Iran opposition figures arrested after protests
A number of opposition figures have been arrested in Iran, a day after violent protests in the capital left at least eight people dead.
The BBC Monday, 28 December 2009
Those detained include senior aides to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
His nephew Seyed Ali Mousavi was among those killed in Sunday’s violence, the worst since June’s contested elections.
Family members say they are being prevented from holding his funeral because his body has been taken from the hospital where it was being kept.
His brother, Seyed Reza Mousavi, is quoted by the reformist website Parlemannews as saying: “Nobody accepts responsibility for taking away the body… We cannot have a funeral before we find the body.”
Other opposition sources say the body has been taken by government agents in order to prevent his funeral becoming a rallying point for more protests.
At least 15 dead in Tehran street battles
From Times Online
December 28, 2009
At least fifteen anti-government protesters, including a nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s opposition leader, were shot dead yesterday as the smouldering confrontation between the regime and the so-called Green Movement finally erupted.
Early reports put the number of dead at five, but as clashes continued late into the night, Iranian state television reported that the number of dead had risen to 15. The Ministry of Intelligence said more than 10 were members of “anti-revolutionary terrorist” groups.
The other five who died during the bitter clashes in the Iranian capital were killed by “terrorist groups,” Iranian TV claimed.
Thailand starts deporting Hmong refugees back to Laos
Thailand has started deporting a group of about 4,000 ethnic Hmong back to communist Laos, despite international concerns for their safety.
The BBC Monday, 28 December 2009
Thai officials said unarmed soldiers began closing a camp for Hmong refugees in northern Phetchabun province.
Thailand describes them as economic migrants. The Hmong say they face persecution in Laos because they backed US forces during the Vietnam war.
The UN had urged the Thais to call off plans to deport them.
Thai government spokesman Panithan Wattanayakorn told the BBC that officials had concerns for about 100 of those being deported.
But Thailand had been assured that those people would be pardoned on their return to Laos, he added.
Another Peril in War Zones: Sexual Abuse by Fellow G.I.’s
WOMEN AT ARMS
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: December 27, 2009
BAGHDAD – Capt. Margaret H. White began a relationship with a warrant officer while both were training to be deployed to Iraq. By the time they arrived this year at Camp Taji, north of here, she felt what she called “creepy vibes” and tried to break it off.
In the claustrophobic confines of a combat post, it was not easy to do. He left notes on the door to her quarters, alternately pleading and menacing. He forced her to have sex, she said. He asked her to marry him, though he was already married. He waited for her outside the women’s latrines or her quarters, once for three hours.
As college costs rise, loans become harder to get
By David Cho
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 28, 2009
When Daniel Ottalini entered the University of Maryland in 2004, his family had an array of choices to cover the cost — cheap student loans, a second mortgage at low rates, credit cards with high limits and their own soaring investments.
By the time his younger brother, Russell, started at the University of Pittsburgh this fall, the financial crisis had left the family with fewer options. Russell has had to juggle several jobs in school, and the money he could borrow came with a much higher interest rate that could climb even further over time.
Hamas’s rhetoric of resistance masks new stance a year after Gaza war
Palestinian Islamist movement celebrates 22nd birthday amid drop in rocket attacks and prisoner negotiations but vowing never to recognise Israel
Rory McCarthy in Gaza City
guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 December 2009
When Hamas held its annual anniversary celebrations in the centre of Gaza City it looked like a defiant and celebratory show. There was a male choir in camouflage fatigues singing on the stage, a sea of green flags in the crowd and wave after wave of self-congratulatory chanting: “Far and wide, Hamas is shaking the ground.”
A year after Israel’s devastating three-week war in Gaza, the Palestinian Islamist movement which controls the strip is still very much in charge and unbowed.
“No one imagined that after such a crucial war against our people and our resistance that anyone could plan such a proud anniversary as this,” Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader and former prime minister, told the crowd.
Britain to send £50m to Palestine
Massive aid package includes cash earmarked for fighting extremism in young
By Donald Macintyre Monday, 28 December 2009
Britain yesterday marked the first anniversary of Israel’s military onslaught on Gaza by announcing a £50m aid package for Palestinians, including backing for what it called “a drive against extremism” among the territory’s young people.
The move came 24 hours after Israeli forces killed six Palestinians – three of them Gaza civilians – in one of the conflict’s deadliest days since the three-week offensive that began with massive aerial bombing of Hamas targets a year ago yesterday.
Chinese archaeologists ‘discover’ tomb of notorious pantomime villain Cao Cao
• Henan dig ‘yields bones’ of warlord depicted as tyrant
• Sceptics say more tests needed to confirm find
Jonathan Watts in Beijing
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 27 December 2009 18.58 GMT
Chinese archaeologists claimed today to have found the tomb of one of the country’s oldest and most notorious pantomime villains.
The bones of Cao Cao, who is a byword for treachery in Peking opera, may been located near the ancient capital of Anyang, in Henan province, the state-run broadcaster announced.
An epitaph and inscription were also found in the tomb that appear to identify the warlord, who helped to unify northern China.
If confirmed, the discovery would solve one of China’s greatest historical puzzles.
Shackles, convulsions and sheer terror: life on death row in China
By Clifford Coonan
Monday, 28 December 2009
However limited Akmal Shaikh’s mental capacities, the 4kg of heroin that he brought into Urumqi Airport in 2007 means that he faces a truly terrible fate.
In China, he is far from alone. Some 68 crimes carry the death penalty, including corruption and tax fraud as well as murder; more people are executed by the state here than in any other country. While some Chinese provinces have switched to the lethal injection as a means of execution, Xinjiang province has not and Mr Shaikh will be executed by a bullet to the back of the neck.
The blog testimony of one worker closely involved in the execution process gives a grisly insight into exactly how executions happen in China.
French TV viewers hunger for Britain’s cookery show leftovers
From The Times
December 28, 2009
Adam Sage in Paris
They have the finest gastronomic tradition in the West and are keen to let the rest of the world know. But when it comes to demonstrating their culinary talents on television the French are seeking inspiration from Britain.
With Gallic viewers tiring of old-fashioned cooking programmes involving self-important chefs, television executives are borrowing from Britain’s recipe book in an attempt to liven up their schedules.
For instance, TF1, the biggest television channel in France, announced that it has bought the rights to MasterChef, the 20-year-old BBC show which is being touted as a revolution in French cuisine.
Monaco to build into the sea to create more space
Prince Albert II of Monaco is planning to reclaim land from the sea with a ground-breaking scheme that will allow the tiny population to expand.
By Henry Samuel in Paris
Published: 8:00AM GMT 28 Dec 2009
He has launched a drive to build into the Mediterranean to create an area around 12.5 acres – roughly the size of five football pitches.
It will extend from the Fontvieille district at the western foot of the “rock”, where Monaco’s palace and historic centre are situated.The £10 billion plan was first floated last year but dropped due to the financial crisis and the “green” Prince’s concerns it would damage the marine environment.
But the prince has now decided the time is right to try again and is planning a smaller development that will include a mixture of luxury property, offices and industry and public buildings.
Chile confronts past with new museum
It’s dedicated to victims of Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship, still a raw national wound.
By Chris Kraul
December 28, 2009
Reporting from Santiago, Chile – What they’ll leave in and what they’ll leave out — that question haunts Margarita Iglesias as she considers next month’s opening of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.
That Chile is recognizing victims of its military dictatorship in a striking new “monument to memories” is positive, said Iglesias, both a victim and a historian of Augusto Pinochet’s bloody 17-year rule. As a high school student activist in Santiago in 1975, she was tortured before fleeing with her family to France.