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Tue, 26 Sep 2023
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Che Guevara

Iranian protesters call for 'death to dictator'

Iranian protesters gathered for the first time since December 2009

Tehran was convulsed by protests yesterday as thousands of demonstrators, inspired by the success of the uprising in Egypt, took to the streets of the Iranian capital for the first time in more than a year.

Chanting "death to the dictator", the demonstrators filled the streets after opposition groups called for marches in sympathy with the movement in Cairo. Marching towards the central Enghelab, or Revolution, Square, protesters were met with volleys of tear gas, shots from paintball guns and beatings from state security forces, Reuters reported.

The demonstrators, galvanised for the first time since their last major gathering in December 2009, seized upon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's praise for the Egyptian protests, which he said were inspired by Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, to provide a pretext for their own action. After they asked for permission to march in solidarity, the government barred such marches, a position seized upon by the United States as evidence of hypocrisy. Also, phones were cut and the home of a key opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was blockaded.

Light Saber

Florida, USA - Mother shot twice with Taser after she was arrested for leaving baby in car to go to tanning salon

© Unknown
Arrest: Ashley Agerenza, 19, is accused of leaving her seven-month-old daughter in the back of her car while she went to a tanning salon
A woman had to be shot with a Taser twice after she was arrested for leaving her seven-month-old daughter in her car while she went to a tanning salon.

Ashley Agerenza, 19, has been charged with child abuse, resisting arrest and battery of a police officer after an incident outside Extreme Tan and Smoothies in St Petersburg, Florida.

Police said she first took the child inside the salon, but was told she could not leave the baby while she had a tanning session.

She then took the child back out to her car, strapped her into the car seat and turned on the engine, before returning to the salon.

A witness called police after seeing the baby abandoned. The responding officer found the baby had almost pushed herself out of the seat and had been sick all over herself.


The new Gold Rush? Miners head back to California to dig for its forgotten riches

© Unknown
Starting again: R. Dutton, a miner for Sutter Gold, which is opening up Lincoln Mine in California for production as gold prices rise
It's more than 150 years since the first prospectors headed to California in search of an elusive prize - gold.

But now their ghosts are being revived as mining companies seek to reopen the old pits and find the thousands of dollars worth of ore they left behind.

With gold selling at more than $1,300 an ounce, mining has become an attractive business prospect in the state which kicked off the Gold Rush in 1848.

Last year U.S. gold mine production increased for the first time in more than a decade, fuelled mostly by Nevada.

Now the original Gold Rush state, where mining dried up after World War Two due to price controls, is looking to join the fray.

'People say the Mother Lode's mined out. But that's not the case,' David Cochrane, vice-president of Sutter Gold Mining told the New York Times.


Swiss voters throw out gun law reform

Majority of 26 cantons reject move to ban army rifles from homes, which reformers hoped would lower firearms suicide rate

© Peter Klaunzer/EPA
Activists in Switzerland's gun law reform referendum used graphic images in their campaign, for instance this one for the No campaign which says, "Firearms monopoly for criminals? No."
Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to tighten the country's relaxed gun laws.

With final official results yet to be released, a majority in at least 18 of Switzerland's 26 cantons voted against the proposal to ban army rifles from homes and impose new requirements for buying other guns.

The proposal would have ended the Swiss tradition of men keeping their army rifles at home - even after completing their military service. Supporters of the reform argued this would have reduced incidents of domestic violence and Switzerland's high rate of firearms suicide.

"This is an important sign of confidence in our soldiers," said Pius Segmueller, a lawmaker with the Christian People's party and former commander of the Vatican's Swiss Guard.

The government had argued that existing laws were sufficient to ensure some 2.3m weapons in a country of fewer than 8 million people are not misused.


Bono reignites anger over shoot the Boer song

The U2 frontman Bono has sparked anger in South Africa after an interview in which he appeared to suggest support for an anti-apartheid song that includes the line "shoot the Boer".

© Getty Images
Beyonce Knowles and Bono visit the Baphumelele Children's Home in Khayalitsha
The Irish singer reportedly drew comparisons between the song and Irish republican songs, during an interview before a U2 concert in Johannesburg on Sunday night.

He was aware of the furor the song had caused, he reportedly told South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper, but added that protest songs were legitimate parts of political activism.

"I was a kid and I'd sing songs I remember my uncles singing ... rebel songs about the early days of the Irish Republican Army," he told the newspaper. "We sang this and it's fair to say it's folk music ... as this was the struggle of some people that sang it over some time."

The controversial South African song includes a line "shoot the Boer" or "shoot the farmer", and prompted sustained debate after the murder of Eugene Terreblanche, a white separatist leader allegedly hacked to death on his farm by two black employees.

Julius Malema, the head of the youth wing of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, was reprimanded last year for singing the song, which was an anti-apartheid anthem in the 1980s.

Che Guevara

Will revolution spread to Pakistan?

© Shakil Adil/AP
Police use batons to disperse protesters at Karachi airport in Pakistan

As Hosni Mubarak reluctantly retired last Friday night, another revolt was reaching its climax in Pakistan. For four days the workers of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the national carrier, had been on strike. Some 25,000 passengers were stranded, including me.

I was stuck in Quetta, a tense, paranoid city near the Afghan border where the security forces are engaged in a ruthless cat-and-mouse game with nationalist rebels; it is also a supposed refuge for the one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar. As the skies emptied of planes, guests from my hotel fled Quetta by car, crossing the sprawling deserts, or chancing the rickety 22-hour train ride to Karachi. I stayed put.

On TV the picture flipped from ecstatic crowds surging through Tahrir Square in Cairo, to Pakistani riot police baton-charging PIA workers at Karachi airport. The strike was over planned reforms. PIA is a bloated, sick elephant. It has 400 employees per aircraft - about three times the norm - and last year it asked the government to pay $1.7bn (£1.06bn) in debt. But the unions objected to plans to rationalise the workforce, and demanded that managing director Aijaz Haroon resign. And so on Friday night, under immense pressure, he went, resigning at the same time as Mubarak fell in Egypt.


One million UK children 'attacked or abused'

child abuse
© unknown

As many as a million older school children have been attacked, abused or neglected, the first comprehensive questioning of 11 to 17-year-olds has discovered.

Almost one in five respondents said they had been subjected to severe maltreatment, with one in 20 complaining of sexual abuse. The NSPCC, which published the results of its survey yesterday, said much child abuse remained unreported.

It claimed that official figures which showed 46,000 children on child protection registers across the UK vastly under-represented the scale of the problem. "Physical violence, neglect and forced sex are still harming the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, and most of it remains unreported," said Andrew Flanagan, the chief executive of the NSPCC. "Successive governments have taken steps to improve child protection but local authorities are under strain, providing child protection plans for only a small proportion of cases. The UK still faces a problem in tackling child abuse.


Woman with learning difficulties could be forcibly sterilised

A woman with learning difficulties could be forcibly sterilised after she gives birth this week to stop her becoming pregnant again.

© Healthwise Inc.
Methods of how female sterilization is performed.
The secretive Court of Protection will rule on the woman's case on Tuesday, in a rare open hearing scheduled because of the overwhelming "public interest" in understanding the case.

She is due to give birth by cesarean section on Wednesday and could undergo an operation to sterilise her at the same time, if the court agrees.

Disability campaigners described the prospect of such a "drastic" step as "quite wrong".

The woman will be represented by the official solicitor, a government lawyer who represents those who cannot instruct their own legal team because they lack capacity.

The patient's local NHS trust and council have made an application to the Court of Protection to decide whether she lacks the capacity to make decisions about contraception for herself - and if so, whether she should be sterilized by means of "tubal ligation".

Arrow Down

Good-Bye California

© Unknown
How The 'Progressives' Ruined The State

The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.

During this unscientific experiment, three times a week I rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern Fresno County . I also drove my car over to the coast to work, on various routes through towns like San Joaquin , Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have been driving, shopping, and touring by intent the rather segregated and impoverished areas of Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier, and Selma . My own farmhouse is now in an area of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below federal testing norms in math and English.

Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming - to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California , for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

Che Guevara

Popular uprising in Yemen continues

© Unknown
Yemeni protesters in Sanaa, January 27
As the uprising in Yemen enters its eighth day, four pro-democracy protesters have been killed in the southern port of Aden and scores were reported injured across the country.

On Thursday, riot police gunfire killed four protesters and injured 17 others in Aden, where around 3,000 people held pro-democracy rallies.

In capital Sanaa, 40 people were injured when some of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's loyalists, some of whom armed with guns, attacked a crowd of protesters.

Saleh has described the pro-democracy protesters that demand his ouster as "elements of a coup."

Meanwhile, the government has planned a million-man counter rally across the country in a show of support for the president.