Sudanese girl flogged for wearing indecent skirt

Sudanese girl flogged for wearing indecent skirt

A Sudanese Christian teenager has been lashed 50 times for wearing what a judge considered an indecent knee-length skirt. The family of Silva Kashif, 16, plans on suing police and the judge, said attorney Azhari al-Hajj who insisted that the verdict was in violation of Sudanese law because the girl is a minor.

Kashif was strolling in a south Khartoum neighbourhood earlier this month wearing a knee-length skirt when a policeman arrested her and marched her to court. She was sentenced on November 21. The judge sentenced her to 50 lashes and she was immediately flogged. The whole thing lasted 30 minutes.

Sudan applies Islamic law in the Muslim north but it is not in force in the Christian and semi-autonomous south, which fought a two-decade war with the north that ended in 2005.

Kashif was the latest person targeted in Sudan on charges of violating a law against public indecency. Last month, a judge sentenced two women to 20 lashes for wearing trousers and no headscarves. Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed Hussein drew international attention to the law following her arrest in July, along with 12 other women, for wearing indecent trousers. Hussein faced a punishment of 40 lashes but instead the court ordered her to pay a fine which she refused. She was jailed briefly until a Sudanese journalist group paid her fine. She is now in France promoting a book about her ordeal.

Irish cops helped Church cover up child sex abuse’

Irish cops helped Church cover up child sex abuse’

The Roman Catholic Church and the police in Ireland systematically colluded in covering up decades of child sex abuse by priests in Dublin.

The cover-ups spanned the tenures of four Dublin archbishops and continued through to the mid-1990s and beyond, even after the church was beginning to admit to its failings and had professed that it was confronting abuse by its priests.

But rather than helping the victims, the church was concerned only with the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets, said the 700-page report, prepared by a group appointed by the Irish government and called the Commission of Investigation Into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

In a statement, the current archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, acknowledged the revolting story of abuses that the report detailed, saying, No words of apology will ever be sufficient. He added, The report highlights devastating failings of the past.

The report is the latest in a series of damning revelations about the church. In May, a report chronicled the sexual, emotional and physical abuse of orphans and foster children over 60 years in a network of church-run residential schools meant to care for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

Although that report portrayed a church that seemed institutionally broken, with guilt spread among many, the new one attaches particular blame to those at the top. The report, which took three years to prepare, focused on the way complaints about abuse by priests had been handled. It looked into the cases of 46 priests who had been the subject of complaints from about 320 children from 1975 to 2004.

Americans throw away food increasing carbon emissions

Americans throw away food increasing carbon emissions

Americans are throwing away forty percent of food and thereby contributing to excess consumption of freshwater and fossil fuels, along with methane and carbon dioxide emissions from decomposing food, impacts global climate change.

In a new paper published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLoS One, Kevin Hall and colleagues at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases calculate the energy content of nationwide food waste from the difference between the US food supply and the food eaten by the population. The latter was estimated using a validated mathematical model of human metabolism relating body weight to the amount of food eaten.

The researchers found that US per capita food waste has progressively increased by about 50% since 1974 reaching more than 1400 Calories per person per day or 150 trillion Calories per year. Previous calculations are likely to have underestimated food waste by as much as 25% in recent years. This calculated progressive increase of food waste suggests that the US obesity epidemic may have been the result of a “push effect” of increased food availability and marketing with Americans being unable to match their food intake with the increased supply of cheap, readily available food.

Hall and colleagues suggest that addressing the oversupply of food energy in the US could help curb to the obesity epidemic as well as reduce food waste, which would have profound consequences for the environment and natural resources. For example, food waste is now estimated to account for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and more than 300 million barrels of oil per year representing about 4% of the total US oil consumption.

This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Violence in Osmania University following TRS chief’s arrest

Violence in Osmania University following TRS chief’s arrest

At least 10 students were injured on Sunday as clashes broke out between police and students at Osmania University here following the arrest of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhara Rao in Karimnagar before he was to begin a ‘fast unto death’ demanding separate statehood for the Telangana region.

Tension prevailed on the Osmania University campus as students supporting the demand for a separate Telangana fought pitched battles with police.

Police said some students climbed onto the terrace of one of the hostel buildings and threatened to jump down. Another student was seen pouring petrol on himself, demanding that the police stay away from the building.

As the news of KCR’s arrest broke out, students took to the streets in the campus and pelted stones at policemen deployed in large number since on Saturday.

Some students were injured when the police chased them into one hostel building and beat them up. Protesting the police action, students gathered at other points in the campus.

A student leader said they would take a rally to the state secretariat to protest both KCR’s arrest and the police action against the students.

12 convicted, two let off in Kandhamal riot case

12 convicted, two let off in Kandhamal riot case

A fast track court Saturday jailed 12 people for four years while acquitting two others in a 2008 Kandhamal riots case, an official

Judge C.R. Das sentenced the 12 to concurrent jail terms of four years and one year and a Rs.2000 fine after convicting them of arson and unlawful assembly under sections 436 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Two other accused were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Kandhamal district, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23 last year. More than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs, which held Christians responsible for Saraswati’s killing although police blamed the Maoists.

The government has set up two fast track courts to try cases related to the communal violence.

For 40 years, Muslim discourses on Hindu scriptures

For 40 years, Muslim discourses on Hindu scriptures

Dressed in saffron robes, adorned with rudraksh garlands, sporting a sandalwood mark on his forehead and delivering discourses on Hindu scriptures in temples across eastern Uttar Pradesh, this “saint” is actually a devout Muslim, who offers namaaz five times a day.

Mohammad Yaseen, 60, a resident of the Pipraich village in Gorakhpur district, some 300 km from state capital Lucknow, has been giving lectures on the Ramcharitmanas and the Gita for nearly 40 years now. “I believe there’s a lot to learn from the holy scriptures, particularly the Ramcharitmanas and the Gita that guide our behaviour towards individual, family and society,” Yaseen said.

Initially ostracised by his family and relatives for studying Hindu religious texts and even being turned out of his house, Yaseen is today respected by Hindus and Muslims alike for his efforts to bring the two communities together.

His affinity for Hindu religious texts followed an emotional period after the death of his father in a road accident, when Yaseen was only 17. A withdrawn Yaseen fell ill and, when in hospital, had a sadhu as his neighbour who introduced him to Hinduism, sparking his interest.

“It was a road accident in which I lost my father. I loved him most of all the family members. I left my studies, went into a state of shock and even stopped talking to my family members. I used to lock myself in a dark room for days and did not meet anyone,” recalled Yaseen.

“I fell ill and was admitted to a hospital, where I met a sadhu who was in a bed next to mine. He used to share teachings of the Ramayana with me and asked me to tell him about the Quran. Though the sadhu was much older than me, we became friends.

“The day before I was to be discharged from the hospital, he suggested I should listen to a discourse on Ramcharitmanas that would help me a lot in diverting my attention from my problems.”

Acting on the advice, Yaseen went to listen to a discourse at a temple on the outskirts of his village. “I cannot put into words what I felt after listening to the discourse. It was something that provided me complete peace of mind. Later, I decided to participate in the discourse on a regular basis and started studying Hindu scriptures,” said Yaseen, who has a family business selling clothes.

There was opposition from his family members, who threatened to shun him if he did not stop attending discourses at temples and studying Hindu scriptures. “I did not bother them, still they even forced me to leave the house. As I became totally free, I decided to give small lectures in temples after convincing their priests,” said Yaseen.

Today Yassen’s son looks after the family business, while he passes most of his time in delivering religious lectures in temples of various districts in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, he returned from Ballia, where he was called to attend a religious function at the famous Duddheshwar Nath Temple.

At the same time, Yaseen remains a devout, practising Muslim. “On a number of occasions, I have to take a break from the discourse when it’s the time to offer the namaaz. That I can’t skip under any circumstances,” he said.

Yaseen has become popular among both Hindus and Muslims of his village as both the communities believe he could bridge differences between them.

“Though he is Mohammed Yaseen, we call him Sant Yaseen Bharti. A saint like him, in a true sense, is working to promote communal harmony,” said Banshraj Mishra, who runs a utensils shop in the village.

Another resident Ijaz Warsi said: “Some politicians and people, who for vested interests, make efforts to divide society in the name of religion, should learn something from Yasin bhai, who is liked by Hindus and Muslims alike.”

Radiation leak in Kaiga could be sabotage, probe ordered

Radiation leak in Kaiga could be sabotage, probe ordered

The radiation leakage in the state-run Kaiga atomic power plant in Karnataka could be an act of sabotage, a top official said on Sunday. A probe has been ordered into the incident by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

“Preliminary enquiry does not reveal any violation of operating procedures or radioactivity releases or security breach. It is possibly an act of mischief,” NPCIL Chairman and Managing Director SK Jain said in a statement.

He said radioactive contamination of the water cooler located outside the reactor building is “a matter of concern and the cause (of the leakage) is being investigated”. Since the incident was detected five days ago, the water cooler – which was identified as the source of radiation leakage – has been isolated and put out of service, Jain said.

In New Delhi, Minister of Science & Technology Prithviraj Chavan confirmed the “sabotage” at the nuclear plant and said a high-level probe has been ordered. “It could be the handiwork of a disgruntled employee and we are awaiting the results of the inquiry,” Chavan told journalists.

Jain pointed out that Unit 1 of Kaiga has been shut down for annual maintenance since Oct 20. Meanwhile Units 2 and 3 continue to be operational even as Unit 4 is under construction.

“All the systems of all the units are healthy and there is no release of radioactivity to the environment within the plant site and outside,” he pointed out.

Saudi seizes key rebel area near Yemen

Saudi seizes key rebel area near Yemen

Saudi Arabia says its forces have seized control of a strategic mountain along the border with Yemen in the kingdom’s ongoing fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Prince Khaled bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s defence and aviation assistant minister, told a local television station that Saudi forces cleared the peak, known as Jabal al-Dood, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Yemeni military officials said they had also engaged in heavy clashes with the Houthi rebels on the outskirts of the northern city of Saada.

Yemen’s future A military official told Reuters that Yemeni officials had prevented a rebel attempt to enter the city on Saturday.
The Shia Muslim Houthi fighters, citing political, economic and religious marginalisation, have been battling the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, since 2004.

Saudi Arabia began bombarding suspected Houthi positions earlier this month after they apparently crossed the border and seized control of a small area. The Houthis say that the Saudis have been allowing Yemeni troops to use the area to attack their positions.

Saudi officials claim that the fighting in northern Yemen is being supported by Iran and could be helping al-Qaeda to cross to their side of the border.

Bin Laden within grasp in 2001

Bin Laden within grasp in 2001

The US military missed an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, when he was within grasp in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in December 2001, a US report has concluded.

The Senate foreign affairs committee report, released on Sunday, said that the failure to move in on Bin Laden when he was at his most vulnerable had enormous consequences.

But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost kill Osama opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism.

The report comes just days before Barack Obama, the US president, is due to announce his decision on whether tens of thousands more troops will be sent to Afghanistan in an attempt to quell resurgent Taliban forces.

The committee’s report criticises Donald Rumsfeld, the then-US defence secretary, and General Tommy Franks, the US general who commanded the invasion of Afghanistan, for not sending more US troops to Tora Bora to block the mountain paths to Pakistan, which were bin Laden’s only means of escape.

Fewer than 100 commandoes were on the scene with their Afghan allies and their calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected, the report said.

Bin Laden was apparently convinced that the sustained bombardment of the mountains, where he was believed to be hiding with about 100 followers, with up to 100 air raids a day would leave him dead. On December 14, 2001, he wrote a will, the reports says, instructing his wives not to remarry and apologising to his children for devoting himself to jihad. But just days later he was able to walk unmolested out of Afghan territory into Pakistan’s tribal areas, where he is widely believed to still be living.

Rumsfeld had expressed concerns at the time that ordering many more troops into the area to hunt Bin laden would create an anti-American backlash and fuel support for al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The report was based on reviews of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with participants.

Staff members for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Democratic majority prepared the report at the request of the chairman, Senator John Kerry.