Daily Archives: June 1, 2009

Maoists call for mandatory military training for all citizens over 18

Maoists back mandatory military training

Republica | May 31, 2009

KATHMANDU, May 31: Lawmakers from the Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) have objected to a proposal for mandatory military training to all citizens above 18 years as proposed by a thematic committee of the Constituent Assembly (CA).

The provision is proposed by National Interest Preservation Committee of the CA in its preliminary draft report on the new constitution.

“Such a provision will lead the society toward militarization and that will invite civil war in the country,” NC lawmaker Dr Narayan Khadka said while addressing the CA meeting.

Also, Khadka and other NC leaders expressed their objection to describing Maoist combatants as People´s Liberation Army (PLA).

They said terming them PLA was against the spirit of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and other past accords.

CPN-UML lawmaker Bhim Rawal termed the mandatory provision for military training to all citizens as a wrong provision. He said the Maoist fighters should be called combatants as described by the CPA. He said calling them PLA personnel would be against the CPA.

However, lawmakers of Unified CPN (Maoist) strongly criticized the statement of the leaders from other political parties.

Maoist lawmaker Khim Lal Devkota accused other leaders of betrayal. “The PLA personnel are the ones who fought for republic system and the CA. You all (leaders from other parties) were against it,” said Devkota, adding, “It is a deceitful behavior from you who are reaping rewards in the new systems while disrespecting the fighters.”

He claimed that without contribution of Maoist fighters, establishing republic in the country would have been impossible.

“One special chapter should be dedicated in this report to adore the fighters´ glorious contribution,” Devkota said, adding, “Trying to overlook their role is dishonesty on the part of other political parties.”

Chandra Bahadur Thapa, another Maoist lawmaker, also fiercely attacked leaders from other political parties. “We have felt that other parties are trying to push us toward war by disrespecting the PLA members,” he said.

Thapa, who is also Kathmandu valley in-charge of Maoists´ paramilitary wing Young Communist League, claimed that the CA members who had fanned out earlier to collect people´s opinion had received 22,764 votes in favor of the mandatory military training system. “Can we disrespect the people´s mandate,” he asked. He claimed people supported the idea by giving overwhelming votes for this.

Meanwhile, National Interest Preservation Committee in the CA has tabled a concept paper and preliminary report of the new constitution prepared by the committee.

China faces dark memory of Tiananmen

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The government will likely mark the sensitive date  with deafening silence

AFP | May 31, 2009

By Robert J. Saiget

BEIJING (AFP) — Authorities in China are bracing for the 20th anniversary of the deadly June 4 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, a pivotal moment that still haunts the nation.

The way the government will likely mark the sensitive date on Thursday — with deafening silence — shows it is keenly aware of the emotional scars that remain after the army ended six weeks of peaceful rallies in central Beijing.

China’s Communist leaders have made any discussion of the brutal quelling of the student-led demonstrations — in which hundreds, maybe thousands, were killed — taboo, but dissidents say the public could yet hold them accountable.

“People remember this date because they want the Communist Party to take responsibility for the crimes it committed,” said 53-year-old Qi Zhiyong, who lost a leg after being shot by troops near Tiananmen Square.

“It reminds them the party will resort to unbridled violence whenever it feels threatened.”

In a bid not to rankle the wary authorities, the main public commemoration planned for Thursday will probably be silent.

Activist groups have called on citizens simply to wear white — the traditional colour of mourning — to honour those killed in the mayhem that erupted when tanks and troops rolled in to crush the protests.

The year 1989 was a disastrous one for communism across the globe and in China the ruling party found itself in a struggle with democracy activists who challenged its authoritarian rule over the world’s most populous nation.

The Tiananmen movement began in mid-April, when public grief over the death of former party leader and popular reformer Hu Yaobang gradually morphed into bold calls from students for political reform and steps to combat corruption.

Young students started to occupy Tiananmen Square, the symbolic centre of political power in China. A sense of euphoria saturated the plaza as they took part in rallies no one would have thought possible just weeks earlier.

“There were banners everywhere. This was the first unauthorised political demonstration in the (history of the) People’s Republic of China,” recalled one of the student leaders, Wang Dan.

Calls for democracy and freedom filled the square, thousands went on hunger strike, and one charismatic activist, Wu’er Kaixi, brazenly challenged Premier Li Peng during a meeting broadcast live on state television.

Indeed, the whole world was watching, as news crews from around the globe gathered in Beijing to cover the historic visit by then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, only to stumble upon an event that would be far more significant.

In the corridors of power, the protests drove a wedge between hardline leaders led by Premier Li and moderates headed by Communist Party general secretary Zhao Ziyang.

The hardliners won, with patriarch Deng Xiaoping, China’s most powerful man, tilting the balance in their favour. Zhao was removed from his post as party leader and spent 16 years under house arrest until his death in 2005.

The student movement was declared a “counterrevolutionary rebellion”, and soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army descended on the capital, crushing the democratic dreams of an entire generation.

The number of people killed in the night of June 3-4 remains a mystery. China’s official death toll is 241, including 36 students. Dissidents say thousands may have died.

The crackdown set off a wave of condemnation across the globe, and for several years China was treated as a near-pariah, as Western governments offered asylum to student leaders fleeing into exile.

The international community has long since welcomed China back into the fold, and Beijing’s communist leaders have cemented their hold on power, transforming the country into the world’s number three economy.

But they have shown no willingness to change their position that the protests threatened Communist Party rule and had to be quelled in order to maintain economic reforms.

“Facts have proven that the socialist road with Chinese characteristics that we pursue is in the fundamental interests of our people,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told journalists in May.

But, undeterred, victims of the crackdown have called for renewed international pressure on Beijing to reverse the official verdict on the quelling, saying failure to stand up to a rising China tacitly abets the repression.

“So far, the international community… has adopted a policy of appeasement towards the Chinese government,” said Ding Zilin, 72, whose teenage son was shot dead by the army.

Bao Tong — a former aide to Zhao who was jailed for seven years following the crackdown — said the world has failed to push China to be more open about the events of Tiananmen because of Beijing’s increasing global clout.

“Not wanting to offend China means they cannot help China, cannot help China’s people attain their own rights, and cannot help the world community gain a reliable, stable, peaceful member,” Bao told AFP recently.

“This is not a good thing,” he added.

Bao has since been ordered to sit out the anniversary at a resort more than 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) from Beijing — evidence that the authorities in the capital are not yet ready to reopen the Tiananmen wounds.

‘Redneck’ town in Montana volunteers to be the new Guantanamo in bid to boost economy

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Hardin: The entrance to the Two Rivers Detention Center in Hardin, Montana  Photo: AP

A Wild West cattle town is desperate to boost its ailing economy by offering its jail as a new home for the inmates of Guantanamo Bay.

Telegraph | Jun 1, 2009

By Toby Harndenin Hardin, Montana

Senators and congressman from across America have insisted that their states will not accept terrorist suspects in the homeland, but the folk of Hardin, Montana (population: 3,384) are made of sterner stuff. Greg Smith, Hardin’s economic development director, volunteered its state-of-the-art prison to the federal government.

“This is a dying town,” he said. “Businesses here are struggling like there’s no tomorrow. But here is a solution that would help us, help the United States and help the world. It’s a long shot but we have to try.”

The town stands on the edge of the Crow Indian Reservation a few dusty miles from the Little Bighorn Battlefield, where Lt Col George Custer made his last stand in 1876.

It has lost most of its shops. Even its dollar store is about to close.

The prison has stood empty since it was built two years ago and is in danger of becoming a white elephant because of a bitter dispute with the Montana government, which claims it is not needed. It was designed to bring up to 150 jobs to Hardin, cost $27 million (£16.7 million) and can hold 464 inmates.

The town council voted unanimously to offer to house the inmates that Donald Rumsfeld, then Pentagon chief, famously called the “worst of the worst”, and sent a letter to the White House setting out its case.

Mr Smith said it was important not to fear terrorists. “We can’t cower to the terrorists. If the whole world’s afraid of them, haven’t they won? To me, it would be a bigger concern if it were axe murderers or rapists. The guys at Guantanamo are mainly planners. They’re not going to strap bombs to themselves – they get other people to do that jihad stuff.”

The proposal has provoked a lively debate among locals. Leo Harman, 74, has his doubts: “If a bad dude gets out, the first thing he’s going to do is look for somebody and find himself a gun.” But his brother Gerald, 68, believes locals could deal with that. “We should put up a sign: ‘If you escape, Montana rednecks are going to hang you from a tree’.”

The response from Montana’s politicians has been a resounding “No”. “We’re not going to bring al-Qaeda to Big Sky Country,” thundered Senator Max Baucus. “No way. Not on my watch.”

‘They stole my little girl,’ says mother judged too stupid to care for her baby

Rachel_mother

The adoption is going ahead despite a recent psychiatrist’s report which declared that the 24-year-old has ‘good literacy and numeracy and that her general intellectual abilities appear to be within the normal range’.

Daily Mail | May 31, 2009

By Andy Dolan

A young mother who was judged too stupid to care for her own baby has accused social workers of ‘stealing’ the child from her.

The woman, who must be identified only as Rachel for legal reasons, is taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights in a last ditch attempt to halt the adoption of the child, now aged three.

She has told the Mail that she was bitterly unhappy with her treatment at the hands of social workers at Nottingham City Council.

Her daughter, referred to only as K, was born three months prematurely with severe medical complications. Officials felt the first-time mother lacked the intelligence to cope with the child and care for her in safety.

K was eventually discharged from hospital and given to a foster family.

But although her health has now improved to the point where she needs little or no day-to-day care, the child is due to be handed to adoptive parents within three months.

Rachel will then be barred from further contact.

The adoption is going ahead despite a recent psychiatrist’s report which declared that the 24-year-old has ‘good literacy and numeracy and that her general intellectual abilities appear to be within the normal range’.

It said the unemployed former cleaner had no previous history of learning disability or mental illness.

The single mother told the Mail that she had been ‘totally let down’ by the system.

She said: ‘Social workers and the psychologist keep saying I have got learning difficulties but I do not. They go after the wrong people. There are people out there harming children. All I want to do is look after mine but they will not let me.

‘That girl has been stolen from me. They might have stamped all the paperwork, but she has effectively been stolen from me.’

After a hearing earlier this month, a family court judge reduced her contact visits with K from 90 minutes every fortnight to five minutes a month in preparation for the adoption.

Rachel’s battle was compounded by the fact a psychologist concluded that her ‘learning difficulties’ would leave her unable to instruct her own solicitor.

As a result, Alastair Pitblado, the Official Solicitor, who acts for those who cannot represent themselves, was called in. He declined to contest the council’s adoption application, despite Rachel’s wish to do so.

She told appeal court judges last year that the Official Solicitor’s involvement had reduced her to a ‘spectator’ in the case, even though she had the mental capacity to take part.

A study last year found that Rachel’s IQ was rated at 71 – the IQ of an ‘average’ adult is 90-109.

Rachel will claim at the European Court that the lack of a fair hearing and the enforced adoption has infringed her human rights.

Social workers first raised doubts about Rachel’s parenting capabilities soon after her daughter was born with chronic lung disease and other complications.

They were ‘concerned’ that she initially only visited the baby for one or two hours each day.

K was discharged from hospital aged six months into the care of the foster parents she remains with today.

The child’s father, aged 66, has no contact with his daughter and he and Rachel are no longer together.

Rachel is being supported by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, a vocal critic of the family justice system.

Mr Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said Rachel had been ‘swept aside by a system that seems more interested in securing a child for adoption than preserving a natural family unit’.

The council wanted Rachel to remain anonymous, but she successfully argued that allowing her first name and picture to be used would allow the case to be discussed publicly.

The Daily Mail has long campaigned for greater openness in the family courts.

In February last year, Nottingham City Council conceded social workers had acted illegally in removing a baby boy two hours after his birth because no court order had been sought.

The council claimed that the mother’s troubled childhood and mental health problems threatened the baby’s welfare.

Nottingham City Council said that adoption cases were ‘decided by the courts, taking into account all the information presented by all parties and putting the future welfare of the child as the priority’.

Mother of Tasered man wants Poland to probe son’s death

Robert Dziekanski tasered by the RCMP at Vancouver Airport (complete video by Paul Pritchard)

Toroto Star | May 31, 2009

VANCOUVER–The mother of a Polish man who died at Vancouver’s airport after being jolted by an RCMP Taser wants charges laid against those responsible.

Zofia Cisowski is asking Poland to re-open its investigation into Robert Dziekanski’s death.

Poland suspended its investigation last year because it said it wasn’t getting information or evidence from Canadian authorities.

Cisowski has hired lawyers in Canada and Poland to convince Polish prosecutors to investigate the death with the potential of charging those responsible and bringing them to trial.

Bystander video released after Dziekanski’s death showed the four Mounties confronting the man, jolting him with a Taser and then Dziekanski dying on the floor of the airport.

Crown prosecutors announced last December that the officers wouldn’t be charged, saying they acted with reasonable force in the circumstances.

Cisowski’s Canadian lawyer, Bill Sundhu, says the objective is to ensure that there’s accountability and justice done in what they believe was a wrongful death at the hands of the RCMP.

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Related

Taser Death by RCMP – commentary by filmer

Paul Pritchard, the man who took the incriminating video of the RCMP tasering a man to death, speaks about his observations of the killing.

RCMP lies on Dziekanski taser death – pt1

Mom Wants Justice After Son was Tasered to Death by Police

Since 2001, more than 350 people in the United States have been killed by Tasers

BET.com | May 29, 2009

Robert Mitchell, 16, died last month after being Tasered by police

Robert Mitchell, 16, died last month after being Tasered by police

A Michigan mother is outraged over the death of her 16-year-old son, and she’s taking the Warren County Police force and the city of Warren to court.

Robert Mitchell died last month after being Tasered by police. He was riding with his cousin, Chris Davis, along Detroit’s 8 Mile Road, which was immortalized in Eminem’s 2002 film, when the cops pulled up behind them and turned on their flashing lights.  The car was being pulled over for having expired plates.

Before the car could stop, Mitchell jumped out and started running. Davis said that he told his cousin not to run.

“He was real scared, he was petrified,” Davis told CNN. “He hopped out the car and started running.”

Mitchell wasn’t wanted for any crime.  In fact, he had no criminal record.  But what he did have was a learning disability, and his mother believes he ran because he was afraid of police.

CNN reports that officers chased Mitchell for nearly two blocks before ending his life with one 50,000-volt shot of electricity.  Police say he was “resisting arrest.”

Mitchell’s mother calls the Tasering “murder.”

“Shooting a kid with a Taser is not an accident,” Renea Mitchell told CNN. “Tasers don’t have they own brain. The trigger can not move unless somebody pull it….it’s murder…I’m mad…they killed my kid.”

Since 2001, more than 350 people in the United States have been killed by Tasers, according Amnesty International.

An investigation by the police internal affairs department says the use of the Taser was justified, and the officers involved are back at work.

Mitchell’s family is now suing the Warren Police Department and the city of Warren.

Mitchell is the third young Black male to die after being shocked with a Taser by police in 2009 alone.

Japanese university hands out free iPhones to track students by satellite

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The attendance reporting app used by the Aoyama Gakuin university. (Credit: SoftBank)

Japanese university uses iPhone to keep tab of students

CNET | May 29, 2009

by  Dong Ngo

If American school children have to resort to some special mosquito ringtone to use cell phones at school, a university in Japan is doing the opposite: giving cell phones to students. And not just any cell phone–the iPhone 3G.

According to Asiajin, about 550 students and staff members in the School of Social Informatics at Tokyo-based university Aoyama Gakuin received the iPhone 3G for free earlier this month as part of their study materials.

Related

Japan university gives away iPhones to nab truants

This is the result of a deal that Aoyama Gakuin signed with SoftBank, the exclusive vendor of the iPhone in Japan. The number of students using the iPhone is expected to reach about 1,000. This is the first time a particular cell phone has been used on such a huge scale at a Japanese university.

The gadget will work as a study tool for students, but as it also comes with GPS, which the university plans to use to check student attendance. Truancy is a big problem in Japan, where regular attendance is an important factor in determining a student’s grade. Students often fake attendance by getting classmates to answer roll calls.

Now, with the iPhone 3G, the school plans to keep better tabs on its students. Students are allowed to use the phone for attendance reporting (but only if they are actually in the classroom, a fact that will be verifiable based on the phone’s GPS), lecture podcasting, and online examinations. A student can’t answer the roll call using the phone from any location other than the classroom.

Students can, of course, still cheat the new system by leaving their phones with fellow classmates, but this is not very likely to happen, as people tend to keep a lot of private information on their phones that they don’t want to share with others.

As for calling and data plans, the university covers the basic fee. The the hardware itself is free, but students will have to pay when they exceed downloading limits.