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Che Guevara

Defectors Undermine Chinese Village Stand

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© Agence France-Presse
Residents of Wukan rally to demand the government take action over illegal land grabs and the death of a local leader while in police custody.
The first cracks have appeared in the resolve of Wukan, the rebel Chinese village that has defied a police siege for five days.

Wukan, about 150 kilometres east of Hong Kong, in Guangdong Province, rose up after the December 11 death of a villager while in police custody.

Local officials said Xue Jinbo, 42, died of heart failure. He was ''suspected'' of leading more than 400 villagers to ''vent their anger'' over a land dispute, the official Xinhua news agency said.

About 30 residents have gone over to the government's side, according to sources in the village, and are trying too persuade others to join them.

The group are offering rice and cooking oil, both increasingly scarce, to villagers who are willing to leave their signatures on a blank document that could be used to show support for the government's actions.

Attention

Egypt: Eight Killed in Unrelenting Cairo Clashes

Eight people have been killed as clashes between troops and protesters in central Cairo spilled over into a second day, Egyptian state television said on Saturday.
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© Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Protesters throw stones at army soldiers as they take cover at the cabinet near Tahrir Square in Cairo December 16, 2011.

It also said that 303 people had been wounded in the unrest in the capital, whose centre has turned into a smoke-filled battleground in some of the most violent clashes since a popular uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak last February.

Egypt's Dar al-Iftah, the body that issues Islamic fatwas (edicts), said one of its senior officials, Emad Effat, was among the dead, state news agency MENA said.

Clashes around government offices and parliament raged on after nightfall on Friday, with protesters throwing petrol bombs and stones at soldiers who used batons and what witnesses said appeared to be electric cattle prods.

The violence has sharpened tensions between the ruling army and its opponents, and clouded a parliamentary vote set to bring Islamists, long repressed by Mubarak, to the verge of power.

Light Saber

U.S. man arrested for attacking fellow customers with lightsaber

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© unknown
We understand that some super-realistic toys can blur the line between what's real and what's pretend, but this man probably should have known better.

A man in Portland, Ore., was arrested for an alleged assault against three people in a local Toys R Us store on Wednesday night. His weapon of choice? A blue lightsaber.

According to Oregon Live, the 33-year-old man started swinging the toy at other customers and someone called 9-1-1 to report the wannabe Jedi. The man walked out to the parking lot, still holding the lightsaber, and continued to swing it at police officers when they attempted to arrest him. The officers tried using a Taser on the man, but it didn't work.

Laptop

European Police Smash Online Child Porn Ring

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© Agence France-Presse/Thomas Coex
A French policeman investigates sensitive content during a hunt for online paedophiles. Police in 22 European countries swooped on 112 suspects for allegedly sharing "the most extreme form" of online videos of children being sexually abused and raped, policing agency Europol said Friday.
Police in 22 European countries swooped on 112 suspects for allegedly sharing "the most extreme form" of online videos of children being sexually abused and raped, policing agency Europol said on Friday.

"So far in 22 countries we have identified 269 suspects with 112 arrests," Europol director Rob Wainwright said at a press conference at the agency's headquarters in The Hague.

"The operation targeted those sharing the most extreme forms of video material, which included babies and toddlers being sexually abused and raped," he said.

"I have no doubt that the number of suspects will increase in time."

Much of the material seized during some of the house searches in the probe, dubbed "Operation Icarus", is now awaiting forensic examination for follow-up investigations, Europol's top official added.

Whistle

US: Case of Accused Army Leaker Carries High Stakes

Bradley Manning
© EPA
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, in an undated file photo.
The U.S. military is making its case for why Army Pfc. Bradley Manning should be court-martialed on charges of endangering national security by stealing and leaking an enormous trove of government secrets.

Manning, 23, was to make his first public appearance Friday at the opening of his pretrial hearing at Fort Meade. The Army post near Washington is, ironically, home to U.S. Cyber Command, the organization whose mission includes protecting computer networks like the one Manning allegedly breached by illegally downloading huge numbers of classified documents in Iraq.

He is suspected of giving the documents to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that last year began publishing the materials.

The hearing was expected to last through the weekend and possibly beyond. Manning's lawyer asserts that the documents' release did little actual harm.

The case has spawned an international movement in support of Manning, who is seen by anti-war activists as a hero who helped expose American mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. To others he is a villain, even a traitor, who betrayed his oath of loyalty by deliberately spilling his government's secrets.

Camera

US: Controversial Air Force Casket Photo Prompts Investigation

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© unknown
This controversial photo has launched an Air Force investigation
The Air Force has launched an investigation into a controversial photo that shows several non-commissioned officers posing with an open casket, in which a fellow airman poses with a noose around his neck and chains over his body.

The Air Force Times received a copy of the photo over email, which includes the caption, "Da Dumpt, Da Dumpt .... Sucks 2 Be U." The casket is similar to those used to transport deceased U.S. soldiers home from the battlefield.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the paper that investigators were mounting an inquiry of the grief the image might cause for families of fallen service members. "We take this matter seriously. [Air Education and Training Command] has initiated a commander directed investigation," Donley said in a statement.

Nuke

Cold shutdown': Japan reactor now stable, PM says

Tokyo - The tsunami-devastated Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has reached a "cold shutdown" and is no longer leaking substantial amounts of radiation, Japan's prime minister said Friday.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's announcement marks a milestone nine months after the March 11 tsunami sent three reactors at the plant into meltdowns in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

"Even if unforeseeable incidents happen, the situation is such that radiation levels on the boundary of the plant can now be maintained at a low level," Noda said at the government's nuclear emergency response meeting.

However, experts noted that the plant remains vulnerable to more problems and will take decades to decommission the plant.

Located 150 miles northeast of Tokyo, the plant was wrecked on March 11 by a huge earthquake and a tsunami that exceeded 45 feet in some areas, which knocked out its cooling systems, triggering meltdowns and radiation leaks.

The crisis displaced some 100,000 people. Officials are to start discussing allowing some residents to return to less contaminated areas. A 12-mile zone around the plant is expected to remain mostly off-limits for years.

Comment: If a person breezed pass the title, they might have got the impression there was only one reactor at the Dai-ichi power plant.
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© Unknown

How much Radiation leaked out Mr. Prime Minister? "Substantial amounts of radiation." Do you have some form of measurement for each type of Radiation that leaked?

How is it possible that "radiation levels on the boundary of the plant can now be maintained at a low level" is it a new technology, hocus-pocus-alakhazam, or are you just blowing smoke Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda?

So far as "unforeseeable incidents" happening, there was an unforeseeable Earthquake/Tsunami. Is it now that, even if a repeat were to happen, that everything will somehow now endure?


People

China - Inside Wukan: The Chinese Village That Fought Back

Wukan Villagers
© Malcom Moore
Thousands of Wukan's residents gathered for a second day in front of a triple-roofed pagoda that serves as the village hall.

For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

The last of Wukan's dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.

Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan's fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.

The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village's land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.

Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 "mass incidents" a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.

Christmas Tree

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

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© dbaldinger
Washington - Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans - nearly 1 in 2 - have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending.

X

US: Vermont Fraternity Asks Members Who They Want to Rape

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© Flickr/Nigsby
The University of Vermont has temporarily suspended the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon after one their members sent out a survey asking his brothers who they would like to rape.

Sigma Phi Epsilon - or SigEp - was already on probation for alcohol abuses, but this latest incident prompted university authorities to contact the national fraternity and the police.

While the survey began with ordinary questions like major and favorite memories, the final question shocked students and members of the UVM administration.

"If I could rape someone, who would it be?" the survey asked.

According to student blogs, the survey was leaked when one SigEp brother mistakenly emailed it to a teaching assistant. One blog alleged that same student had been accused of rape, WCAX reported.