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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Iran Warships To Sail Through Suez, Israel Warns

iran warships, iran
Two Iranian warships planned to sail through the Suez canal en route to Syria on Wednesday, Israel's foreign minister said, calling the move the latest "provocation" by Tehran and hinting at an Israeli response.

Israel sees a major threat in Iran's nuclear programme and calls for its elimination, but the countries' geographical distance has kept them from open confrontation. Syria is one of Israel's neighbouring foes and an ally of Tehran.

"Tonight, two Iranian warships are meant to pass through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea and reach Syria, something that has not happened in many years," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a Jerusalem speech distributed by his office.

"To my regret, the international community is not showing readiness to deal with the recurring Iranian provocations. The international community must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations."
(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Philippa Fletcher)


Sen. John Kerry visits Pakistan amid diplomatic tensions

 ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry called on President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh separately and discussed with them the issue of Raymond Davis, Geo News reported on Wednesday.

According to the sources, in the meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, Senator Kerry said that Pakistan is bound to implement on Vienna Convention, therefore, the US diplomat Raymond Davis be released.

The US Senator also discussed Pak-US bilateral relations besides regional issues with the President.

Earlier, Senator Kerry met Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and demanded release of Raymond Davis. He assured the PM that criminal investigations would be carried out against Davis in the US.

Meanwhile, John Kerry also held a meeting with Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

pakistan amid diplomatic tensions, us and pakistan, sen john kerryIslamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A key senator huddled with top officials in strategically important Pakistan on Wednesday to help mend a delicate diplomatic wound spurred by the killings of two people by a U.S. Embassy employee.

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is telling Pakistanis that the now-jailed shooter has diplomatic immunity under an international treaty and should be released.

He told reporters in Pakistan Tuesday that the U.S. Justice Department "will conduct its own thorough criminal investigation regardless of immunity." But many Pakistanis want the man to face justice in their country.

The detained man, Raymond Davis, is suspected in the shooting deaths of two Pakistani men in Lahore in January. Davis has claimed he was defending himself against an attempted robbery. Davis, labeled a "diplomat" by the United States, has been detained since January 27 in Lahore, an incarceration U.S. officials call "illegal."

His arrest has strained relations between the United States and Pakistan, a key ally in the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. During several protests earlier this month, hard-line Pakistani clerics condemned the shootings and demanded the government not release Davis to the U.S. government.

Kerry said he is hopeful that both countries can focus on working together "toward the same goal" and maintain the "spirit of cooperation."

"I want to come here today to express our deepest regret for this tragic event and to express the sorrow of the American people for the loss of life that has taken place," Kerry said on Tuesday, in a statement issued Wednesday by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

"I've come here to listen. I haven't come here to order anybody to do anything; I haven't come here to dictate. I've come here to listen carefully, to meet with your leaders and have an opportunity to find a path forward so that we can all live by the law and hopefully find a way to deal with some really urgent pressing issues for both of our countries," he said.

Kerry met with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and other Pakistani officials on Wednesday, Gilani's office said in a statement.

Gilani -- who said it is "imperative" that the Davis matter "must not be allowed" to harm bilateral ties and the fight against terror -- called Kerry a "known friend of Pakistan" and noted that the senator wants an "early resolution" of the matter.

Gilani said his country's superior court "had taken cognizance of the case" and ordered that the question of immunity -- "if it arises" -- be determined by the court. He also said that the "remorse and regret" by the United States over the deaths "should be considered to cool down the rising temperatures."

President Barack Obama Tuesday urged Pakistan to release Davis, warning that his prosecution could endanger the "important principle" of diplomatic immunity.

"Obviously, we're concerned about the loss of life. You know, we're not callous about that," Obama told reporters during a White House news conference. "But there's a broader principle at stake that I think we have to uphold."

Abdul Basit, a spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, said Wednesday that the ministry disagreed with Obama's assertion. He argued the man did not have blanket diplomatic immunity.

A U.S. government official told CNN that Kerry's trip to Lahore was at the administration's request "to help tone down the rhetoric and reaffirm our partnership with Pakistan."

While Kerry is not there to secure Davis' release, "certainly the Davis case will be a topic of discussion," said the official, who spoke about the trip on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Kerry said the Davis case needs to be resolved so Washington and Islamabad can deal with bigger issues, like the struggle against Islamic militancy.

"We all live with the law of immunity, so we have to live within that context," Kerry said. He urged reporters to "help Pakistanis to see there are a lot of issues on the table that need to be handled in a fair way, and please help them understand this is not an American point of view."

Last week, a Pakistani court ordered Davis to remain in custody for 14 more days. The lawyer for Davis then filed a petition calling for his immediate release on the grounds he is covered under diplomatic immunity.

A judge will hear arguments on the petition on February 25.

Davis, a contractor for the group Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, was attached to the U.S. Embassy contingent in Pakistan as a "technical and administrative official," according to U.S. officials.

Under international agreements, people carrying diplomatic passports are granted diplomatic immunity, the State Department says.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised the matter with Pakistani officials, and U.S. Congress members warn of a possible cut in nonmilitary aid to Pakistan, which was worth $1.5 billion in 2010, if Davis is not released.

Davis said he was attacked on January 27 by the two men who tried to rob him as he drove through a busy Lahore neighborhood, according to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.

The United States says Davis was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad but was working at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore at the time of the shootings.

Lahore Police Chief Aslam Tareen has rejected Davis' claim that he shot the men in self-defense, telling reporters, "It was clear-cut murder."

Witnesses told police that Davis kept firing even when one of the men was running away, Tareen said.

"It means he wanted to ensure that that they were killed," he said.


Natalie Munroe: Teacher Defends Insulting Blog

natalie munroe, teacher insult, teacher student
Natalie Munroe’s blog is making major news today. There are millions of blogs out there, and every day, brand new blogs are popping up that are written by women, and moms in particular. What makes Natalie Munroe’s blog so controversial is the fact that she is a teacher who blogged about her students…and didn’t exactly say the nicest things about them. Did Natalie Munroe’s blog cross the line of what is acceptable behavior for an educator?

Watch Natalie Munroe defend her blog in the video clip below to hear more about her side of the argument. She doesn’t think that she did anything wrong, but she was suspended after her blog was found out.

Some of the things that Natalie Munroe posted about her students on her blog included statements like, “I hear the trash company is hiring,” and “There’s no other way to say this, I hate your kid.”

People have a right to blog about whatever they want, but would you be upset if your child’s teacher wrote such things?


Tehran: Student Protester Was Killed By Direct Shot

While Iranian government media claimed that Sane Jaleh, one of those killed during protests on 14 February in Tehran, was a member of the Basij paramilitary forces, a member of the Tahkim-e Vahdat student organization told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Jaleh was not a Basiji. In fact, he told the Campaign, Jaleh was a member of the Tehran Arts University’s Islamic Association, and that he had attended previous demonstrations as well. He told the Campaign that Jaleh was directly shot at while trying to run away from armed plainclothes forces.
tehran, breakingnews‎, iran, tehran at funeral, ahmadinejad, human rights, humanrights in iran

“Sane Jaleh, 26, was a member of the Tehran Arts University’s Islamic Association and a member of the General Council of Tahkim-e Vahdat Organization. He supported reformist candidates in the days leading up to the election, and after the election coup, he attended student gatherings inside the Arts University to protest the big fraud and participated in the 14 February demonstration for the same reason. He was a Kurdish, Sunni drama student at the Tehran Arts University,” the Tahkim-e Vahdat member told the Campaign.

Government media published a Basij forces membership card allegedly belonging to Sane Jaleh. “That Basij membership card is not related to the University. Many students become members of the Basij in high school and through mosques. But at the Tehran Arts University, he was a member of the Islamic Students Association. He was present during the Association members’ meeting with Ayatollah Montazeri, and his photographs are available,” the Tahkim-e Vahdat member told the Campaign.

The Campaign asked the member of Tahkim-e Vahdat about the reasons government media would want to represent Jaleh as a member of the Basij. “Because they want to make a fake announcement through which to hijack this to their advantage. They did the same thing with Mostafa Ghanian before. It turned out later that he was not a Basiji and that he objected to the election [results],” he replied.

“Sane Jaleh was a resident of the Arts University’s Shahid Rahsaz Dormitories. He was last seen leaving the dormitory at 6:00 p.m., heading for the demonstrations. An unidentified caller contacted his friends at 9:00 p.m. and told them that he has found his cell phone and clothes, asking them to go and pick up the articles. Because the caller was unidentified and the phone call appeared suspicious, Jaleh’s friends did not do anything. But an hour later, a member of the Supreme Leader’s Offices at the university called his friends and informed them that he was killed by a direct bullet. Shortly thereafter, the false statement was made by government media about his membership in the Basij,” the source said about Jaleh’s last hours.

“There are no records available about the murderer, but according to those present at the scene, when it grew dark, plainclothes forces directly shot at people at this location and Sane Jaleh was running away along with other people when he was shot,” he told the Campaign when asked about the murderer’s identity.

“Tomorrow morning, there will be a funeral procession for him at the Arts University. Arts University students and Tahkim-e Vahdat Organization invite the public, and especially the students, to attend this ceremony,” said the student organization source.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scottish Deerhound wins

irish wolfhound, westminster dog show 2011, pekingese, bearded collie, tibetan mastiff
The 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show crowned a Best in Show Tuesday night (Feb. 15) and it was Hickory the Scottish Deerhound in what is a bit of an upset over Malachy the Pekingese and Adam the Smooth Fox Terrier, both of which were heavily favored. It is the Scottish Deerhound's first Best in Show win as a breed.

The show kicked off with the Sporting group. The breeds singled out were the Pointer, the German Wirehaired pointer, the Curly-Coated Retriever, the Irish Setter, the Black Cocker Spaniel, the English Springer Spaniel, the Irish Water Spaniel, the Weimaraner and the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. The top four in order were: the Black Cocker Spaniel, the Irish Setter, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and the Irish Water Spaniel. The Boykin Spaniel was the new breed in the Sporting group, but was not brought down.

The Working group was up next. The dogs brought down were the Alaskan Malamute, the Boxer, the Doberman Pinscher, the Kuvasz, the Portuguese Water Dog, the Rottweiler and the Samoyed. The top four were the Portuguese Water Dog, the Boxer, the Kuvasz and the Samoyed.

The last group of the night is the Terrier group. The breeds singled out are the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Irish Terrier, the Norfolk Terrier, the Norwich Terrier, the Scottish Terrier, the Seelyham Terrier, the Sky Terrier and the West Highland White Terrier. The top four finish the Smooth Fox, the Norfolk, the Sky and the Westie.

The Best in Show group included from last night the Scottish Deerhound from the Hound group, the Pekingese from the Toy group, the Shar-Pei from the Non-Sporting group and the Bearded Collie from the Herding group. From tonight, we had the Black Cocker Spaniel from the Sporting group, the Portuguese Water Dog from the Working group and the Smooth Fox from the Terrier group, who is the favorite according to odds-makers.

But then in an upset, Hickory the Scottish Deerhound won Best in Show! It is the first Best in Show win for the Scottish Deerhound breed and was quite a surprise in the face of Adam the Smooth Fox Terrier and Malachy the Pekingese, who were both heavily favored.


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