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29th-Dec-2008 09:14 am - A dozen pups skinned alive to make one fur coat – why China must halt pelt trade
29 December 2008

A BAN on the "abhorrent" trade in cat and dog fur comes into force in the UK this week. From Thursday, it will be illegal to import, export or sell the fur harvested from millions of cats and dogs slaughtered each year in the Far East.

The fur is used for products ranging from children's soft toys, to coats, trims on clothes, linings in boots, pet toys and rugs. It has been found for sale across Europe, including the UK.

The majority of the cats and dogs are killed in China, where they are kept in cruel conditions and sometimes skinned alive.

Continued )
27th-Dec-2008 10:04 pm - Hundreds die in Israel raid on Gaza
Al Jazeera
27 Dec 2008

At least 220 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed in an Israeli aerial bombardment on Hamas security installations.

Israel launched air attacks across the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, threatening that further operations would be carried out.
Emergency services said that at least 700 people had been wounded. Witnesses reported heavy damage as at least 30 missiles were fired.
Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said that the operation would not be short. "The operation will go on and be intensified as long as necessary," he said on Saturday. An Israeli military spokesman added that any "Hamas target is a target". As dusk fell, Israel continued to bomb the strip, firing on a metal foundry in the south.

Residents carry a body out of the Bureij refugee camp [AFP]

Hours after the Israeli assault, Gaza fighters fired home-made rockets into southern Israel, heeding calls by Hamas and other affiliated Palestinian groups to avenge the attacks, unprecedented in their scale. One Israeli was killed in the rocket fire, medics said.

Taher al-Noono, a Hamas spokesman, described Israel's operation as a "massacre", adding: "However, our resolve cannot be dented and cannot be shaken. We will continue our struggle with absolute strength and steadfastness."

Islam Shahwan, a Hamas police spokesman, said a police graduation ceremony in Gaza City was struck by Israel. Among those killed was Tawfiq Jabber, the Gaza chief of police.

The Hamas-run interior ministry said all security compounds in the Strip had been destroyed.

Gaza is densely populated. Its 1.5 million residents area already experiencing shortages in medicine, power and basic supplies due to 18 months of an Israeli blockade.

'War crimes'

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, condemned the "aggression" in Gaza. Mousa Abu Morzouz, the deputy leader of Hamas, told Al Jazeera: "Until now the aggression didn't stop ... they are targeting all the police headquarters and offices.

"We will defend our people, we will retaliate against this aggression ... our military will retaliate."

Morzouz called on the world's most powerful nations to condemn the attacks: "Nobody in this world can accept what happened and the Israeli aggression ... [we expect] the international community to stand against this and say that it is not acceptable."

Mustafa Barghouthi, the former Palestinian information minister, said: "This is not an attack on the Hamas. It is an attack on the whole population and the free will of the people of Gaza."

He accused Israel of committing "war crimes" and demanded that Abbas and his government stop all relations with Israel.

'Only just beginning'

The Israel army released a statement saying "terrorist installations" were hit and that all Israeli pilots returned unharmed. The operation against the Hamas is "only just beginning," Avi Benayahu, an Israeli military spokesman said. The air raids follow the decision by the Israeli security cabinet to increase reprisals for cross-border rocket attacks against Israel, and the breakdown of a six-month-old Israel-Hamas truce earlier this month.

The ceasefire expired on December 19, with Hamas arguing that Israel had violated the truce by preventing vital food and medical supplies into the Strip.

Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said: "A series of explosions were heard over Gaza City.

"From where we are, there are at least seven different clouds of smoke from the strikes. We are seeing some casualties being evacuated in cars."

Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip to receive injured people, Egyptian officials said. Ambulances have been sent to the crossing and two Egyptian hospitals emptied to take in the wounded.

Weakened security services

Mohyeldin said that Hamas, which rule the Gaza Strip, was being held responsible by Israel for any attacks from the territory into Israel, even if they are undertaken by other Palestinian factions.

Palestinian officials called on the international community to condemn the raids [AFP]
However, officials of the deposed government in Gaza which maintains law and order, while being Hamas member in the main, are separate from the group's military wing and other factions responsible for attacks into Israel.

"There is within Gaza a functioning ministry of interior that has security services, traffic control, emergency medical services," Mohyeldin reported.

"Those workers are seen as employees of the government in Gaza. So now that many of these installations have been targeted, it will have an immediate impact in terms of the law and order structure here in Gaza."

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, said that Israel's decision to strike at this moment was down to Hamas withdrawing from the ceasefire and the intensified rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip in recent days.

"In one day [in the past week] we saw 80 rockets ... which is a huge upsurge," she said.

Hamas won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council in elections in January 2005. The international community refused to accept a Hamas-led government, demanding that the faction recognise Israel and renounce violence. Economic sanctions by the EU and US followed.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after bloody street battles against its rival, the Fatah movement.
5th-Dec-2008 05:36 am - Firefox users targeted by rare piece of malware
**This is important. Please read.

Trojan.PWS.ChromeInject.A, which registers itself in Firefox's system files as 'Greasemonkey,' collects passwords for banking sites

29th-Nov-2008 12:46 am - So-called 'Taiwan spy' executed by Beijing
28 Nov 2008

China has executed a scientist accused of spying for Taiwan.

Wo Weihan's family had appealed for clemency, saying that the scientist was tortured into admitting that he was a spy. He was sentenced last year.

Ran Chen says her father was tortured into making a false confession.

The 59-year-old man, who ran his own medical research company in Beijing, was arrested in early 2005.

Among other things, he was convicted of passing Chinese military secrets to Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province.

Court documents said he spied for an organisation called The Grand Alliance for the Reunification of China under the Three Principles of the People between 1989 and 2003.

This group is under the auspices of Taiwan's new ruling party, the Kuomintang, according to China.

His daughter, Ran Chen, who holds an Austrian passport, said her father's death had been confirmed by the Austrian embassy in Beijing.

Mr Wo's family alleged that he had been denied access to a lawyer for a year.

A spokeswoman for the United States' embassy in Beijing condemned the execution.

Susan Stevenson told the AFP news agency that the US was "deeply disturbed and dismayed".

The European Union also voiced its indignation, saying the execution seriously undermined the spirit of trust and mutual respect between the EU and China.

The execution will heighten tensions between China and the EU, says the BBC's Oana Lungescu in Brussels, coming on the same day EU officials raised his case at a meeting on human rights with their Chinese counterparts.

Earlier in the week, Beijing postponed its annual summit with the bloc in protest against plans by EU leaders to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
13th-Oct-2008 01:56 am - Mary Queen of Scots should be repatriated from England, campaigners say
A campaign has been launched to repatriate the body of Mary Queen of Scots from Westminster Abbey.

By Auslan Cramb
12 Oct 2008

The Nationalist MSP Christine Grahame has lodged a motion in parliament calling for the monarch's remains to be buried in Scotland.

The move to repatriate the Catholic monarch has the backing of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, historians and the composer James MacMillan.

Mary, who was born at Linlithgow Palace, fled to England after she was forced to abdicate in 1567. She was held prisoner by her cousin Elizabeth I, found guilty of treason and executed at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire 20 years later.

Although initially buried at Peterborough Cathedral, her body was exhumed in 1612 when her son, King James I of England and VI of Scotland, ordered that she be re-interred at Westminster Abbey. >>Read on )
11th-Oct-2008 11:51 am - Soldier who saved puppy from life of hardship in Iraq could see her dog executed by U.S. superiors
By Eddie Wrenn
Daily Mail
7 October 2008

**Please sign the petition to save Ratchet

**See also the SPCA article on Ratchet

A soldier who saved the life of a young puppy in Iraq and expected to bring him back home with her could see her dog executed by her U.S. superiors.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg befriended puppy Ratchet while serving in Iraq, and sent regular dispatches to her home in Minneapolis charting the dog's process, with 100s of fans tuning in on Facebook to follow the pup's life.

Young Ratchet could face the death-penalty by U.S. Army officials

But the U.S. military takes a strict line with soldiers befriending animals, and confiscated Ratchet as Sgt. Beberg prepared to fly home from Baghdad Airport at the weekend.

Now animal charity Operation Baghdad Pups, which has the motto 'No buddy gets left behind', is pleading with the U.S. Army to allow Ratchet to fly out of the country - amid fears the military will shoot the puppy in the head execution-style.

Sgt. Beberg's mother Patricia said: 'This year has been extremely difficult on my daughter and her family. It has been a year of disappointments, loneliness, and fear because of all the sacrifices the army has required of Gwen.

'Ratchet was the savior of her sanity. Now they have cruelly ripped Ratchet away from her and sentenced him to death. I don't know how my daughter will cope. Ratchet has been her lifeline.'

Sgt. Beberg is also under military investigation for befriending the dog that saved her life.

Gwen with 'lifeline' Ratchet in Iraq

A close friend of Sgt Beberg said: 'It hasn't been easy for her - and the puppy she saved has been one of the few things that has kept her going.

'She's shared pictures of him as he grew from a frightened ball of fur to an adorable young dog.

'She's kept us up-to-date on his travel schedule, and badgered us into contributing money to bring him home.

'Soldiers can face immediate court-marshal for befriending animals and some even see their animals brutally murdered by a direct gunshot to the head from commanding officers who will not bend the rules.

'It was so close... Ratchet was on his way to the airport. And now he might be killed, just because some power-hungry officers decided to flex their muscles and punish an innocent animal because Gwen dared to care about him.'

Ratchet as a puppy: An international campaign has now been set up to save the Army's policy

One soldier wrote to Baghdad Pups: 'I have sacrificed a lot to serve my country. All that I ask in return is to be allowed to bring home the incredible dog that wandered into my life here in Iraq and prevented me from becoming terribly callous towards life.'

The charity Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International has joined Baghdad Pups in asking the U.S. Army to show clemency to Ratchet, and allow the dog to return to gwen's parents in Minneapolis and friends of Gwen have launched a campaign to get American senators to intervene.
16th-Aug-2008 10:52 am - After Georgia, Moscow issues nuclear warning to Poland
By Shaun Walker in Tbilisi and Anne Penketh
Saturday, 16 August 2008

A senior Russian general has revived fears of a new Cold War by threatening Poland with a possible nuclear strike, as the President of Georgia bowed to the inevitable and signed a ceasefire the terms of which were dictated by Moscow.

General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of staff, reflected the Kremlin's fury at an agreement reached on Thursday between the United States and Poland, which is to host part of a US missile defence shield that has been fiercely opposed by Moscow. It "cannot go unpunished", General Nogovitsyn said in Moscow yesterday.

>>Continued )
9th-Aug-2008 11:13 am - Russia and Georgia on brink of war
Belfast Telegraph
Saturday, 9 August 2008

Georgian forces have shot down two Russian planes as the two sides look close to all-out war.

A fighter jet and bomber have been attacked in the fight for South Ossetia.

Georgia is trying to take back the province which broke away during the 1990s.

Russian tanks and troops want to stop the operation - Russian jets have carried out a series of strikes on military targets in the central Georgian city of Gori, close to the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Most of the targets seem to have been military bases, but Georgian officials said a number of civilians had been killed in residential buildings.

Georgian president Mikhail Saakshavili insists Moscow is the aggressor: 'It's about Russia trying to intrude and basically undermine Georgia. But basically, yes, we would like to have a ceasefire, separation of forces, and direct dialogue with the Russians.'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said about 1,500 people had so far been killed.
5th-Aug-2008 10:08 am - Cherie Blair's sister joins battle to break Gaza blockade
Rachel Williams
The Guardian
August 5 2008

A group of activists including Tony Blair's sister-in-law Lauren Booth plans to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip by sailing into the Palestinian territory.

Some 46 campaigners, among them several Britons, a Holocaust survivor and an 81-year-old retired Catholic nun from the US, will make the 241-mile crossing from Cyprus in two wooden vessels at the end of the week, carrying medical supplies. The journey takes about 20 hours.

Campaigners could face resistance off Gaza from the Israeli navy, which previously imposed a similar sea blockade off the Lebanese coast. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)

The California-based Free Gaza movement wants to open unrestricted international access to Gaza while delivering a "symbolic" shipment of 200 hearing aids and batteries for a society for deaf children and other supplies such as painkillers. Organisers say they will not pass through Israeli waters and have therefore not notified Israeli authorities of their plans.

>>Continued )
4th-Aug-2008 03:45 pm - African elephants face extinction by 2020, conservationists warn
04 August 2006

Samuel Wasser, of the University of Washington, said the elephant death rate from poaching was currently 8 per cent, higher than the 7.4 per cent rate which led to the international ivory trade ban in 1989.

African elephants face extinction by 2020, conservationists warn.

Recent reports have shown that demand for ivory is growing in places such as China, Japan and the US

Writing in the journal Conservation Biology, Dr Wasser and fellow researchers warned that without public pressure to ensure a strengthening of anti-poaching measures, most remaining large groups of elephants will be extinct by the end of next decade.

The population in the 1980s was around 1 million, with around 70,000 elephants being killed a year. The total African elephant population is now less than 470,000.

Dr Wasser said the loss of the animals will have a negative impact on their ecosystem and other wildlife that depend on it - as well as on the cashflow they generate from tourists.

"If the trend continues, there won't be any elephants except in fenced areas with a lot of enforcement to protect them," he said.

"The situation is worse than ever before and the public is unaware. It's very serious because elephants are an incredibly important species. >>Read on )
9th-Jul-2008 07:35 am - Nazi hunters in Chile seeking "Dr Death"
7 July 2008

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Nazi hunters arrived in Chile on Monday on the trail of Aribert Heim, nicknamed Dr. Death for killing hundreds of inmates at an Austrian concentration camp during World War Two, who they believe may be lurking in picturesque Patagonia.

Heim, who kept the skull of a man he decapitated as a paperweight, is the most wanted Nazi war criminal still thought to be alive. He would be 94 and his family says he died in 1993.

"We are not here thinking that his capture is imminent, but we have to bolster a campaign that we launched a few months ago," Sergio Widder, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Buenos Aires, told Reuters on his arrival in Santiago.

Widder was accompanying Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff, who head's the Wiesenthal Centre's Jerusalem office. The centre is offering a bounty of around $450,000 (228,000 pounds) for Heim as part of a new drive to catch aged Nazi fugitives before they die unpunished.

Heim, an Austrian who killed hundreds of inmates at the Mauthausen concentration camp by injecting gasoline or poison in their hearts, has been on the run for 46 years since evading police in Germany in 1962 prior to a planned prosecution.

A doctor with Adolf Hitler's SS, Heim removed organs from victims without anaesthetic.

Holocaust survivors remember him relishing the fear of death in his victims' eyes. After administering lethal injections, he timed death with a stopwatch.

The centre believes Heim is likely in Chilean or Argentine Patagonia, the region between the Andes and south Atlantic. Heim's daughter lives in the scenic southern Chilean town of Puerto Montt 657 miles (1,058 km) south of the capital Santiago.

Hundreds of Nazis sought refuge in Latin America after World War Two, many lured to Argentina thanks to the open-door policies of Gen. Juan Domingo Peron, as well as to Chile and Brazil.

Josef Mengele, the "Angel of Death" at Auschwitz, escaped to Argentina and also lived in Paraguay before he died in Brazil in 1979.

(Reporting by Simon Gardner; Editing by Patricia Zengerle)
20th-Jun-2008 04:43 pm - America: How to win friends and influence people

'The Sadr City Wall: a highly controversial project which has effectively walled two to four million Iraqis inside the planet's most dangerous neighborhood. The U.S. Military sees it as show of strength to the insurgents who call Sadr City home, as well as way to control who and enters and exits the city. The locals see it as another hostile move by the occupying forces, a major inconvenience for working and moving from place to place, as well as a potential danger since peaceful residents may not be able to escape when more rounds of fierce fighting erupt.' (Text and photo by Zoriah -

War Over Wall... [NY Times]


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