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May 22, 2010

Volunteers collaborate in reconstruction of Lolol, Chile

Filed under: Chile — admin @ 5:00 am

Volunteers collaborate in reconstruction of Lolol, Chile

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Church of Lolol. Picture taken at the left of the building.
Image: Diego Grez.

Today, the day of the National Monuments of Chile, a group of volunteers from Santiago travelled to Lolol, a town located in O’Higgins Region. Lolol, named National Monument of Chile in October 2003, was severely damaged after the major February earthquake; the Church of the town, widely known as one of the oldest in Chile, is currently being restored.

“Their attitude is a clear sample of the conscience and love of the Chileans with their legacy, patrimony, especially after the earthquake,” said the Executive Clerk of the National Monuments Council of Chile, Óscar Acuña, who appreciated their collaboration.

Previously, 35 students of Tourism in the Technical Formation Center of the Los Leones Institute, were working in Lolol, between April 30 and May 1, helping to clean up the damage caused by the earthquake.

The famous musical group, Bafona, also visited Lolol, and a few other towns that were damaged by the earthquake.

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Times Square bomb suspects arrested in Pakistan

Times Square bomb suspects arrested in Pakistan

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The scene of the attempted bombing in Times Square minutes after the bomb was discovered

At least six suspects, wanted in connection with a failed car bomb attempt in Times Square, New York City on May 1, have been arrested by authorities in Pakistan. The arrests follow a visit to Pakistan by two high-ranking American security officials—US National Security Adviser Gen James Jones and Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, both of whom praised Pakistan for its efforts in tracking down suspects in the bomb attack.

Amongst those arrested are the co-owner of a large company which provides catering to several embassies in Pakistan and a major in the Pakistani Army, though the Army released a statement denying any involvment. Some are believed to have been educated in the United States. A notice on the website of the US embassy in Islamabad reported that the catering company co-owned by one of the suspects had links to terrorism and has since advised US citizens against using the firm.

A diagram showing the workings of the bomb

Those arrested are believed to have had links with Faisal Shahzad, the primary suspect in the bombing, who was arrested on May 3 on board an aircraft at New York’s JFK Airport.

One source told Reuters: “We are investigating whether Ashraf has provided any financial support to Faisal because Ashraf and his father are rich people and they run a very big catering business” though another stated that “[t]hey may be innocent because being friends does not mean you are involved in the activities of your friends”.

The suspects are currently being detained by the Pakistani security services, who are known to have close links with the CIA, to the extent of allowing CIA officials access to prisoners.



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Hong Kong chief executive invites opponent to television debate

Hong Kong chief executive invites opponent to television debate

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

China
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Audrey Eu talking in the City Forum

Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang has invited Audrey Eu, the head of the Civic Party, to a televison debate on the 2009 reform package. The invitation follows the recent so-called Five Constituencies Referendum which called for universal suffrage and the abolition of the functional constituencies.

Tsang says he is glad that Eu has accepted the invitation, and the debate will air on the seventeenth of June. However, Eu has said that Tsang should not use this debate as an excuse to avoid facing the public’s concerns.

The action sparked critism from ‘less extreme’ pan-democratic political parties, such as the Democratic Party and other members of the Alliance for Universal Suffrage, who did not participate in the by-elections. Szeto Wah is worried that such an action would divide the pan-democrats. Martin Lee and Albert Ho have both denied that the television conference will have such an effect. Lee believes that Eu was a good choice as Ho is currently trying to compromise with the central government and was thus a less suitable candidate. Ho is also happy that Eu was invited. However, Rita Fan, who supports the television conference, said she “sympathised” with Ho for not being able to participate.

Only Eu and Tsang will participate in the conference, which caused a huge uproar in the political circles of Hong Kong. Eu is annoyed that public is unable to ask questions during the debate. Tsang replied that the public could participate by watching the television, while government representatives explained that this was because determining the eligibility of a person’s entry was difficult, and it was easier for the two to debate fluently without the public asking questions. Eu has already inquired the public’s opinion through Facebook. Lee Cheuk-yan scoffed, “[i]f that is the case, does that mean that everyone in the world can participate in the football matches by watching the World Cup?” Fan said such participation was “passive” and “one-sided” as the public was not allowed to ask questions during the conference.



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Former Illinois governor Blagojevich asks US Supreme Court to delay corruption trial, prosecutors to respond by Friday

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Former Illinois governor Blagojevich asks US Supreme Court to delay corruption trial, prosecutors to respond by Friday

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

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Rod Blagojevich.
Image: United States Congress.

US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has given federal prosecutors until next Friday to respond to the request of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and his brother Robert to delay their corruption trial. 

The trial is set to begin on June 3, and many of the charges they face are based on a federal honest-services law. The Blagojevich brothers challenge the constitutionality of this law and believe the trial should be delayed until the high court is expected to decide the issue next month. The request had already been denied by District Judge James Zagel and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Stevens, who handles appeals from the Seventh Circuit, had three options: reject the request for a delay of trial, grant it, or allow the federal government to respond. He chose the third. 

The decision brings hope to the Blagojevich defense team. “We believe that means he sees this as not frivolous, and he’s going to decide it on the merits,” said Michael Ettinger, Robert’s attorney. “We’re somewhat cautiously hopeful he’ll do the right thing.”

Prosecutors added new charges, including bribery, against the brothers in case the Supreme Court finds the honest-services law unconstitutional. They believe the June 3 start date should not be held back. 


Related news

  • “Former governor of Illinois indicted on corruption charges” — Wikinews, April 3, 2009
  • “Governor of Illinois arrested on suspicion of corruption” — Wikinews, December 9, 2008

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English footballer Beckham visits British troops in Afghanistan

English footballer Beckham visits British troops in Afghanistan

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

English footballer David Beckham is to visit Helmand Province, Afghanistan, to speak with British service personnel

English footballer David Beckham today arrived in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, the location of some of the most fierce fighting in the ongoing battle against the Taliban insurgency and the location of approximately 8,000 British soldiers and Royal Marines on a “morale boosting” mission. It is expected that he will spend the weekend in the country, visiting both Camp Bastion and the Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.

Thirty-five year old Beckham, former captain of the England national football team, left on Friday, telling reported that he had “nothing but admiration” for the personnel serving in Afghanistan and that he had “wanted to visit Afghanistan for a long time and I hope that in some small way it helps remind everyone at home what an amazing job they are doing out here in very difficult conditions. I feel very humble.”

The footballer will hold a question and answer session with British troops. He said that the hoped “to do something useful” in Afghanistan, having missed out on the upcoming World Cup due to injury. Beckham is also due to meet groups of Afghan children as well as other soldiers serving in Helmand, including Canadian, Dutch and Estonian forces.

William Hague with Hillary Clinton at a meeting last week where the two politicians declared their unity in their approach to Afghanistan

Three British cabinet ministers, including Foreign Secretary William Hague, Defence Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell also arrived in Afghanistan today on a separate, diplomatic, mission. They met with American General Stanley McChrystal, the NATO commander in the country and will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai later today in the first official visit from the United Kingdom to Afghanistan since the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was formed after the UK general election two weeks ago.

Hague, who discussed Afghanistan with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, described the operation in the country as “our most urgent priority” while Fox emphasised that he wished to see a speeding up of the process leading to the withdrawal of British troops, saying “[n]ational security is the focus now. We [the United Kingdom] are not a global policeman.”

Beckham’s visit comes as the deployment in southern Afghanistan is being restructured, with the southern command being split up into two commands, one under the command of an American two-star general and the other commanded by a British major-general. As Beckham was flying out, news broke that a Royal Marine had been killed in an explosion in Helmand.



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Clinton warns North Korea of \”provocative behavior\”

Clinton warns North Korea of “provocative behavior”

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Politics and conflicts
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Hillary Clinton yesterday warned North Korea of “consequences” for its role in the sinking of a South Korean warship, calling the North’s actions “provocative behavior.”

Clinton made her remarks after a meeting in Japan with the country’s foreign minister, at the start of a trip through Asia. She said that “[i]t is important to send a clear message to North Korea that provocative actions have consequences. We cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community.”

She declined to comment on what the consequences may be, although officials from the Obama administration said that they would include intervention from the United Nations Security Council, a plan also expected to be part of South Korea’s response to the incident, as well as increased naval activity around the Korean peninsula involving both the American and South Korean navies.

Clinton also said that any response would have to come from the global community at large, rather than just one or two countries. “Let me be clear: this will not, and cannot, be business as usual. There must be an international, not just a regional, but an international response.”



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Car bomb in Iraq leaves at least 30 dead

Car bomb in Iraq leaves at least 30 dead

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The death toll resulting from a car bomb attack in northern Iraq yesterday has reached 30. The bomb exploded in the town of Al Khalis, approximately 50 miles north of the country’s capital, Baghdad. The attack comes eleven days after a series of attacks killed over one hundred people in one day. The country is currently experiencing instability as a result of an inconclusive election result in march, which left no power bloc with an overall majority with which to govern.

The blast happened outside a busy coffee shop in the early evening, killing 23 and wounding a further 53 immediately, though death toll rose on Friday and currently stands at at least 30. Many buildings suffered severe damage in the attack—a local police lieutenant told Reuters: “The roof of the coffee shop which was full of people also collapsed. We believe there are still people under the debris”.

Iraqi police have launched an investigation into the attack and into how the car managed to get through a security checkpoint. The deputy governor of Diyala Province called for the sacking of police chiefs after the attack, the second in the town in as many months, and referring to the town as a “disaster zone”.

The attacks were apparently aimed at Shia Muslims in the hope of provoking further sectarian violence and a reaction against Sunni Muslims. While violence in Iraq has drastically reduced since its height after to 2003 invasion, there are fears that the recent attacks are a sign that militants are regrouping in the light of the political power vacuum. There is speculation that Al Qaeda in Iraq, believed to be responsible for the most recent violence, have begun targeting more vulnerable towns and cities, away from Baghdad, where security is tighter.



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