News and Comments 7 Feb 2012

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Syria crisis: Gulf Arab states expel Syrian ambassadors

Gulf Arab states say they are expelling Syrian ambassadors in their countries and recalling their envoys from Syria.

The Gulf Cooperation Council said Syria had rejected Arab attempts to solve the crisis and end 11 months of bloodshed.

The US closed its embassy in Syria on Monday, and several European countries have recalled their ambassadors.

The moves came as Syrian government forces continued their fierce assault on the restive city of Homs, and Russian officials visited Damascus.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a solution to the crisis based on Arab League initiatives, days after Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution on Syria.

After meeting Mr Lavrov, Syrian media quoted President Bashar al-Assad as saying he was willing to co-operate with “any efforts towards stability”.

Separately Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, denied reports that he had threatened Qatar’s prime minister during talks at the UN last week. Someone was trying to drive a wedge between Russia and the Arab world, he said.
The GCC said it would urge all other Arab states to adopt “decisive measures” when the Arab League meets next week. The UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy have also recalled their ambassadors

Ambassadors recalled from Syria

  • United States (embassy closed)
  • Europe

  • France
  • UK
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Gulf Arab states

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Qatar
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Bahrain
  • Oman
  • Kuwait

via BBC

Prop. 8: Gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, court rules – latimes.com

Court strikes down gay marriage ban in LA County

A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage as early as next year.

The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman, violated the U.S. Constitution. The architects of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal.

The ruling was narrow and likely to be limited to California.

via latimes.com.


Another President Quits – Mohamed Nasheed Steps Down after Maldives Protests

President Nasheed of the Maldives briefs repor...

Mohamed Nasheed

Rather sad that the former human rights and environmental activist didn’t last the course. He was replaced by his vice president after the police and army clashed in the streets of the island nation amid protests after Nasheed ordered the military to arrest Abdulla Mohamed, the chief judge of the Criminal Court. The judge had ordered the release of a government critic he said had been illegally detained.

The crisis came to a head today when hundreds of police demonstrated in the capital, Male, after officials ordered them to withdraw protection for government and opposition supporters protesting close to each other. The withdrawal resulted in a clash that injured at least three people.

Later, troops fired rubber bullets and clashed with the police. When Nasheed visited the police and urged them to end the protest, they refused and instead chanted for his resignation. Mohamed was released after Hassan took power.

Nasheed resigned on TV this morning, and Mohammed Waheed Hassan, who previously worked as a top UNICEF official, was sworn in as the new Maldivian president this afternoon. Soon after, the judge was released.


New Bruce Lee Film


‘I Am Bruce Lee’ tells the amazing story of one of the most iconic human beings ever to enter the public consciousness. Voted as one of the most important people of the 20th century in Time Magazine’s Time 100, as well as one of the Greatest Pop Culture Icons by People Magazine, Bruce Lee continues to be honoured and remembered for his enduring legacy.

In Hong Kong, teams visited the memorial statu...

Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend

~ Bruce Lee


Scotland Yard has recovered over 300,000,000 emails News of the World said were deleted

They doubled resources on the team and are analysing and are identifying hundreds, perhaps thousands, of possible victims going back over 30 years. Daily Record


Violence in northern Mali forces over 20,000 into exile

UNHCR report on Mali upheaval:

Malian Refugees in Mauritania

Malian Refugees in Mauritania

UNHCR has deployed emergency teams to countries surrounding Mali to help meet the needs of some 20,000 people who have been forced to flee fighting in northern Mali. Most of the displaced are in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Fighting between rebel Tuareg groups and governmental forces in the Azawad region of northern Mali began in mid-January.

In the past three weeks, at least 10,000 people are reported to have crossed to Niger, 9,000 have found refuge in Mauritania and 3,000 in Burkina Faso.

Local communities along the border, affected by the food crisis themselves in the Sahel, are sharing their resources with the new arrivals. The authorities have also distributed food. Four additional UNHCR staff are already in Niger and more are on their way. We plan to send aid for 10,000 people from our stockpiles in the region.

Our office in Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso also reported the arrival of some 3,000 Malian Tuaregs following attacks on their homes and businesses in the Malian capital Bamako and in the nearby town of Kati last week. Many of the new arrivals are staying with host families in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso, 320 kilometres south-west of the capital. Other new arrivals have been reported in the north west of the country, especially near Djibo, in Soum province. An inter-agency mission, including UNHCR, is scheduled to go there by the end of the week to assess the needs of the people.

Meanwhile in Mauritania UNHCR has sent several missions to the village of Fassala, in the region of Hodh el Chargi 3km from the border with Mali, where over 9,000 people have arrived since 25th January. The mainly ethnic Tuareg Malian refugees come from the region of Léré on the other side of the border. They told UNHCR that they fled fighting between Government forces and rebel Tuareg fighters, fearing retaliation by army troops.


Human Rights Watch Warns of Lead Poisoning Crisis in Nigeria

Thousands of children in northern Nigeria need immediate medical treatment and dozens of villages remain contaminated two years into the worst lead poisoning epidemic in modern history, Human Rights Watch said today while releasing a video on the issue. Four hundred children have died, according to official estimates, yet environmental cleanup efforts have not even begun in numerous affected villages.

Artisanal gold mines are found throughout Zamfara State in northwestern Nigeria, and high levels of lead in the earth and the use of rudimentary mining methods have resulted in an epidemic of lead poisoning among children, Human Rights Watch said. Research by Human Rights Watch in Zamfara in late 2011 found that children are exposed to this lead dust when they process ore in the mines, when their mine worker relatives return home covered with lead dust, and when the lead-filled ore is manually or mechanically crushed at home. Children can also be exposed to toxic lead in contaminated water and food. Healthcare workers in Zamfara State told Human Rights Watch that there have also been high rates of infertility and miscarriage among affected adults.


Politics, Religion, Media – an Unholy Trinity

You might enjoy reading this exclusive article in the Daily Beast about the head of the Washington Times and his roles as unofficial envoy to North Korea for former US President and war criminal at large, George W. Bush. I think it’s great when journalists research and publish this information. But I find myself asking constantly why no action ever ensues. It’s as though ‘publish and be damned’ turned into ‘print and be done’.


Behind The News: Yemen Times

Good, informative story from SourceFabric about the trials, tribulations and revival of Yemen Times, an essential and important source of news from this remarkable country, still dealing with the aftermath of former president’ Saleh’s barbaric regime.


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