Posted by shockedandawed on June 9, 2009
Posted by shockedandawed on June 8, 2009
Police Kidnapped and Killed, Helicopters Attacked Civilians, State of Emergency Declared, Indigenous People Labelled Terrorists by Government
The enduring conflict in Bagua (North Peru) between the Peruvian government and indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon have led to violent confrontations on Friday. According to different sources, between 30 and 84 deaths are reported, and more than 100 were wounded when the security forces tried to stop a roadblock by using violent force. According to the police, the indigenous people fired at the policemen first. This is contended by the representatives of the different indigenous groups: they say that they were only armed with their traditional spears. Most sources affirm that shots were released from police helicopters. Thomas and Marijke also saw how the police [removed] corpses. “A way to decrease the official death count”, says Marijke Deleu…The stake of the conflict is the admittance of mutinational companies to the areas in Northern Peru, which is rich in oil, gas and mineras. For almost two months, more than 30 000 indigenous inhabitants of different provinces of the Amazon and the Highlands protest the way in which the state and companies want to invest in the exploitation of natural resources. Indigenous people and farmer communities want to take part in the decision making process about the development of the land.
During 57 days, indigenous people were on strike and blocked roads. The last two years a large number of ecological and social restrictions on extraction of resources were removed by a changing regulation, leading to a much less restrictive legislation. This eases direct foreign investments in Peru for developing mines and oil- and gas-exploitations and concessions.
On May 9, the Peruvian governement declared the state of emergency in seven provinces of the Amazon areas, which means that “the constitutionally provisions on freedom and security of persons and the immunity of accommodation are temporarily suspended, and that there is a ban on gathering”. Officially to safeguard acces to roads and airports, and to prevent production losses due to the actions of the indigenous people. However, on Friday it appeared as an alibi for using violence.
Posted by shockedandawed on June 7, 2009
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Posted by shockedandawed on June 4, 2009
Reduced to mud
Despite the cold, the driver’s face poured sweat as he drove his truck through the mounds of mud scattered along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. His mission was to transport as many truckloads of mud as possible to Rafah City for use in the production of bricks that Palestinians are now using in the construction of mud houses.
This driver, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Al-Ahram Weekly that people have discovered a new and important benefit to the border tunnels. When tunnels are dug, mounds of mud are created, and this mud is considered prime for the production of mud bricks. Under the siege, and due to Gazans’ loss of hope that reconstruction projects will rebuild the thousands of houses and institutions destroyed by the Israeli occupation, particularly during its New Year offensive, many homeowners have begun to explore the mud alternative. Necessity is driving them to this decision, and the ministries and institutions of the Hamas government are encouraging them. This dismissed government has formed a committee that is issuing recommendations to construct model mud houses and institutions. And since Rafah City is near the tunnels, the idea of mud houses is being applied there first.
In the Tel Al-Sultan neighbourhood in southeast Rafah City, people have begun moving mud close to destroyed homes and then preparing mud bricks and commencing construction. Yet the idea has also spread to other areas of the Gaza Strip, particularly in Khan Younis north of Rafah, where people have also found that tunnel waste can solve their immediate problems. Some people are going to the tunnel areas themselves to select the type of mud they want to use in construction. Others have found in this new situation a source of income at a time when the economy is in freefall decline. The excitement of Mohi Lutfi Abu Abid was apparent as he telephoned his workers in the marble factory he owns in Rafah City and which the siege forced him to close down. He made them an unexpected offer: to turn the premises into a factory for the production of mud bricks.
Abu Abid, who lives in Tel Al-Sultan, told the Weekly that the idea brewed in his mind after he visited a friend whose house had been destroyed in the recent war on the Gaza Strip and found that he had built a mud house in its place. He was impressed with the house and decided to build one like it for himself. He says that after he built the house, consisting of three rooms and a bathroom, everyone who saw it was impressed and he came up with the idea of a mud brick factory. He has now designed several sizes and shapes of mud brick moulds. He mixes the mud with sand at a 2:1 ratio, and then adds a bit of the crushed ruins of destroyed houses. Some straw is added to the mud and sand to help it stick better.
Abu Abid says that his neighbours are taken with his idea and expect that with his new endeavour he will contribute to finding solutions for thousands of people whose houses have been destroyed. The government led by Ismail Haniyeh has encouraged citizens to turn to mud alternatives since the siege has made other building materials unavailable, and the government has itself begun building some model mud houses and utilities.
Minister of Public Works in Gaza’s dismissed government Youssef Al-Mansi says that his government has begun building mud houses and utilities in order to deal with the immense damage caused to the Gaza Strip during Israel’s last offensive. In a statement to the Weekly, Al-Mansi said that the move towards mud alternatives for building has become a necessity dictated by reality under the stifling siege, which bars the entry of basic building materials to Gaza. The Haniyeh government has adopted the recommendations of a technical committee that was recently formed to study mud construction as a temporary solution to the severe shortage of housing and other buildings.
Al-Mansi says that the government will begin building mud models of a mosque, school, and clinic, as an experiment to be evaluated, and that projects of this kind will then be commenced on a larger scale. Al-Mansi points out that the technical committee recommended making use of the rubble of destroyed buildings in the construction of mud replacements. In the first stage, three-storey houses and buildings will be constructed and then consideration will be given to adding more floors to meet housing and office needs. Yet the completion of mud houses and buildings won’t be easy, Al-Mansi warns, for the ability to install plumbing, electricity, and doors and windows is somewhat lacking.
Al-Mansi says that since the world is not moving to break the siege, and the problem of reconstruction remains standing, it is the right of Palestinians to try all possible alternatives in an attempt to overcome the immense shortage in houses and buildings in thousands by the Israeli army. Tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens are currently living without shelter and need quick solutions. Al-Mansi also points out that these kinds of alternatives are proof of the Palestinians’ perseverance. Gazans are determined to overcome all difficulties and to challenge the occupation, he says, noting that the dismissed government has made great efforts to communicate with Arab and international governments and institutions to open the borders and bring cement and construction materials into the Strip, as well as to break the siege, begin reconstruction projects, and return life to normal.
Salah Al-Aydi, 49, lives in Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp, although his three-storey house was destroyed in an Israeli air raid. “It’s natural for people to resort to building themselves shelter with mud despite all that means in terms of going back so many years,” he told the Weekly. “People whose houses were destroyed have no choice other than to seek alternatives that can guarantee a minimum of normal life conditions, for no one can accept to live without shelter.”
Ibrahim Al-Najjar, who lives in the eastern part of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, had his house destroyed in the last war when an F-15 jet dropped a tonne and a half of explosives on it. He’s now living in his brother’s home with the five members of his family, and says that he’s feeling encouraged by the idea of building a mud house near the remains of the one that was destroyed. “I was hopeful that the national dialogue would be a success since that was a condition for commencing the reconstruction process, but now I have given up on it. I need to find an alternative to betting on mirages, and I need to provide my family with an alternative that will safeguard their dignity, even if it’s a mud house,” he says. “I know that it will be difficult for my children to adjust to this situation that they never expected to experience in their worst nightmares.”
Yet not everyone whose homes were destroyed is willing to live in mud houses. Some are living in rented apartments, although they are a minority of the wealthy and those who receive financial support from family living abroad. Others, and they are many, are living with their families in tents.
The Interior Ministry of the dismissed government has reopened several institutions in tents erected beside the rubble of their original buildings destroyed in the war, and hundreds of citizens visit them daily to complete various government procedures. The problem of reconstruction was one of the disputes holding up national dialogue, and Fatah and Hamas are still considering the formation of a committee — comprising all the factions and independent figures — that would oversee reconstruction as and when ordinary materials are permitted by Israel to enter the destroyed Strip.
Posted by shockedandawed on June 4, 2009
PhD student Curtis Melvin uses Google Maps to uncover North Korea’s secrets
by Aaron Hotfelder on Jun 1st 2009 at 10:30AM
North Korea has a reputation as one of the most secretive, authoritarian, repressive countries in the world. But that doesn’t stop Curtis Melvin, a PhD student at George Mason University, from trying to shine some light into the country’s dark corners.
Using knowledge gleaned from his own trips to North Korea, as well as tips from many others who have visited, Curtis and his crew of civilian spies have managed to plot into Google Maps previously unknown sites in North Korea such as secret prison camps, vast burial mounds, and missile storage facilities. His interactive project, called “North Korea Uncovered,” has literally thousands of entries and is the most exhaustive map of North Korea to date.
The Wall Street Journal recently had a front-page article about Curtis’ project called “Gulags, Nukes and a Water Slide: Citizen Spies Lift North Korea’s Veil.” “Mr. Melvin and his correspondents have plotted out what they say is much of the country’s transportation network and electrical grid, and many of its military bases,” according to the article. “They’ve spotted what they believe are mass graves created in the 1995-98 famine that killed an estimated two million people. The vast complexes of Mr. Kim and other North Korean leaders are visible, with palatial homes, pools, even a water slide.”
The fascinating map is available for download here. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow recently chatted with Curtis about the project here. Gadling’s own first-person coverage of the secretive country, “Infiltrating North Korea,” is here.
North Korea invents Toothpaste
Posted by shockedandawed on June 4, 2009
Posted by shockedandawed on June 3, 2009
As noted on Shocked and Awed over the past several weeks, Amanda Lindhout is approaching one year in captivity. Please follow the link to sign a petition urging the Canadian and Australian governments to work towards their release.
We the undersigned, petition Canadian & Australian Government and any interested world government, the Honorable prime ministers Steven Harper, Kevin Rudd and both Parliments to aid and facilitate the timely release of its citizens, freelance Canadian journalist, Amanda Lindhout and Austrailian photojournalist, Nigel Brennan.
Both Amanda Lindhout, 27, and and Nigel Brennan, 35, have been in the hands of Somalian Kidnappers since August 23rd of 2008. Far too much time has passed without resoultion. Local Somali photojournalist Abdifatah Mohamed Elmi, also kidnapped with them, was released on January 15th of 2009.
We appeal to both Canadian and Austrailian governements as well as any interested world government or parties, to work together toward their release.
We, the undersigned, wish to thank both countries, world goverments and interested parties for any resolution brought to this situation, that results in the safe return of both Amanda and Nigel to their respective families and homes.
“Help Me”: Kidnapped Bundaberg Photographer’s Desperate Plea
Above link source: ABC.Net Austrailia.
Canadian journalist fears she’ll die in Somalia unless government helps.
Above link source: CBC.CA
“I Hope when Amanda sleeps, her dreams take her to a place where she can hear our prayers, and know she is not alone.”
Quote by Paul MacPhearson, found online.
Posted by shockedandawed on June 3, 2009
Death Comes Two Years After Last Suicide
Exactly two years and a day after the last successful Guantanamo suicide, Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al-Hanashi ended his life. Prison officials declined to comment on how he committed suicide. It is known, however, that other detainees have tried to hang themselves and slit their wrists. Some detainees have been very persistent in their attempts to end their lives. Juma al-Dossary, for example, has attempted suicide 13 times.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay has died of an apparent suicide, U.S. military officials said Tuesday. His is the fifth apparent suicide at the offshore U.S. prison, which President Barack Obama hopes to close by January. The Joint Task Force that runs the U.S. prison in Cuba said guards conducting a routine check found Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih unresponsive and not breathing in his cell Monday night.
In a statement issued from Miami, the U.S. military said the detainee was pronounced dead by a doctor after “extensive lifesaving measures had been exhausted.”
The Yemeni prisoner, also known as Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al-Hanashi, had been held without charge at Guantanamo since February 2002, a month after the isolated U.S. base started taking prisoners. Military records show the alleged Taliban fighter was about 31.
The apparent suicide happened late Monday, but it was not revealed by the military until after a dozen journalists who were covering a military tribunal session left the base about midday Tuesday. A Defense Department official said the reason was that the Yemeni government had not yet been notified.
Medical records previously released by the military in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The Associated Press showed that the prisoner’s weight had dropped to about 86 pounds (39 kilograms) in December 2005 _ an indication that he may have joined a long-running hunger strike among prisoners. He weighed 124 pounds (56 kilograms) when he was first taken to Guantanamo in February 2002.
The military won’t identify hunger strikers, citing privacy rules and a desire to keep detainees from trying to become martyrs.
Attorney David Remes identified the Yemeni as one of six inmates held in the prison’s psychiatric ward along with his client, Adnan Latif. He said all the men in the ward had been force-fed a liquid nutrition mix through a tube inserted in their noses and down their throats.
“Salih was being force-fed in a restraint chair; the other six surviving inmates are being force-fed from bed,” Remes said, adding that he didn’t think the Yemeni had any legal representation until two lawyers arrived in February.“They were due to see him for the first time in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Remes said the death serves to refute a Pentagon report prepared for Obama saying Guantanamo’s prison meets the standard for humane treatment laid out in the Geneva Conventions. The February report was written in response to Obama’s order to close the prison within a year.
“Despite small improvements since President Obama took office, conditions there remain appalling,” he said from Washington. “I hope this tragedy will prompt the president to take another look at the conditions at the prison, and focus his attention on the human consequences of his delay in closing (it).”
A prison spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, confirmed the detainee’s apparent suicide but declined to discuss details or to say if any family members had been contacted. He could not immediately confirm the information that the prisoner was in the psychiatric ward.
DeWalt declined to say whether procedures have changed at the prison as a result of the apparent suicide. He only said al-Hanashi was being held in Camp Delta _ a prison complex behind tall fences and coils of razor wire.
Guantanamo critics said the death underscores the urgent need to close the U.S. prison as soon as possible.
“This kind of desperation is caused by the uncertainty of not knowing whether one will ever be released or even charged,” said Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, a rights group which has been fighting the detainees’ detention, criticized the Obama administration for only having sent two detainees home in the past five months.
“Frustrations and disappointment at the base are running high because the hopes for change under the new administration were so great,” the center said in a statement. “Every day that passes makes it more likely that more people will die in detention under President Obama’s watch.”
Obama has pledged to close the prison but maintain the controversial military tribunal system to try at least some Guantanamo detainees. Eleven detainees are facing charges, including five men accused of organizing the Sept. 11 attacks.
Scott Allen, senior medical officer for Physicians For Human Rights, an international medical group, said the apparent suicide was likely an act of desperation by the longtime detainee.
“Suicides are often a reflection of a detainee’s sense of futility and helplessness in prolonged detention,” Allen said during a telephone interview from Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military says the remains will be autopsied by a pathologist from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation to determine the cause and manner of the detainee’s death.
The Joint Task Force said that the remains are being treated with “utmost respect.”
A cultural adviser is assisting the Joint Task Force “to ensure that the remains are handled in a culturally sensitive and religiously appropriate manner,” the JTF said.
An official with the Republic of Yemen’s embassy in Washington was traveling Tuesday to Guantanamo and will ensure the remains are treated as dictated by Islamic custom, according to embassy spokesman Mohammed Albasha.
“This incident demonstrates the urgency of closing the detention facility,” Albasha said in a statement released Tuesday evening.
U.S. authorities say Al-Hanashi traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 and allegedly admitted to fighting with the Taliban on the front lines. He lived in four different al-Qaida and Taliban-affiliated guest houses, and was captured at Mazar-e-Sharif following the uprising there, they said.
In court documents, al-Hanashi said he planned to go back to Yemen if released from Guantanamo. He said he hoped to get married and become a history or geography teacher.
Over the years, there have been many attempts at suicide at Guantanamo, though military officials have often characterized them as acts of “self-injurious behavior” intended to draw media attention.
A former detention center commander, Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, said three simultaneous suicides in June 2006 were “an act of asymmetrical warfare,” in a comment that drew criticism from rights groups.
Posted by shockedandawed on June 3, 2009
The Globe and Mail perpetuates Cicumcision Myths
“Turkey’s is one of few cultures remaining in which boys are circumcised long past birth”
Yet another brilliantly researched article for the Globe and Mail. I can only suppose that when Matt Mossman said that Turkey is one of the only countries that still practises circumcision “long after birth,” what he really meant to say was that Turkey isn’t a Judeao-Christian country.
There are roughly 1 billion Muslims, for whom circumcision is recommended anywhere between the 7th day after birth and the the 7th year. Throughout North Africa and the Middle East, circumcision typically takes place around the age of 5. Go to any Muslim country and you will find a dirth of children’s books that explain the process to young boys about to undergo the procedure.
Aside from the 20% of the world’s population who are Muslim, childhood/teenage circumcision is widely practised in traditional African communities and in many parts of South America, including Suriname.
What is true, is that attitudes are starting to change in North Africa and some parents are now choosing to perform circumcision in the months immediately following birth.
Note to The Globe and Mail: Instead of trying to trivialize and exoticize Turkish and Muslim traditions, why not do a little research, try them out for yourself and then talk about your experiences?
Istanbul — From Monday’s Globe and Mail, Tuesday, Jun. 02, 2009 03:20AM EDT
Special to The Globe and Mail
The Sultan offers no compromise with modern ways, and usually refers parents who want him to circumcise their newborns to Dr. Eroglu. “Between five and 11 years old is the ideal age,” Mr. Ozkan said. “It is important that boys are old enough to remember it, but also old enough to understand that we’re not cutting their penises off.”
An imam chants prayers as Murat readies the knife. Umut stares and grimaces, but sheds no tears. It takes less than a minute, the audience applauds and the family poses for a photo with Mr. Ozkan before the next boy’s turn – approximately boy No. 120,000 boy to pass into manhood at the Circumcision Palace.
For thousands of Turkish schoolboys each year, the path to manhood leads to a round banquet hall in suburban Istanbul and a seat on a kiddie train. The soccer-ball-shaped cars roll around a track on the perimeter of the room, a clown sings and flaps his arms and families snap photographs. When the train stops, the boys come face to face with Kemal Ozkan – the “Sultan of Circumcision.”
Turkey’s is one of few cultures remaining in which boys are circumcised long past birth, a ritual that is half trial by knife and half bar mitzvah bash. Mr. Ozkan, 76, has been the life of the party for four decades. He earned his Sultan nickname from the Turkish press as Turkey’s only circumcision celebrity. He has snipped some 80,000 foreskins in his career, sometimes with a flamboyance that makes him the Liberace of his craft.
Turks circumcise their sons, as almost all Muslims do, to follow the practice of their religion’s founder, Mohammed. A small group of Turkish pediatric surgeons advocates abandoning tradition in favour of circumcising at birth and in a hospital, and Turks who can afford it are increasingly following that advice. But the ritual as presided over by Mr. Ozkan remains a popular choice, and is rooted in Turkish history.
In 1582, when Istanbul was the seat of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Murat III hosted a 52-day celebration to mark the cutting of his sons, featuring free circumcisions for poor families, re-creations of Ottoman military triumphs and an edible garden of marzipan flowers.
Tradition is so entrenched that even those today who circumcise at birth often wait until their sons are older to host the ensuing party. Boys wear a princely costume for the event: a beaded and sequined white satin suit, sash and plumed pillbox hat. Group circumcisions are common, either as pre-election stunts or at Mr. Ozkan’s banquet hall in suburban Istanbul, the Circumcision Palace.
Visitors are greeted at the entrance with a life-size cutout of the brawny Mr. Ozkan sporting a salt-and-pepper goatee, white lab coat and a gold-and-silver amulet. Photos covering the walls chronicle his encounters with politicians, athletes and film stars of Turkey’s recent history.
Over lunch on the terrace, Mr. Ozkan attributed his fame to a circumcision in 1964 in which he pioneered the use of local anesthetic. Government records cannot confirm the claim, but the pediatricians challenging Mr. Ozkan’s ways acknowledge that he was one of the first to adopt modern methods of pain mitigation. The previous strategy was a chewy mouthful of Turkish delight stuffed in a boy’s mouth.
State statistics lack specifics, but complications such as infections and severed urethras are common outside hospitals, particularly in poor rural areas without a qualified circumciser, said Egemen Eroglu, one of several pediatric surgeons pulling Turks away from the traditional way. At the Circumcision Palace, Mr. Ozkan said, complications are rare and instruments are sterilized.
Mr. Ozkan’s other contribution to the evolution of circumcision in Turkey is the addition of mirth. “This is Disneyland for circumcisions,” he said, indicating the palace, which he opened in 1976, with a sweep of his chunky hand.
Mr. Ozkan’s fame grew in the 1970s through a series of stunts, such as a circumcision on an airplane. Later, he cut a foreskin on a train. When river rafting came to Turkey, he did one on a raft. And then on the back of a camel. In 1986, he led a team of 30 people in circumcising 1,400 boys in one day, part of a political rally. “These acts proved there is no reason to be scared of circumcision,” Mr. Ozkan said.
Mr. Ozkan suffers stiff fingers now, so sons Murat and Levent do the cutting. During a recent ceremony, the Sultan reclined on a red velvet divan onstage as the train circled and the clown sang soccer fight songs. The elder Mr. Ozkan played emcee via a wireless microphone, but was also silently sizing up the seven boys, aged three to nine. “I pick the boy who looks the bravest to go first,” he explained later. “If that boy doesn’t cry, then the others won’t.”
Their parents pay the equivalent of about $750, about the same as a hospital circumcision for a newborn, but more than most Turkish families can afford. Dr. Eroglu, meanwhile, circumcised about 200 newborns in 2002 and 1,000 in 2008 – a rough measure of today’s trend. The Circumcision Palace has seen annual patronage fall from 6,000 at the start of the current decade to 2,000.
For those 2,000, the final moment turns from fun to formal. When the boys’ groins have numbed, the clown leads the first, a nine-year-old named Umut, to a chair onstage next to Murat Ozkan, with his parents joining him for support.
Posted by shockedandawed on May 29, 2009
According to the Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean scientist recently invented a marvelous product called toothpaste! Provided that you have enough calcium in your diet, this toothpaste will help keep your remaining teeth white and it can also be used to treat insect bites.
Pyongyang, May 22 (KCNA) — A natural toothpaste with high medical properties has been developed in the DPRK, which helps promote health of the people.
The toothpaste is made from microelements efficacious for the treatment of stomatitis and some ten kinds of Koryo pharmaceuticals by the special traditional medicine processing method.
It increases salivation so as to immediately disintegrate and absorb carbohydrate, removes mouth smell and stimulates the digestion, thus keeping the mouth clean and making people feel fresh.
It removes or prevents from being coated with toothscum and tartar, and suppresses the proliferation of germs to prevent paradentitis, periodontitis and caries.
In particular, it is potent for protecting the teeth of children firmly.
The natural toothpaste is applicable to burned and insect-bitten skins, eczema and the prevention of cold and others.
It was highly appreciated by Korean and foreign visitors at the recent 12th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair.