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Duke of York made private visits to the President of Azerbaijan

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© REX
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his wife Mehriban, on a visit to London in 2009
The Duke of York made private visits to the President of Azerbaijan, whose country is one of the most corrupt in the world, after forging links with him in his role as trade envoy.

The disclosures will add to questions over the Duke's relationships with the leaders of dubious regimes. He visited the Azerbaijan president eight times in five years, with two of the visits described as "entirely private".

The Duke's repeated visits to the state - ranked as one of the most corrupt in the world - were in the face of allegations of the torture of political opponents and rigged elections by the regime of President Ilham Aliyev.

Such has been the regularity of the Duke's visits that local media in Azerbaijan have speculated that he has business links to the oil-rich state, including a golf resort on the Caspian Sea. However, Buckingham Palace has denied this.

As recently as Monday of this week, Amnesty International demanded an end to the torture of activists demanding reforms in Azerbaijan similar to those seen in Tunisia and other parts of the Middle East.

The Duke is referred to on his visits as "the dear guest" and, in June 2009, he chartered a private jet and flew to the country for three days at an estimated cost to taxpayers of £60,000.

HAL9000

European Parliament spends £600,000 on body scanners that have never been used

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© PA
MEPs led the campaign to stop the use of the scanners in the Parliament yet they are in use in 70 airports across Europe, including London Heathrow
The European Parliament spent £600,000 on six body scanners that were never used because MEPs argued it would be an infringement of privacy.

The body scanners, bought in 2005 at a cost of £100,000 each, are "rotting" in the basement of the building in Brussels and have never been used.

When the scanners, which create an image of a person's nude body, were eventually delivered to the Parliament in the autumn of 2005 MEPs objected to them being used in the building on privacy grounds.

Nikki Sinclair, a British independent MEP, said the Parliament tried to sell the machines but failed to do so.

They are now so old that they are considered to be technically out of date and may be scrapped altogether.

Camcorder

BBC staff arrested and tortured in Libya by Gaddafi forces

Journalists subjected to mock execution in ordeal which represents most serious incident against international media

Journalists working for the BBC in Libya have been arrested, tortured and subjected to a mock execution by security forces of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

The shocking account of their experiences, including being held in a cage in a militia barracks while others were tortured around them, was made available to media colleagues in Tripoli after the men had been released and left the country.

At one point during their captivity the men say they had shots fired past their heads as they were led into a barracks.

One of the men was attacked repeatedly with fists, boots, rifle butts, a stick and piece of pipe. He also described trying to help other victims of torture whom they saw, some of whom had had their ribs broken during beatings.


Bad Guys

California, US: Man Burns Ex-Girlfriend's Body as Kids Watch

Moreno Valley - A man killed his former girlfriend and torched her body in front of her six children before fleeing and remained at large Monday, Riverside County authorities said.

Tyrone Levoid Harts, 39, of Riverside is considered armed and dangerous, sheriff's investigator Melissa Nieburger said.

Harts is accused of killing Brandi Marie Morales at her Moreno Valley home.

Deputies called to the scene found her body on a staircase.

She had been set on fire, but four of her younger children had doused the flames before help arrived, they said.

Family members told investigators that Morales, 35, had at least a three-year relationship with Harts, but they recently separated and he had moved out of her home, according to officials.

2 + 2 = 4

Scientology's ugly truths revealed

Scientology calls itself a religion and claims to offer purpose and meaning to its members. Yet for some who worked in the church's militaristic Sea Organization, Scientology provided something different: physical punishment, humiliation, beatings, sleep deprivation, and long and ruinous separation from loved ones.

The stories of 11 former staffers, reported in a St. Petersburg Times special report Sunday, are told with such detail and emotional heft that the church's official denials of abuse ring hollow.

It takes courage to challenge the Church of Scientology, which has long pursued and attempted to destroy its critics. Yet now 15 former Sea Org members have gone on the record with their stories of abuse during years of working at or near the church's top management. Four of those, whose stories were related in the Times' first special report in June, are the highest ranking officials ever to defect from Scientology.

Bad Guys

BP Oil Spill Victims Sickened and Dying, Local Physicians Clueless

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Lisa Nelson of Orange Beach, AL is one of a growing number of people sickened and dying as a result of the BP disaster. Local physicians have no idea how to diagnose or treat patients who have bee exposed to highly toxic crude/dispersant combination. Local, State, and federal agencies continue to cover-up and offer zero assistance.

Very sad; Lisa Nelson passed away today 3.7.11. She was an inspration to all who were fortunate enough to know her and will be dearly missed. God bless her beautiful soul.

Syringe

Drug War warriors at work in the US: Illegal steroid use by cops now epidemic


Eye 2

Shell Oil - The Awful Truth


Vader

GOP rams anti-union bill through Wisconsin Senate




Vader

Wisconsin GOP bypasses Dems, cuts collective bargaining

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© AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, M.P. King
State Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, says 'no' during a vote on the budget repair bill after a meeting of a state Legislature conference committee at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Wednesday evening, March 9, 2011. Senate Republicans used a procedural move on Wednesday to pass the proposal without the Democrats present. Schultz was the lone Republican voting against the bill.

Madison, Wisconsin - The Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, approving an explosive proposal that had rocked the state and unions nationwide after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats.

All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker's "budget-repair bill" - a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall.

The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday separated from the legislation the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, and a special committee of lawmakers from both the Senate and Assembly approved the bill a short time later.