KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: Seventeen civilians including two women were beheaded in a southern Afghanistan village in a region plagued by the Taliban insurgency, officials said recently. Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand provincial administration, told AFP,17 local villagers, two women and 15 men, were beheaded by unknown people in Kajaki district “We don’t know who was behind the killings at this time. We’re investigating,” Ahmadi said.
A senior police official in the province, Mohammad Ismael Hotak, confirmed the incident, giving a similar account.
Taliban insurgents are active in the troubled region and they have in the past been blamed for beheading local villagers, mostly over charges of spying for Afghan and US-led Nato forces.
Haji Musa Khan, a tribal elder in the neighbouring district of Musa Qala, said the region had seen a surge in such killings in recent months. “We had three people beheaded during the month of Ramadan. Another person, the son of a tribal elder, was beheaded recently,” he said. Khan said the killings followed major military operations by Afghan and Nato troops in the area. Source: Agency
Owner of Hitler clothes shop in Ahmedabad Rajesh Shah
AHMEDABAD, Gujarat, India - Rajesh Shah claimed he had not named his store after the most reviled dictator in modern history but his partner’s grandfather who was known as 'Hitler’ for his strict manner. He had only become aware of the Nazi leader after searching the name on the internet. But critics say his use of the German National Socialists’ Swastika symbol on his 'Hitler’ shop sign contradicts his claim and said they believe he is cashing in on the late Fuhrer’s curious popularity in India.
The Nazi Swastika symbol was taken from Hindu culture in which it is regarded as an auspicious sign. Mein Kampf, in which Hitler set out his racist theories, remains a bestseller in India where more than 10,000 copies are sold each year to students.
An Indian romantic comedy film Hero Hitler in Love was watched by large audiences in Punjab last year, while a politician in Meghalaya state named 'Adolf Hitler’ was re-elected to the state assembly in 2008 and is a member of one of India’s ruling coalition parties.
Some Indians fought with the rebel Indian National Army to aid the Japanese advance in the Second World War because they believed it would speed Indian independence from British rule.
Mr Shah said he was prepared to rename his shop in Vastrapur, Gujarat, close to Mahatma Gandhi’s home city, only if opponents compensate him for the £500 he has paid for his shop sign and other promotional materials. Nikitin Contractor of India’s Friends of Israel however said he had ignored their concerns. “In the city of Mahatma Gandhi and non-violence, how can anyone celebrate a person like Hitler who is known to have murdered millions of unarmed ordinary civilians? Youngsters need to be told of the atrocities that Hitler committed and the millions who were killed in gas chambers more than 70 years ago,” he told the Times of India.
NEW ORLEANS, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Hurricane Isaac surged ashore in southern Louisiana on Tuesday, packing high winds and heavy rains, and was set to hit New Orleans seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Isaac is the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States this season. While not packing nearly the power of Katrina -- which was a Category 3 storm when it slammed the Crescent City on Aug. 29, 2005 -- Category 1 Isaac was nevertheless a powerful reminder of New Orleans' vulnerability.
The hurricane will be the first test for $14.5 billion-dollar flood defenses built after levees failed under Katrina's storm surge and left large parts of New Orleans under water.
The National Hurricane Center warned late on Tuesday that Isaac and its 80 mph (130kph) winds were producing a dangerous storm surge and that flooding from rainfall would follow.
Isaac will also test the resolve of officials and preparedness of a city where some 1,800 died seven years ago in what was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
Earlier on Tuesday, officials from Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, to U.S. President Barack Obama, scrambled to get ahead of the storm's impact, mindful of the chaos and botched relief efforts in the wake of Katrina.
Landrieu assured residents that this time around, "your city is secure," and said emergency services were ready for search and rescue missions, if needed. About 1,000 U.S. National Guard troops in military vehicles took up positions in the mostly deserted streets of New Orleans, brandishing automatic assault rifles to ward off any threat of the looting that spread after Katrina. Police cars patrolled darkened streets with blue lights flashing. Obama urged residents to take cover and heed warnings, saying that now was "not the time to tempt fate." . He issued emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi earlier this week.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Having fled their homes in the latest spasm of Pakistani religious strife, a few hundred Christians have camped in a forest in the Pakistani capital, cut down trees and are using the branches to build a church. An official medical review of a Pakistani Christian girl accused of desecrating the Quran has determined that the girl is a minor, a lawyer for the girl said Tuesday.
The finding, which means the girl will be tried in the juvenile court system, could possibly defuse what has been a highly contentious case in Pakistan, where blasphemy can be punished with life in prison or even death.
The accusations against the girl have inflamed religious tensions in Pakistan, and sparked a mass exodus of Christians from the girl's neighborhood who feared retribution from their Muslim neighbors.
About 600 of the Christians who set up camp in a field outside the capital were evicted from the site Tuesday, and their makeshift church was burned down.
The attorney, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, said a report by a medical board investigating the age and mental state of the girl determined she was 14 years old.
Chaudhry also said the board determined her mental state did not correspond to her age. It was not clear whether that meant she was mentally impaired. Some Pakistani media reports have said the girl has Down syndrome. He said a bail hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, and that he would move to dismiss the case after the hearing, saying there was "no solid evidence" against his client. He said he saw his client Saturday in the Rawalpindi prison where she's being held and that she was "weeping and crying."
Alyson Bair has vivid nightmares -- so vivid that many of them turn out to be real.
IDAHO, U.S.A - In two terrifying incidents over the past couple of months, Bair has woken from her dreams in the Snake River, unable to breath or touch the ground, according to ABCNews.com. Her sleepwalking has forced her family to barricade the doors -- from the inside -- and install alarms to make sure she doesn't sleepwalk herself into more danger. In early August, she suffered her first drowning nightmare.
"I thought I was dreaming, but then I realized I wasn't and I was scared," she told the site. "It was deep and I couldn't touch anywhere and I was getting tired. I had to keep turning around and floating on my back."
She eventually crawled onto the riverbank near her home in Burley, Idaho, and waited there until someone found her in the morning.
The 31-year-old mother of two says her family has taken every precaution to stop her late night escapades, but her sleepwalking self takes every advantage of mistakes. On Aug. 20, when her husband left the door open due to the heat, she sleepwalked out the door again and went straight to the river. She was found at 7:30 a.m., a quarter mile away from home on the riverbank, hypothermic and tired.
"It's definitely scary and it worries me," she told the site. "I haven't tried to drive or anything yet, but it just scares me what I could do. We've locked up all my medicines and made sure that our guns are locked up. Everything I could harm myself with is put away because I don't know what I'm going to do when I'm sleeping."
There are plenty of reasons why sleepwalkers' episodes can become more severe over the years. The New York Daily News reported that stress -- not drugs Bair is taking to treat a chronic autoimmune disease she was diagnosed with as a child -- is a likely factor in her regular sleepwalking. Bair has been recommended to sleep doctors, who hope to help quell the nightmares. She's happy she hasn't "tried to drive or anything," and that she's only contracted hypothermia during her episodes. But she still worries for her family. "I've got my family to take care of and be with and I love them very much," she told ABCNews.com. "So if there's any way I could help others by my story, just to bring awareness to how serious this could be, and talk about what steps we've taken and find out if there's anything else we can do, I'd like to do that."
BEIJING, China - At least 36 people died in a fiery collision between a methanol tanker and a double-Decker sleeper bus on a motorway in northern China on Sunday, officials and state media said. Both vehicles caught fire and only three of the 39 people on-board the bus survived the crash, which occurred around 2:00 am, Xinhua news agency reported. A total of 36 bodies were pulled from the debris and three people were taken to hospital.
Details of the crash - which happened 200 meters from a motorway service station at Yanan city in Shaanxi province - were still unclear.
Yue Jiuxiang, a local traffic police official in charge of the rescue operation, said most of the passengers were asleep at the time of the crash.
Yue said the bus was en route from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to the Shaanxi provincial capital Xian when the collision occurred.
Police were investigating the cause of the accident which happened on the Baotou-Maoming Expressway, which spans the length of China from the northern city of Baotou to the southern province of Guangdong. An official at Yanan city government information department surnamed Liu told AFP: "The confirmed death toll is now 36. I don't have any further details." China's roads are highly dangerous, with traffic laws and safety widely flouted, and truck drivers typically overworked.
PARAGUANA, Venezuela - An explosion tore through Venezuela's biggest oil refinery on Saturday, killing at least 24 people, wounding more than 80 and halting operations at the huge facility in the OPEC nation's worst industrial accident in recent memory. State TV showed footage of flames and billowing clouds of smoke coming from storage tanks at the Amuay refinery. Nearby homes were damaged by the blast at 1: 15 a.m. (0645 GMT), and officials said a 10-year-old child was among the dead.
"Unfortunately, 24 people have died, the majority of them members of our National Guard," Vice President Elias Jaua told reporters in local Falcon state. "Four people are in hospital right now, two were transferred to Zulia state and 50 people, thank God, were sent home after treatment because their injuries were not serious."
Most of those killed in the blast, which was caused by a gas leak, were National Guard troops providing security at the sprawling Amuay facilities, officials said.
Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said the fire was under control, but that some fuel residue left in the tanks still needed to burn off.
Ramirez said he expected operations at the 645,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Amuay facility to resume within two days at most. He said the blaze hit nine storage tanks holding mostly crude oil and some processed fuels including naphtha.Located on a peninsula overlooking the Caribbean sea in the west of Venezuela, Amuay is part of the Paraguana Refining Center, the second-biggest refinery complex in the world with an overall capacity of 955,000 bpd. Amuay accounts for half of Venezuela's total domestic output, about 1.3 million bpd of refined fuels.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Attorney-General has the sole discretion and absolute power in deciding who to prosecute in Malaysia. Deputy public prosecutor Noorin Badarudin said this when challenging Karpal Singh’s application to subpoena three witnesses, including A-G Tan Sri Gani Patail, in the sedition charge he is facing. Karpal was charged with uttering seditious words against the Sultan of Perak three years ago.
Noorin said the High Court could not order the A-G to come to court to explain why a person is charged or why someone is not.
“It is the A-G’s discretion and that cannot be questioned in this court,” the DPP added.
In January, the Court of Appeal allowed the public prosecutor’s appeal to order Karpal to enter his defence on the sedition charge, reversing a High Court decision which had acquitted him. Karpal, in his bid to strike out the sedition charge, is applying to subpoena Gani, former A-G Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He submitted that Gani’s evidence is necessary to show if there had been prosecutorial impropriety in charging him for sedition.
The veteran lawyer added that in 1993, speeches in Parliament on the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution for the setting up of a Special Court were also seditious in nature.
(Dr Mahathir had on Jan 18, 1993, moved for a motion to amend the Federal Constitution to have the immunity of rulers removed and to establish a Special Court to try monarchs in their personal capacity for criminal and civil wrongdoing.)
“Those who made the speeches then were not charged. Am I not in a like situation as they were?” Karpal questioned, adding that the speeches then were ‘explosive and had seditious tendencies’. “The PM must come to court to explain why there was a need for such speeches,” Karpal said, referring to Dr Mahathir(right photo). Judge Datuk Azman Abdullah will deliver his decision on the subpoenas on next Thursday.
Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani said on Wednesday, the United States and Pakistan should stop pretending they are allies and amicably “divorce”. Citing unrealistic expectations in both countries that include US hopes Islamabad will sever its links to extremists. "If in 65 years, you haven’t been able to find sufficient common ground to live together, and you had three separations and four reaffirmations of marriage, then maybe the better way is to find friendship outside of the marital bond,” Hussain Haqqani said, addressing the Centre for the National Interest, a Washington think tank.
Haqqani’s recommendation that the United States and Pakistan essentially downgrade their status was based on the premise that it may be the only way to break from what has been a dysfunctional relationship.
A post-alliance future would allow both countries to hold more realistic expectations of each other, cooperating where possible but perhaps without the sense of betrayal, which has become acute in Pakistan.
He cited a survey by the Pew Research Centre released in June showing roughly three-in-four Pakistanis consider the United States an enemy, even though the United States pours billions of dollars of aid into the country.
“If this was an election campaign ... you would advise the senator with these kinds of favourability ratings to pull out of the race, instead of spending more money,” said Haqqani, who plans to publish a book entitled “Magnificent Delusions” next year about the US-Pakistan relationship. His candid remarks represented Haqqani’s first address in Washington since he resigned as Pakistan’s envoy last year after, he says, being framed for drafting a memo that accused the Pakistani army of plotting a coup — allegations he defended himself against before Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Many of Haqqani’s comments underscored the friction between Pakistan’s civilian government and military, which have bedevilled the nuclear-armed South Asian country for almost its entire existence.
Haqqani, who served as an adviser to four Pakistani prime ministers, identified himself among a small minority who support good relations with the United States but “who do not have the ability to influence the course of policy at home.”
He said Pakistan’s military needed to be under greater civilian control, adding Pakistan’s national interests are defined “by generals, not by civilian leaders.”
However he also doled out criticism of US policymaking, saying it was too often short-sighted, lacking the necessary historic perspective needed to appreciate realistically what Pakistan might do in return for aid and cooperation. The depths of the strained US-Pakistan relationship have come into full public view since the United States, without telling Pakistan, secretly staged a raid to kill Osama bin Laden last year. Haqqani was ambassador at the time.
MOMBASA, Kenya — Hundreds of farmers attacked a village, killing at least 48 people in southeastern Kenya in an escalation of clashes between the farming and pastoral communities over land and resources, an official said yesterday. Some people were burned to death in their houses, while others were hacked to death or shot with arrows, said Tana River region police chief Joseph Kavoo. The majority of those killed were women and children, said area resident Said Mgeni. He said the attacks began yesterday at dawn when a group of about 200 people belonging to the Pokomo ethnic group raided a village in the Riketa area and torched all the houses belonging to the Orma, a pastoralist community.
Three Orma men and a woman who survived the attack with wounds to the head, stomach and hands said the attackers were also armed with guns. The four were admitted to the Malindi district hospital.
Ali Algi, who had injuries on his head and a broken hand, said that they were attacked by hundreds of men.
Algi said that he witnessed men, women and children being shot and then beheaded and others being locked and burned inside their houses.
"I witnessed the whole ugly scene. They shot us and then attacked us with pangas to ensure that we are completely dead," he said.
A witness, Mahmud Mohamed, who escorted the four to the hospital, said that grazing land was not an issue, and said the clashes are politically instigated.
Mohamed claimed that they had reported the matter to police about the planned attack but nothing was done.
Mohammad alleged that 56 people were killed among them 30 women, 16 children and 10 men. He also claimed that about 60 cows were slaughtered and thrown into River Tana
A member of parliament representing a constituency in the district, Dhado Godana, said the retaliatory attacks could not be controlled on time, since the area is hard to reach. "We had planned to meet and resolve the issue since that area is prone to conflict and the same may spill over to nearby areas," said Godana. The legislator attributed the frequent clashes to an influx of foreigners from Somalia in the area, and also the fact that residents in the area own illegal arms which they use for their survival.
LYON, France - A letter threatening to “punish Jews,” accompanied by photos of Jewish children being led to death camps during the Holocaust, was sent to Lyon’s chief rabbi Richard Wertenschlag. According to a Wednesday AFP report, the letter was received at the Grande Synagogue de Lyon on August 10 and said that “more and more frequently we are having ideas imposed on us that have as their goal to apologize for the Jew, the so-called Shoah (Holocaust), the evil Palestinians. From now on we will punish a Jew … each time that you go on television to complain.” The letter also said that the photographs “prove that the Jews were well treated in Germany, fed and lodged, with summer camp for the children.”
According to Capital magazine, the letter was signed by a group calling itself “The Network of The Just.”
French anti-terrorist authorities were notified of the incident. So far the identity of the sender is unknown.
Wertenschlag said that anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist correspondence was “not unusual,” but that this was the first threatening letter he has received. In March, a rabbi, his two children, and an 8-year-old girl were killed outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, by Algerian-French terrorist Mohammed Merah. In early June, three Jewish men were assaulted by what police believe to have been a group of North African men in Villeurbanne, part of the Lyon metropolitan area.
SYDNEY, Australia - A damning inquiry into the treatment of women in Australia’s military yesterday recommended quotas to increase female representation and the establishment of a unit to probe sexual misconduct. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said her year-long review of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) uncovered “systemic, cultural and practical impediments to cultural change” regarding the status of women. Women currently comprise 13.8 per cent of the ADF’s 81,000 full and part-time positions. Though relatively small, the Australian military is among the top 15 nations by defence expenditure. The inquiry was set up following a series of sex scandals within the military, including an incident in which a male cadet having sex with a female colleague was broadcast via Skype to his classmates. Broderick said the inquiry heard “deeply distressing” testimony from women who had experienced sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse, with “highly sexualised” behaviour normalised in some workplaces. She said, the deep distress and trauma experienced by the women who disclosed incidents makes change across the ADF in its treatment of women both critical and urgent. Broderick found that 25.9 per cent of women and 10.5 per cent of men had been sexually harassed within the military - broadly in line with the civilian population.
CUU LONG DELTA, Vietnam - A member of the Tan Phu A1 Agriculture Co-operative in Tan Chau Town OF Vietnam has planted flowers on the edge of his paddy fields to attract bees, ladybugs and spiders, which eat brown planthoppers and rice-leaf folders. By planting the flowers, he can avoid using pesticides. The flowers planted in rice fields in Mekong Delta An Giang Province may look pretty, but they are there for a more sinister purpose: to attract insects that kill pests. Thousands of farmers in the province are taking part in a programme launched in Tien Giang Province at the end of 2009 by the International Rice Research Institute, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Plant Protection Department.
This year, farmer Tran Duc Thanh of An Giang harvested 4.5 tonnes of paddy from his 0.6ha rice field, an increase of 360 kilo compared to previous crops. He also saved VND600,000 (US$30) in production costs.
The province has also taught farmers new techniques and required that they plant quality seeds.
Under the programme model, they must reduce the number of rice seeds sown and the use of nitrogen fertilisers and plant-protection chemicals, as well as the volume of water used for irrigation. Post-harvest losses are also expected to be cut.
Trinh Van Dut, chairman of the Tan Phu A1 Agriculture Co-operative, said the cultivation of flowers near rice fields and the use of advanced farming techniques had helped raise profits by VND3 million ($140) per hectare per crop. Nguyen Huu An, head of the An Giang Sub-Department of Plant Protection, said that 1,600 farmers in An Giang had planted flowers around 734ha of paddy fields.
POTCHEFSTROOM, South Africa - Lion bones have become a hot commodity for their use in Asian traditional medicine, driving up exports from South Africa to the East and creating new fears of the survival of the species. The skeletons are mostly shipped to Vietnam and Laos, feeding conservationists' fears that the market will drive up lion poaching -- just as the illegal hunting of rhinos escalates for their horns, also popular in Asian traditional remedies.
Around 500 lions are hunted legally every year in South Africa, most of them from commercial lion breeding farms which also supply zoos all over the world.
Until recently hunters paid $20,000 (16,000 euros) just for a trophy to hang above the fireplace, and the carcass was thrown to the dogs. But their crushed bones have become popular as substitute for the bones of tigers in love potions or "tiger wine". Trade in tiger parts is banned under international law as the animal is a threatened species. Now Asian hunters buy lion trophy hunting permits to get at the bones.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Over 700 victims where rescued from human trafficking in Argentina in the first seven months of 2012, according to a Justice Ministry report.Most of the people were rescued from sexual slavery and sweatshops. Officials from the Rescue and Support of People affected by human trafficking Office took part in over 300 raids, in which 327 victims were over 18 and the rest were children and teenagers.The report also showed that 344 people were Argentine and 368, foreigners.
Meanwhile, the Office’s coordinator, Zaida Gatti, explained that some of the methods use to lure unsuspecting victims include fake job offers for models and nannies.Nonetheless, kidnapping is also used, but less frequently.
Most of the victims are women and teenagers living in poverty and in order to support their families accept jobs ignoring the real goals of those offering fake jobs.
MANILA, Philippines - One of the most visited city in South East Asia is sinking. The land level of Metro Manila, capital city of Philippines, where there are 10 million residents, has been sinking while its sea level has been rising at a fast pace, an expert said, adding that reclamations and over-extraction of water have exacerbated the situation in the capital, an expert said. The sea level surrounding Metro Manila is rising by almost one centimetre per year because of global warming, Dr Fernando Siringan of the UP Marine Science Institute said during a Senate hearing, the data of which was reported by GMA News. The entire Metro Manila is sinking by several centimetres per year, estimated as one metre in four years, said Siringan, adding that in northern suburban Malabon, a fishing area compared to Venice, has been sinking by 10 centimetres a year.
Some streets that were elevated by one metre to avoid flood, were flooded again by sea water and not just by rain water in four years, said Siringan, adding, “It only means that Metro Manila’s land level is going down.”
Some places that were never flooded before, have been experiencing floods, said Siringan, adding this is more noticeable in almost all places in Metro Manila. Scientists suggested that rivers must be widened, not just be de-silted or made deeper. But the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) did not follow this suggestion for flood control, said Siringan. The Philippines is part of Asia-Pacific’s Ring of Fire where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions also commonly occur. About 21 typhoons damage the Philippines every year.