Saturday 15 August 2009

Hilary Duff named "Ambassador for the Youth" in Colombia

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Hilary Duff was named "Ambassador for the Youth" in Bogota by Mayor Samuel Moreno at the Palacio Lievano (Bogota City Hall). Duff is in the Colombian capitol on an ambitious four-day mission to bring meals to the city's underprivileged children on behalf of "Blessings in a Backpack," a U.S.-based program, which feeds underprivileged children in grades K-10. Duff's agenda includes distributing nutritious meals to children in orphanages and hospitals and meeting with ex-gang members. (PRNewsFoto/Mayor Samuel Moreno of Bogota, Colombia)

Friday 14 August 2009

Climate talks risk failure unless they are accelerated, says U.N. official

Climate talks risk failure unless they are accelerated, says a top U.N. official.

BONN, GERMANY (AUGUST 14, 2009) REUTERS - United Nations (U.N.) talks on a new climate treaty due to be agreed in December risk failure unless negotiations accelerate, a senior U.N. official said on Friday (August 14) after a sluggish, week-long session involving 180 nations.
Negotiators made scant progress at the talks in Bonn held from Monday to Friday (August 10-14). They were attempting to break a deadlock on a shareout of curbs on greenhouse gases among rich and poor, or raising funds to help developing nations adapt to climate changes.

"Not enough progress has been made," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"I see this clock ticking every day in front of me indicating the number of days and hours that we have left until Copenhagen begins and time is running really short. This is a very complicated agreement that has to be negotiated and the pace simply isn't fast enough," said de Boer.

The Copenhagen conference does not begin until December 7, but de Boer said there are only 15 days set aside before that for negotiations -- at meetings in Bangkok in September-October and in Barcelona in November.

U.S. deputy special envoy Jonathan Pershing told reporters at a news conference in Bonn on Friday: "The U.S. is prepared to do our part. We have been an active participant in these meetings. Our goal in these sessions remains unchanged. We are seeking to conclude a strong climate change agreement that moves the world to a solution to this most urgent and pressing problem."

Swedish representative Anders Turesson, speaking for the European Union (EU), said: "The EU believes that we need an ambitious and comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen. We believe it's do-able. But it requires a difference in working modalities and a difference in pace."

A leading Iranian cleric criticises European nations and particularly Britain

A hardline Iranian cleric says Iran's judiciary should resist attempts by European powers to bully them into releasing Western-linked detainees held over the unrest that followed the disputed presidential election.

TEHRAN, IRAN (AUGUST 14, 2009) REUTERS - A hardline Iranian cleric on Friday (August 14) said Iran's judiciary should resist attempts by European powers to bully them into releasing Western-linked detainees held over the unrest that followed the disputed presidential election.
In a speech broadcast live on state radio, senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University that Britain and other states had used their embassies in Iran to plot against the clerical leadership.

Iran has staged mass trials of those arrested after the June 12 vote, including a Frenchwoman and Iranian employees of the British and French embassies. The process seems to be aimed at uprooting the opposition and putting an end to protests.

"It became clear during some of the trials that some embassies in Iran, particularly the British embassy, were involved in some plots. This is a shameful act by a government, which even allowed its embassy personnel to take part in street disturbances. Such actions fly in the face of accepted norms of diplomacy," Khatami said.

Khatami is a member of the Assembly of Experts, a powerful, conservative-dominated panel of 86 clerics that has the right to elect and dismiss Iran's Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He told worshippers: "Our people expect the country's judicial system to act decisively and to strongly and firmly stand up against the bullying tactics of European nations."

The opposition says the June poll was rigged to secure the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The authorities say Ahmadinejad's landslide win was an accurate reflection of the voters' wishes.

Mass street protests over the vote triggered the worst unrest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The authorities' failure to end weeks of criticism by opposition figures has highlighted deep divisions in the establishment.

The fallout from the post-election unrest has further clouded the prospect of Iran accepting U.S. President Barack Obama's offer of direct talks on Iran's nuclear programme. Tehran denies that it has nuclear arms ambitions.

Mehdi Karoubi, the most liberal of the candidates that lost to Ahmadinejad, has angered hardliners by alleging that some of those arrested after the election were tortured to death.

He has also alleged on his Internet website that male and female prisoners in Tehran's Kahrizak prison were raped, a charge the authorities have rejected as "baseless".

Khatami, in forthright criticism of Karoubi, said the allegations of the former parliament speaker had "made America, Israel and other enemies happy".

"This letter harmed the system's prestige. We expect the Islamic system to confront him properly ... for issuing such a letter that was baseless and full of sheer lies, according to the judiciary and parliament."

Corruption case judgement of former president Chiluba postponed

The judgement on the corruption case of former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba is postponed until Monday (August 17).

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (AUGUST 14, 2009) REUTERS- The corruption case of the former president of Zambia Frederick Chiluba has been postponed until Monday (August 17) for judgement.
Chiluba arrived at Lusaka's magistrate court at 06h45 gmt with his wife Regina and his press secretary Emmanuel Mwamba who addressed the media afterwards.

Chiluba who looked jovial walked hand in hand with his wife and shook hands with his supporters some who said they love him.

He has been charged with theft of nearly $500,000 in a landmark corruption case in Africa involving an ex-head of state.

"We are there for you darling," said an unidentified woman outside court.

After the court session, Chiluba's press secretary briefed journalists and announced judgement was postponed until Monday.

"The magistrate court, the prosecution and the defence have informed them that the matter will only be ready on Monday, so he will deliver his judgement on Monday." said Mwaba.

Chiluba ruled Zambia for a decade after ousting liberation hero Kenneth Kaunda in multiparty elections in 1991. A former trade unionist turned politician, he was hailed as a democrat after helping to dismantle Kaunda's communist single party rule, which lasted 27 years.

In 2007, British judge Peter Smith ordered Chiluba to pay $58 million to the Treasury to compensate for money he stole while he was in office.

Zambian officials had filed a civil case there hoping to recover properties and other assets owned by Chiluba and his associates in Britain and other European countries.

Chiluba says he is the victim of a political witchhunt mounted by his successor Levy Mwanawasa, who died in 2008 in France, after suffering a stroke. He launched an appeal against Smith's judgement but a final verdict has not yet been passed.

Obama grilled by 11-year-old

Student Damon Weaver gives U.S. President Barack Obama a hard time over education, school meals and bullying.

The young journalist from Pahokee, Florida broke news about President Obama's plan to address students across the country on September 8th just after they return to school.

Weaver rose to fame online with his coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign for his school news team and has long sought an interview with Obama.

Until now he had only managed to pin down Vice-President Joe Biden in his short political reporting career.

Weaver pressed Obama on issues such as the White House's education plans, school meals and bullying.

Iraqi journalists rally against political pressure to silence reporting

Iraqi journalists take to the streets to demand protection from political parties and lawmakers they say are trying to silence critical reporting.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (AUGUST 14, 2009) AGENCY POOL - Iraqi journalists took to the streets of Baghdad on Friday (August 14) to protest against what they say is political pressure to silence reporting critical of the government.
Dozens of journalists marched the streets of Iraq's capital chanting and carrying banners as they demanded protection from political parties and lawmakers they say are trying to muzzle the media.

"Yes, yes to freedom. No, no to silencing journalists," they chanted

The demonstration took place in front of Baghdad's famed Mutanabi Street book market.

The protest comes after reports that a prominent Iraqi journalist has been publicly criticised about his work on the arrest of five presidential guards on charges they staged a bank robbery that left eight security guards dead.

Thursday 13 August 2009

French Muslim woman banned from swimming with ''burkini''

A Muslim woman wearing a "Burkini" -- a full-length lycra suit with head-cover -- was ordered out of a pool in France after staff said it was contrary to the rules.

EMERAINVILLE, 25 KILOMETRES EAST OF PARIS, FRANCE (AUGUST 13, 2009) REUTERS - A French woman wearing a ''Burkini'' was ordered out of the water after the staff at a swimming pool in the suburbs of Paris said the cover-all swimming costume was contrary to the rules.
The woman, known only by the name Carole, told French daily newspaper 'Le Parisien' she bought the full-length lycra suit with hijab head-covering in the United Arab Emirates.

Carole, who converted to Islam at the age of 17, said she wanted to enjoy a swim while fully respecting the rules of Islam.

Because she thought the cover-all bathing suit might shock some secular populations in France, she said she called a few swimming pools first to check which one would accept her.

"I called several swimming pools to see if they accepted cover-all swimming costumes. Two categorically answered no and the one in Emery said I should come along to check the material of the bathing suit to see if they could authorize it. I was able to enter the swimming pool twice and the third time, I was told it was forbidden. They didn't accept cover-all swimming costume anymore," Carole told 'Le Parisien'.

Carole said she didn't want to create a religious or political problem.

"I didn't show up at the pool with this swimming costume thinking 'I will make new headlines about the hijab', not at all. My only battle is to be able to swim with my children. My children were happy to finally be able to swim with their mother. That's my only battle. It's not a political battle or a religious one. It has nothing to do with that," Carole said.

The two-piece "burkini," popular in the Middle East, first appeared in Australia in 2007.

The full-length lycra suit with hijab head-covering is not too figure hugging to embarrass, but is tight enough to allow its wearer to swim freely, the manufacturer said when promoting the suit in Australia.

The local authority managing the swimming pool said the burkini was not in line with regulations in French swimming pools.

Daniel Guillaume, the regional vice president for sports and leisure, said Carole should never have been allowed to enter the pool with the burkini in the first place.

"The rules in French swimming pools, public and private, prohibit boxing shorts, tee-shirts, shorts, bermudas, and this lady unfortunately came-fully dressed. The first time, she was able to swim because of a lack of attention on our side so we are talking to our staff, and the second time the manager made it clear to her and showed her the rules and she didn't like the fact that she couldn't swim fully-dressed and here we are, she is lodging a complaint," Guillaume said.

Carole told 'Le Parisien' she tried to lodge a formal complaint with the local police authorities but they suggested she should register the complaint with the police.

France may introduce a law banning full burqas if a parliamentary commission finds the growing number of women wearing them have been coerced into doing so.

Nearly 60 legislators signed a proposal in June 2009 calling for a parliamentary commission to look into the spread of the burqa in France, a garment that they said amounted "to a breach of individual freedoms on our national territory".

France, home to Europe's largest Muslim minority, is strongly attached to its secular values and to gender equality, and many see the burqa, which covers the wearer from head to toe and hides her face, as an infringement of women's rights and is increasingly being imposed by fundamentalists.

The country has been divided by fierce debates about how to reconcile those principles with religious freedom.

Obama presents Medal of Freedom to 16 recipients, including Hawking and Tutu

U,S. President Barack Obama presents the country's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, to 16 recipients, including physicist Stephen Hawking, professional tennis player Billy Jean King and South African anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (AUGUST 12, 2009)- Calling them "agents of change," U.S. President Barack Obama presented the country's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, to 16 people on Wednesday (August 12).
The recipients represented various fields, including civil rights, politics and sports and included physicist Stephen Hawking, professional tennis player Billy Jean King and South African anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"These extraordinary men and women, these agents of change, remind us that excellence is not beyond our abilities, that hope lies around the corner and that justice can still be won in the forgotten corners of this world," Obama said.

Obama bestowed the awards at a ceremony held in the East Room of the White House.

Other recipients included Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of the breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure, physician and Assistant Dean of the Academic Affairs at the Florida International University School of Medicine Pedro Jose Greer, Jr., former U.S. Congressman and Republican nominee for Vice President Jack Kemp, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, civil rights leader Reverend Joseph Lowery, Native American chief Joseph Medicine Crow, one of the United States' first openly homosexual elected official Harvey Milk, the first women named to the U.S. Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor, actor Sidney Poitier, actress, singer and dancer Chita Rivera, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, human geneticist Janet Davison Rowley, M.D. and microfinance pioneer and Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer and mourning the death of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, did not attend the ceremony. Kemp and Milk received their awards posthumously.

The Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make a significant contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors, according to a press release from the White House.

Cambodia's "AIDS colony" eyed

A Cambodian government village with over 40 HIV-infected families has come under criticism from human rights groups for discrimination.

Twenty-five km outside of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, lies a village built by the government for HIV-infected patients and their families.

Come to be known as the "AIDS colony", in the past two months the government has relocated 47 families to live in its metal and wooden sheds.

With inadequate sanitation and no running water, the area is not a health sanctuary for HIV-infected patients, who require personal attention and care.

The government maintains it is taking care of patients by building new homes and offering healthcare and ownership rights previously unavailable.

But HIV-infected people living in the village say they have not received any official recognition of ownership rights nor government compensation for their old homes.

40-year-old HIV patient Chheang Toma says even with free medical treatment, he has no real means of earning a living in the colony.

40-year-old HIV patient Chheang Toma saying:

"I feel sluggish in my arms and on my legs everyday and I cannot walk well. I will hang on, until the day I need to go to sleep in the hospital. I wanted to go now, but I have no money to spend for food, although they give treatment free of charge."

With little prospect of work in the area due to the distance from the city, people say they must survive largely on donations from the government and NGOs.

41-year-old HIV-infected Suon Davy saying:

"I face great difficulty for my family day to day, because we live far away from the hospital, far from any job opportunities and it is very hot here."

Local human rights activist Dr. Kek Galabru says the government actions are discriminatory while the conditions could pose health risks to already vulnerable patients.

Dr. Kek Galabru, President of Lacadho NGO saying:

"It's regretful that city hall sent 40 families to Tuol Sambo village. This is a discriminatory act because by putting them together like this, everyone will know this is an AIDS community."

The "AIDS colony" is one of a number of forced evictions in Cambodia, where the government has faced escalating criticism about its mandatory relocations.

Many HIV-infected people living in Tuol Sambo previously resided in squatter areas in the Borei Keila area of the capital, forced out as the government took over the land to build high-rise buildings.

Last month, the World Bank urged Cambodia to halt the forced evictions from disputed land, saying it threatened the livelihoods of thousands of urban dwellers.

Puja Bharwani, Reuters.

Israeli troops killed unarmed civilians during Gaza offensive, say human rights group

Human Rights Watch says Israeli soldiers killed unarmed, white flag-waving Palestinian civilians during its January offensive in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army says it's checking the report.

GAZA REUTERS - Human Rights Watch called on Israel on Thursday (August 13) to investigate seven incidents in which it said Israeli troops shot dead Palestinian civilians who were waving white flags during January's war in the Gaza Strip.
The New York-based lobby group urged governments to press for prosecutions under international law if the Jewish state did not take action itself.

Human Rights Watch said it had statements and other evidence indicating 11 unarmed people, including five women and four children, were shot dead while holding or waving white flags.

The group's deputy director of Middle East Division, Joe Stork, said: "They were unarmed, they had no hostile intent. But still, Israeli soldiers, in many cases after calling them out of their homes, shot them."

A Gaza observer group put civilian deaths at over 900 out of over 1,400 Palestinians it said were killed, while Israel said just under 300 civilians and some 900 fighters were killed.

Thirteen Israelis - ten soldiers and three civilians - died during the three-week long conflict.

In one case documented by the human rights group, on January 7th in eastern Jabalya, two women and three children from the family of Khalid Abed Rabbo were standing in front of their home after an Israeli soldier ordered them outside. Three were reportedly holding white cloths when a soldier near a tank opened fire, killing two girls, aged two and seven, and severely wounding their three-year-old sister, and elderly grandmother.

In a video produced by the family, the girls' father said he thought that waving white flags would make the Israeli soldiers recognise they were civilians.

Human Rights Watch, in a news release, stated that the accounts from the witnesses, tank tracks, an ammunition box and bullet casings found at the scene, and an examination of the grandmother's wounds by forensic experts indicated that the Israeli soldier fired upon identifiable and unarmed women and children.

Army spokeswoman for the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, Major General Avital Leibovich, said that the Human Watch Report was based on unverified testimonies, and that the Israeli army had taken efforts to avoid civilian causalities by distributing more than two million warning flyers and making more than 300 phone calls to the homes of those she described as terrorists.

She said due to Hamas' "cynical exploitation of civilians as human shields" the reality in the Gaza Strip was "complex and challenging."

The Human Rights Watch report concluded that "the evidence strongly indicates that, at the least, Israeli soldiers failed to take feasible precautions to distinguish between civilians and combatants before carrying out the attack. At worst, the soldiers deliberately fired on persons known to be civilians."

Umm Soad, mother of the girls who died, said in the family video that her eldest daughter was killed first, then her youngest, and later her middle child and mother-in-law "who can hardly walk" were injured.

Her husband said the soldiers who ordered them to come out of the house were on a tank eating chips and chocolate.

"We stood for about five minutes waving white flags, and they were looking at us. They didn't tell us to enter the house or leave," he said.

In a recent interview he told Reuters he hoped the soldiers would be indicted for the killing of his children.

"Killing of innocent children should never go unpunished," he said.

He said his three-year-old daughter was shot four times in the chest and is now paralysed. She is receiving treatment in Belgium. He says he hasn't seen her since she was taken there seven months ago.

Last week, Human Rights Watch said Palestinian militant groups' rocket fire from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to Israel was a "war crime" towards both the Israeli and Palestinian civilian populations.

Israel has rejected international criticism of the Gaza offensive it said was launched to curb rocket attacks on its towns by Hamas in Gaza. It says it is investigating allegations but has not yet found cause to prosecute any of its soldiers.

Murder for ratings?

A host of a television show in Brazil has been accused of ordering murders and broadcasting the footage to increase ratings of his crime reality series.

Being first on the scene too many times, sometimes even before the police get there.

This is footage from Brazilian crime television show 'Canal Livre'. It's host is right-wing politician Wallace Souza.

He has been accused of of ordering murders and staging crime scenes to boost the popularity of his show.

Brazilian police, say the instances are 'too uncanny'.

Public security secretary, Francisco Cavalcanti.

Manaus Public Security Secretary, Francisco Cavalcanti, saying:

"On several occasions they fabricated the facts, they fabricated news."

Souza, is a former policeman who was expelled from the force.

He's under suspicion of ordering at least five of the murders to boost his ratings and prove his claim that Brazil's Amazonas region is awash in violent crime.

He is also accused of trafficking weapons and ammunition. Souza denies all charges and his lawyer, Francisco Balieiro, says police have failed to provide proof against his client.

Souza's lawyer, Francisco Balieiro, saying:

"Up to now, no one has presented any technical evidence, none."

Besides crime scenes, Souza would also show dramatic police raids and arrests, which earned him huge popularity both as a host and politician.

The show is no longer on air.

Neena Dhaun, Reuters.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

German far right tells black politician to "head home."

German far right tells black politician to "head home."

HILDBURGHAUSEN, GERMANY (AUGUST 12, 2009) REUTERS - Germany's far-right NPD party on Tuesday told a black politician who appeared in regional election ads to head home, calling on its members to bring the message to him personally.
The National Democratic Party said in a statement that it wished the 45-year-old Zeca Schall, who is working on the conservatives' state parliamentary campaign in the eastern state of Thuringia, a "good trip home".

"Today he is no longer needed, so we want to encourage him directly to head home to Angola," the NPD said, adding that the region should "remain German", and that Schall's job should be filled by a local.

German media described Schall as a 45-year-old Angola-born integration specialist for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU) who has lived in Thuringia since 1988.

"I have been politically active for many years and what happened now and all of a sudden I think has to do with the NPD not being present for quite a while," Schall said.

"This is why they organised this campaign against me, to make it on television. This campaign against me is a campaign against myself and the entire CDU of Thuringia and in Germany overall and against other democratic parties in Hildburghausen, Thuringia and in Germany," Schall said, adding he was not worried about his personal safety.

"I have police protection at my home and on the campaign trail," Schall said.

The CDU on Tuesday defended Schall, whose photo it had placed alongside its candidates on campaign billboards for a vote on August 30.

The NPD said it would try to meet Schall in public on Wednesday. The far-right party wants to end parliamentary democracy and is described by Germany's domestic intelligence agency as racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist.

It has around 7,000 members and also has seats in the state parliament of the eastern region of Saxony.

Iran's parliament speaker criticises France and U.S.


"The French foreign minister (Bernard Kouchner) announced that the doors of the French embassy in Tehran are open to all Iranian protesters involved in recent events. It is indeed a mystery that countries which make such mindless declarations also entertain fanciful ideals about being able to influence world affairs. You (the French authorities) have kept open the doors of your embassy, but has anyone taken you up on your offer?

Another version of the same attitude can be seen in the words of the U.S. secretary of state (Hillary Clinton) who said that 'we have done a lot of work to empower the protesters, and we will continue to support the opposition.' It is really scandalous that the diplomacy of a nation can be so opportunist in nature. What is the political and security value of your actions when you who claim to have done a lot of work and engaged in activities to bring turmoil to Iran? This represents the sick nature of diplomacy conducted by the United States in today's world and an example of the roots of the hatred that is directed against that country.

Hillary Clinton in Nigeria due to discuss corruption

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to take a tough line over rampant corruption in Nigeria -- and she seems to have the backing of "grassroots" Nigerians.

ABUJA, NIGERIA (AUGUST 12, 2009) POOL - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Nigeria on Wednesday (August 12) and was expected to take a tough line over rampant corruption and to urge Africa's biggest energy producer to implement badly-needed electoral reforms. From what is being said in the streets of the capital, Abuja, Nigerians support her.
While en-route with his boss, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson described Nigeria as the most important country in sub-Saharan Africa, but noted that a number of organisations also regard it as the most corrupt African nation. Many say that mismanagement and graft over decades have imperilled Nigeria's development, deterred investment, undermined democracy and deepened conflicts such as the insurgency in the southern Niger Delta and bouts of religious violence in the north.

President Umaru Yar'Adua took office more than two years ago in Africa's most populous nation pledging respect for the rule of law, but diplomats and analysts say the fight against corruption has faltered under his leadership.

Nigeria's former anti-corruption chief, Nuhu Ribadu, was seen as a key reformer by the United States and other foreign powers, but was removed from his post months after Yar'Adua came to power in May 2007 and has since fled the country, fearing for his life.

Abuja resident Anthony Agbo said on Wednesday that Clinton's visit was a very good thing for Nigeria and its leaders should listen to her because high level corruption was "killing" grassroots Nigerians.

Corruption and election rigging are seen by many Nigerians as the two big obstacles to development, hence the support for Clinton's agenda.

The April 2007 polls that brought Yar'Adua to power were so marred by ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation that local and foreign observers said they were not credible.

More elections are due in 2011. Abuja resident Joshua Oorgun told Reuters on Wednesday that Clinton was welcome and she should ask politicians to show how sincere they are about the next vote.

Another resident, Timothy Bello, commented: "We want her to talk to our Nigeria leaders about corruption, because the corruption is much in Nigeria, our leadership are corrupt, they are too corrupt in Nigeria."

Clinton is also likely to seek an update on the status of a 60-day amnesty period in the Niger Delta, an effort to end years of militant attacks on the oil industry which have prevented Nigeria from pumping much above two thirds of its capacity.

Regional democracy in west Africa will also be on the agenda.

New E-Book Details Barack Obama's Online Campaign for President

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new e-book examines Barack Obama's online campaign for President in unprecedented detail, providing a definitive overview for journalists and political junkies while also giving political professionals a blueprint for future online campaigns. The 49-page "Learning From Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 and Beyond" covers the Obama campaign's Internet outreach, mobilization and fundraising at length, with an emphasis on how his staff and supporters put online technology to work in the real world. The e-book is available in PDF format for free download at, a website that focuses on the tools and tactics of online politics.

"Barack Obama's victory in 2008 told the world that the Internet's moment as a political tool has arrived," said Phil Noble, founder of and a longtime observer of Internet politics. "He and his campaign used technology to mobilize millions of people in a way we have never seen before, and this publication explains how they did it."

Based on a series of articles originally published on, "Learning from Obama" is a rare glimpse into the mechanics of a successful political outreach machine, providing details on Barack Obama's online campaign only recently available. With individual chapters investigating crucial campaign elements in depth, the e-book covers strategy, campaign structure and technology, online outreach and recruiting, field organizing, voter and volunteer mobilization and online fundraising.

"Learning from Obama" cuts through the hype and places the online tools used by his campaign and its supporters squarely in context. Including detailed discussions of Internet video, social networking outreach, online advertising and the MyBarackObama activist toolkit, and with a final chapter that looks toward the future of Internet politics, "Learning from Obama" serves as both a history lesson and as a guide for Internet activists and political communicators moving forward.

"Learning from Obama" author Colin Delany launched in 2006 and is a 13-year veteran of online politics. The "Learning from Obama" e-book relies on his and other coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign as well as information revealed by former Obama staffers only after election day. Delany previously wrote the "Online Politics 101" e-book, which has been downloaded from more than 20,000 times. He will speak Thursday at the Netroots Nation conference in Pittsburgh.


Tuesday 11 August 2009

18 months detention for Suu Kyi

A court in Myanmar found opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of violating an internal security law on Tuesday.

The court sentenced her to three years in prison, but that was immediately reduced to 18 months on the orders of the military

government, which said she could serve the time in her Yangon home.

A guilty verdict had been widely expected in a case critics say was fabricated by the military regime to keep Suu Kyi out of

circulation ahead of the scheduled 2010 general elections.

The charges stemmed from a mysterious incident in which an American, John Yettaw, swam uninvited to her lakeside home in May

and stayed there for two days, breaching the terms of her house arrest.

Yettaw, 54, from Missouri, is on trial alongside Suu Kyi and two of her housemaids.

Dozens of Suu Kyi's supporters gathered near Yangon's Insein prison, which was surrounded by soldiers to ensure the trial was not disrupted.

Witnesses said at least 2,000 security personnel were in the vicinity of Insein Prison, where she is being held and tried.

The Nobel Prize winner has spent 14 of the past 20 years in detention of one sort or another.

Meanwhile, supporters across Asia called for her immediate release, before the Myanmar court ruling was announced.

Almost 20 protesters gathered outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, waving pictures and chanting "Free Burma" slogans.

In South Korea, a small group of Myammar protesters braved the rain to call for her immediate release.

Zaw Moe Aung, joint secretary of National League for Democracy, Korea Branch saying:

"Burmese military dictators should immediately release Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Her trial is not fair. We urge the dictators to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi."

In Manila, protesters tied yellow ribbons and offered yellow flowers as a symbol of solidarity for the leader and other political prisoners in Burmese jails.

Puja Bharwani, Reuters.