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Kerry urges Abbas to restart peace talks

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Kerry urges Abbas to restart peace talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry has met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as part of a fresh US bid to restart negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Kerry is on a 10-day tour, which will also take him to Asia, and met Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday after holding talks earlier in the day with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul.

While in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Kerry will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Abbas told visiting Kerry that the release of prisoners held by Israel was a “top priority” for resuming failed peace talks.

“President Abbas stressed that the release of the prisoners is a priority that creates an appropriate climate for the possibility of moving the peace process forward,” his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

Abbas told Kerry that releasing the 4,500 or so prisoners held in Israeli jails, a deeply sensitive issue on the Palestinian street, was a “top priority for creating the right atmosphere for the resumption of negotiations”.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnstone in Ramallah reported that the priority for the US was for “both sides to return to talks without any preconditions”.

But, she said, “the Israelis are saying that they want the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, and the Palestinians want Israel to stop its settlement construction”.

Most Palestinians reject the idea of recognising Israel as a “Jewish-only” state because many still demand the right of return for refugees who decades ago were forced from their homes in what is now Israel.

Israel-Turkey relations

During earlier talks with Davutoglu in Istanbul, Kerry urged Turkey and Israel to fully normalise relations, after Israel’s US-brokered apology for a deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza aid flotilla organised by a Turkish charity.

“We would like to see this relationship that is important to stability in Middle East, critical to the peace process itself, we would like to see it back on track in its full,” Kerry said in a joint news conference with Davutoglu.

He said, however, that it was not for the United States “to be setting conditions or terms” for the reconciliation.

Israel apologised to Ankara on March 22 for the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a botched raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship, in a breakthrough engineered by US President Barack Obama during a visit to Jerusalem.

The apology ended a nearly three-year rift between Israel and Turkey – two key US allies in the region – and the two countries are due to begin talks on compensation on Friday.

But they have yet to exchange ambassadors and fully restore diplomatic ties.

“It is imperative that the compensation component be fulfilled, that the ambassadors be returned,” Kerry said. “I’m confident there will be goodwill on both sides.”

‘Oases of stability’

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted the Israeli apology “in the name of the Turkish people” but said the country’s future relationship with Israel including the return of ambassadors would depend on Israel.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Istanbul, said that Davutoglu had already spoken to Khaled Meshaal, the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Mahmoud Abbas.

“We don’t know what they discussed, but its an indication that Turkey is taking some sort of interest in the Middle East peace process,” said Smith.

He added that Kerry “wants Turkey to normalise its relationship with Israel because it sees Israel, Turkey and Jordan as three oases of stability in a very turbulent region.”

The US top diplomat also commended Turkey’s efforts to provide for the tens of thousands of refugees who have entered the country during Syria’s two-year conflict.

He called Turkey “incredibly generous” for keeping its border open and doing “everything possible” to respond to the increasing humanitarian crisis in the neighbouring country.

“The US and Turkey will continue cooperating to reach the shared goal of a peaceful transition in Syria,” he said, repeating the US position that President Bashar al-Assad must leave power.

“Thousands of Syrians have lost their lives,” Davutoglu said. “The international community needs to act on this. The failure to do so would be interpreted by Assad as a weakness.

“The US position is important and so is Turkey’s.

 

Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies

 

Obama Talks Peace to Iran, But Dishes Out Violence

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Obama Talks Peace to Iran, But Dishes Out Violence

by Jamasb Madani, April 09, 2013

 

Four years ago, President Barack Obama quoted the beloved 13th century Persian poet Sa’di in his first Nowruz message to the Iranian people. The address, with its veneer of peace and diplomacy, was a well-received gesture to both civil society and the leadership in Tehran, recognizing the Islamic Republic and celebrating the country’s ancient culture and history.

In this year’s Nowruz message, on March 18, 2013, President Obama recited more medieval Persian poetry, this time a famous 14th century poem from Hafez about friendship.

An informal and casual survey of public opinion on the heels of this address suggest that Obama’s renewed efforts to tap the well of goodwill failed to resonate with many Iranians. This time around, Obama’s speech has been received a somewhat negative response.

Over the past few years, U.S. hostility and pressure toward Iran has reached a critical level. As a result of draconian sanctions and a resulting drastic drop in oil revenues, Iran’s economy, currency, and people are hurting.

Many essential and non-essential goods have been subject to sanctions, both old and new. Measures preventing the sale of spare airplane parts to Iran have long made air travel unsafe, threatening the well-being of civilian passengers. More recently, unilateral sanctions imposed by certain Western countries have cut Iran off from the international banking industry, resulting in severe shortages in medicines and rising food prices that place the lives of millions of Iranians at risk.

While Obama’s Nowruz messages represent an attempt to achieve a sort of ‘cultural connectedness’ between Americans and Iranians, the U.S. government seems unaware of how its policies and actions toward Iran cut against these efforts.

During Iran’s post-reform years in late 1990′s, certain key terms became central to the Reformist discourse. Concepts such as ‘pluralism’, ‘tolerance’ (tasahol/tasamoh), and especially the term “violence” (khoshoonat’garaee) took on a deeper and more comprehensive meaning.

Based on a wider reading of the concept of violence, Iranian civil society has not only viewed the assassination of its scientists as a direct form of violence, but has also considered unilateral and crippling sanctions to be instruments of violence against the Iranian people.

These and other similar measures undermine the administration’s attempts to appeal to Iranians’ cultural sensibilities. Ironically, as President Obama delivered his first Nowruz message in 2009, urging Iran’s government to “unclench” its fists, his administration was accelerating a covert, cyber warfare initiative launched by the Bush administration, codenamed “Olympic Games.”

In the years that followed, as Obama delivered other Nowruz messages, the United States conspired with Israel to develop and launch additional attacks of cyber-terrorism against Iran, such as Stuxnet and Flame.

In the Iranian public psyche, cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities are not mere technological sabotage, but rather instill collective fear and anxiety about damage to nuclear installations that threaten the safety of the Iranian population.

And let’s not forget the looming threat of direct military attack. With each passing year, and with every Nowruz message, the level of both real and potential American violence against Iran and Iranians has escalated.

As the targets of these threats, victims of collective punishment and the bearers of U.S.-imposed hardship, Iranians feel that Obama’s actions coupled with his recitation of the poetry of Sa’di or Hafez make for a disturbing juxtaposition.

In Hafez’s poetry and ethos, duplicity, hypocrisy, and pretense are considered major sins. It is fitting then that a group of democracy activists in Iran, in conversation with this writer, have suggested Obama reflect on the message of another Hafez poem:

Preachers who lecture others in the pulpit
in private, away from the public gaze, they do otherwise.
I have a concern; ask this question from the wise one in the group
those who order us to repent; they, themselves don’t consider any repentance?

Daryoush Mohammad Poor, an opposition activist who has translated the statements of former Iranian presidential candidate and reformist politician Mir Hossein Mousavi into English, was similarly offended by Obama’s Nowruz message this year.

In a critical essay posted in both Persian and English on his website, “Malakoot,” Mohammad Poor writes that the American-Iranian impasse is not binary. For instance, as he explains, just because he is connected with the Iranian opposition, does not mean he will be silent about the devastating and lethal effects of Obama’s policies on the people of Iran.

Mohammad Poor addresses Obama directly, writing, “Remember, Hafez was – and still is – a great social critic of the conditions of his time. His strength lay in his being outside the circle of power. He was the voice of the powerless. He was never a two-term president of a superpower nation. If he lived today, he would probably be highly critical of you, too, as he would be critical of the leaders of Iran.”

With few exceptions, the opposition in and outside Iran explicitly opposes both unilateral and UN Security Council sanctions against the country. The anti-imperial legacy of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq, who was ousted during a CIA-led coup in 1953, still permeates the present Zeitgeist and ethos in Iran. As such, despite economic hardships and the relative popularity of Voice of America among some opposition members, so far the American/French/British axis has failed to cultivate any notable support for either foreign intervention or collaboration. As things currently stand, Iranians across the political spectrum blame the United States, and less, their own government, for their economic woes.

U.S. hegemonic domination has its internal contradictions and cannot avoid double standards, inconsistencies, and half-truths. But Hafez, the ‘elder of kharbat’, is precisely the antithesis of duplicity (riya). The term kharabat in Hafez’s poetry symbolizes a tavern, a gathering place where there is no pretense (tazvir), only the opportunity to be true to one another.

Those who threaten others with military aggression and destruction, those who unleash economic war and hardship and instill fear in the hearts of their victims, those who manipulate international organizations for their own ends, and make life difficult for so many people should not reference Hafez. In fact, Hafez is perhaps the last poet they should invoke, since his central message is to condemn hubris and selfishness (a’een khod’parasti).

A substantial number of Iranians believe that Barack Obama, who has relatives in Kenya and Indonesia, studied progressive politics at Columbia University and broke bread with public intellectuals like Edward Said, is a worldly, decent and dignified person.

But in the context of American hegemony, as the executor of oppressive policies toward Iran, Obama has become a perplexing puzzle for Iranians. For four years, Obama’s Nowruz messages have led the Iranian collective psyche to compartmentalize his various actions. The orchestrated hostility of the “American Regime,” the pain and suffering directed by the United States toward Iran are all changing this approach.

At the same time, the symbolism and dichotomy of Obama’s Nowruz messages, coupled with the history of U.S. structural violence against Iranian society, may provide a glimpse into the bigger picture behind Obama’s inconsistencies. In his capacity as president, Obama may have no choice but to bow to long-term American policies toward Iran. Many Iranians, in fact, maintain that the real culprit is not Obama, but rather an institutional form of thinking and worldview to which Obama himself is bound.

Unfortunately, it seems the president’s ideals are also victims of this power structure.

Rather than trying to appropriate Persian poetry to blunt American aggression, Obama would do well to heed the words of Hafez himself. Only then may he truly begin to pursue peace instead of issuing ultimatums. As Hafez poignantly observed,

Engage in love (of humanity) before it is too late; or the life-purpose given to you by the world will be wasted.

*Jamasb Madani is an architect and writer. His grandfather was an activist and strong supporter of Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq.

This piece was originally published at Mufta.org

 

http://original.antiwar.com/jamasb-madani/2013/04/08/obama-talks-peace-to-iran-but-dishes-out-violence/

Mayans and Tibetan Monks Join Forces in the Name of Peace, Harmony and Freedo

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Mayans and Tibetan Monks Join Forces in the Name of Peace, Harmony and Freedom

The 2nd Mayan-Tibetan Bicultural Encounter concluded activities in the environmentally friendly Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, Spa & Nature Park 

 

Cancún, Quintana Roo (PRWEB) September 27, 2012

In a call for peace, harmony and freedom for all people, the Tibetan Monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery as well as Mayan representatives concluded their participation in the 2nd Mayan-Tibetan Bicultural Encounter, held at Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, Spa & Nature Park.

In the presence of a number of tourists, special guests and those who enjoy these two cultures, the Tibetan monks destroyed the Tara Blanca Mandala, which was crafted during the five days of the encounter. This action was carried out as the final activity of the encounter to symbolize the transitory nature of life.

Deputy Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Hacienda Tres Ríos, Daniel Arroyo emphasized that the encounter met with all expectations to transmit a message of peace and respect of nature that is so lacking in our world today.

Arroyo also disclosed that because of the success of the second edition of event, there will be a third bicultural encounter in September 2013. The program will include more conferences, meditations and teachings that are sure to fill participants with good vibes and positive thoughts.

From September 12 to 16, the 2nd Mayan-Tibetan Bicultural Encounter brought together a group of nine Tibetan monks, Mayan dancers and representatives, the founder of Casa Tibet, Tony Karam, as well as a number of researchers and speakers of both cultures, who spoke on the principle teachings and philosophies of these two incredible civilizations.

The encounter included a presentation of Sacred Mayan and Tibetan Music and Dance in the Teatro de Cancún, as well as a photo exhibit, rituals and healing and meditation ceremonies (both group and individual). There were also meditations involving positive energy and the search for peace and harmony through ancient techniques.

As part of the closing activities of the encounter, Tony Karam, founder of Casa Tibet, presented a conference on Buddhism which covered relaxation and meditation techniques, as well as the principle doctrines of this religion.

Daniel Arroyo thanked the Tibetan monks, Mary Coba of Producciones Arte Maya, as well as the hotel collaborators who helped make this event a total success, accomplishing the objective of sending a message of love and hope to all of humanity.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/9/prweb9947130.htm

2013 Annual Report on Global Trends for Human Rights Defenders Published

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2013 Annual Report on Global Trends for Human Rights Defenders Published

annual_report_banner

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/frontline_annual_report2013_0.pdf

On 23 January 2013 Front Line Defenders released its fourth Annual Report on Global Challenges facing Human Rights Defenders around the World in 2012.

The report explores the situation on both the global and regional level including several countries examined in focus namely: Burundi, Vietnam, Guatemala Kazakhstan and Algeria. It highlights the ‘unabated’ targeting of human rights defenders for their work documenting abuses, exposing corruption, or pushing for reform.

“The attacks and killings highlighted in this report are only the tip of the iceberg. In many countries the government has either shut down the local media, subjected human rights organisations to campaigns of intimidation or tried to silence those brave enough to bring the facts to international attention” said Front Line Defenders Executive Director Mary Lawlor.

 

The report highlights:

 

-24 killings of HRDs in 2012

-Physical Attacks on HRDs reported in 28 countries across all regions:

-Attacks on LGBTI human rights defenders in Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Uganda, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe.

-Restrictive legislation passed or under discussion in Algeria, Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Lithuania, Moldova, Russian Federation, and Ukraine

-Judicial harassment reported in nearly 40 countries

-Information technology laws used against those expressing dissent or circulating information on human rights abuses, in particular in Asia and the Middle East.

-Reprisals for cooperating with international human rights bodies were reported by HRDs in Bahrain, Belarus, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Sri Lanka

 

 

“The facts speak for themselves”, said Ms Lawlor “The sad reality is that while governments proclaim support for human rights and their respect for the work of human rights defenders in international fora, in practice, human rights defenders face a daily struggle for survival”, added Ms Lawlor.

This report shows how the safe space in which human rights defenders work is consistently shrinking, while their personal credibility is attacked through state sponsored defamation campaigns in which they are routinely portrayed as agents of western/foreign interests. The introduction of restrictive legislation which limits both their work and their ability to source international funding is increasingly used to hamper their work.

The Report highlights the alarmingly high number of killings of human rights defenders and the fact that Front Line Defenders alone has documented physical attacks on human rights defenders in 28 countries and 24 killings of human rights defenders. Conditions for human rights defenders in Africa, Asia and the Middle East continue to be worrying while the report finds that that in many countries in Europe and Central Asia the situation has actually deteriorated.

On the regional level many countries in Africa have seen a series of disturbing ongoing trends including physical violence, and impunity for perpetrators. As noted in the report the murder of two LGBTI rights defenders Thapelo Makhutle in South Africa and Maurice Mjomba in Tanzania illustrate these risks.

Such impunity is also commonly seen in the Americas alongside a common trend, the use, region-wide, of fabricated criminal charges such as those that have resulted in an 18-year prison sentence for Colombian human rights defender David Rabelo Crespo.

Asia has seen the continued usage of smear campaigns against human rights defenders branding them as ‘enemies of the state or as working for foreign interests’. One example of such a case can be seen in India with the branding of P.V. Rajagopal, Vice Chairman of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, as a ‘Maoist sympathiser’.

The situation in Europe and Central Asia is characterised by the increasing use in many countries of legislation to curb the activities of human rights defenders. This is particularly evident in the Russian Federation with a swathe of legislation being implemented including a law designating NGO’s in receipt of foreign funding as ‘foreign agents’.

Finally in the Middle East and North Africa region the report confirms the fears of ‘limited real change’ despite the events of the Arab Spring that ‘gave hope to thousands of people in virtually every country in the region’. In Bahrain in particular almost all of the most vocal human rights defenders were in detention at year’s end including former Front line Defenders staff member Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.

The Report is based on Front Line Defenders’ work in support of human rights defenders at risk. In 2012, Front Line Defenders issued 287 urgent appeals on 460 human rights defenders at risk in 69 countries; it provided 267 security grants and trained 358 human rights defenders. Overall, more than 1150 HRDs benefited from Front Line Defenders’ protection support in 2012.

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/21376

Syria conflict ‘will know no victors’ without peace -Pope

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Syria conflict ‘will know no victors’ without peace -Pope

On January 7, 2013

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI called Monday for a ceasefire and “constructive dialogue” in Syria, warning that there will be no victors should the violent conflict drag on further.

“I renew my appeal for a ceasefire and the inauguration as quickly as possible of a constructive dialogue aimed at putting an end to a conflict which will know no victors but only vanquished if it continues, leaving behind it nothing but a field of ruins,” he said.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/01/syria-conflict-will-know-no-victors-without-peace-pope/

Peace is the way

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1. Change doesn’t start on the surface. It’s generated from consciousness. This has been true throughout history. If both Buddhism and Christianity could begin with one person, let us not think in terms of numbers and odds. It may sound grandiose to compare ourselves to great spiritual guides, but we act collectively, as an alliance. Our strength comes from critical mass.

2. We aren’t here to make the world evolve. We are here to evolve as individuals and then to spread that influence. In the wisdom tradition of Vedanta, the stream of evolution is known in Sanskrit as Dharma, from a root verb that means ‘to uphold.’ This gives us a clue how to live: the easiest way for us to grow is to align ourselves with Dharma. We don’t have to struggle to grow–that would be unproductive, in fact. The Dharma has always favored non-violence. If we can bring ourselves to a state of non-violence, and connect with others who are doing the same thing, we have done a huge thing to reinforce Dharma.

3. Societies get into the grip of their own self-created story. It’s helpful to realize that we can choose not to participate in that story. Realize that national and tribal stories are limited, self-serving, based on the past, reinforced by orthodoxy, Imagine Peaceand therefore opposed to real change. Stories are incredibly persuasive. Wars are fueled by victimization that runs deep, for example. So let us not try to change anyone’s story. Let us only notice and observe ourselves when we buy into it and then let us back away from participating in it.

4. Let us not demand of ourselves that we alone must be the agent of change. In a fire brigade everyone passes along a bucket, but only the last person puts out the fire. None of us know where we stand in line. We may be here simply to pass a bucket; we may be called on to play a major role. In either case, all we can do is think, act, and say. Let us direct our thoughts, words, and actions to peace. That is all we can do. Let the results be what they will be.

5. Let us realize that engagement and detachment aren’t opposite—the more engaged we become, the more detached we will have to be. Otherwise, we will lose ourselves in conflict, obsessiveness, anxiety over the future, and feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Keep in mind that we are pioneers into the unknown, and uncertainty is our ally. When our minds want closure, certainty, and finality, let us remind ourselves that these are fictions. Our joyous moments will come from riding the wave, not asking to get off at the next station.

6. Since most misery is born of failed expectations let us learn to minimize expectations so that we will feel far less guilt and disappointment.

7. We aren’t here to be good or perfect. We are here as the antennas for signals from the future. We are here to be midwives to something that wants to be born. Good people have preceded us. They solved some problems and created others. As one wise teacher said, “You aren’t here to be as good as possible. You are here to be as real as possible.”

8. I know this sounds difficult, but let us try to be tolerant of intolerance. This is a hard one at times, but if you try the opposite—showing a hard heart against those with hard hearts of their own—all we’ve done is expand the problem. HandsIt’s helpful (but often difficult) to remember that everyone is doing the best they can from their own level of consciousness. Trying to talk a terrorist out of his beliefs is like trying to persuade a lion to be a vegetarian. All we can realistically do is seek openings for higher awareness.

9. Let us resist the lure of dualities. These include us versus them, civilized versus barbarians, good versus evil. The good, civilized people of Europe managed to kill millions of themselves, along with millions of “them.” In reality we are all in the same boat of human conflict and confusion. Sometimes it helps to admit that the doctor is not far from being a patient.

10. Let’s create an atmosphere of peace around ourselves. Imagine that we are like a mother whose children come home crying about fights at school. Would it be her job to soothe their wounds or to arm them for fighting back tomorrow? Simplistic as it may sound, the male principle of aggression can only be healed by the feminine principle of nurturing and love.

Love,
Deepak

27 inmates killed in Sri Lanka prison shootout

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SATURDAY, NOV 10, 2012 02:15 PM MPST

27 inmates killed in Sri Lanka prison shootout

 http://www.salon.com/2012/11/10/27_inmates_killed_in_sri_lanka_prison_shootout/

BY 
27 inmates killed in Sri Lanka prison shootout

Police officers demarcate a bullet-ridden three-wheeler used by inmates for their unsuccessful escape attempt, close to the entrance of a prison in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. A shootout between rioting prisoners and security forces at a prison in Sri Lanka’s capital killed 27 inmates. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)(Credit: Gemunu Amarasinghe)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A shootout between rioting prisoners and security forces at a prison in Sri Lanka’s capital killed at least 27 inmates, while police said Saturday that they arrested five prisoners who had managed to escape and were searching for others.

Another 42 people were wounded in the shootout Friday between inmates and army and police commandos that broke out after the rioting prisoners briefly took control of at least part of the Welikada prison in Colombo. The situation at the prison had returned to normalcy by Saturday morning.

“The prison is now totally under our control,” said prison chief P.W. Kodippili, whose facility was the site of another riot earlier this year.

Dr. Anil Jasinghe, director of the Colombo National Hospital, said the bodies of 16 inmates were at his hospital.

Kodippili said that security forces had found the bodies of 11 other inmates inside the prison premises, and that the total number of deaths stood at 27.

Twenty-three inmates who were injured in the clash were receiving treatment at the hospital, Jasinghe said. Thirteen police officers, four soldiers, a prison guard and a passer-by also were being treated there for injuries.

Police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said five prisoners who escaped from the prison had been arrested.

Kodippili declined to say how many inmates may have escaped, but said search operations were under way to find others who may have fled.

Jayakody said the fighting began when police commandos went to the prison to conduct a search and were attacked by inmates hurling stones. He declined to provide more information. Officials often conduct raids for narcotics and communication devices.

An Associated Press photographer saw prisoners waving rifles atop the prison’s roof Friday night.

Other prisoners piled into a three-wheeled vehicle and began driving toward a main city road before security forces outside the prison opened fire. The vehicle stopped, and three unmoving bodies could be seen.

Dozens of security officers then entered the prison, and volleys of gunfire rang out. Prisoners could be heard screaming, “Stop shooting!”

Army troops were called in later to help control the situation.

Kodippili said the inmates had broken into the prison’s two armories during the riot and taken weapons stored there. The inmates opened fire at police commandos, who shot back.

He said that security forces had so far recovered 76 weapons taken by the prisoners and that six more weapons were still missing.

A clash between inmates and guards at the same prison last January wounded 28 people. Those prisoners were protesting the authorities’ move to curtail drug smuggling into the facility.

___

Associated Press photographer Gemunu Amarasinghe contributed to this report.

Syria: over 5,000 deaths forecast for September

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Syria: over 5,000 deaths forecast for September

The death toll from fighting in Syria’s civil war has escalated sharply, as expectations grow that a foreign military intervention would be necessary to try and contain the bloodshed.

Conflict in Syria where more than 5,000 people were forecast to die this month alone. Photo: AFP

By , and Richard Spencer

7:51PM BST 27 Sep 2012

Activist groups that track death tolls said that more than 5,000 people were forecast to die this month alone, substantially above the 4,000 that died in August. By contrast, the worst month in the Iraq conflict – after the initial invasion – accounted for 3,028 lives, in July 2006.

The United Nations refugee agency meanwhile predicted that up to 700,000 Syrian refugees could flee abroad by the end of the year, nearly quadrupling its previous forecast.

Lord Owen, the former Foreign Secretary who oversaw peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, warned on Thursday that the scale and nature of conflict would eventually demand a united response from Russia and the West.

“This is a full scale civil war and my experience is that only an enforceable ceasefire will end it,” he said. “Time is not on our side given the ghastliness of the fighting, the number of massacres and horrors of sectarian divisions becoming permanent facts on the ground.”

Free Syrian Army fighter scans for targets from a building in Aleppo, Syria

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Lord Owen today calls on Nato to use its formal ties with Russia to start talks on enforcing a no-fly zone in joint arangement that would not target the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president escalated the “blame game” with the West, accusing the US and others of sowing chaos in Syria.

“The most important thing is that our partners cannot stop themselves,” he said. “They have already created a situation of chaos in many territories and are now continuing the same policy in other countries – including Syria.”

Michael Clarke, the head of the Royal United Services Institute thank tank, predicted Syria’s neighbours would be sucked into choosing sides in what is likely to be a drawn-out battle.

“As this becomes a fully-fledged sectarian war in the next couple of months the whole fabric of the Levant will be torn apart and what you will have is a Saudi Arabia vs Iranian proxy war involving elements in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan,” he said.

“The West is going to find it harder and harder to resist calls to intervene to contain the problem rather than stop the killing.”

David Cameron condemned the Russian and Chinese government for blocking UN-backed action to stop the conflict in a speech to the UN on Wednesday.

Douglas Alexander MP, the shadow foreign secretary, said: “The sheer scale of the suffering being endured in Syria demands that the

international community renews its efforts to achieve unity and action.”

Arab states have endeavoured to end the conflict but are publicly divided over regional military intervention, with comments at the UN exposing sharp divisions between major Muslim nations.

Mohammad Morsi, Egypt’s new president opposed calls from the Emir of Qatar for a military intervention by Arab League states, while a meeting he had called of the Middle East “quartet” – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran – was cancelled after the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, decided not to travel to New York.

Prince Turki al-Faisal. a former Saudi Arabian ambassador to America, told CNN that “Nato and some combination” of other states would eventually be forced to intervene to quell fighting. “That requires military force,” he said. “For somebody to deny this at this time is, I think, deluding themselves.

Wednesday was the most lethal day of the Syrian civil war yet, according to activist support groups inside and outside the country as the killing reached 343, according to one count.

Scores of bodies were discovered in the southern Damascus suburb of Dhiyabiyah, men of all ages who had apparently been shot in cold blood.

While Syrian opposition groups put the overall death toll in the 18-month war above 30,000, Amnesty International puts the toll at 21,000-plus.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9572101/Syria-over-5000-deaths-forecast-for-September.html

 

10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

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10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental organization, share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work. To learn more about Worldwatch’s efforts to create am environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs, sign up here for weekly e-mail updates.

Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone’s “going green.” We’re glad you want to take action, too. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let’s start now.

We’ve partnered with the Million Car Carbon Campaign to help you find ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. This campaign is uniting conscious consumers around the world to prevent the emissions-equivalent of 1 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year.

Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life. For more advice, purchase State of the World 2010 – Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, a report from 60 renowned researchers and practitioners on how to reorient cultures toward sustainability.

  1. Save energy to save money.
    • Set your thermostata few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
    • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs(CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
    • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Or, use a “smart” power stripthat senses when appliances are off and cuts “phantom” or “vampire” energy use.
    • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
    • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
  2. Save water to save money.
    • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
    • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don’t cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
    • Make sure you have a faucet aeratoron each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
    • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.

     

  3. Less gas = more money (and better health!).
    • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gasand parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
    • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
    • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.

     

  4. Eat smart.

     

  5. Skip the bottled water.

     

  6. Think before you buy.
     
    • Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you’ve just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharingto track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
    • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
    • When making purchases, make sure you know what’s “Good Stuff” and what isn’t.
    • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.

     

  7. Borrow instead of buying.
    • Borrow from librariesinstead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
    • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.

     

  8. Buy smart.
    • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
    • Wear clothes that don’t need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
    • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you’ll be happy when you don’t have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).

     

  9. Keep electronics out of the trash.

     

  10. Make your own cleaning supplies.
    Million Car CampaignJoin the Million Car Carbon Campaign by purchasing your Earth-Aid kit today.

    • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning productswhenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
    • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/3915