Last night's protest in Ma'arat Numan in Idlib Province in Syria
1854 GMT: Claimed footage of a demonstration in Houla in Homs Province in Syria today:
And a rally in the Damascus suburb of Barzeh:
1827 GMT: Egypt's Electoral Commission has confirmed the exclusion of 10 Presidential candidates, including Omar Suleiman, Minister of Intelligence and then Vice President in the Mubarak regime; Khairat al-Shater of the Muslim Brotherhood; and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail of the Salafist Nour Party.
Hazem Abu Ismail has announced a sit-in protest in front of the Commission's offices.
Al Bajadi was detained in March 2011 after voicing support for families demonstrating outside the Interior Ministry to demand the release of imprisoned relatives.
Al Bajadi has sent a handwritten letter to fellow activist Mohammad al-Qahtani saying his charges included forming a human rights association, tarnishing Saudi Arabia's reputation in the media, questioning the independence of the judiciary, encouraging political detainees' relatives to demonstrate, and owning illegal books.
1725 GMT: A video, with smoke in the background, of the destruction of the Qarabees section of Homs in Syria:
1545 GMT: Claim of the Day --- This video was originally (we think) shared by a Twitter account claiming to be a Bahraini activist, which wrote that the footage was taken on 9 April. This may be video claiming to show the "petrol bomb" that injured 7 police officers on that night in AlEker village.
After sending this video out, the account also posted this message:
Sheikh Jaber Street operation. Sacred Defense. We Warned you disregard the lives of Abdul Hadi Khawaja you did not respond. And we warned u from hosting Formula One. Was the intransigence of you and risk the lives of people in order for your interest.We are still in the beginning، wait a little.
We need to stress that the content of this video is unverified.
There are so many questions. Right after the incident on 9 April, we noted the irregularities surrounding the report of the incident. An EA contact in Bahrain, digging around for more information:
The bomb - this is really not clear!! I talked with youth from AlEker, and they don't have any idea about it...they said they heard a sound of a small explosion that they thought was a soundbomb but they were surprised by the news that followed! While some others think it can be possible! But I can't be certain. The bomb, the thugs, sectarian conflict...all that remind me of pre-martial law...
Who this account is, and why they would send this video to two bloggers is not clear. Why this video took so long to be released, who took it, who set the bomb and how the cameramen knew the police would be walking in the area.... So many questions.
We treat this entire report with caution, yet it appears that we now have the video of the 9 April attack.
1513 GMT: Multiple EA sources report that Homs, Syria, has been heavily shelled today. NPR's Ahmed al Omran finds two videos, the first from the Qusair district and the second in the Khalidiya district, showing the severity of the situation:
1455 GMT: While many protests have gone off without any violence today, activists are now reporting that there have been some clashes between police and security forces:
1440 GMT: An update on the hunger strike of Bahraini political prisoner Abdulhadi AlKhawaja, from his daughter Maryam:
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja called his wife, informd her tht starting dawn tomorrow he will stop accepting IV + any fluids other than water #bahrain— Maryam Alkhawaja (@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) April 17, 2012
On Sunday, AlKhawaja, who is a Danish citizen, spoke to the Danish ambassador who said that there was still hope for a negotiated release. Since that time, he was taking juice that had nutritional and caloric value. If that activity ceases, this greatly increases the danger to AlKhawaja's health, especially since he is already in poor health.
Meanwhile, the EU has posted a strong condemnation of the continued imprisonment of Abdulhadi AlKhawaja:
The EU expresses its serious and profound concern about the situation of Mr. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike for more than two months. His health is seriously deteriorating and his life is at risk. The EU urges in the strongest possible terms the Bahraini authorities to find a compassionate, pragmatic and humanitarian solution to Mr. Al-Khawaja’s deteriorating health situation as a matter of the utmost urgency.
34 martyrs in Idlib, 8 of them were executed and a number of martyrs were killed yesterday during the bombardment and their bodies were recovered and identified today, 6 martyrs in Daraa, 6 martyrs in Homs and 1 martyr in Damascus.
The deaths in Daraa province appear to be spread across several different towns, as are many of the deaths in Idlib. This means that the high death toll is not due to high-casualty events, but rather a pattern that closely resembles the situation in Syria before Kofi Annan announced the UN peace plan.
1340 GMT: The death toll is rising rapidly in Syria. According to the Local Coordinating Committees, an activist network that reports to use a stringent verification method for reporting deaths, 39 people have already been killed today by regime forces:
In Idlib alone, there were 26 martyrs of which 8 were executed in the field, 6 in Daraa and 6 in Homs and a martyr in Damascus.
1328 GMT: The news is not getting any less weird...
Julian Assange, the founder and editor of Wikileaks who hails himself as a champion of freedom of information and an enemy to state propaganda, has a new TV show - on Russia's RT (Russia Today) network. RT, however, has a reputation of being a mouthpiece for the Russian regime, and has (in the eyes of many at EA, and many in the wider media) a history of falsifying information, especially in regards to the uprisings in the Middle East. This development is surprising news in and of itself, but what's even more shocking was the topic, and guest, of Assange's premier episode:
Hezbollah leader Sayyid Nasrallah, who said that he is willing, and able, to broker a peace between the Syrian opposition and the Assad government.
The entire episode can be found here.
1305 GMT: In Syria, it has been another bloody day as evidence is rapidly mounting that the "ceasefire" has been broken by the Assad military in many areas.
According to the latest tally by the LCCS (an hour ago), 22 people have been killed today: "In Idlib alone, there were 19 martyrs of which 8 were executed in the field, 2 in Daraa and one in Homs."
This number is likely to rise, as the activist network is also reporting military campaigns against many suburbs of Daraa and Idlib, at least one suburb of Damascus, and the heavy shelling of several districts in Homs.
1253 GMT: James Miller takes over today's live coverage from Scott Lucas, and, oh, does he have some weird news to start off his day.
Apparently, there have been false rumors spreading since yesterday that there has been a failed coup in Qatar. According to The Guardian, Syrian, Iranian, and Saudi news sources are responsible for spreading the rumor:
According to Doha News, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV channel posted a story on its website which was later withdrawn. Al-Arabiya journalist Muhamamd Saud Jamal (@msjamal) also posted several tweets about it – though they have now been deleted and he has posted an apology in Arabic saying he received false news from Qatar.
Meanwhile, a Facebook page called "The Qatari Revolution Against Sheikh Hamad [the emir] and Moza [his senior wife]", which is said to be pro-Assad, continues to post claims of demonstrations, arrests and clashes in Qatar, with the US allegedly providing support for the emir.
Qatar, of course, has taken a particularly strong line against the Assad regime.
It doesn't appear that there was actually a coup attempt in Qatar, but we'll certainly track the story.
0805 GMT:Jordan's lower house of Parliament has voted to add an item in the country's draft political parties law forbidding the establishment of any political party on a "religious basis".
The measure would disqualify the Islamic Action Front, the political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the country's largest political party, from taking part in upcoming parliamentary elections.
0555 GMT: In Bahrain, lots of assurances from the regime that this weekend's Formula 1 Grand Prix will be a success despite protests over the political situation.
Zayed Al Zayani, the head of the Bahrain International Circuit, said all would be safe and secure:
We wouldn't take a decision on a gamble. I think it's a calculated decision, we've weighed our options and we are committed to the grand prix and to its success. I don't think anything drastic will happen. It's not Afghanistan, it's not Syria. I don't see why anything should happen this year that hasn't happened in the previous years.
And Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa --- who has a significant personal stake in the Grand Prix's success --- put out the line on the Bahrain News Agency: "The prize is more important than a sporting event and it must not be used for political ends. We must unify our efforts to make sure Bahrain is the big winner of this prize."
But there is public-relations trouble for the regime this morning, as Amnesty International puts out a 58-page report, "Piecemeal reforms have failed to provide justice for victims of human rights violations, despite the government's insistence that it will learn from the events of February and March 2011."
The claim is already shifting news coverage. For example, the BBC is normally reticent about putting blame on the Bahraini monarchy over political and legal violations. Today, however, it features the Amnesty report on its website. Even more significantly, it handed over several minutes of its premiere radio news programme to a correspondent to describe the report --- complete with references to torture, political prisoners, and the hunger strike of human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja --- and on this occasion, it did not then turn to a Bahraini official for the necessary correcting comment, and TIME magazine asks, "As Protests Continue to Flare, Should Formula One Be Returning to Bahrain?"
Al Jazeera English also takes note of the Amnesty report.
0508 GMT: We begin with the simple note that, on the fifth day of a supposed Syrian "cease-fire" under the peace plan proposed by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan, 55 people died. Almost half of the deaths were in Idlib Province, while there were 11 slain in Homs Province, nine in Hama Province, and five in Daraa Province in the south.