Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tory Personal Independence Payment (PIP) destroys Personal Independence

Ministers must learn the lessons of past welfare changes or risk a proposed shake-up of disability support leaving many in poverty, a charity claims.
The Papworth Trust said 85% of claimants would have to cut back on basics if plans to replace Disability Living Allowance left them worse off.
The poll of 2,000 people also found anxiety over the reassessment process.
The government says DLA is complex and inconsistent and changes are "overdue", but stresses cash payments will remain.
The coalition is planning to replace the allowance, introduced in 1992 to help disabled people cope with the extra costs they face in their daily lives, with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Mobility concern All 3.2 million people receiving DLA at the moment, both those in work and out of work, will be reassessed.
It is expected mobility allowances for those in care homes and the care component of the allowance paid to 650,000 people will be ended, while most recipients will receive fixed-term rather than indefinite payments in future.
Disability rights campaigners are seeking a judicial review of the proposals, part of the government's welfare reform bill, saying ministers have not properly assessed their negative impact.
The majority of people surveyed by the Papworth Trust said that if they were not eligible for PIP - or if their total benefit was reduced as a result of reassessment - they would have less to spend on basic items like food, fuel and transport.

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Disabled people's daily costs are typically 25% higher than those of non-disabled people”
End Quote Adrian Bagg Papworth Trust chief executive
Some 64% said they would be less independent if cuts left them worse off financially.
Although the government is still consulting on its plans, the charity said the changes risked leaving already vulnerable people further disadvantaged.
"Disabled people's daily costs are typically 25% higher than those of non-disabled people," its chief executive Adrian Bagg said.
"For example, not all public transport is accessible. This means some people have to use accessible taxis to be able to leave their home, which cost significantly more than non-accessible taxis."
The charity said it accepted that all sections of society were facing cutbacks, but that a 20% reduction in spending on PIP, compared with DLA, would leave very few recipients unaffected.
Campaigners are also urging ministers to take on board problems experienced in their shake-up of incapacity benefit when it comes to assessing people's eligibility for the new benefit.
'Inefficient' Fitness-for work tests for those on Incapacity Benefit - known as the work capability assessment - have been heavily criticised for failing to differentiate between those with different conditions, and for not preparing claimants for the tests.
Mr Bagg said DLA claimants - particularly those with mental health problems - were "particularly anxious" about the reassessment process and how it would be conducted.
"We urge the government to learn the lessons of the work capability assessment and ensure that if they make this change, the assessment will be fair and the implications clearly explained."
Ministers say DLA has essentially remained the same for 20 years and has failed to "keep pace" with the ever-growing role played by disabled people in society and their rising aspirations.
"We have been clear that disabled people who need support will get it. However, we know that as well as millions of pounds in overpayments, lots of disabled people are being underpaid because of the inefficient DLA system," a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said.
"That is why we are introducing an objective assessment and regular reviews - something lacking in the current system - to make sure people are getting the right levels of support."
While remaining a non means-tested cash payment, ministers say PIP will be simpler to apply for and administer.
The government says spending on DLA has risen by 30% in the past eight years and, even after the changes, projected spending in 2015-2016 would be equivalent to levels in 2009-2010.

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Dozens 'tortured and killed in Syria detention centres'

Amnesty International has said it believes that at least 88 people have died in detention in Syria during the past five months.
It says those who died, including 10 children, were subjected to beatings, burns, electric shocks and other abuse.
The group says it believes all of those who died were arrested after taking part in anti-government protests.
Foreign journalists have been blocked from entering Syria and the reports could not immediately be verified.
The allegations, published in a report, come shortly after the Syrian government denied persistent reports of at least one mass grave being uncovered in the restive southern city of Deraa.
"These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions, and appear to be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing daily on the streets of Syria," said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty's researcher on Syria.
Mr Sammonds told the BBC that they have the names of at least 3,000 people who are currently in detention.
"There are said to be 12-15,000 people detained in the country at the moment. We know that torture has been widespread over many years and it has got much much worse. Most people are held in incommunicado detention."
Torture allegations
He said the volume of abuses, many of which had been documented on video and occurred near the cities of Homs and Deraa, had returned almost to levels not seen since the 1980s.
Deraa was the first Syrian city to see pro-democracy protests, in mid-March, and became an epicentre of the unrest after security forces launched a major operation to crush any dissent there. Dozens of people are believed to have been killed and hundreds arrested.
In its report, Amnesty said that the victims were all men or boys and, in at least 52 of the cases, there was evidence that torture or ill-treatment caused or contributed to the deaths.
Deaths in detention have also been reported in five other governorates - Damascus and Rif Damashq, Idlib, Hama and Aleppo, Amnesty said.
Amnesty International says it has compiled the names of more than 1,800 people reported to have died since pro-reform protests began. Thousands of others have been arrested, with many held incommunicado at unknown locations, according to the group.
Residents said that in the early hours of Wednesday morning Syrian troops backed by tanks raided houses looking for activists in two main districts of Hama.
A local activist told Reuters that several tanks were parked at a bridge at the eastern entrance to the city and then hundreds of troops entered two neighbourhoods on foot.
On Tuesday, as people streamed out of mosques after prayers to mark the end of Ramadan and renewed protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, security forces shot dead four demonstrators.
Those who died, including a 13-year-old boy, were killed in the towns of al-Hara and Inkhil in the southern province of Deraa.

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RAF crews face sack as Libya campaign rages

Ministers have heaped praise on the RAF for the Libyan campaign but are pressing ahead with this week’s redundancy programme. Nearly 1,000 soldiers will also be told tomorrow that they are being sacked.
Last night the Ministry of Defence was unable to rule out redundancies among RAF ground crew and technicians supporting the daily flights over Libya, although pilots were safe from redundancy.
Tomorrow’s announcement marks the beginning of a wave of redundancies in the Armed Forces following last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.
In all, around 22,000 military posts will be eliminated by 2015, more than half of them through redundancies. The RAF has been flying daily sorties over Libya since March and continues to mount attacks on military forces loyal to Col Gaddafi. Yesterday, the MoD said that RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft had destroyed an ammunition lorry and three command posts.
Tomorrow, a total of 964 RAF and 938 Army personnel will be informed that they are being made redundant.
As The Daily Telegraph disclosed earlier this year, they include 170 trainee pilots. Also being dismissed are around 200 weapons technicians and operators, 529 ground tradesmen and 121 senior officers.
The RAF has been seeking applications for voluntary departures, but it is thought that up to half of the redundancies will still be compulsory. Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has repeatedly praised the aerial campaign, which has seen British warplanes flying to Libya from Gioia del Colle in southern Italy and RAF Marham in Norfolk.
Last month he flew to Gioia del Colle and praised the “immense contribution” of the RAF personnel working there.
The Air Force’s work was “key to the successes we have seen so far in this campaign and is helping protect innocent Libyans from persecution,” he said.
Ministers have said that any Armed Forces personnel engaged in or preparing for front-line operations would be exempt from redundancy under the defence cuts. But officials confirmed yesterday that the assurance only covered RAF personnel flying over Libya.
Ground crews working on the operation in Italy or at British bases were eligible for sacking, the MoD said.
An MoD source said that any personnel “putting their lives at risk” on the Libyan operation would be safe from redundancy, but confirmed that ground crew at airbases did not qualify for such
The source said: “Those who are operating in the danger zone and placing themselves at risk operating over or in Libya have been protected from the axe, though some who are on Libyan operations may volunteer to go.”
Around 1,600 Royal Navy staff will also be laid off on Sept 30 as part of the first tranche of military redundancies. A much larger round of sackings is being prepared for early 2013, with redundancies expected across all three Services.

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Israel sends 2 warships to Egyptian border

The Israeli Navy (INF) has decided to boost its presence and patrols near Israel's maritime border with Egypt due to a viable terror threat in the area, as Iran announced it was set to send its 15th fleet to the Red Sea as well to "convey message of peace and friendship to all countries".

Israeli security sources told the Associated Press on Tuesday that two additional warships have been dispatched to Israel's Red Sea border with Egypt. Another source said that the operation was routine, telling Reuters that "two naval craft have been sent to the Red Sea. This is not unusual."
On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz ordered that deployment across the entire southern sector be bolstered, especially in the area near the Israel-Egypt border, following intelligence indicating an imminent threat.

INF warships (Photo: Amit Magal)

The area adjacent to the border has become the scene of military deployment described by one security source as "unprecedented." The IDF has also deployed advanced technology in the area in order to thwart terror attacks. Still, No changes in security alignments were observed on the Egyptian side of the border.

Military intelligence suggests that an Islamic Jihad terror cell has left the Gaza Strip and intends to infiltrate Israel through Sinai. Minister for Home Front Defense Matan Vilnai has been quoted as saying that  the cell may number as many as 10 terrorists.

The security situation in southern Israel has been particularly tense following a series of terror attacks that claimed the lives of eight Israelis in mid-August; as well as several days in which Israel's western Negev communities suffered heavy shelling by Gaza Strip-based terror groups.

Following the terror attack, in which five Egyptian troops were also killed, Israel and Egypt agreed to increase the presence of Cairo troops in the Sinai Peninsula. As a result, some 1,500 Egyptian soldiers deployed across Sinai on Monday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad aboard the 15th Fleet's submarine 

Iran eyeing Red Sea maneuvers

Meanwhile, Iran's Press TV reported Tuesday that Tehran has decided to dispatch the 15th fleet to the Red Sea once more.

Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told the state-run agency that the Islamic Republic is planning to send its 15th fleet to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, adding that the fleet's main operational objective will be to patrol the high seas and thwart pirate raids.

The Islamic Republic's 15th fleet is comprised of a submarine and a several warships.


Sayyari noted that Iran's Navy plans to have "an active presence in the high seas in line with the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei with the purpose of serving the country's interests.

“The presence of Iran's army in the high seas will convey the message of peace and friendship to all countries,” he said.

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Homelessness could spread to middle class, Crisis study warns

The economic downturn and the government's deep cuts to welfare will drive up homelessness over the next few years, raising the spectre of middle class people living on the streets, a major study warns.
The report by the homelessness charity Crisis, seen by the Guardian, says there is a direct link between the downturn and rising homelessness as cuts to services and draconian changes to benefits shred the traditional welfare safety net.
In the 120-page study, co-authored by academics at the University of York and Heriot-Watt University, Crisis highlights figures released over the summer that show councils have reported 44,160 people accepted as homeless and placed in social housing, an increase of 10% on the previous year and the first increase in almost a decade.
Last year another 189,000 people were also placed in temporary accommodation – such as small hotels and B&Bs – to prevent them from becoming homeless, an increase of 14% on the previous year.
Crisis says that with no sign of economic recovery in sight, there are already signs that homelessness is returning to British streets. In London, rough sleeping, the most visible form of homelessness, rose by 8% last year. Strikingly, more than half of the capital's 3,600 rough sleepers are now not British citizens: most are migrants from eastern Europe who cannot find work and, unable to get benefits or return home, are left to fend for themselves on the streets.
The charity says the evidence is that the current recession has seen the poor suffer the most, but other parts of society may be in jeopardy if the government's radical welfare agenda is acted on as the economy stutters.
"Any significant reduction of the welfare safety net in the UK as a result of coalition reforms may, of course, bring the scenario of middle-class homelessness that much closer," the report states.
The charity says that the government needs to reverse cuts to housing benefit and invest urgently in new housing. It also calls on ministers to withdraw the most radical provisions in the localism bill, which would make "temporary accommodation" for needy families just that. Under the new legislation, councils would be forced to remove parents and children who have been in a hotel for a year. At present the assistance is open-ended.
There is also an alarming trend in what the charity calls the "hidden homeless" – families forced to squeeze into one room rather than a flat. It says 630,000 households are now "overcrowded", with London and the south-east the worst hit. This trend could worsen: this summer a survey by the National Landlords Association found more than half of private landlords were planning to reduce the number of properties they let to tenants on housing benefits. Crisis says more families will be forced to share an ever decreasing number of homes.
In a separate report, Channel 4 News will broadcast further evidence that official figures underestimate the true picture of homelessness. In Crawley, West Sussex, the Open House hostel said it turned away people needing a bed almost 2,000 times last year, although official figures estimate there are just seven homeless people in the town. Two-thirds of homelessness organisations nationwide told Channel 4 there had been a rise in rough sleeping in their area.
Leslie Morphy, Crisis's chief executive, said: "We are extremely worried. Homelessness in both its visible and hidden forms is already rising and as the economic downturn causes further increases in unemployment and pressure on households' finances, homelessness is likely to continue to rise. This research is clear that it is the welfare and housing systems in the UK that traditionally have broken the link between unemployment and poverty and homelessness, yet these are now being radically dismantled by the coalition government. The government must listen and change course before this flow of homeless people becomes a flood."
Crisis argues that instead of doubling its efforts to end the "scandal" of homelessness, the government is in effect making it impossible for those on low incomes to pay their rent. It says in the past British welfare policy, unlike that in the US, has linked housing benefit to actual rents. But the government's changes break this link and mean that claimants will be priced out of swaths of the country – or end up on the streets in wealthy regions.
The report also says the government's "affordable" house-building regime is likely to generate fewer than 50,000 homes by 2015, "well short of the 80,000 required to meet ministers' targets". Gone will be the lifetime tenancies offered by councils which had to give priority to those in need. Instead, under new powers, local authorities will be able to choose families with "local connections".
With the coalition's welfare reform bill heading to the Lords and MPs voting on the localism bill next week, Labour said Crisis's warnings were a "timely reminder of a looming homeless catastrophe". Karen Buck, Labour's welfare spokesperson, said the government had played down the rising number of people who thanks to the economic downturn were forced to rely on housing benefit.
She said that since the government took power another 150,000 families had been forced on to housing benefit. "The numbers relying on housing benefit to help with housing costs have been soaring. These figures include not just the unemployed but hundreds of thousands of working families. Rising rents, benefit cuts and housing shortages risk a homeless catastrophe will with all the associated human and financial costs."
The Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Ministers have always made clear their commitment to ensure the most vulnerable in society are protected, which is why the government is investing £400m in preventing homelessness, and has announced plans to extend the London project, No Second Night Out, across the country so no one spends more than one night sleeping rough.
"But the most important thing the government can do to help struggling households to stay in their homes is to keep interest rates low, and to do that we must cut the deficit. That is why we are introducing reforms that will cut the housing benefit bill. But to ensure a smooth transition to this new system, the government is giving councils a £190m fund to help those families most in need.
"Far from the claims made by Crisis, the government's £4.5bn affordable homes programme is set to exceed expectations and deliver up to 170,000 affordable homes by 2015."

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Special forces raid BP Moscow offices

Hopes that BP could take the focus away from its failure to tie-up a ground-breaking deal with Rosneft in Russia were crushed on Wednesday when black-clad special forces raided its main offices in Moscow.
The law enforcement officers were acting with the consent of a court in Tyumen, where minority shareholders are pursuing a $3bn (£1.8bn) compensation claim against BP over the collapse of the share swap with Rosneft.
The move comes less than 24 hours after the Russian state-owned oil company triumphantly unveiled an alternative strategic alliance to explore the Russian Arctic with BP's rival ExxonMobil.
Lawyers acting for Andrei Prokhorov, a disgruntled shareholder from BP's Russian joint venture TNK-BP, said the raid was a reaction to BP's failure to provide documents on the proposed tie-up between the UK firm and state-owned Rosneft.
"We therefore applied once again to the court of arbitration of Tyumen region to have the measures to secure evidence replaced, and on 30 August the court permitted the bailiff to examine documents held by BP Exploration Operating Company Limited," said Dmitri Chepurenko, a partner in the Liniya Prava legal practice which represents Prokhorov but also – allegedly – the Alfa Access Renova (AAR) consortium led by oligarchs such as Mikhail Fridman.
BP dismissed the raid as unnecessary and said there were no grounds for anyone to seek compensation over the collapse of the Rosneft deal. "We do not believe there is any legitimate basis whatsoever for the claim launched against BP in the Tyumen court and we intend to defend our interests vigorously," said a spokesman at BP's London headquarters, adding: "We do not believe there are legitimate grounds for today's raid."
Bob Dudley, the BP chief executive, unveiled the Rosneft share swap and exploration deal in January in a fanfare of publicity, presenting it as a key new initiative following the disastrous Gulf of Mexico blowout which damaged a strategy centred on US deep-water drilling.
But the Rosneft arrangement was opposed by the AAR consortium, which argued that the tie-up should be between Rosneft and TNK-BP, not between Rosneft and BP alone. Neither Rosneft nor BP favoured the latter arrangement and the deal fell through in May.

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Secrecy characterizes case against ex-CIA officer

A judge held a secret hearing Tuesday in the prosecution of a former CIA operative accused of leaking government secrets about Iran to a New York Times reporter, a case where prosecutors are asking for permission to present secret evidence to a jury and also want to keep other government secrets out of public view.
Secrecy is the watchword in the case against Jeffrey Sterling of O'Fallon, Mo., who prosecutors say was a key source of classified leaks for reporter James Risen's 2006 book State of War. The book includes a chapter that details an apparently botched CIA effort to sabotage Iran's nuclear program by supplying flawed blueprints through a Russian intermediary.
Sterling served on the Iranian desk at the CIA and handled Iranian spies who had defected to the United States.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema closed Tuesday's pretrial hearing to the public, even though several of the motions that were scheduled to be discussed had been debated openly in court papers. As a result, even Sterling's wife was barred from the courtroom.
Some level of secrecy is normal and even expected in cases where classified information could be disclosed. A federal law, the Classified Information Procedures Act, governs the process for deciding how to balance a defendant's right to see the evidence against him and the government's right to protect its secrets.
But in the Sterling case, defense lawyers argue that prosecutors' demands for secrecy and restrictions on the disclosure of classified information go far beyond established precedent and would prejudice Sterling's right to a fair trial. In particular, they object to the "silent witness" rule, which allows jurors to see sensitive information that will never be made public.
Edward MacMahon, Sterling's lawyer, argued in court papers that the awkward logistics of the silent witness rule - which might require closing the courtroom to the public or allowing witnesses to testify behind a screen without revealing their identity - "would unfairly suggest to the jury that the documents are so secret that counsel cannot talk about them, when their alleged status as national security information is one of the very issues of fact the jury needs to decide."
MacMahon also objects to a government request to replace classified evidence it plans to present against Sterling with unclassified substitutions that would purportedly contain the relevant information without disclosing any secrets. MacMahon argues that if the government is truly concerned about protecting its secrets, it should leave any classified evidence out of the case.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, say their requests for secrecy are valid and prevent the defendant from bullying prosecutors into dropping their case for fear of disclosing sensitive information, a practice commonly referred to as "graymail."
Without such secrecy, prosecutors say, they might be forced to disclose the identities of CIA assets as part of a trial.
"To disclose the true identities of certain former and present CIA employees as well as any CIA human assets ... would create real and legitimate national security and personal safety risks," prosecutors wrote in court papers filed last week.
Prosecutors also said they do not know for certain at this point whether they will need to invoke the silent witness rule.
The Obama administration has used espionage statutes to pursue cases against five alleged government leakers, including Sterling, more than any of Obama's recent predecessors.
The government's inability to present its case without disclosing secrets can severely crimp its ability to prosecute those cases. Earlier this year, the government struck a plea bargain with a National Security Agency executive accused of leaking classified information to Baltimore Sun reporter and dropped its most serious charges. The plea deal, which resulted in a sentence of probation, came shortly after a judge refused to allow prosecutors to use unclassified summaries of evidence in place of actual documents that they believed would disclose NSA technology if made public at trial.
Prosecutors in the Sterling case were already dealt a blow earlier in this case when Brinkema effectively quashed a subpoena issued to Risen. Brinkema ruled that Risen can only be compelled to testify about perfunctory matters like confirming he is the author of the book in question. Prosecutors have asked the judge to reconsider her ruling.

Is Strauss-Kahn 'mentally ill'

The 81-year-old elder statesman of the Socialist party delivered his damning verdict in a live TV interview on Monday night.
Mr Rocard - French prime minister from 1988 to 1991 - said it was “clearly medical problems” that drove Mr Strauss-Kahn to become embroiled in repeated sex scandals.
The 63-year-old former head of the International Monetary Fund was recently freed from charges of trying to rape a hotel chambermaid in New York.
Guinea-born maid Nafissatou Diallo, 32, has launched a separate civil lawsuit for sexual abuse, and another criminial complaint in Paris for ‘buying the silence’ of a French woman he ‘abused’ 14 years ago.
Mr Strauss-Kahn also faces more charges in Paris for the attempted rape of young French writer Tristane Banon in 2003.
Mr Rocard told Canal+ television’s Grand Journal news: “This man quite obviously has a mental illness that makes it difficult for him to control his urges.”
He said of Mr Strauss-Kahn - a former frontrunner for the socialist presidential nomination: “It’s a shame, because he is very talented. But I no longer have any faith in his abilities.”
Mr Rocard also described socialist presidential candidate Segloene Royal as ‘not up to the job of president’, adding: “I don’t believe she has the abilities for this high public office.”
Instead he gave his backing to both socialist presidential contenders Martine Aubrey and Francois Hollande.
“They are candidates of quality, and I look forward to working with either of them,” he said.

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UK debt levels damaging growth, warns BIS

Just two other advanced economies analysed by the financial watchdog are into the danger territory where "debt is bad for growth" for all three types of non-financial sector borrowing: government, household and corporate debt, said BIS economists.
"Debt is a two-edged sword. Used wisely and in moderation, it clearly improves welfare," wrote Stephen Cecchetti, head of the monetary and economic department at BIS, and his colleagues in a paper presented at the weekend's Jackson Hole summit. "But, when it is used imprudently and in excess, the result can be disaster."
Examining the point at which debt stops supporting growth and turns damaging, the research found that for government debt, the threshold is in the range of 80pc to 100pc of a country's gross domestic product (GDP). For corporate debt, the threshold is closer to 90pc of GDP, and for household debt, it is around 85pc of GDP.
The UK's debt exceeded these limits in all three areas, with a public sector debt at 89pc of GDP, corporate debt at 126pc and household debt at 106pc, according to the analysis of data for 2010.
Portugal and Canada were the only other nations out of 18 advanced economies studied to breach the thresholds for all three debt types, although other nations had more debt than the UK overall or in individual areas.
"A clear implication of these results is that the debt problems facing advanced economies are even worse than we thought," said the authors. "The only way out is to increase saving." However, the cost of ageing populations makes the challenge harder, they added.

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Libya's interim leaders reject UN military personnel

Libya's interim leadership has rejected the idea of deploying any kind of international military force, the UN envoy to the country has said.
Ian Martin said the UN had considered the deployment of military observers.
Earlier, the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said the country did not need outside help to maintain security.
The news came as fighters loyal to the council approached the pro-Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte from east and west.
The city's defenders have been given until Saturday to surrender.
However, fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, rejected the ultimatum, the Associated Press reports.
"No dignified honourable nation would accept an ultimatum from armed gangs," he said in a telephone call to the AP on Monday night.
Mr Ibrahim reiterated Col Gaddafi's offer to send his son Saadi to negotiate with rebels and form a transitional government, the agency said.
'Special case'
Libya's deputy representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told the BBC that the situation in Libya was unique.
"They [the UN] put the possibility of deploying peacekeepers on the ground but in fact the Libyan crisis is a special case.
"It is not a civil war, it is not a conflict between two parties, it is the people who are defending themselves against the dictatorship."
However, Mr Martin said the UN did expect to be asked to help establish a police force.
"We don't now expect military observers to be requested," he said after a meeting of the UN Security Council.
"It's very clear that the Libyans want to avoid any kind of military deployment of the UN or others," he said.
Mr Martin added that one of the greatest challenges for the UN would be helping the country prepare for democratic elections.
"Let's remember... there's essentially no living memory of elections, there's no electoral machinery, there's no electoral commission, no history of political parties, no independent civil society, independent media are only beginning to emerge in the east in recent times.
"That's going to be quite a challenge, sort of organisationally, and it's clear that the NTC wish the UN to play a major role in that process."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that growing humanitarian shortages in Libya demand urgent action and appealed to the security council to be "responsive" to requests from the transitional authority for funding.
Though stockpiles of medical supplies and food stashed away by the government were found over the weekend, water supplies are short.
"An estimated 60% of Tripoli's population is without water and sanitation," he said. The EU's humanitarian office says that pro-Gaddafi forces are responsible for cutting supplies.
The BBC's Ben Brown in Tripoli says people have gathered in Martyrs' Square to mark Eid al-Fitr
On Tuesday, the UN Security Council let Britain release 1.86bn dinars ($1.55bn; £950m) in frozen assets to buy aid for Libya but an attempt by France and Germany to release an additional $8.6bn remains blocked.
Diplomats said that Russia was holding up Germany's request to release about 1bn euros ($1.4bn) in seized assets and France's move to unfreeze about five billion euros ($7.2bn) to buy humanitarian aid, AFP news agency reports.
As anti-Gaddafi fighters converge on his birthplace of Sirte, interim leaders gave the city's defenders an ultimatum, telling them that they had until Saturday to surrender or face military force.
It has also emerged that Col Gaddafi's wife and three of his adult children fled to neighbouring Algeria in the early hours of Monday morning.
Col Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown, with suggestions he may be in Sabha, Sirte or Bani Walid. However, the deputy head of the NTC, Ali Tarhouni, said they had a good idea of where he was and were confident that they would catch him.

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Extramarital affairs no longer leading reason for divorce in UK

Extramarital affairs are no longer the leading reason why couples decide to split up, according to accountancy firm Grant Thornton's latest annual study of divorce in the UK.
Instead, "growing apart" is now the most popular motivation to file for divorce. Divorce lawyers interviewed by the firm said in 27% of cases falling out of love had led to a marriage breakdown.
Extramarital affairs, which had been the prime reason since the survey began in 2003, fell to second place, with 25% citing this. Unreasonable behaviour was given as the reason for 17% of marriage breakdowns and 10% of couples cited a mid-life crisis.
Of course couples could be indulging in fewer flings, but Louisa Plumb, associate director, forensic and investigation services at Grant Thornton, suggested that, as in so many areas of life, celebrities could be a factor.
"The movement in the reasons for divorce is interesting and certainly difficult to explain. We are seeing an increasing number of 'celebrities' putting up with alleged affairs in their marriage or relationship – with Abbey Clancy staying with Peter Crouch, and Cheryl Cole looking set to go back to Ashley.
"It may be that this is starting to have an effect on the behaviour of couples affected by extramarital affairs, with more marriages than before surviving a bout of infidelity."
Christine Northam, a counsellor working for the charity Relate, said she thought the change "reflected a slight shift in people's expectations of relationships".
She said: "While in the past an affair would have been the signal that all was not right in a relationship, now that is not necessarily the case. People are not necessarily having those affairs before they decide the spark has gone out of their relationship."
One thing most celebrities don't generally have to worry about is money, but this was the reason cited by 5% of divorcing couples. Despite the economic downturn and inflation putting pressure on household budgets, that figure hasn't increased since last year, but divorce lawyers believe couples have been influenced by the recession.
Of those surveyed, 82% said they thought people had delayed divorce proceedings because of the recession, with 54% saying that the lack of value and/or liquidity of personal assets was the greatest contributor to this delay.
However, some lawyers said their clients had taken advantage of the economy and divorced during the recession in order to benefit from lower income and asset values and give their partner a lower settlement.
"While the economy has officially been out of recession for over a year, there are still clear indicators that financial concerns are one of the driving factors in both the timing of divorces and the settlements that have been awarded," said Plumb's colleague Geoff Mesher.
"With cuts in public spending and the economy continuing to falter, it would be unsurprising to see a continuation of this trend as asset values and income levels remain unpredictable."
David Salter, joint national head of family law at Mills & Reeve, dismissed the idea that footballers' wives were behind any changes in couples' behaviour, but agreed the recession had made a difference.
"The downturn is making people very wary about what is at the end of the day an elective purchase," he said.
"House prices have fallen terrifically. Where before you would have sold the house and bought two new homes, that may not be possible any more. Assets are very difficult to value and people are concerned about their jobs."
The research also showed an increase in the number of lawyers working on pre-nuptial agreements for clients after a high-profile divorce case last year.

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Cameron at odds with Cable over banking reforms

David Cameron has warned against "taking risks that put jobs at risk" as he highlighted the crucial role banks need to play to help economic growth.
The prime minister made his comments after the Liberal Democrat business secretary, Vince Cable, lashed out at the big British banks whom he accused of being "disingenuous in the extreme" in their claim that sweeping banking reforms could damage the economic recovery.
Cameron appeared to strike a different tone, which is likely to fuel reports that Conservative and Lib Dem ministers are at odds over the timetable for implementing reforms following intensive lobbying by the banking sector.
The Independent Commission on Banking is expected to recommend ring-fencing banks' retail operations from their investment arms when it reports on 12  September.
But there have been attacks on the proposals from the director general of the CBI, John Cridland, and British Bankers' Association's chief executive, Angela Knight.
Cridland has said taking action to reform the banks now would be "barking mad", while Knight warned imposing the measures on lenders risked denting confidence and cutting the supply of credit.
However, Cable said the fact that there were still fears about the collapse of big financial institutions was "all the more reason for grappling with this issue".
The Lib Dem minister used an interview with the Times(paywall) to hit out at banks using the economic turmoil in Europe to try to derail reform of the financial sector, amid fears the changes could end up being shelved until after the next general election.
He said that "louder and louder voices" were being raised among some of the big British banks warning that regulatory change in Britain would put the recovery at risk.
Cable told the Times: "It is disingenuous in the extreme to use the current context to argue against reform. Banks are in a way trying to create a panic around something which they know has got to happen."
The Lib Dem business secretary has long favoured the separation of retail and investment banking. He added: "The governor of the Bank of England and many other people have been arguing that we have to deal with the 'too-big-to-fail' problem.
"We can't have big global banks with balance sheets bigger than British GDP underwritten by the taxpayer; this can't go on and it has got to be dealt with."
Cable acknowledged that any changes would require legislation and would not take place immediately.
George Osborne, the chancellor, has indicated he is likely to accept the interim recommendations in favour of ring-fencing high street banks, but he and Cameron are rumoured to be more receptive to bank demands for them to be given several years to deliver the "Chinese walls" while Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem deputy prime minister, backs Cable.
The Independent quoted a Whitehall source as saying: "There is a battle under way now inside the coalition. It is all about timing."
Pressed on Cable's comments and reports of coalition tensions over reforms, the prime minister said no decisions should be made until the publication of the report next week.
"Let's wait and see what that report says before we respond," said Cameron during a visit to the Mini factory in Oxford.
But in comments at odds with his business secretary, he issued a caution against any move that could undermine growth.
"I think the key thing we want from banks is lending into the economy so we can support growth and jobs, and we need to make sure we are not taking risks that put jobs at risk," said Cameron.
John Thurso, a fellow Lib Dem MP who sits on the Commons Treasury committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that banking reform was "absolutely central" for the economy and said the Lib Dems were "absolutely right to keep pushing to make sure it doesn't go away".
He said Cable's comments about bank reform would chime with many of his fellow MPs. "Vince is really expressing the intense frustration that is felt by a vast number of MPs, not simply the Liberal Democrats but other parties as well, that through the summer they have met a great many businesses and, indeed, in my case I've met a great many regional bankers who are all actually saying the same thing.
"The businesses are saying, 'We can't get the money on terms that are anything like affordable', and the regional bankers are saying, 'Our head office is making us turn down deals that we think are good and would help and we would like to do.'"
Cable told the Times he did not expect another 2008-style meltdown in the banking sector, but acknowledged difficulties could still lie ahead for the British economy.
"To my mind, the greater worry is not a massive financial crisis again but it is a general slowing down of western economies, with all the problems that presents for employment and long-term dynamism," said Cable.
Cridland told Today that his organisation, which includes banks as members, was not opposed to reform but was concerned by the timing and whether the proposals on the table were the right ones.
"There is a real question mark, still, over whether the proposals are the right package and that's why we should be cautious, because I don't think it's absolutely clear that [Sir John] Vickers [chairman of Independent Commission on Banking] has got it right," the CBI chief said.
There had been a "radical slowdown" in the world economy since Vickers published his interim proposals, said Cridland, and there would be a "major problem" if growth stagnates, he said.
"At that point, my businesses being able to get cash from their banks is critical, and anything that makes it harder for the banks to keep the wheels of the economy well oiled is not good timing."
He added: "We do want reform for banks and we are prepared to pay a price for it and have been working closely with the Vickers commission … what I'm saying is business is not yet persuaded that these particular proposals are cost effective and if they are implemented at a moment of significant peril for growth in the British economy they could have unintended consequences in the short term."
The Treasury said: "It's too early to be talking about timings and no decision has been taken: the final report is not due until later this month."

by and taken from

San Diego boy throwing rocks hit by crossbow

San Diego police say a 16-year-old boy throwing rocks at a sport utility vehicle was struck by a crossbow arrow fired by a passenger.
Police say the shirtless boy and a friend were throwing rocks at a black Toyota RAV4 in the Linda Vista neighborhood Monday afternoon when a passenger fired a crossbow out the window.
The boy was shot in the right side and was taken to a hospital. The San Diego Union-Tribune says his injuries are not life-threatening.
His name wasn't released.
Nobody has been arrested.

taken from

Severed Foot is 12th Found on Vancouver-Area Beaches

Yet another severed foot, this one in a jogging shoe, has been found on the shore near Vancouver.
It is possibly the twelfth such discovery in the last four years to wash up on beaches near Vancouver, along the southern Georgia Strait and off Washington state. Most of the remains have not been identified, but two of the feet are believed to have belonged to men who had been reported missing.
In prior cases, police said the feet appeared to have come off bodies naturally and that foul play was not suspected. Police so far have no theories about how or why the foot ended up in the water, and The Canadian Press said the British Columbia Coroners Service is involved in the investigation.
Feet of both men and women have been among the grisly discoveries. When they first started turning up, there was speculation that a serial killer was at large, that the remains were part of a human trafficking ring from Asia or that remnants of bodies were washing up from the 2004 tsunami, according to The Star.
But oceanographers determined the bodies originated somewhere along the West Coast. The first foot was discovered in August 2007 on Jedidiah Island in the Strait of Georgia. A week later, another foot was found on Gabriola Island. Since then, they have turned up with bizarre regularity.

By Greg Wilson
taken from

Black leaders turn up the heat on President Obama

If there’s anything close to a political certainty in 2012, it’s that Barack Obama will get more than 90 percent of the African-American vote.
But that doesn’t mean every black Obama supporter will vote for him happily — nor does it guarantee that turnout will approach the stratospheric levels of 2008, even though Obama needs a huge showing from his base to offset the expected loss of swing voters in states like North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
With that in mind, prominent black leaders — fearing Obama is not only taking them for granted but avoiding them in public — have turned up the heat on the nation’s first African-American president, transforming all-in-the-family concerns into open criticism of the president at a time when they had hoped the completion of a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. near the National Mall would bring a moment of unity.
The leaders are tired, they say, of Obama dog-whistling his support for a broad black agenda rather than explicitly embracing the kind of war on racism, poverty and economic segregation embodied by King.
“You can spend a lot of time trying to win over white independents, but if you don’t pay attention to your base, African-Americans, if you have not locked up your base yet, you’ve got a serious problem,” said CNN contributor Roland Martin.
“African-Americans will vote for him again, 88, 92, 95 percent. The question is what’s the turnout? I’ll vote for you. But will I bring ten other people along, like I did in 2008? That’s the danger here for him. He doesn’t have the historical factor to lean on as much in 2012 as he did in 2008. … And the first step is that he has to be willing to speak to this audience, black people.”
In a striking turnabout for a president who has rewritten American racial history, Obama finds himself the target of criticism from the black cultural and political elite that has, for the most part, been leery of airing its disappointment.
The president is reportedly angry that African-American leaders aren’t crediting him for his hard-bought achievements that will especially help communities of color, including health care reform, aid to cities, student aid and protecting Medicaid.
“The whole thing is bull——. … We have met with [black leaders] more than any other group, and we are increasing our outreach,” said a person close to Obama.
But Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), who represents several predominantly black Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, brings up an issue that African-American leaders repeatedly raise when talking about Obama: They say he’s worried about being too closely identified with the community that gave him inspiration and bedrock support.
“I understand that you’ve got to be president for all people, but this administration has gone just too far; they really don’t even say ‘African-American’ or talk about [our] specific issues,” Richardson told POLITICO.

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“The president is smart enough to know he’s the first African-American, and I think he’s concerned — I would say afraid — that people are going to think he’s favoring African-Americans.”
Obama had been scheduled to speak at the dedication of the King memorial last Sunday — the 48th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” oration — in what was likely to be his most explicit civil-rights speech in months. With the ceremony postponed because of Hurricane Irene, Obama embarked Monday on a mini-media offensive aimed at his core supporters, taping an appearance on a black radio station in Chicago that he frequented as a young Illinois state senator. He also called in to syndicated host Tom Joyner, who has defended the president from criticism leveled by other black media personalities, including Tavis Smiley.
When Joyner asked him about the King memorial, Obama immediately shifted the conversation to King’s crusade for economic equality, something of a departure from his recent focus on budget-cutting and deficit reduction.
“I think it’s always important to remember that when Dr. King gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, that was a march for jobs and justice, not just justice,” Obama told Joyner.
“And in the last part of his life, when he went down to Memphis, that was all about sanitation workers saying, ‘I am a man,’ and looking for economic justice and dealing with poverty. And so it’s not enough for us to just remember the sanitized versions of what Dr. King stood for; he made a real call for us to dig deep and be thinking about our fellow citizens and people around the world who are in desperate need and figuring out how we can help them.”
But in a series of town halls it held this month, the Congressional Black Caucus seemed to directly challenge Obama’s willingness to “dig deep” by more fully embracing a job-creation agenda.
On Aug. 16, as Obama discussed rural jobs before a nearly all-white audience in Peosta, Iowa, caucus members raised some pointed questions about where a president, who began political life as a Chicago community organizer, was spending his time.
“Our people are hurting,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, (D-Calif.), a former CBC chairwoman who hasn’t been shy about calling out Obama. “Unemployment is unconscionable,” she added. “We don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why this trip that he is on in the United States now, that he’s not in any black communities.”
A few days later, a riled-up Waters was even more direct, daring a top Obama aide to use the word “black” at an event in Miami. (The staffer did.)

“We want him to know that from this day forward … we’ve had it,” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said of Obama at the same event. “We want him to come out on our side and advocate, not to watch and wait.”
Richardson wants to see Obama do a black, urban bus tour: “There are three [black] congressional seats in L.A., and I don’t think he’s visited any of them as president, not Watts, not Compton, not Long Beach, not Carson.”

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Some of this criticism reflects long-standing grievances between Obama and the black establishment, and none of his critics are considering backing anybody else in 2012.
Smiley, the radio host who toured the country this summer to publicize a near-16 percent national black unemployment rate, has made no secret he’s less than thrilled Obama has refused to sit down for more interviews. Both Waters and Richardson initially backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary. Conyers is such a consistent Obama critic, the president reportedly asked him to stop “demeaning” him in 2009.
Some Obama defenders say that what they regard as his reluctance to tout his work on behalf of blacks reflects an essential, if unfortunate, reality of America’s not-so-very post-racial politics.
“If the president were to start speaking directly to African-Americans about what he’s doing for them, what he has done for them as the first African-American president, that during a general election campaign … could have very adverse [effects],” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told MSNBC on Monday.
“I believe that black people understand that. I think they understand it well. … And I’d also like to talk to my friends in my own community who are raising these issues to make the point that if you weaken President Obama in the black community, you seriously hamper his chances of being reelected. A small depression among the African-American electorate could be devastating to this president. And I’d also like folks on the other side of the conversation to tell me who the alternative is that’s going to do such a better job for black people. Will it be Michele Bachmann? I mean, will it be Mitt Romney? Rick Perry?”
Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy, who studies race and politics, thinks Obama’s black support “has frayed a little bit around the edges, but I think only a little bit” and said Obama’s tricky racial balancing act saddles him with “burdens that other politicians don’t bear.”
Obama’s staff, including campaign manager Jim Messina and White House senior adviser David Plouffe, have privately predicted black turnout in 2012 will be comparable, or in some places even exceed, the rates in 2008.
But they are also clearly concerned about drift. Hoping to head off the dispute before it becomes a larger 2012 headache, Obama and his team are ramping up outreach efforts. On Monday, Democratic National Committee Executive Director Patrick Gaspard and Obama 2012 official Michael Blake convened a meeting and conference that included Roland Martin, veteran operative Donna Brazile, BET’s Debra Lee, National Urban League President Marc Morial and Ben Jealous of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
And the president will address the mid-September Congressional Black Caucus Foundation conference, a person familiar with the situation told POLITICO.

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Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political scientist, said Obama simply isn’t paying enough attention to his African-American base — and that dog whistles beat total silence.
“In the last couple of months, I haven’t heard those dog whistles, but you certainly heard them in 2008,” she said. “You heard that he was signaling to African-Americans.”
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a black political analyst, author and radio host, said that Obama needs to “reassert what King represented on civil rights but also on jobs and poverty.”
“There is a deep sense of frustration in the community, discontent on the part of some and an increasing sense of betrayal,” Hutchinson said. “But Obama also was the victim of overinflated expectations, and even though it’s not politically correct to say this, there was a perception that a black president has a special duty to do more for African-Americans.”
Still, even though African-American voters are increasingly displeased with Obama’s handling of the economy, they are sensitive to the possibility of aiding his Republican opponents.
“If I am out there calling the president names, I may win applause, but I am not going to win any bills that help people,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, an Obama supporter. “We are raising a monument to King, we ought to be instructive on how Dr. King was in how we deal with President Obama.”
But Sharpton said Obama might be doing better if he was less willing to show Republicans the other cheek.
“I am a Christian preacher, and he is more forgiving than I am,” Sharpton added, laughing.


Officer in transgender shooting had prior alcohol run-ins

The D.C. police officer accused of drunkenly shooting at transgendered people has been punished at least twice before for alcohol-related incidents, records and sources said.
Charging documents released Monday described how Kenneth Furr crashed his Cadillac into another vehicle early Friday morning, stood on the hood of the victims' vehicle and shouted, "I'm gonna kill all of you."
There were five people in the other vehicle, police said. One person suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the arm and hand, and two others were hurt in the attack.
Police said Furr, a 20-year-veteran, blew a 0.15 on an alcohol breath-test machine after the shooting -- nearly twice the legal limit for drivers in D.C.
He remains held on charges of DWI and assault with a deadly weapon. His first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, and he has been segregated from the other prisoners.
Furr's attorney said he could not comment about the case or Officer Furr, who police say is on paid leave.
According to charging documents, Furr got into an argument with several transgendered people outside the CVS pharmacy at 400 Massachusetts Avenue at about 4:40 a.m. Friday. He pulled a gun on one of the victims, who then reported the incident to an off-duty D.C. police officer working security at the pharmacy, charging documents said.
The CVS officer determined that Furr was an "off-duty officer, and therefore no further action was necessary," the charging document said.
The victims later saw Furr driving his Cadillac and followed him in their car, police said.
Furr got out of his vehicle, pointed the gun at the driver. The sequence of the events that followed is unclear is unclear. Patrol officers nearby said they heard the cars crash and then rapid gunfire. The victims said Furr fired first and then the cars struck.
Officers found Furr standing on the hood, pointing his off-duty service weapon at the windshield. Police recovered five shell casings that matched Furr's weapon.
A spokeswoman said she could not comment about whether police are looking to see if Furr might be connected to the two early morning shootings of transgendered people in Northeast Washington earlier this summer.
It wasn't the first time Furr has gotten into trouble.
He was arrested in 2004 for driving while intoxicated and operating while impaired, according to court records. He pleaded no contest and the charges were dropped after he completed a diversion program.
He was suspended for between 30 and 90 days in that case, according to city records.
On Christmas Day 1996, Furr and another officer were on duty when they got into a drunken argument with a mother and son. Police brass placed Furr on administrative leave and tried to fire him, but he was reinstated in 1998 after a change in police chiefs.

Florida lawmaker hands out belts under saggy pants ban

A Florida lawmaker is welcoming students back to school by handing out 200 leather belts to help them comply with a new state law that bans saggy pants on campuses.
Democratic State Senator Gary Siplin of Orlando pushed for six years for the so-called Pull Your Pants Up law, and finally got his wish last spring.
The state legislature voted overwhelmingly to enact the ban at the start of the 2011-12 school year, making Florida and Arkansas the only two states with such a widespread prohibition against saggy pants for students.
"We want our kids to believe they're going to college, and part of that is an attitude, and part of that is being dressed professionally," Siplin told Reuters.
The statewide school dress code bucks a fashion trend with roots in prison attire and the rap and hip-hop music community. Siplin, who admits to sporting an Afro and platform shoes in his youth, grew tired of seeing young men wearing their pants so low their underwear was exposed.
He originally sought to criminalize saggy pants, but the current law instead subjects repeat violators to up to three days of in-school suspension and up to 30 days suspension from extracurricular activities. It also targets low-cut and midriff-exposing shirts on girls.
Siplin fought off objections from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which contend the law violates personal freedom and unfairly targets minority students.
But Siplin, who is black, said he had received accolades from constituents for his efforts.
"The parents, the grandmothers, the professional people, they say, 'How can they walk down the street showing their behinds?' It's not civilized," he said.
Early Monday, Siplin handed out a dozen belts donated by a local church to students who showed up with droopy drawers at Oak Ridge High School in Orlando. He left another 25 belts with school administrators to hand out as needed.
Siplin said he also gave away about 100 belts at two other largely minority high schools as students arrived last week for their first week of school.
"I'm not going to hire anyone, white or black, with saggy pants," he said. "I want to make sure our kids qualify."
Municipalities around the country have enacted their own laws barring saggy pants, and many individual school dress codes already ban fashions that leave certain body parts exposed.
Principal Valeria Maxwell had previously implemented a strict dress code forbidding saggy pants at Jones High School, located in one of Orlando's traditionally African-American neighborhoods.
She supports the broader ban and said students were complying, with only about 10 out of 1,000 students at Jones violating the rule during the first seven days of school.
Reactions to the law among students were mixed on Tuesday.
Antoinette Sims, a 17-year-old senior at Jones, said she and many of her girlfriends found saggy pants unattractive.
"You can see your boxers sticking out. It's not cute," Sims said.
Joshua Simpkins, a 16-year-old sophomore, said the government should stay out of students' fashion choices.
"We bought our clothes (the) way we wanted them," he said. "It doesn't matter how you dress. You come to school to learn."
But his friend, 15-year-old sophomore Carlos Hall, said he supported the ban.
"It helps the community out to stop everybody looking druggish for the little ones coming up," Hall said.

By Barbara Liston taken from

Why we're right to trust our gut instincts: Scientists discover first decision IS the right one

Go on your gut feeling when setting goals - because more often than not it'll be right, researchers have revealed.
According to a study by Canada's University of Alberta, when it comes to working out where the future lies your unconscious mind is both smarter than you think and can be a great motivator.
Alberta School of Business researcher Sarah Moore and colleagues from Duke and Cornell universities say unconscious feelings about objects in the environment influence the pursuit of long-term goals.
Their study explores how the unconscious mind responds to objects in relation to an individual's goals - and how the unconscious continues to influence feelings about these objects once the goals are reached, whether or not the outcome has been successful.
'In the past few years, we recognised that some of [Sigmund] Freud's ideas on the unconscious mind were, in fact, correct and that a lot of our decision-making and a lot of our feelings are based on things that we're not really aware of,' said Moore, who is an assistant professor in the Alberta School of Business.

'In our study, we looked at how our unconscious feelings about objects in the environment influence how we pursue goals.'
Moore notes previous studies have shown when it comes to short-term, finite goals, such as responding to basic needs like thirst or hunger, the unconscious will evaluate objects and form preferences based on whether the object will help an individual achieve the goal.
She says in the case of thirst, items such as a water fountain or a bottle of Coke will be seen favourably, while a chocolate bar or KFC sign would not.
Psychoanalyst: Researchers say their study confirms theories about the unconscious mind by Sigmund Freud, pictured
Psychoanalyst: Researchers say their study confirms theories about the unconscious mind by Sigmund Freud, pictured
However, she explains that, once the goal is reached, those same objects will be evaluated differently.
'Once your thirst is quenched, you don't evaluate the water fountain positively anymore because you've accomplished the goal,' she said. 'But there are differences when we look at long-term goals.'
Moore's research focused on longer-term goals, such as getting in shape or undertaking educational pursuits.
For both types of goals, she says, the process is similar in that the unconscious identifies and responds to positively to objects and triggers in the environment that support the goal.
However, the unconscious deals differently with these objects during progress towards long-term goals.
Moore says, unlike with short-term finite goals, the unconscious will continue to positively value objects related to the long-term goals even after a level of success has been achieved.
She says this phenomenon points to the indeterminate nature of the goal.
'In some sense, we're never "finished" long-term goals,' said Moore.
'If we successfully finish the small steps toward our long-term goals, it becomes a cycle: we take a small step, we succeed, we feel good about it; therefore, we continue to feel good about the long-term goal.
'This process makes us more likely to take the next small step toward achieving that goal.'
What was surprising for the researchers was how participants in their study reacted to objects after a failure.
While the researchers expected the participants who failed to react negatively or express dislike for objects related to their test goal, Moore and her colleagues found that failure resulted in a neutral view of the objects.
'You don't hate the objects related to the goal because that goal is very important to you in the long run,' said Moore.
'Your unconscious is telling you 'now is not the time to pursue the goal. You just failed, let's leave it alone for a while.
'We're not going to pursue these objects in the environment; we're going to switch to some other goal.'

WikiLeaks site comes under attack

The WikiLeaks website crashed Tuesday in an apparent cyberattack after the accelerated publication of tens of thousands of once-secret State Department cables by the anti-secrecy organization raised new concerns about the exposure of confidential U.S. embassy sources. " is presently under attack," the group said on Twitter late Tuesday. One hour later, the site and the cables posted there were inaccessible.
WikiLeaks updated its Twitter account to say that it was "still under a cyberattack" and directed followers to search for cables on a mirror site or a separate search system,
The apparent cyberattack comes after current and former American officials said the recently released cables—and concerns over the protection of sources—are creating a fresh source of diplomatic setbacks and embarrassment for the Obama administration. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
The Associated Press reviewed more than 2,000 of the cables recently released by WikiLeaks. They contained the identities of more than 90 sources who had sought protection and whose names the cable authors had asked to protect.
Officials said the disclosure in the past week of more than 125,000 sensitive documents by WikiLeaks, far more than it had earlier published, further endangered informants and jeopardized U.S. foreign policy goals. The officials would not comment on the authenticity of the leaked documents but said the rate and method of the new releases, including about 50,000 in one day alone, presented new complications.
"The United States strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of classified information," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. "In addition to damaging our diplomatic efforts, it puts individuals' security at risk, threatens our national security and undermines our effort to work with countries to solve shared problems. We remain concerned about these illegal disclosures and about concerns and risks to individuals.
"We continue to carefully monitor what becomes public and to take steps to mitigate the damage to national security and to assist those who may be harmed by these illegal disclosures to the extent that we can," she told reporters.
Neither Nuland nor other current officials would comment on specific information contained in the compromised documents or speculate as to whether any harm caused by the new releases would exceed that caused by the first series of leaks, which began in November and sent the administration into a damage-control frenzy.
WikiLeaks fired back at the criticism even as its website came under cyberattack.
"Dear governments, if you don't want your filth exposed, then stop acting like pigs. Simple," the group posted on Twitter.
Some officials noted that the first releases had been vetted by media organizations who scrubbed them to remove the names of contacts that could be endangered. The latest documents have not been vetted in the same way.
"It's picking at an existing wound. There is the potential for further injury," said P.J. Crowley, the former assistant secretary of state for public affairs who resigned this year after criticizing the military's treatment of the man suspected of leaking the cables to WikiLeaks. "It does have the potential to create further risk for those individuals who have talked to U.S. diplomats. It has the potential to hurt our diplomatic efforts and it once again puts careers at risk."
Crowley set up a crisis management team at the State Department to deal with the matter and said officials at the time went through the entire collection of documents they believed had been leaked and warned as many named sources as possible, particularly in authoritarian countries, that their identities could be revealed. A handful of them were relocated, but Crowley said others may have been missed and some could not be contacted because the effort would have increased the potential for exposure.
The new releases "could be used to intimidate activists in some of these autocratic countries," he said. He said he believed that "any autocratic security service worth its salt" probably already would have the complete unredacted archive of cables but added that the new WikiLeaks releases meant that any intelligence agency that did not "will have it in short order."
WikiLeaks insisted it was "totally false" that any WikiLeaks sources have been exposed and appeared to suggest the group itself was not even responsible for releasing unredacted cables.
The group seemed to taunt U.S. officials and detractors in yet another Twitter message late Tuesday, asking what they will do "when it is revealed which mainstream news organization disclosed all 251k unredacted cables."
The AP review included all cables classified as "confidential" or "secret," among the more than 50,000 recently released by WikiLeaks. In them, the AP found the names of at least 94 sources whose identities the cable authors asked higher-ups to "protect" or "strictly protect." Several thousand other of the recently published cables were not classified and did not appear to put sources in jeopardy.
The accelerated flood of publishing partly reflects the collapse of the unusual relationships between WikiLeaks and news organizations that previously were cooperating with it in exchange for being given copies of all the uncensored State Department messages.
Initially, WikiLeaks released only a trickle of documents at a time from a trove of a quarter-million, and only after considering advice from five news organizations with which it chose to share all of the material. The news organizations advised WikiLeaks on which documents to release publicly and what redactions to make to those documents. The Associated Press was not among those news organizations.
In recent months, those relationships have soured noticeably. WikiLeaks complained Tuesday that a reporter who wrote about the group's efforts for The New York Times, one of the news organizations it was working with closely, was a "sleazy hack job." It also said a reporter for Guardian in Britain, another of its former partners in the release of documents, had exhibited a "tawdry vendetta" against WikiLeaks.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Syrian troops 'fire on Eid demonstrators'

Anti-government demonstrations are reported to be breaking out across Syria after morning prayers on the day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Thousands took to the streets, including in suburbs of the capital, Damascus, demanding the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Activists say Syrian security forces opened fire in several areas, killing at least seven people, mainly in the south, near Deraa. One was also killed in Homs, they say.
More were wounded there and elsewhere.
Syrian state television showed President Assad attending prayers in a Damascus mosque and taking coffee and cakes with fellow worshippers before being whisked away, says the BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Beirut.
But elsewhere, even in some nearby suburbs of the capital, thousands of people were spilling into the streets demanding the downfall of his regime.
Communications were cut in many parts of the country, and security forces moved into the streets around the mosques.
Much of the focus was also on cemeteries, where it is customary to visit the graves of relatives on the Eid, our correspondent says.
At one, in the Qaboun suburb of Damascus, a crowd was surrounded by security forces who opened fire, according to activists, causing casualties.
They are also reported to have shot at demonstrators in Deir al-Zour in the east, and elsewhere, as demonstrations were reported from virtually all corners of the country.
The UN says more than 2,200 people have been killed since protests against Syria's president began in March.
Most foreign journalists have been barred from Syria, making it difficult to verify reports from local activists and officials.
Are you in Syria? Do you have family or friends in Syria? What do you think of the latest developments? Send us your comments and experiences.

taken from

Rebels give Kadhafi forces four days to surrender

Rebels in Libya have given a Saturday ultimatum for Moamer Kadhafi's forces to surrender or face a military onslaught. National Transitional Council, NTC, chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil speaking from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Tuesday said the respite was offered to mark the three-day Eid al-Fitr Muslim feast which follows the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"From Saturday, if no peaceful solution is in sight on the ground, we will resort to military force," he warned.
Algeria meanwhile has defended its decision to give shelter to the embattled Libyan leader’s wife and three children saying it was based on humanitarian concerns. Libyan rebels who toppled the longtime strongman are demanding they be returned for trial.
"We'd like those persons to come back," NTC spokesman Mahmud Shammam said in Tripoli, claiming that Algeria had given the family members "a pass" to enter a third country.
So far Algeria has not recognised the NTC and has adopted a stance of strict neutrality on the Libyan conflict, leading some among the rebels to accuse it of supporting the Kadhafi regime.
Just hours after crossing over, the Algerian authorities announced that daughter Aisha had given birth to a girl.
The newborn girl was named Safiya, after their grandmother, according to the daily Ennahar, which said the family crossed via the Tinkarine border post in the far south and was flown 400 kilometres northwest to Djanet, where Aisha was admitted to hospital.
The family has been placed in a residence under guard in the desert town, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, Nato said on Tuesday its warplanes have fired a new barrage of bombs against Kadhafi forces holed up in Sirte, 360 kilometres east of Tripoli destroying 22 vehicles mounted with weapons, four radars, three command and control nodes, one anti-aircraft missile system and one surface-to-air missile system.
And rebel reinforcements are reported to be arriving at Bin Jawad, 100 kilometres east of Sirte. Occasional explosions could be heard from near Nofilia, a desert hamlet just inland from Bin Jawad, while rebel T-55 tanks and armoured vehicles move towards the front line to take up positions in the sand dunes.
Other rebel fighters have moved to within 30 kilometres of Sirte from the west and were awaiting the reinforcements, rebel commander Mohammed al-Fortiya, told the French news agency.

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WikiLeaks Leaves Names of Diplomatic Sources in Cables

WikiLeaks has published on the Web nearly 134,000 leaked diplomatic cables in recent days, more than six times the total disclosed publicly since the posting of the leaked State Department documents began last November.
Sang Tan/Associated Press
The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, arriving at High Court in London in July.


A sampling of the documents showed that the newly published cables included the names of some people who had spoken confidentially to American diplomats and whose identities were marked in the cables with the warning “strictly protect.”
State Department officials and human rights activists have been concerned that such diplomatic sources, including activists, journalists and academics in authoritarian countries, could face reprisals, including dismissal from their jobs, prosecution or violence.
Since late 2010, The New York Times and several other news organizations have had access to more than 250,000 State Department cables originally obtained by WikiLeaks, citing them in news articles and publishing a relatively small number of cables deemed newsworthy. But The Times and other publications that had access to the documents removed the names of people judged vulnerable to retaliation.
WikiLeaks published some cables on its own Web site, but until the latest release, the group had also provided versions of the cables that had been edited to protect low-level diplomatic sources.
Government officials and journalists were poring over the newly released cables on Monday to assess whether people named in them might face repercussions. A quick sampling found at least one cable posted on Monday, from the American Embassy in Australia, had a name removed, but several others left in the identities of people whom diplomats had flagged for protection.
Among those named, despite diplomats’ warnings, were a United Nations official in West Africa and a foreign human rights activist working in Cambodia. They had spoken candidly to American Embassy officials on the understanding that they would not be publicly identified.
The new disclosures are likely to reignite a debate over the virtues and perils of making public the confidential views of American diplomats, some of whom have complained that the leaks have made their work more difficult. The disclosures take place as a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., continues to hear evidence in a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks for disclosing classified information.
WikiLeaks said in a statement on Monday that the acceleration in disclosing the cables was “in accordance with WikiLeaks’s commitment to maximizing impact and making information available to all.” The statement suggested that it was intended to counter the “misperception” that the organization “has been less active in recent months.”
The statement said that “crowdsourcing” the documents by posting them will allow people of different backgrounds and nationalities to interpret the cables. It was unsigned, but WikiLeaks’s founder, Julian Assange, generally drafts or approves the group’s statements.
Even as WikiLeaks made its new postings, a German publication reported that an encrypted file containing all of the 251,287 diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks last year had been posted months ago on the Web, and that the password was also available on the Internet. It was unclear on Monday whether anyone had cracked the encrypted file described by the publication, Der Freitag, a small Berlin-based, left-leaning weekly, and had made public previously unpublished material.
A State Department spokesman, Michael A. Hammer, said the department would not comment on the authenticity of the documents released. He said the United States “strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of classified information.”
Last year, WikiLeaks was sharply criticized by human rights activists for disclosing the names of Afghan citizens who had provided information on the Taliban to the American military. It was far more cautious in subsequent releases, using software to strip proper names out of Iraq war documents and publishing versions of the cables after they had been edited by The New York Times and other publications.
The publication of cables began slowly last year, with only 2,500 made public by year’s end, often with redactions. As of last week, the total had reached about 20,000.
But the State Department has always acted on the assumption that all quarter-million cables might become public. A department task force worked with American embassies to review all the leaked cables, quietly warning people named in the cables that they might be in jeopardy. Some especially vulnerable people were given help to move, usually outside their home countries.
Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said he had reviewed several dozen cables from the new batch — all among those classified “secret” by the State Department — and found only one redaction. He said the volume of the new release made it unlikely that all the information that might endanger diplomatic sources had been removed.
“If these cables have not been carefully reviewed, it’s likely to be problematic for any number of people named in the cables,” Mr. Aftergood said.

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