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February 28, 2009

Bangladesh mutiny leaves scores of officers dead

Bangladesh mutiny leaves scores of officers dead

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

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On Wednesday, members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), a paramilitary force charged with border security for Bangladesh, staged a mutiny taking over 100 of their officers as hostages. They took control of the primary barracks in the Pilkhana area of the Dhaka District.

According to one mutineer, who spoke to the BBC, the troops were unhappy with the officers and felt that they were being exploited. Rank-and-file BDR members are paid about US$70 (£49) per month, substantially lower than the officers and on par with a low-ranking clerk.

“Our families might suffer because of what we have done, but they have been exploiting us for more than 200 years,” the unidentified man said.

The BDR has 67,000 men stationed at 42 camps across the country, including 40,000 stationed at border camps. Clashes were reported at as many as twelve different camps.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2000.

In the ensuing standoff, the Bangladesh Army and the Rapid Action Battalion were called in to show the resolve of the government. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared an amnesty for the mutineers if they would stand down.

When the BDR mutineers laid down arms or fled, troops moved in and discovered a mass grave containing at least 58 officers at the Dhaka facility, including the head of the BDR, Major General Shakil Ahmed. Reports say that as many as 100 were killed. The Press Trust of India reports that the whereabouts of 130 officers have not been determined.

“The bodies were buried underground in a makeshift grave near the hospital in the BDR headquarters compound,” Colonel Rezaul Karim of the Rapid Action Battalion told Agence France-Presse. “The dirt had been covered with leaves.”

The head of the Bangladesh Army, General Moeen U Ahmed, criticized the government’s handling of the mutiny and expressed disapproval of the offer of amnesty. He did, however, say that the Army remains loyal to the government.

“We should not act against one another,” said Gen. Moeen U Ahmed.

Prime Minister Hasina backtracked on the amnesty after the mass grave was discovered.

“The people directly involved in the killings will not be pardoned and would not be covered under the general amnesty,” she said. “No-one has the right to kill anyone.”

“This is probably the biggest incident Bangladesh has had since 1975 and our government — the prime minister — handled this compassionately, pragmatically but decisively to bring the situation under control,” Sajeeb Wazed, son of Sheikh Hasina, told the BBC, referring to the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.



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ACLU commemorates anniversary of US Supreme Court decision on student free speech

ACLU commemorates anniversary of US Supreme Court decision on student free speech

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Human rights
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On Tuesday, the non-profit organization the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a video and press release commemorating 40 years since the landmark Supreme Court of the United States decision involving freedom of speech in the case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. The Tinker case was decided on February 24, 1969. The case involved students in Iowa who chose to wear black armbands with peace symbols in protest of the Vietnam War – in violation of a recent school board policy. In their statement, the ACLU compared issues of freedom of speech in the Tinker case to a more recent case, Gillman v. Holmes County School District, where a school district in Florida forbade students from wearing rainbow symbols in school in support of LGBT rights.

United States Supreme Court building
Image: Wadester16.

In the Tinker case, John and Mary Beth Tinker and another student decided to wear black armbands with peace symbols to school in protest of the Vietnam War. The school district heard of the students’ plans and decided to ban armbands in school. The three students case were represented by the ACLU of Iowa, and in a 7-2 decision the Supreme Court ruled for the plaintiffs.

Cquote1.svg It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate. Cquote2.svg

—United States Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas

Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas wrote in the Opinion of the Court: “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate.”

The Gillman case began in September 2007 when according to students at Ponce de Leon High School in Florida, school officials responded improperly to complaints from a lesbian student that she was being harassed by other students. The ACLU contacted the school district on behalf of junior Heather Gillman, inquiring what form of symbols or slogans relating to LGBT rights would be allowed.

The school district responded saying it would not allow any expression of the sort, because it would “likely be disruptive”, and said the wearing of these types of symbols by students could signify they were part of a “secret/illegal organization”.

The video released by the ACLU includes clips of a deposition given by David Davis, the principal of Ponce de Leon High School in Florida. Davis testified he decided to ban students from wearing rainbow symbols in school because the rainbow is a symbol of “gay pride”, and he said it “could hinder the educational process”. He also testified that these symbols would immediately cause students viewing them to think of homosexual sex. Heather Gillman commented in the ACLU video “It was kind of scary, kinda, because I didn’t know what people would think, but then I figured ‘Who cares what people think, I’m standing up for something I believe in.'”

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On May 13, 2008, a federal judge decided in favor of the plaintiff, and permanently enjoined the school district from infringing upon the First Amendment rights of the students. Matt Coles, director of the ACLU’s national LGBT Project, stated “Schools need to know censorship is illegal, and students need to know their schools can’t get away with it.”

Cquote1.svg I’m grateful that the precedent established by the Supreme Court 40 years ago is still protecting students, including LGBT students and their friends. Cquote2.svg

—Mary Beth Tinker

In reflecting on the use of the Tinker precedent in the Gillman case, the ACLU cited three instances in which schools “were made to stop illegally censoring students thanks to Tinker v. Des Moines.” These include a 2006 incident where a student in Ohio was instructed by school administrators to remove a t-shirt which read “I support gay marriage”, and a 2007 incident where a teacher and an assistant principal at a school in Virginia told a student she could not wear a t-shirt with overlapping female gender symbols. In both cases the ACLU represented the students and school officials backed down and apologized for their actions.

In a blog post Tuesday by Mary Beth Tinker at Daily Kos, Tinker reflected on the similarities between her case before the Supreme Court of the United States and the more recent federal case of Heather Gillman. “I’m grateful that the precedent established by the Supreme Court 40 years ago is still protecting students, including LGBT students and their friends,” wrote Tinker. She encouraged young people to speak out about issues of concern to them and to freely express their thoughts and views. Tinker is currently a nurse in Washington, D.C., and travels the United States speaking to students about their First Amendment rights.

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February 27, 2009

Wedding next year for Sweden\’s crown princess

Filed under: Europe,Sweden — admin @ 5:00 am

Wedding next year for Sweden’s crown princess

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Friday, February 27, 2009

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Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, Duchess of Västergötland
Image: Henrik Sendelbach.

On February 24th the Swedish Royal Court announced that the Crown Princess Victoria is to be married in 2010 to her boyfriend and former fitness trainer Daniel Westling. KP Victoria, 31, and Daniel, 35, have been in a relationship for seven years. As the wedding is to be held in the summer of 2010, it gives the court 18 months to prepare, contemplate the wedding dress of the Crown Princess, and complete the guest-list – which will include prominent guests from Europe and the world.

According to the Swedish constitution, KP Victoria must ask for the King’s approval for the marriage, who then has to call a cabinet council so that the government can give its approval. This was done on Tuesday morning, just before the court announced the engagement.

After the wedding, Daniel will be given the title of Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. Their children will be next in line to the throne after Crown Princess Victoria.



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Obama budget calls for record US deficit

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Obama budget calls for record US deficit

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Friday, February 27, 2009

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United States President Barack Obama unveiled his administration’s 2010 United States federal budget on Thursday. The budget calls for a record US$3.6 trillion in spending.

President Obama announces the 2010 US federal budget.

The new budget will use a $1.75 trillion deficit, which would be nearly four times greater than any previous deficit and is $250 billion larger than what was projected just days ago due to a proposed new spending for another bank bailout.

“We will, each and every one of us, have to compromise on certain things we care about but which we simply cannot afford right now,” said President Obama. “What I won’t do is sacrifice investments that will make America stronger, more competitive and more prosperous in the 21st century — investments that have been neglected for too long.”

House of Representatives minority leader John Boehner was critical of the budget. “We can’t tax and spend our way to prosperity,” he said. “The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it.”

“Given the economic catastrophe that we face, to go right into the teeth of that hurricane and plan for some ambitious expansion of government that goes beyond the triage element is bold to say the least,” Norman J. Ornstein, a political scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told Reuters.

$634 billion of the budget is “dedicated [to] financing reforms to our health care system,” according to Obama. Analysts reporting for the BBC and Reuters both conclude that, if passed, it lays a ground-work for a form of universal health care.



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Former Serbian president Milutinovic acquitted of war crimes

Filed under: Archived,Europe,Kosovo,Serbia,United Nations — admin @ 5:00 am

Former Serbian president Milutinovic acquitted of war crimes

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Friday, February 27, 2009

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Milan Milutinović, the former president of Serbia, has been cleared of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity by a United Nations war crimes tribunal in Kosovo.

Five other top Serbian officials, however, were found guilty of their charges and given sentences ranging from 15 to 22 years in prison.

Milutinović, aged 66, was the president of Serbia from December 1997 to December 2002, but was widely seen as a figurehead president during the Kosovo conflict in the 1990s. The court concluded that he did not have any direct control over the army, and was released from custody.

“The trial chamber finds you not guilty of counts one to five of the indictment,” said Iain Bonomy, the judge at the trial. “In practice, it was Milošević, sometimes termed the ‘Supreme Commander’, who exercised actual command authority over the [Serb army] during the NATO campaign.”

Milutinović and the five other men went on trial in July of 2006 on charges of murdering hundreds and forcibly deporting 800,000 civilians by Serbian forces in 1999 in Kosovo.

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Of the five sentenced to prison, former Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Šainović, Yugoslav Army General Nebojša Pavković, and Serbian Police General Sreten Lukić were given sentences of 22 years. Yugoslav Army General Vladimir Lazarević and Chief of the General Staff Dragoljub Ojdanić were each sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

All six men had pleaded not guilty to their charges.



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Australian Sex Party to run independents in Queensland election

Australian Sex Party to run independents in Queensland election

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Friday, February 27, 2009

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2009 Queensland general election
  • 21 March 2009: Australian Labor Party reelected to Queensland government: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • 21 March 2009: Queensland election candidates on Gold Coast back daylight saving
  • 19 March 2009: Wikinews interviews Patricia Petersen, independent candidate for the electorate of Bundamba in the 2009 Queensland election
  • 17 March 2009: Wikinews previews the 2009 Queensland state election
  • 13 March 2009: Wikinews interviews Brenton Clutterbuck, candidate for the electorate of Maroochydore at the upcoming Queensland election

The Australian Sex Party will run candidates in three electorates in the upcoming Queensland state election. However, since the party does not have a sufficient membership base, the candidates will run as independents.

The regions of Queensland, Australia.

“Queensland’s censorship laws are far stricter than any other state in Australia and the same as laws on erotica in totalitarian states like China and Iran,” says party convenor Fiona Patten.

Cquote1.svg Queensland’s censorship laws are far stricter than any other state in Australia and the same as laws on erotica in totalitarian states like China and Iran. Cquote2.svg

—Fiona Patten

The party will run of a number of platforms including same sex marriage and age of consent. In Queensland the age of consent for homosexuals is 18 while it is 16 for heterosexuals. Every other state in Australia has an age of consent of 16 regardless of sexual orientation.

The party has been met with opposition from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). The ACL has challenged the major parties to place Sex Party candidates last on their how-to-vote cards. “The Australian Sex Party exists to represent the interests of businesses who make money from the exploitation and degradation of women,” Jim Wallace, ACL managing director, said.

“If Labor, the LNP and the Greens believe women should be respected and are concerned about the enormous damage caused by pornography and prostitution then they should be demonstrating this by having nothing to do with the Sex Party or its affiliated candidates,” said Wallace. The Queensland Greens sole Member of Parliament Ronan Lee has indicated that the Greens will wait until nominations close until they decide on preferences.



Related news

  • “Australian state of Queensland will go to the polls on March 21” — Wikinews, February 26, 2009

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February 26, 2009

Hilda Solis begins new job as US Secretary of Labor

Hilda Solis begins new job as US Secretary of Labor

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Secretary Hilda Solis arrives at DOL

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On Wednesday, February 25, Hilda Solis made her entrance as the new United States Secretary of Labor saying she was “fired up and ready to go.” Solis reported for her first day as the new Secretary after having been confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 80–17 on February 24. Wikinews was there for her appearance.

After being confirmed, she resigned from her position as a Representative for California and was sworn into her new position that same evening. She then joined the cabinet at President Obama’s speech to Joint session of Congress which took place on February 24.

Solis’ arrival was announced on Wednesday to all Department of Labor employees who were invited to attend an informal gathering to greet her on her first day. More than 1,000 employees greeted Solis as she walked into the Department of Labor’s Frances Perkins Building. Solis stopped to shake hands and accept the congratulations of her new staff.

Solis briefly spoke to the assembly and then set about to start her day. She addressed the crowd, assembled both inside and outside the building, by saying “We need to revitalize this agency.” She also told the crowd, “It’s time to put labor back in the Department of Labor.”

The department has an annual budget of approximately $53 billion and nearly 17,000 employees. Solis received a warm welcome from her new staff.



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Engine failure may have been factor in Amsterdam plane crash

Engine failure may have been factor in Amsterdam plane crash

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Disasters and accidents

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Wreckage of the aeroplane.
Image: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep.

According to the chief of the agency investigating the Turkish Airlines aeroplane crash at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands yesterday, engine trouble may have been a factor in the accident.

Addressing Dutch state television, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board Pieter van Vollenhoven said that the way the aircraft dropped from the air suggests that the engines may have failed. “If you then lose speed, you then literally fall out of the sky,” he said. However, he noted that the reason for the apparent engine failure had not yet been established.

Van Vollenhoven said that the analysis of the aeroplane’s flight data recorders could be finished as early as Tuesday, but added that the Dutch Safety Board would most likely not disclose any preliminary findings until next week.

Both jet engines separated from the fuselage.
Image: Radio Nederland Wereldomroep.

Fred Sanders, a spokesman for the board, said that the damage to the aircraft corroborated witness accounts that the plane impacted with the ground tail-down.

“This may indicate that the plane had lost its forward momentum, that there was no motor function,” he said, adding that it may be be a long time before a full explanation of the accident is available. “We will have an official finding probably in about a year, but we should be able to give an interim finding within weeks,” he said.

Nine people were killed and 86 injured on Wednesday when a Boeing 737-800 with 135 people on board registered to Turkish Airlines crashed just short of the runway in a farmer’s field near Schiphol Airport.



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  • “Airplane crashes at Schiphol Airport; 9 killed” — Wikinews, February 25, 2009

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Baldwin, Seymour among attendees at Oscar viewing party held by Children Uniting Nations

Baldwin, Seymour among attendees at Oscar viewing party held by Children Uniting Nations

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

A child reporter from All Star Planet talks to Stephen Baldwin.

Sunday, Hollywood stars gathered in the Beverly Hilton ballroom in Beverly Hills, California, for the 10th Annual Children Uniting Nations Oscar viewing party for the 81st Academy Awards.

Wikinews reporter Ilya Haykinson attended the party; the two prior years were covered by outside volunteer photographers.

The following is a selection from the hundreds of images taken by Haykinson, of the guests at this party.



Related news

  • “Oscar’s after parties include Children Uniting Nations” — Wikinews, February 25, 2008
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Australian state of Queensland will go to the polls on March 21

Australian state of Queensland will go to the polls on March 21

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The regions of Queensland, Australia.

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2009 Queensland general election
  • 21 March 2009: Australian Labor Party reelected to Queensland government: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • 21 March 2009: Queensland election candidates on Gold Coast back daylight saving
  • 19 March 2009: Wikinews interviews Patricia Petersen, independent candidate for the electorate of Bundamba in the 2009 Queensland election
  • 17 March 2009: Wikinews previews the 2009 Queensland state election
  • 13 March 2009: Wikinews interviews Brenton Clutterbuck, candidate for the electorate of Maroochydore at the upcoming Queensland election

The Premier of the Australian state of Queensland has announced that the state will have its election on Saturday, March 21. In an address on YouTube, Anna Bligh of the Australian Labor Party said that she called the election due to the state of the economy and to stabilise the government.

“It’s time for Queensland to settle this election. It’s time to settle the speculation. So that government, business and the community can get on with the task at hand and not be distracted and destabilised by looming elections,” Ms Bligh said in the statement.

Ms Bligh has recently denied that she would call an early election.

“I have always said that I want my government to run the full term and I have not changed my view on this lightly,” she said.

“After 11 years in office, Ms Bligh only cares about one job: her own,” said Lawrence Springborg head of the Liberal National Party (LNP) and the Leader of the Opposition. “Queensland deserves better. Over the next 27 days, the LNP will build on our vision for the Queensland we all deserve.”

Anna Bligh in 2007.
Image: David Jackmanson.

The Opposition need to pick up at least twenty seats from the government to overcome the significant Labor majority and a number of independents.

“It is a sad legacy of economic management and mismanagement of the Labor Government that after 11 years of the rivers of gold, our state is broke,” Mr Springborg said. “It’s a little bit like lighting a fire and then running around and wanting credit for putting it out.”

A March 21 election gives candidates twenty six day to campaign. This is just within the legal requirements. The Queensland Electoral Act (1992) requires the election campaign to last between 26 and 56 days.

The Queensland Greens nominated an environmental lawyer to run against treasurer Andrew Fraser.

“We can tackle climate change and create long-term jobs, but Labor can’t see that because they are blinded by the interests of their big donors – the urban development and coal industries,” says Larrisa Waters, the Greens candidate for Mt-Cootha.

“The Greens want to give the community and the environment a voice back in State Parliament.”

“The current stance taken by both major parties, in relation to Daylight Saving in Queensland, is outdated, out of touch and inflexible. South East Queenslanders are frustrated that neither major party is currently prepared to explore options on the issue of Daylight Saving”, DS4SEQ party leader Jason Furze told Wikinews on January 30. DS4SEQ is a single-issue party, focused on the debate on daylight saving time.

Indigenous activist Sam Watson will be contesting the South Brisbane electorate which is currently held by the premier. He will represent the Socialist Alliance. Watson campaigned heavly for indigenous rights since the 1970s and was a community spokesperson following the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee in 2004.



Related news

  • “Queensland Premier denies March 28 election” — Wikinews, February 14, 2009
  • “Queensland state Green party to run environmental lawyer in treasurer’s electorate” — Wikinews, February 5, 2009
  • “Wikinews interviews Daylight Saving for South East Queensland Party about the upcoming Queensland State election” — Wikinews, January 30, 2009

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