from his alleged involvement in Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks site. A pre-trial hearing concluded last month after a week of testimonies that relied almost entirely on government-approved witnesses handpicked by prosecutors on behalf of the US military. Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, who oversaw the hearing, says that the case is fit for a full fledged court-martial.
In an official statement released by the US Army on Thursday, they say that Lt. Col. Almanza feels that "reasonable grounds exist to believe that the accused committed the offences alleged.”
"He [Lt Col Almanza] recommended that the charges be referred to a general court martial," the Army statement reads.
First, the recommendation will go to senior military officers, called a convening authority, to okay Almanza's suggestion. If given the go-ahead, Manning will be scheduled for a military tribunal over 22 counts related to his suspected participation in Wikileaks.
If found guilty of the crimes, Manning stands to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Since being detained by the US military nearly two years ago, PFC Manning has been held in conditions that the United Nations have expressed as potentially torturous and has caused human rights groups across the world to cry foul over the American military’s so-called justice system. Stories of the cruel and humiliating detention of Manning prompted not just request from the UN’s special rapporteur on torture to have access to the prisoner, but also led to 50 members of European parliament to ask for the same.
“PFC Manning has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. People accused of crimes must not be subjected to any form of punishment before being brought to trial,” the signed letter from the PMs reads. Since being locked up, Manning’s lawyer has said that his client has been repeatedly stripped naked and forced into solitary confinement.
After being detailed overseas, Manning was held for months at a Marine jail in Quantico, Virginia before being transferred to a similar prison in Kansas. Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department employee that famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, told RT that the lengthy prison term without trial was being waged to get Manning to crack.
“What is torture for?” asked Ellsberg to RT’s Alyona Minkovski last month. “It’s really a way of getting false confessions. That’s what it does. That’s what it’s for. And in this case, I think they want not only an association with Assange as with some journalist or whoever, they want this very special, an ‘unjournalistic’ kind of thing. They want to show some kind of conspiracy . . .and they want to break him down.”
During the Article 32 hearing last month, evidence was admitted into court that specifically linked Manning to involvement with WikiLeaks. Included in the evidence were chat logs that supposedly show a relationship between Manning and Assange as well as correspondence between the soldier and other online contacts. According to one chat log, Manning told an Internet pal, "I was the source of the 12 July 07 video from the Apache Weapons Team which killed the two journalists and injured two kids.”
Regardless of his involvement with WikiLeaks and the release of classified documents, many have come to the support of Manning and have branded him as a patriot fighting to put America’s perverted secrets before the eyes of the American public. Ellsberg has called the soldier a "hero," and in one digital file recovered by the prosecution and believed to have been typed by Manning, the private allegedly says of one Wikileaks-released file, "This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”
David Coombs, the attorney for Manning, presented a case at the pre-trial hearing that the soldier’s superiors were aware that Manning was emotionally unstable and that they discussed suspending him from access to classified material in the past, only to fail in acting on it.
In the Article 32 hearing, Coombs was only allowed two of the near 50 defense witnesses he asked the military to allow. Following a full week of witnesses brought to the court by the prosecution, Coombs’ witnesses testified for only a single morning before the hearing ended.
"There's been a remarkable lack of progress," says Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which has followed Haiti's recovery.
As Haiti today observes the second anniversary of a disaster that leveled 300,000 buildings and left its economy and government in ruins, half a million people still live in tents, the United Nations reports.
Few have access to water, sanitation and other basic services, 60% are jobless and the world's largest cholera outbreak has killed 7,000 people and infected 500,000 more, the U.N. and aid groups say.
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Iran: timeline of attacks
Bomb blast that killed Iranian professor is latest in series of attacks on people linked to the country's nuclear programme
11 January Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 32, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in central Iran, dies after two assailants on a motorcycle attach magnetic bombs to his car.
11 December 2011 At least seven people are killed in a blast at a steel mill linked to Iran's nuclear programme in the city of Yasd.
12 November 2011 A Revolutionary Guard commander, a key figure in Iran's missile programme, and 16 others die in an explosion at an ammunition depot near Tehran. The Revolutionary Guard call it an accident despite speculation Israel was responsible.
23 July 2011 Scientist Darioush Rezaeinejad, 35, shot dead by gunmen in eastern Tehran. Iranian authorities give conflicting versions about his involvement or otherwise in the country's nuclear programme.
29 November 2010 Majid Shahriari, a senior Iranian nuclear scientist, is killed when a bomb is attached to his car by a motorcylist in northern Tehran. In a separate attack, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, a 52-year-old nuclear scientist working for Iran's defence ministry, escapes, though wounded.
12 January 2010 Particle physicist Masoud Alimohammadi is killed on his way to work by a bomb strapped to a motorcycle in north Tehran.
Iranian nuclear chemist killed by motorbike assassins
Tensions escalate with US and Israel as Tehran accuses the Mossad in fifth murder of scientists
A chemist working at Iran's main uranium enrichment plant was killed on Wednesday when attackers on a motorbike stuck a magnetic bomb to his car.
The assassination – the fifth against Iranian nuclear scientists in the past two years – is likely to further escalate tensions between Iran and the west.
It took place at 8.30am, at the height of rush-hour in Tehran, according to witnesses quoted in the Iranian media.
A motorcycle pulled up alongside a silver Peugeot 405 carrying the deputy director of the Natanz enrichment plant, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32.
The pillion passenger stuck a charge to the door next to the chemist, which detonated as the motorcyclist drove off.
The car's driver was also killed and a pedestrian was wounded, but the charge used appeared to have a sophisticated shape that focused the blast into the car. While the door ended up in nearby trees, much of the car remained intact.
Ahmadi-Roshan was the fifth nuclear scientist to be attacked in Tehran in 24 months. Only one target has survived the daytime attacks, apparently carried out by a well-trained hit team.
Washington denied any involvement, while Israel, whose military chief had warned Iran on Tuesday to expect more "unnatural" events, declined to comment.
The attacks come at a time of high tension and high stakes in the Gulf. The US has declared it will prohibit the global financing of the Iranian oil trade starting in June in protest at Iran's nuclear programme. The EU is due to decide on its own embargo on Iranian oil later this month.
Iran has reacted by threatening to close the Gulf's narrowest point, the strait of Hormuz – cutting off a fifth of the world's oil supply – if its oil exports are embargoed.
A European diplomat said on Wednesday night that a decision had been taken to impose an oil embargo in six months' time and an embargo on the imports of petrochemical products in three months' time.
This decision will be reviewed in April, in light of its anticipated impact on global oil markets, and then in July, on the eve of it taking effect. The decision will be formally endorsed by EU foreign ministers on January 23.
The Iranian navy has warned the US against deploying an aircraft carrier in the region. The US, with British support, has vowed to keep the oil shipping lanes open and patrol the Gulf as it sees it fit.
Iran has carried out naval exercises in the Gulf and has announced more to come, while Israel and the US are due to carry out their biggest joint war games ever in the next few months.
The oil embargoes are the result of a report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in November citing 'credible' evidence to support longstanding western charges that Iran has experimented with nuclear weapons design. Iran denies any military applications of its nuclear programme.
Iran raised tensions further this week by announcing it had begun enriching uranium at a second plant, a highly-fortified underground site called Fordow, near the holy city of Qom.
Western intelligence agency officials have admitted they are using covert means to try to slow the Iranian programme, including the supply of faulty parts and the Stuxnet computer worm which infected and slowed centrifuges.
Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, said in a speech in 2010: "We need intelligence-led operations to make it more difficult for countries like Iran to develop nuclear weapons." He added that the intelligence services' role was "to find out what these states are doing … and identify ways to slow down their access to vital materials and technology".
All western intelligence agencies have denied involvement in assassinations.
However, the head of the Israeli Defence Force, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, predicted on Tuesday that 2012 would be a critical year for Iran which would undergo more "things which take place in an unnatural manner".
Ahmadi-Rohsan was killed in a manner now terrifyingly familiar in Tehran. In November 2010, not far from the scene of Wednesday's assassination, there were two identical attacks involving assailants on motorbikes and magnetic bombs.
One killed Majid Shahriari, a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran who was working on research projects with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). The other slightly wounded Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the subject of UN sanctions and widely suspected in the West of involvement in nuclear weapon design.
In a reflection of his importance in the Iranian programme, Abbasi-Davani was made the head of the AEOI a few months later. The first assassination victim was also a senior figure. Physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi was killed in January 2010 when a bomb on a parked motorbike exploded as he walked to his car. In what seems unlikely to be a coincidence, Ahmadi-Roshan was killed on the second anniversary of Ali Mohammadi's death.
Last July Darioush Rezaeinejad, an electronics expert, was shot in a Tehran street by gunmen on a motorbike. His affiliation to the nuclear programme has been debated. According to some reports, he worked on high-voltage switches that can be used in nuclear weapons design.
Iranian state agencies described Wednesday's attack as a terrorist operation, and a senior official blamed Israel for it. "The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of the scientists, and is the work of the Zionists," Tehran's deputy governor, Safarali Baratlou, was quoted as saying by the Fars agency. Iran refers to Israel as the Zionist regime.
Iran's vice-president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, in quotes carried by the state Irna news agency, said: "Iran's enemies should know they cannot prevent Iran's progress by carrying out such terrorist acts."
The AEOI said that Ahmadi-Roshan's death would not deter Iran from its nuclear aspirations. A statement read: "The heinous acts of America and the criminal Zionist regime [Israel] will not disrupt our glorious path and Iran will firmly continue this path with no doubt."
Iran said it was prepared to hold further talks with the international community, represented by a six-nation negotiating group of Britain, the US, Russia, China, France and Germany. However, the office of the EU foreign minister, Lady Ashton, who acts as a point of contact for the group, said it has received no indication from Tehran suggesting any meeting.
IAEA inspectors are due to visit Iran this month to discuss the "possible military dimensions" of the nuclear programme outlined in their November report. Diplomats said the talks' agenda would have to be agreed before the visit went ahead.
Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disabilty Rights 8.03pm: My colleague Tom Clark has just filed this assessment of what's happened in the Lords this evening
8.03pm: My colleague Tom Clark has just filed this assessment of what's happened in the Lords this evening
There are more experienced Lords-watchers than me, but I can't remember anything like it. I've seen double defeats but can't recall a triple defeat in a single session.
The victories on crediting in disabled children was the kind of detailed measure of principle that the Lords like to get right. And with a price tag they are putting at ten million a year the government certainly wouldn't have attempted to reverse it.
The most recent vote on cancer exemptions was also, perhaps, predictable - my expectation is that this sort of popular rather than policy proposal can only have won with significant Lib Dem backing, many cross benchers may have voted with the government.
Again, however, I can not imagine that the government would want to pick a fight in the Commons on an issue affecting a small number of people like this.
The second vote, however, on increasing the time limit is different. Lord Freud has been said to be quoting some very large figures for the cost, and I can't check this immediately but (off the top of my head) I would expect it would make a significant dent in the £1-2bn which (again off the top of my head - perils of live blogging!) is what I would expect they will save from the time limit in the first place.
In other words we could be talking about hundreds rather than tens of million, and amount which could lead to the government being forced to go back to MPs and ask them to reverse it later down the line. Lib Dems in particular will find that hard to swallow if their friends upstairs have just said no to it.
7.58pm: Here's more reaction to that incredible triple defeat for the government:
Claudia Wood, welfare expert at the think tank IPPR tweets:
1 yr limit of ESA was least thought through aspect of #wrb, wholly abritrary weilding of axe. Defeat has restored my faith in parli process
Richard Murphy tweets
Isn't it absurd that it takes the Lords to stand up for the sick and disabled? Reform it? Not at this rate. Brave Labour peers!
7.49pm: To sum up: the government has astonshingly lost three straight votes in the Lords. They are for the following amendments:
• To retain automatic eligibility for ESA for young disabled people who are unable to work
• To impose a two year time limit for ESA claimants, overriding the government's proposal that claimants be reassesed after 12 months
• To exempt cancer patients from the proposed ESA limit.
This is an extraordinary start to the welfare reform bill voting season. More votes will take place on similarly controversial issues in the next fortnight, including next week on disability living allowance.
Meanwhile here's a tweet from the Guardian's Polly Toynbee:
Remarkable triple defeat for government in Lords. Shame again on most LibDems, voting to cut benefits to dying and life-long disabled young.
Her's a tweet from disability campaigner and blogger Kaliya Franklin, who tweets as @bendygirl:
I can't believe it!!! Time for a little cry. We did it guys, we did it!!
WELL DONE EVERYBODY! THIS IS A GREAT DAY!!! MAY WE HAVE MANY MORE TO COME!!!!
THE WAR IS ON! LET THE BATTLE BE JOINED!
HOOOORAAAAY! 7.33pm: 3 strikes! For 222, against 166. "This is astonishing. It is an incredible victory for campaigners, a real kick in the teeth for the government and a personal humiliation for Lord Freud"
Peter Billins, our local expert on green technologies, is chairing a public meeting at Neuadd Egryn next Monday 7pm. Come along to hear concerns about air quality, transport and more. The council have nade no mention of the chimney required for the biomass boiler nor the pollutants it will emit. Plume modelling ie testing where the smoke will go has not been carried out. This is of particular concern in this valley due to the problem of "inversion". ie the smoke will not disperse !!!! The health of children and villagers is at risk!!!
Utah Medical Marijuana Patient Could Face Death Penalty for Killing Police Officer | The Daily Chronic
OGDEN, UT — The medical marijuana patient who fired upon a narcotics task force as they raided his home Wednesday night, wounding five police officers and killing one, could face the death penalty when charges against him are formally filed.
Matthew David Stewart could face the death penalty for his role in a shootout with police that left one officer dead and five others wounded.
Matthew David Stewart, a 37 year old army veteran who suffers from PTSD, and self-medicates with marijuana, was injured in the shootout and remains under police guard at Ogden Regional Medical Center.
Stewart likely faces a charge of aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty, and additional charges of attempted aggravated murder, according to Weber County Attorney Dee W. Smith.
The shooting, which left Ogden Police officer Jared Francom and five other officers wounded, occurred Wednesday night when a dozen narcotics strike force officers attempted to execute a “knock” arrest warrant for a narcotics offense at Stewart’s home. Officers knocked on Stewart’s door and when no one answered entered the house.
Many say that Stewart, a veteran of the United States Army, was simply protecting his home from unknown intruders. Stewart, who worked the overnight shift at a local Walmart, was likely asleep when the police, in full tactical gear, entered his home.
“Why couldn’t they have done a little homework?” asked Michael Stewart, father of the suspect. ”If they had, they’d have known he’d be out at 11 o’clock [in the evening],” leaving the house to go to work. He said his son would have been easy to arrest then.
The elder Stewart said his son suffers from mental problems, possibly due to post-traumatic stress disorder. He said his son had never gone to the Veterans Administration to be diagnosed or seek help, but self-medicates with marijuana.
“He should have gone to get help, but in his eyes, it showed you were weak, and he tried to do it himself,” growing marijuana occasionally to self-medicate. Utah does not have a medical marijuana program.
State court records indicate Matthew Stewart’s only criminal conviction was in 2005 in on a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle without insurance. He paid a $350 fine.
Amnesty: #Iran must halt #Hekmati execution
Most Iranians on death row are alleged drugs offenders © Mehr News Agency
“The lives of political detainees on death row in Iran are hanging in the balance this month”Amnesty International’s Ann HarrisonMon, 09/01/2012
Iran must not execute a US national sentenced to death after an unfair trial, Amnesty International said today amid fears he could be executed within weeks.
Amir Hekmati, an Arizona-born Iranian-American who had served as an Arabic translator in the US Marine Corps, was accused of spying for the CIA and sentenced to death for “collaboration with a hostile government”. His appeal against this conviction and sentence must be lodged within 20 days.
Hekmati was held without access to his family, a lawyer or consular assistance after his arrest in August last year, in violation of international law.
He was made to participate in a televised “confession” before his trial in December, breaching his rights to a fair trial even further.
“Like many other detainees in Iran, Amir Hekmati did not receive a fair trial and we question the timing and political circumstances of this decision,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s interim Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“We know from past experience that the Iranian authorities sometimes rush forward with executions of political prisoners – including dual nationals – at politically sensitive times and we fear that this execution could happen within days or weeks.”
The death sentence for Hekmati comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the US, amid announcements that Iran has begun uranium enrichment and strengthened US sanctions against Iran.
The Iranian authorities have executed political prisoners in January over the past two years, in relation to the unrest following the disputed presidential election of 2009.
These executions have widely been seen as warnings to potential opposition protesters ahead of yearly celebrations marking the 11 February anniversary of the Iranian Revolution when people are encouraged to demonstrate in large numbers in support of the state.
Zahra Bahrami, who held dual Dutch-Iranian nationality, was executed for alleged drugs offences in January 2011 while awaiting trial on political charges related to the post-election unrest.
Parliamentary elections – the first elections to be held since 2009 – are also scheduled for March 2012.
“The lives of political detainees on death row in Iran are hanging in the balance this month,” said Ann Harrison.
Iranian activists at risk of execution
Gholamreza Khosravi Savajani, an alleged supporter of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) who reportedly spent more than 40 months in solitary confinement in various detention centres in Iran, is also facing execution.
Arrested in Kerman on 24 February 2008, he was sentenced to death in late 2011 after conviction of “moharebeh” (enmity against God) in connection with his alleged financial support to the pro-PMOI TV station Simay-Azadi.
Three alleged PMOI supporters – Ali Saremi, Ja’far Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei – were executed in Iran between 26 December 2010 and 24 Janaury 2011. All men had been convicted of moharebeh (enmity against God) in relation to contacts with the PMOI.
Blogger Vahid Asghari, who had hosted websites critical of the government, was sentenced to death on Friday after conviction in an unfair trial of “corruption on earth” for allegedly organising a “pornographic” network against Islam and the state.
Asghari had been held since May 2008. In October 2009 he said in a letter to a judge that he had been subjected to torture, forced to make a televised “confession” and forced to make spying allegations against high profile blogger Hossein Derakhshan.
Saeed Malekpour, a 36-year-old web designer and permanent resident of Canada, is also under sentence of death following a retrial on similar charges, which may be linked to Vahid Asghari’s case. A previous death sentence was reportedly overturned in June 2011.
Prior to his arrest during a family visit to Iran in 2008, he had created a program enabling photos to be uploaded online which had then been used to post pornographic images without his knowledge. He is alleged to have been tortured while being held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for more than a year.
The government has officially acknowledged executing 17 people already this year, although Amnesty International has received information suggesting at least 39 people may have been put to death in the first week of 2012 alone.
- Obama “Urges” Iran to Release American Sentenced to Death (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- US-born game developer sentenced to death in Iran (arstechnica.com)
- Supposed Video Game Developer ‘Spy’ Had Worked on Language-Learning Game for Department of Defense (kotaku.com)
Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Manhattan DA Drops Charges Against 21 Occupy Wall Street Protesters
The NYPD has arrested almost 2,000 protesters since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, and some of those arrested have refused to go the usual route taken by demonstrators. Typically, someone arrested for disorderly conduct at a protest will agree to an ACD (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal), which means that the charges are dropped after six months if the individual stays out of trouble (or whatever our police state considers "trouble" these days). But some of those arrested are refusing the routine plea deal and are demanding a trial, because they insist the charges are bogus. And yesterday, prosecutors decided to back down and drop the charges against 21 of them.
Attorney Gideon Orion Oliver, who serves as President of the National Lawyers Guild - New York City Chapter and is personally representing over 100 protesters, tells us, "Essentially, what this means is that the DA interviewed the arresting officer and if that officer couldn't say anything about that individual's conduct, they decided to dismiss the case. On the one hand, that's good the DA is dismissing these cases. On the other hand, there are many more I hope will be dismissed. But this isn't something I've seen happen in mass arrest cases before. After the 2004 RNC, the DA dismissed over 200 cases en masse, but that was an exception, and most of those were arrests were made during a single incident, the War Resisters League march."
The majority of the protesters who appeared in court on Monday were arrested at a September 24th demonstration at Union Square, just eight days into the Occupy movement. A source tells the Wall Street Journal that about half of all the OWS cases that have been arraigned have been "resolved," and about 50 other cases are headed to trial, the Times reports. Prosecutors want to consolidate the remaining cases into groups of approximately 10 in order to speed the process. "This is Cy Vance's first foray into the protest prosecution arena," says Oliver. "I think it remains to be seen how his office's treatment of protesters will differ from his predecessor."Contact the author of this article or email email@example.com with further questions, comments or tips.
Chinese Herb List
Chinese Herb List
--> This collection covers the origin, properties, chemical constituents, traditional use, pharmacological actions, indications and contraindications of traditional Chinese herbs. Each of the herbs is indexed to assist in searching by either their Pinyin, Latin, common or scientific name as well as by primary function.
Click to search.
Formulae of Traditional Chinese Medicine Formulae of Traditional Chinese Medicine -->
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), herbal therapies are generally formula based and single herbs are rarely used. TCM holds that every medicinal substance has its strengths and its shortcomings, and each ingredient in the formula should be carefully balanced in quality and quantity, in order to accentuate its efficacy while reducing side effects.
The herbs are not simply added in a cumulative fashion but combined according to particular principles. Firstly, through a unique diagnostic process, physicians discern the subtle patterns according to the symptoms of the individual, which then guides them to determine therapeutic strategies and to design or select proper formulae. Take influenza as an example:
1. Present symptoms: chill, fever, headache, generalized aching, panting and no sweating; thin and whitish coating on the tongue; floating and tense pulse. 2. TCM disharmony pattern: exterior syndrome due to exogenous wind-cold. 3. Therapeutic strategies: exterior syndrome is relieved by diaphoretic therapy (promotes perspiration) and the wind-cold invasion can be removed by pungent and warm herbs. 4. Matched classical formula: Ephedra Decoction (Ma Huang Tang) that consists of ephedra, cinnamon twigs, bitter apricot kernel and liquorice root.
As TCM physicians always focus on disharmony patterns, combination of herbs should address these presentations exactly. Since a TCM formula contains multiple interactive ingredients, it is customarily to rank the compositions in four groups when analyzing the role they play in the formula.
Monarch: The ingredient that exerts the major and leading effects in a formula. Generally, monarch drugs should constitute the largest proportion of a formula; a competent formula usually only contains one to two principal herbs so that the therapeutic effects can be focused. Minister: Also known as the associate ingredient usually refers to two different functions. One is to support the monarch drug to exert major actions on the body, and the second is to improve and treat the accompanying symptoms or coexisting disharmony pattern. In comparison with the monarch drug, the minister drug usually has a weaker action. Assistant: The ingredients can play one of the following three roles in a formula. One is to reinforce the effects of the monarch or minister drug or to treat the less important coexisting patterns. The second role is to eliminate the toxicity of the monarch and minister ingredients, or modulate their harsh properties, and the third is to provide paradoxical assistance. Guide: These have two different functions. One is to force the actions of the formula on the target meridian or area of the body; and the second is to harmonize and integrate the effects on other drugs.
With reference to the Ephedra Decoction mentioned above, we can see how the ingredients interact with each other. In the formula, ephedra serves as the monarch herb for dispelling the pathogens on the exterior and relieving most of the symptoms. Cinnamon twigs aids ephedra in inducing sweating and expelling the pathogens on the exterior, and thus has a minister role. Bitter apricot kernel helps the ephedra in enhancing the lung so as to ease panting, a less important condition and thus is considered an assistant herb. Liquorice root modulates the harsh properties of ephedra and cinnamon twigs and also acts in the assistant role. Since the first three herbs are all work similarly, it is not necessary to use a guiding herb in the formula. In addition, due to the complexity of individual conditions, the dose, the preparation method and even additional herbal components will frequently be modified. This part of skills needs extensive training and actual clinical experience.
After centuries of practice, scholars perfected various formulae for some typical disharmony patterns, and today, these classic formulae have become the basis for modern day usage. Many of them are so popular that they have been manufactured as patent remedies and are available in health stores.
Appropriate formula prescriptions based on accurate differential diagnosis can only be made by qualified TCM physicians. It is important to consult a qualified TCM physician to help you select the most appropriate formula.
Indonesia lifts tsunami warning after Sumatra quakeTue Jan 10, 2012 9:17pm GMT
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesia lifted a tsunami warning on Wednesday after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off northern Sumatra, calming local residents who had earlier fled their houses to higher ground.
Indonesia's meteorological and geophysics agency, which routinely issues tsunami warnings for quakes over 7 magnitude, said the quake had been felt in northern and western Sumatra.
Local people in Banda Aceh ran in panic from buildings after news of the tsunami warning and the quake, though were returning to their homes after the warning was lifted. No major damage in the provincial capital was seen, witnesses said.
A witness at the beach in Aceh said the sea level had decreased following the quake, which also happened before a 2004 quake off Aceh created a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
Alfan, a resident of Banda Aceh, said he joined about one hundred people gathered on a bridge in the town to watch the surface of a river to check if there was any change in its surface height, showing locals remain nervous about a big wave reaching shore.
The quake was 420 km (260 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
(Reporting by Reza Munawir and Ahmadi in Banda Aceh, and Olivia Rondonuwu in Jakarta; Writing by Neil Chatterjee; Editing by Matthew Bigg, Bernard Orr)
© Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
At first glance, Lego is a toy a child just to make houses or cars. But the following Lego creations are very cool, the combination of imagination and perseverance. Can not believe? Check out photos of Lego building following:
1. Lego white man with red hearts
2. Lego yellow bear
3. Lego little boy playing baseball
4. Lego man’s tie
5. Lego urban buildings
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