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Sunday
Jan092011

Iran Breaking: Attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

The 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court under Judge Pir Abassi has sentenced Nasrin Sotoudeh to 11 years in prison and banned her from practicing law and leaving the country for 20 years. 

Reza Khandan, Sotoudeh's husband, told CHRR: "This sentence was delivered to my wife's lawyer Nasim Ghanavi and we now have 20 days to request an appeal."

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan092011

US Video: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on "Political Violence" (March 2010)

Yesterday Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was critically wounded, shot in the head as she hosted a "Congress on Your Corner" event outside a supermarket in Tucson. The gunman first targeted Gifford at point-blank range, then fired into the crowd. Six people were killed; 13, including Giffords, were injured.

Last March, after her office was vandalised, Giffords was interviewed by MSNBC News. She said:

We can't stand for this....They [politicians] really need to realise that the rhetoric and firing people up and things, for example, like we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list....The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. 

When people do that, they got to realize there's consequences for that action....

Sunday
Jan092011

Latest on Arizona Shootings: 6 Dead & 13 Wounded, Congresswoman Giffords Critical, 2nd Suspect Sought

Photo: Matt York (Associated Press)US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona is in critical condition after surgery for a single "through-and-through" gunshot wound to the head.

Giffords, a Democrat, was the first victim in a mass shooting as she held a "Congress on Your Corner" event outside a Safeway supermarket in Tucson. The gunman, alleged to be 22-year-old Jared Loughner, then fired into the crowd, killing six people, including Federal Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl. Thirteen other people, including Giffords, were wounded.

The shooting took place about 10 a.m. local time (1700 GMT) on Saturday. The gunman used a semi-automatic Glock pistol, firing about 20 shots, before he was overpowered as he tried to reload.

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Sunday
Jan092011

WikiLeaks and Iran 2009: Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi "More Powerful Than Ahmadinejad"

Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi is a prominent cleric, politician, and member of the Assembly of Experts. He has been called the "spiritual mentor" of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But is he really "more powerful" than the President?

Well, that is what one source told US diplomats in September 2009. The Tehran University professor, in a wide-ranging discussion on post-election politics, religion, and society, declared that the "profoundly anti-democratic" Mesbah Yazdi was working behind the scenes to shape the Iranian system. He asserted, ""You can't understand what's been going on in Iran without understanding (the beliefs and activities of) Mesbah-Yazdi."

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Sunday
Jan092011

Terrorism Weekly: What is Behind Britain's Transportation Alerts?

This is undoubtedly a reminder to the travelling public to be vigilant (although authorities have to be careful: frequent alerts arguably have the opposite effect). However, there is another audience for this alert. In this case the threat is posed not by known terrorists  under surveillance --- about 2000, according to the British intelligence service MI5 ---  but the terrorists who are, in the parlance of Donald Rumsfeld, the “known unknowns". It is a small group or even an individual who has managed to remain under the radar that create concern for obvious reasons.

The message to them is “we are on to you”. Although some terrorists may not be terribly bright, they generally tend to be rational and  thus can be deterred from their plans by a superior show of force or greater vigilance.

Or so the state may hope.

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Sunday
Jan092011

The Latest from Iran (9 January): The Enemy are Facebook and Twitter

2200 GMT: Plane Crash. Fars is now reporting that 72 of the 105 passengers died when Iran Air's flight from Tehran to Oroumiyeh in the northwest of the country crashed near its final destination.

2010 GMT: Plane Crash. The Red Crescent Society says that "scores have been killed". There are at least 35 survivors, but many of these are in critical condition.

1855 GMT: The Assassinated Scientist. Fars News claims, from an "informed source", that those responsible for the killing of physicist and professor Masoud Alimohammadi in January 2010 have been arrested.

Alimohammadi was killed by an explosive as he left for work. Iranian officials have accused foreign elements of being behind the crime.

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Sunday
Jan092011

Tunisia Latest: At Least 9 Dead in Saturday Clashes 

1945 GMT: Radio Kalima is claiming more than 50 people died on Saturday night and Sunday morning: 16 in Thala, 22 in the Kasserine region, 2 in Meknassi, 1 in Feriana, and 8 in Reguab.

The site claims special forces and militia used live ammunition and also fired on funeral processions and burial ceremonies.

1525 GMT: A two-minute video of the dead and wounded, lying in hospital, from the Thala clash is racing across the Internet. (Warning: graphic images)

Reuters says Tunisian authorities are now admitting eight were killed in Tala and the Kasserine region last night.

The Regional Federation of Labor, Kasserine, has published the names of 19 victims.

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Sunday
Jan092011

Algeria Updates: Parties React as Government Offers Concession on Sugar and Cooking Oil

2125 GMT: Ali Belhadj, who was Vice President of the now-banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), and fellow detainees have been brought to court from the headquarters of national security. The charges are not clear, although they are thought to be related to this week's protests.

In late 1991, FIS won the first round of Parliamentary elections, but these were called off by the military, who banned the party. Belhadj was jailed from 1991 to 2003 and re-arrested in 2005 for a statement on Al-Jazeera. He was freed in March 2006 under the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation.

2000 GMT: Journalist Mustapha Benfodil has been released after several hours of questioning. He was detained with several demonstrators in a protest in Staouéli (see 1645 GMT).

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Sunday
Jan092011

Egypt Latest: Investigating a Death from "Torture"; Challenging the Government and Sectarianism

1435 GMT: Mohammad ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency of a founder of the National Alliance for Change, has responded to the alleged torturing to death of Sayed Balal: "If torture is proven to have occurred, officials at all levels must be punished. Torture is a crime against humanity. It is not an internal affair."

0725 GMT: The Egyptian public prosecutor has ordered an autopsy on the body of Mohamed Sayyid Bilal, who died in detention on Wednesday after he was arrested in a protest in Alexandria. 

Bilal's brother Ibrahim claimed the body had signs of burns and other abuse, and the family then filed a report with the prosecutor's office demanding an investigation.

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Sunday
Jan092011

Sudan Special: Today's Referendum for Secession by the South (Ezell)

Photo: Associated PressToday voters in southern Sudan decide whether to secede from the north to form the world’s newest nation.

Assuring peace in Sudan this weekend will not be easy, but it is imperative to keep all parties satisfied. In an agenda including the great partition, power-sharing, and equal distribution of revenuesfrom natural resources, the hope is that both Khartoum and Juba have recognized that a bold, shrewd form of government-tribal reconciliation is essential to prevent an explosion of violence.

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