Stories of Human Abuse and Human being in wretched plight all around the World

I started this blog for personal matters, to publish my art and literature, Now it seems I am turning this blog to a reporting media of Human abuse and Human being in wretched plight all around the World. I hope, We all citizen should rush to the crying and disturbing souls and help and support them. Protest and publicizing can help stop atrocities on public and bring safety measure to the mass under calamities.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Syria Qubair: Bloody traces of massacre seen in village

Syria Qubair: Bloody traces of massacre seen in village

Ban Ki-moon: "How many more times have we to condemn them?"
The smell of burnt flesh and evidence of bloodshed have greeted a BBC correspondent entering the village of Qubair in Syria, scene of a massacre.
Our correspondent, travelling with UN monitors, found buildings gutted and burnt, but no sign of people in the tiny village near the city of Hama.
Violence continues across Syria, with reports that the central city of Homs came under heavy shelling.
Elsewhere, state TV reported two deadly car bomb attacks.
Condemning the Qubair massacre earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned of an imminent danger of civil war and the international peace envoy, Kofi Annan, said his six-point peace plan was not being implemented.
As many as 78 people are said to have been killed in the Qubair attack.
The opposition blamed it on militia allied to President Bashar al-Assad while the government accused "terrorists" of killing civilians.
Clandestine activists say government forces removed many of the bodies while the UN observers were being hindered from reaching the village on Thursday, coming under fire at one stage.
UN monitors finally reached Qubair on Friday, with the BBC's Paul Danahar accompanting them.
Lebanese scenario? Analysts say the major fear is that Syria falls victim to the kind of sectarian violence that tore Lebanon apart for decades.
The militiamen accused of the killings are known as shabiha, and are mainly from the minority Alawite community of President Bashar al-Assad.

At the scene

We are here. In front of a burnt-out building is the carcass of a donkey. Inside, the buildings are gutted. The UN have not found any people yet.
The largest of the two houses on the hilltop has been gutted by fire. The stench of burnt flesh is still strong. In front of me there is a piece of brain, in the corner there is a mass on congealed blood.
The village is just a few single-storey flat-roofed buildings set in the middle of golden corn fields.
The victims appear to be mostly Sunni Muslims, who make up the majority of the population.
Speaking at the UN in New York on Thursday, Mr Ban warned the danger of full-scale war was "imminent and real".
While the Annan plan remained the focus of peace efforts, he said, urgent talks were needed on how further to proceed.
The US is demanding decisive action, and Mr Annan is pushing for a contact group of key nations to raise pressure for an end to the violence.
But in a news conference in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin refused to answer repeated questions about whether his government would support the initiative.
"We believe that the importance of envoy Annan's mediation efforts has not diminished but rather increased," he said.
Both China and Russia have twice blocked Security Council resolutions against Syria and have restated their opposition to outside military intervention in the conflict.
'Homs shelled' On Friday, clandestine activists said government forces had resumed shelling the Khaldiyeh area of Homs, which is controlled by rebels.
"Khaldiyeh is being subjected to five to 10 shells a minute in the worst shelling since the revolution began," the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
A car bomb in the north-western city of Idlib killed two police officers and three civilians, wounding others, state TV said. A second car bomb in Rif Dimashq, near Damascus, killed three police officers and caused injuries, it added.
About 200 people are said to have died on Wednesday and Thursday, in figures which could not be confirmed independently.
The UN says at least 9,000 people have died since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011. In April, the Syrian government reported that 6,143 Syrian citizens had been killed by "terrorist groups".
The UN has 297 unarmed observers in Syria to verify the implementation of Mr Annan's plan.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

'Life is such a blessing': The incredible bravery of Pakistani women who suffered horrific acid attacks in the name of 'family honour'

Source : The Daily mail

'Life is such a blessing': The incredible bravery of Pakistani women who suffered horrific acid attacks in the name of 'family honour'

By Associated Press

After six years of abuse, Allah Rakhi was walking out of her marriage when her husband struck again. Snatching a knife, he sliced off her nose. 'You're no longer beautiful!' he shouted.
He then slashed at her foot - brutal punishment for leaving the house without his permission.
'A woman is only a woman inside the home, outside she's a whore!' he yelled at Rakhi as she lay bleeding on the dusty street just outside her home.
That was 32 years ago.
Years of abuse: Pakistani Allah Rakhi, 51, whose husband sliced off her nose and slashed her right foot with a razor in 1980, when she was 19. After marrying at 13, Rakhi suffered six years of abuse at the hands of her husband, right, she holds a photo of them before the attack
Survivor: Acid attack survivor, Shamma Maqsood, 24, holds a picture of herself before the vicious assault. Shamma was attacked by her husband on March 20, 2012, following an argument about him being jobless
All that time, Rakhi hid her disfigured face under a veil. Then in March, a surgeon took up her case. He cut flesh from her ribs and fashioned it into a new nose, transforming her life.

While the details of every case of violence against Pakistani woman differ, many are based on a concept of 'family honor.'
Women can be targeted for suspicion of an affair, wishing to divorce or dressing inappropriately. Hundreds women are murdered each year because of mere suspicions.
Victim: Pakistani acid attack survivor, Naila Farhat, 22, was attacked in 2003 by her teacher's friend, after her parents refused his marriage proposal. She holds a photo of herself before the attack

Acid attack survivor: Naziran Bibi, 25, shows a picture of herself before the attack, at the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), in Islamabad, Pakistan. Naziran, who was treated badly by her second husband and his first wife, was attacked in 2008, by an unknown person while she was sleeping

Coming together: Rakhi, 51, fourth left, stands with acid attack survivors, outside Benazir Bhutto hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan
The nose is considered the symbol of family honor in Pakistan - explaining why a woman's nose is often the target of spousal abuse. A popular plea from parents to children is 'Please take care of our nose,' which means, 'don't do anything that tarnishes the reputation of the family.'
Rooted in tribal ideas that a woman's chastity is the property of the man, honor killings are practiced in much of the Arab world and South Asia. They have also been carried out by immigrants from those regions to the West.
Pakistani courts have a history of letting off offenders or giving them only light punishment, assuming the cases get to trial at all.
Terrifying: Sajda Ansar, 26, was set on fire by by her husband last April, following an argument regarding his drug addiction

Brutal revenge: Acid attack survivor Parveen Aslam, 42, is examined by Dr Hamid Hasan, left, at Benazir Bhutto Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Parveen and her daughter Zaiba were attacked last December by a man after the parents refused his marriage proposal of their elder daughter

Chilling crimes: Akhtar Yar, 9, holds the hand of his brother Rukhan, 23, left, standing next to eunuch and acid attack survivor, Zafar Iqbal, 23. Akhtar and his father were attacked in 2004 by a man who the father had had an argument with earlier in the day. Zafar was attacked in 2003, by a man he refused to have a relationship with
Rakhi's husband, for example, served just 10 months in jail before being released in exchange for a commitment to pay her medical bills. He never did.
Accurate statistics on the extent of honor crimes are hard to come by, because many cases go unreported or are settled out of court under pressure from the families of the victim and the attacker.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that in 2011, at least 943 women were murdered, nine had their noses cut off, 98 were tortured, 47 set on fire and 38 attacked with acid.
Efforts to introduce stronger laws to increase punishments for violence against women have been blocked by an Islamist political party which publicly supports the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. The party, Jamiat Ulema Islam, is a member of the ruling coalition.
Child victims: Zaiba Aslam, 10, is helped by her mother Parveen, who also an acid attack survivor, to adjust her scarf as they arrive at the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), in Islamabad, Pakistan.  Right, Sedra Javeed, 14, is examined by Dr Hamid Hasan. Sedra was attacked last June by a man she refused to have a relationship with
Benazir Bhutto hospital: Pakistani acid attack survivor, Saeda Kouser, 24, lies in bed after having surgery on her neck. Saeda was attacked in 2008, by her husband while she was sleeping

The lower houses of parliament passed the bill, but the JUI is preventing its passage through the upper house.
'We will never let it happen,' said JUI senator Maulana Ghafoor Haideri, who said the bill was an attempt to 'Westernize' Pakistan. 'It will ruin our family institutions,' he said.
Shad Begum, a Pakistani right activists who received the U.S. International Woman of Courage award from first lady Michelle Obama this year, said firmer laws and better enforcement are the only solution to violence against woman.
'Our leaders need to take a firm stand,' she said. 'If a man makes a woman a victim, or makes an 'example out of her' as he believes, our courts should also make an example out of him.'
Rakhi was attacked when she was 19, after being married at 13. Despite being illegal, child marriages remain common in parts of Pakistan.
Support: A board showing pictures of acid attack survivors is placed on a wall inside the Acid Survivors Foundation, in Islamabad, Pakistan

Brave: Pakistani acid Attack survivor Akhtar Yar, 9, center, recites verses of the holy Quran, while attending his daily classes at his school in Peshawar, Pakistan
Following the attack, she worked to support herself and her daughter, painting flowers on pots in a factory and buying and selling clothes in markets across the country, all the time hidden behind a veil.
'I died every moment,' Rakhi said in her three-room mud and brick house in a village hidden among the wheat fields of Pakistan's Punjab province.
Rakhi's husband divorced her soon after he was released from prison, she said.
In a bizarre twist, the 51-year-old woman now lives again under the same roof as him - something she claims as a 'victory,' but also perhaps points to her poverty and lack of alternatives.
Rakhi's son persuaded her to return home, anxious for her to have a more comfortable life.
On a recent visit, the husband scooted out of the house as Rakhi welcomed a reporter, and he did not made himself available for comment.
She said she never stopped hoping for a new nose, but doctors were unwilling to operate because she suffers from hepatitis C, a liver condition that can complicate surgery.
It was her daughter who gave her the chance. She was working in the capital, Islamabad, at an institute that provides training for woman recovering from having acid thrown on their faces.
She introduced Rakhi to the Acid Survivors Foundation, which put her in touch with a surgeon.
Dr. Hamid Hasan took her case for free. Asked why he would take the chance, he answered, 'Her pleas. Her tears.'
At a follow up appointment last month, Hasan touched the scars where the stitches once were on her nose and forehead.
Rakhi winced slightly, and smiled as the surgeon took his hands away.
Hasan said her positive attitude was important for the other operations she must undergo in the coming months.
'Thank God I did not commit suicide,' Rakhi said. 'Life is a blessing!'

Friday, June 1, 2012

'Napalm Girl Photo' From Vietnam War Turns 40

'Napalm Girl Photo' From Vietnam War Turns 40

By MARGIE MASON 05/31/12
Napalm Girl
South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing.(AP Photo/Nick Ut) 
TRANG BANG, Vietnam — In the picture, the girl will always be 9 years old and wailing "Too hot! Too hot!" as she runs down the road away from her burning Vietnamese village.
She will always be naked after blobs of sticky napalm melted through her clothes and layers of skin like jellied lava.
She will always be a victim without a name.
It only took a second for Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut to snap the iconic black-and-white image 40 years ago. It communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe, helping to end one of the most divisive wars in American history.
But beneath the photo lies a lesser-known story. It's the tale of a dying child brought together by chance with a young photographer. A moment captured in the chaos of war that would serve as both her savior and her curse on a journey to understand life's plan for her.
"I really wanted to escape from that little girl," says Kim Phuc, now 49. "But it seems to me that the picture didn't let me go."
It was June 8, 1972, when Phuc heard the soldier's scream: "We have to run out of this place! They will bomb here, and we will be dead!"
Seconds later, she saw the tails of yellow and purple smoke bombs curling around the Cao Dai temple where her family had sheltered for three days, as north and south Vietnamese forces fought for control of their village.
The little girl heard a roar overhead and twisted her neck to look up. As the South Vietnamese Skyraider plane grew fatter and louder, it swooped down toward her, dropping canisters like tumbling eggs flipping end over end.
"Ba-boom! Ba-boom!"
The ground rocked. Then the heat of a hundred furnaces exploded as orange flames spit in all directions.
Fire danced up Phuc's left arm. The threads of her cotton clothes evaporated on contact. Trees became angry torches. Searing pain bit through skin and muscle.
"I will be ugly, and I'm not normal anymore," she thought, as her right hand brushed furiously across her blistering arm. "People will see me in a different way."
In shock, she sprinted down Highway 1 behind her older brother. She didn't see the foreign journalists gathered as she ran toward them, screaming.
Then, she lost consciousness.
Ut, the 21-year-old Vietnamese photographer who took the picture, drove Phuc to a small hospital. There, he was told the child was too far gone to help. But he flashed his American press badge, demanded that doctors treat the girl and left assured that she would not be forgotten.
"I cried when I saw her running," said Ut, whose older brother was killed on assignment with the AP in the southern Mekong Delta. "If I don't help her – if something happened and she died – I think I'd kill myself after that."
Back at the office in what was then U.S.-backed Saigon, he developed his film. When the image of the naked little girl emerged, everyone feared it would be rejected because of the news agency's strict policy against nudity.
But veteran Vietnam photo editor Horst Faas took one look and knew it was a shot made to break the rules. He argued the photo's news value far outweighed any other concerns, and he won.
A couple of days after the image shocked the world, another journalist found out the little girl had somehow survived the attack. Christopher Wain, a correspondent for the British Independent Television Network who had given Phuc water from his canteen and drizzled it down her burning back at the scene, fought to have her transferred to the American-run Barsky unit. It was the only facility in Saigon equipped to deal with her severe injuries.
"I had no idea where I was or what happened to me," she said. "I woke up and I was in the hospital with so much pain, and then the nurses were around me. I woke up with a terrible fear."
Thirty percent of Phuc's tiny body was scorched raw by third-degree burns, though her face somehow remained untouched. Over time, her melted flesh began to heal.
"Every morning at 8 o'clock, the nurses put me in the burn bath to cut all my dead skin off," she said. "I just cried and when I could not stand it any longer, I just passed out."
After multiple skin grafts and surgeries, Phuc was finally allowed to leave, 13 months after the bombing. She had seen Ut's photo, which by then had won the Pulitzer Prize, but she was still unaware of its reach and power.
She just wanted to go home and be a child again.
For a while, life did go somewhat back to normal. The photo was famous, but Phuc largely remained unknown except to those living in her tiny village near the Cambodian border. Ut and a few other journalists sometimes visited her, but that stopped after northern communist forces seized control of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, ending the war.
Life under the new regime became tough. Medical treatment and painkillers were expensive and hard to find for the teenager, who still suffered extreme headaches and pain.
She worked hard and was accepted into medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But all that ended once the new communist leaders realized the propaganda value of the `napalm girl' in the photo.
She was forced to quit college and return to her home province, where she was trotted out to meet foreign journalists. The visits were monitored and controlled, her words scripted. She smiled and played her role, but the rage inside began to build and consume her.
"I wanted to escape that picture," she said. "I got burned by napalm, and I became a victim of war ... but growing up then, I became another kind of victim."
She turned to Cao Dai, her Vietnamese religion, for answers. But they didn't come.
"My heart was exactly like a black coffee cup," she said. "I wished I died in that attack with my cousin, with my south Vietnamese soldiers. I wish I died at that time so I won't suffer like that anymore ... it was so hard for me to carry all that burden with that hatred, with that anger and bitterness."
One day, while visiting a library, Phuc found a Bible. For the first time, she started believing her life had a plan.
Then suddenly, once again, the photo that had given her unwanted fame brought opportunity.
She traveled to West Germany in 1982 for medical care with the help of a foreign journalist. Later, Vietnam's prime minister, also touched by her story, made arrangements for her to study in Cuba.
She was finally free from the minders and reporters hounding her at home, but her life was far from normal. Ut, then working at the AP in Los Angeles, traveled to meet her in 1989, but they never had a moment alone. There was no way for him to know she desperately wanted his help again.
"I knew in my dream that one day Uncle Ut could help me to have freedom," said Phuc, referring to him by an affectionate Vietnamese term. "But I was in Cuba. I was really disappointed because I couldn't contact with him. I couldn't do anything."
While at school, Phuc met a young Vietnamese man. She had never believed anyone would ever want her because of the ugly patchwork of scars that banded across her back and pitted her arm, but Bui Huy Toan seemed to love her more because of them.
The two decided to marry in 1992 and honeymoon in Moscow. On the flight back to Cuba, the newlyweds defected during a refueling stop in Canada. She was free.
Phuc contacted Ut to share the news, and he encouraged her to tell her story to the world. But she was done giving interviews and posing for photos.
"I have a husband and a new life and want to be normal like everyone else," she said.
The media eventually found Phuc living near Toronto, and she decided she needed to take control of her story. A book was written in 1999 and a documentary came out, at last the way she wanted it told. She was asked to become a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to help victims of war. She and Ut have since reunited many times to tell their story, even traveling to London to meet the Queen.
"Today, I'm so happy I helped Kim," said Ut, who still works for AP and recently returned to Trang Bang village. "I call her my daughter."
After four decades, Phuc, now a mother of two sons, can finally look at the picture of herself running naked and understand why it remains so powerful. It had saved her, tested her and ultimately freed her.
"Most of the people, they know my picture but there's very few that know about my life," she said. "I'm so thankful that ... I can accept the picture as a powerful gift. Then it is my choice. Then I can work with it for peace."
Source : The Huffington post
Phan Thi Kim Phuc, left, is visited by AP photographer Nick Ut in 1973. (AP Photo) In this Aug. 17, 1989 file photo, Phan Thi Kim Phuc embraces Associated Press staff photographer Nick Ut during a reunion in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Jim Caccavo) Kim Phuc poses with the United Nations passport after she was honoured to receive the nomination as a UNESCO ambassador for world peace at the organization headquarters in Paris Monday Nov 10, 1997. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) In this May 25, 1992 file photo, Phan Thi Kim Phuc and her husband, Bui Huy Toan, sing during a service at the Faithway Baptist Church in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) Phan Thi Kim Phuc snuggles her son Thomas, 3, as her husband Bui Huy Toan looks on in their apartment in Toronto, Canada, May 25, 1997. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) Vietnam war survivor Kim Phuc smiles during a presentation at the Liberty Baptist Church in Newport Beach, Calif., Sunday, July 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Italy Earthquake 2012: Death Toll Rises To 17

Italy Earthquake 2012: Death Toll Rises To 17

Source The Telegraph An earthquake killed at least 15 people in northern Italy, damaging buildings and spreading panic among thousands of residents still living in tents after a tremor in the same region destroyed their homes just over a week ago. Picture: EPA/MAURIZIO DEGL'INNOCENTI
 ------------------------------------------------------------- Officials said several people were trapped under the rubble of houses and warehouses in the Emilia- Romagna region, where several building sites and workshops had just reopened after the previous quake on May 20. Picture: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/GettyImages

 --------------------------------------------------------------- Civil protection officials said 15 people were confirmed dead. Seven people were killed in the May 20 quake that, like Tuesday's, had its epicentre not far from the city of Modena.
------------------------------------------------------------- The 5.8-magnitude quake was felt across northern and central Italy, including in the most populous northern city Milan. The area was hit by several large aftershocks, one of 5.6 magnitude. Picture: Luca Bruno/AP
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Several victims were workers crushed when factories collapsed, while a parish priest in the town of Rovereto di Novi was killed by a falling beam, reportedly after he went back into his church to save a Madonna statue. Picture: Marco Vasini/AP ------------------------------------------------------------------- Firemen carry a coffin in MirandolaPicture: EPA/CARLO FERRARO
--------------------------------------------- Muslim workers pray after colleagues were killed during an earthquake at a factory in MirandolaPicture: ALBERTO LINGRIA/AFP/GettyImages
-------------------------------------------------- A drawing is seen on a wall inside a destroyed house in CavezzoPicture: Marco Vasini/Ap                                                     ----------------------------------------------- People walk past a collapsed building, after an earthquake, in CavezzoPicture: REUTERS/Giorgio Benvenuti                                  --------------------------------------------------- A damaged building is seen in Cavezzo, near ModenaPicture: REUTERS/Giorgio Benvenuti                                                              ------------------------------------------ An earthquake-damaged building is seen in CavezzoPicture: ALBERTO LINGRIA/AFP/GettyImages                                       ---------------------------------------------------------- A woman is comforted by policemen in MirandolaPicture: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/GettyImages                                                                       -------------------------------------- An Italian policeman helps a woman and her baby during an earth tremor in MirandolaPicture: Marco Vasini/AP                                                                         ---------------------------------------------- People are evacuated from their homes in MirandolaPicture: Marco Vasini/AP                                                                  ---------------------------------------------- People wait outside a hospital after an earthquake in Crevalcore near ModenaPicture: REUTERS/Giorgio Benvenuti                              ------------------------------------------------------ Rescue workers attend to an injured person in MirandolaPicture: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/GettyImages                                             --------------------------------------------------- Mr Borghi, who lost his son in the building, embraces his wife in front of the destroyed BBG industrial mouldings factory in MirandolaPicture: Luca Bruno/AP                                           ------------------------------------------------- A man walks in front of a collapsed church in MirandolaPicture: Marco Vasini/AP                       ----------------------------------------------- The collapsed San Francesco church is seen in MirandolaPicture: Luca Bruno/AP                                               ---------------------------------------------- The church of San Giacomo Roncole in Mirandola is damaged after an earthquakePicture: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/GettyImages                                                           --------------------------------------------- A firefighter stands next to a damaged warehouse in MedollePicture: REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo                                    ---------------------------------------- A man looks at a collapsed farm in CamposantoPicture: Luca Bruno/AP                                         ---------------------------------------------------------- Firefighters are seen amidst rubble as they search for missing people at the Emotronic factory in MedollePicture: EPA/ELISABETTA BARACCHI                                                       ---------------------------------------------------------- The cathedral clock lies in a pile of rubble after an earthquake in MirandolaPicture: EPA/DANIEL DAL ZENNARO                                        --------------------------------------------- A large ornament which made up part of the Voto Church is seen after it fell from the church in ModenaPicture: EPA/ELISABETTA BARACCHI ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Death toll from Italy earthquake rises EARTHQUAKE May 30, 2012 Source : CNN

 The death toll from a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in northern Italy rose to 17 after the discovery of another body, officials said Wednesday, as questions were asked about why factory buildings collapsed. The latest body was found in the rubble of the collapsed factory in the area of Medolla, Italy's civil protection agency said. The prosecutor's office in the province of Modena, where the quake was centered, opened an investigation Wednesday into the cause of death of the quake victims, many of whom were factory workersInvestigators will examine how the factories were built and why they couldn't withstand an earthquake of Tuesday's magnitude. Modena's chief prosecutor, Vito Zincani, told CNN that as modern buildings, they should have remained standing. Most of the modern structures in the area were not damaged, he said, so the fact that some factories collapsed "shows an anomaly that needs investigation." Look at high-resolution images of the disaster The earthquake, which forced thousands of people from their homes, came nine days after a 6.0- magnitude quake struck the same region, killing seven people. Tuesday's quake, which struck at about 9 a .m. local when many people had begun work, was followed by dozens of aftershocks. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded one of 5.6 magnitude. Italian ministers met Wednesday morning and decided on several measures to be taken in the aftermath of the quake. The government declared a state of emergency in the quake area and set June 4 as a national day of mourning, according to a press statement. An extra two-cent tax will also be added to gasoline to help finance the recovery effort, it said. Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano, Prime Minister Mario Monti and the speakers of both Italian houses of parliament on the earthquake met later Wednesday at the presidential palace in Rome to discuss the disaster. The towns of Mirandola and Cavezzo, northwest of the city of Bologna, were closest to the epicenter, civil protection authorities said. Witnesses reported on Twitter that Cavezzo was about 70% destroyed. Pictures purportedly from the town, as well as a video stream from Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, show damaged and destroyed buildings. Churches and historic structures were among the affected buildings. In the small town of Novi di Modena, a 65-year-old priest died inside his church as he tried to save its statue of the Madonna. ------------------------------------- ROME — Earthquakes in Italy, like the twin temblors that claimed 24 lives this month in northern Italy, trigger a sense of terror and dread but also deja vu. Again and again, buildings both ancient and new cave in or topple when rocked by quakes that, while strong, aren't so powerful that they should devastate structures built to meet seismic-safety standards or retrofitted to render them resilient, especially in a relatively affluent country like Italy, one of the most-earthquake prone places in the world. That's precisely the problem, geologists and engineers said Wednesday, a day after a 5.8 magnitude quake collapsed churches, factories, apartment houses and barns in the Emilia Romagna area north of Bologna. As a 2008 report by geologists and civil protection experts found, the vast majority of buildings still don't meet modern seismic safety standards. Many of the victims in Tuesday's quake, as well as in a more powerful 6.0 temblor in practically the same area on May 20, were workers crushed in the rubble of relatively new warehouses or factories dotting the countryside of one of Italy's most industrially and agriculturally productive regions. The body of the 17th and last victim in Tuesday's quake was removed from a factory's rubble on Wednesday in the town of Medolla. Three other workers died in the same collapse. In 2009, when a 6.3 magnitude temblor rocked the central mountain town of L'Aquila, apartment houses pancaked, church steeples topped, a college dormitory crumbled and a hospital was left largely unusable. Even the government headquarters that should have been helping to coordinate rescue efforts fell down. "We're seeing the same movie over and over again," said geologist Gian Vito Graziano, who is president of Italy's National Geologists Council. In Japan last week, a 6.1 magnitude struck but did no significant damage, he noted. By way of comparison, in the Emilia Romagna quakes packing lesser punch, roofs and walls of modern factories and warehouses as well as ancient churches caved in. The quake "danger had been underestimated," Graziano said in a phone interview. "That the (ancient) towers fell, you can in some way understand," but the modern structures should not have collapsed, "absolutely not," he added. The college dormitory in L'Aquila, for example, was only a few decades old. And the hospital, rendered unsafe by the 2009 quake, had been built after Italy adopted more stringent construction standards for quake-prone areas following the deadly 1980 temblor that hit Naples. Another quake disaster, the collapse of a school in southern Puglia in 2002, also led to tighter building rules. Investigators examining that wreckage alleged that shoddy construction factored in the tragedy, which claimed 28 lives, including a small town's entire first grade. But Graziano said he didn't think cheap construction techniques were factors in most of Italy's quake disasters, including in Emilia Romagna. Rather, builders might not have been aware of the "amplifying effect" that the sandy soil not far under the surface might have had on the quake's effect along the fault line as it nears the earth's crust, he said. In some towns, a sandy muck oozed out of quake-caused fissures in the streets. Another geologist, Vittorio d'Oriano, said he subscribes to the school of thought that just about all of Italy is at high risk for quakes. "There is a strong debate: Is all of Italy at risk, more or less at risk?" d'Oriano said. Or are some parts, like Emilia Romagna was thought to be before these two quakes, of "low-medium risk?" This month's tragedy proves that the latter thinking "was an error," he said. Another mistake, d'Oriano said, is thinking that anti-seismic measures add onerously to building costs. "At most, this costs an additional 5 to 10 percent," said d'Oriano, who is based in Florence, Tuscany, a high-risk zone where builders now routine employ anti-seismic measures. He noted that while such measures for modern construction are not that costly, their price rises steeply when shoring up ancient monuments. Although corruption could affect the quality of materials used in public buildings by constructors who won bids, d'Oriano contended it was virtually "unthinkable" that private constructors, like those of the industrial buildings which collapsed in Emilia Romagna, would resort to corruption. "In the private sector, it's extremely rare," he said. As in the 2008 report, geologists this week noted that the country lags far behind industrial nations in applying anti-seismic techniques to construction in quake-vulnerable areas. Retrofitting, for example, generally "hasn't been done," despite a recommendation by the geologists' council, Graziano said, that all buildings be checked for quake-survivability. "Public buildings, like schools, have started doing it, but they are doing it slowly for lack of funds." Italy's economic crisis has slashed funding in general, but Graziano contended that Italians' fatalism, not funding shortalls, is the real problem. "We have an extraordinary capacity to react immediately, a second after," natural disasters, the geologist said, citing the "mud angels" who rushed into places like Genoa last year to help when flooding ravaged the city, or in Florence in 1966, when the Arno river overran its banks. "But as soon as the emergency is over, we forget it." source :The Huffington Post

Thursday, May 10, 2012

UK plans for secret courts 'dangerous'

9 May 2012

UK plans for secret courts 'dangerous'

The Queen unveiled the proposals in a speech to MPs and peersThe Queen unveiled the proposals in a speech to MPs and peers
© AFP/Getty Images
UK government plans to end centuries of open justice by allowing some court evidence to be heard behind closed doors are "dangerous", Amnesty International said.

The proposed legal changes, part of the Justice and Security Bill, could result in information and evidence of human rights violations by UK state representatives, being kept secret.

Plans by the government to introduce new legislation were confirmed in the Queen’s speech during Wednesday’s state opening of the UK Parliament.

“These proposals are dangerous and should be dropped," said Tara Lyle, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International UK.

“They will allow the government to throw a cloak of secrecy over wrongdoing, including matters as serious as the alleged involvement by UK officials in rendition, secret detention, enforced disappearances and torture."

The Bill would allow for the use of “closed material procedures” in future civil claims cases. This would allow the courts to consider secret material presented by UK authorities in closed sessions.

Claimants and their lawyers of choice would not have access to the material or the closed sessions and would, instead, have a court appointed Special Advocate to represent their interests.

The Special Advocate would be prohibited from discussing any part of the secret material with the claimant or taking instructions from them after seeing the material, seriously impeding their ability to serve the interests of the claimant.

Amnesty International considers that the use of Special Advocates fails to sufficiently mitigate the unfairness of “closed material procedures”.
Amnesty International believes the right to redress and a fair trial for victims of alleged human rights violations could be critically undermined by the proposals.

The proposals for the Bill come amid allegations that the UK has been involved in rendition, unlawful detention and mistreatment.

“After David Cameron promised to get to the bottom of allegations of complicity in human rights violations by UK officials, this Bill is a sell-out to the security services," said Tara Lyle.

“The victims of human rights violations as well as the general public have a right to learn the truth about whether and how government officials have been involved in rendition, secret detention, enforced disappearances and torture.”

“If members of the intelligence and security services are suspected of involvement in human right violations, the government should not be able to invoke ‘national security’ to avoid real accountability.”
Source : Amnesty


Every email and computer click to be stored in huge expansion of surveillance state unveiled in the Queen's Speech

  • State will be able to people's internet browsing history and emails
  • Campaigners say there will be 'no scrutiny for them and no privacy for us'
  • Plans for secret courts watered down after opposition
By Rick Dewsbury

Controversial plans to snoop on emails and text messages came one step closer today after being unveiled in the Queen's Speech.
Police will be given powers to secretly access people's internet browsing history and see who they have been contacting, for how long and when.
The measures will be published in a draft form after the Queen unveiled the Communications Data Bill in the House of Lords today.
Campaigners immediately reacted with concern, saying the laws will 'allow no scrutiny for them and no privacy for us.'
Politicians of all parties should remember the values everyone is supposed to share before pushing through the reforms, civil rights group Liberty said.
Plans to enable courts to sit behind closed doors when considering issues of national security and powers to monitor emails and internet communications will all be part of the Government’s programme of reforms in the next 12 months.
Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty’s director, said: 'Two years ago, the coalition bound itself together with promises and action to protect our rights and freedoms.
'As the strains of governing in a recession begin to show, politicians of all parties should remember the values that we are all supposed to share.
'Whilst action on free speech is extremely welcome, proposals for secret courts and a snoopers’ charter risk allowing no scrutiny for them and no privacy for us.'
Under the draft Communications Data Bill, authorities would not be able to view the content of email and text messages, but could identify who someone was contacting, how often and for how long, and could also access internet browsing history.

Under surveillance: In future, every website visit via your iPad or laptop would be kept for a fixed period by your internet service provider
Under surveillance: In future, every website visit via your iPad or laptop would be kept for a fixed period by your internet service provider

The Government has said the plans are needed to tackle crime and terrorism and to ensure the police and security services can keep pace with developments in technology.
But they have already exposed tensions within the coalition over its stance on civil liberties.
The communications data will be kept for up to 12 months by service providers and the role of the Interception of Communications Commissioner will also be extended to oversee the collection of the data.
The Justice and Security Bill will also reform the way sensitive evidence from the security services is handled in national security cases. This bill will enable secret court cases.
The Queen said the plans would be brought forward, 'subject to scrutiny of draft clauses'.
£2bn scheme: GCHQ, in Cheltenham, where under new rules being brought in by the Government - along with secret courts - would allow an electronic 'listening' agency to see who a person is communicating with and when
£2bn scheme: GCHQ, in Cheltenham, where under new rules being brought in by the Government - along with secret courts - would allow an electronic 'listening' agency to see who a person is communicating with and when
It comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made clear the proposals could only proceed if they took into account and protected civil liberties.
Under the moves, a defendant or claimant and their lawyer would be barred from the closed part of the hearing, removing the adversarial nature of the justice system and leading to fears that evidence may not be tested properly and miscarriages of justice could take place.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said the powers were needed to ensure other countries, particularly the United States, were happy to share intelligence without fear of it being exposed in British courts.
It is also designed to ensure courts can fully consider all the evidence in civil claims made against the Government to prevent it being forced to settle cases which it believes has no merit.

It follows secret multi-million pound payouts to 16 terrorism suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, last November after they claimed they had been mistreated by security and intelligence officials.
Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: 'The Home Office have been very good at saying what the problem is, but seem intent on keeping the technical details of what they are proposing secret.
'Is it any wonder that the public are scared by a proposal for online surveillance not seen in any other Western democracy?
'If someone is suspected of plotting an attack the powers already exist to tap their phone, read their email and follow them on the street.
'Instead of scaremongering, the Home Office should come forward and engage with the debate about how we improve public safety, rather than pursue a policy that will indiscriminately spy on everyone online while the real threats are driven underground and escape surveillance.'
A Home Office spokeswoman said: 'It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public.
'We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes.
'Communications data has played a role in every major Security Service counter-terrorism operation over the past decade and in 95 per cent of all serious organised crime investigations.
'It is vital to law enforcement, especially when dealing with organised crime gangs, paedophile rings and terrorist groups.'
Clare Algar, the executive director of Reprieve, warned the introduction of closed courts 'will put the Government above the law'.
'The proposals for secret justice would massively skew courts in favour of ministers, and prevent the public from finding out the truth about serious wrongdoing,' she said.
'The reality is that these plans are designed to spare the intelligence agencies embarrassment. They are a recipe for unfair and unaccountable Government.'
Amnesty International UK said the proposals for secret courts were 'dangerous and should be dropped'.
Tara Lyle, the campaign group’s policy adviser, said: 'They will allow the Government to throw a cloak of secrecy over wrongdoing, including matters as serious as the alleged involvement by UK officials in human rights violations like rendition, secret detention and torture.
'After David Cameron promised to get to the bottom of allegations of complicity in human rights violations by UK officials, this Bill is a sell-out to the security services.'
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: 'These proposals will extend civil (not criminal) justice so that cases which are currently not heard by the courts, are heard.
'They will mean that allegations made against the Government will be fully investigated and scrutinised by the courts, and that the Government will no longer have to settle cases which it believes have no merit.”
She added: 'Closed material procedures are already used in the UK justice system in several areas including immigration, employment, control order, parole board and proscription hearings.'



Controversial secret courts will go ahead amid strong opposition from civil liberties campaigners.
The Justice and Security Bill will reform the way sensitive evidence from the security services is handled in national security cases. This bill will enable secret court cases.
The Queen said the plans would be brought forward, 'subject to scrutiny of draft clauses'.
It comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made clear the proposals could only proceed if they took into account and protected civil liberties.
Under the moves, a defendant or claimant and their lawyer would be barred from the closed part of the hearing, removing the adversarial nature of the justice system and leading to fears that evidence may not be tested properly and miscarriages of justice could take place.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said the powers were needed to ensure other countries, particularly the United States, were happy to share intelligence without fear of it being exposed in British courts.
It is also designed to ensure courts can fully consider all the evidence in civil claims made against the Government to prevent it being forced to settle cases which it believes has no merit.
It follows secret multi-million pound payouts to 16 terrorism suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, last November after they claimed they had been mistreated by security and intelligence officials.

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