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Wednesday
Jul272011

Afghanistan Latest: Mayor of Kandahar Killed by Suicide Bomber (AFP)

UPDATE 1000 GMT: The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the killing of the Mayor of Kandahar by a suicide bomber.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi had ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed. He added that the mayor was killed to avenge the deaths of two children who allegedly were killed during the demolition.
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The French agency AFP reports:

The mayor of Kandahar, the biggest city in southern Afghanistan and the birthplace of the Taliban movement, was killed in a suicide attack on Wednesday, police said.

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Wednesday
Jul272011

Iran Interview: The Imprisonment of Actress Marzieh Vafamehr

Nasser Taghvai spoke to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about the arrest of his wife, actress Marzieh Vafamehr, who was seized in June: "[Last month] they contacted us on the phone. First we ignored them. Then they contacted us again, without sending the summons home. They promised me that they only needed Marzieh Vafamehr for a few questions and answers. They said, “If you tell her to come in, we will solve the problem through mediation.” They said, “We respect you personally, and we don’t wish for a case to be built against her.” They didn’t serve the summons. I told my wife, “Go, things will be resolved.” I trusted what they told me, but she went and did not return. The next day they issued her temporary detention orders for a month.

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Wednesday
Jul272011

Iran Document: 500 Activists Condemn Escalation of Violence Against Women

This week 500 activists and supporters of the women's movement in Iran issued a statement protesting the “systematic violence against women,” “constant insults and humiliation,” and “the blaming of victims for acts of sexual violence against them” by regime officials. The signatories demanded that authorities be held responsible for sexual violence and rape against male and female prisoners, and they defended a woman’s right to choose her clothing.

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Tuesday
Jul262011

US Politics & Economy: Explaining Washington's Dangerous Game of Chicken on the Debt (First, Look at the Tax Cuts)

Photo: Jewel Samad (AFP)Right now the American conversation is being driven by fear, creating a further crisis in the attempt to solve the initial one.  That fear is embodied in the idea that Obama is driving a far-left social agenda and a tax-and-spend socialism, and in the belief that taxes cannot be raised without killing the American economy. But President Reagan raised taxes 11 times, including during a recession, and Obama has cut taxes. Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and Obama is trying to pass a plan that will only require him to do it once. President Eisenhower stimulated the economy by subsidizing higher education and by building infrastructure, but today he would be considered a socialist for his initiatives. Fifty years later, taxes are at an unrealistic historic level, far lower than they were under all Republican administrations.

The fear is unfounded. The taxes are too low, the debate has gone on too long, and it is time that the Republicans compromise on revenue so that the nation is brought into line with what all of the facts are telling us.

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Tuesday
Jul262011

The Latest from Iran (26 July): Ahmadinejad is a "Repair and Maintenance Project"

2000 GMT: Economy Watch. Despite US-led sanctions, foreign direct investment in Iran rose to a new record in 2010 of more than $3.6 billion dollars, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

UNCTAD's "World Investment Report" found that the foreign direct investment increased around 20% in 2010. FDI has soared from $1.6 billion in 200.

Global FDI flows grew 4.9% in 2010 to $1.24 trillion, but were 15% below the rate of $1.472 trillion before the 2008 financial crisis and nearly 37% below their peak in 2007 of $1.971 trillion.

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Tuesday
Jul262011

Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Zombie March

2010 GMT: A protest tonight in Harasta outside Damascus, with chants, "Syria is ours, not for Assad´s family" and "Leave, Bashar".

And in Tal Kalakh in southern Syria:

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Tuesday
Jul262011

Libya 1st-Hand: A Tour of the Frontline in Zlitan (Watson/Karadsheh)

Photo: CNNWhen Libyan government minders last brought CNN to Zlitan about a week and a half ago, it was to see a large pro-Gadhafi rally in the city's main square. Crowds of Libyans waved green government flags, fired guns in the air, and fervently pledged their loyalty to their embattled leader.

But the scene was dramatically different Monday, as fire trucks and ambulances regularly raced through the city's largely deserted streets. Many shops appeared to be closed, and the ominous rumble of warplanes could be heard overhead periodically.

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Tuesday
Jul262011

Bahrain Video: A Martyr's Sister v. Security Forces

Claimed footage of the sister of Ahmad Farhan, who was killed on 17 March, confronting security forces in Bahrain after they allegedly accosted her uncle. The clip ends with the officers firing warning rounds:

Tuesday
Jul262011

Iran Document: "Raising Their Voices" Activists Inside Country Speak Out Against Military Strike

The International Committee for Human Rights in Iran has published a 38-page report, "Raising Their Voices", with the commentaries of 35 prominent writers, lawyers, filmmakers, and activists inside the country about the impact of a military strike against Iran. Extracts from some of the testimonies:

"If a war were to take place right now, the atmosphere would definitely become more restricted and more limitations would be imposed upon intellectuals, human rights activists, social elites and students. If the West wishes to realize democracy, freedom, and human rights worldwide it should consider options other than war."

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Tuesday
Jul262011

Norway Follow-Up: Up to 150,000 in Oslo Pay Homage to Victims (Al Jazeera English)

Photo: ReutersUp to 150,000 people paid homage in Oslo on Monday evening to the victims of the twin attacks that left 76 people dead. Mourners sang songs and cheered in solidarity while others placed flowers on a memorial wall next to the city hall.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian man, is accused of carrying out the bombing in Oslo and the shooting spree on the resort island of Utoya.

Jens Stoltenberg, the prime minister, told the crowds in Oslo that Norway would not be defeated by the tragedy.

"Evil can kill a person, but it can never defeat a whole nation," he said, to loud applause.

"With the strongest of all the world's weapons - freedom of speech and democracy - do we set the course for Norway post 22 July 2011," Stoltenberg said.

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