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Lebanon breaks out in protests as Hezbollah-backed candidate wins PM vote

Pro-Hariri supporters hold rallies on "day of rage", as lawmakers vote to back Hezbollah's candidate for prime minister.


Supporters of Saad Hariri, Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, have held violent demonstrations in protest against Hezbollah's nomination of a candidate for the post of prime minister, a move that brings the group one step closer to controlling the government.

Lawmakers in Beirut voted on Tuesday to back Najib Mikati, the candidate Hezbollah had proposed, as a prime minister. He gained 68 votes to Hariri's 60, putting the Hezbollah-led opposition in a position to form a government.

Demonstrations were called across the country, with thousands gathering in the northern city of Tripoli, and on the highway linking Beirut with the southern port city of Sidon. Hariri, the caretaker prime minister, held a national address after the protests calling for calm and rejecting violence in the public demonstrations.

Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Beirut, reported that the protests were "angry", and that journalists were being targeted by the crowds.

Family

Black Mother Jailed For Sending Kids to 'Wrong' School District

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© unk
An Ohio mother of two was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on three years probation after sending her kids to a school district in which they did not live. Kelly Williams-Bolar was sentenced by Judge Patricia Cosgrove on Tuesday and will begin serving her sentence immediately.

The jury deliberated for seven hours and the courtroom was packed as the sentence was handed down. She was convicted on two counts of tampering with court records after registering her two girls as living with Williams Bolar's father when they actually lived with her. The family lived in the housing projects in Akron, Ohio, and the father's address was in nearby Copley Township.

Additionally, Williams-Bolar's father, Edward L. Williams, was charged with a fourth-degree felony of grand theft, in which he and his daughter are charged with defrauding the school system for two years of educational services for their girls. The court determined that sending their children to the wrong school was worth $30,500 in tuition.

Pumpkin

Huh? Jared Loughner pleads NOT guilty to Arizona shootings

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© EPA
Jared Lee Loughner, Greenbaumed?
Witnesses reported Loughner smiled broadly throughout the hearing, including moment when his lawyer entered plea of not guilty

Jared Loughner, the suspect in the shooting of Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, pleaded not guilty in court, in his first response to the charges.

Silent but displaying the grin that has become his trademark, Loughner made his second appearance in public since the attacks on 8 January at the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona.

He is alleged to have killed six people and injured a further 13, including Giffords, during a deadly shooting rampage at a public meeting at a supermarket car park in Tucson.

Witnesses inside the courtroom reported that Loughner - shackled and dressed in an orange jump suit - smiled broadly throughout the hearing, including the moment when his lawyer entered his plea of not guilty.

Bad Guys

New Zealand: Seal-Attack Duo to be Charged

Baby Seal
© Auckland Zoo
The baby seal being tube-fed liquids at Auckland Zoo after it was brutally beaten and found by a DOC ranger in a west Auckland stream.

The Department of Conservation will lay charges against two men who admitted beating a seal pup with a boat oar and left the bloodied mammal to float down a West Auckland creek.

Two men, a 39-year-old from Massey and a 22-year-old from Henderson, were seen bashing the 1m fur seal at Henderson Creek at around 8pm on Monday night. Witnesses reported the attack to police who yesterday questioned the pair.

The 1-year-old seal's head was swollen on one side and its nose and muzzle bleeding after the attack.

"We're hoping the injuries are fairly superficial. One of our rangers picked it up from police [on Monday night] after they were looking after it at the water's edge," DoC biodiversity programme manager Phil Brown said.

The seal is now being treated at the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine at Auckland Zoo.

Che Guevara

Egypt Simmering as Protests Spread; Regime Takes Down Twitter

Angry Coptic Christians protest
© Press TV
Angry Coptic Christians protest earlier this month in Cairo.
Egypt's protests today appear to be the largest public call for democratic reform and an end to the Mubarak regime for years.

The scope of Egypt's protests today, calling for greater freedom and downfall of strongman President Hosni Mubarak, is unprecedented.

Though tens of thousands took to the streets of Cairo in 2005 calling for democratic reform, today's protests are far beyond the action in the capital. Reporters and activists on the scene in Cairo say there was a spirit of anger and defiance in the crowds and there were protests of varying sizes in at least a half-dozen Egyptian cities.

By late afternoon, thousands of protesters converged in Tahrir Square, not far from the US embassy, the Interior Ministry and the five-star hotels looming over the Nile. Police water cannons and tear gas barrages did little to deter them.

For now, it's hard to imagine the aging Mr. Mubarak and the apparatus of the state being swept from power in the same way that President Ben Ali was chased from Tunis. Egyptian military spending is much higher than in Tunisia and the circle of people who have everything to lose if the system is upended much wider.

Megaphone

Former BBC newscaster Peter Sissons treated as a lunatic for daring to dissent against Global Warming cult

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© RexMailPix
Concerns: Peter Sissons checks a report for accuracy, but says his time at the BBC was categorised by poor leadership and the fact that journalistic mistakes were not punished
Institutionally biased to the Left, politically correct and with a rudderless leadership. This is Peter Sissons' highly critical view of the BBC in his new memoirs, in which he describes his fascinating career over four decades as a television journalist. Here, in the latest part of our serialisation, he reveals how it was heresy at the BBC to question claims about climate change . . .

My time as a news and ­current affairs anchor at the BBC was characterised by weak leadership and poor ­direction from the top, but hand in hand with this went the steady growth of political correctness.

Indeed, it was almost certainly the ­Corporation's unchallengeable PC culture that made strong leadership impossible.

Leadership - one person being in charge, trusting his or her own judgment, taking a decision and telling others what to do - was shied away from in favour of endless meetings of a dozen or more ­people trying to arrive at some sort of consensus.

Laptop

Hackers break into Nicolas Sarkozy's Facebook page and announce his resignation

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The message was posted on Mr Sarkozy's Facebook page and was sent to thousands of 'friends
Hackers have managed to break into the Facebook page of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and post that he would be quitting next year.

The message meant that more than 350,000 'friends' of the head of state would have been sent messages informing them of his apparent resignation.

Many passed the message on to thousands of others, creating a storm of interest into whether the resignation was genuine.

In a misspelled post, Mr Sarkozy is meant to have written: 'Dear Compatriots, given the exceptional circumstances facing our country I have decided not to put myself up for re-election in 2012.'

The post also included a reference to another Facebook page, 'Farewell to Nicolas Sarkozy', which suggested people meet outside Le Fouquet's restaurant in Paris on May 6, 2012, to celebrate his resignation.

Ambulance

Mexican police: Gunmen open fire at soccer game, 7 dead

Mexico shooting
© CNN
A body lies below a sign that reads Live Better in Spanish -- a slogan in Juarez's anti-violence campaign.

A group of heavily armed men opened fire at a soccer match between two local teams in western Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, killing seven people and wounding two others, according to a municipal police spokesman.

The soccer field is at a community center opened four months ago as part of a program to decrease drug violence in a city that has been racked by violence and killings linked to drug cartels. Police said Monday they had not determined a motive for the shooting.

The dead from the shooting Sunday evening were males ranging in age from 19 to 26, police said. At least one was a soccer player -- an image from the scene showed the dead player face down on turf. Above him was a posted sign reading in Spanish, Live Better -- a slogan in Juarez's anti-violence campaign.

Three victims died at the scene, while four others died on the way to area hospitals.

The gunmen -- reportedly traveling in three vehicles -- sprayed the soccer field with about 180 rounds from assault rifles around 6 p.m., just before the game got started, police said.

Info

Thousands of Abortion Opponents Rally in March on Mall

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© unknown
Thousands of bundled-up abortion opponents rallied Monday on the Mall, encouraged by recent federal and state GOP wins and hopeful about proposed measures that would further tighten bans on federal funding for abortions.

The Youth Rally and Mass for Life, hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington, marked the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Annual events tend to focus on mobilizing the young, and Catholic high schools, youth groups and colleges were out in force Monday in Washington.

For the first time, a morning Mass at Verizon Center was expanded to the D.C. Armory, where a parallel event was held. More than 27,000 young people attended the events, which began after dawn and included readings by youths in hooded sweatshirts and jeans, contemporary praise music and dozens of priests hearing confessions in the sports arena's dining area.

The Rev. Mark Ivany of the Catholic Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, who delivered the homily at Verizon Center, compared attendees to activists from previous eras who fought against slavery and for women's right to vote.

"The greatest difference between other civil rights movements and this one is that most of the people affected by Roe v. Wade can't march on Washington," Ivany said. "They can't give great speeches."

The Verizon Center crowd spilled on to downtown streets to join a premarch rally on the Mall about noon. Some signs and buttons were evergreen: "De-fund Planned Parenthood," "I was adopted not aborted" and "I regret my abortion." Others mentioned President Obama, whom the movement hopes will be challenged by recently elected conservatives. "Stop the Obama abortion agenda," a common sign said.

Health

Pakistan begins assault on polio with vaccinations for 32 million children

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© Declan Walsh for the Guardian
Six-year-old Zahid, who was diagnosed with polio last December, pictured at home in Karachi with his uncle, a factory labourer.
Zardari launches emergency drive to safeguard under-fives after virus infection rates in Pakistan rise by 65%

Beset by war against violent extremists, Pakistan is now thrusting itself on to the frontline of a silent battle: the world's final assault on polio.

Asif Ali Zardari, the country's president, is launching an emergency drive to immunise 32 million children under the age of five against polio, aiming to reverse an alarming surge in cases last year.

Under the plan, to be launched , tomorrow armed police and paramilitary soldiers will protect teams of vaccinators in the most dangerous areas, a presidential spokesman said.

Bill Gates, who met Zardari in Washington last week, is funding the effort with a $65m donation through the Gates Foundation.

Pakistan's polio crisis represents one of the last big hurdles in a 23-year campaign run by the World Health Organisation. Doctors say they are on the cusp of eradicating the disease, with infection rates falling elsewhere. In Pakistan, however, the infection rate has risen by 65%, undoing progress made over the last decade.