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International Mon, 31 Jan 2011 01:50:23 -0600
High-Level Talks Happening Now Aiming for an End to the Afghan War

KABUL, Afghanistan–(ENEWSPF)– From the New York Times:

Talks to end the war in Afghanistan involve extensive, face-to-face discussions with Taliban commanders from the highest levels of the group’s leadership, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO troops, officials here say.

The discussions, some of which have taken place in Kabul, are unfolding between the inner circle of PresidentHamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan. Afghan leaders have also held discussions with leaders of the Haqqani network, considered to be one of the most hard-line guerrilla factions fighting here; and members of the Peshawar shura, whose fighters are based in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban leaders coming into Afghanistan for talks have left their havens in Pakistan on the explicit assurance that they would not be attacked or arrested by NATO forces, Afghans familiar with the talks said. Many top Taliban leaders reside in Pakistan, where they are believed to enjoy at least some official protection.

In at least one case, Taliban leaders crossed the border and boarded a NATO aircraft bound for Kabul, according to an Afghan with knowledge of the talks. In other cases, NATO troops have secured roads to allow Taliban officials to reach Afghan- and NATO-controlled areas so that they can take part in discussions. Most of the discussions have taken place outside of Kabul, according to the Afghan official.

International Tue, 19 Oct 2010 23:51:18 -0500
First Miner in Chile Rescued: CNN Video Live
Florencio Avalios' son is in tears after hugging his father, the first miner rescued in Chile. (Photo: CNN)

Chile –(ENEWSPF)– 31-year-old Florencio Avalos is the first miner lifted from the collapsed Chilean mine after 68 days of captivity.

Live video NOW on CNN.

International Wed, 13 Oct 2010 03:22:13 -0500
Drill Reaches Trapped Chilean Miners - Now the Tough Call

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

SAN JOSE MINE, Chile--Sixty-six agonizing days after their gold and copper mine collapsed above them, 33 miners were offered a way out Saturday as a drill broke through to their underground purgatory.

Word of the drill's success prompted cheers, tears and the ringing of bells by families in the tent camp outside the mine. Some who have kept a vigil since the Aug. 5 disaster ran up a hill where 33 Chilean flags were planted, chanting and shouting with joy as a siren rang throughout "Camp Hope," confirming the breakthrough.

The "Plan B" drill won a three-way race against two other drills to carve a hole wide enough for an escape capsule to pull the miners out one by one.

While "Plan A" and "Plan C" stalled after repeatedly veering off course, the "Plan B" drill reached the miners at a point 2,047 feet (624 meters) below the surface after pushing through the final 128 feet (39 meters) overnight.

The milestone thrilled Chileans, who have come to see the rescue drama as a test of the nation's character and pride, and eased some anxiety among the miners' families.

But now comes a difficult judgment call: The rescue team must decide whether it's more risky to pull the miners through unreinforced rock, or to insert tons of heavy steel pipe into the curved shaft to protect the miners on their way up.

International Sat, 09 Oct 2010 17:44:51 -0500
Colorado Town of Black Hawk, Pop. 100, Bans Cyclists

From the world of, "You have got to be kidding!"

No, they're not kidding. One hundred people in Black Hawk, Colorado, believe their village would be safer without bicicyles on the streets.

This one comes to us from across the pond:

A town in the US has banned cyclists on most of its streets, punishing anyone who gets caught with a $68 (£46) fine. Black Hawk in Colorado, which has a population of just above 100, is thought to be the first town in the US to make cycling illegal after a change in civic law.

The curious decree has been introduced for "health and safety" reasons, said administrators of the former goldmining town, which in the 1990s decided to develop gambling to prevent the place vanishing altogether.

Michael Copp, Black Hawk's city manager, the equivalent of chief executive of a local council in the UK, admitted there had not been any accidents to prompt the ban, just concern over potential collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles on 19th-century streets that were designed for horses and carriages.

The town started enforcing the ban on 5 June, five months after it passed the law requiring cyclists to dismount and wheel their bikes through the town. So far eight tickets have been issued, said Copp.

Copp, who does not cycle himself, said the council passed the ordinance after the town experienced a surge in traffic – buses, delivery trucks, and motorists – following a law that increased the maximum betting limits from $5 to $100 once it chose gambling as its raison d'etre.

No accidents. This gamble-happy hamlet, consulting no experts, no national studies, just did away with two-wheelers.

Only in America.

International Sun, 20 Jun 2010 04:25:10 -0500
Catholic Bishop Stabbed to Death in Turkey

Turkey--(ENEWSPF)-- From the BBC:

A Roman Catholic bishop has been stabbed to death in southern Turkey, state-run media report.

Luigi Padovese, 63, was attacked in the garden of his summer house in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun, according to Anatolia news agency.

Police have arrested Bishop Padovese's driver, a man identified only as Murat A. He was suffering from psychological problems, the provincial governor said.

There has been a series of attacks on Christians in Turkey in recent years

More here.

International Thu, 03 Jun 2010 19:04:17 -0500
I will only resign if the Pope asks me to: Leader of Irish Catholics stands firm over silence vow


From MailOnline:

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has said he will only resign if asked by the Pope amid allegations he witnessed teenage abuse victims take vows of silence over a paedophile.

Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, admitted that he attended meetings in 1975 when two teenage boys signed oaths of silence while testifying in a Church inquiry against Father Brendan Smyth.

The priest was later uncovered as the most notorious child abuser in the Irish Catholic Church, carrying out more than 90 sexual assaults against 40 youngsters in a 20-year period.

Survivors’ groups say the revelations show the cardinal colluded in the cover up of Smyth’s crimes – which, they say, allowed the cleric to continue offending - and say he must quit immediately.

Cardinal Brady has refused to go, however, because he said he acted promptly against Smyth but did not have the authority to turn him into the Gardai.

Read more.

International Tue, 16 Mar 2010 18:05:46 -0500
Fight Against Corruption in Liberia Intensifies, Whistleblowers Get Presidential Greenlight

Monrovia, Liberia–(ENEWSPF)– Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has issued Executive Order #22, pending the submission to the Liberian Legislature of a Whistleblower Act. The legislation is intended to protect anyone who discloses information about action of impropriety against the public interest or public good that is occurring, has occurred, or will occur in any public or private institution.

The objective of the Executive Order is to protect persons employed in both public and private institutions who disclose information about action against the public interest or good in any public or private institution, unless otherwise provided by law, to allow individuals the right to take legal action in respect of retaliation and related matters.

The Executive Order applies to any protected public interest disclosure which is made after the date on which the Executive Order comes into operation. The Order binds all persons, including the State. “Public interest disclosure” in this sense means specific disclosure by an individual involving illegality, criminality, breach of law, miscarriage of justice, danger to public health and safety and damage to environment and includes attempt to cover up such malpractices in any governmental establishment, public or private enterprise.

Although a Whistleblower Act will be submitted to the Liberian Legislature upon its return from recess, the Order notes the importance of protecting the Liberian society against the continued acts of impropriety and other practices that will continue to seriously impact negatively upon the nation.

Under the Executive Order, a whistleblower who meets the criteria set forth and acting in good faith, shall not be subjected to retaliatory action by the employer, by a fellow employee or by another person because a disclosure has been made.

Retaliation, under conditions of the Executive Order, is unlawful and is an indictable offence where the person making the disclosure has acted within the law, met the criteria of the Executive Order and acted in good faith. Accordingly, an employer or person retaliating against a person who is properly making a public interest disclosure, commits an offense punishable by a maximum penalty of two years, in the category as defined by the Penal Law of Liberia.

Executive Order #22, further states that a whistleblower who has suffered retaliation under provisions of the Order, can seek redress according to the form of the retaliation suffered – if criminal, from the Ministry of Justice; if employment-based, from the Ministry of Labor; if economic, from the civil courts through an action in damages.

Executive Order #22 also states that an employee may appeal for a change of assignment on the ground that it is likely that he/she will suffer retaliation if he/she continues at the existing work location, and where the most effective way to remove or substantially remove the danger is to reassign or relocate the employee or a person who is accused of committing retaliation.

Under other provisions of the Executive Order, a person is not liable, civilly, criminally or under an administrative process, for making a public interest disclosure if he/she, acting in good faith and within the criteria set forth in Executive Order #22, believes and has reason to believe that the information disclosed is substantially true, even if it is later determined that the matter is incorrect.

A whistleblower whose disclosure results in the recovery of an amount of money, shall be rewarded with five (5) percent of the money recovered, in keeping with section 15 of the Executive Order, which has already been signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and is now in effect as of December 18, 2009.


International Wed, 30 Dec 2009 04:12:55 -0600
Britain Unveils Whopping Tax On Bank Bonuses

From The Huffington Post:

British bankers are going bonkers today after the UK government announced that it wouldn't stand idly by as they showered themselves with obscene bonuses made possible by last year's massive infusion of government money.

Alistair Darling, the U.K.'s Chancellor of the Exchequer -- sort of like a Treasury Secretary, but with more pluck -- announced today that he will impose an immediate, one-time 50-percent tax on bonuses of more than 25,000 pounds (about $40,800). That's on top of regular income taxes.

The New York Times calls it "the most direct attack on bonuses anywhere in the world."

Read more.

International Thu, 10 Dec 2009 05:04:34 -0600
Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf Takes Executive Mansion 'On the Road'

Monrovia, Liberia–(ENEWSPF)– Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has virtually taken the Executive Mansion “on the road,” as the implementation of development projects becomes more compelling, with the arrival of the dry season.

The President was, a little over a week ago, in Falie, Grand Cape Mount County, discussing with her direct representatives—the Superintendents—in the political sub-divisions of the country, their programs and challenges. A number of issues emerged at the forum which not surprisingly, included the administration of the County Development Funds (CDF). The exercise has, understandably, come under serious criticism, owing to what critics see as a lack of transparency in its administration. The President acknowledged that some of the accusations may not be true. “Some may be rumors; some may be misunderstanding, but in several cases, funds have been misused or misallocated. Your responsibility is to take charge of the CDF in such a way that the mandates given by our Constitution to the three branches of Government are fully respected. We are not going to do anything in a confrontational way; we are going to do it through consultations, through dialogue, through working with colleagues with one common objective in mind, an objective that is common to all the branches and to all the leaders and to all the citizens of the County, and that objective is: to bring development to the people. I am sure that in that spirit, we will be able to find a solution, to come up with new procedures that will enable us to get more results and have more effectiveness and efficiency in the implementation of our County Development Projects,” the Liberian leader reminded her officials, urging them to start a process of consultation to achieve the objective.

Too many times, she observed, leaders are removed from the people they serve. “Many times the People do not know; this is why sometimes the lack of information gives way to rumors and to wrong information. You are responsible to hold consultations with your citizens. You need to go into the districts, the communities, in the villages. Tell them what you are doing. Show them that the CDA comes out of a process in which they contributed. It’s their project. This is what has been done; these are the problems; this is our progress—so they can know. Because they are the ones that will defend you,” she urged the County Superintendents.

The consultations in Falie marked the beginning of the President’s campaign on the road, visiting communities—some never before visited by a sitting President—including PHP, where, earlier in the day, she dedicated several hand pumps, in response to an appeal by residents of the community. Walking between houses, in the overcrowded community, the President listened to the concerns of inhabitants of the areas, and assured them that Government would address those concerns, one at a time. One of the major concerns in the area is the need for a public toilet. The President has directed that a suitable site be identified for the construction of a public toilet for the residents of the area.

Over the next days, the President attended the opening of the Tubman High School Vocational Center; an Infrastructure Retreat in Paynesville; the launch of a National Leadership Institute; participated in the grand opening of the Independent Software Certification Inc.; toured communities in the New Georgia and Bardnersville Estates; addressed women’s groups at James Spriggs Payne Airfield; and dedicated a market building in Lakpazee.

Of equal significance was be the dedication on Friday, November 20th, of a Science Building at the University of Liberia, renovated by Firestone Liberia.

The building was destroyed during the country’s civil war. A discussion by the President with executives of Firestone, during a visit to the United States, on the need for its renovation, has resulted in a virtually brand new building.

The President praised Firestone for responding to one of Government’s key development objectives – to provide education to its citizens. She recounted the long history of collaboration between the world’s leading rubber processing giant and Liberia, pointing to the highs and lows, but said she was happy that, through the insistence of Government, Firestone had begun to fulfill some of its social responsibilities to the people of Liberia.

As the dry season sets in, the obvious has begun to emerge—that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will spend more time on the road, interacting with her people, understanding their needs, and, more importantly, examining first hand, what impact the programs Government has set in motion, is having on their daily lives.


International Fri, 27 Nov 2009 05:54:35 -0600