Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bangladeshi lawmaker arrested

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Investigation branch of Bangladesh Police Wednesday afternoon arrested a ruling party lawmaker for allegedly assaulting two journalists shortly after a court scraps his bail.
The Member of Bangladesh Parliament Golam Maula Rony on Saturday beat up Journalist Imtiaz Momin and Video Journalist Mohsin Mukul. The two are members of a team that produces a crime- investigative show for local Independent TV channel.
The journalists went to the lawmaker’s office on a tip-off that a bribe of more than 10 million taka (about 128,205 U.S. dollars) was to reach his office.
The lawmaker received the ad-interim bail on Sunday from another court in connection with the case filed Saturday by the private television channel, owned by Salman F Rahman, an advisor of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Dhaka court Wednesday canceled his bail and issued an arrest warrant as complainant Yusuf Ali, an assistant manager of the Independent TV, appealed to the court seeking cancellation of Rony’s bail.
Rony, for his part, sued both the Independent journalists, accusing them of attacking him, sending him death threats and trying to extort money from him.
The two journalists, however, got bail from the High Court on Tuesday.


 

UNSC: Progress in Middle East peace process

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Members of the UN Security Council expressed hopes for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.The members met on Tuesday to discuss the situation in the Middle East. US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that Israelis and Palestinians had reached an agreement that establishes the basis for restarting direct negotiations. Talks have been stalled for nearly 3 years.
Participants at the meeting expressed optimism over restarting talks toward resolving the Palestinian issue, a destabilizing factor in the region.
Acting US Ambassador to the UN and this month’s Security Council President, Rosemary DiCarlo, said Israeli and Palestinian leaders should be praised for their readiness to tackle the daunting challenges ahead.
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said that in order to realize peace, Israel must affirm its commitment to a two-state solution and stop settlement construction.


 

Chinese Vice President to visit N.Korea

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Posted on July 24, 2013 by sagarmedia
China says Vice President Li Yuanchao will visit North Korea to attend celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Vice President Li will lead a delegation to North Korea from Thursday to Sunday. China says they were invited by the North.
North Korean state-run media has also reported that Li will make an official visit, invited by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet.
North Korea celebrates on July 27th, the day the armistice was concluded in 1953. It is planning a large scale military parade at a square in central Pyongyang on Saturday.
Li is said to be China’s highest-ranking diplomatic official after President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Li’s seniority indicates the importance China attaches to its ties with the North.Media agencies


 

Russia gives Snowden document allowing him to leave airport

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Russia’s migration service has provided fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden with a document that allows him to leave the Moscow airport transit zone where he has been holed up for the last month, a report said in Moscow today.
The document confirms that his application for asylum in Russia is being considered but allows Snowden to cross the Russian border so long as border guards do not object, RIA Novosti news agency said.
The agency added that the document was initially given to the lawyer helping him, Anatoly Kucherena, who was now on his way to Sheremetyevo airport and about to arrive.
Snowden earlier this month applied for asylum, a process that could take up to three months. Kucherena has said he may even apply for Russian citizenship.


 


24072013

Police ends Parliament siege in Bulgaria, frees MPs

Anti-corruption protests that have been peacefully going on for 40 days reached a climax in Bulgaria when demonstrators trapped a hundred ministers, lawmakers and journalists inside the parliament for over eight hours, urging the government to resign.Bulgarian police on Wednesday broke up a blockade of Parliament and escorted out more than 100 lawmakers and ministers who had been trapped inside the besieged building for more than eight hours by anti-government protesters seeking to oust the left-leaning government. Police in riot gear pushed away the protesters and formed a corridor to allow those trapped since yesterday out of the building. Anti-government protests in Bulgaria’s capital have been going on for 40 days, and escalated yesterday evening as several hundred demonstrators trapped 109 people including three ministers, some 30 lawmakers and their staff inside Parliament.
Police had tried to escort the officials out by bus yesterday, but protesters blocked the vehicle hurling stones at it. Seven protesters and two police officers were treated in hospital for head wounds.
The Socialist-backed government took office after early elections in May, following the resignation of the previous cabinet amid anti-austerity protests.
The government commands only 120 seats in the 240-seat Parliament and has to rely on the support from a nationalist party. The appointment of controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski as head of the national security agency sparked this wave of protests.
The appointment was immediately revoked but demonstrators insist the government is corrupt and must resign.
Recent public-opinion polls show they are supported by about two-thirds of Bulgaria’s 7.3 million people, who have the lowest incomes in the European Union.
President Rosen Plevneliev issued a statement calling on the protesters to keep the demonstrations “peaceful and civilised.” “For the first time since the start of the protests we have now witnessed tension and attempts for provocation,” Plevneliev said, urging the protesters to restrain from any acts which increased the tension and breach public order. He also called on the police to help keep the protest peaceful.

Bolivian leader accepts apologies over plane incident as ‘first step’

Bolivia has accepted apologies of Spain, Italy, Portugal and France over the president’s plane that was forced to make a landing in Vienna en route from Moscow on July 2. President Evo Morales said Wednesday that the apologies were accepted as “the first step” because Bolivia wants to develop relations with those countries based on mutual respect. Morales added that Bolivia reserves the right to continue actions in international organizations to rule out such incidents in future.

Cessna that crossed Russian border intercepted by NATO jet fighters in Latvia

France’s Mirage jet fighters from a NATO mission have reportedly forced the Cessna aircraft, which earlier crossed the border into Russia, to land in Latvia. The passenger plane registered in Italy was reportedly flying from Poland to Norway, but illegally crossed the borders of Russia and Latvia. The Russian Aerospace Defense Forces detected an aircraft flying above Polish territory which crossed the Russian border over Gdansk Bay at 8:26pm Moscow time on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday. The intruder aircraft turned back after the pilot had visual contact with a Russian Su-27 fighter jet crew and headed towards Lithuania, the ministry said.

Darfur rebels launch new attack on Sudan

Rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region launched a new assault on the country’s heartland on Wednesday, attacking an army base and sending civilians running, rebels and witnesses said. Residents in al-Rachad, in the central North Kordofan state, said they could hear explosions and intense gunfire outside the nearby town of Jebel al-Dayer, Reuters reported. “We handed the army a defeat,” said Gibril Adam, spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the biggest rebels groups in Darfur. The military has not commented on the reports. Rachad is close to the state capital El-Obeid and Um Rawaba, a city which JEM and other rebels stormed for one day in April.

Trayvon Martin’s father to address crowd on Capitol Hill

The father of Trayvon Martin, who was shot in February last year, will give a speech on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as part of a hearing focusing on the societal challenges faced by African American boys and men. Tracy Martin will speak at the opening of the inaugural hearing of the recently-formed Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. Other notable speakers at the event will include president of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, David Johns, and Georgetown University Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson. George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder earlier this month after being arrested for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed.

Perm court rejects Pussy Riot Alyokhina’s request for parole

A court in Perm rejected on Wednesday request for parole filed by Russian punk group Pussy Riot’s member Maria Alyokhina. She filed a complaint via video link after her request was rejected in May. The request for parole by another member of the group, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, will be heard on Friday. They were given two-year prison terms after their “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012.

One killed, several wounded in Somalia car bomb

At least one person was killed and several others were wounded Wednesday when a car bomb exploded in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, police said. The blast targeted a car belonging to a member of parliament who was not hurt in the attack. “The bomb destroyed the car of lawmaker Sheikh Adan Mader, but he escaped the attack unharmed,” AFP quoted Somali police official Mohamed Ali as saying. “One civilian was killed and several others injured.” No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Headmistress of school’s deadly food poisoning surrenders

The school headmistress at the center of one of India’s deadliest food poisoning outbreaks in years surrendered in the eastern state of Bihar on Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing local media. Police have been searching for the headmistress for more than a week in connection with the deaths of 23 children from eating a school meal contaminated with a pesticide that is banned in many countries. She is key to solving the mystery as to how the pesticide ended up in the food, police say.

Egypt army chief wants mandate to fight ‘terrorism and violence’

Egypt’s army chief called Wednesday for public rallies this week to give him a mandate to fight “terrorism and violence” amid demonstrations by Mohamed Morsi’s supporters continuing to protest against his ouster.“Next Friday, all honorable Egyptians must take to the street to give me a mandate and command to end terrorism and violence,” AFP quoted General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as saying on state television. The army chief led a coup on July 3 after mass demonstrations demanding Morsi’s ouster. He said he had warned the Islamist president that he must either resign or hold a referendum. Almost 200 people have been killed in clashes since the days leading up to Morsi’s overthrow.

Japan scrambles fighter jets as Chinese aircraft flies near its southern islands

Japan scrambled fighter jets after Chinese aircraft entered international airspace near its southern islands out over the Pacific for the first time, Reuters reports. Japan’s Defense Ministry said a Chinese military aircraft flew through airspace between Okinawa prefecture’s main island and the smaller Miyako Island at around noon. It then took the same route back over the East China Sea. Japan said that indicated China’s move toward further maritime expansion.

UN chemical weapons inspectors arrive in Syria

Two senior UN inspectors have arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, to examine claims that chemical weapons have been allegedly deployed in the ongoing civil war, AFP reported. Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom and the UN high representative for disarmament Angela Kane are set to hold talks with regime officials to gain access to areas of the country to carry out their investigation. Syria’s regime and rebels have accused each other of using chemical weapons in the two-year conflict which has seen over 100,000 people killed.

Gunmen kill 9 police in north Iraq

Militants attacked a police station in north Iraq on Wednesday with mortar rounds and automatic weapons, killing nine police, officials said. The attack, which occurred about 7:30am (04:30 GMT) 60km south of the northern city of Mosul, also wounded another two police, AFP reported. The assault was followed by a roadside bomb exploding as emergency personnel traveled to the scene, wounding two more people. In a separate incident, gunmen shot dead a man in Baquba, north of Baghdad. The previous day, 29 people were killed in violence in Iraq.

Pakistani parties nominate candidates for presidential election

Pakistani political parties have nominated their candidates for the upcoming presidential elections. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party on Wednesday nominated Mamnoon Hussain, a former governor of southern Sindh province. The president is elected by voting in the Senate, National Assembly and the assemblies of the four provinces. The election will be held on July 30, although it was originally scheduled for August 6, after the Supreme Court’s decision. President Asif Ali Zardari’s term expires in early September.

US couple pleads guilty in Russian adopted boy abuse case

A couple from Virginia pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges in connection with the abuse of a young boy they adopted from Russia. Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Sweeney, an officer in the US Navy, pleaded guilty to a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He received a suspended sentence of 60 days behind bars, RIA Novosti said. His wife, Amy Sweeney, pleaded guilty to felony abuse and neglect and will be sentenced in December. Daniil Kruchin was adopted from Russia in 2006 and the couple renamed him Daniel Alexander Sweeney. The boy was eight when he left his home in the middle of the night on July 17, 2012, and rang the doorbell of a nearby home, to show he had bruises on his body. The couple was indicted by a grand jury in January.

Fire breaks out on evacuated Gulf gas well off Louisiana coast

An out-of-control natural gas well off the Louisiana coast caught fire late Tuesday, hours after 44 workers were safely evacuated from the drilling rig. The evacuation followed a mid-morning blowout. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, told AP. It was not immediately clear what caused the gas to ignite. Earlier this month, a gas well off the Louisiana coast flowed for several days before being sealed.

Officer who leaked new images of Boston Marathon bombing suspect stripped of gun

Sgt. Sean Murphy, the Massachusetts state trooper who released photos of suspected Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the moment of his capture in response to a now controversial Rolling Stone cover, has been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty pending an investigation. The magazine’s cover, which depicts a somewhat stylized portrait of Tsarnaev, was seen as insensitive by many who found it to glorify and even glamorize the accused bomber, who was the subject of a dramatic police manhunt through Boston suburbs in late April. Murphy was infuriated by the magazine cover, and in response released new images showing a bloodied Tsarnaev emerging from the boat in which he was found in the back yard of a Watertown residence, with a sniper’s laser target clearly visible on his forehead, to depict what he referred to as the “real” story.
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Woman arrested in ricin-letter case gives birth in custody

Shannon Guess Richardson, the Texas woman accused of mailing poisonous ricin letters to US President Barack Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a gun control lobbyist, gave birth prematurely to a baby boy while in custody on July 4. Richardson’s attorney told reporters the child remains hospitalized after being born four months early. It weighed less than two pounds at birth. Richardson was arrested on June 7 after federal officials say she tried to lead investigators into believing her husband had sent the ricin-laced letters, all of which could have been potentially fatal had they not been intercepted.
Afghan woman governor wins Magsaysay
Afghanistan’s first and only female governor and a humanitarian worker from the Kachin minority in Myanmar, Habiba Sarabi, is among this year’s recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award.Sarabi was honoured for helping build a functioning local government and pushing for education and women’s rights in Afghanistan’s Bamyan province despite discrimination and poverty.
Lahpai Seng Raw helps rehabilitate damaged communities amid armed conflict.
The awards announced on Wednesday, will honour three individuals and two organisations for changing their societies for the better.
The Philippine leadership prize is named after the popular Philippine president who died in a plane crash in 1957.
WHO warns against complacency in the fight against leprosy

24 July 2013, Bangkok: The fight against leprosy has made great progress in the past two decades but complacency may now be threatening the last push towards a world free of this debilitating disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on the opening day of the International Leprosy Summit.

The three-day summit (24-26 July), being organized by WHO and the Nippon Foundation, brought health ministers from eight countries and global experts to discuss the current leprosy situation and strategies for further reducing the disease burden and realizing a leprosy-free world.

The development of multidrug therapy in the 1980s effectively cured 16 million people in the past 20 years. But in many countries where the disease is endemic, new case-detection rates have been either static or showing increases. Globally, every 2 minutes, a new case of leprosy is detected and 7 out of every 10 cases is a child. Misinformation about leprosy is common and the disease continues to be shrouded in stigma with communities shunning patients even after they are cured.

“Our challenge is to sustain the quality of leprosy services and to ensure that all persons affected by leprosy, wherever they live, have an equal opportunity to be diagnosed early and treated by competent health workers,” says Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia. “While we’ve covered a lot of ground in reducing the disease burden in all endemic countries, there is no room for complacency. The final battle against leprosy is yet to be won.”

Mr Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, agreed with Dr Samlee and cautioned that the remaining challenges are becoming increasingly more difficult and complex.

“The target populations are living in difficult to reach areas such as urban slums, border areas and ethnic minority areas. Moreover, available resources in each country have declined,” Mr Sasakawa said.

He called on all parties involved to make political commitments and contribute resources and expertise to the fight against leprosy. To this end the Nippon Foundation will be committing US$20 million for the next five years, Mr Sasakawa announced.

Since 1995, WHO has been providing free multidrug therapy (MDT) to all patients worldwide. This was initially funded through The Nippon Foundation and, since 2000, through the MDT donation provided by the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development. Nearly 16 million people have been cured of leprosy using MDT and more than 10 million people have been prevented from developing visible deformities.

The number of highly endemic countries has gone down from 122 in 1985 to less than 20. However, despite significant progress, leprosy continues to be a health concern in these endemic pockets.

In 2012 there were 232 850 new cases of leprosy reported, with 94% of these cases restricted to 15 endemic countries - many of them in South-East Asia and Africa. This represents an increase of 6224 cases since 2011. Additionally, the number of people with leprosy who sought treatment only once they’d already developed visible deformities increased from 13079 in 2011 to 14409 in 2012. This is indicative of the need to detect cases early to prevent deformities among new cases.

Significant gender inequities remain in reaching leprosy-affected persons, especially when it comes to case detection. Although the distribution of disease is likely to be even between women and men, leprosy is detected in a lower percentage of women.

In order to bridge these gaps, and ensure that leprosy work continues on the path to further reduce the global disease burden, more work needs to be done. WHO is advocating prompt treatment with MDT and allocating more resources to facilitate early case detection. This can be accomplished by training existing health workers to recognize and treat leprosy, which will help detect new cases earlier and remove leprosy’s status as a “special” or “feared” disease. Community awareness is also important in encouraging health seeking behaviour among the general public.

Lastly, discrimination and stigma remain a huge issue for leprosy-affected persons. Many countries still have outdated laws from the 1800s which, for example, list leprosy as grounds for divorce or forbid persons with leprosy from running for office or obtaining a driver’s license - even after they have been treated. Several countries, however, have led the way in repealing these laws. In 2011 Bangladesh enacted a bill repealing discriminatory laws directed against persons with leprosy and the United Kingdom removed visa restrictions in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.  “Discriminatory laws and regulations against leprosy-affected people continue, depriving them of many legal rights and social entitlements, and in fact jeopardizing their basic human rights,” cautions Dr Samlee.

The Bangkok Declaration, to be adopted during the summit, is a recognition that further work needs to be done and reaffirms WHO and partners’ resolve to achieve a leprosy-free world.

What: International Leprosy Summit
When: 24 - 26 July 2013
Where: Hotel Dusit Thani, Bangkok, Thailand

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