A Croatian deputy minister who proposed prosecuting wearers of indecent swimwear and bathers who relieve themselves in the sea was fired on Monday, her boss said.The indecent swimwear or swimming drunk I don't care about but peeing in the sea? There oughta be a law!
And other proposals to ban revealing swim suits, swimming while drunk and eating on the beach have also been canned, said Croatian Education and Sports Minister Dragan Primorac.
Croatian Fired for 'Nazi Tourism' Laws
A hidden army of more than 120,000 girls is working or fighting with armed groups around the world, and international programmes to help them often fail or make things worse, Save the Children says in a report published today.Armies of girls caught up in conflict
Girls as young as eight are abducted and forced to live with armed groups. Some carry weapons, others serve as porters, cleaners and cooks. Almost all are forced to be sex slaves or "wives" of commanders, Save the Children says in the report, entitled Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in Armed Conflict.
While the horror of child soldiers is well known, the report says the focus of international concern is usually on boys. But out of roughly 300,000 children estimated to be living with armed groups, about 40% are girls.
Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes are usually initiated after a conflict by the UN and the World Bank but the report says they often ignore the special problems girls face.
Their homecoming is often as depressing as their departure. They are ostracised by their family and community because of their "immoral" experiences.
As a result, they are trapped between recrimination from the armed group if they leave and from the community if they return home.
A DDR programme's success is often measured by the number of weapons collected rather than the successful reintegration of former combatants. Children's programmes are "invariably under-funded".
In Sierra Leone, more than 20,000 children were entitled to a DDR package, either money for a school uniform and three years of fees or a skills training course.
At first, it was given to children who had spent one year with an armed group. As money dried up, it went to those with two years' experience and finally only to children who could show they knew how to dismantle and fire a gun.
In interviews, girls told Save the Children they were put off by the military orientation of the DDR process. It highlighted the fact that they had been in an armed group and increased the danger of being stigmatised by their community.
Often the assistance pack ages are nothing more than food, water, oil, plastic sheeting for shelter and a lift home or somewhere on the way home. Sometimes the package consists of a one-off payment, which commanders often demand the girls give to them.
Girls returning home may be seen as violent, unruly, dirty, or as promiscuous troublemakers. With no other means of supporting themselves, many are forced to turn to sex work, making them even more stigmatised and isolated.
The report says girls identified a number of ways the international community could help better: through mediation work with the community and family to explain they were coerced into joining the armed group; by creating net works to provide emotional support; and with help in starting new livelihoods.
The report describes the six-year conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the deadliest war on the planet since the second world war, and the worst in Africa. From 1998 to 2004, approximately 3.8 million people died as a result of it.
All the parties involved in the conflict recruited, abducted and used child soldiers. Children made up approximately 40% of some armed groups in the eastern DRC in 2003, with at least 30,000 taking an active part in combat.
Thousands more children, mostly girls, were attached to the armed groups to provide sexual and other services.
As such, any act of disrespect of the Koran is viewed as an affront to God and his laws. Therefore, the anger expressed by the students at Nangarhar University is understandable when considered in this context. However the fact that the protests of the demonstrators went from the alleged case of disrespect for the Koran to the issue of the United States establishing military bases in Afghanistan, searches of private home by U.S. troops, and Karzai government's alliance with Washington, may be an indication of the existence of other agendas behind the rallies.Could it be Iran? The Pakistan connection makes me suspicious-Iran is also accused of arming restive Balochistan tribesmen to punish Pakistan for its support of US special forces teams believed to be operating undercover in Iran, as I reported in the Monday Winds of War briefing a couple weeks back...It would be a nice symmetry for Iran, which thinks of itself as the regional superpower, to successfully reenact America's success supporting insurrection against another foreign army in Afghanistan (and put a crimp in any invasion plans). They're thinking of how to keep us tied down and bleeding in Iraq and Afghanistan, so I wouldn't doubt it. If I'm right, Afghanistan is going to get a lot bloodier in the next two months.
Moreover, the demonstrators in Jalalabad were targeting specific buildings to attack. It was not a wanton act of violence. As such, targeting Pakistani diplomatic establishments in the city may not be without significance. Despite Islamabad's claim that its consulate was not targeted on purpose, questions are raised as to why this particular foreign diplomatic mission was singled out.
The issue of U.S. bases in Afghanistan has been on the front page of most Afghan publications for some time. Particularly since Karzai formally proposed a "strategic partnership" on 8 May before an assembly of some 1,000 well-known Afghans. The most common reaction to the military-base issue is that final the decision should be left to the Afghan parliament, which is scheduled to be elected in September. Many Afghan politicians, especially those who have lost power recently, have equated the presence of the U.S. military in the country with a continuation of Karzai's administration. While not openly critical of the U.S. and the rest of the foreign military presence in the country, these politicians have expressed uneasiness about the issue. The demonstrations loudly echoed those hushed sentiments.
The issue of searching homes is more isolated and localized to Nangarhar. In late April, a demonstration by representatives of the Khogiani, Sherzad, Hesarak, and Pachir wa Agam districts was held in Jalalabad protesting such searches. Nangarhar Governor Haji Din Mohammad, after meeting with representatives of the demonstrators, promised to solve the problem (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 9 May 2005). As such, the inclusion of this issue in the demands of demonstrators coming from Nangarhar is not surprising, but the fact that this issue made its way to the Kabul University campus illustrates a more organized planning for what ought to have been spontaneous rallies if they were triggered only by the "Newsweek" story and not fueled by other factors.
The attack on the Pakistani Consulate also is worth pondering. Why would students ostensibly angered by an alleged act by U.S. interrogators burn the diplomatic mission of a country that has officially contacted Washington on the issue and its parliament has condemned the alleged act with the Koran? If the allegation about abuse of the Koran was central to the demonstrations, Pakistan's consulate should have received praise, not firebombs.
IS SOMEONE BEHIND THE DEMONSTRATIONS?
Thus far both the Afghan government and the demonstrators have refused to identify the "enemies of peace and stability" who are allegedly behind the violence, including the attack on the Pakistani Consulate.
No one has pointed a finger at the neo-Taliban and the militia's spokesman, Mufti Latifullah Hakimi, told Kabul-based Tolu Television on 11 May that they had not provoked the demonstrations. Also, Jalalabad is not considered a neo-Taliban stronghold, and Badakhshan is one of only two provinces in Afghanistan that the former Taliban regime could not conquer.
On 11 May -- a night letter reminiscent of the days when Afghans were struggling against Soviet troops in their country -- was circulated in parts of Kabul. Without making any reference to the events in Jalalabad, the letter announced that the "principle duty of the Mujahedin has just started." The unsigned letter condemns the possibility of the establishment of U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and alleges that Karzai and the former Taliban members are in an alliance with the purpose of turning Afghanistan into a U.S. satellite state.
The timing of the demonstrations and the demands associated with them seem to be well coordinated to coincide with President Karzai's visit to Europe and the United States.
Which countries in Afghanistan's neighborhood oppose the development of a long-term U.S.-Afghan partnership -- if such a thing is indeed accepted by both states' leaders and by the Afghan parliament? Or, who has lost power since Karzai's victory in October's presidential elections? If a clear answer can be found to these questions, then perhaps the true identity of those fueling the demonstrations in Afghanistan would also be known.
What is fueling the anti-US demonstrations?
BUFFALO, New York (AP) -- Soon after Dr. Jamil Ahmed stood before TV cameras two weeks ago and told how his brain-injured patient had snapped out of a stupor lasting almost 10 years, the telephone calls and e-mails started pouring in.You can read a little more about Dr. Ahmed as well: Firefighter's doctor: Never give up. A thimbleful of cognac to Lyana for this one.
Everybody wants a word with Ahmed, 43, who's just three years removed from his residency training in Boston after earning a medical degree in Pakistan.
There are doctors calling about patients. There are family members of brain-injured people asking if Ahmed can talk to their doctors. And just what drugs was the brain-injured former firefighter, Donald Herbert, taking when he turned from being barely aware and almost mute into a virtual chatterbox for 14 hours with his astounded family and friends?
"Why don't you just tell me the medications?" Ahmed recalls one woman demanding. "You just tell me the name of the medications and I'm not going to be calling you again."
Ahmed, who has been asked by Herbert's family not to identify the drugs, has returned a few phone calls, explaining his medication strategy in general terms and warning, "There is no guarantee."
That's for sure. Ahmed was treading in largely untested waters when he put Herbert on a combination of drugs usually used to treat Parkinson's disease, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
But, he said, he'd seen such drugs help his other brain-injury patients at the Erie County Medical Center regain focus, memory and powers of concentration, and become less agitated or irritable. He'd even seen such drugs bring people out of comas -- the eyes-closed state of complete unawareness -- and other kinds of impaired consciousness, although not after nearly 10 years like Herbert.
So when he heard that Herbert had improved, "I was not surprised," Ahmed, a genial rehabilitation specialist, said the other day. "I was expecting from the beginning he should make a change."
In the days since, the 44-year-old patient has continued to have sporadic conversations and has even played catch with a soccer ball.
In a wide-ranging discussion about the episode and his life, Ahmed waved off a question about Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state who died in March after her feeding tube was removed. He had not examined her and so could say nothing, he said.
But he stressed that family and doctors should not give up on trying to help other brain-damaged patients.
"I'm confident that if we try the same way on other people who are in a coma (or other states of impaired consciousness), there could be a difference," he said. "There could be a lot of people who could wake up."
And that prescription is not just about pharmacology.
"God will not help you unless you try something," said Ahmed, a Muslim. "If you try something and if you believe, God may help you."
He joined the rehabilitation medicine department at Buffalo hospital after his residency in Boston, and his colleagues started sending him brain-injury patients.
In December 2002, just a few months after he started work, Herbert's wife Linda showed up to talk about her husband. He suffered brain injuries when a roof collapsed on him while fighting a fire seven years before. Everybody said nothing could be done to help him, Ahmed recalled her saying. Could he help?
"We could try. I think there is a hope," Ahmed recalled replying.
He had already seen promising results from medications like the ones he'd end up prescribing for Herbert. He'd started trying them at the Buffalo hospital. The idea was that such drugs might jog the brain's supply of substances brain cells use to communicate and bring about other changes in the brain, maybe even helping to fix anatomical damage.
His computerized searches of medical journals had turned up some material on the subject but no clear-cut studies to guide him.
Others had been trying the medication approach too, but "the evidence is not great," said Dr. Steven Flanagan, medical director of brain injury rehabilitation at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Flanagan said he and his colleagues treat brain injuries with such drugs anyway, sometimes with success.
"People who do a lot of this work wouldn't be surprised that someone woke up using one of these medications," Flanagan said. But in the case of Herbert, he said, it is "still highly unusual and rare that someone would wake up 10 years out just because of a medication."
Ahmed went to work with Herbert, testing one medication after another. He had a long list to try.
"We always had hope," Ahmed said.
The act of killing Kennedy can only be seen as an ‘absurd’ act if there was no obvious rational motive to consider.Yet Sirhan’s crime was indeed explicable and rational both in personal and political terms, as the Arab communities in the United States recognised as soon as the facts of the case were publicised. Henry Awad, the editor and publisher of the Star News and Pictorial, the largest Arab newspaper in America at the time, said, “The Arab community wants this trial. We think it’s the only way the US will hear about the Arab cause…Every single Arab in America regrets the killing but the trial will bring us a chance for publicity"
The New York Times interviewed a celebrated spokesman for the Arab-American community in the United States, John Jabara, who believed the trial of Sirhan would bring an “understanding of the Arab cause". Al Anwar, an Arab newspaper in Beirut commented on June 10th 1968, “….regardless of everything, Sirhan’s blood-stained bullets have carried Palestine into every American home. The act may be illegal, the price high and the assassination unethical. But American deafness to the cause of the Palestine people is also illegal, unethical and carries a high price."
There were a few media outlets in the United States that recognised the true nature of Sirhan’s act but their voices went unheard. The Jewish Observer recognised that Robert Kennedy’s assassination would leave a “deep scar on America’s relations with the Arab world" and it noted how the State Department played down Sirhan’s Arab origins in order not to offend Arab states. They also observed that members of Congress were avoiding all reference to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Iran Freedom Foundation (IFF) has announced the launch of "the Iran Freedom Walk", a 200-mile journey by foot aimed at promoting awareness and solidarity between the people of America and Iran, and encouraging Iranians to peacefully stand up to their oppressive government. Millions of Iranians inside Iran will be able to watch the launch live.
IFF spokespersons will be available for media interviews in Philadelphia on Sunday, May 15, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The walk will take off at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 16 from Independence Mall in Philadelphia, PA (block two of the park, between 6th and Market Streets, against the backdrop of the Liberty Bell).
Opening remarks will be made by IFF Founder Dr. Jerome Corsi, co- author of the New York Times bestseller Unfit for Command and the recent book Atomic Iran.
The Walk will roughly follow Route 30, with stops in and around Newtown Square, PA; Lancaster, PA; York, PA; Cockeysville, MD; Baltimore, MD; College Park, MD, ending at Freedom Plaza in the heart of Washington, DC.
During the 20-day journey, participants will engage with local community members, highlighting the rich history of each town they come across. Educational meetings will serve as an opportunity for Americans and Iranians to dispel myths about each other and support Iranian's fight against their repressive government. Iran experts and Iranian-American walkers will also be available for media interviews at each leg of the walk.
The IFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational and charitable organization established to educate the public about the Islamic Republic of Iran and to promote freedom in the region.
First Sergeant Michael J. Bordelon was conducting combat operations in Mosul, Iraq, on 23 April 2005 when a suicide car bomber rammed into his Stryker vehicle. Though mortally wounded, Michael Bordelon lived for another two weeks before the injuries claimed his life. With every passing day, here on FOB Marez, men who had known Michael Bordelon for years, men who had fought with him in the streets of Mosul, would ask about his condition. The veterans here have seen much since they arrived in Mosul, and they understood well that the odds were against their First Sergeant surviving, yet they would ask the commander hopefully, “How is First Sergeant Bordelon?"Read the rest here.
Hey, gang -- this is another new feature I'm inaugurating. I've got some friends who aren't involved with DL but whom I'd like to introduce to you guys.
Today I'm going to introduce you to John Leavitt, who happens to be (a) an artistic genius; (b) an intellectual genius; and (c) the youngest man I've ever slept with, though since my overwhelming preference is for men who are older than I am, I think of him as more like a little brother.
You can read juicier details by clicking on the comments link below...