Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nawara Negm: Egyptian critic of military rule beaten in street

CAIRO (AP) - Assailants attacked a prominent Egyptian activist as she left work at Cairo's Nileside state television headquarters late on Wednesday, in the latest incident of violence against the protest movement that toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime to be captured on video.

A clip posted on social networks showed a small crowd punching and kicking Nawara Negm, and hurling abuse at her. Her assailants could be heard saying she wanted to drive a wedge between the ruling military and the people. Others called her an "agent," presumably of a foreign power.

Negm told a TV interviewer late on Wednesday night that the beating left her with a swollen eye, but that she was otherwise unhurt. She said the beating took place while scores of policemen and army soldiers assigned to the protection of the TV building stood by and watched.

"I am not the type that runs away. I stood my ground," she told the interviewer on the privately owned ONTV station.

Negm is the daughter of Ahmed Fouad Negm, Egypt's best known satirical poet and a longtime critic of Mubarak. She was a key figure in the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down last February. Also a newspaper columnist and blogger, she has been sharply critical of the generals who took over from the ousted president.

Negm was questioned by prosecutors this week over her alleged role in deadly clashes last month between troops and protesters in Cairo. Read More

Eric Reinert Contracts ‘Rat Lungworm’ Disease In Hawaii

People travel to Hawaii to relax and get some sun and surf, but a Minnesota man’s trip to paradise turned into a nightmare after he contracted a paralyzing disease.

Eric Reinert is 22 years old and learning to walk all over again.

He’s taking baby steps and it can be hard to keep his balance, but they are a long way from where he was just a month ago.

He was stuck in a wheelchair in a Hawaiian hospital all because of a microscopic parasite.

“Every movement was just dreaded – horrible, awful, terrible,” said Reinert. Read More

South Korea to allow food aid to North for first time since Kim's death: Mistake?

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- The South Korean government on Friday approved the first shipment of food aid to North Korea since the death of dictator Kim Jong Il last month.

The South Korean Unification Ministry has given the green light to the sending on January 27 of 180 tons of flour to elementary schools and day care centers by the Korea Peace Foundation, Kim Hyung-suk, a ministry spokesman, said at a briefing.

North Korea has agreed to receive the shipment, according to the ministry.

Pyongyang announced Kim's death on December 19, setting off speculation about the stability of the reclusive state and its possible consequences for the broader region. Kim's youngest son and chosen successor, Kim Jong Un, has replaced him as the regime's "supreme leader." Read More

Did South Africa snub IMF's Christine Lagarde?

South Africa (CNN) –It was a hot summer day when Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund visited South Africa in early January. However, it appeared that she received a rather chilly welcome from the South African government.

The South Africans, despite knowing about her visit for more than a month, had not scheduled any meetings with the Finance Minister, the Reserve Bank governor or any other key economic advisors. Crucially, no meeting was lined up with President Jacob Zuma.

It seemed that IMF staff were scrambling to pin down the South Africans even after Lagarde had arrived in the country.

In the end, Lagarde had ad hoc meetings in Pretoria with the country's economic teams the morning after she arrived. It is unclear if they apologized, but I understand that one minister told her she visiting at a bad time; most South African government employees were still on their long Christmas holiday and the ruling ANC was holding it's 100th birthday celebrations in Bloemfontein, a four-hour drive away from Pretoria.

The arrival of one of the world's most powerful women in southern Africa was clearly not a priority, it seemed.

At one stage it was suggested she would meet South African president Jacob Zuma the following Wednesday - five days away - and the only time he would be able to fit her into his schedule.

From what I understand, it was becomingly increasingly clear to the IMF folks that Zuma was not going to make the effort to meet Lagarde. She would have to go to him. Read More

Did It Work? ‘Day After’ Results of the SOPA, PIPA Blackout

Google has dropped its logo shroud, Wikipedia has returned from limbo, normal service in general has been resumed, and all’s right with the world … except that SOPA and PIPA are still looming on Capitol Hill. So did yesterday’s blackout protests against these bills have an actual impact?

Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales certainly thinks they did. He’s taking a victory lap today, after blacking out the world’s fifth most trafficked website for 24 hours to raise awareness of the bills, offering a “thank you” message to supporters that claims over 162 million people saw Wikipedia’s anti-SOPA, anti-PIPA message.

You said no. You shut down Congress’s switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet. Read More

Google Is Already Using SOPA-Like Censorship

Despite Google’s much-heralded support for the anti-SOPA movement, the web giant is already enforcing SOPA-like policies of its own, blacklisting legitimate websites from its news aggregator and following government orders to remove material from its search results and You Tube.

As major Internet giants joined forces yesterday to protest legislation that would hand the U.S. government power to arbitrarily seize websites with no legal process under the pretext of copyright infringement, Google slapped a black censorship image over its logo and urged people to sign an anti-SOPA petition that has accrued over 5 million signees.

However, Google’s main issue with SOPA is seemingly not related to their concerns about Chinese-style web censorship becoming commonplace, but rather which entity gets to wield those powers – large transnational corporations or governments.

While Google criticizes SOPA publicly, it is already privately using SOPA-like powers to unfairly marginalize legitimate web content.

Google News is a content aggregator that allows users to search thousands of news sources for relevant stories. Read More

Obama’s Keystone Denial Prompts Canada to Look to China Sales

President Barack Obama’s decision yesterday to reject a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline may prompt Canada to turn to China for oil exports.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a telephone call yesterday, told Obama “Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports,” according to details provided by Harper’s office. Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said relying less on the U.S. would help strengthen the country’s “financial security.”

The “decision by the Obama administration underlines the importance of diversifying and expanding our markets, including the growing Asian market,” Oliver told reporters in Ottawa.

Currently, 99 percent of Canada’s crude exports go to the U.S., a figure that Harper wants to reduce in his bid to make Canada a “superpower” in global energy markets.

Canada accounts for more than 90 percent of all proven reserves outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to data compiled in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Read More

Teacher Accused Of Pouring Hot Tea On Battling Students

HASTINGS (AP/CBS Detroit) — Did a frustrated teacher dump hot tea on fighting students at Hastings High School?

The district isn’t talking about the incident directly, but interim Superintendent Michelle Falcon issued this statement: “We are always very concerned for the safety of our students and staff. We are currently in the process of investigating this situation.”

Police are reportedly investigating a claim that a teacher dumped hot tea on a 15-year-old high school student and an 18-year-old classmate after they refused to stop fighting in school.

The Grand Rapids Press and television stations WOOD and WWMT report the dispute happened this week at Hastings High School in Hastings, about 30 miles southeast of Grand Rapids. Read More

Obese Man Rescued from Cluttered Home on Long Island

First responders had to cut through the side of a house on Long Island to rescue a man who had become trapped inside on Thursday, Newsday reported.

The man, who was trapped in a second-floor bathroom, was very "overweight," according to officials.

The Center Moriches home was so cluttered with debris that responders could not get medical equipment to the man in the bathroom, Suffolk County police said.

Medics brought the man to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center for treatment. Source

NATO not even thinking of Syria operation: top general

NATO is not planning or even "thinking" of intervening in Syria, the alliance's most senior officer said Thursday, days after a top Russian official said such plans were in the making.

"There is no planning and we are not thinking about an intervention," General Knud Bartels, head of NATO's Military Committee, told a news conference after a two-day meeting of the alliance's military chiefs.

During the talks, he said nations from NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue -- a forum including Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia -- "expressed their concerns about the upheaval we are seeing in the region."

"But there was no dicussion at all of a military intervention," said Bartels, the former head of Danish armed forces, who replaced Admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo in January after the Italian officer became defence minister.

Last week, Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev claimed that NATO members and some Arab states, using lessons from Libya, "intend to turn the current interference with Syrian affairs into a direct military intervention". Read More

Iran boosts security for all in nuclear field

Iran has boosted security for all its nuclear workers after one of its scientists was assassinated last week, First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said Tuesday.

"Whoever is active in the nuclear field will be put under special care," Rahimi said in remarks reported by the official IRNA news agency.

The order was given by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rahimi said.

ISNA news agency quoted the vice president as saying the additional measures were on top of ones ordered 10 months ago for Iran's nuclear scientists.

"This time around, the government ordered that anyone who is active in the nuclear field, from low levels to higher ups, be under surveillance and put under special care," Rahimi said. Read More

US, allies plot next steps on post-Kim N.Korea

Senior officials from the United States and close allies South Korea and Japan met Tuesday to coordinate their next steps on North Korea amid deep concern following the death of leader Kim Jong-Il.

The United States was considering a new engagement drive with North Korea when Kim suddenly died on December 17, leaving control of the isolated and nuclear-armed state to his young and inexperienced son Kim Jong-Un.

Kurt Campbell, the top US diplomat on Asia, went into a day of closed-door talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama and Lim Sung-Nam, South Korea's envoy to stalled nuclear talks on North Korea, a US official said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday that the talks "will focus on ensuring that we're well coordinated on our policy towards North Korea" and also look at "broader regional issues writ large." Read More

Sukhoi tests new multipurpose jet fighter: Russia

Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi has flight tested its Serial Three Su-35S Flanker-E multipurpose jet fighter for the first time.

During the test Tuesday, which lasted more than two hours, the aircraft's propulsion and control systems were put through their paces and "proved to be flawless," the company said.

Additional details on the initial flight test have not been disclosed.

The Su-35S is based on the earlier Su-27 but with an improved airframe, two central digital computers, advanced avionics and new radar with phased array antennas.

The closest competitor aircraft to the Su-27, which was introduced into service in 1988, is the U.S. F-15 Eagle.

With increased fuel capacity, the range of the Su-35S is more than 2,200 miles. Read More

Seoul summit 'to tackle threat of nuclear terrorism'

An international summit to be held in March will discuss ways to prevent nuclear terrorism, Indian officials said on Tuesday, following a preparatory meeting in capital New Delhi.

Officials from 49 countries met to lay the ground for the nuclear security summit to be held March 26-27 in Seoul.

"The main objective of the nuclear summit process has been to focus high-level global attention on the threat posed by nuclear terrorism," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said.

"Security of nuclear materials is fundamentally a national responsibility but there is considerable scope for international cooperation to strengthen nuclear security objectives and standards." Read More

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA - 23rd Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck South of Java, Indonesia at a depth of 58.3 km (36.2 miles), the quake hit at 04:16:05 UTC Monday 23rd January 2012
The epicenter was 171 km (106 miles) SSW of Jember, Java, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake FIJI REGION - 23rd Jan 2012

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck the Fiji Region at a depth of 585 km (363.5 miles), the quake hit at 03:27:02 UTC Monday 23rd January 2012
The epicenter was 101 km (62 miles) NNE of Ndoi Island, Fiji
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.