Evangelical lawmaker Justo Orozco to preside over commission studying IVF bill

first_imgRelated posts:Prosecutors raid Costa Rica lawmaker Justo Orozco’s office in ongoing probe Costa Rica’s Notary Administration investigates lawmaker Justo Orozco Lawmaker Justo Orozco: ‘We will respect court ruling’ on in vitro fertilization The happiness of Justo Orozco Justo Orozco, from the Costa Rican Renovation Party, was elected Tuesday as president of the Legislative Assembly Commission on Science and Technology, which must study and vote on a bill to regulate in vitro fertilization and regulate stem-cell research.Two members of the commission, Rodolfo Sotomayor from the Social Christian Unity Party and María Eugenia Venegas from Citizen Action Party, resigned from the commission in protest over Orozco’s appointment.Lawmakers from the ruling National Liberation Party proposed the evangelical lawmaker, in a move that angered members of the opposition, as Orozco has openly opposed IVF bills and same-sex civil union bills. Last week, Orozco set off a firestorm of public outrage after saying a fellow lawmaker should be removed from a commission studying a same-sex marriage bill “because she is a lesbian,” and therefore, in Orozco’s mind, biased.Following the outrageous comments, the Attorneys Association moved to study whether Orozco should be disbarred for discrimination.“I have a personal appreciation for Mr. Orozco, but I don’t think he is eligible for the Science and Technology Commision, where open-mindness and investigation must prevail,” Sotomayor said.Venegas called Orozco’s appointment “abominable,” adding that he is “the least prepared person to chair a committee discussing issues on science and technology.”Orozco, a math teacher and lawyer, told reporters he respects Venegas’ and Sotomayor’s positions, and he acknowledged that he plans to oppose the bills in question, adding that he “represents only one vote in the commision.”A ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2012 forced Costa Rica to legalize IVF, which was outlawed in March 2000 by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV. The San José-based human rights court also ordered payment of $420,000 in damages to 18 couples who where affected by the country’s ban.Last year, Orozco chaired the Assembly’s Human Rights Commission and activly opposed the approval of bills that would allow same-sex marriages in Costa Rica and grant benefits to same-sex couples. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

US Russian troops get green light to train Nicaraguan forces

first_imgNo related posts. MANAGUA — Nicaragua’s legislature Tuesday gave a green light for US and Russian troops to take part in joint exercises to train local forces fighting drug traffickers and organized crime.The legislature voted 66-20 to approve the operations on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. No dates were immediately given.The United States and the former Soviet Union waged a proxy war in the Central American nation during the 1980s. Current Sandinista President Daniel Ortega was among the country’s revolutionary leaders back then. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Robin Williams brought brutal honesty to his best roles

first_imgRelated posts:Robin Williams, frenetic, fearless actor and comedian, dies at 63 Robin Williams is Google’s top search trend; in Costa Rica, it’s Keylor Navas Francis Ford Coppola wants you to come on his family vacation ‘Star Wars’ smashes Christmas Day box office record Williams received his first Oscar nomination for his performance in “Good Morning, Vietnam.” But when Peter Weir cast him as the inspirational English teacher John Keating in the drama “Dead Poets Society,” some observers were still skeptical that he could tamp down his natural-born mania long enough to be convincing. But his performance in that film, a turn that Washington Post critic Rita Kempley described as “serenely eccentric” in 1989, launched a chapter in Williams’s career that swung — sometimes too easily — from broad comedy and family fare (“Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Aladdin,” “Happy Feet”) to films that, while capitalizing on his eccentricity, made sure not to stint on sensitivity and uplift. After receiving two more Academy Award nominations — for “Dead Poets Society” and the 1991 Terry Gilliam movie “The Fisher King,” Williams finally won in 1998, for his turn as a sympathetic therapist in the Ben Affleck-Matt Damon collaboration “Good Will Hunting.” Robin Williams was too much.For much of his career, the irrepressible Williams, who was found dead in a suspected suicide Monday at the age of 63, forswore subtlety. Ever since bursting into the public consciousness as the manic, rainbow-suspender-wearing TV alien in the sitcom “Mork & Mindy,” he seemed to be permanently toggling between two points on the emotional dial: wild, hyperkinetic looniness or unabashed sincerity. In more recent years, he seemed to have discovered different, darker corners that allowed him to exhibit some of his most compelling work, not as the one-man purveyor of over-the-top joie de vivre but as a gifted actor unafraid of his own shadows.For audiences of a certain age, Williams was best known as the man with the motormouth persona and constantly shifting alter egos who would jump effortlessly into impersonations during his breathless, scene-stealing appearances on “The Tonight Show” and other late-night talk programs. Whether he was channeling Popeye with note-perfect malapropisms in the eponymous 1980 movie or portraying the loud, loquacious disc jockey in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” Williams could be counted on to bring unbridled energy and a near-bottomless supply of ad libs to roles that felt tailored to his singular gifts.center_img As impressive as Williams was in those roles — and as much fun as it was to watch him later channel not one but two presidents, in the “Night at the Museum” movies (Teddy Roosevelt) and last year’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (Dwight D. Eisenhower) — it was the smaller films Williams did along the way that seemed to extract his most interesting qualities, the ones he labored so mightily to keep hidden, whether with hysterically pitched comedy, super-sincere drama or too-cute, begging-to-be-liked turns in such creatively bereft paydays as “Patch Adams” and “Old Dogs.”He never shied from subversive material: He has a cameo in Bobcat Goldthwait’s poisonously funny satire “Shakes the Clown,” and he went out of his way to dismantle his own sunnily unthreatening public persona as a washed-up, foul-mouthed kids performer in Danny DeVito’s scabrous showbiz parody “Death to Smoochy.” But it wasn’t until 2002’s psychological thriller “One Hour Photo” that Williams seemed to shed the mannerisms and self-conscious quirk completely.In that quiet, unsettling drama, exquisitely directed by Mark Romanek, Williams played a photo-booth clerk who becomes obsessed with a prosperous suburban family whose lives he witnesses through a succession of happy portraits. Williams’s finely calibrated performance was utterly free of the tics and affectations that are so tempting to someone who has come to count on and crave the audience’s love. Rather than seek his fans’ approval with the actorly equivalent of ingratiating winks, Williams was willing to completely inhabit a character who was somehow terrifying, pathetic, creepy and vulnerable all at once. Robin Williams last year teamed with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the CBS sitcom “The Crazy Ones.” He played a man who ran a successful ad agency with his daughter. Richard Cartwright/CBSAlthough Williams had delivered his share of bravura performances throughout his career, “One Hour Photo” revealed something new about an actor who could no longer be confined to rainbow suspenders, giddy talk-show appearances or dewy-eyed sentiment. And he managed to find a role of similar complexity several years later, in Goldthwait’s “World’s Greatest Dad,” in which Williams again played a high school poetry teacher, this time in the service of a comedy as fraught with nihilistic cruelty as it was with tough, mordant humanism.Not as many people saw “One Hour Photo” or “World’s Greatest Dad” as did “Good Will Hunting” or “Mrs. Doubtfire” — or maybe even “Death to Smoochy.” But those who did saw a side of Williams that went beyond light or dark. They saw something brutally, transparently honest in an actor who may have made a career out of being too much, but who at his best was capable of knowing what was just enough.Recommended: Robin Williams, frenetic, fearless actor and comedian, dies at 63© 2014, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

New heatresistant beans could save Latin American cuisine from climate change

first_imgDon’t panic. Your gallo pinto is safe. Or at least a little bit safer thanks to new research that may help save the world’s beans from the future effects of climate change.Climate models now show that up to 50 percent of the world’s bean cropland could be lost to extreme heat by 2050. Central America is particularly susceptible to these changes.Climatologists expect that up to 68 percent of Nicaragua’s bean farmland will be subject to extreme heat stress by 2030.In response to these gloomy predictions, scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), based in Cali, Colombia, have identified 30 lines of beans that can tolerate extreme heat.To identify the survivors, researchers cultivated beans in unusually hot areas and in greenhouses to test their yields.“It was easy to identify the good materials: they were the only ones that had any pods at all,” Steve Beebe, the researcher in charge of the study, said. “Heat stress affects pollination and does not permit normal formation of seeds and pods.”To create the beans, scientists crossed the protein-rich common bean — a food staple in Latin America and Africa — with the drought and heat-resistant tepary bean.The breeding project’s original purpose was to find drought-resistant beans. But as research began to show the threat of rising temperatures on the crop, CIAT launched a side project to identify which strains could also beat the heat.The most successful beans were the small red beans popular in many Central American dishes. But a black bean known as SEN 52, which is already on the market in Nicaragua, also proved successful.When SEN 52 was tested in Costa Rica it produced more than twice the average yield of beans cultivated by farmers in the area.“Incredibly, the heat-tolerant beans we tested may be able to handle a worst case scenario where the buildup of greenhouse gases causes the world to heat up by an average of 4 degrees Celsius (7.2. degrees Fahrenheit),” Beebe said.While the high yields are good news for the bean farmers of the future, they also indicate that hotter temperatures may already be affecting Central America’s bean crop more than agricultural experts originally thought. This means that farmers in hot regions need not wait for devastatingly high temperatures to begin benefitting from the new beans.The discovery could help save a staple crop that millions of people rely on.“Climate change will bring many changes to agriculture, not only higher temperatures,” Beebe said. “Droughts may increase in frequency and some years will suffer excess rainfall. However, the climate models tell us that at least we can counter the effects of increasing temperature with these new beans.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican researchers develop new climate change-resistant beans Drought hits Central America’s crops, cattle Carbon neutrality won’t solve everything, environmentalists say Costa Rica’s renewable energy streak is still going, but what does that really mean?last_img read more

Twitter Facebook the new power monitors in Mexico

first_imgRelated posts:Mexico’s Peña Nieto asks for investigation into his mansions Independent probe doubts 43 Mexico students cremated Mexico’s Peña Nieto wants expert debate on marijuana legalization Mexico mayor’s killing a threat to others: governor “Public officials are acting exactly as they’ve done for decades, with a propriatary concept of the position,” political scientist Ricardo Raphael, author of the book “Mirreynato” (“Myroyalty”), told AFP. “It’s a very ostentatious élite that likes to keep distances and look down on people. What’s changing is society’s attitude, with strong muscle to combat that by informal means.”It’s a reaction, in part, to “a number of institutions promoting impunity and corruption” without punishing officials’ excesses, Raphael said.The media’s roleWith a transparency bill and a new anticorruption system bogged down in the Mexican congress, a stressed Peña Nieto relaunched an ombudsman office, the Secretariat of Public Office, in February. The office is investigating whether there was conflict of interest in the purchase of the first lady’s and Finance Minister’s mansions. The office is led by a PRI member.Meneses, from the Universidad Tecnológica de Monterrey, pointed out that social networks have also increased in relevance due to a lack of space for criticism in Mexico’s press. The recent, controversial dismissal of influential journalist Carmen Aristegui, whose radio program revealed the purchase of the first lady’s house, is a prime example.Aristegui’s employer, Radio MVS, justified the dismissal citing a loss of trust due to another matter. Meanwhile, Aristegui — one of the government’s most vocal critics — reported that the presidency was behind the decision, which the Peña Nieto administration emphatically denied.“In this scenario of scarce plurality, social networks have become that monitor of power that all media must be in democratic societies,” Meneses said. Facebook Comments MEXICO CITY, Mexico — A Facebook post changed David Korenfeld’s luck. The picture of this young official, close to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, boarding an official helicopter to travel with his family set social media networks on fire. And the virtual outcry for his resignation came true on Thursday.Would Korenfeld have remained as head of the National Water Committee had that post not seen the light? It’s a question many Mexicans are asking themselves today, and it shows the increasing power social networks have in the country.“We’re not used to power being held accountable, and social networks are becoming monitors for power,” María Elena Meneses, a researcher and digital culture expert with the Universidad Tecnológica de Monterrey, told AFP.Overwhelmed by the effect Korenfeld’s picture had, the information technologist Ignacio Vizcaíno says he “simply” did “the right thing.” But on Twitter he is already seen as a “a hero” and “#UnMexicanoPatriota” (#AMexicanPatriot). Top Mexican official David Korenfeld was forced to resign after a citizen took photos of him and his family boarding a government helicopter to take a family vacation. The photos went viral on social media. March, 2015. (Photo taken from Twitter)This is not the first time scandal linked to a Mexican politician has caused strong reaction on social networks and made that politician fall.In April of last year, Twitter boiled with uproar when the daughter of the head consumer protection prosecutor sent inspectors from her dad’s office — Profeco, by its Spanish acronym — to close down a fashionable restaurant after she was not immediately given a table.The young lady was dubbed #LadyProfeco, and her father was dismissed by Peña Nieto.The president himself is currently under close surveillance for possible conflicts of interest regarding the purchase of luxury houses, by his wife and the Finance Minister, from a government contractor.Old practices, new tools“I made an 8-minute mistake,” former National Water Committee head Korenfeld said, referring to the duration of his fateful ride on the Conagua helicopter.Korenfeld had been a cabinet member in the state of Mexico when Peña Nieto was governor there.Excesses and allegations of abuse of power aren’t unique to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which for over 70 years ruled Mexico and took back the presidency with Peña Nieto in 2012. This week, the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party apologized for having rented five helicopters for campaign activities in the state of Michoacán. And Mexicans still talk about the conservative National Action Party’s bash, with alcohol, music and ‘escorts,” that closed a meeting of its congressmen in August.Manuel Velasco, the young Green Party governor of the impoverished state of Chiapas, also unleashed anger on social networks resulting from images and videos, including one showing him parading on a thrown carried by indigenous people. Another showed him slapping a volunteer in the face, for which he had to apologize.last_img read more

Venezuela military group arrested after call to disavow Maduro

first_imgA group of soldiers rose up against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro at a command post near Caracas on Monday, but were quickly arrested after posting an appeal for public support in a video, the government said.“We are the professional troop of the National Guard against the regime, which we completely repudiate. I need your help, take to the streets,” a man who identified himself as the group’s sergeant said in video images circulated on social media.Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino issued a statement shortly afterwards saying the soldiers had been arrested.“During the arrest, stolen weapons were recovered and (the mutineers) are providing useful information to intelligence services and the military justice system,” added Padrino, who said the rebels would “face the full force of the law.”No information on the number of mutineers has been given.The soldiers rose up during the early hours of Monday morning at a National Guard command post in Cotiza, north of Caracas, which was later surrounded by police and troops.The armed forces said a “small group of attackers” stole a batch of weapons from a command post in Petare, to the east of Caracas, and kidnapped four soldiers before heading to Cotiza.“They were neutralized, surrendered and captured in record time,” said Maduro’s right-hand man, Diosdado Cabello on Twitter.“They are already confessing details and the first thing they said is that they were offered villas and castles but were left alone, they were tricked. We will win,” he added, without specifying who allegedly made the offer.The armed forces fired tear gas at a group of neighbors that turned up outside the command post to offer support to the rebel soldiers, according to local press reports.Parliament president Juan Guaido, who has embarked on a power struggle with Maduro since being elected to lead the National Assembly earlier this month, spoke out in support of the mutinous soldiers.“What is happening in the National Guard in Cotiza is a demonstration of the general feeling that reigns within” the armed forces, Guaido said on Twitter.“Our military knows that the chain of command has been broken by the usurpation of the presidential office.“The National Assembly is committed to offering all the necessary guarantees to members of the armed forces that actively contribute to the restoration of the constitution.”Guaido previously accused Maduro of being a usurper after the socialist leader was sworn in for a second term of office on January 10, and called for the armed forces to support the legislature in restoring democracy in the country.Maduro won controversial snap elections in May that were boycotted by the opposition and branded fraudulent by the United States, European Union and a dozen Latin American countries.The National Assembly has been rendered impotent by the Supreme Court, dominated by Maduro loyalists, which stripped it of all its powers after the opposition gained control of the legislature in 2016 elections.Guaido previously called on the population and armed forces to help him overthrow Maduro so he can set up a transitional government ahead of new elections.He has also called for a mass people’s protest on Wednesday to support his demands.This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Weary Venezuelans in low-turnout win for ruling party Who is Juan Guaidó Costa Rica, EU and Latam contact group on Venezuela will meet Thursday Europeans, Latin Americans to meet on Venezuela crisislast_img read more

Costa Rica sentences four members of Mexican jewelry thief gang Los Mazos

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Ricans report increasing safety concerns; 2016 is set to become most violent year on record National Police increase street surveillance ahead of holiday season Accused serial killer ‘Wild Bill’ Holbert asks forgiveness for murders of U.S. expats Salvadoran man deported from United States suspected in murder at San José hotel Four members of the Mexican jewelry thief gang known as “Los Mazos” were sentenced to 16 years in prison, the local prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.Those sentenced are: Javier Licmaym Flores Casas, Sergio Mauricio Mondragón Martiarena, Gonzalo Ramírez Santacruz and Mariana Raquel Montes Ibarra. They were condemned by a capital court for the crimes of aggravated robbery and illicit association, the prosecution said in a statement.The four gang members, who remained in detention centers in San José, were arrested days after the band had made two almost simultaneous robberies on Oct. 31, 2017 to watch shops in Escazú, west of the capital. The group then fled in vehicles carrying a hoard of high-value watches.The group, which also carried out similar robberies in Canada, the United States and Uruguay, is characterized by the speed with which it acts. Its members enter jewelry stores in disguises and use hammers to break the glass of the showcases where the most valuable watches are displayed.In Costa Rica, the stolen watches had a calculated value in more than $1.35 million, the prosecution said.According to the investigation of the case, Montes arrived in Costa Rica from Mexico on an exploratory mission. He visited jewelers posing as a client to learn the security measures of the premises.Another of the sentenced, Mondragón, entered the Costa Rica on Nov. 3 to receive the stolen watches.Three days later, Montes, Flores and Ramírez were arrested at Juan Santamaría International Airport when they tried to leave the country, while Mondragón was arrested in San José with 123 watches in his possession.The group will remain in preventive detention while the sentence is ratified.This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

ExIsraeli soldier seeks Palestinian citizenship

first_img Top Stories Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sponsored Stories Associated PressRAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – In an odd twist to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian saga, a former Israeli soldier has embarked on a new fight: He wants to renounce his Israeli citizenship and move to a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.Andre Pshenichnikov, a 23-year-old Jewish immigrant from Tajikistan, was recently detained by Israeli police for residing illegally in the Deheishe Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. There he told police that he wants to break all ties with Israel, give up his Israeli citizenship and obtain a Palestinian one instead. “I hate Zionism … I want to be part of the Palestinian resistance,” Pshenichnikov told The Associated Press. “I call for other Israelis who support the existence of a state of Palestine to do the same, to come live in the West Bank or Gaza as Palestinians.”The Palestinians want to make the West Bank part of an independent state. For the time being, in accordance with past agreements with Israel, they technically don’t have a Palestinian citizenship but the self-rule authority issues I.D. residency cards and Palestinian passports.Pshenichnikov said he chose to live near Bethlehem in hopes of taking advantage of his fluency in Russian to guide Russian tourists in Jesus’ traditional hometown.Residents say he was initially treated with suspicion. Many Palestinians suspected him of being an Israeli spy and Palestinian officials eventually handed him over to Israeli authorities. But Pshenichnikov remained undeterred, returning to Deheishe where was apprehended by Palestinian forces and handed over to Israel again.Israeli police released him under restrictive conditions and banned him from entering the Palestinian-controlled areas pending the end of legal proceedings against him. Pshenichnikov is currently traveling in Europe for two months. When he returns, he hopes to move to the West Bank.It’s incredibly rare for Israelis to seek to live under Palestinian rule. There are only a few known cases of Jewish Israelis who have done so, mostly ones who have married Palestinians, as well as a journalist for the Israeli daily Haaretz who moved to Ramallah and reports from there. None are known to have renounced Israeli citizenship _ though some Israelis living abroad have. Nor are any known to have sought Palestinian residency instead. People are not allowed to be dual citizens.Reached at his Israeli home, Pshenichnikov’s mother Svetlana said she was troubled by her son’s plans.“I’m his mother and I am trying to support him like a mother should,” she said. “But I don’t support his war.”The family immigrated to Israel when Pshenichnikov was 13. Israel grants automatic citizenship to anyone who is Jewish. He later completed his three years of mandatory military service, enlisting as a computer programmer in the army’s signals corps, and even served an additional year and a half as a career soldier.But sometime during his military service, he began to question Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians. Since then, he has completely rejected his adopted country. After his service ended, he moved to the refugee camp in April and worked as a waiter in a Bethlehem hotel and as a construction worker in Deheishe. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home “He wasn’t supposed to come illegally. If people knew his true identity, there’s no guarantee for his safety. He should have informed the Palestinian side with an official request and his request would be considered,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Tareq Abu Sheikha, who rented Pshenichnikov a room for a month, said he was “suspicious and not honest.”Abu Sheikha said Pshenichnikov presented himself as a Russian foreign activist and was even seen throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during demonstrations. But he was also heard speaking in Hebrew on his phone and carried his old military I.D. card with him.“We don’t have a problem with any Israeli coming to be one of us. We’ll be honored and give them an I.D. card, but this young man was suspicious and he lied and that’s why we handed him to the Israelis,” he said.Officially renouncing Israeli citizenship is a lengthy, complicated process. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said that one has to file a request at an Israeli representative office overseas, prove that one has another citizenship and then await a ruling, which is not always granted. She said she wasn’t familiar with Pshenichnikov’s case, but that only few hundred people have their citizenship revoked each year.The Israeli military declined to comment on Pshenichnikov.Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the governor of Bethlehem, said that in principle there should be no problem granting Pshenichnikov Palestinian citizenship, but that it would have to go through the proper legal channels. 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UK police close Climategate investigation

first_imgThe force added that the breach _ which led to the publication of several thousand emails when both leaks are taken into account _ was the result of an attack by a malicious hacker, not the actions of a whistleblower as some had speculated.“We can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the (Climatic Research Unit’s) data files, carried out remotely via the Internet,” the statement said. “There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”The University of East Anglia said it was disappointed that no one had been caught but expressed gratitude for police’s help.“Clearly, the perpetrators were highly sophisticated and covered their tracks extremely carefully,” university Vice-Chancellor Edward Acton said. “The misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen emails _ including the theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee _ did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change.”He said he hoped Wednesday’s announcement would “draw a line under the stressful events of the last two and half years.” Several overlapping inquiries have since vindicated the researchers’ science _ if not their attitude _ but the furor over Climategate dominated debate in the run-up to the crucial 2009 U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. Those talks ended in failure, and world leaders are still struggling to agree a plan to impose caps on the emission of greenhouse gasses blamed for rising temperatures and melting ice caps. A second leak, published to the Internet in 2011, came a week before similar climate talks in Durban, South Africa.The local British police force investigating the breach said Wednesday that its officers had been caught out by the complexity of the attack and the three-year-long statute of limitations on Britain’s Computer Misuse Act.Det. Chief Supt. Julian Gregory of the Norfolk Constabulary said in a statement that his officers “do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.”Gregory’s force, which has come under criticism from some quarters for its failure to find the culprits, said that it had sought help from counter-terrorism and cybercrime investigators at Scotland Yard, Britain’s domestic extremism task force, as well as outside Internet security consultants. It noted that the perpetrator or perpetrators had masked their activity using “methods common in unlawful internet activity,” but didn’t go into any further detail. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates ___Online:Norfolk Constabulary: http://www.norfolk.police.ukUniversity of East Anglia: http://www.uea.ac.uk___Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://raphae.li/twitter Quick workouts for men New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments   Share   Associated PressLONDON (AP) – British police have closed their three-year investigation into the theft of hundreds of climate science emails published to the Web, saying Wednesday there was no hope of finding any suspects behind the breach.The theft, dubbed “Climategate” by some, caught researchers at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit discussing ways to dodge right-to-know requests, keep opponents’ research out of peer-reviewed journals, and destroy data. The unguarded and occasionally unprofessional messages dented the reputation of several researchers and provided ammunition to skeptics of mainstream climate science, many of whom seized on the documents to claim that the threat of global warming was being hyped. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

Lawyer meets with jailed US businessman in Dubai

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Parents, stop beating yourself up DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – An attorney for a jailed American businessman fighting fiscal corruption charges in Dubai says they held their first extensive meetings since the former executive was returned from Yemen after trying to flee.Zack Shahin’s case has opened a rare public spat between Washington and the United Arab Emirates, a close ally. The State Department had backed Shahin’s calls for a trial after spending nearly four years in prison. Shahin posted $1.4 million bail in July. He fled to Yemen, but was returned to Dubai earlier this month.His lawyer James Jaras says he met for several hours Monday with Shahin in a Dubai prison. Jaras says Shahin appeared in good health.Shahin was detained in 2008 as part of probes into alleged embezzlement at Deyaar Development. He has denied wrongdoing.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice 4 must play golf courses in Arizonalast_img read more

Allfemale bloc runs in Palestinian elections

first_img Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The difference between men and women when it comes to pain “Men here traditionally want their women to stay at home, and when they allow them to go out to work, they send them to do traditional jobs like teaching,” said Maysoun Qawasmi, the 43-year-old group leader, who entered the race this week. “But we want them to go further, to work like men in all possible jobs they can.”The group is fielding 11 previously independent candidates for the Oct. 20 vote. Should the bloc succeed in garnering significant public support, the women hope to ultimately unite and form an official political party.But the women are well aware of the challenges they face in conservative Palestinian society, and the chances of an all-woman ticket performing well at the polls _ for now at least _ appear slim.Qawasmi said the candidates are campaigning door-to-door to attract what they see as their natural electorate _ fellow women. If elected, Qawasmi promises to open women-only facilities, like a sports club _ an idea that has faced opposition by religiously conservative Muslims in Hebron who believe it is immodest for women to play sports.She predicts her group could nab three out of the Hebron council’s 15 seats, and she has ambitious hopes that after the vote, when the council chooses the mayor, she will be selected for the post. Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressHEBRON, West Bank (AP) – A new group running for municipal elections in Hebron is offering residents an alternative to politics as usual in the conservative West Bank city: Women at the helm, instead of men.The all-female list, which is called “By Participating, We Can,” is gearing up for next month’s vote with a campaign that aims both to win at the polls and to convince voters that women can lead just as well as men. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches These elections are the first in the city of 200,000 since 1976. Local polls held elsewhere in 2005 were cancelled in Hebron, and current mayor Zoher Esaili was installed by Fatah in a bid to prevent its rival Hamas, an Islamist group which has broad support in the city, from winning the post.Hamas and Fatah had a violent falling out in 2007, and now separately govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively.Qawasmi’s group is up against a Fatah list and independents. Hamas is likely to sit out the vote pending reconciliation with Fatah, which could slightly increase Qawasmi’s chances.Highlighting the challenge the party faces before the vote, even female Hebron residents were skeptical of the all-woman group.“It’s a daring step. I’m proud of them, but to be practical I will vote for another party headed by a man,” said Rawya Sarsour, a first-year university student.Construction worker Ali Nathshe was blunt about his opposition: “They will fail.”Even if the group doesn’t make it into the council, Qawasmi believes her campaign will still emerge victorious by showing that women can indeed lead just as well as men.“We will open the door for women in Hebron to struggle for their rights,” Qawasmi said. Sponsored Stories A journalist for the Palestinian news agency Wafa, Qawasmi also holds training sessions to empower Palestinian women in the West Bank. She wears a hijab, or headscarf, but also dons pants and a blouse, and describes herself as secular.At a recent meeting at Qawasmi’s Hebron home, the group’s members took turns sharing their personal stories of success. Liyana Abu Asheh, 28, said she worked as a civil engineer, stunning locals by helping pave the streets, and now runs her own private business. Asma Deis, 38 and recently widowed, said she’s opening a small cleaning materials factory on her own to support her five children.“Women can make the impossible possible,” Deis said.While Qawasmi’s bloc is unique in its composition, women have long been politically active in Palestinian politics, and some hold office in the government run by the Palestinian Authority. There are six female ministers in the 24-member Cabinet of Western-backed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In the 132-member Palestinian legislative council, there are 17 female lawmakers.But other indicators show that women in Palestinian society have largely retained traditional roles. Only 16 percent of women in the West Bank are employed, and in Hebron the number drops to 10 percent. If the women’s bloc were to win seats, it would likely challenge taboos in Hebron and beyond. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Report Turkish man tries to set himself alight

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day On Monday, an unemployed man was detained for firing three blank shots at a visitors’ entrance to the building and officials said he was trying to draw attention to his “personal problems.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey’s state-run news agency says a man has been hospitalized after trying to set himself alight near Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office, in the second incident near the building this week.The Anadolu Agency says the man on Wednesday doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire but police guards and passers-by quickly extinguished it.It saysthe 39-year-old suffered burns to his hands and face and was taken to a hospital for treatment. There was no immediate information on his motive. Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

US home prices rose at steady pace in March from year ago

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Higher prices have not yet convinced enough owners to list their homes for sale, which could limit purchases during the spring selling season. Would-be buyers have fewer homes to choose from, which has sparked bidding wars in many cities. The median home sold in just 39 days in April, according to the National Association of Realtors, compared with 52 in March.At the current pace of sales, the supply of homes would last just 5.3 months, below the six months that is typical in a balanced market. The number of homes for sale fell 0.9 percent in April from a year earlier, the Realtors’ group said last week.Sales of existing homes have improved in recent months after a sluggish 2014. Yet they dropped 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in April, the Realtors said.Home prices have risen for 34 straight months, according to the Case-Shiller 20-city index, after plummeting during the housing crash and recession. They are still about 15 percent below the peak reached during the housing bubble.David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee, said prices are rising at a faster pace than their long-term trend. They also rose more quickly in the past 12 months than average hourly wages, which were up just 2.2 percent. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose at a steady pace in March, pushed higher by a limited supply of houses for sale.The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5 percent in March from 12 months earlier, the S&P said Tuesday. Prices increased at the same pace in February.Home values are rising at a faster rate than incomes, potentially pricing many would-be buyers out of the market. Yet current increases have moderated from the double-digit gains of late 2013 and early last year. How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober That is “narrowing the pool of future home-buyers,” Blitzer said. Yet those trends may slow price gains in the coming months, he added.“I would describe this as a rebound in home prices, not a bubble and not a reason to be fearful,” Blitzer said.The biggest increases were in San Francisco and Denver, where prices rose 10.3 percent and 10 percent from a year ago, respectively. All 20 cities recorded price gains from the previous year. Cleveland and Washington, D.C. saw the smallest gains, with prices up 1 percent in both cities.Prices jumped 0.9 percent in March from February, up from a 0.5 percent increase in the previous month. That likely reflects strong sales in March. The monthly changes aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors, such as the increase in sales that typically occurs in the spring.The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The March figures are the latest available.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Inside Islamic State groups rule Creating a nation of fear

first_imgAdnan decided it was time for him to go. He paid a smuggler to drive him along dirt roads about 25 kilometers to the Tal Abyad border crossing, which at the time was in IS hands and was shut from the Turkish side, then paid another smuggler to get him into Turkey. “It was an adventure,” he said, smiling.Escape was much more harrowing for Ali, a 63-year-old appliance store owner from the Iraqi town of al-Zaab, near Mosul, who asked that his full name not be used to protect relatives still under IS rule. He told AP that when he decided to flee, he managed to convince local authorities he was only going on a three-day work trip. They gave him a permission slip without a guarantee of property, so he set out in his car with his wife, son and daughter-in-law.Between them and freedom were three different checkpoints. At the first, fighters wrote down the model and license number of his car. At the second, they searched his car, then ordered him to return to the first checkpoint. There, the fighters told him his car registration was improper and he had no property guarantee.“Your fate will be execution,” he said they told him.But in a show of how capricious life can be under the Islamic State, a commander at the checkpoint made a phone call and got approval to let Ali and his family pass. “God give him long life,” Ali said of the commander. He said he’d rather have been killed right there at the checkpoint than be forced to drive back into IS-held al-Zaab. ESKI MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Inside the Islamic State’s realm, the paper testifying that you have “repented” from your heretical past must be carried at all times. Many people laminate it just to be safe. It can mean the difference between life and death.Bilal Abdullah learned that not long after the extremists took over his Iraqi village, Eski Mosul, a year ago. As he walked down the street, an Islamic State fighter in a pickup truck asked directions to a local mosque. When Abdullah didn’t recognize the mosque’s name, the fighter became suspicious. The reign of terror he had fled had gotten only worse, he said.Each time the Islamic State group overruns a community, the pattern has been roughly similar, AP found — as methodical as it is bloody.First comes an initial wave of killings of police and troops. Then the fighters often seek to garner support by quickly repairing electricity and water lines. They call on bureaucrats to return to work. Government employees and any former troops or policemen sign their “repentance” papers and must hand over their weapons or pay fines sometimes amounting to several thousand dollars.In loudspeaker announcements, mosque sermons and leaflets, new regulations are laid out: No smoking, no alcohol, and no women working except as nurses or in women’s clothing shops, where even mannequins in store windows are covered. Residents said they were required to build walls outside their homes so women would never be seen.In each district, an “emir” — often a local militant — is appointed to govern. Schools close, then reopen with IS-written curricula. Taxes are imposed on businesses. Pharmacies are given Shariah courses and banned from selling contraceptives. In most locations, tribes or families declare loyalty to the group and gain positions or perks, several interviewees told AP. “We gave up 2,200 martyrs in Kobani, and you go and steal?” Adnan said he heard the interrogator shouting at the two detained militants.Adnan met Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Musallam, whom IS accused of being a spy for Israel. Musallam told Adnan his captors were repeatedly filming him in his own execution video. Each time, he said, they would video a child shooting him in the head — but each time the gun would be empty.“Then one day, they executed him for real,” Adnan said.In March, the Islamic State group released a video showing Musallam’s death. Kneeling in a field, he is shot in the head by a young boy wearing military camouflage.Adnan said he believes that is why many victims in the execution videos appear so calm. “They repeat the thing with them like 20 times. So when the real one comes, the prisoner will think it’s just another mock execution,” he said.___SURVIVING THE CALIPHATE — OR NOTIn Eski Mosul, a village on a bend in Iraq’s Tigris River, Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim lives in one of the larger houses, behind high walls with a garden. He looked exhausted as he showed AP journalists one IS vestige he’s keeping: the death certificate for his wife, the group’s black logo on top. The picture they paint suggests the Islamic State’s territory, now an area roughly the size of Switzerland, has evolved into an entrenched pseudo-state, one based on a bureaucracy of terror.___THE TAKEOVERIn January 2014, when the Islamic State group took over the Syrian city of Raqqa, Adnan fled, fearing his work as a political activist would make him a target. But after a few months of missing his family, he returned to see whether he could endure life under the extremists.Adnan found Raqqa transformed from a once-colorful cosmopolitan city into the Islamic State’s de facto capital. Women covered head to toe in black scurried quickly to markets before rushing home, young men avoided the cafes they once frequented. IS fighters turned the city soccer stadium into a prison and interrogation center, known as “Point 11.” One of the city’s central plazas was now referred to by residents as “Jaheem” Square — Hell Square.He soon learned why. He heard celebratory gunshots one day and saw the bodies of three men dangling from poles in Hell Square. The corpses were left there for three days, he told AP as he chain-smoked in a cafe in Gaziantep, a town on the Turkish border filled with Syrians living in exile. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Soon after came another gruesome moment. One of the top Islamic State judges in the area, a local man known by the pseudonym Abu Ali al-Sharei, dropped by in early February to teach another lesson in Islamic law to the prisoners. He made small talk with a roomful of them. Then he grinned and said, “Listen, I haven’t told you yet, but today we made al-Kaseasbeh crispy.”He took a flash drive out of his pocket, Adnan said, and, to the prisoners’ horror, played them footage of captured Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive in a cage by his IS captors.Adnan’s account is just one example of how IS uses the execution videos that it broadcasts to the world online to also intimidate people under its rule.In Raqqa’s prison, Adnan’s job of distributing food to other inmates gave him a broad view of operations.He saw two Kurdish prisoners and overheard wardens saying the pair would likely be used in Kurdish-language propaganda videos before being released. Adnan said he also saw several foreign Islamic State fighters being held — three Turks, an Uzbek, a Russian and a Yemeni — apparently on suspicion of spying. Two other IS fighters were brought in for stealing booty looted from the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani rather than sharing it with other fighters. Kobani was the scene of the biggest defeat of IS in Syria, when Kurdish forces backed by U.S. airstrikes drove off the militants after months of heavy fighting. It’s all he has left of her.IS swept into the village of some 3,000 families in June last year, established its reign over a grim seven-month period, then fled in January when Kurdish fighters ran them out. IS forces remain dug in only a few miles away, so close that smoke can be seen from fighting on the front lines.Ibrahim’s wife, Buthaina, had been an outspoken human rights advocate and had run for the provincial council in Mosul. So when IS took over, fighters demanded she apply for a repentance card. “She said she’d never stoop so low,” her husband said.He knew the danger. He had seen the bodies of a dozen policemen in the street, shot in the head. He’d seen others thrown off buildings. He had heard talk of the dreaded “Khasfa,” a deep natural sinkhole in the desert south of Mosul where the extremists boast of throwing bodies — or sometimes living victims.Ibrahim sent his wife away to safety for a few days, but she soon returned, missing their three daughters and two sons, he said. Her youngest was 2.A few nights later, in early October, the militants came for her, he said.Ibrahim and his wife were asleep, but their daughters were watching TV. “Wake up, dad, Daesh is in the front yard,” they called out, using the group’s Arabic acronym. Ibrahim saw the house was surrounded. They demanded to see Buthaina. Ibrahim tried to protect her, he said, but she came out and confronted the IS extremists, demanding an explanation. An argument ensued, and one militant handcuffed the sheikh and knocked him across the head with a pistol. The men pushed Buthaina into their car, and took Ibrahim’s as well.A member of the powerful al-Jabour tribe, Ibrahim hoped his connections — and money — could win Buthaina’s freedom.He and fellow tribesmen went to the nearby town of Tal Afar, an IS stronghold from which many of the fighters who took Eski Mosul had come. There, he said, he met in a mosque with Abu Alaa al-Afari, a local IS commander who some Iraqi officials now believe has risen to become the No. 2 figure in the “caliphate.”Ibrahim begged for his wife’s release, pointing out that she was still breastfeeding their youngest son, Akram.“It doesn’t matter. Your children will become orphans,” al-Afari replied, according to Ibrahim.Another Eski Mosul resident, 31-year-old Fadi Mohammed, wishes that all he had gotten from IS was his brother’s death certificate.He and his brother, Mohammed Mohammed, were both former policemen who had given up their weapons and signed repentance papers. But his brother was arrested after informants claimed he was part of an elite intelligence unit. Mohammed Mohammed was sent to Mosul. In January, 13 days before the Kurds took back Eski Mosul, Mohammed said IS militants “brought us discs that showed his beheading.” Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim’s wife, Buthaina, never reappeared after being taken by the militants.Shortly after her husband appealed for her release, he received the death certificate. A simple sheet of paper from an “Islamic court” with a judge’s signature, it said only that Buthaina’s death was verified, nothing more.It is a horrifying document, but he’s keeping it, he said, “because it has her name on it.”___ESCAPING THE CALIPHATEEscape is not easy. Residents are banned from leaving their cities without first applying for permission, filling out a long form with all their personal details and setting property as a guarantee that IS will seize if they don’t return. Women must apply to the Hisba to travel and are often refused permission, out of concern that they will not follow IS dress codes once they are out.When Adnan’s aunt needed cancer treatment, she applied to leave IS territory to get care. The IS refused but sent her to Mosul, paying for transport and some of the medical costs, though not her chemotherapy.In March, after Adnan had spent 55 days in prison, a top IS leader in Raqqa freed about 40 inmates — including the young Syrian activist. Now, he said, “I want to blow myself up among Daesh. Even that won’t satisfy me. If I chop them up, drink their blood and eat their hearts, it won’t take away my pain.”Laying low was often key to survival in the “caliphate,” several of those interviewed said. Best to stay home as much as possible, avoiding checkpoints of IS fighters and the “Hisba” committees, the dreaded enforcers of IS’ innumerable regulations.Armed members of the Hisba patrol the streets, cruising in SUVs with blackened windows and wearing Afghan-style baggy pants, long shirts and face masks, looking for behavior deemed unacceptable.Punishments for smoking, for wearing Western clothes or for playing the wrong radio station can vary from a fine to imprisonment for a few hours or days — often depending on the Hisba’s mood. For more serious or repeat offenses, the fighters might bind the perpetrator to a pole in a town square for several days with his crime written on a sign around his neck.Women try not to go out at all, most of those interviewed by AP said. If they do go to market, they sometimes avoid taking their husbands, sons or brothers with them: If they’re harassed by the Hisba, their male relative might defend them and bring the Hisba’s wrath. Sponsored Stories It’s not an unreasonable fear. Abu Zein, a 31-year-old who recently fled the eastern Syrian town of Muhassan, recounted how a Hisba member one day berated a woman for being improperly covered as she swept her porch. Her brother came out and argued, the fight escalated, the militant shot the brother, and the brother’s relatives promptly killed the militant. Soon after, a larger contingent of Islamic State fighters descended on the house and killed eight members of the family, Abu Zein said.Abu Zein said he was detained multiple times for various minor offenses, including visiting his uncle’s grave.During Islamic holidays late last year, he said, militants announced in mosques that it was forbidden to visit the graves of relatives, a holiday tradition that IS sees as encouraging polytheism. Abu Zein’s uncle had died of cancer the year before, so he, his cousin and another relative decided to defy the ban.As they approached the graveyard, IS fighters opened fire over their heads, shouting “Grave worshippers!” and “This is forbidden!” Abu Zein said he and his friends tried to reason with them. “You cannot stop me from visiting my father,” cried Abu Zein’s 20-year-old cousin — prompting one militant to slap him across the face. The three were arrested and detained for several hours before being released with a warning. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober There is no safe way out. People vanish– their disappearance explained by a video of their beheading, an uninformative death certificate, or nothing at all.“People hate them, but they’ve despaired, and they don’t see anyone supporting them if they rise up,” said a 28-year-old Syrian who asked to be identified only by the nickname he uses in political activism, Adnan, in order to protect his family still living under IS rule. “People feel that nobody is with them.”The AP interviewed more than 20 Iraqis and Syrians who survived life under the group’s rule. One AP team travelled to several towns in northern Iraq, including Eski Mosul, north of Mosul, where residents are just emerging from nearly seven months under IS rule. Another AP team travelled to Turkish cities along the border, where Syrians who have fled IS territory have taken refuge.What follows is based on their accounts, many of which were verified by multiple people, as well as on IS social media and broadcast operations and documents obtained by the AP, including copies of repentance cards, weapons inventories, leaflets detailing rules of women’s dress and permission forms to travel outside IS territory — all emblazoned with the IS black banner and logo, “Caliphate in the path of the prophet.” Adnan stayed in Raqqa for almost a year, watching the extremists pervade nearly every aspect of life. IS authorities came to his family’s car parts store and demanded taxes — the equivalent of $5,000. The group was clearly flush with money from taxing businesses, confiscating lands from those who fled and sales from oil fields captured further east in Syria, Adnan said.The group encourages commerce across the “caliphate,” he said — for example, cement supplies and vegetables moved from Turkey, through Raqqa to Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest cityThen Adnan’s one-time activism in support of Syrian rebels caught up with him. In January, a patrol raided his family home, confiscated his laptop and arrested him for publishing online articles they said encouraged secularism. “Such a pretty house,” a patrol member said before smashing two glass water pipes. “This pollutes the environment,” he told Adnan.For the next 55 days, Adnan was held in Point 11, the soccer stadium.He was interrogated three times in the initial days, beaten with a green plastic pipe. Then he was moved out of isolation into wards with other prisoners. In Eski Mosul, delivery from IS came to residents at the hands of Kurdish fighters. Amid the joy over liberation — and perhaps worry over being accused of being IS loyalties — many residents promptly discarded documents from the Islamic State.Not Salim Ahmed. For nearly seven months, the 23-year-old former soldier had clung to his repentance card, always having it ready at checkpoints. He hated the card. He had refused to laminate it, unwilling to give it a sense of permanence.Now IS is gone, but the fear instilled in him is not. He still carries his card.“We live very close to their front line,” he said. “One day, they might come back and ask me for my repentance card again.”___Salama and Janssen reported from Eski Mosul, Karam from Gaziantep, Turkey, and Keath from Cairo. AP journalists Mohammed Rasool and Hussein Malla in Beirut and Salar Salim in Irbil, Iraq, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “He told me my faith is weak and asked, ‘Do you pray?’” Abdullah recalled. Then the fighter asked to see his “repentance card.” Abdullah had been a policeman until the IS takeover, and policemen and soldiers are required to have one. So are many other former government loyalists or employees — even former English teachers, since they once taught a “forbidden” language and tailors of women’s clothes because they once designed styles deemed un-Islamic.Abdullah had left his card at home. Terrified, he sent his son running to get it.“They are brutal people,” he told The Associated Press. “They can consider you an infidel for the simplest thing.”The Islamic State’s “caliphate,” declared a year ago, stretches across northern Syria through much of northern and western Iraq. Untold numbers have been killed because they were deemed dangerous to the IS, or insufficiently pious; 5-8 million endure a regime that has swiftly turned their world upside down, extending its control into every corner of life to enforce its own radical interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah.The Islamic State’s domain is a place where men douse themselves with cologne to hide the odor of forbidden cigarettes; where taxi drivers or motorists usually play the IS radio station, since music can get a driver 10 lashes; where women must be entirely covered, in black, and in flat-soled shoes; where people are thrown to their deaths off buildings on suspicion of homosexuality; where shops must close during Muslim prayers, and everyone found outdoors must attend. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Four benefits of having a wireless security system Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Philippine officials say China islandbuilding in full swing

first_imgHowever, a U.S. Navy plane flying near one of the artificial islands last month was told to leave the area by the Chinese military. In a separate incident several weeks ago, a Philippine air force plane was also ordered by the Chinese navy to leave the area. The incidents raised fears that China was preparing to enforce an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea, similar to one it declared over disputed Japanese-held islands in the East China Sea in 2013.The U.S. argues that China can’t use artificially constructed islands to expand its sovereignty. U.S. officials have said they were considering stepping up patrols to ensure free navigation in the contested region and have defied Beijing’s warning for Washington to stay out of the Asian disputes.“We are committed to operate safely in international waters as we believe every nation has the right to do and we look forward to operating throughout Southeast Asia,” U.S. Navy Capt. Fred Kacher, who helped oversee annual exercises between U.S. and Philippine navies that ended Friday on western Palawan island, told AP.The coastal combat ship USS Fort Worth and a P-3 Orion surveillance plane joined the gunnery and missile defense drills with Filipino counterparts in the Sulu Sea east of Palawan this week after completing patrols in the South China Sea, according to U.S. military officials. Comments   Share   Two senior Philippine military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to the media, said that aside from Subi Reef, China’s island-building has also continued on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, based on recent military surveillance.Chinese Embassy officials in Manila did not immediately comment.The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on June 16 that the land reclamation projects on some islands and reefs “will be completed in upcoming days.” However, in a sign that the developments were far from over, the ministry also said on its website that China would follow up by building infrastructure for maritime search and rescue, environmental conservation and scientific research.Asked when the island-building would be completed, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Col. Yang Yujun gave a vague reply to reporters Thursday, saying it “depends on the progress made on the ground.”Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said island construction projects “do not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea.” The convergence of a growing number of military vessels from different countries has led to fears of accidental clashes and miscalculations. But a code of unplanned encounters at sea that the U.S. and China observe has helped prevent misunderstandings.“Not a day goes by … we don’t have an encounter at sea,” Kacher said, but he added that “those engagements are professional.”Still, the new strategically located islands would give China more security leeway in the disputed waters and make it difficult for U.S. forces to assert sea control, Carl Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy said.“China has excised the maritime heart out of Southeast Asia,” Thayer said. “This is the new normal.”___Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines (AP) — China is pressing ahead with the construction of artificial islands on at least two reefs that are also claimed by the Philippines in an increasingly tense territorial dispute, Filipino officials said, despite Beijing’s pronouncement that some work would end soon.Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan islands, which are under Philippine control, said Friday he saw Chinese construction in full swing with many dredgers and huge cranes visible when he flew last week near Subi Reef. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home It’s one of at least seven reefs and atolls in the South China Sea where the U.S. and the Philippines have expressed concern that China’s island-building could be used to base military planes and navy ships to intimidate other claimants, reinforce China’s claim over virtually the entire area and threaten freedom of navigation in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.“It’s full-blast construction. It’s massive and incredible,” Bito-onon told The Associated Press, adding that it was evident it would take months before the Chinese complete the work.In the mid portion of the emerging man-made island, a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) -long landfill is taking the shape of a runway, he said.His comments followed similar findings by the U.S. military and independent defense analysts.U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said China’s large-scale land reclamation projects threaten peace and stability, and called on Beijing and other claimants to freeze such activities and resolve their difference in accordance with international law.“In both eastern Ukraine and the South China Sea, we’re witnessing efforts to unilaterally and coercively change the status quo — transgressions that the United States and our allies and partners stand united against,” Blinken said in remarks Friday at Center for a New American Security in Washington. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Top Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

IntrepidAPT to develop safari camp in WA

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F Intrepid Connections, a joint venture between APT and Intrepid Travel, will develop a new commercial safari camp in the foothills of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park in the Kimberley.Catering for up to 20 visitors, the new sustainable nature based tourism site will be created with the help of the WA state government. The safari camp will be the first facility to be produced under the WA government’s Naturebank program, which aims to develop low impact, nature-based tourism options. “We look forward to working with Intrepid Connections in this public-private partnership to create a best practice tourism facility at this significant location,” Environment Minister Donna Faragher said.“Purnululu National Park is renowned for its distinct cultural, geological and ecological features and was voted Western Australia’s top destination by the Royal Automotive Club WA (RAC). “The Bungle Bungle massif is a fascinating landmark which attracts more than 26,000 visitors a year.  Purnululu is truly one of WA’s famous attractions – internationally recognised on the World Heritage List.“The development of a new safari camp at the Kurrajong site in the park will provide alternative accommodation to camping, offering a comfortable base for visitors to stay several days to enjoy the park and its wonderful scenery.” “Naturebank boosts WA tourism and also provides opportunities for indigenous investment, employment and capacity building while offering eco-friendly, sustainable accommodation and nature-based tourism experiences,” Said Tourism Minister Liz Constable.“Through Naturebank, DEC and Tourism WA will continue to identify potential visitor accommodation sites and undertake due diligence to prepare these sites for release.” “The camps will be operated sustainably under long-term performance-based leases and licences that have measureable key performance indicators to ensure environmentally appropriate safeguards are in place,” Mrs Faragher added.last_img read more

AK Sanctuary Olonana in the Masai wins Eco Warrior Environmental

first_imgThe Eco Warrior Awards were announced this week – and we are delighted that Sanctuary Olonana, one of bercrombie & Kent’s exclusive tented camps in the Masai Mara, was one of the winners. Launched by Ecotourism Kenya in 2005, these prestigious awards honour innovation within the Kenyan tourism industry with the aim of encouraging sustainable tourism that respects the environment, empowers local communities and promotes good business practice.The Eco Warrior Awards recognise companies or individuals for their achievements in four main areas: outstanding innovation, key achievements, sustainability and replicability.The six winners all demonstrated innovation in one or more of these areas, with Sanctuary Olonana commended for its sustainable practices including: • Designing an innovative wetland system that cleans wastewater before returning it to the natural environment. • Establishing a special tree-planting project to help prevent the deforestation in the Masai Mara and in the process engage the participation of the local community.• Building a crafts shop at Sanctuary Olonana where Maasai women from the neighbouring village can exclusively display and sell their wares to guests staying at the camp.• Creating a partnership with the Maasai village so that guests can visit the village to learn about local culture. At the end of every month Sanctuary Olonana makes a contribution to the village on behalf of every client who visited the village, providing a source of income for the whole community.The team of judges all agreed, “Sanctuary Olonana shared their vision on how the Mara or any area in Kenya can become sustainable in terms of energy production and use. In addition, they provided a clear example of innovation in waste management and how this can be replicated. Sanctuary Olonana have established an indigenous tree planting project that guests can participate in which they hope will be replicated in the Mara to help curb deforestation.”Like all Sanctuary properties, Sanctuary Olonana operates around the ethos of “luxury,naturally”. The first of Sanctuary Retreats’ African properties, this is an exclusive and sustainable camp built along the Mara River at the foot of the Siria Escarpment. The 14 spacious canvas tents all have floor to ceiling mosquito nets, en-suite bathrooms with hot showers, flush lavatories, solar lighting and large river view verandas. There is an organic garden where much of the food served in camp is grown.Sanctuary Olonana is the proud recipient of many other environmental awards including a silver award from Ecotourism Kenya and a conservation award from the East African Wildlife Society.Guests travelling on A&K’s 10 day ‘Kenya: Wildlife and Warriors’ journey spend three nights at Sanctuary Olonana. Source = Sanctuary Olonanalast_img read more

Skyscanner to power MSN Travel Search

first_imgGlobal travel search engine, Skyscanner, is powering flight search for MSN Travel in 31 markets, including Australia, New Zealand, U.S., United Kingdom, India, Singapore, France, Hong Kong and Mexico.Through the Skyscanner White Label product, the partnership with Microsoft will ensure that those searching for flights on MSN will benefit from Skyscanner’s global content, giving them the ability to search for their best itinerary options and book flights in 17 languages via a MSN branded product, powered by Skyscanner.“Skyscanner for Business aims to power the travel Internet,” said Hugh Aitken, Director of Business Development, Skyscanner.“Our new partnership with Microsoft is another example of how Skyscanner is helping partners expand their flight product globally, by providing an exhaustive amount of international flight options to their users.“We look forward to working with Microsoft to deliver a global product that provides their users with the best information, delivered through an easy to use solution.”Skyscanner powers 300 partners through its Skyscanner for Business suite of products, including the White Label and API tools, which gives partners access to flight, hotel and car rental searches.The Skyscanner for Business White Label product allowed MSN to customize its flight search with the complete MSN branding that users are familiar with, while benefitting from backend fulfillment from Skyscanner’s flight product.The Skyscanner White Label allows for full language translation, including its newest language addition of Arabic.Skyscanner to power MSN Travel SearchSource = Skyscanner Businesslast_img read more

Vivid Sydneys glow takes over the city

first_imgSource = Destination NSW Vivid Sydney 2016 Opera House Songlines Artist Donny Woolagoodja Destination NSWVivid Sydney’s glow takes over the citySydney, Australia was awash with colour over the weekend as more than 90 light installations lit up the city for the annual Vivid Sydney festival, projecting colourful art on the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and throughout the city. Vivid Sydney officially opened on 27 May and runs for 23 nights until 18 June 2016.Vivid Sydney is the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. More than 150 artists from 23 countries have created the light installations and projections that appear in more than eight Vivid Sydney precincts spread across Sydney. Vivid Sydney also features 195 Vivid Music events and more than 500 speakers appearing at Vivid Idea talks and forums.On Friday night, the New South Wales Government’s Premier Mike Baird said, “Tonight thousands of people have visited Sydney to witness the amazing Vivid ‘lights-on’ moment. For the next 23 nights, Sydney’s most iconic landmarks will be lit up in a symphony of colour and movement, attracting visitors from across the world. Vivid is a creative festival for a global audience and its popularity is evident in the 1.7 million visitors who attended last year’s festival.”This year Vivid Sydney will celebrate Australian Indigenous culture with the Songlines projection appearing on the Sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House. The spectacular animation showcases the work of six renowned Indigenous artists: Karla Dickens, Djon Mundine OAM, Reko Rennie, Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi, Donny Woolagoodja and the late Gulumbu Yunipingu.Co-curated by Destination NSW and the Sydney Opera House, Songlines speaks directly to the spirituality and culture of Australia’s First Peoples, depicting the interconnected sharing systems and the trade routes that weave through time and distance, earth and sky.With other major 3D projections appearing on the façade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and Customs House, Vivid Sydney showcases Sydney as a hub for the creative industries, with world-first technologies and design used to create the stunning spectacle of light.Darling Harbour’s Laser-Dragon Water-Theatre features a world-first water-screen mounted on a 13m robotic arm floating high above fifty-six fountains. Laser-Dragon Water-Theatre show includes four video projected water-screens on which dancers will be projected moving to a music score created by The Presets.Visitors will be astonished by forty 20m-high vertical fountains, sixteen 25m-high moving fountains, twenty 15m-high flame jets and ten powerful lasers. In another world first at Darling Harbour, visitors will be able to scan and project their own face onto the water screen, through the use of Intel RealSense™ technology.World-famous Sydney Harbour will be showcased to the world with the Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminated by 1,640 lighting fixtures tubes, containing 72,000 individual LEDs, and 6,700 individuals LEDS in 140 Cans as part of the Dress Circle installation which allows visitors to literally control the colour of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney Harbour Ferries will also be illuminated with up to 1,480m of LED tape to light up their journey across the Harbour.Destination NSW CEO and Executive Producer of Vivid Sydney Sandra Chipchase said “Vivid Sydney has again delivered remarkable technical and artistic world-firsts as part of Vivid Light. Our biggest ever Vivid Sydney program will deliver an impressive line-up of music acts from punk rockers to global superstars, up-and-coming homegrown talent, cabaret legends and more.“This matched by a diverse program of social trend disrupters, including Jenji Kohan, Spike Jonze, Beau Willimon and Margaret Zhang, who appear as part of Vivid Ideas talks and forum series. Vivid Sydney 2016 is truly a celebration of innovation and creativity.”To help visitors make the most of the biggest Vivid Sydney yet, Destination NSW offers some suggestions of the many festival highlights.Light1. Stomp your way around a pre-historic, Bio-kinetic city at Chatswood where you will find an amazing collection of installations and activities inspired by the animals of Gondwana.2. Profess your love for your significant other, or hot date at I LOVE YOU, a giant illuminated heart-shaped ‘love-o-meter’ that glows brighter the louder people say ‘I love you’ into the microphone.3. Stroll through the Garden of Light at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and visit SentimentCocoon an interactive installation that visitors can touch that will expresses human emotion through light.4. Be The Light For The Wild at Vivid Sydney’s wildest precinct, Taronga Zoo where visitors can make the interactive chameleon lantern change colour and watch the giant platypus lantern swim.5. Take some time out along the Vivid Light Walk and lie down under the multi-sensory artwork Osmose where shards of light will wash over you.Music1. Catch a gig at Vivid LIVE with powerful, boundary pushing artists including New Order, Bon Iver, and Anohni all performing exclusive Sydney shows at Sydney Opera House from 27 May.2. Find your 80’s groove at The Enmore Theatre on 29 May as The Models, Machinations and DaveMason from The Reels take to the stage.3. Enjoy a festival-like afternoon of acoustic, electronic, improvised and composed music on 29 May from 3pm at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.4. Jump around to Drapht, ALLDAY and Sydney’s own Spit Syndicate at Come Together festival atSydney’s Luna Park on Saturday June 11.5. Be amazed at Avant-Cabaret where Sydney’s finest, most flamboyant cabaret artists including Jeff Duff, Mikelangelo, and Zsa Zsa La Fine will perform at The Kings Cross Hotel.Ideas1. Get some inspiration and fashion advice from digital game-changer Margaret Zhang at VividIdeas on 28 May.2. Meet the Persuaders at the Museum of Contemporary Art on 31 May. Hear from panelists PhillipAdams, Dee Madigan, Michelle Law, Tim Levinson and Yassmin Abdel-Magied who have used their good ideas to successfully influence others.3. Celebrate all things handmade and meet local crafters, collectors, artisans and designers from etsy.com at the Etsy Sydney Made Market on 4 June.4. Don’t miss the hugely popular Robowars showdown on 5 June. Robots big and small, built by hand from metal, power tools and remote-controlled toy parts will fight against each other in the ultimate test of man and machine.5. Catch a film at the 63rd Sydney Film Festival from 8 June. Each year the festival brings the best new films from around the world to audiences with over 300 screenings.Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the State Government’s tourism and major events agency. In 2015 it attracted 1.7 million visitors and delivered more than $63 million in visitor expenditure to the local economy. Vivid Sydneydiscover more herelast_img read more

Queen Mary 2 makes maiden visit to Kangaroo Island

first_imgQueen Mary 2’s maiden visit to Kangaroo Island, as captured by the ship’s chief photographer Mike CromptonQueen Mary 2 makes maiden visit to Kangaroo IslandAs Sydney prepares for the 10th anniversary visit of Queen Mary 2 on Saturday, the iconic liner has already been turning heads around Australia.The newly remastered Cunard flagship anchored off Kangaroo Island at Penneshaw on Monday, with the 345-metre long liner becoming the largest ship ever to visit the South Australian island.During the inaugural call, the ship’s 2700 guests enjoyed a day of sightseeing including tours to Seal Bay Conservation Park, Vivonne Bay, Cape Willoughby, Flinders Chase National Park and the ‘Remarkable Rocks’, as well as the opportunity to taste local produce.The Kangaroo Island call was part of Queen Mary 2’s first short roundtrip cruise from Melbourne and is one of four maiden Australian visits for the liner this year, with visits to Busselton in Western Australia, and Port Arthur and Hobart in Tasmania also on her itinerary.Queen Mary 2 is set to mark ten years since her memorable first visit to Australia in 2007 with a spectacular rendezvous with sister ship Queen Elizabeth in Sydney Harbour on Saturday.Source = Queen Mary 2last_img read more