...where failure is documented
Julian Assange 'open' to talks to end extradition row
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been staying for six months. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Thursday night the "door is open" for talks to break the deadlock over his campaign to avoid extradition to Sweden.
He made a rare public appearance on a balcony at the Ecuadorean embassy in London to mark the six-month anniversary of his sudden arrival at the building. He has since been granted political asylum by Ecuador's government but has remained inside the embassy. The Australian will be arrested if he steps outside as he has broken his bail conditions. He thanked his supporters, who stood in the street outside, some carrying lighted candles.
WikiLeaks to release files on 'every country' in 2013: Assange
20 December 2012
Supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange await his speech from the window of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on December 20, 2012.
AFP - WikiLeaks will release one million documents next year affecting every country in the world, founder Julian Assange said in a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday.
In a "Christmas message" marking six months since he sought asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over claims of rape and sexual assault, Assange also said the door was open to negotiations.
Assange said to cheers from around 100 supporters that despite spending half of 2012 holed up in the building it had been a "huge year" in which his anti-secrecy website had released documents about Syria and other topics. "Next year will be equally busy. WikiLeaks has already over one million documents being prepared to be released, documents that affect every country in the world -- every country in this world," he said to applause.
Commuters stranded as Sudan economy nears 'collapse'
18 December 2012
A bus is loaded up in al-Andalus area in the outskirts of the capital of Khartoum in January 2011.
AFP - Khartoum's decaying fleet of public buses is leaving commuters stranded as surging inflation and a sinking Sudanese currency drive maintenance costs out of control, bus operators say.
The transport woes are the latest burden inflicted upon Sudanese by an economy which one think-tank said is on the brink of collapse after the loss of South Sudanese oil last year.
Hanan Jadien said commuting to her downtown office by bus has become a struggle since August, when the trip used to take about 30 minutes. "Now I have to wait in the terminal between half an hour and two hours. In total, I need four hours to come and go from work," said Jadien, who also has to take care of her family. "The transport problem is getting worse every day," said another bus passenger, Hassan Mohammed Omer.
Report unmasks tax evasion among Pakistan leaders
12 December 2012
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (right) chairs a cabinet meeting in Islamabad in a photograph released by the Pakistani Press Information Department on February 9, 2011.
AFP - More than 60 percent of Pakistan's cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers paid no tax last year, according to a report released Wednesday on tax evasion among the country's political leaders.
The study entitled "Representation without Taxation" by investigative journalist Umar Cheema takes Pakistan's elected leaders to task for paying little or no tax despite an estimated average net wealth of $882,000.
"The problem starts at the top. Those who make revenue policies, run the government and collect taxes, have not been able to set good examples for others," said the report, likely to increase pressure on Pakistan to implement tax reform.
Row after Putin compares Lenin body to holy relics
11 December 2012
The embalmed body of Russian Bolshevik revolutionary leader and Soviet Union founder Vladimir Ilyich Lenin lies in the mausoleum bearing his name in Moscow's Red Square in 1991.
AFP - Russia President Vladimir Putin came under criticism from rights activists on Tuesday after he compared Vladimir Lenin's embalmed corpse to the holy relics of Christian saints.
In a Monday speech before a group of supporters, Putin spoke against the idea of removing Lenin's mausoleum from Red Square in Moscow where his corpse is housed. "Many say the mausoleum contradicts traditions. What contradicts traditions? Go to the Kiev Caves Monastery (in Ukraine) or look at (Russia's) Pskov monastery or Mount Athos (in Greece). There are relics of saints there. You can see everything there," Putin said.
Russian activist in intensive care after stabbing
25 January 2013
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
In this undated handout photo provided Friday Jan. 25, 2013, by the Just Russia party showing Lyudmila Garifulina, a municipal legislator who has been campaigning to protect a forest just outside Moscow from being felled to give way to a construction project. (AP Photo/www.spravedlivo.ru)
MOSCOW (AP) -- A 63-year-old municipal legislator who opposed a construction project that would destroy a forest just outside Moscow was in intensive care Friday after being stabbed repeatedly by an unidentified assailant.
The stabbing of Lyudmila Garifulina is the latest in a string of attacks on environmental defenders who have stood in the way of powerful business interests. Few of these crimes have been solved.
Garifulina, a member of the legislature in the town of Staraya Kupavna, was attacked outside her apartment building late Wednesday. She was stabbed four times with a knife. Garifulina's Just Russia party said she was in a grave condition after surgery and added that she suffered a concussion and other injuries in a previous attack in November, again when an unidentified man beat her outside her home. No one has been apprehended for that attack either. Police said it has opened a probe into the stabbing of Garifulina but wouldn't comment on possible motives.
Honduras can't pay its bills, neglects services
24 January 2013
By ALBERTO ARCE
In this Jan. 17, 2013 photo, a public school teacher joins others to demand months of unpaid salaries outside Congress in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
(AP Photo/Alberto Arce)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- Street surveillance cameras in one of the world's most dangerous cities were turned off last week because Honduras' government hasn't paid millions of dollars it owes. The operator that runs them is now threatening to suspend police radio service as well.
Teachers have been demonstrating almost every day because they haven't been paid in six months, while doctors complain about the shortage of essential medicines, gauze, needles and latex gloves.
This Central American country has been on the brink of bankruptcy for months, as lawmakers put off passing a budget necessary to pay for basic government services. Honduras is also grappling with $5 billion in foreign debt, a figure equivalent to last year's entire government budget. "There are definitely patients who haven't been able to get better because of this problem," said Dr. Lilian Discua, a pediatrician. "An epileptic who doesn't take his medicine will have a crisis. This is happening."
Amsterdam-Brussels high-speed rail link is halted
21 January 2013
By RAF CASERT and MIKE CORDER
A Fyra high-speed train, shunted by a locomotive, right, is seen at a railroad siding in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
BRUSSELS (AP) -- It was supposed to be the perfect 21st century link between two bustling European capitals. Instead, the new high-speed Fyra line connecting Amsterdam and Brussels turned into the missing link.
One month after the maiden trip, the Italian-built trains have been taken out of service. Technical problems dogged the sleek new trains - which can go 250 kph (155 mph) - almost since the day they came into service Dec. 9. That has repeatedly caused delays between the Dutch and Belgian capitals, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) apart, instead of slashing more than an hour off the regular service the Fyra trains replaced.
On Monday, the Belgian state rail company NMBS suspended its (EURO)63 million ($84 million) contract for three trains and gave Italy's AnsaldoBreda three months to fix the problems or face legal action for damages.
Ivory sales must stop or Africa's elephants could soon be extinct, says Jane Goodall
by John Vidal
Sunday 16 December 2012
Elephants in the Masai Maara reserve in Kenya. Photograph: Anup Shah/ Anup Shah/Corbis
Jane Goodall, one of the world's greatest conservationists, has made an impassioned plea for a worldwide ban on the sale of ivory to prevent the extinction of the African elephant.
Her call follows the seizure in Malaysia last week of 24 tonnes of illegal ivory and a report by conservationists warning that the illegal ivory trade now threatens governments as rebel groups use the sale of tusks to fund their wars.
"A massive tragedy is unfolding in some parts of Africa. This is desperately serious, unprecedented," she said. "We believe that Tanzania has lost half its elephants in the last three years. Ugandan military planes have been seen over the Democratic Republic of the Congo shooting elephants from the air. Armed militia are now shooting the elephants."
Sara Reedy, the rape victim accused of lying and jailed by US police, wins $1.5m payout
by Joanna Walters
Saturday 15 December 2012
Sara Reedy, wrongfully arrested and charged with theft, false reporting, has won a $1.5m police settlement. Photograph: Cory Morton For The Observer
Sara Reedy remembers clearly the start of her ordeal, and how surprisingly painful it was to have a gun jammed to her temple. Then her attacker demanded oral sex, saying he would shoot her if she refused. She was shaking, gagging.
"I had images of my family finding me dead," she told the Observer. "I closed my eyes and just tried to get it over with."
Reedy was 19 when the man entered the petrol station near Pittsburgh where she was working to pay her way through college and pulled a gun. He emptied the till of its $606.73 takings, assaulted her and fled into the night. But the detective who interviewed Reedy in hospital didn't believe her, and accused her of stealing the money herself and inventing the story as a cover-up. Although another local woman was attacked not long after in similar fashion, the police didn't join the dots.