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November 30, 2004

Valech Report released

Filed under: Archived,Chile,Human rights,Santiago, Chile — admin @ 5:00 am

Valech Report released – Wikinews, the free news source

Valech Report released

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

SANTIAGO, Chile – The Valech Report, officially titled The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture Report, was made public yesterday (November 29, 2004) by Bishop Sergio Valech, the head of the eight-member panel commission into abuses committed in Chile between 1973 and 1990 by agents of Augusto Pinochet’s military regime. It was prepared by the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture at the request of the president, and it is freely available to the public as a document on the Internet.

The report was based on testimonies given to the commission by more than 35,000 people. A little over 27,000 of those testimonies were regarded as legitimate by the commission.

On addressing the nation on November 28, 2004, president Ricardo Lagos said he would propose a bill that will provide compensation to the victims.

Most witnesses described behavioral, emotional and psychosocial effects. Many said they had felt — and still feel — insecure and fearful, humiliated, ashamed and guilty; depressed, anxiety-ridden and hopeless. Some persons mentioned alterations in their concentration and memory; others cited conflicts, crises and breakups within their families, as well as conjugal problems. They also mentioned the loss of reference groups and social networks. Most victims mentioned sleep disturbances and chronic insomnia, as well as behavioral inhibitions, phobias and fears.

This Commission heard testimony from 3,399 women, almost all of whom said they were the object of sexual violence; 316 said they were raped. Of the latter, 229 were detained while pregnant. Because of the torture they suffered, 20 of them aborted and 15 gave birth while in prison. Thirteen women said they were made pregnant by their captors; six of those pregnancies came to term.

The full report, in Spanish, can be found here.

Excerpts

Excerpts from the report as translated by The Miami Herald [1].

Consciously or unconsciously, a conspiracy of silence about the torture spread slowly through the country. Political prison and torture constituted a state policy during the military regime, defined and promoted by the political authorities of the period which mobilized personnel and resources of various public organizations and issued decrees and laws that protected such repressive behavior. And this had the support, explicit sometimes but almost always implicit, of the only power that was not a member of that regime: the judiciary.
[More than 18,000 of the 35,868 respondents] said they were detained between September and December 1973. During that period, torture was practiced by members of the Armed Forces and Carabineros [paramilitary police] in what became a generalized practice on a national scale.
[More than 5,266 respondents] were political prisoners detained between January 1974 and August 1977, when new modalities of detention and torture were created. By June 1974, the DINA [Directorate of National Intelligence] was granted full legal recognition and its own budget.
[Almost 4,000 respondents] were persons detained for political motives between August 1977 and March 1990. The final period of the repressive process was distinguished by the activities of the CNI [National Information Center.] In 3,059 cases, the detainees were kept in CNI facilities.
As the citizenry rearticulated itself politically, the Investigations Department Police [police detectives] and Carabineros intervened again most actively in the tasks of coercion, detaining (for shorter periods) and torturing (with the usual methods) either on their own or placing oppositionists at the disposal of the CNI, military or civilian tribunals for processing.

See also

  • Wikipedia: Valech Report
  • Wikipedia: Chilean coup of 1973
  • Wikipedia: Rettig Report

Sources

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US president Bush visits Canada

US president Bush visits Canada – Wikinews, the free news source

US president Bush visits Canada

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

United States President George W. Bush made his first official state visit to Canada this week.

After the political frost between the two states surrounding the U.S.’ War on Terror policy and its invasion of Iraq in 2003, the kind of relationship the neighbor states can build or rebuild is thought to be of concern to many Canadians — the majority of whom remain highly critical of the Bush administration’s policies.

Topics discussed included the U.S. “Star Wars” missile defence system, the future of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command), combatting of AIDS and other diseases in Africa, and cracking down on illegal activities on the U.S.-Canada border. They also discussed trade issues including beef, lumber, and prescription drugs.

Protesters march on Laurier Ave. in Ottawa

Protesters clashed with riot police in Ottawa briefly on Tuesday in a break from what has been for the most part a calm series of demonstrations. The Indymedia group of websites reported a demonstration on the 29th against the deportation of Palestinian refugees. They also report 15,000 people marched against Bush in Ottawa on the 30th and have text photos, and a video of the protests.

During an early afternoon news conference with Prime Minister Paul Martin, Bush said he was pleased with the welcome he received Tuesday morning. “I want to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave —with all five fingers —for their hospitality,” he said with a chuckle.

The official 26-hour visit will take the American President to Canada’s capital city, Ottawa and to Halifax, where he will pay tribute to the hospitality shown by Canadians on September 11, 2001, when, after the U.S. closed its airspace, more than 200 flights were diverted to Canadian airports. Thousands of Americans were sheltered in Halifax (the largest city in Canada’s Atlantic provinces) as well as St. John’s and Gander in Newfoundland, and other centres.

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US Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge resigns

US Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge resigns

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a resignation statement today, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced that he will leave his position by February 1, 2005, unless a successor is named sooner.

In his tenure as the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Ridge has been instrumental in establishing protocols aimed at thwarting terrorism, including a national warning system based on color coding that is routinely publicized nationally.

In his resignation, Ridge thanked President Bush for the opportunity to help secure the nation and expressed his sentiments that the new security systems put in place since the September 11, 2001 attacks had made America safer and more prepared than it had been. He cited family and personal issues as major reasons for his resignation stating that, “After more than 22 consecutive years of public service, it is time to give personal and family matters a higher priority.”

Several days after Ridge’s announcement, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson announced his departure and warned that the nation remains vulnerable to potential food-borne terrorist attacks, stating, “I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do.”

Legacy

As the United States’s first Secretary of Homeland Security, Ridge resigned his position as Governor of Pennsylvania in 2001 to take the position for which President Bush had nominated him.

He is well-known to Americans for implementing the now-famous color-coded terror alert levels and advisories against various sorts of terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security is a new player in the power struggle in Washington. Throughout his tenure, Ridge fought a losing battle with the FBI for jurisdiction because the Bush administration allowed the FBI to remain a part of the Department of Justice.

Sources


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China and South East Asian nations to create the world\’s largest free trade area

Filed under: Archived,Asia,China,Economy and business — admin @ 5:00 am

China and South East Asian nations to create the world’s largest free trade area

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

VIENTIANE, Laos – The People’s Republic of China has signed an agreement with ASEAN to establish the world’s largest free trade area. Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, India and Australia are considering joining. ASEAN members include Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Indonesia.

In the last four years China has become a major importer of oil and commodities, and a major exporter of finished goods. China has also strengthened relationships with oil suppliers in the Middle East and Africa. This pact lifts trade restrictions and removes tariffs from many imports and exports. It also allows China to continue manipulating the value of its currency in its own interests. The yuan is currently undervalued, making Chinese-made goods artificially cheap for foreign importers.

Stated in the agreement is ASEAN’s intention to create a unified economy–and by implication polity–similar to the EU. This agreement will cement China’s role as the center of the South Asian regional economy, and at the same time strengthening bonds between China and other countries in the region and ease their suspicions over a growing superpower.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun separately adopted accords with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, agreeing to launch the talks early next year. Both agreements aim for trade pacts within two years. Australia and New Zealand are expected to sign similar agreements with ASEAN before discussions close later Tuesday, although ASEAN remains wary of Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s refusal to sign its nonaggression treaty. Howard played down these concerns but said on record that he reserves the right to preemptively act against terrorists on foreign soil if they threaten Australia.

Sources

  1. William Foreman. “China forges trade pact with Southeast Asia” — Associated Press, 30 November, 2004
  2. Shawn Donnan and Amy Kazmin. “Asean touts China trade deal as great leap forward” — Financial Times, 29 November, 2004
  3. Mark Drajem. “U.S. Imposes Duties on Shrimp From China and Vietnam” — Bloomberg, 30 November, 2004


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Hopes rise for breakthrough in Northern Ireland Peace Process

Filed under: Archived,Northern Ireland,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Hopes rise for breakthrough in Northern Ireland Peace Process

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

BELFAST – Hopes were rising that the impasse in the Good Friday Agreement could be broken with high level talks in Downing Street between the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley.

It is also expected that the Republican Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams would have separate meetings with the Irish leader Bertie Ahern in Dublin. These meetings follow a historic meeting between Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde over issues of police reform and decommissioning.

The current impasse concerns the key issues of decommissioning of paramilitary weapons and the ‘de-militarisation’ of the province. Previous efforts to achieve a compromise failed because Unionists claimed insufficiently large amounts of IRA weaponry had been decommissioned, and that there was insufficient evidence that the weapons had in fact been destroyed.

Some Unionists are insisting on photographic evidence of the destruction of IRA weapons, a request that is bound to be resisted by more militant Republicans. Even if further decommissioning occurs, Republicans are almost certain to want a specific timetable for the removal of British Army bases in Republican leaning areas of Northern Ireland (such as South Armagh), which are much resented by some local inhabitants.

If the current deadlock were broken, it would mean the reconvening of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which was shut down in 2002 amidst accusations of spying by both Republicans and Unionists.

Sources


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Gusenbauer reelected as Austrian Social Democrat Party leader

Filed under: Archived,Austria,Europe,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Gusenbauer reelected as Austrian Social Democrat Party leader

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Alfred Gusenbauer has been reelected as leader of the Austrian Social Democrat Party (SPOE) at the party’s convention in Vienna. Gusenbauer received 88.93% of the vote, an unexpectedly low value. In 2002, he was reelected with 99.6%. Gusenbauer leads the SPOE since 1999.

Albeit the low result he has called the vote an “impressive display of confidence”. Gusenbauer and other heads of the party, including influential Vienna mayor Michael Haeupl have confirmed that Gusenbauer will be the party’s top candidate for the next parliamental election which will also determine the Austrian chancellor.

In his keynote address Gusenbauer has issued heavy criticism at the current Austrian government which is led by chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and the Austrian People’s Party (OEVP).

Sources

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November 29, 2004

World\’s Largest Ball of Twine Turns 50

Filed under: Archived — admin @ 5:00 am

World’s Largest Ball of Twine Turns 50 – Wikinews, the free news source

World’s Largest Ball of Twine Turns 50

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Monday, November 29, 2004

CAWKER CITY, KANSAS – People in Kansas like to just go have a look at things from time to time, particularly if it is kitchy and big. Frank Stoeber died in 1974, but not before he left behind a legacy of twine. Frank started a building a ball of sisal twine (a form of hemp) in 1953, which as grown to 40 ft in diameter hence. The ball of twine’s domicile is a mini-museam located in the downtown of Cawker City, Kansas, which onlookers can simple look at or add twine to. In some ways Frank’s ball of twine mirrors that of the failed culture of Easter Island. On Easter Island, the people built large stone heads in some final attempt to perserve a culture that was dying from lack of trees. Similarly, Frank’s large ball of twine stands an object of preservation. In case you don’t make off the coast of Chili, head out to the heartland and have a look.

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Ukrainian opposition leader calls for police and army to join revolution

Filed under: Archived,Elections,Source offline,Ukraine — admin @ 5:00 am

Ukrainian opposition leader calls for police and army to join revolution

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Ukraine crisis

Monday, November 29, 2004

KIEV – President Leonid D. Kuchma Monday proposed holding a new election to end the political crisis threatening to tear the country apart, according to The New York Times.

Mr. Kuchma’s remarks, which came as Ukraine’s Supreme Court heard complaints of electoral fraud involving perhaps millions of ballots in the November 21 presidential election, represented the collapse of what had been the government’s united position that Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovych won the election.

Amid protests of up to 200,000 over Ukraine’s disputed presidential election, officially declared loser Viktor Yushchenko has called on the army and police to join a revolution against the government.

This comes after Yushchenko was symbolically sworn-in by deputies this weekend.

Western election observers have expressed doubts over the vote’s credibility.

Viktor Yushchenko is a banker seen as pro-Western. His opposition is the incumbent Mr Yanukovych, who is seen as pro-Moscow, a sensitive issue in a former territory of the Soviet Union.

The Daily Telegraph quotes Yushchenko as saying to deputies: “Ukraine is on the threshold of a civil conflict. We have two choices: either the answer will be given by the parliament, or the streets will give an answer.”



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Ruling party ahead in Romanian elections

Filed under: Archived,Elections,Romania — admin @ 5:00 am

Ruling party ahead in Romanian elections

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Monday, November 29, 2004

BUCHAREST, Romania – Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) has emerged ahead in yesterday’s legislative and presidential elections. The voter turnout was around 57% of all eligible voters, which number 18 million people in a country of 21.7 million.

However the PSD did not gain the vote majority needed to declare an outright victory, and it will now proceed to a run-off election against the centre-left opposition. Called the Truth and Justice Alliance, the main opposition is a union of candidates from the National Liberal Party and the Democrat Party.

While PSD+PUR is currently leading, the most hotly-contested election in Romania’s post-Communist history may come down to the run-off, to be held on December 12. The winning presidential candidate of the run-off will not only become the country’s president but will also appoint a prime minister to lead the government.

In the presidential election, Adrian Năstase, the PSD’s presidential candidate, won approximately 42% of the vote, while Traian Băsescu of Truth and Justice obtained around 35%, according to exit polls.

Năstase led the exit polls due to greater support in rural Romania, as well as support from the urban poor, due to his policy of boosting the economy. Năstase’s PSD+PUR coalition was also supported because they are credited with saving Romania from economic collapse during their presidential and legislative term from 2000 until the present time. During his term of prime-minister of Romania, from 2000 to 2004, Năstase not only boosted the economy but ensured that Romania entered NATO and progressed towards its accession to the European Union, expected to occur in 2007. In 2004, the economy is expected to grow by 8.6%, the highest rate in Europe.

Băsescu won a majority in Bucharest, Romania’s capital, as well as in the wealthier cities of Transylvania. Băsescu is supported by the educated middle-class, who take a favourable view upon his policy of stamping out corruption in one of the region’s most corrupt countries. Băsescu has also received a boost due to his liberalist policies and his proposal for tax reform and the introduction of a flat tax.

In the legislative election, the PSD+PUR coalition obtained 40% of the vote, while the Truth and Justice alliance trailed with 35%. Because the PSD+PUR coalition did not gather the majority of the votes (50%+1), it will have to form a governing coalition with the minor parties, a process which is expected to be tedious given the fact that both of the major parties have ruled out entering into a coalition with ultra-nationalist The Greater Romania Party, which obtained around 12% of the vote.

Sources[]

  1. Ian Traynor, Governing party leads in Romania, The Guardian, November 29, 2004
  2. Dina Kyriakidou and Radu Marinas, Ruling party ahead but stung in Romania vote, Swissinfo, November 28, 2004
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Lycos launches screensaver to increase spammers\’ bills

Lycos launches screensaver to increase spammers’ bills

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Monday, November 29, 2004

HANOVER, Germany – Internet portal and mail-provider Lycos Europe has launched a program to increase spammers’ bills by having thousands of voluntary users’ computers repeatedly query websites from which spam originates. Such a tactic would increase the bandwidth costs for these websites. However, it also faces legal questions.

Spamming, the mass sending of unsolicited emails, is lucrative in part because each email can be sent for nearly insignificant costs. With such low costs, a commercial spammer needs only to have a very small number of recipients buy their product to make a profit. The goal of many anti-spam proposals has been to increase the cost of spammers sending messages. Lycos’ approach is to make it more expensive to maintain servers that send spam.

Volunteers may download the screensaver from the Lycos website for it. The program would run on a user’s computer in the background and request about three megabytes (3MBs) of data every day. The screensaver shows which spam server is being targeted by the user, where the server is located, and how many others are attacking it at that moment. Target email servers are selected from blacklists from anti-spam organizations, with Lycos’ own verification.

Legal issues arise over whether this can be interpreted as a denial of service attack. In such an attack, computers overwhelm a webserver with requests for data to the point where it does not have the resources to fulfill its normal function. Lycos, in explanatory material on the screensaver’s dedicated website ( http://makelovenotspam.com ), claims that its technology closely monitors the screensavers’ effects on targeted websites and prevents any of them from being completely shut down by information requests.

Lycos Europe operates in Germany where, according to Joerg Heidrich of Heise Zeitschriften Verlag, less than completely shutting down a server is not clearly illegal under the penal code. It may, however, be actionable under the civil code. But Lycos may be betting that no one will file a suit, as that would require those participating in illegal spamming to reveal their identity.

The website no longer allows downloads of the screensaver, and users of the screensaver cannot connect to spam sites, but are instead given the message ‘Stay Tuned’



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