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More Northeast Snow Just in Time for Christmas
[An Nahar] The Lebanese lawyer of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Monday blasted as "illegal" the auction of the deposed Tunisian dictator's assets and threatened to take the case to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
"The Tunisian authorities have committed an illegal act and we will take this matter to the United Nations ...the Oyster Bay money pit... Human Rights Council," Akram Azouri told AFP.
"It is a denial by the Tunisian government... (of) the international commitments of Tunisia," he added.
The lawyer said 90 percent of the items up for sale did not belong to Ben Ali or his wife, with the those that did being acquired "legally and legitimately during a quarter of a century in power."
Azouri accused the Islamist-led government of "deforming reality" and "falsifying the facts."
His comments came after the opening on Sunday of an auction, in the chic resort of Gammarth, of luxury items belonging to the former president and 114 of his relatives, from which the cash-strapped government hopes to raise millions of euros (dollars).
Among the items on show are the Ben Ali clan's collection of luxury cars, featuring a Bentley Continental and a Maybach 62, as well as clothing and jewelery acquired by the dictator's notoriously extravagant wife Leila Trabelsi.
Those attending the opening included the agents of rich Gulf collectors, as well as ordinary Tunisians curious to see how the president squandered state funds, and how his family benefited from rampant corruption in the country.
Could be al-Qaeda or just the usual kidnap for cash, so it's non-WoT related for now.
SANAA - Yemeni security services freed a Filipina nurse two hours after she was kidnapped in Sanaa, state news agency Saba reported on Monday, adding that her abductors have been arrested.
"Security services arrested two outlaws after they kidnapped a Filipina national late on Sunday in the capital Sanaa," Saba quoted an interior ministry spokesman as saying.
The men were arrested within two hours of carrying out the kidnap, the source said, identifying the woman taken hostage as 20-year-old Annie Jones, a nurse at a government hospital in Sanaa. She was released unharmed, according to the spokesman. No details were immediately available on the identities of the kidnappers and the reasons behind the abduction.
I rather imagine someone in the Yemeni 'security forces' knows how to ask these two gents in a way such that they'll talk...
The kidnap was the second of foreigners in Sanaa within a 48-hour period. Security forces are still searching for two Finns and an Austrian who were kidnapped, suspectedly by Al Qaeda-linked gunmen, in the capital on Friday.
A security official had last week warned that Al Qaeda had threatened to kidnap foreigners and to stage bank hold-ups if the authorities fail to release members of an imprisoned network.
Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, many of them by members of the country's powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the authorities. Almost all have been freed unharmed.
But Al Qaeda is also held responsible for abductions in Yemen, including that of a Saudi diplomat, Abdallah Al Khalidi, who remains in the hands of the extremist network since his kidnapping on March 28 in Aden.
According to the Home Office statistics, officers threatened children with Tasers on 144 occasions in 2010 - compared with 21 times in 2007.
Were these great, hulking eighteen-year old yobs on rampages, or dear little kindergartners just learning to lisp their ABCs? Because I have no problem if the police work to get the attention of the yobs.
They actually fired the weapons during one in five incidents, though on most occasions the youngsters were just targeted with a red laser dot from the gun.
Amnesty International, the human rights group, called for the use of Tasers on children and vulnerable people to be "avoided in all circumstances", over fears they can trigger health problems.
However, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, a Home Office minister, said the guns are only used in violent situations, as he revealed the new figures to Baroness Stern, a crossbench peer, in answer to a question in the House of Lords.
"Taser is only deployed where there is a serious threat of violence and by officers who have been carefully selected and trained in its use," he said.
Police have access to around 12,000 Tasers but there were calls for their use to be greatly extended as officers struggled to cope during the riots of 2011.
Paul Davis, responsible for firearms policy on the Police Federation, said that "most if not all frontline officers" should be given access to Tasers, which he described as "less lethal" devices.
Issue out some of those old Webley's. A .455 round or two should gain their immediate and undivided attention. Bringing that pistol grip lanyard ring squarely down on the back of a head is also an attention getter.
the problem is with people who are wildly emotional. maybe because of personal problems, or because of drugs. i just heard about an incident where CHP officers in CA used a taser 8 times on a women - because she was out of control. but every time she was hit with the taser, she just fought back harder. some people will do that. so you wind up getting an escalation. in the story here, the woman's heart stopped beating after the #8 taser shot and the officers had to revive her. she lived.
the issue of non-lethal weapons is a very tough problem for the police. there is no perfect weapon out there that gets the job done.
[Dawn] Death of four more children believed to have been caused by measles within the Salehpat taluka of Sukkur district alone on Monday alarmed authorities who ordered top district officials to rush to the area and ascertain the situation.
Amid constant reports of measles spreading fast in the districts of Larkana, Sukkur, Kandhkot-Kashmore and Jacobabad, media reports suggested that as many as 22 children have already died of the disease within the past five weeks.
On Monday, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Shah, who belongs to Sukkur district, expressed his resentment over what he regarded as lethargy of the health officials concerned over the growing threat from the disease and the plight of the affected population. He rejected Sukkur District Health Officer Jai Ramdas's contention that most of the deaths occurred due to the cold weather.
The minister's reaction came after reports from the Salehpat area confirmed that four children aged between three to six years died of measles on Monday morning.
The victims were identified as Rajab Ali Bhambhro, Shahmir Zado Shambani, Latif Ali Shambani and Rahib Ali Shambani -- whose families appeared to be residents of Gugro village of Salehpat taluka.
Two more children, whose identities could not be ascertained immediately, reportedly died of measles in the villages of Mohammad Ramzan Bhambhro and Misri Fakir. The officials concerned were yet to confirm the two deaths.
The district authorities on Monday confirmed that 19 deaths from measles were reported from the Salehpat area and its surrounding villages over the past five weeks amid fear of the situation taking the shape of an outbreak.
Sukkur Deputy Commissioner Bilal Ahmed Memon told Dawn that the data collected from the area verified the claim but he did not agree that four more children died from the disease on Monday.
Independent sources put the measles corpse count in the area within the period at 22.
The deputy commissioner said the process of collecting data from relevant departments, including the police, was under way, adding that conclusions about the gravity of the situation could be drawn only when verified information from the entire district were available.
He said that Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah had recently expressed his displeasure over lethargy on the part of the health officials concerned despite the fact that the media was constantly carrying reports about the aggravating situation. He said that chief minister was concerned over the department's failure to take prompt measures towards preventing spread of the disease.
Mr Memon said that he along with a vaccination team would visit the affected villages on Tuesday to ascertain the situation and make necessary arrangements for providing medical treatment to the children suffering from measles. A door-to-door vaccination drive against measles was also planned, he added.
Yet another 'achievement' of this administration - undoing the rapproachment with India that GWB managed.
Not necessarily -- Russia has always been a big arms supplier to India, and the Indians have always said that whatever relationship they might have with us, they'll continue to do business with Russia, just to keep their options open. Another example is the Akula II-class sub they are 'leasing' from the Russians so as to learn about how to operate a nuclear submarine.
True, but Obama has deliberately dismantled a lot of the groundwork laid by Bush which was, among other things, intended to keep Pakistan and China balanced in the region, including in northern Afghanistan. This administration's disdain for India is similar to, albeit a pale imitation of, their utter dislike for Britain.
India and Russia sewed up defence deals worth around $4 billion on Monday as Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in New Delhi for a brief visit.
The first contract signed was for delivery of 71 Mi-17V 5 helicopters, while another dealt with delivery of 42 technological kits for SU-30 MKI aircraft licenced production.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Russia a key partner in India's efforts to enhance its defence preparedness. "A number of joint-design, development and production projects are underway. We expressed satisfaction that these projects are progressing well," Singh said.
Calling defence cooperation a major pillar of the India-Russia partnership, the two sides also took note of the progress made in the joint development and production of high-technology military equipment and projects. Both sides also discussed measures to ensure expeditious delivery of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya to India.
The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly late Monday to hold a conference in March to try to reach agreement on a U.N. treaty to regulate the multibillion-dollar global arms trade.
A resolution approved by a vote of 133-0 with 17 abstentions will bring the 193 U.N. member states back to the negotiating table following their failure to reach agreement on a treaty in July.
Hopes of reaching a treaty in July were dashed when the United States said it needed more time to consider the proposed treaty - and Russia and China then also asked for a delay.
The draft treaty under consideration does not control the domestic use of weapons in any country, but it would require all countries to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and to regulate arms brokers. It would prohibit states that ratify the treaty from transferring conventional weapons if they would violate arms embargoes or if they would promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
In considering whether to authorize the export of arms, the draft says a country must evaluate whether the weapon would be used to violate international human rights or humanitarian laws or be used by terrorists, organized crime or for corrupt practices.
Many countries, including the United States, control arms exports but there has never been an international treaty regulating the estimated $60 billion global arms trade. For more than a decade, activists and some governments have been pushing for international rules to try to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of terrorists, insurgent fighters and organized crime.
The National Rifle Association, the powerful gun-rights lobbying group in the U.S., has portrayed the treaty as a threat to gun ownership rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The politically controversial issue of gun regulations has re-emerged since a gunman opened fire on Dec. 14 at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six educators.
In July, the NRA's CEO Wayne LaPierre told the U.N. that "the NRA wants no part of any treaty that infringes on the precious right of lawful Americans to keep and bear arms." He added that "any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA's greatest force of opposition."
The co-sponsors of Monday's resolution - Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and Britain - welcomed adoption of the resolution and urged all countries "to work in a constructive spirit" to make the March 18-28 conference at U.N. headquarters a success.
In a statement, they said the adoption with over 100 cosponsors "was a clear sign that the vast majority of U.N. member states support a strong, balanced and effective treaty, which would set the highest possible common global standard for the international transfer of conventional arms."
The seven countries expressed support to Australian ambassador Peter Woolcott, the president-designate of the upcoming conference, and said: "We will continue to work hard to ensure that an effective Arms Trade Treaty will be concluded and adopted by consensus at the end of March."
In keeping with the spirit of your resolution, you have my eternal promise and steadfast New Year's commitment to refrain from shipping any gun, sharp object, or other evil device to any of the countries listed, nor to your exiled convict brethren dununder.
[An Nahar] Iraq and Jordan agreed on Monday to extend an oil pipeline to the Red Sea city of Aqaba for the export of Iraqi crude, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said after a fleeting visit to Amman.
"It was agreed to extend an oil pipeline across Jordan to Aqaba to export Iraqi oil and satisfy Jordan's crude requirements," the Iraqi premier told journalists, saying this would "end the transportation of oil using tankers."
The new pipeline would be capable of pumping one million barrels per day, Jordan's official news agency Petra said.
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah al-Nsur, who met with Maliki, praised the deal, saying "we need each other, and Jordan is important for Iraq's trade and the export of its oil."
Iraq also agreed to "bring into effect a 2009 agreement to establish a free trade zone between the two countries," and "to increase the capacity of (its) gas pipeline" "to secure Jordan's Iraqi natural gas needs," according to Petra.
Jordan relies on imports for 95 percent of its energy needs. A rise in fuel prices by up to 53 percent in November prompted violent protests in which three people were killed and more than 70 injured.
[Ma'an] Paleostinian banks will lend the Paleostinian Authority $100 million to see it through a financial crisis caused by Israeli sanctions, the Paleostine Monetary Authority chief said Wednesday.
Can't keep it under the mattress or buried in a coffee tin in the backyard because the government street thugs will take it, can't put it in a bank because the government white collar thugs will 'borrow' it... it's almost enough to make a West Banker move beyond hurling rocks to engage in real jihad.
The PMA reached an agreement with bank representatives for the short-term loan that will be repaid when the Arab League ...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing... delivers its promised financial security net, Jihad al-Wazir said in a statement.
And there's no promise like an Arab League promise...
The Paleostinian Authority has already borrowed over $1.2 million from banks, al-Wizar said.
The cash advance would enable the government to make partial payments of late salaries, the finance ministry said.
Government employees in the West Bank began a two-day strike on Wednesday to protest against a delay in the payment of their wages caused by Israeli economic sanctions.
They're like PEUs in the U.S....
Israel is withholding about $100 million in monthly customs revenues it collects on the Paleostinians' behalf as punishment for their successful bid at the UN General Assembly last month to gain de-facto statehood recognition.
The Paleostinian Authority was suffering a deep financial crisis even before the move, and has had to delay payments to its 153,000 public sector workers several times this year.
"This strike is against Israel's piracy," said Bassam Zakarneh, chief of the government employees' union.
"The situation is very grave and the services to the people are much reduced by the strike," he said. "(People) can't even afford transportation to their workplaces."
Government workers last received salaries for October, which were paid belatedly at the end of November.
Mind you, this is the secular side of the Paleostinian territories.
[Ma'an] President the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas ... a graduate of the prestigious unaccredited Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow with a doctorate in Holocaust Denial... has no plans to amend laws that reduce sentences for suspects who claim an "honor" defense for murdering women, his legal adviser says.
"Why change it? This would cause serious problems," Hassan al-Ouri told Ma'an, adding that such a reform would "not benefit women."
In May 2011, the president pledged to amend the law to guarantee maximum penalties for "honor killing" in response to protests over the killing of university student Aya Baradiya in Hebron.
The decision was announced in a phone call to a primetime show on state TV, drawing tears among crowds of mourners shown in a live link-up from the Ramallah studio to Baradiya's hometown.
Abbas suspended Article 340, which offers a pardon for murder if the perpetrator committed the crime on finding his wife in bed with another man.
The reform was cosmetic: Article 340 had never been used in Paleostinian courts since it was legislated in 1960.
"So why did we change the law? To garner public opinion," al-Ouri said in an interview in the presidential compound in Ramallah.
"I, personally, was against the amendment because the crimes that happen in the street have no relevance to Article 340," the legal adviser added.
Al-Ouri says the president will not change the go-to clauses for lawyers seeking leniency for clients who claim they committed murder to defend family "honor."
Articles 97 to 100 of the Jordanian Penal Code, in force in the West Bank, still offer reduced sentences for any act of battery or murder committed in a "state of rage."
"The (law) only addresses 1 percent of the problem. What we need is a new culture," al-Ouri said.
Other officials insist the penal code is the problem.
The law "privileges the killer," Interior Ministry official Haitham Arrar told Ma'an.
"It encourages some people to commit crimes against women, which will go (as far as) killing them," said Arrar, who heads the ministry's democracy and human rights One man's rights are another man's existential threat. unit.
Abbas fears 'conservative forces'
The Paleostinian Legislative Council has not met since 2007, when Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason, and Fatah split, but women's rights expert Soraida Hussein dismisses arguments that reforms must wait until parliament reconvenes.
"For us, for women, all this is irrelevant," said Hussein, general director of the Women's Technical Affairs Committee, an umbrella group of women's organizations. "Until now, our lives -- in law and in practice -- are seen as less than men's."
The president should issue a decree that "anybody killing anyone else will be sentenced to the highest sentence possible, whether it is a woman or a boy," says Hussein.
"The minute the law is changed and applied, the minute people will think twice," she says. "It's simple and it's not done."
Hussein suggests Abbas is hesitant to pass legal reforms because "he is not ready yet to confront conservative forces."
In 2009, Abbas ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, but al-Ouri, the legal adviser, says it will only be implemented "so long as it doesn't contravene Islamic code."
"Look, we are for total equality but if there is a basic tenet of Islamic code that we would be forced to change under CEDAW, then people would revolt and brand us as non-believers," al-Ouri said.
'Dressing up honor'
Lax laws encourage murder suspects to claim "honor" in their defense, officials and women's rights activists say.
"Because the penalty is one or two months, they consider killing her and dress it up as honor," Minister of Women's Affairs Rahiba Diab told Ma'an.
Khawla al-Azraq, who runs a women's counseling center in Bethlehem, notes that femicide is a global issue but "now in Paleostine, they call this honor killing."
"Sometimes these girls are abused by someone in the family and they need to cover this (up) and they kill her; sometimes because they need her money," she says. "These are the real reasons for killing."
"In Paleostine, this is the gap, that until now we don't have our own legislation that really can protect women."
The Independent Commission of Human Rights says 13 women have been killed this year, but the real figure is likely to be higher.
"There has been historically a problem of documentation," says Hussein, the women's rights expert. The cause of suspicious deaths of women was often recorded as "fate," which could refer to forced "suicides" or being pushed from a building, she explained.
Despite repeated requests since September, the Ministry of Interior did not provide Ma'an with the official number of women whose deaths were recorded as "fate" in 2012.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.