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CIA admits to 'water-boarding'

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on CIA admits to 'water-boarding')

Michael Hayden told the US Senate intelligence panel today that waterboarding was used to glean information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at a “critical time” because of worries more attacks were planned against the

United States.


“We used it against these three high-value detainees because of the circumstances of the time,” Mr Hayden said.

“Very critical to those circumstances was the belief that additional catastrophic attacks against the homeland were imminent.”

Mr Hayden's comments marked the first time a US official has identified detainees who were subjected to the technique that simulates drowning.

He said the three men were the only ones who were waterboarded, and that the CIA had not used the practice in five years.

“Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees,” Mr Hayden said.

“It was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It was used on Abu Zubaydah. And it was used on Nashiri.”

Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 and held in a secret CIA prison for years before being transferred last year to the US detention facility at Guantanamo, Bay, Cuba where he faces a military trial.

According to the Pentagon, Mohammed admitted to his role in planning the September 11 attacks and in the brutal 2002 slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter and US citizen Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

Zubaydah was one of Osama bin Laden's closest deputies until his capture in Pakistan in 2002.

He was also secretly held before being transferred to Guantanamo.

Al-Nashiri, a senior level al-Qaeda operations planner captured in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, is also being held at Guantanamo.

Torture laws

The Bush administration refuses to say whether waterboarding is a violation of US torture laws.

President George W Bush has insisted the United States does not torture but has acknowledged the use of tough interrogation techniques in the war on terrorism.

The top US law enforcement official, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that because the CIA was not currently using the practice, there was no need for him to specify whether it was legal.

“Given that waterboarding is not part of the current program and may never be added to the current program, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to pass definitive judgment on the technique's legality,” Attorney-General Mukasey said.

He said there are some circumstances under US law that would “clearly” ban the use of waterboarding during interrogations, but in other cases it would “present a far closer question.”

“If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on this subject,” Mr Mukasey said.

'Better days ahead' promises Obama

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on 'Better days ahead' promises Obama)

Barack Obama has promised Americans there are 'better days ahead' despite plummeting global stock markets, rising job losses and dark clouds of economic gloom.


The Democratic nominee struck an inspirational note on the day after his latest debate clash with John McCain, but intensified his relentless drive to saddle his Republican foe with President George W. Bush's unpopular legacy.

Obama's call for national steadfastness in the hours of crisis came as he stretched his lead to 11 points in the latest daily Gallup tracking poll over McCain – less than four weeks before the November 4 election.

“I'm here today to tell you that there are better days ahead,” Obama told a large, ethnically diverse crowd which was soaked by a rainstorm before the Democrat arrived in Indiana, a once solid Republican state which is now a battleground.

“I know that many of you are anxious about the future. But this isn't a time for fear or panic. This is a time for resolve and leadership,” Obama said, vowing the United States would steer its way out of the crisis.

'New leadership'

As global stock markets reeled from heavy losses, Obama warned America could not afford another four years of Republican economic strategy.

“I can take four more weeks of John McCain's attacks, but the American people can't take four more years of John McCain's George Bush policies,” Obama told a large crowd at the muddy Indiana State Fairgrounds.

“We've seen enough of where that leaves us and we are not going back.”

The McCain campaign has in recent days slammed Obama over his past association with 1960s radical William Ayers, questioned his patriotism and whether he shares basic heartland values.

Despite warning that the United States faced a moment of “great uncertainty”, Obama vowed to lead the country out of its economic convulsions if he is elected president.

“It will take new leadership in Washington. It will take a real change in the policies and politics of the last eight years,” Obama said.

Upbeat message

His tone appeared to be an attempt to frame an upbeat message to contrast with McCain, whom the Obama campaign is portraying as erratic and cranky after the latest debate clash.

The Democratic nominee's Indiana trip was a bid to stretch McCain's campaign, which polls show is struggling to cling onto states won by Bush in the 2004 election.

Latest polls give McCain an edge of a few points in a surprisingly tight race in the midwestern state, which has not voted Democrat in a presidential election since 1964.

Obama's vice presidential running mate Joe Biden meanwhile campaigned in another once-staunch Republican state which appears to be wavering as the economic crisis bites.

The Delaware senator said Obama had now got two debate wins and he had racked up one over his opposite number, Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin.

“I realize I'm slightly prejudiced about our ticket, but if this was a best of five series, it would be over, it would be done,” Biden said.

Poll lead increasing

McCain meanwhile flew to Pennsylvania to meet his combative running mate Sarah Palin, as the dust settled after the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday.

Several snap post-debate polls said Obama won the clash, following his perceived victory in the first debate showdown two weeks ago, leaving McCain scrambling for a comeback with time running out before election day.

The latest Gallup Daily tracking poll on Wednesday had Obama stretching his lead nationally over McCain to 11 points.

His 52 per cent to 41 per cent edge represented his highest point of the campaign and the biggest gap so far between the candidates in the general election.

The poll was largely taken before the debate, and does not reflect audience perceptions of the clash.

A Rasmussen daily tracking poll however had the race much closer, but Obama still ahead, giving the Illinois senator a 51-45 per cent lead.

Bernie Mac dies at 50

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Bernie Mac dies at 50)

US comedian Bernie Mac, who played an ex-felon blackjack dealer in the “Ocean's Eleven” series and had his own sitcom on television, has died at 50, his publicist said Saturday.


The star of the critically acclaimed “The Bernie Mac Show” succumbed several days after being hospitalized for pneumonia which arose from a longstanding lung ailment, sarcoidosis, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Danica Smith told People magazine.

“[He] passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital,” Smith said. “No other details are available at this time.”

Born in Chicago on October 5, 1957, Bernard Jeffrey McCullough got his start in the city's African-American comedy clubs, and broke into the big time after winning a national comedy contest in 1989.

His reputation grew after he made it to the HBO hit show “Def Comedy Jam,” pitching his wry, pointed style at audiences of all colors.

“If you let people put tags on you, you'll never be able to remove them,” he told the Chicago Tribune last year.

In the semi-autobiographical “The Bernie Mac Show,” a hit for Fox television from 2001 to 2006, he plays a man charged with taking care of his sister's three children after she is sent for rehabilitation.

In 2001 he featured next to Brad Pitt and George Clooney as a casino card dealer in “Ocean's Eleven” and returned in the subsequent two sequels.

He also featured in the 2003 film “Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle” and was a car salesman in last year's hit “Transformers.” He also had a major part in “Old Dogs,” the Robin Williams-John Travolta comedy scheduled for release in 2009.

The Chicago Tribune said he is survived by his wife Rhonda McCullough and a daughter, Je'Niece.

PNG-Moving Haus

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on PNG-Moving Haus)

REPORTER: David O’Shea

Melbourne art gallery owner Neil McLeod is so excited about what he’s about to see, he’s talked himself hoarse.


Neil is on a mission to preserve a part of Papua New Guinea’s cultural heritage.

NEIL MCLEOD, ART COLLECTOR: They’re putting the head dresses on at the moment. There’s meticulous detail in the face painting.

This is what Neil wants to preserve – a men’s spirit house, or haus tambaran, in the east Sepik region. Today we’re witnessing the last initiation ceremony to be held at this haus tambaran. Inside are the wood carvings which symbolise the spirit ancestors of the clan. Dressed up, these men represent those spirits.

It’s pretty scary stuff for the young and uninitiated, who’ve been taught to fear what is now emerging from the building. 30 years ago, there were scores of haus tambaran in this area, but as PNG develops, these important buildings are disappearing. Some have been burned or torn down at the encouragement of Christian missionaries. Others are just left to decay.

This is now the last remaining haus tambaran still in use in the east Sepik. Neil McLeod came up with the idea of buying it and taking it to his Melbourne gallery.

NEIL MCLEOD: My gallery in Melbourne houses already a beautiful Oceanic collection. At least in the museum situation it’s being preserved. It wouldn’t have been preserved out in the bush. And a lot of these pieces were meant to decay in the bush too. They’d finish with them – they’d burn them or whatever. A lot of people have modern boats, they’ve got outboard motors and they need fuel for them, so they’re selling some of the carvings now and I’m helping preserve those carvings, in my modest way.

Sebastian Haraha is from the National Museum in Port Moresby. He helped arrange the sale of the haus tambaran after Neil promised to preserve it in Melbourne.

SEBASTIAN HARAHA, NATIONAL MUSEUM PORT MORESBY: They are dying out. Some people may take it as a joke, but in reality, men’s houses are dying out. Which means the ceremonies associated with these men’s houses are also dying out. You see there with the piece of white cloths on their head? They go into the men’s house.

NEIL MCLEOD: Some of the little boys don’t know what they’re in for. They’ve got curious looks on their faces. They’re really scared, thinking, “What’s inside this big building?” They’ve never seen it. This is their first big day.

An initiation ceremony like this is held once every generation, a major milestone in a boy’s passage into manhood. The last such ceremony was held 15 years ago. Today the men who went through the last ceremony will take their sons inside for the first time.

Once they’ve passed through the haus tambaran and seen the spirit world, the boys are forbidden to talk about what they’ve seen. Their ancestral secrets are taken very seriously, and are not to be shared with women or the uninitiated.

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: If uninitiated sees it, he has to compensate – he has to pay – kill a pig for it. If he does not – he’s normally given a month or so – if he does not do it, he’ll be killed, because he might tell other people about what happens inside, what is inside.

But some of those passing through are not taking things as seriously as they should. And some of these children are much too young to be initiated. These indiscretions are too much for Kawi, a practitioner of black magic and the gatekeeper of the haus tambaran.

REPORTER: What was all that about?

NEIL MCLEOD: Some of the people haven’t done it according to the tradition. He’s the boss and he knows the way it should be done and he’s upset because people didn’t perform quite as he expected them to do. So he’s telling them, “This is our tradition. “You’ve got to do it right way.”

This chant is a lament that the young people are losing the secrets of the ‘myra’ or spirit world. For these elders it must be very hard to come to terms with the loss of traditions that they grew up with. It’s a source of tension within the clan. The man with the coconut is a Christian and he, like many here, has been taught to reject the sorcery and black magic of Kawi, the gatekeeper.

MAN, (Translation): Go away. Shut your mouth.

KAWI, (Translation): Don’t interrupt me. I’m trying to give an example. You shut up! I’m not scared of you. You go away. I can have power over you with magic.

ELDER, (Translation): I have something to say. Listen!

Some of the elders here are more pragmatic. They know that their world has changed forever and the time for black magic has passed.

ELDER, (Translation): Let’s look at traditional medicine for the sicknesses that are coming from the town. Men are dying, women and children are dying. The doctor has to look into that. Black magic is now finished. If you want to keep practising the custom, come and pick this up and go.

But it seems nobody is prepared to take on the challenge. There are various reasons for the rapid demise of traditional belief systems throughout Papua New Guinea, but a key factor is the spread of Christianity.

PASTOR: Well, I’m telling you there’s a revival taking place right now. There’s a transformation taking place right now. Amen.

A few kilometres away from the haus tambaran is an Assembly of God church.

PASTOR: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The pastor here says the traditional ways are the wrong way.

PASTOR: You don’t want to have somebody come up and cause murder, take somebody else’s wife, you know, do all this other stuff. That in itself is paganism in the sense that it’s really not causing a good status of our lives.

Many churches in PNG would be happy to see the end of traditional culture. Another pastor told Sebastian Haraha from the museum that he wanted to get rid of his village’s haus tambaran.

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: The first thing he said was “Burn the men’s house down, the spirit house down, and build a church over it, because that’s an evil place, it’s an evil house.” Our traditional men’s houses, our spirit houses, are just simply like churches. When there were no missionaries here, our people survived from the nature, the environment. They believed in it. Men’s houses were spirit houses, were places where they communicate with the spirits.

Sebastian accuses the pentecostal churches of hypocrisy. He says that they tell villagers to destroy their idols, but collect them themselves. One mission, known as New Tribes, has recently been applying for export licences to take traditional artefacts out of PNG. Sebastian is the government officer in charge of granting those export licences.

REORTER: You’ve seen those applications?

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: Well, yes, and they provide photographs to me.

REPORTER: Of the artefacts?

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: Yes, they send them through emails. I don’t know if they are going to make money out of it or they’re going to look at it, or just decorate their houses.

Here in the east Sepik, it’s money, not religion, that’s bringing the house down. It seems ironic that the process Neil McLeod has begun to preserve these people’s culture involves what appears to be a speeding up of its demise.

NEIL MCLEOD: The people are quite happy for it to go, though. They’re finished with it.

REPORTER: But don’t you see the irony?

NEIL MCLEOD: Absolutely, I see the irony. And I’ve often – I’ve questioned it a lot myself, I really have. It’s all going to go to ruin there. It’s just going to fall down. There’ll be nothing left.

REPORTER: But isn’t that the whole point – that what comes from the earth returns to the earth?

NEIL MCLEOD: I know, and I completely agree that not every house should be preserved. Many places I’ve gone where I haven’t photographed it. The people didn’t wish to be photographed. But the people here are just a little bit different. I think it’s the monetary aspect that they like too. They like receiving the money for it. They’re glad to sell it.

But as the building is dismantled for Neil to take away, one elder questions the deal that’s been struck with the Melbourne gallery owner.

ELDER, (Translation): Mr Neil was promised the contents inside, not outside. If he wants both, we have to come up with a price. Inside, the money is mine. If not, I won’t sell what’s inside and Mr Neil can only have what’s outside.

It’s left to Neil’s art collector friend Harold Gallash to calm things down.

HAROLD GALLASH, (Translation): Before, when we sat down, I heard you all and Neil said he would buy the whole spirit house. He’s not buying half, not just the inside. He’s buying the whole house. Now you’re changing it, saying the outside and inside are different prices. That’s not fair.

ELDER, (Translation): I was at the first meeting and I was there for the second one. There was a lot of talk but I didn’t know what price had been agreed. But you will take it away and you’re going to take away a part of me. You will take me away.

NEIL MCLEOD: Finished? Finished. We’re all happy.

In the end, the original deal prevails – 20,000 kina, around $10,000, buys both the facade and the carvings inside the haus tambaran and it will be left to the elders to decide how the money is divided.

NEIL MCLEOD: We’re all finished now till the next time.

REPORTER: You mean the next time you undergo…

NEIL MCLEOD: The next time I undergo one of these projects, oh, boy, I’ll have some serious thinking to do. This is really – you know – not really. It’s not hard to solve. It’s just wading through it all. Protocol. I respect protocol. This has cost me dearly, this project, it really has. I’ve had to beg and borrow from friends all around Melbourne, you know, selling off beautiful paintings that I had just to acquire the money to come and acquire this place. And, who knows, I’ve got it sitting in a container now and I’m thinking, “Where’s it going? Is it going to go to Melbourne? Is it going to go to America?” I’ve had interest from an organisation in America,

REPORTER: Interest from America? Isn’t that sort of a breach of the agreement?

NEIL MCLEOD: Well, not really. I think the people are interested just that the house is preserved. Where it goes is probably irrelevant. It’s what I can actually afford, too. I’m not a wealthy person, as I said.

REPORTER: But this organisation in America, are they a non-profit organisation too?

NEIL MCLEOD: Well, there are a few organisations that have expressed interest and I don’t know whether they’re profit or non-profit organisations. I think if it was set up and it was a profit-making thing, some more funds might be sent back to the village, royalties or something, as an ongoing thing. That’s the way I worked with –

REPORTER: So it’s not as clear-cut as I believed, that it was definitely not to be sold?

NEIL MCLEOD: My dream is for it to go to my gallery. That’s what I want. And I achieve a lot of my dreams.

ELDERS, (Translation): Is that correct? Is the other deposit done? With this amount, that 17,000 plus the deposit … is that correct? Everybody happy? Anything more to say? Is the money side all OK? All the talk has finished.

Despite the sale of their haus tambaran, many here refuse to believe their culture is dying.

ELDER, (Translation): I will hold on to this custom. I will not let it go. If I do, I will worry. I must hold on to it. If I die, my children will hold on to it. If they die, their children will hold on to it. It will continue. From generation to generation, it will continue. It will stay like that.

NEIL MCLEOD: Go inside and we’ll start wrapping up the stuff.

In addition to purchasing the spirit house, Neil is collecting many other carvings to sell back in Melbourne. But after earlier indicating that he might be forced to sell the haus tambaran and its contents as well, he assures me at the end of our interview he will not.

NEIL MCLEOD: They will all be kept, they won’t be sold, definitely not. The other pieces that I’m buying, some of them may be sold to fund the project. I respect that, absolutely.

REPORTER: So you’re guaranteeing that you…

NEIL MCLEOD: I am guaranteeing that.

REPORTER: What would you feel if you heard that one of the pieces had been sold?

SEBASTIAN HARAHA: I’d be really hurt. I’d be hurt. Because if he want to maintain – help our people, help Papua New Guinea maintain such important cultural building then he needs to keep his word. But if he sells one of the pieces, I will personally be really hurt.

REPORTER: What are you going to do with all this stuff?

NEIL MCLEOD: This will be left to future generations. I’ll gift it to the trust foundation of the gallery where I am so it’s for generations in the future to see this beautiful art. It’s not going to be sold, this. It’s beautiful. Every one. Come and have a look. I appreciate all this beautiful work you do. Some pieces will go to my house, just a few pieces, so I can remember.

Bioethics is new challenge for Catholic Church

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Bioethics is new challenge for Catholic Church)

By Biwa Kwan from PROJECTeye

PROJECT EYE: more youth coverage of WYD

American medical graduate and Catholic Priest, Father Joseph Tham, spoke at a workshop run by Christian missionary organisation, Regnum Christi over the weekend themed 'Witness'.


He claimed the growing antagonism between religion and science in our increasingly secular based society does not bode well for ethical dilemmas prompted by new scientific breakthroughs.

“When a technology is hypothetical it is not debated too much but once it becomes feasible it then becomes a question for scientists and something to monitor.”

“Because of secularisation, the Church is having less and less say on these debates.”

“What we are seeing is that there is a religious voice in the public square, between faith and reason – whether religious people or religious views should be private, or at the place in the public square.”

Challenges posed in the past by the debate over the ethics of using contraception, conscientious objection over abortion and the hotly debated issue of euthanasia have resurfaced with the most recent issue of infanticide.

“Infanticide in more than fifty years will be coming to forefront,” said Fr Tham.

The ideas were drawn from Fr Tham's PhD thesis on bioethics.

This process has seen a weakening in the hardline stance of the Church on issues like contraception that has conceded a victory to moral relativism.

“What has happened in the last few years is a creation of a new type of morality amongst theologians that negated the existence of objective knowledge forms…There is no objective truth about ideas.”

A culture of death pervades the current state of bioethics. The nihilistic mentality towards bioethics and the financial politics behind choosing the bio-ethics solution is dangerous, said Father Joseph Tham.

The trend for moral nihilism can be explained historically by a 'domino effect' diagram, according to Fr Tham. The casual acceptance that the end justifies the means needs to be reconsidered.

“That value of human life, the death of one person does not justify saving the life of another. In this way euthanasia can lead to infanticide.

“What is so scary is that this is not one person but many thinking about infanticide and accepting it. Many bioethicists think this way.”

Fr Tham called for a process of renewal and reconciliation in the Catholic Church to re-engage in the bioethical debate.

“They're [Catholics] not attending wider secular circle. We don't have a voice in secular society because we don't seem certain,” he said.

“Catholic thinkers have to engage the secular world.”

ProjectEye is a content partner for SBS providing critical news coverage of WYD08 from a youth perspective.

Hurricane Dean gains strength

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Hurricane Dean gains strength)

Hurricane Dean is gathering strength as it leaves behind Jamaica's battered shores and heads for the Cayman Islands and Mexico.


The category four storm saw winds of up to 240km/h tear across the island, uprooting trees and tearing roofs off houses, as torrential rain caused flooding and mudslides.

VIDEO: Dean bears down

Thousands of Jamaicans took refuge in emergency shelters, while many more braved out the extreme weather behind the battened-down hatches of their homes.

There have been no initial details of any casualties, but looting and power cuts have been reported across the region.

'Shrieking wind'

"It's very, very loud, the wind is roaring and shrieking," charity worker Rhian Holder told the BBC, as the storm closed in.

"The trees are breaking, you're hearing branches snapping, you're hearing thuds, things falling, you're not sure what it is."

"The sea has dumped debris onto the roads," said Portland parish Mayor Bobbie Montague.

Jamaica's government declared a month-long state of emergency, boosting security forces' powers, as the eye of the storm passed close to the country’s south coast.

All of the island's emergency services workers have been ordered to report for work ahead of a major clear-up operation.

'National emergency'

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called on all political parties to forget about national elections on August 27 and "put all differences aside as a national emergency is on us."

It is feared the hurricane will increase in intensity over the waters of the Caribbean Sea, before crashing into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Belize early on Tuesday.

Dean has already left a trail of destruction across the eastern Caribbean, killing at least eight people in Haiti, Martinique and the Dominican Republic.

There are serious concerns for the safety of a group of 17 Spanish divers who refused to evacuate the Pedro Cays sandbank, 80km south of Jamaica, which was directly in the hurricane’s path.

The hurricane forced the space shuttle Endeavour to cut short its mission to the International Space Station.

Tourists evacuated

A number of cruise ships have had to change course to avoid the worst of the extreme weather.

For Jamaicans, the storm has revived bitter memories of Hurricane Ivan, which devastated the island, killing 14 people, in 2004.

Many holidaymakers fled the popular tourist destination before its airports were closed on Saturday.

Some 90,000 tourists have been moved from Cancun and the 'Mayan Riviera' before Dean makes landfall there later.

Texan governor Rick Perry has ordered the evacuation of elderly people living in the Rio Grande Valley region in case the storm hits the state in the coming days.

UN seeks bigger role in Iraq

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on UN seeks bigger role in Iraq)

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who co-chaired the meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, outlined plans for a modest hike in the world body's presence but cautioned that although security has been improving in Iraq, "much more needs to be done.



"There was an emphasis by many speakers on the key UN role in helping to promote national reconciliation," Mr Ban says during a joint press conference with Mr Maliki.

‘Don’t ignore Iraq’

"There was clear agreement that the international community cannot turn away from or ignore Iraq," he adds.

The world body has been under strong pressure from Washington to adopt a higher profile in Iraq, despite continuing violence more than four years after US-led troops invaded the country and ousted the regime of the late Saddam Hussein.

On Friday, US Assistant Secretary of State for international organisation affairs Kristen Silverberg said Washington "wants to see more UN officials on the ground in Baghdad".

But while Mr Ban is committed to increasing the world body's role in Iraq, he faces resistance from his staff, many of whom are still traumatised by the August 19, 2003 truck bombing of the Baghdad UN mission, which killed 22 people including special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

‘Security of staff paramount’

"I think that the security situation in Iraq is difficult but improving and certainly, the security of UN personnel will be a very high priority for all of the forces there, the multinational forces," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says.

She says there was "a long discussion about the new (Security Council) resolution 1770".

Resolution 1770, adopted last month, extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) by one year and urged it to "advise, support and assist" the Iraqi government on a wide range of issues.

The UN was assigned the task of helping Baghdad promote national reconciliation and dialogue with its neighbours on issues of border security, humanitarian aid and the return of the estimated 4.5 million Iraqi refugees.

International effort

Currently there are 95 UN international staffers in the country – 65 in Baghdad and 30 in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil – in addition to several hundred international security personnel.

Some 235 UN-affiliated staffers also work out of Jordan and Kuwait.

"I am considering enhancing the present UN team in Iraq," Mr Ban says.

"We have staff in Baghdad, we may increase staff in Arbil (Iraq's Kurdish capital), and we will possibly establish an office in Basra."

‘Regional dialogue’

He also offered UN help in improving Baghdad's cooperation with its neighbours, proposing to set up a "small Baghdad-based 'support office' for regional dialogue" following further consultations with Iraq and its neighbours at the end of October.

Mr Ban also stressed the plight of some 4.5 million Iraqi refugees "remains a matter of serious concern".

Mr Maliki meanwhile claimed the security situation in his country "has improved" but stressed the need for national reconciliation which he said "would require a lot of time".

US economy growing at record pace

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on US economy growing at record pace)

However a surge in new claims for jobless benefits showed the US labour market is softening.


The Commerce Department said gross domestic product, which measures the total output of goods and services within US borders, expanded at a 4.9 per cent annual rate in the third quarter, the same as it estimated a month ago and the strongest since the third quarter of 2003.

The effects of the subprime mortgage crisis and the housing slump worsened during the quarter – and continue to cut into the outlook for growth.

In a midmorning news conference, President George W Bush said the economy remained fundamentally strong but also said he was willing to consider all options to give growth a boost.

A separate report from the Conference Board, which showed its index of leading indicators weakening sharply for a second straight month in November, underlined the speed of the slowdown. Seven of the private-sector research group's 10 measures of economic activity decreased from October.

The Labor Department said initial claims for jobless benefits rose 12,000 last week to 346,000 and the four-week moving average of claims – a more reliable gauge of labour market conditions – hit its highest in more than two years.

Higher exports and increased inventory-building accounted for the pickup in third-quarter growth from the second quarter's 3.8 per cent pace, but many economists forecast that fourth-quarter expansion will slow to one per cent or less.

Stock prices rose modestly in initial trading, reacting to favourable corporate earnings rather than the economic data, but were mixed by late morning. Bond prices were steady to slightly lower as investors largely remained on the sidelines.

Analysts said the economic outlook was darkening.

“All in all, the fourth quarter seems headed for between zero and one per cent growth, and as the credit squeeze tightens its grip, we expect little different in the first quarter,” said economist Nigel Gault of Global Insight Inc in Lexington, Mass.

Economist Kurt Karl of reinsurer Swiss Re in New York said that, based on the economy's current performance, the third-quarter GDP figure seemed “outrageously unrealistic” and that the economy's direction looked increasingly perilous.

“The probability continues to rise for a recession,” Karl said, especially in light of the weakening in the labour market. “It's still hiring, not firing, but now we're getting to the firing point.”

The Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI said in its quarterly report that the housing market troubles will probably cause the manufacturing sector to experience “turbulent times” next year. The nonprofit research group said it expects housing starts to fall 28 per cent in 2008, foreshadowing the worst housing market in the post-World War II period and preventing manufacturing from growing.

The GDP report showed spending on new-home building contracted at a 20.5 per cent rate during the third quarter, the steepest quarterly fall since the start of 1991 when the economy was headed toward a recession.

A price gauge closely watched by the Fed – personal consumption spending excluding food and energy – rose at a revised two per cent rate, well ahead of the 1.4 per cent pace posted in the second quarter.

Helped by a weaker dollar that makes US-made goods cheaper for foreigners, exports rose at a revised 19.1 per cent rate, the strongest since the final quarter of 2003 and more than twice the second quarter's 7.5 per cent rate of increase.

Companies increased their inventories during the third quarter at a $US30.6 billion ($A36 billion) annual rate – slightly less than the $US32.9 billion clip estimated a month ago but five times the $US5.8 billion rate of increase posted in the second quarter.

Separately, the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank said its National Activity Index, declined again in November, though less rapidly than it did in October.

Burma Rebuilds

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Burma Rebuilds)

The Asian Tribal Ministries (ATM) worker, Karenna Laklem, talks about what it was like helping rebuild Burma's Delta region, while distributing aid.


Photo Gallery: Burma Rebuilds

Photo Gallery: Karenna Laklem in the Dateline studio

Have Your Say: Should the international community step up its efforts to persuade Burma to allow in foreign aid?

While foreign aid is gradually flowing into Burma, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has toured the the hardest hit areas to assess the damage. To this day some foreign nations such as the US and Sweden are still not allowed into the country by the ruling military junta.

So far only a handful of international aid agencies are providing relief efforts.

Headed by her father, Pastor Timothy Laklem, the ATM have been working in war zone areas of Burma along the Thai border for 30 years.

In response to the recent cyclone Nargis and the destructive stamp it left upon the Irrawaddy Delta region, ATM will be sending in relief teams to assist with medical needs, food distribution, water purification, and hope.

Furthermore, ATM is one of the very few international organisations which has been given permission by Burmese authorities to enter the region.

Find out more about the Asian Tribal Ministries here.

Burma: How you can help

See also:

* Aid groups ready to test Burma on access

* Australia to monitor its $25m Burma aid

* Burma agrees to allow 'all aid workers'


It is almost a month now since Cyclone Nargis ripped into Burma, with more than 130,000 dead or missing, and counting. We have all watched, of course, disgusted, as the country's military rulers have pussy-footed about opening their borders to international aid. Only yesterday were UNICEF finally allowed in, joining a small team of religious groups already working in the devastated areas. Earlier today, Karenna Laklem, an Australian from a Christian group, Asian Tribal Ministries, flew into Sydney with some remarkable footage from the hardest-hit region, the Irrawaddy delta. And a warning, there are graphic images in Karenna’s material.

GEORGE NEGUS: Karenna, you're looking pretty tired.


GEORGE NEGUS: You've been through a terrible few weeks. You have arrived back here in Australia only this morning and you have seen probably the worst there is to see of what's been happening in Burma, the death and destruction.


GEORGE NEGUS: It's a silly question, I know, but how are you feeling, traumatised, shellshocked or what, having seen what you saw?

KARENNA LAKLEM: It is heartbreaking but it has made me motivated to do everything that I can to help.

GEORGE NEGUS: How long did you spend there on this occasion, this last time?

KARENNA LAKLEM: On this occasion, one week.

GEORGE NEGUS: One week, that was probably enough to see how bad things were.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, definitely.

GEORGE NEGUS: So you are part of this organisation which has been actually working in the area of Burma and Thailand for some time now.


GEORGE NEGUS: So it would appear – and we're going to look at the footage that you have got in a moment – it would appear that you got pretty reasonable access, you were able to move around a lot, whereas international agencies weren't able to.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, we did have access because we've been working there for the last couple of years, and so we have connections with the authorities, they know our work there. And so we have built that relationship of trust between them so we've been able to get in straight away.

GEORGE NEGUS: Even with the generals themselves?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, with the generals themselves.

GEORGE NEGUS: I would like to talk about that, but before we do, why don't we see if we can't take our viewers with you and I on a journey almost like the one you took.


GEORGE NEGUS: Let's start with this footage we've got here. Where are you there?

KARENNA LAKLEM: We're in a town halfway to the port of Labutta, which is where the aid is reaching up to.

GEORGE NEGUS: So this is how far from Rangoon?

KARENNA LAKLEM: About five, six hours drive.

GEORGE NEGUS: So this is centre of the devastation or are you still only on the edge of it?

KARENNA LAKLEM: We're on the edge of it, but the devastation reaches right down from the most southern point right up to Rangoon. The whole area is devastated but this is sort of the middle in between.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, but you were able to get there by road at this point.


GEORGE NEGUS: And this aid being distributed here, where is it from? It looks like I saw US aid on a box.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, these are the packages that the US cargo planes have sent in.

GEORGE NEGUS: But not the US themselves? They have just dropped off the aid.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, they have dropped off the aid.

GEORGE NEGUS: To be given to groups like yours.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, taken by the military trucks to these port towns.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, so this is all done with the authorities' knowledge and approval.


GEORGE NEGUS: But they won't let the Americans themselves distribute it, but you are able to?


GEORGE NEGUS: Is this a normal village or is this a refugee camp?

KARENNA LAKLEM: This is a refugee camp which is halfway between the port town and Rangoon.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right. So how long have these people been without provisions, without any medicines, without anything at all, really?

KARENNA LAKLEM: These people have been in this refugee camp probably for about 1.5 weeks. They're survivors right from the areas that were directly hit.

GEORGE NEGUS: This looks pretty normal, but these people have been packed into this one place where they got shelter.


GEORGE NEGUS: So they're after food, they are after shelter, medicines, everything, in fact?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, everything and not just for short-term but for long-term for at least six months and then after that more as well to help resettle them.

GEORGE NEGUS: They would be looking forward to this food?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, 'cause..

GEORGE NEGUS: Because I would imagine that because of devastation and then the death and all that went with that, the contamination, there was no food around that they could have got for themselves.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yeah, there was nothing. Yes, that lady that I was talking to, she told me about how when the water started to rise in their village, her husband, who was paralysed from the hip down, and her were trapped, but their son, who was fit and strong, saved his parents, taking them to a safe shelter area and then as the water was continuing to rise he kept going out to save different people and bringing them to that shelter, but in the end the water was just too strong and swept him away. But the people that he saved, they all survived.

GEORGE NEGUS: That's a paradox, isn't it. These refugee camps always look a bit cute, don't they? But in fact, these people's homes have been destroyed, I imagine.

KARENNA LAKLEM: The things that they had there, that is all that they have. The mats and the bamboo huts there, that has all been built for them but everything else they've lost.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, so do these people have any idea of what the future holds for them? Are the officials telling them what might happen from this point on?

KARENNA LAKLEM: I think there are plans to resettle after, but this can only happen after the monsoon season. It would be impossible to do this during the monsoon season.

GEORGE NEGUS: No sign of the Burmese military around at any stage of these pictures, at least.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Not these ones, but they have been going around to visit the devastated areas.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right, so this of course is one example. There are probably lots of these sort of camps all over that area.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yep, all over.

GEORGE NEGUS: This is where you are able to pick up a boat?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yeah, this is the port Labutta, this is on mainland, the last town on mainland.

GEORGE NEGUS: And as you say, the only way of getting from this point to where – and we still have no idea how many people have been affected. I mean, 130,000 is today's figure of the number people we think are dead or missing, but we still have no idea beyond this point how many other – what, hundreds of thousands, do you think it might..?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Well, it said that there were over 100,000 missing, so we don't know how many of them have survived.

GEORGE NEGUS: And this was a boat you were able to get to put the aid on board?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, this boat was rented by another organisation that we're working with.

GEORGE NEGUS: Not exactly a giant freighter.

KARENNA LAKLEM: No, but it is it enough to hold 20 to 30 people and aid for one village.

GEORGE NEGUS: Heading off down into the actual estuary, into the actual delta. And there is a sign of things that happened just a few weeks ago. Those things look like they've been there forever, but three weeks ago, four weeks ago, life was quite normal there, wasn't it? So it really did hit them like a bomb, didn't it?

KARENNA LAKLEM: It did – their livelihood – most of this area the livelihood of these people was fishing, and so with their boats gone, their nets gone, that is their source of income and everything is gone.

GEORGE NEGUS: What are we seeing here?

KARENNA LAKLEM: These are the dead bodies that are along the way and this is only half-an-hour from that main port town.

GEORGE NEGUS: So dead animals… Dead humans… And as you said, this water is people's livelihood, so pretty smartly it became contaminated. So people were probably bathing in, washing in, cooking in, the same water that the..

KARENNA LAKLEM: Drinking the water, the kids play in the water.

GEORGE NEGUS: No choice, really, is there? They had either no water at all or drinking from contaminated water which would lead to disease… and so on goes the problem like a horrible snowball. Where are we now?

KARENNA LAKLEM: This is the village that we visited.

GEORGE NEGUS: This is one of the villages in the delta?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, in the delta that can be only reached by boat. And this is the first time they have received aid since the cyclone.

GEORGE NEGUS: I guess what I'm wondering again is, why were your group able to come and do this obviously good work when for three weeks the government, the military government were refusing entry by international agencies? What was the difference between your relationship with them and the international agencies from the UN, etc?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Our group, the three groups we were working with, they're all local. So the Adventist Relief aid group were already there, a lot of their team were caught in the cyclone and so they were there on the ground straightaway and able to help. Because they were locals, of course this gave them access to these areas, and also our mission's organisation Asian Tribal Ministries and the Karen Peace Council – all locals that have been working in this area for the last couple of years.

GEORGE NEGUS: So you said earlier, you had the special relationship with the junta that other people haven't had. This village here, how many people were there, do you know, how many families?

KARENNA LAKLEM: I can't say how many people, but there were 70 houses.

GEORGE NEGUS: So probably something, 300, 400 people. How many now?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Now there are 12, only 12 survivors left.

GEORGE NEGUS: And all of them men, by the look of it?

KARENNA LAKLEM: All of them men except for one woman. No kids, no any other women, they didn't survive.

GEORGE NEGUS: And this, of course, is just one village, just one example, there must be who knows how many others in the area.

KARENNA LAKLEM: That's right, this is only one village and this is the closest one, so you can imagine, for them it is easier to get back to the mainland. They are repairing some of their boats, but for those are deep inside who have nothing, no-one has reached them at all. No-one even knows what it looks like in there.

GEORGE NEGUS: And you talked to the survivors, I suppose, what might have happened to them, what their stories might have been.

KARENNA LAKLEM: We asked them to share about what happened and their situation and how they feel.

GEORGE NEGUS: Were they still shocked or was it easy enough to get them to talk about what happened?

KARENNA LAKLEM: They want to talk but I think they just cannot describe it. They want to talk, but they're shocked. A woman, she just told us how there's only one house left and they all share the same room and there is no mosquito nets, nothing there. The only thing that they eat were crabs and little fish. And she lost her two cousins when the water rose and they got swept away, all the children gone, and the first night she shared with us how the first three nights after the cyclone, you could hear screams of survivors out in the fields and in the water still alive, screaming out for help, but obviously wounded or too weak to be able… injured to be able to get out of it and they were screaming for help, but there's nothing that anyone could do.

GEORGE NEGUS: Yeah, I imagine 26 days later there is not much likelihood of many people surviving out there. So it's really what happens now in that particular part of the delta is a clean-up exercise, isn't it. I should thank you for giving us that footage to show people, but these photographs that you showed me earlier are interesting. These are very, very – they are almost happy snaps with members of the military junta. That man is quite a senior military official, isn't he?


GEORGE NEGUS: Speaking there with one of the Karen leaders, you told me. This is what I think people would find amazing. Because the rest of us have been wondering, what the heck is going on in Burma that they won't let the UN or other aid agencies in, but your religious groups were able to, is it because you did not pose a threat, or what?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yeah, because we're local, we're already in there.

GEORGE NEGUS: And you had locals working with you, you weren't bringing in teams of outsiders from other countries. So what do you think is happening now then, because they do appear to be softening their stance? Today we that six UNICEF people were able to get in – Medecins Sans Frontiers are getting in now, so they are finally waking up to the fact that the world is expecting them to let people in.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, they're starting to let people in because I believe we have been able to help convince them and encourage them that people – the world genuinely wants to help and is not trying to come in and take over and take advantage of the situation.

GEORGE NEGUS: You have got a relationship with them and the rest of us see them as paranoid, we see them as undemocratic, we see them as totally ignoring human rights and the like. Do you think the world maybe has approached the junta in Burma incorrectly and therefore they've not been able to help the way they'd like to because the junta has this attitude towards them that they are there to take over the country?

KARENNA LAKLEM: I believe in this situation, yes. I think that the only way to be able to work together with the government, which is what we have to do – we have to work together with the government.

GEORGE NEGUS: Whether we like them or not.

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, because it's about the people, right now it's not about politics or whatever their government is, it is about helping the people. So the international community should have an attitude of coming alongside them and encouraging them, which will soften their attitude, I think it's a lot to do with relationship. Past relationship between the Burmese Government and international community has not been a positive one. And so you can't just suddenly say, “Well, this day, yesterday, this is what I thought of you, and today this is what I am going to think of you.” You can't do that, it has to have some process of time and gaining of trust to be able to have that sort of relationship. But it will start only when there is encouragement. Encouragement for the sake of helping the people will help to get that started.

GEORGE NEGUS: Browbeating and criticism, endless criticism, you think, is possibly going to have the opposite effect. They're likely to dig their toes in and refuse I believe that – to accept help.

KARENNA LAKLEM: I believe that is the reason they are not accepting help.

GEORGE NEGUS: I will let you go because you're looking tired and deserve a rest. But thank you very much. Lovely meeting you. And you are going back?

KARENNA LAKLEM: Yes, next week.

GEORGE NEGUS: I thought you would say that.

She's only 20, by the way. There are more images from Karenna's journey on our website sbs.com.au/dateline. And yesterday, the generals extended the term of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest by another year.














Parliament approves Fair Work bill

January 12th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 苏州美甲 - (Comments Off on Parliament approves Fair Work bill)

The deal centres on the definition of small business: Labor wanted that to mean fewer than 15 staff while independent Nick Xenophon and Family First\’s Steve Fielding wanted to up it to 20.


Declaring an end to the controversial “Work Choices” laws, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the government had delivered a key element of its 2007 election campaign.

“Today… we have buried Work Choices,” Gillard said.

“We will now move to the area of fair work under Labor\’s Fair Work bill.

“At the end of the transition period we will deliver in full the election promise we took to the Australian people.”

\’Protection and fairness\’ for workers

Gillard paid tribute to the work of senators Xenophon and Fielding in helping to ensure the success of the long-awaited legislation.

“Family First supports the Fair Work Bill as it strengthens protection and fairness for workers and small business,” said Senator Fielding.

In parliament, government leader Joe Ludwing outlined details of the deal with the two senators:

– the government agreed to a two-phase approach to small business and the unfair dismissal provisions of the bill.

– from January 1, 2011 the threshold used to define a small business will be fewer than 15 full-time equivalent employees.

– the number of full-time equivalent employees is to be calculated by averaging the ordinary hours worked by all employees used in the business over the four- week period immediately prior to the employee\’s termination and dividing that by 38, being the ordinary weekly hours.