21 Aug 2008
Zhou Shuguang wanted to visit his mother. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem for the 28-year-old vegetable seller, blogger and self-described occasional "citizen reporter." He'd jump on a bus and ride the twenty kilometers from Meitanba, the village deep in rural central China where he lives, to his mother's place. But Zhou, who sometimes highlights cases on his blog that pit ordinary citizens against local government authorities, hadn't considered one vital fact: the Olympic Games being held in Beijing, some 1000 kilometers away. Soon after he arrived at his parents house on Aug. 14, 'Zuola,' as he calls himself in honor of the pioneering French writer, found himself bundled into a car, driven back to his house and warned not to go anywhere until the Games were over.
With the economy also showing signs of weakness, there's little doubt that how Beijing handles issues of dissent and social instability in the post-Games period will have a lasting impact on China's future. And though not everyone shares his sunny outlook, Bequelin remains optimistic about China’s nascent civil society, whose development was temporarily put on ice in the lead up to the Games. "It's a battle in which Chinese are trying to get government off their backs," he says. And what's being fought for by people like Zhou is access to information and the right to organize. Those are "fundamental tools Chinese people need to organize their lives in a market economy," he says. "I don't see how progress on those fronts can be reversed or slowed down in the long term." TIME
20 Aug 2008
Recently I asked a Chinese journalist about the underage gymnast controversy. What, I asked her, did Chinese sportswriters who cover gymnastics think about the assertions that at least three of the members of the Chinese team were under 16? Was it western prejudice? Sour grapes? A cultural misunderstanding?
She didn't bat an eye. Chinese journalists generally knew that the gymnasts in question, He Kexin (two golds), Jiang Yuyuan (one gold), and Yang Yilin (one gold, two bronze) were underage by Federation International Gymnastics (FIG) rules. Indeed, as newspaper reports both inside and outside the country suggested, they were probably only 14 (the rules state that gymnasts must turn 16 in the year of the competition). These girls had competed in provincial and city competitions for several years, so their histories were not unknown. None of the journalists were able to say so on the record, she said, because it would cost them their jobs. Or worse. But it was common knowledge that the underage allegations were true.
For past seven years, Israeli companies have been helping Gerogian army to preparer for war against Russia through arms deals, training of infantry units and security advice
The fighting which broke out between Russia and Georgia has brought Israel's intensive involvement in the region into the limelight. This involvement includes the sale of advanced weapons to Georgia and the training of the Georgian army's infantry forces.
The Defense Ministry held a special meeting Sunday to discuss the various arms deals held by Israelis in Georgia, but no change in policy has been announced as of yet.
Israel began selling arms to Georgia about seven years ago following an initiative by Georgian citizens who immigrated to Israel and became businesspeople.
"They contacted defense industry officials and arms dealers and told them that Georgia had relatively large budgets and could be interested in purchasing Israeli weapons," says a source involved in arms exports.
The military cooperation between the countries developed swiftly. The fact that Georgia's defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli who is fluent in Hebrew contributed to this cooperation.
"It's important that the entire world understands that what is happening in Georgia now will affect the entire world order. It's not just Georgia's business, but the entire world's business."
A centuries-old tradition in Nepal of worshipping a virgin girl-child in a palace as a "living goddess" has been deemed outdated by the country's supreme court, which has ruled that the supposed deity must go to school.
The court ruled against the rights of the Kumari being "be violated in the name of culture".
"There should be no bar on the Kumaris from going to school and enjoying health-related rights as there are no historical and religious documents restricting Kumaris from enjoying child rights," the court said.
Some analysts said the court was simply responding to the new political atmosphere in the Himalayan nation under former rebel Maoists, who are determined to end "feudal" practices.
Kumaris, revered until they menstruate, preside over many key Hindu festivals in Nepal, drawing thousands of tourists every year. The tradition began in the 16th century by Kathmandu's royal ruling class, who believed the goddess would protect them.
Her attributes are said to include a voice "as soft and clear as a duck's, the body of a Banyan tree and the chest of a lion".
A music festival in Wiltshire has been cancelled after a court refused to allow Babyshambles to perform on stage.
Pete Doherty's group had been due to headline Moonfest, in Westbury, on Friday but police said organisers had not hired enough stewards.
Organiser John Green said he decided to cancel the entire weekend event "due to the ramifications presented to us by the actions of the police."
Pete Doherty's manager Andy Boyd said he was "livid" at the court's decision.
But Wiltshire Police said it obtained the ban because it was "seriously concerned for public safety".
Superintendent Paul Williams said: "The issue is not the act itself, it is the profile of fans that follow the act".
A man was held for five hours after he photographed a cop reversing the wrong way up a one-way street.
PC Aqil Farooq leaped out, hit the camera to the ground, handcuffed Mr Carter and bundled him into the back of the vehicle.
The plumber, 44, was arrested for supposedly being drunk, resisting arrest and assaulting the officer with the camera. He was kept in cells before finally being released on police bail at midnight.
Wrong way ... police van snapped by Mr Carter
Mr Carter, of Bedminster, Bristol, said: “I was nearly knocked down there once so when the police van went the wrong way I sort of said, ‘Hey mate. no entry’. But he just shouted out of the window, ‘F*** off — this is police business’.
“It was very frightening. All I had done was photograph these police officers doing something illegal, but I was the one who ended up being arrested.”
PC Farooq and an unnamed WPC said they were at the fish and chip shop to review CCTV footage of another incident. A week later bachelor Mr Carter spent another five hours at the police station with his solicitor.
He was never charged.
19 Aug 2008
Thee resignation of Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf has been accepted with immediate effect by national lawmakers, a Pakistan official said.
The National Assembly formally accepted Musharraf's resignation hours after a televised address Monday announcing that he would step down.
Pakistan's new army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, right, watches General Pervez Musharraf
The chairman of the upper house of the assembly, Mohammedmian Soomro, will serve as acting president until a successor is chosen.
Under Pakistan's constitution, the president is elected by a majority vote of Pakistan's four provincial assemblies and the two houses of the National Assembly.
Musharraf swept to power in 1999 in a bloodless coup.
He had come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to quit, with the ruling coalition taking steps to impeach him.
"I don't want the people of Pakistan to slide deeper and deeper into uncertainty," Musharraf said in his televised address.
"For the interest of the nation, I have decided to resign as president," he said. "I am not asking for anything. I will let the people of Pakistan decide my future." CNN.com
An eye-opening survey reveals widespread belief that divine intervention can revive dying patients. And, researchers said, doctors "need to be prepared to deal with families who are waiting for a miracle."
More than half of randomly surveyed adults -- 57 percent -- said God's intervention could save a family member even if physicians declared treatment would be futile. And nearly three-quarters said patients have a right to demand such treatment.
When asked to imagine their own relatives being gravely ill or injured, nearly 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome.
18 Aug 2008
What we now call Georgia, once was home of the Khazars. Remarkably the Khazars, a people of Turkic origin, converted to the Jewish religion sometime in the 9th century, beginning with the royal house and spreading gradually among the general populace. Judaism is now known to have been more widespread among the Khazar inhabitants of the Khazar kingdom than was previously thought.
In 1999, Russian archaeologists announced that they had successfully reconstructed a Khazarian vessel from the Don River region, revealing 4 inscriptions of the word "Israel" in Hebrew lettering. It is now the accepted opinion among most scholars in the field that the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism was widespread, and not limited merely to the royal house and nobility. Ibn al-Faqih, in fact, wrote "All of the Khazars are Jews." Christian of Stavelot wrote in 864 that "all of them profess the Jewish faith in its entirety."
Click here to view the full article and links to the original source. (It now reads: "From A Muslim Defacer from Turkey. Greetz all muslim hackers, Fuck USA, Fuck Israel") But you can see Wikipedia, Khazaria or look here for more information.Or Google it!
17 Aug 2008
She is a member of that most famous of Indian families, the Gandhis, but Priyanka Gandhi Vadra stands accused of the most un-Indian of fashion crimes - ditching the sari in favour of western clothes.
The elegant daughter of ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi has caused a stir in Delhi by turning up for a crucial parliamentary session in a tight-fitting white blouse and smart black trousers, topped with a wide belt.
Female parliamentarians traditionally favour cotton or silk saris or the shalwar kameez trouser suit. So when Vadra arrived at the Lok Sabha, India's parliament, with her businessman husband Robert, to listen to her brother, Rahul Gandhi, speak in a crucial confidence debate on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress Party-dominated coalition government, her appearance turned heads. The Observer
Even two days after her dramatic appearance in Parliament House wearing a white shirt and stylish trousers with a broad belt, fashionistas and others can't stop talking about Priyanka Vadra's chic attire and how she proved to be a head-turner. www.funonthenet.in
The BBC video here was aired two days before Russia intervened to stop Georgia’s ethnic cleansing operation in South Ossetia. It needs to be viewed by Bush, Condi, Robert Kagan, Charles Krauthammer, little Billy Kristol and all the neocons and their associated slavering bloggers and newspaper columnists calling for war against Russia, a nation bristling with thermonuclear weapons and an increasing desire to use the tactical variety of nukes against the United States, or rather its servile little clients such as Poland that are installing U.S. missile “defense systems” on Russia’s borders. Infowars
16 Aug 2008
In the UK major transportation hubs like St. Pancras International, as well as libraries, big businesses, hospitals and other public outlets that offer wi-fi Internet, are blacklisting alternative news websites and making them completely inaccessible to their users.
On weekly basis we receive e mails from across the US and the UK from people who have attempted to visit our websites yet found them to be blocked by filtration software that lists them as “hate” or “violence”.
This precedent is merely the first indication of what is planned for the Internet over the next 5-10 years, with the traditional web becoming little more than a vast spy database that catalogues people’s every activity and bombards them with commercials, while those who comply with centralized control and regulation of content will be free to enjoy the new super-fast Internet 2, where DVD quality movies can be downloaded in seconds, but at the cost of the Internet losing its role as the last true outpost of freedom of speech. (infowars)
Italian animal rights campaigners are urging Pope Benedict to stop wearing ermine on his hats and robes, appealing to his reputation as a cat lover.
The Italian Association for Defense of Animals and the Environment, which has a white bunny logo, has started an online petition signed by nearly 1,900 people asking the German-born pontiff to stop wearing fur.
The pope wore the fur-trimmed hat and cape before pilgrims around Christmas in 2005, giving him the look of Santa Claus and delighting well-wishers and photographers alike.
But the petition appealed not to the pope's fashion sense, but to his reputation as an animal lover, which has even prompted an authorized biography of the pope narrated by a cat.
Petitioners gave their reasons for signing on the website: http://www.firmiamo.it/sign/list/papasenzaermellino.
The pope's fashion sense has come under light-hearted media scrutiny, with Esquire magazine naming 81-year-old Benedict "accessorizer of the year" in 2007 for red leather loafers it said were made by Prada -- which the Vatican newspaper denied.
A tiny Texas school district will allow teachers and staff members to carry concealed firearms to protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting employees follow certain requirements.
The small community of Harrold in north Texas is a 30-minute drive from the Wilbarger County Sheriff's Office, leaving students and teachers without protection, said David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold Independent School District. The lone campus of the 110-student district sits near a heavily traveled highway, which could make it a target, he argued.
Barbara Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards, said her organization did not know of another district with such a policy. Ken Trump, a Cleveland, Ohio-based school security expert who advises districts nationwide, said Harrold is the first district with such a policy.
As they paraded cheerfully into the Bird’s Nest stadium in their brightly coloured cultural costumes, the 56 smiling children were described as coming from China’s 56 ethnic groups.
Their different hats, dresses and robes may indeed have represented the diversity of the world’s most populous nation. But an official from the children’s dance troupe revealed yesterday that the youngsters did not.
There were no Uighurs, no Zhuangs, no Huis, no Tujias, no Mongols and definitely no Tibetans. Indeed, in the latest in a series of manipulations that have soured memories of the spectacular opening ceremony, all 56 were revealed to be Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
Iceland has a reputation for clean energy, and is usually the textbook example of clean, green geothermal energy. But recently, aluminium corporations ALCOA, RioTinto-Alcan and Century Aluminium are pushing for large scale, intensive geothermal development to power new smelters on the subartic island, destroying large tracts of silent, empty, undeveloped wilderness. And this is not enough. If all the heavy industry plans are executed, all major glacial rivers would also be dammed.
Saving Iceland is holding it's fourth direct action camp in the Icelandic wilderness. Over the last weeks, work on the Century Aluminum Helguvik smelter construction site was stopped for a day.
Mickey Mouse had his tail between his legs yesterday - after being arrested by police and led away in handcuffs.
Also taken into custody outside Disneyland in Anaheim, Los Angeles, were Cinderella, Snow White, and Tinkerbell.
It happened as workers at the theme park - dubbed the Happiest Place on Earth - staged a demonstration over pay and conditions.
The arrest of 32 costumed protesters came at the end of an hour-long march from one of three Disney-owned hotels.
Bewildered tourists looked on as the cartoon characters were led to two police vans while hundreds of fellow employees cheered and chanted. More on Mail Online
15 Aug 2008
An agreement that will allow the United States to install a missile defense battery in Poland exposes the ex-communist nation to an attack, a Russian general said Friday.
Poland and the United States struck a deal on Thursday to deepen military ties and place a missile interceptor base in Poland.
Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian general staff told reporters Friday that the agreement exacerbates U.S.-Russian relations that are already tense because of fighting between Georgian and Russian forces. He said the deal “cannot go unpunished.”
And in the strongest threat Russia has issued in reaction to plans to put elements of a missile defense system in former Soviet satellite nations, the Interfax news agency quoted Nogovitsyn as saying Poland was risking attack.
“Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent,” Interfax quoted Nogovitsyn as saying.
Moscow had previously threatened to redirect missiles toward Poland if the country agreed to host elements of the missile shield.
Human Rights Watch researchers have uncovered evidence that Russian aircraft dropped cluster bombs in populated areas in Georgia, killing at least 11 civilians and injuring dozens, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called upon Russia to immediately stop using cluster bombs, weapons so dangerous to civilians that more than 100 nations have agreed to ban their use.
“Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers that most nations have agreed to outlaw,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Russia’s use of this weapon is not only deadly to civilians, but also an insult to international efforts to avoid a global humanitarian disaster of the kind caused by landmines.”
Human Rights Watch said Russian aircraft dropped RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 PTAB 2.5M submunitions, on the town of Ruisi in the Kareli district of Georgia on August 12, 2008. Three civilians were killed and five wounded in the attack. On the same day, a cluster strike in the center of the town of Gori killed at least eight civilians and injured dozens, Human Rights Watch said. Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was among the dead. Israeli journalist Zadok Yehezkeli was seriously wounded and evacuated to Israel for treatment after surgery in Tbilisi. An armored vehicle from the Reuters news agency was perforated with shrapnel from the attack.
Britain's honeybees have suffered catastrophic losses this year, according to a survey of the nation's beekeepers, contributing to a shortage of honey and putting at risk the pollination of fruits and vegetables.
The survey by the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) revealed that nearly one in three of the UK's 240,000 honeybee hives did not survive this winter and spring.
The losses are higher than the one in five colonies reported dead earlier this year by the government after 10% of hives had been inspected.
The BBKA president, Tim Lovett, said he was very concerned about the findings: "Average winter bee losses due to poor weather and disease vary from between 5% and 10%, so a 30% loss is deeply worrying. This spells serious trouble for pollination services and honey producers."
14 Aug 2008
While George W Bush makes a fool out of himself at the Olympics ~ the dark hand of Dick Cheney has been playing his Black Knight on the global chessboard, by backing Georgia's preemptive attack of South Ossetia, with the hopes of checking Russia's white king, Vladimir Putin in a new Cold War : Allen L Roland
Make no mistake about it, to Dick Cheney and his neocon co-conspirators, the cold war never ended and continues to this day. This is truly a Cheney/Bush Administration where Bush is the oblivious stooge / cheerleader while Cheney positions and moves all the pieces on the grand global chess board.
Note the timing of their separate responses to the recent Georgia / Russia conflict as reported by By Tom Lasseter and Jonathan S Landry of the McClatchy-Tribune on August 10th.
" Tensions between the United States and Russia sharpened as the Bush administration suggested that Russia's objective is the ousting of President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has close ties to the United States and is seeking admission to NATO.
President Bush, in an interview with NBC, said, "I've expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of
Zimbabwean authorities confiscated opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's passport on Thursday, preventing him from leaving the country to attend a regional summit in South Africa, an MDC official said.
Tsvangirai said he had been invited to attend the weekend Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, to be hosted by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating power-sharing talks between Zimbabwe's opposition and President Robert Mugabe.
The talks stalled this week after Mugabe and Tsvangirai failed to agree on top leadership posts, a sensitive issue for the long-time political rivals.
"We can't travel without passports. There's no point. In any case the plane has left and Tsvangirai has already gone back. He has no patience for this," Movement for Democratic Change Secretary-General Tendai Biti told Reuters. Reuters
A US Coast Guard cutter will depart for the Arctic this week as part of a race against Russia to claim the vast spoils of oil and natural gas below the sea floor that both nations are scrambling to exploit.
The cutter Healy will leave Barrow, Alaska, tomorrow on a three-week journey to map the Arctic Ocean floor in a relatively unexplored area at the northern edge of the Beaufort Sea, in an attempt to bolster US claims to the area by proving that it is part of its extended outer continental shelf.
The rush to stake out territory across the Arctic has intensified since last August, when a Russian submarine planted the nation's flag on the sea floor beneath the North Pole, which was viewed as a provocative land grab.
That triggered an immediate response from the Canadian Government, which within a week announced that it was going to build two new military bases in the Arctic wilderness, a warning shot in the new Cold War over the far North's energy resources. The Healy will be joined by a Canadian icebreaker on September 6.
An official in the Indian state of Bihar has come up with a new idea to encourage low caste poor people to cope with food shortages - rat meat.
The Principal Secretary of the state's Welfare Department, Vijay Prakash, said that he was advancing his proposal after "much survey and ground work".
Bihar's extremely poor Musahar community are rat-eaters by tradition.
The Musahar are on the bottom strata of the caste system with the lowest literacy rate and per capita income.
Less than one percent of their 2.3 million population in Bihar is literate and 98% are landless.
Mr Prakash says his proposals to popularise rat meat eating are intended to uplift their social-economic condition.
"There are twin advantages of this proposal. First, we can save about half of our food grain stocks by catching and eating rats and secondly we can improve the economic condition of the Musahar community," he told the BBC.
13 Aug 2008
ITV News reporter John Ray was released soon after the incident at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, near the National Stadium.
He was taken away by police as members of the campaign group handcuffed themselves to each other and bicycles
Mr Ray, who has been based in Beijing since 2006, is ITV News' first China correspondent.
Yesterday Dutch reporter Jeroen Akkermans (R) helps to carry cameraman Stan Storimans after a bombing in the centre of the town of Gori, some 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi, August 12, 2008. Explosions in the Georgian town of Gori on Tuesday killed at least five civilians, including a journalist, and injured several others. A Reuters photographer said he saw five bodies and four wounded people in the street after the blasts. Photo from Reuters Pictures. Russian media claim it was just a car accident... (Life.ru)
As usual, the BBC is twisting and distorting the news coming out of the Georgia region. We keep being told that around 1500 have been killed in Georgia, the inference being that this has resulted from Russian bombing.
Not so, the casualties are in Ossetia.
While the Ossetians claimed over 1000 dead the BBC neither reported this or any newsreel coming out of Ossetia showing the destruction caused by the Georgian shelling of the breakaway republic.
All we are getting is one-sided reports of the destruction being caused by the Russians.
Unlike News 24 which is its international news carrier, the BBC website does make some mention of Ossetian casualties:
"We left our town because the situation there is worse than anything I’ve seen in 18 years of conflict. Houses are being hit by rockets and heavy artillery, aircraft are bombing the roads."
Since yesterday, Russia Today was reporting the complete destruction of Ossetia’s capital by Georgian shelling. Again, the destruction of the Ossetian capital was never reported by the BBC.
Last Friday, RIA Novosti reported that Ossetia was claiming over 1000 dead:
"Over 1,000 civilians have been killed as the result of an attack by Georgia on the capital of its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, the North Ossetian nationalities minister said Friday.
According to the South Ossetian information and press committee, the number of fatalities is estimated, according to preliminary information, at over 1,000," Teimuraz Kasayev said."
The Israeli-Georgia connection is estimated to be worth $1 billion, according to a former Georgian ambassador to Israel. The Jewish state and private investors have provided military assistance and advisors to Georgia, where pipelines pump oil destined for Israel. A new pipeline is being built to bypass Russian territory.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Israeli companies in Georgia have begun evacuating their staff and that Israeli tourists are leaving for home. Arutz Sheva
12 Aug 2008
France's anti-immigrant party, the National Front, is selling its headquarters to a Chinese university, according to the party leader.
Jean-Marie Le Pen has confirmed that the party base has been purchased by a Shanghai university.
Mr Le Pen, 79, has campaigned to become president several times under the slogan "Keep France for the French".
But his party faces growing financial difficulties. It has already sold its bullet-proof car on eBay.
The party has a total debt of some 9m euros ($13.4m; £7m), according to French newspaper Le Monde, partly due to a poor showing in the 2007 legislative elections which meant it had to cover its own campaign costs. BBC NEWS
A little girl and her song captivated millions of viewers during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. But what they saw was not what they heard.
Yang Peiyi's voice was heard during Friday's opening ceremony, but her face was never seen.
Games organizers confirm that Lin Miaoke, who performed "Ode to the Motherland" as China's flag was paraded Friday into Beijing's National Stadium, was not singing at all.
Lin was lip-syncing to the sound of another girl, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was heard but not seen, apparently because she was deemed not cute enough.
"The reason was for the national interest," said Chen Qigang, the ceremony's musical director, in a state radio interview. "The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression. ... Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects."
The decision was made at the highest levels, Chen said.
"We had to do it," he said. "We'd been through several inspections. They're all very strict. When we rehearsed at the spot, there were several spectators from various divisions, especially leaders from the Politburo, who gave the opinion it must change." CNN.com
The Georgian conflict poses major challenges for governments and companies seeking to find ways of transporting Caspian oil and gas through the South Caucasus to European and Mediterranean markets.
Three pipelines that run through Georgia are now out of action.
A cluster of major pipelines pass through Georgia, some of them within a few kilometres of positions occupied by Russian forces before Moscow declared its own ceasefire on 12 August.
At present, these do not appear to be particularly threatened by the recent conflict.
What is at stake is the raft of plans for new pipelines and the major expansion of existing systems
Scientists say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people and objects invisible. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time they were able to cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects.
Previously, they only have been able to cloak very thin two-dimensional objects.
The findings, by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, led by Xiang Zhang, are to be released later this week in the journals Nature and Science.
The new work moves scientists a step closer to hiding people and objects from visible light, which could have broad applications, including military ones.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy will lead efforts on Tuesday to end hostilities between Russia and Georgia as the conflict appeared to widen with pro-Moscow rebel forces opening a fresh offensive against Georgian troops.
Sarkozy was due to arrive in Moscow at 0910 GMT and meet President Dmitry Medvedev before flying to Georgia on a day of intense diplomacy aimed at ending violence in a region key to international oil transit. Reuters
Parts of the Endangered Species Act may soon be extinct.
The Bush administration wants federal agencies to decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants. New regulations, which don't require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews government scientists have been performing for 35 years, according to a draft first obtained by The Associated Press.
The draft rules would bar federal agencies from assessing the emissions from projects that contribute to global warming and its effect on species and habitats.
11 Aug 2008
Recent unrest in China’s southwestern province of Guizhou is part of a much darker picture of oppression meted out by officials who use armed security forces “however they like” to solve disputes with citizens, according to the provincial Communist Party boss and a former top aide.
In line with official comments on the June 28 riots, which were sparked by the death of a 17-year-old girl amid allegations of rape and a cover-up of official wrongdoing, Guizhou Party chief Shi Zongyuan has blamed the incident on “some people with ulterior motives” who “incited the mob to frenzy.” But in a striking departure from government-style rhetoric, he went on to say that it was the shortcomings of local officials that had caused long-simmering anger among local people, blaming them for failing to pay attention to disputes over mines and the relocation of migrant workers.
Amnesty International recently issued an extensive report on the policies of the Chinese government towards the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The 24-page document details the various legislative provisions recently introduced into Chinese law with a view to curbing “terrorist, separatist and illegal religious activities.” Loosely translated, China is attempting to create domestic legal sanctions for the post-September 11th crackdown on Muslims and Islam in XUAR. Islam Online
Voters vigorously endorsed President Evo Morales on Sunday in a recall referendum he devised to try to break a political stalemate and revive his leftist crusade, partial unofficial results showed.
More than 62 percent of voters in this bitterly divided Andean nation ratified the mandate of Morales and his vice president, Alvaro Garcia, according to a private quick count of votes from 900 of the country's 22,700 polling stations.
The 53.7 percent by which Bolivia's first indigenous president won election in December 2005 had been the previous best electoral showing for a Bolivian leader.
Morales had proposed Sunday's recall in a bold gamble to topple governors who have frustrated his bid to redress historical inequities in favour of Bolivia's long-suppressed indigenous majority and extend his time in office.
Eight of the country's nine governors were also subject to recall — and two Morales foes were among the three ousted, according to the quick count, which was conducted by the Ipsos-Apoyo firm for the ATB television network. First official results were not expected until late Sunday.
Beijing Olympic 2008 opening ceremony giant firework footprints 'faked'
Parts of the spectacular Beijing Olympics opening ceremony on Friday were faked because of fears over live filming, it has emerged.
Organisers feared it would be too difficult to capture each footprint live so inserted computer graphics for viewers at home and in the Bird's Nest stadium As the ceremony got under way with a dramatic, drummed countdown, viewers watching at home and on giant screens inside the Bird's Nest National Stadium watched as a series of giant footprints outlined in fireworks processed gloriously above the city from Tiananmen Square.
What they did not realise was that what they were watching was in fact computer graphics, meticulously created over a period of months and inserted into the coverage electronically at exactly the right moment.
The fireworks were there for real, outside the stadium. But those responsible for filming the extravaganza decided in advance it would be impossible to capture all 29 footprints from the air.
As a result, only the last, visible from the camera stands inside the Bird's Nest was captured on film.
10 Aug 2008
Russian and Georgian medallists pleaded for peace as they shared an Olympic podium for the first time since the conflict between their countries.
Russia's Natalia Paderina won silver and Nino Salukvadze of Georgia bronze in the women's 10m air pistol event.
They finished behind China's Guo Wenjun, who took the hosts' third gold.
"This medal is good for Georgia, especially during times like this," Salukvadze said after sharing an emotional embrace with her rival.
The competitors - who were once team-mates in the former Soviet Union - hugged and kissed each other on the cheeks after the dramatic final in the Beijing shooting range hall.
"I am very nervous today. It's very difficult for my people," said the Georgian.
"If the world were to draw any lessons from what I did there would never be any wars.
"We live in the 21st Century, after all," she said, wiping tears from her eyes as she put her pistol down after her final shot of the event.
"We shouldn't really stoop so low to wage wars against each other."
9 Aug 2008
Russian jets have carried out strikes on military targets in the central Georgian town of Gori, close to the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
Most of the targets seem to have been military bases, but Georgian officials said a number of civilians had died.
Russia said it had "liberated" South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, although Georgia said it remained in control.
Earlier, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country was seeking "to force the Georgian side to peace".
The comments came after Russian commanders announced they were sending more troops into South Ossetia. They also confirmed two Russian jets had been shot down over Georgia, although they did not say where.
After days of exchanging heavy fire with the Russian-backed separatists, Georgian forces launched a surprise attack on Thursday night to regain control of the region, which has had de facto independence since the end of a civil war in 1992. BBC NEWS
(sorry for the advert...)
Security officers have removed a university student who tried to display the Tibetan flag during the Olympic equestrian competition in Hong Kong.
The student, Christina Chan, displayed a placard bearing the Canadian flag and the Tibetan flag underneath during the competition in Hong Kong's suburban Sha Tin district early Saturday. When she tried to peel away the Canadian flag to reveal the Tibetan flag, four or five security officers asked her to leave but she refused. Officers carried her out of the venue about half an hour later.
Lam Woon-kwong, chief executive of the equestrian event, said Chan would be banned from future events.
Several other protesters demanding China abolish the death penalty held a banner that said "stop executions" near the venue.
"She was sort of disturbing other spectators around her, which is against the house rules," event spokesman Mark Pinkstone said. CNN.com
The Christian Union party, the smallest party in the governing coalition, wants the government to subsidise a system of remote age checking for the sale of alcohol in supermarkets.
It proposes that supermarkets should only receive subsidies if they voluntarily raise their age limit for young people purchasing alcohol to 18 years from the current legal minimum age of 16 years.
The supermarket chain C1000 is already operating such a voluntary age limit increase and has introduced the remote age checking system in some of its stores. Video cameras relay images of customers purchasing alcohol, which are monitored by a company in Breda.
The company says its staff are able to keep an eye on twenty stores at once. If there is any doubt as to a customer's age, the till locks automatically and the customer is asked to show his or her proof of identity to the camera. Apart from enabling tighter control, the remote system is aimed at preventing aggression by customers towards supermarket staff.
Welcome to the Darfur Olympics – a week-long protest to keep the spotlight on the people of Darfur during the Beijing Games.
If you do not want to watch China glorify itself during the Games, we have created an alternative opening ceremony – a one-minute celebration of Darfurian children.
And, every day for the first week of the Games (August 8 to 15) we will show a new webcast report by Mia Farrow from a Darfurian refugee camp.
8 Aug 2008
The US military tribunal that tried Osama bin Laden's driver ruled that he should be freed by the end of the year. The Pentagon has suggested that he may be in jail indefinitely. The final decision, according to the judge in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, could be in the hands of Allah.
Hamdan was sentenced by a jury of six military officers to 66 months in prison on Thursday for supporting terrorism — but was acquitted of being part of al-Qaeda's conspiracy to attack the United States. To the outrage of human rights groups, the Pentagon insists that it can continue to hold “enemy combatants” beyond the end of their sentence — a position it is under growing pressure to abandon. Times Online
Human rights campaigners scaled up anti-China protests today with demonstrations around the world and an unauthorised broadcast from inside Beijing as the Olympic opening ceremony began.
While a heavy police presence ensured the streets of the host city remained calm, Chinese authorities were unable to stop the pirate radio transmission by media group Reporters Without Borders in the capital.
Using transmitters and a homemade antenna, the message, broadcast in Mandarin, English and French, urged the government to relax state control of the media and called for the release of imprisoned journalists.
Meanwhile, large protests were held in cities including London, Hong Kong, Delhi and Kathmandu.
Georgian forces and South Ossetian separatists have been exchanging heavy fire just hours after agreeing to a ceasefire and Russian-mediated talks.
Russian media reports said Georgia had launched a tank-led attack on the separatist stronghold of Tskhinvali, and airstrikes on rebel positions.
Georgia says it aims to finish "a criminal regime" and restore order.
At least 15 people are reported dead. Moscow called on the world community to work "to avert massive bloodshed".
At Russia's request, members of the UN Security Council are holding a rare emergency session to discuss a response to the escalating violence.
The BBC's Matthew Collin in Tbilisi says there has been a series of huge explosions and rocket fire in and around Tskhinvali.
also see: Evidence of U.S. Military Presence in Georgia on infowars.com
7 Aug 2008
Frontex provides for Coordination of operational cooperation between Member Sates in the field of management of external borders. We strengthen border security by ensuring the coordination of Member States’ actions in the implementation of Community measures relating to the management of the external borders. To fulfil this task Frontex is seeking to introduce system solutions allowing better allocation of Member States’ resources.
A further important issue for Frontex is Assistance to Member States in the training of national border guards, including the establishment of common training standards. Frontex contributes to the improvement of professionalism of Member States’ border guards, thereby enabling the Integrated Border Security system to function better. The Common Core Curriculum developed by Frontex will form the basis of this system. This new European Curriculum will be the first common curriculum including common skills and competencies for basic training of border guards across Europe. FRONTEX website
Also see the pictured Action in Warschau.
On June 5-6, activists from many different countries came to Warsaw to protest against the deadly policies of Frontex, the EU agency which conducts migrant hunting operations, trains border guards and special units to hunt down people crossing so-called "national borders" and which helps to coordinate and implement EU immigration policy. Frontex has its headquarters in Warsaw. Indymedia
Secret EU security draft risks uproar with call to pool policing and give US personal data
The operator of a leading alternative news and strongly anti-war website has become the target of nefarious thugs apparently in the employ of the U.S. government who have continually harassed him and ordered him to shut down his website.
Tom Feeley, owner and editor of Information Clearing House.info, has endured public harassment, home invasions, death threats and threats to his family simply for running a website.
Counterpunch writer Mike Whitney has circulated an e mail describing what happened to Feeley in an attempt to draw attention to the matter.
Whitney writes that earlier this week Feeley’s wife was startled to suddenly discover three well dressed men standing in her kitchen who told her that Tom must “Stop what he is doing on the Internet, NOW!”
To emphasize the point, the thug pulled back his jacket to reveal a gun while barking out the warning.
Tom’s wife was hysterical and refuses to go back to the house. She contacted the FBI but was told there was nothing they could do.
According to Whitney, “The well-dressed man told Tom’s wife that he knew where her son lived, what line of work he was in, and how many children he had.”