Thursday 2 September 2010

A United Nations comittee has critized Australia's handling of indigenous Issues

The United Nations has criticized Australia for its treatment of indigenous Australians and for not enshrining indigenous rights in its constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, AUSTRALIA ABC - The United Nations human rights panel has rebuked Australia over its treatment of aboriginals.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) released the observation on Friday (August 27) after the conclusion of it's 77th session.

The report said "the Committee's concerns regarding Australia mostly centred on the status and treatment of indigenous peoples in the country," and noted "the slow implementation of the principle of indigenous peoples' exercising meaningful control over their affairs."

In 2007 the Howard Government suspended the racial discrimination act to be able to intervene in remote Aboriginal communities. The act was re-instated in June 2010 by the Rudd government.

At a national forum in Brisbane on Saturday (August 28) the suspension of the racial discrimination act was discussed.

"I don't know if Australia wants to be that sort of country, that sort of creates laws to protect people, then suspends it and I think it's great that the United Nations picked up on that and has made comment," said Australian human rights commissioner Mick Gooda.

Bill Grant of the Law Council of Australia said the whole issue needs to be re-examined.

The committee also "reiterated its concern about the disproportionate incarceration rates and the persisting problems leading to deaths in custody of a considerable number of Indigenous Australians over the years."

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Migrants stalked by fear en route to US

Hundreds of migrants board trains for northern Mexico as they attempt to make their way to the United States, stalked by fear in wake of last week's ranch massacre.

IXTEPEC, OAXACA, MEXICO (AUGUST 31, 2010) REUTERS - In a heavy rain storm, a cargo train pulls into the city of Ixtepec, Oaxaca, carrying hundreds of poor migrants from Central America.
The 300 or so migrants aboard this train have travelled for more than 11 hours from the city of Arriaga in the southern state of Chiapas as stowaways, and once in Oaxaca, their objective is to jump on another locomotive that will carry them north to the U.S. border.

Tens of thousands of Central Americans make this long trek north through Mexico each year on their way to cross the U.S. border illegally as they search for a better life.

They don't just face an arduous journey - they are also risking the wrath of Mexico's violent drug gangs.

The drug gangs are increasingly kidnapping illegal migrants for ransom and forcing them to carry narcotics into the United States as they muscle into the lucrative trade of smuggling people across the border.

The dangers faced by these vulnerable people were highlighted by last week's massacre of 72 migrants at a ranch in northern Mexico, whose blood-spattered bodies were found blindfolded with their hands tied and riddled with bullets.

In a typical scenario, traffickers armed with automatic weapons snatch weary migrants and hold them in cramped houses with little water or food until families pay ransoms of up to $12,000, officials say.

The Mexican army and U.S. border officials say that those who cannot pay are killed, stripped and dumped in shallow graves in remote stretches of the desert frontier.

Thousands are still prepared to make the journey in spite of the risks.

"One takes more risks but has more probabilities to survive. Salaries in my country are low and I can't continue supporting my family any longer," said Guatemalan migrant, Jacobo Coronado.

Jose Alberto Rodriguez, who runs the "Migrantes en el Camino" (Migrants on the road) shelter in Ixtepec, said that when migrants are targetted by gangs, they normally confiscate and destroy their documents so that they cannot be identified.

"The fact is they found them (migrants). Many remain disappeared. The migrant who managed to escape, who was injured, managed to inform authorities. There are many cases where migrants are killed, they are cut into pieces, they throw petrol on their bodies and are set on fire to erase all evidence," he said.

An Honduran migrant, Mario Eduardo Tercero, said a heavy police presence was needed to avoid further deaths.

"More support from the police. I think that if they pinpointed locations (where murders take place) they would prevent more deaths because sometimes they just patrol highways, they stay on the beaten track and it's rare to find a policeman on the road, one tends to find more murderers and rapists."

Despite the worst U.S. recession in decades, poor Latin Americans are still trying to cross illegally into the United States in search of higher wages than at home, walking for days through hot desert or swimming the Rio Grande.

Powerful drug cartels began taking over the trafficking of undocumented migrants into the United States at the start of the decade, seeking to make even bigger profits along their trafficking routes and pushing out small-time smugglers.

As rival gangs wage a lethal war over drug routes into the United States, cartels are kidnapping each others' immigrants or turning on their own clients, using them to smuggle drugs.

The cartels' diversification into migrant trafficking poses another challenge to President Felipe Calderon as he fights a war that has killed more than 28,000 people since he took office in late 2006.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Attack on muslim taxi-driver an isolated incident say fellow drivers amid controversy over a planned Islamic Center near Ground Zero

Taxi drivers in New York interviewed by Reuters say the attack on a fellow muslim driver was an isolated incident, although it does worry them. The attack comes amid angry protests over a planned Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (RECENT - AUGUST 26, 2010) REUTERS - Amidst controversy over a proposed mosque at Ground Zero, many taxi drivers in New York say an attack on a fellow-muslim driver was an isolated incident, although they say it does make them more fearful.
43-year old Ahmed Sharif, a Bangladeshi immigrant, said he was stabbed by a passenger who asked him if he was Muslim and celebrated Ramadan. Sharif described at a news conference on Thursday (August 26) how the passenger slashed his neck, face, and shoulders.

"The knife was in front of my throat, when I go little bit back this came right over there. If this one if can put it here (pointing to his throat) I'm not supposed to be talk right now, I'm dead," said Sharif.

Sharif said he thought he was attacked because of his religion, but did not know if it was provoked by the angry opposition to a planned Islamic cultural centre and mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, the site of the attack on September 11, 2001 on the Twin Towers. Sharif said he did not talk about the mosque with his attacker.

Since news of the planned Islamic centre was unveiled earlier this summer there have been several angry protests near Ground Zero.

U.S. President Barack Obama and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg have said they support the right of Muslims to build the centre, though the majority of New Yorkers oppose it. Polls have also found at least 60 percent of Americans are against building the centre about two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks that demolished the World Trade Centre and killed nearly 3,000 people.

"If they are so dead set on putting it here, there has to be a reason why it has to go here. If it's not about 9/11, then it wouldn't have to go here, it would go anywhere. This is a big beautiful city with lots of space, so why should it have to go here? It is like a slap in the face to the victims and their families," Dante Walls said to Reuters near the site.

Ken Sylman added, "It's an issue of where it will be, because of what has happened here, back then at that time. If there is any other place, but why here? And another thing is, the plans for it, when it goes up, it looks really lavish, really expensive. Where is that money coming from to build it? It's a silent answer to that, so I have my doubts about why here."

A man who would not give his name said, "No I don't like the idea. I don't think it should be built over there because of what happened over there, because I was down here when it happened, and we lost a lot of people."

New York is home to about 800,000 Muslims, around 10 percent of the city's population. About half of the city's cab drivers are Muslim, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

"For sure, I am afraid now, but it's an individual action I think, maybe this guy was sick, I don't know, but this does not usually happen, you know, but I am a little bit afraid," said taxi driver Mohamad Attia, who recently moved to New York from Egypt, when asked about the attack on his fellow driver.

"It's very unnecessary that thing happened. It is a very civilized society. I've been driving almost 20 years, never happened to me like that, maybe some individual have a personal problem. You don't see that too often and thank God it never happen like that," added Mohammad Raz.

Another driver said he couldn't understand the opposition to the proposed mosque.

"We have a lot of Muslims near Ground Zero, I go and pray there all the time. Last night I prayed there, nobody make a problem with that, so why they make a problem for this one?" asked Abboulaye Camara, a taxi driver and Muslim from Senegal.

When asked what he would do if a passenger asked if he was Muslim, taxi driver and Bangladeshi immigrant Matin Chowdhury said, "Right now, I would not even answer that. I try to find a safe place and drop him off, I think. I don't want this conversation, and I'd be more alert, to save myself."

Sharif's accused attacker, 21-year-old Michael Enright, is being held without bail on assault, attempted murder, and hate-crime charges.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Mexico condemns killing of 72 suspected migrants dumped in Mexican ranch

Alejandro Poire Romero, the technical secretary of the National Security Council, condemns killing of 72 suspected migrants dumped in a ranch near Gulf of Mexico.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (AUGUST 25, 2010) REUTERS - Mexican marines found 72 dead bodies at a remote ranch near the U.S. border on Tuesday (August 24), in what is the biggest single discovery of its kind in Mexico's increasingly bloody drug war.
Mexico's technical secretary of the National Security Council, Alejandro Poire Romero, condemned the killings on Wednesday (August 25).

"Yesterday, the marines repelled an aggression by alleged organised criminals during an operation in San Fernando Tamaulipas, where 72 people were found dead - 58 men and 14 women - and according preliminary information that needs to be confirmed, they could be illegal immigrants of several nationalities including El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil," Poire told a news conference.

The marines came across the bodies of 58 men and 14 women at the ranch outside a town near the Gulf of Mexico in Tamaulipas state, some 90 miles (150 km) from the Texas border, after a firefight with drug hitmen in which three gunmen and a marine died.

A suspected trafficker was arrested, the navy said, and several escaped in SUVs. Authorities were still investigating how long the bodies had been there.

"This is an extremely serious event which is absolutely outrageous which demands the unanimous condemnation from society and authorities which does not admit hesitation in our condemnation of crime and which should summon us to reject and categorically combat criminal activity in all its forms and manifestations," said Poire.

Marines guarding a nearby checkpoint reached the ranch after a wounded man approached them and asked for help. The soldiers came under fire as they neared the ranch, the navy said in a statement. After the firefight, marines seized assault rifles, bullets, uniforms and vehicles from the ranch -- including one with forged army license plates.

Mexican cartels have moved into human smuggling in recent years, sometimes kidnapping migrants, extorting them and forcing them to carry narcotics across the border.

The discovery in Tamaulipas is the largest single find in Mexico's 3-1/2 year assault on cartels, following the discovery of 55 bodies in western Guerrero state in May and 51 bodies on the outskirts of Monterrey near Texas in July.

President Felipe Calderon, who deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to fight cartels when he took office, has been seeking to shore up support from opposition politicians and civic leaders as the war on drugs grows more gruesome.

African Bishops condemn homosexuality at meeting in Uganda

Ugandan Archbishop heads campaign to condemn homosexuality at the second All African Bishops' conference in Uganda, where more than 400 African bishops are meeting to discuss issues concerning the African continent. Homosexuality has been a contentious issue that continues to divide the Anglican church.

ENTEBBE, UGANDA (AUGUST 24, 2010) REUTERS - African bishops meeting in Entebbe, Uganda on Tuesday (August 24) condemned homosexuality and said it is against the "word of God".
The ongoing second All African Bishops' conference brings together more than 400 African bishops to discuss issues on the continent.

The Anglican Church has been torn for years by disputes about authority over Church teaching, especially on gay rights. Orthodox Anglicans, especially in Africa, vehemently reject pro-homosexual reforms as sinful and unbiblical.

Recently, the spiritual head of the world's 80 million Anglicans, Archbishop of Cantebury, Rowan Williams tried to mediate in gay rights disputes splitting the Church, by suggesting that member churches approving gay bishops and same-sex unions and those actively opposing them be sidelined from official doctrinal committees.

The initiative by Williams -- who is also attending the Entebbe meeting, was sparked by the consecration of an openly lesbian bishop in California earlier this year.

But Archbishop Williams's move seems to have fallen on deaf ears, with members saying such action was against traditions of the Anglican Church.

Luke Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda, speaking at the conference said African churches were not going to compromise on their stand against homosexuality.

"The orthodox believers like we in Africa, the majority of us have stood clearly to say what my brother Bernard has said. Homosexuality is incompatible with the word of God. In this country we cherish the word of God and if you are proclaiming that word of God, you want to stick to it faithfully," said Orombi.

Orombi criticised the church in the West for "abandoning the word of God".

"A hundred or so years ago, Europe, America brought us the gospel, now that gospel was planted on the soil and hearts of Africans, we received it, it has grown, it has borne fruits. Now for us we have the responsibility to take it back to England. I am just coming from England two weeks ago. I was preaching to the English congregation of over 17,000 people. Now the hunger for the word of God is over there. The warmth -- like hot bread of the word is in Africa, so now am calling to the Africans to say it is time go back to the sending church, America and Europe to take back the gospel," said Orombi.

Orombi said the meeting was a good opportunity for African Bishops to voice their concerns about the issue of homosexuality to Williams, who attended the conference.

"We are happy Archbishop Rowan is here -- and you have intimated when you heard him speak -- it is good that Archbishop Rowan is here, because then we can talk, then we can open our hearts to him because then he can hear, sit with him, and the fact that he is here, we are going to engage him as prime mates. We are going to express to him where we stand, we are going to express to him what our pains are, where our disagreements are and it is very good for us to do that," Orombi said.

Archbishop Williams did not mention the gay rights topic in his speech to the conference. Instead he spoke about sacrifice and prayed for clergy who were working in areas where it was difficult to speak against injustices in society.

"In our own times, there have been many who have courageously continued in this tradition and here we may think specially today with celebration of thanksgiving, of our brothers in Sudan, in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) in Zimbabwe, whose authorities as pastors in the Church of God, rests so deeply on their willingness to take risks alongside their flock, and for them," said Archbishop Williams.

Gay rights in Africa came to the foreground this year with the arrest and conviction of a gay couple in Malawi, who married in a traditional ceremony and after an Ugandan lawmaker proposed an anti-gay bill including the death penalty for some 'offences' related to homosexuality.

Monday 23 August 2010

Generous British public "shame" governments over Pakistan aid

British public donate 30 million UK pounds to Pakistan's flood relief effort, "shaming" politicians around the world to give more, says Disasters Emergency Committee in UK.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (AUGUST 23, 2010) REUTERS - The British public have given around 30 million pounds of their own money to add to the government's 60 million in aid for Pakistan, "shaming" other governments into pledging funds to help flood victims, said the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) on Monday (August 23).
At a Royal Mail postal sorting office in central London, cheques sent in from across the UK for the DEC appeal were mounting up daily.

"For the first time in the DEC's history we've taken more money in the second week than in the first week," said Brendan Gormley, chief executive of DEC at a news conference in London.

"What we've had in the last couple of weeks, which has been hugely moving, is that as the story has unfolded the UK public has continued to dig deeper and deeper," he said.

In comparison, donations to the Haiti quake aid effort dropped 20 percent in the second week and donations to the Indonesia and Philippines typhoon effort dropped by half in the third week.

DEC predicts donations by the British public, which has a Pakistani population of around 1 million, will continue to rise.

He said the generosity of ordinary Britons should shame governments around the world which have been slow to respond to the massive disaster in Pakistan.

"It is the UK public who are leading the way and I don't think it's too strong a word, shaming politicians across the world to really do what they should do," he said.

The United Nations estimates that 20 million have been affected by the floods, with 10 million in urgent need of help.

Speaking at the London news conference, Humanitarian Director for Oxfam, Jane Cocking said it was crucial for people to realise the scale of the disaster.

"What we have is a single long event, which has the scale of the tsunami, the destruction of Haiti and the complexity of the Middle East. In 20 years in responding to humanitarian crises I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this," she said.

Aid agencies estimate that around 25 percent of flood victims have not received any help at all.

Head of Christian Aid's humanitarian division, Nick Guttmann said they desperately need more money.

"We are very pleased that donations in the past week, unusually for the DEC appeal, picked up in the second week. Within Christian Aid as well our donations have picked up, but we desperately need more. The scale is so huge that every penny that has been raised will be able to be used now," he said.

The DEC is an umbrella organisation for 13 different UK charities who are providing food shelter and medical care to those who have lost everything in the floods.

Sunday 22 August 2010

With government controls relaxed, Red Shirt protests return to northern Thailand

Thailand's red shirt movement resume their anti-government activity in their stronghold province of Chiang Mai after the government lifts tight military control in the northern provinces.

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND (AUGUST 22, 2010) REUTERS - About three hundred members of Thai United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), gathered in Chiang Mai on Sunday (August 22) in an anti-government rally.
The demonstrators lay down on the ground and staged a theatrical play to mock the military who clamped down on red shirted protesters in Bangkok earlier in 2010.

Most of the demonstrator were women and elderly residents from Chiang Mai and the surrounding provinces.

They accuse Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his administration of ordering the Thai military to launch what became for Red Shirt supporters a bloody crackdown on demonstrations in Bangkok between March and May.

On August 16, the Thai cabinet lifted an emergency law which prevented protests in three red shirt strongholds in northern Thailand

The emergency decree has been in place since April, giving security forces broad power to deal with anti-government protests that spiraled into the worst political violence in modern Thai history and left 91 people dead and nearly 2,000 wounded.

It is still in force in Bangkok and six other provinces.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Wyclef rejected as Haiti candidate

The Haitian electoral authority rules hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean is ineligible to run for president there in the November election.

HAITI-WYCLEF JEAN RULING - Wyclef Jean's quest to move from musician to statesman may now be over.

Haitian authorities have ruled the hip-hop star is not eligible to run as a presidential candidate there for the November election.

Jean was born in Haiti, but moved to the United States as a child where he eventually rose to fame through his music.

He enjoyed great popularity in his homeland, and founded a charity for Haitian relief.

But Haitian presidential candidates must have five consecutive years of residency in Haiti prior to running.

The electoral authority said Jean did not meet this requirement, leaving him off the list of 19 approved candidates.


"Candidate Jeannel Wyclef Jean: rejected."

Jean - seen here after the ruling - issued a statement saying he respectfully disagreed with this decision, but accepted it.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas.

It continues to struggle in the aftermath of a massive earth quake earlier this year that killed up to 300,000 people.

Though it may not be as president, Jean said he'd continue to work to rebuild Haiti.

David Botti, Reuters

Thursday 19 August 2010

Wyclef Jean says threats will not deter candidacy

Hip hop star and presidential candidate, Wyclef Jean, says recent spate of threats will not deter his candidacy for president.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (AUGUST 18, 2010) REUTERS - Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean said on Wednesday (August 18) he had received death threats but they would not deter him from running for president of his native Haiti.
Singer-songwriter Jean, 40, said he had received anonymous phone calls threatening that he would be killed unless he left Haiti. He was in hiding and has not appeared in public for two days, but sounded defiant.

He told Reuters he wouldn't give up, but said he had taken precautions.

"And just for our safety, we basically came to an area which we feel is secure, and that's my town. So I basically am in my town, I'm in Lassere, we're in an area where we're comfortable. The area where we was at before, we was not comfortable, so where we at right now, we definitely feel more comfortable. We know that the situation that we have embarked in, you know, death threats comes with the territory," he said.

Haiti's provisional electoral council had been due to finalize on Tuesday (August 17) the list of candidates who met the legal requirements to stand in the Nov. 28 election that will choose a successor to President Rene Preval.

The announcement was delayed until Friday to allow more time to decide on legal questions about several of the 34 contenders, among them Jean.

He said he and his legal team were sure they had met all the requirements.

"So by law and within the Haitian constitution, we have given the CEP everything. So this delay of announcing the candidacy is not on our part because we have given everything possible," he said.

He is widely popular in his impoverished Caribbean homeland, which is struggling to recover from a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people and wrecked

much of the coastal capital Port-au-Prince.

Haiti's electoral law requires candidates to have five consecutive years of residency in Haiti, among other requirements, such as tax compliance.

Jean left his homeland at age 9 to go to the United States, where he launched and developed his international musical career. His lawyers have said he is eligible to run and has maintained residency for more than five years in Haiti.

Legal challenges also have been raised against several other candidates, including Jacques Edouard Alexis, a former two-time prime minister, and Leslie Voltaire, a U.S.-educated urban planner and former minister who has been heavily involved in Haiti's post-quake reconstruction.

Jean has rebuffed criticisms that he lacks the experience and qualifications to be president, arguing that Haiti needs an international figure who can attract aid and allies.

He told Reuters that if his candidacy is not approved, he will continue his work in Haiti.

"If after Friday we're not approved, I will continue doing what I've been doing in Haiti, coming back and forth. But we will be respected as a political force. The important thing is that I hope we can be part of the big plan that is for Haiti. And the programs of helping people write and read, the voice of the youth could still implement, for the farmers, we put them in a better situation, the idea of investment coming into the country, starting with the diaspora, working towards helping bring the first resort to Haiti, that is something that I'm very excited on, you know, better relationships with the DR. I'm still going to be involved," he said.

What Jean may lack in political experience he may make up for in popularity. He is admired by many Haitians, especially the young, who see him as a celebrity who never forgot his roots. Several Haitian youth organizations and Creole music groups are supporting his campaign as a candidate for the Viv Ansan-m party.

The three-time Grammy award-winner has said he will put his musical career on hold if his candidacy is approved.

Preval, who has been widely criticized at home over his handling of the response to the earthquake disaster, cannot run for re-election after serving two terms.

Amnesty International calls on Australian government to treat asylum seekers fairly

Amnesty International renews demands for fair treatment of asylum seekers ahead of Australian election.

AT SEA NETWORK TEN - Human rights group Amnesty International has renewed its push for fair treatment of asylum seekers just days before a federal election, in Australia.
Amnesty International's national refugee coordinator Doctor Graham Thom said Australia held one of the worst records among the developed nations in the way it treated asylum seekers, or so called 'boat people'.

Graham said Australia breached its international obligations by penalizing people on the basis of their way of arrival.

"Amnesty International expects any incoming government to treat all asylum seekers equally whether they arrive by air or by boat. We should not be penalizing a particular group which only makes up very small fraction of the number of people coming to this country each year, any differently. They shouldn't be taken to remote detention centers, we shouldn't be locking up children, we should be treating all refugees and asylum seekers in line with our international obligations and we should be providing protection to those who prove they are genuine refugees," Thom said.

When asylum seekers arrive in Australia illegally by boat, they are kept in detention centers until their claims are being processed.

Najeeba Wazefadost, 22, is from Afghanistan and has just graduated with a degree in medical science and is hoping to become a doctor one day.

She and her family arrived by boat in 2000. When Australian Navy patrols spotted them and ordered the captain to turn back, their boat was already leaking.

"Even though they did make us turn the boat, we said it is OK we are going to turn it in front of them. We will say we are going to go back, but there is no way we were going to go back because we had nothing back there. We were going to go inside the war again? So for us it wouldn't make a difference, we are going to get drowned in the sea or go back home and get killed in our country, so it was not a choice. At least we were looking at the point of going towards Australia-- we could see a light towards our lives, that we could see there is a way, maybe, there is a one percent chance we can get out of the situation that we were in. Where as the other part, it was all dark," Wazefadot said.

Wazefadost and her family were put in a detention center until their claim was processed. Finally their claim was found genuine and they were granted refugee status.

"Those people, those refugees that are risking their lives to come through that big Pacific ocean is not just for fun or just not to come and see these buildings. I am sure their lives are at risk. I am sure that their lives have been at risk, that they have to go through that big major risk of coming through that big ocean and risking their lives. Otherwise they wouldn't have done that," she said.

Currently, there are over 4,200 unauthorized arrivals being held in detention in Australia, but while the numbers are small, border protection is a "hot button" issue with voters, which helped conservative parties win a stunning election victory in 2001.

The coalition's leader Tony Abbott wants to reopen a detention center in the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru.

In June, the asylum seeker issue saw the ruling Labor party lose a key state by-election in western Sydney.

In July, Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled a new policy aimed at calming voter fears about rising numbers of asylum seekers that includes a possible East Timor processing center.

Penelope Mathew is a senior lecturer in Australian National University about refugee issues.

She thinks it is a law and order issue politicians love to whip up ahead of elections.

"It is I think a distraction because it makes it look as though politicians doing something good for Australian citizens, you know, we are keeping you safe, we are controlling borders," Mathew told Reuters.

Gillard rejected charges her regional processing center policy was aimed at "rednecks in marginal seats" and Tony Abbott remained adamant that dealing with "the boat people" was a matter of dignity for a country to control its borders, with marginal seats in suburbs likely to determine the election on Saturday.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Obama says "no regrets" on mosque comments

U.S. President Barack Obama says he has "no regrets" that he expressed his view in the opening of a Islamic cultural center near the site of the 9/11 attack.

COLUMBUS, OHIO, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 18, 2010) POOL - As the proposed establishment of an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks continues to dominate America's political chatter, U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he had "no regrets" about his controversial comment last week which ignited the rhetorical firestorm.
After delivering remarks on the economy in Ohio, Obama paused to shake hands with members of his audience. A reporter stationed along a rope line asked the President if he regretted the remarks on the Islamic center. Obama walked away from the reporter, apparently to consider his response, and turned back again a short while later.

"The answer is: no regrets," he said.

Obama inserted himself into the debate over the mosque last week when observed that Muslims have the right to worship freely. Some commentators, ranging across the political spectrum from the Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, have argued that placing the Islamic center so close to the site of the attack on the World Trade Center would open raw wounds in America's national psyche.

UK's historic coalition government marks first 100 days in office

Britain's coalition government, the first since World War Two, marks its first 100 days in office as UK trade unions attack spending cuts saying the lowest paid workers could be hit the hardest.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM,UK POOL - Britain's first coalition government since World War Two marked its first 100 days in office on Wednesday (August 18).
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was proud of the governments' achievements during a CentreForum think-tank event as he took over from Prime Minister David Cameron, who was on holiday.

"As of today the new coalition government is 100 days old, inevitably there is lots of discuss about our performance to date. Everyone will have their own view about the kind of start that we have made. I'm really proud of the achievements so far," Clegg said.

An ICM survey for the Guardian showed 46-percent of those interviewed felt the coalition government was doing a "good job" with 36-percent who felt the opposite. This was a drop in margin from June which showed a 23 point gap.

Assistant Editor and Political Commentator for the Guardian, Michael White said Cameron had done well on domestic policy.

"Cameron has done quite well. He has made mistakes a number of of foreign policy errors, with the president of Pakistan the other day, made a silly slip about 1940 and the Americans being the senior partner against Hitler, wrong year and so on and so forth. On domestic policy he has generally been surer," he said.

White added that unless a real disaster hits the UK, he expects the coalition government to through to the next election in 2015.

"My assumption is that unless a real disaster hits the country, an economic disaster, factors outside our control, things go wrong in the wider world economy which ranges from war to natural disaster, via resumed economic depression, I assume if that doesn't happen, the coalition will sort of battle on, perhaps stagger on, getting more unpopular. They will say 'we are seeing it through, we are doing the right thing, you will begin to see the benefits by the time we have the next election'," he said.

Director of Political Research at YouGov, Joe Twyman said although Cameron was doing well in the polls, support for the coalition was dropping.

"David Cameron is doing relatively well as prime minister, but really it is all about him as part of the wider coalition, that is the important thing for the people. And whereas David Cameron's support and the Conservative party's support have been able to be maintained over his course as prime minister. What we are seeing is the government, the coalition is dropping."

Britain's trade unions launched an attack on public spending cuts to mark the coalition's 100th day in office, setting the scene for an autumn battle with the government as it reveals where the axe will fall.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, which came to power on May 11, has pledged to cut departmental spending by at least 25 percent as it tackles a budget deficit running at around 11 percent of national output.

Senior Policy Officer in the Economics Department of Trades Union Congress, Nicola Smith said in 100 days there have been 100 cuts hitting the most vulnerable and poorest in the community.

"Over the last 100 days we have seen a hundred cuts that have hit the most vulnerable and poorest communities across our society the hardest. We have seen cuts in long-term support for unemployed young people, we have seen cuts for women at risk of domestic violence, we have seen cuts in support for children and nursery funding and for building extended schools and providing childcare," she said.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has joined with charities such as Oxfam to call for a fairness test to guarantee budget cuts do not hit the lowest paid workers hardest.

Unions warned the government's austerity measures, which are expected to result in around 600,000 public sector job losses, risked pushing the British economy back into recession.

While some savings were outlined in an emergency budget in June, the bulk of cuts will be set out in a spending review on October 20, a day on which unions have promised protests.

The TUC, which represents 6.5 million workers, called on the government to reconsider its planned cuts to public services and focus instead on other ways to reduce the deficit, such as a tax on financial institutions for foreign exchange, derivatives trading and share transactions.

"The real risk of these sharp cuts is that we are going to see lower growth, lower tax revenue, an increase risk of economic stagnation or even a double dip recession and that is going to take us even further away from being able to reduce the deficit. What we need to see is the deficit reduction timetable taking place over a longer period and a far fairer balance between tax rises and spending cuts," Smith added.

Public opinion of the streets of London was mixed.

Philip Clarke was impressed with Cameron engaging with local people to talk about issues.

"I think the fact that he is engaging with the people, he is actually going to meet people and chat about various issues, that impresses me," he said.

Londoner Serena Williams was unsure of Cameron but placed her support behind the coalition government.

"No I really can't comment but I do like the coalition though."

While Henry Davey likened the coalition government to a strict school teacher.

"There is a kind of a feeling that we all have been messing around while the naughty teacher is taking the class and we all know that we actually have to knuckle down and do our homework and the strict teacher has come along and said, 'stop messing around'. I think that is kind of the vibe really," he said.

The TUC's policy officer said public opinion might change once people have seen how the spending cuts affect their local services and communities.

"It does seem fair to presume that once the spending cuts actually start to hit people's services, people's communities and people can see the problems that are being caused in their local areas as a result of this very sharp and quick withdrawal of public funding, the public opinion may start to change," Nicola Smith said.

Monday 16 August 2010

Is There A Book Of Prescribed Punishment?

There is no specific book of punishment, as sentencing is
based on a variety of factors. Regardless of what crime is
committed a criminal lawyer, DUI lawyer or a felony lawyer
can provide the client with an average punishment for the
situation, but the final judgment is determined by the

In most instances, it is the judge and not the jury who
determines sentencing. The court cautions elected jurors not
to factor possible sentencing when attempting to determine
the guilt or innocence of an individual. Certain states
require juries to be involved in the sentencing process, but
only in rare circumstances, which include advising whether a
defendant should receive the death penalty over life

A crime is committed when a specific law has been broken and
many times each law or statute provides a guideline for
penalties according to each behavior. A first time offender
may be subject to a monetary fine, imprisonment or both,
which is not to exceed a specific amount. The judge then
determines the final penalty. Statutes may define behaviors
without delegating punishment so courts will decide the
punishment based on the type of behavior in general.

Public complaints of leniency have influenced Congress to
ensure justice when certain laws are broken. "Mandatory
sentencing" applies when federal crimes are committed and,
in certain instances, when a state law is violated. Under
these circumstances, judges are required to hand down
predetermined punishment for anyone who breaks these
specific laws. An automatic and specific punishment is
assigned to the breaking of that law regardless of who
committed the crime.

Generally, courts expect judges to evaluate a number of
facts surrounding the case before determining final
punishment. A person's age, criminal history, social and
work history in addition to what prompted the individual to
break the law and whether he or she regrets the action, are
issues taken into consideration. In these situations, the
punishment is determined based on the offender and not the
law that was broken.

In cases where the judge renders punishment, the defense
attorney presents "mitigating circumstances" or facts
pertaining to the particular situation, to influence the
judge to consider a milder punishment. For instance, it
might be taken into consideration that the offender has a
minor or no previous criminal history. Perhaps the defendant
did not play a key role in the crime, but was assisting
another person. Maybe the person was experiencing a great
amount of stress when the crime was committed, for example,
job loss, bills piling up and a family illness. Or perhaps
the crime did not cause injury or would not have resulted in
the injury of any person.

On the other hand, "aggravating circumstances" influence a
judge to deal severely with an offender. An individual who
commits the same crime repeatedly is likely to receive a
harsher punishment. How a crime was committed is another
aggravating circumstance. An offender who was intentionally
cruel or malicious will receive a sentence based upon that
behavior. Occasionally, laws carry defining circumstances
detailing what is considered aggravating, which include
using a weapon to commit a crime.

About the Author:

Nick Messe is president of Lead Frog LLC. If you need the
help of an exceptionally experienced and dedicated attorney
contact Steven Louth for a free case evaluation - - Steven Louth is
a Boulder criminal lawyer who only practices criminal defense
law -

Is Artificial Insemination The Only Way To Get Pregnant After 40?

Artificial insemination is one of the most common types of
treatments tried by women who suffer with infertility
issues. While this has been a proven method of treatment
for many women, it is not something that is right for all
women, and there are other ways.

There are several options available to you to help you
conceive a child but it is important to remember that most
of these treatments comes with their own set of
complications. The exceptions are the natural and holistic

Hearing that you may not be able to have a baby is one of
the most distressing things for a woman. Having a child is
something that most women have dreamed about their whole
lives so when this type of news is presented to them, it
hurts them deeply.

Some women feel a desperate need to seek some type of
immediate treatment that can help them to correct the
situation straight away. But often they do not take the time
to consider the complications that may arise.

Artificial insemination is usually one of the first types of
treatments that women look into. This gives women a chance
of carrying their own child, and bypasses the issue that
keeps them from having a baby naturally.

It can be a very expensive treatment option, so is something
that not everyone can afford. And what should happen if the
treatment isn't successful first time round (as it is in 4
out of 5 cases)? Most of the time it can take up to 6
sessins before people give up.

The process of artificial insemination is not a short one.
A woman must take infertility medications for a defined
period so that her chance of getting pregnant increases.

The fertility drugs can cause a woman to have major mood
swings. She may also have to deal with her ovaries becoming
enlarged as well as having dry cervical mucus. Some women
can complain of stomach aches, and there havce been studies
which link the use of these treatments to higher cases of

This treatment has also been notorious for making women
pregnant with multiple babies. This is not something that
most people plan for.

The complications above are sometimes all too much for a
woman to deal with. Which is why thousands of women are
looking for natural ways to help them conceive.

Many women do not realize that if they look at all aspects
of why they cannot conceive, they will have a better chance
of correcting the situation.

By taking a natural and holistic approach to the treatment,
women will be able to create a healthy environment for their
child to be conceived. This is the best way forward, as a
woman will be working to make her body better from the
inside out.

So, before you make your decision as to what type of
treatment is best for you, you should look into what options
you have where natural and holistic treatments are concerned.

You will be healing your body so that it can work to heal
itself, making the need for artificial insemination

About the Author:

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insemination ? No matter if you are in your 40s, thousands
of women like you have conceived naturally using this
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Friday 9 July 2010

African immigrants in South Africa fear attacks after World Cup

Foreign nationals living in South Africa are being threatened that violence against immigrants will restart shortly after the World Cup.

DE DORNS, SOUTH AFRICA REUTERS - Foreign nationals living in South Africa say they fear for their safety as the World Cup comes to a close, after receiving xenophobic threats of violence.
In De Dorns, rows of tents house refugees - mostly Zimbabweans - who sought safety after a breakout of violence last November in South Africa's Western Cape. Many say they are too scared to return to their homeland but also face a new wave of threats in South Africa.

"After the World Cup, they are promising that 'We are going to kill you and if we don't kill you, we will do something very bad. So, it's better if you go back to your homes now - that the World Cup is in progress. After the World Cup, we are going to do something very terrible.' So, many of the people here have gone but we can't go. Where do we go?" said Evah Chibukira, a Zimbabwean refugee staying in the camp.

South Africa's government on Thursday (July 8) played down concerns that locals will turn on poor African migrants competing for scarce jobs in the continent's largest economy when the curtain falls on the soccer World Cup.

But migrants from African states and non-governmental groups said foreigners have been leaving due to renewed threats of xenophobic violence in the country where attacks in 2008 left 62 migrants dead and around 100,000 homeless.

In recent months, the government has encouraged the community to vacate the sports field and move back to their homes.

There are still more than 200 refugees staying in the area, including Chakauya Musakawa and his wife Moleen.

Musakawa says he would like to move back to their old home so they can work again, but with newborn twins, they have to think of safety first.

"The government wants to move us out of this place but I don't. If they can come and facilitate an agreement between us and the community people, we can go to the location freely. But if they can't facilitate that then we will stay here," he said.

The South African army has been deployed in areas around Cape Town, following an upsurge in threats towards foreigners but rights groups say the government needs a long-term solution.

At the Scalabrini Centre in Cape Town - a non-government organisation (NGO) which helps refugees - director Miranda Madikane said the source of the problem was poverty.

"It's a lot about poverty and I think if those root causes were addressed, we wouldn't be dealing with the xenophobic threats," she said.

South Africa's liberal immigration and refugee policies have made it a haven for Africans looking for work in the country's mines, farms and homes, where they battle for jobs in the country with 25 percent unemployment.

The number of migrants are estimated to be about five million, almost equal to the white population in a total population of about 49 million.

Assaults have the potential to dampen investor sentiment and embarrass President Jacob Zuma's government, which has pledged to reduce violence in a country whose reputation as Africa's economic engine has been undercut by its high crime rate.

Sunday 6 June 2010

Dalai Lama advocates unity-in-diversity to world leaders

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama during a visit to Kishtwar region of Indian Kashmir calls for peace and unity among people of all faiths.

KISHTWAR, JAMMU AND KASHMIR, INDIA (JUNE 05, 2010) ANI - During his visit to Kishtwar in the Jammu region of Indian Kashmir, the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama said that unity among all faiths is the ultimate key for universal peace.
He said this while addressing a multi-religious congregation at a Buddhist monastery in Gulabgarh village near Paddar on Saturday (June 05).

Omar Abdullah, chief of Indian Kashmir accompanied the Dalai Lama on this visit.

Stressing on this aspect, the Dalai Lama appealed to the world leaders to come forward and make the 21st century a violence-free era.

He was all praise for the social fabric of India where people following different faiths live together peacefully.

Later addressing the congregation at the village, Omar Abdullah, chief of Jammu and Kashmir termed the Dalai Lama's visit as a blessing for the society.

"Whenever you look at him you will find that there is halo on his face and in his presence, people will also receive such positive vibrations. So that's the reason I find myself and the people of my state very fortunate he has come here for us and he will pray for us, he will pray for all the people of our state," said Omar Abdullah.

Earlier, the Dalai Lama appealed to the people of Kishtwar, which at one time was a hot bed for the militants, to continue with their rich multi-cultural heritage and maintain religious harmony and tranquillity at all costs.

The sleeping town of Kishtwar was spruced up to welcome the renowned Tibetan leader since it happened to be his first visit to this area.

Later, the Dalai Lama flew to Paddar in Zanskar valley.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

UN human right council condemn Israel raid

GENEVA SWITZERLAND (JUNE 2, 2010) UNTV - The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday (June 2) condemning the attack by Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza, which left nine people dead.
Calling the maritime assault "the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces which resulted in the killing and injuring of many innocent civilians from different countries," the resolution also calls on Israel to immediately lift the siege on occupied Gaza.

The UN Council also decided to dispatch an independent international fact finding mission to investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli attack in which nine people died.

The representative from Israel Aharon Leshno Yaar asked delegates to vote against the resolution it, saying that Gaza was controlled by Hamas.

"I would like to first remind the Council that the Gaza strip is controlled de facto by the Hamas terrorist group, a terrorist group that in its Charter seeks to obliterate Israel, as a land and as a people. Hamas deliberately and indiscriminately attacks Israeli civilians and communities on a daily basis using Qassam rockets, missiles and mortars. For this reason, Israel imposed a maritime blockade to prevent the infiltration of war material into the Gaza strip," he said.

The United States delegate said it was too early to jump to conclusions before a full investigation

is conducted about what happened when the Israeli mariners stormed the Turkish boat leading the humanitarian flotilla to Gaza on Monday (May 31).

"Unfortunately the resolution before us rushes to judgement on a set of facts that, as our debate over the last few days makes clear, are only beginning to be discovered and understood. It creates an international mechanism before giving the responsible government an opportunity to investigate this incident itself and therefore risks further politicizing a sensitive and volatile situation. We understand the impetus to respond quickly to a troubling set of events. But we have an obligation to determine facts and make considered judgements on how to best address what is a complex and difficult situation," said United States ambassador to the Council Eileen Chamberlain Donahue.

Norway and Italy also voted against while other European Union states abstained, as did Japan while China sided with other non-aligned in favour of the resolution.

After the debate, The Council adopted the resolution, by a vote of 32 in favour, three against, and nine abstentions, deploring the loss of life of innocent civilians and expressing its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families.

The Council called on Israel to fully cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to seek and provide information on the whereabouts, status and condition of the detained and injured people.

Oliver Stone denounces U.S. ignorance at Bolivia screening of documentary

Oliver Stone sits next to Bolivia's Morales at screening of documentary 'South of the Border', says U.S. people 'know nothing' about leftist leader.

COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA (JUNE 01, 2010) REUTERS - Oliver Stone said people in the U.S. 'know nothing' about Bolivian leader Evo Morales after a screening of his documentary 'South of the Border' in Cochabamba on Tuesday (June 02).
The film by Oscar-winner Stone focuses on how a generation of leftist leaders, led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, is seeking increased independence from U.S. cultural and economic domination in the region.

Stone, who also interviewed leaders in Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina, Cuba and Brazil, visited Morales in January 2009. The two played soccer behind the presidential palace, chewed coca leaves and discussed the particulars of Morales' project to refound Bolivia in the name of the poor, indigenous majority.

Since taking over as president in 2006, Morales has nationalized several key industries in an effort to redistribute wealth. Morales has also been very critical of U.S. anti-drug policy in the country and has accused of the United States of leading destabilization campaigns against his government, a tiff that prompted Bolivia to throw out U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg in 2008.

Stone, who sat next to Morales at the screening, seeks to demonstrate how both Morales and Chavez has been unfairly demonized by the U.S. media.

"Believe me, American people do not know anything about Evo Morales, about the water revolt, the transformation of Bolivia, the suspension of trade relations with the United States, getting rid of the ambassador to Bolivia. They don't know anything about the coup in Venezuela in which the United States was involved 2002 against Chavez, they don't know anything about this. We have to start somewhere."

Stone encouraged both the leftist leaders to use the Internet as a way to circulate alternative information.

"We advise President Chavez and we would advise President Morales to keep getting the truth out there to the web. The web is your best weapon, people will read it, they read alternative media. They believe other things if they think for themselves," Stone said.

Chavez recently set up a Twitter account that immediately had thousands of followers.

The 62-year-old Stone has worried his movie won't get much play time in the U.S., where Chavez is often portrayed as a dangerous maverick who is a threat to security.

Saturday 29 May 2010

Malawi pardons gay couple

Malawi pardons a gay couple from a 14-year prison term after a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

MALAWI-GAY PARDON - Malawi's leader Bingu wa Mutharika pardons a gay couple from a 14-year prison term after a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who applauded the move and urged the country to amend "outdated" laws on homosexuality.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, saying:

"It is unfortunate that laws which criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation still exist in some countries. This outdated penal code should be reformed."

Major donors to aid-dependent Malawi had condemned the jail sentence and warned it could affect support for Malawi's budget. The United States called the decision "unconscionable".

The Malawian couple, were arrested after celebrating their engagement in a traditional ceremony in late December.

They were tried and found guilty earlier this month of sodomy and indecency.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

Thousands demonstrate against Arizona immigration law

New Arizona attracts thousands of demonstrators who oppose the law, and some who support it.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA, USA (MAY 29, 2010) NBC - Angered by Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants, thousands of protesters marched through central Phoenix on Saturday (May 29), urging Washington to block the new state law they call racist.
Civil rights and labor group activists from across the United States -- carrying banners that read: "Obama Keep Your Promise" -- rallied to protest the law, which requires state and local police to investigate the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally.

"We're here to stand in unison with immigrant families. This law violates our fundamental principles of human dignity and human rights" said marcher Peter Morales.

The Arizona law comes at a difficult time for President Barack Obama, who has failed so far to deliver on his promise to Hispanic voters of an immigration overhaul. His Democratic Party faces congressional elections in November.

Activists want Obama to order federal authorities not to accept custody of illegal immigrants detained under the law.

They also want the Obama administration to revoke the so-called 287g agreement, which deputizes officers from local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws.

The Arizona law seeks to push illegal immigrants from the desert state, a major corridor for migrant and drug smugglers crossing the border from Mexico. The measure is supported by a solid majority of voters both in Arizona and nationally.

Advocates of the law -- due to take effect on July 29, subject to legal challenges -- also held a protest near the Arizona Capitol building.

One man who supports stronger laws equated the current situation to an immigration tsunami.

"You keep allowing these tsunamis of non-white hostile crowds to come in, once they're the majority they will not extend to us the same courtesies," he said standing next to a Confederate flag. "We will be voted into the cooking pot. So now is the time to wake up."

Wednesday 12 May 2010

France, RDC anti-racism organisations join fight to label 'Tintin in Congo' racist

France's Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) and a Kinshasa-based association against racism, join the fight to put a warning on the children's comic book 'Tintin in the Congo' because of what they say is racist content.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (MAY 12, 2010)REUTERS - Congolese-born Mbutu Mondondo Bienvenu wants the children's comic book 'Tintin in the Congo' banned from Belgian shops because he argues it is racist.
On Wednesday (May 12), France's Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) and a Kinshasa-based association against racism joined Bienvenu's fight.

While the two associations do not want a total ban on the book, they want at least a warning and a foreword replacing 'Tintin in Congo' in its historical context.

The book came out first in 1930 and traces the adventures of a journalist Tintin and his dog Snowy as they travel through Belgian-controlled Congo.

In the book the Congolese are badly educated, take up servile positions, speak in pidgin french and send Snowy running for cover because of the colour of their skin.

Tintin, for his part, is portrayed as magnanimous white man who teaches their children in a missionary school.

Bienvenu started his fight in 2007, after Britain's Commission for Racial Equality declared 'Tintin in Congo' contained "imagery and words of hideous racial prejudice''.

France's CRAN (Representative Council of Black Associations), an umbrella organisation for 120 associations defending black people's right and the fight against racism, joined the case in Belgium because the book is against European values of tolerance, CRAN President Patrick Lozes said.

''The Belgian procedure starts to take a long time and as a result we do not exclude the possibility of bringing the case in front of a French tribunal to ask for a label, a warning on the book, and a foreword because each day is one day too many because children are reading this book and the book conveys images and messages that are not worthy of the values were are trying to promote within the European Union,'' Lozes said.

The case has also raised issues in the Republic Democratic of Congo, Jean-Claude Ndjakanyi, a lawyer representing an association for the fight against racism in Kinshasa, said.

Mdjakanyi said the book contributes to the epidemic of racism: ''I think there is progressively an awareness that racism is shocking. It's like an epidemic.''

Bienvenu has lived in Belgium for more than 20 years and believes Tintin in the Congo is partly responsible for the racist attitude he faces daily.

Bienvenu says that by portraying the Congolese as servile and stupid Tintin perpetuates a negative image of all black people and that children should not grow up believing this is acceptable.

''You are being refused a flat because you are black. You are being denied a better job because your are black. Because of all that, we are asking ourselves, ''Why do they act that way with us?'' And if we have to start fighting against racism, then all the elements contributing to racism and for example the comic strip, 'Tintin in the Congo', should be banned, I think,'' Bienvenu said.

In Britain, the Commission for Racial Equality forced the UK publishers in 2007 to put a warning sign on the book-cover after declaring it contained "imagery and words of hideous racial prejudice, where the 'savage natives' look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles''.

Bienvenu wants Belgium to go for a total ban.

He is also seeking symbolic damages from Tintin publisher and rights owner Moulinsart.

Moulinsart denies that Herge, Tintin's creator, was racist. Spokesman Alain de Kuyssche argues he was simply a man of his time. Not all sailors are as haphazard as Captain Haddock, not all scientists are as forgetful as Professor Tournesol.

Yet he does admit that Herge felt the need to revise the book in 1946 because if could be seen as offensive.

''It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. You know, when you read the entire work of Herge you realise he is everything but racist, but colonialist. He is laughing at colonialists,'' De Kuyssche said.

''He reflects the way black people were represented. I can tell you that in 1946 he (Herge) felt the need to review and revise 'Tintin in the Congo'. Others didn't do it,'' De Kuyssche added.

For example, a geography lesson where native Congolese were being taught about their country Belgium became a mathematic class. Belgium controlled the country that is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo until 1960.

A native Congolese wearing the european-style trouser and shirt outfit in the 1930 version wears a more traditional loincloth in the later version.

De Kuyssche said Tintin had not been in the Congo before he wrote the book. He said he was inspired by what he read in the press or what he saw in the Africa Museum in Brussels' suburb of Tervuren.

De Kuyssche said the book should be read in the context of the period when it was published.

Yet he also says that if you ban Tintin you might as well ban Tarzan, or the works of English writers Charles Dickens or Rudyard Kipling who have also been criticised for their patronising and colonial writings.

Bienvenu won't hear those arguments and is ready to go far to have his case heard.

''I started in 2007. It has been three years and a few weeks of manoeuvres to delay the case will not tire me. And I am saying we will continue to where the story ends, and that could be the European Court of human rights,'' Bienvenu said.

''Tintin in the Congo'' is one of 23 books which track the adventures of the fictional young journalist and his trusty dog Snowy.

Two million Tintin albums are sold every year, De Kuyssche said. Hollywood director Steven Spielberg

The tufty-haired Tintin first appeared in 1929 and featured in adventures until 1976, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide.

Friday 30 April 2010

Arizona immigration law fallout

Emotions in Arizona remain heated, where reaction to the border state's new law that promises a crackdown on illegal immigrants has reached a near boiling point. Jon Decker reports.

USA-ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW - Emotions in Arizona remain heated, where a new law requires state and local police to determine a person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" they are undocumented.

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, is the bill's author.


"This is not only a national security issue, but once they cross that border, it is our neighborhoods, our health care, it is our criminal justice system, it is our educational system, it is our responsibility to our system and our citizens to protect and serve. We intend to enforce the law here in Arizona."

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that almost two-thirds of voters in the Arizona favored the measure.


"I know a lot of people who come over the border to have babies, so that they can stay in this country. They don't have to pay their insurance to have their baby. I pay insurance. Why is that fair for them and not me."

But critics say the law is unconstitutional and opens the door to racial profiling.


"It is not what America is about. It is not what our history is about. I am totally American and I totally believe in the American way. I don't believe in discrimination, I don't believe in hating people, this was not the right route to take."

The law, which also makes it a crime to transport illegal immigrants and to hire day laborers off the street, has already had an impact on those looking for work.


"I only came here for the job. The police, sometimes there is too much problems. The sheriff, you watch him, if you are hispanic, you need your I.D., your papers. It is too much problems for this. I do not know."

There are some 11 million illegal immigrants living and working in the United States, an estimated 460,000 of them in Arizona.

Jon Decker, Reuters.

Venezuela arrests man who allegedly sent text death threat to Chavez

Man arrested after being accused of texting death threat against Venezuela's Chavez.

BARINAS, VENEZUELA (APRIL 29, 2010) GOVERNMENT TV - Venezuela's foreign minister said on Thursday (April 30) a man had been arrested for allegedly encouraging the assassination of leftist President Hugo Chavez.
Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami said authorities were investigating a suspect for allegedly sending text messages pushing for Chavez's assassination.

"A Venezuelan citizen has been arrested here in Alberto Adriani in the state of Merida. He's A 29-year-old who is being investigated for alleged links to instigate the assassination of President Hugo Chavez, who as you know was supposed to visit Merida, although this wasn't the motive for not going. Text messages began to circulate that encouraged the assassination of Chavez. We've started an investigation and we've arrested one person allegedly involved. We are going do a deeper investigation. He's a person that's been in and out of Colombia. It reaffirms what we've been denouncing, that there's a permanent and continuous threat of assassination for President Chavez," the foreign minister said.

"Death to Hugo Chavez, for a fatherland free of tyrants," read the text, according to the minister.

He added the message was attributed to an illegal paramilitary group, the AUC or United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, which began disarming a few years ago.

Chavez, who is Latin America's leading critic of Washington, frequently accuses the Colombian government of being a U.S. pawn in the region. But critics say he exaggerates the threat to distract Venezuelans from domestic problems.

Vietnam remembers the fall of Saigon

Vietnam celebrates the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon - now known as Ho Chi Minh City - which marked the official end of the Vietnam War.

VIETNAM-ANNIVERSARY - Thousands of troops march in a parade commemorating the communist victory over U.S. -backed South Vietnam in Ho Chi Min city.

It was 35 years ago when North Vietnam tanks smashed through the gates of the presidential palace in the city.

A lieutenant and political commissar of that tank unit recalls the moment the war ended.


"The moment our tank 390 smashed through the gate is coming soon. At 10:45 am thirty-five years ago it smashed the presidential palace and drove straight to the palace. We are here today, very emotional, and thinking of what happened 35 years ago as it was a great victory, it was very quick to liberate Saigon and the country is reunited."

The ceremony was held at the former presidential palace in Ho Chi Minh City, formally known as Saigon.

The Communist Party Chief praised the city's economic achievements.

The city itself generated more than 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product last year and 30 percent of its tax revenue.

Officials also paid tribute to the three million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians who died during the war, which also claimed more than 58,000 American troops.

Ageing veterans were overwhelmed with the celebration.


"I could not describe my happiness. I was crying as I'm so emotional, so happy but at this moment I think of my comrades who sacrificed their lives for the country. We feel happy but we always want to remember them."

Police kept ordinary Vietnamese away for security reasons as President Nguyen Minh Triet led a delegation of dignitaries from Cuba, Russia, Cambodia and Laos.

Ian Lee Reuters

Amnesty condemns Belgian burqa ban vote

Human rights group condemns decision by Belgium's lower house of parliament to approve a draft law to ban wearing the full Islamic face veil in public.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (APRIL 30, 2010) REUTERS - Amnesty International reacted with dismay on Friday (April 30) to the decision by the Belgian lower house of parliament to approve a draft law to ban wearing the full Islamic face veil in public. The move could make Belgium the first country to make the practice a criminal offence.
The measure was overwhelmingly backed on Thursday (April 29) by 136 lawmakers with just two abstentions.

The bill, which would ban all clothing that covers or partially covers the face, could become law in the coming months as the upper house, or Senate, is not expected to block it.

John Dalhuisen, an Amnesty expert on discrimination in Europe, said they were shocked that not a single member of parliament had voted against the ban.

He said: "Amnesty International is obviously very disappointed by this vote, by the ban on the full covering of the face in Belgium. We're extremely disappointed that it was approved by such an overwhelmingly comprehensive margin, 130 odd in favour, two abstaining, and absolutely no-one against a measure that Amnesty International believes violates Belgium's obligations to respect both the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion of women who freely choose to wear full face veils, such as the burqa or the hijab, in public."

However, the collapse of the Belgian government last week and the prospect of an imminent election could cause a delay because parliament would have to be dissolved.

France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, is also looking towards a ban on wearing veils in public, with the government set to examine a draft bill in May. It could also become law within a few months.

Dalhuisen said he fears there could be a domino effect across Europe. He said: "If you see at the moment it's far right, extreme right parties who have jumped on this bandwagon. Mainstream parties are certainly considering it as well in a number of European countries as well, so there is a real concern that there are a lot of other European countries looking at this. If this passes, if this passes without significant opposition, I think a lot of people will be tempted by it. It's in our view a very dangerous line to be going down. It's definitely very much the thin end of the wedge."

Belgium's French-speaking liberals, who proposed the veil law, argued that an inability to identify people who have hidden their faces presents a security risk and that the veil was a "walking prison" for women.

Wearing the facial veil, known as the niqab and the body-length outer garment, or burqa, widely worn in Afghanistan, could lead to lead to fines of 15-25 euros (about 20-33 U.S. dollars) and imprisonment for up to seven days.

The bill's chief promoter, Daniel Bacquelaine, said local mayors could suspend the ban during festivities such as Carnival when people traditionally wear costumes, including masks.

The law could also be used against potentially violent demonstrators who covered their faces.

Bacquelaine estimated that a few hundred women in Belgium wore facial veils and said it was a rising trend.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Tensions rise in Arizona over immigration law

Arizona's controversial new immigration law creates huge divide in state, while bringing the issue back to the forefront U.S. politics.

NOGALES, ARIZONA, UNITED STATES (APRIL 28, 2010) REUTERS - Emotions in Arizona remained heated on Wednesday (April 28), where reaction to the state's new law that promises a crackdown on illegal immigrants has reached a near boiling point.
The controversial law, which Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into effect last Friday (April 23), has created strong feelings on both sides.

It requires state and local police to determine a person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" they are undocumented. Critics say it is unconstitutional and opens the door to racial profiling.

Republican backers argue that it's needed to curb crime in the desert state, which is a key corridor for drug and migrant smugglers from Mexico.

"Enough is enough. How many more people have to die, billions of cost to the tax payers," explained State Senator Russell Pearce, the author of the bill.

"It is outrageous, it is malfeasance on the part of the government. Even farther, the government is complacent in the deaths, the maiming, the billions of dollars in cost to America and American citizens. Our citizens have a constitutional right to have these laws enforced and the failure to enforce them is an abuse to the lawful citizens in this country, who pay the price for that failure" Pearce added.

There are some 10.8 million illegal immigrants living and working in the United States, an estimated 460,000 of them in Arizona.

A Rasmussen Reports poll on Wednesday found that almost two-thirds or 64 percent of voters in the Arizona favored the measure.

"I know a lot of people who come over the border to have babies, so that they can stay in this country," complained Lisa Cummings, a longtime resident of Phoenix.

"They don't have to pay their insurance to have their baby. I pay insurance. Why is that fair for them and not me. It is not, it is just giving every one an equal chance. The problem is that they are coming over the border, they are smuggling people in and why not do it the right way" added Cummings.

Protest organizers who staged a gathering outside the state capitol on Wednesday were outraged over the law.

"There is a lot of ignorance on the anglos. They see a hispanic, we're good to wash your dishes, to clean your yard, to build your houses, to do the work from the bottom. You mean to tell me we are not good enough to be like you guys," said Daniel Valdez, who believes the bill will result in racial profiling.

Others find the law un-American.

"It is not what America is about. It is not what our history is about. I am totally American and I totally believe in the American way. I don't believe in discrimination, I don't believe in hating people, this was not the right route to take," added Tony Zuniga, a local criminal attorney in Phoenix.

The law, which also makes it a crime to transport illegal immigrants and to hire day laborers off the street, has already had an impact on those looking for work.

"I only came here for the job," explained Gabriel Estorrez, a day laborer, who may consider leaving Arizona as a result of the new law.

"The police, sometimes there is too much problems. The sheriff, you watch him, if you are hispanic, you need your I.D., your papers. It is too much problems for this. I do not know."

Arizona's law is slated to take effect 90 days after the current legislative session adjourns in late July or early August. .

The bold move has reverberated well beyond its border, sparking calls for economic boycotts and celebrity intervention. Colombian-born pop star Shakira said she will travel to Phoenix on Thursday (April 29) to help campaign against the new law, and would meet with Mayor Phil Gordon, police and Latino families. She sought a meeting with Governor Brewer but was turned down, her publicist said.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Three former cabinet ministers accused of sleaze

Three former cabinet ministers are suspended by Britain's ruling Labour party after being secretly filmed claiming they could use their position to influence government policy for cash.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (MARCH 23, 2010) - Three former cabinet ministers were suspended by Britain's ruling Labour party on Monday (March 22) after being secretly filmed claiming they could use their position to influence government policy for cash.

Former Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, Stephen Byers and Patricia Hewitt were suspended pending further investigation following the screening of a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, in which all three were secretly filmed meeting a bogus American lobby firm.

Margaret Moran, a Labour member of parliament, who also featured in the programme has also been suspended. All four are due to stand down at an election due by June.

Undercover footage showed Byers, a former transport secretary, telling reporters he could be hired for 5,000 pounds ($7,474) a day in exchange for access to ministers, secret government information and advice on influencing policy.

"I am a bit like your sort of cab for hire, I suppose," Byers told the undercover reporter.

Byers referred himself to parliament's standards watchdog over the comments, but denied any wrongdoing.

His claim to have lobbied successfully for National Express over their east coast mainline rail franchise has been dismissed as "pure fantasy" by Transport Secretary Lord Adonis.

Lord Adonis told the House of Lords he had a "brief conversation" with Mr Byers last year about the company's threat to default on its franchise, but said there was "no truth whatsoever" in suggestions that he changed his policy as a result.

"My Lords there is no truth whatsoever in the suggestion that Stephen Byers came to any arrangement with me on any matter relating to national Express. These are the facts, any claims to the contrary are pure fantasy," Adonis said.

Conservative leader David Cameron, whose own centre-right party was mired in sleaze allegations in the 1990s, said the government should also investigate the Byers allegations.

"No wonder there is deepening suspicion that politicians are out to serve themselves and not the country. A couple of months ago I said that I thought this was the next big scandal waiting to happen. I worried that the culture of excessive lobbying and quiet words in the minister's ear were threatening to do even more damage to the battered reputation of parliament," Cameron said.

However one of Cameron's own MP's Sir John Butterfill appeared to be offering influence from the House of Lords, telling the undercover reporter:

"Can I tell you something very much in confidence, well it is quite likely that I will go to the Lords. No no nothing is certain in this world so that would be nice and it also gives me another string to my bow as far as you are concerned because quite often the right mover and shaker happens to be in the Lords."

Former Defence Minister Geoffrey Hoon told the programme: "One of the challenges which I have been looking forward to is sort of translating my knowledge and contacts about sort of international scene into something that bluntly makes money."

Labour backbench MP Margaret Moran who is stepping down from parliament after the next election appeared to be overlie keen to start a lobbying role ahead of time.

"Yeah, Im free now," Moran told the programme.

The timing of the inquiry is uncomfortable for Brown, whose centre-left party trails the Conservatives in the opinion polls.

Source: ITN

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Monday 8 March 2010

U.N. chief appalled by Nigeria violence, calls for restraint

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon 'deeply concerned' about religious violence in Nigeria.

UNITED NATIONS (MARCH 8, 2010) UNTV - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday (March 8) he was deeply concerned about the recent "appalling" deaths in Nigeria, and urged the country's political and religious leaders to solve the nation's crisis.
Several hundred people are feared to have been killed in recent clashes involving Muslim herders and Christian villagers. Violence has been concentrated around the city of Jos, which lies at the crossroads of Nigeria's Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

"I am deeply concerned that there has been more inter-religious violence, with appalling loss of life," Ban said in New York. "I appeal to all concerned to exercise maximum restraint."

He urged Nigeria's political and religious leaders to work together to "address the underlying causes and to achieve a permanent solution to the crisis in Jos."

Nigeria's acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, called an emergency meeting with all security service chiefs on Monday to discuss strategies to prevent clashes spreading to neighboring states, presidential sources said.

Solid 62 % turnout for Iraq election

Turnout in Iraq's parliamentary election was 62 percent, higher than in last year's provincial ballot, despite attempts by Sunni Islamist insurgents to disrupt the vote with attacks that killed 38, officials said.

REUTERS - Electoral workers in Iraq, count votes in tally centers across the country...a day after 62 percent of Iraq's 19 million eligible voters turned out to cast their the country's second parliamentary elections.

The turnout exceeded expectations, despite attempts by Sunni insurgents to disrupt the vote... in an election hoped to mark an end to years of sectarian violence.

In Baghdad, U.S ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill said the elections were a success.


"It's a good day for Iraq democracy and I believe it will be a real foundation point of a new beginning for the U.S. relationship with Iraq, we hope will stretch decades to come."

At least 38 people were killed in attacks across Iraq on election day, but U.S military officials said Iraqi security forces had passed a crucial test --- successfully preventing large-scale violence

Major General Stephen Lanza.

Major General Stephen Lanza, saying:
"No high profile, no vehical-borne improvised explosive devices, no suicide vests...those large high profile attacks did not occur yesterday and I attribute that to the professionalism, the growth of capability and capacity of the Iraqi security forces who conducted this mission in a tremendous manner yesterday after years of hard work....and as I've said earlier, I think what we saw yesterday and what the Iraqi people have seen as what the American troops that were out there supporting them is a return on the investment of the last six plus years in this country as Iraq continues to move forward."

Preliminary results are expected in two or three days, but it could take months to form a new government, raising fears of a political vacuum that could test Iraq's fragile democracy.

This as the United States prepares to end combat operations this year and completely withdraw from the country by the end of 2011.

Pavithra George, Reuters.

Why Libya Is Set To Be The New Power Player In The Global Energy Market

Friday 29 January 2010

World marks liberation of Auschwitz 65 years ago

REUTERS, TVP - The 65th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camp Auschwitz was commemorated at ceremonies with survivors, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Polish leaders attending on Wednesday (January 27).
On January 27, 1945, Soviet Red Army troops liberated the largest and most notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, near the village of Oswiecim in southern Poland, where up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished during World War Two.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony at Brzezinka along with Poland's leaders and government ministers from nearly 30 other countries.

The theme of the commemoration at Auschwitz, held in subzero temperatures and attended by around 150 death camp survivors, was the education of young people about the Holocaust.

A few thousand people attended the ceremonies, including some international groups of students.

"I think it's very good that we can see the people and this place. That we have the chance to see the people they were here, and have (speaks German) life today. And yes, I think it's very good and special." said Julia Hausner, a student from Germany.

Up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz during Nazi Germany's wartime occupation of Poland.

"We remember who shivered to death and if they didn't freeze to death they were gassed and burnt in a horrible conflagration." Netanyahu said at a closed ceremony in Brzezinka.

"The worst was the humiliation." remembered former prisoner Marian Turski, who was 16 when he was sent to Auschwitz in 1942.

"The fact, that you were not treated like a human being. Especially if you were Jewish and especially because you were Jewish. You were not even treated like an animal, but like an insect." Turski said.

Jewish groups have expressed concern about what they see as a rise in anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia and racism in some European countries and have called for increased education about the Holocaust.

Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community before World War Two. The vast majority perished in the Nazi camps.

The museum that now runs the Auschwitz site will house an exhibition chronicling the camp's liberation by the Red Army.

Russia was represented on Wednesday by its education minister after President Dmitry Medvedev declined an invitation

from Kaczynski to attend.

Zimbabwean court issues eviction notice for four white farmers

Zimbabwean farmer speaks of his struggle to hang on to his farm, after a Zimbabwean court gave notice to four white farmers to vacate their properties.

BEATRICE, ZIMBABWE (RECENT) REUTERS- A Zimbabwean magistrate court on Tuesday (January 26) gave four white farmers 24 hours to vacate their properties, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said.
The mainly white CFU, which last week criticised the power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for failing to end chaos in the farming sector, said the magistrate ruled that the four farmers were guilty of refusing to vacate their properties.

The Union said the farmers were slapped with an 800 US dollar fine each and ordered to immediately move out of their homes and vacate their farms by Wednesday (January 27) evening, in a ruling that highlights worsening fortunes for Zimbabwe's white farmers who have also come under increased attacks from Mugabe's supporters since the formation of the coalition government.

"I grow 50 hectares of tobacco, similar hectarage of maize and we run, my wife owns a Tuli cattle stud, a pedigree Tuli herd of about 150 breeding females," said Kevin Cooke, a tobacco farmer.

The evicted farmers are Algernon Taffs of Chirega Farm, Dawie Joubert of Stilfontein, Mike Odendaal of Hillcrest Farm, Mike Jahme of Silverton Farm - all from the southeastern district of Chipinge.

"It's been quiet up until recently, of late there has been a new offer letter issued on the farm and so we are back in court looking to defend our case, we've actually been in and out of court for four different hearings now," said Cooke adding, "Our situation now is that we go to court on the 10th of March, that will begin the trial. We have no pressure on the ground. We haven't been told to move off the farm immediately, but if we are to lose the court case we would have to move off at short notice."

According to the CFU, the magistrate said if the four failed to vacate their properties as ordered by the court they would spend the next two years in jail but the Union indicated that the farmers were preparing to appeal against the eviction orders.

Under the Constitution of Zimbabwe everyone has the right to appeal but the magistrate denied them this right saying there was no doubt in his judgement.

According to the CFU, urgent applications are currently taking place in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on behalf of the evicted farmers and their families are moving

their life's belongings into the local Dutch Reformed Church for safety.

"The action that is taking place and the inaction that is trying to stop what is happening seems to confirm to us that the government of National Unity does not want any white commercial farmers in this country, if that is the case, they should come out and tell us and we can then inform our members," said Deon Theron, the Commercial Farmers Union President.

The Unity government of Mugabe and Tsvangirai has watched as members of the security forces and hard-line activists of Mugabe's ZANU PF party intensified a drive to seize all land still in white hands in recent weeks, causing deep frustration among the farmers.

In a strongly worded statement last week, the farmers labelled the ongoing farm seizures as a "crime against humanity" and called on the coalition government to act to end lawlessness on farms in keeping with the 2008 power-sharing agreement that gave birth to the administration.

Under the power-sharing agreement Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who is the third signatory to the pact, promised to restore the rule of law in the farming sector, including carrying out a land audit to weed out multiple farm owners - nearly all of them senior ZANU PF officials who have hoarded most of the best farms seized from whites.

The coalition government is yet to act to fulfil the promise to restore law and order in the key agricultural sector, while more farms - including some owned by foreigners and protected under bilateral investment protection agreements between Zimbabwe and other nations - have been seized over the past few months. To make matters worse, according to the CFU, police and judicial officers who are supposed to enforce the rule of law were also among the beneficiaries of the free-for-all land grab.

Thursday 28 January 2010

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Obama call for bipartisanship embraced by Congressmen

Members of Congress hail U.S President Barack Obama's call for bipartisanship during his first State of the Union address.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JANUARY 27, 2010)POOL - Members of Congress came out in support of U.S President Barack Obama's call for bipartisanship, but some questioned the president's agenda.
In his first State of the Union address on Wednesday (January 27) Obama told a full chamber of Republican and Democratic lawmakers that the change he campaigned on -- will only be realized if both parties change the tone of political debate.

Democratic Congressman John Lewis said described Obama's speech as "hard-hitting"

"He didn't bite his tongue, he was very strong, solid and he really stuck it to members of the United States Senate. He said, in effect, that the House...we did our work, we did uplifting, now it's time for the Senate to act," Lewis said.

With two of his major initiatives in trouble -- legislation to revamp healthcare and stem global warming -- Obama told lawmakers that Americans expected Democrats and Republicans to work together.

"I thought the president struck the perfect tone, making it clear he understands the gravity of the challenges that we face, but leaning into them, not at point saying, woe is me, these are tough things, we are going to go into reverse....he basically laid out a pretty challenging, forward leaning agenda and that's what a good State of the Union does," said New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Obama's appeal for bipartisanship was met with scepticism by members of the GOP.

Florida's Republican Senator George LeMieux said he was looking for "real solutions."

"Well, I thought there was a lot of good rhetoric, but unfortunately, I didn't think there were a lot of good solutions. I come from a state where there is very high unemployment, almost 12 percent, and I hope there will be some real solutions to get people back to work," LeMieux said.

"I am hoping again, those words turn into action because Republicans are ready. I am a Republican, I am ready. I want to work on healthcare, I want to work to get these jobs and the economy moving again," said Republican Congressman Dave Reichert.

Obama spoke one week after Republicans won a special election in Massachusetts, costing Democrats their 60th vote in the Senate needed to clear procedural roadblocks.

The election immediately jeopardized much of Obama's agenda, gave Republicans new clout and sent a rush of fear through Democrats facing tough races in this November's congressional election.