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Kremlin 'bans critical ballerina from TV'

Anastasia Volochkova
© Agence France-Presse
Russian ballerina Anastasia Volochkova poses earlier this month at the Moscow premiere of ballet film Black Swan. The scandal-prone Russian ballerina accuses the Kremlin of pulling two television shows about her after she voiced sympathy for jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and quit the ruling party.
A scandal-prone Russian ballerina on Monday accused the Kremlin of pulling two television shows about her after she voiced sympathy for jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and quit the ruling party.

Anastasia Volochkova accused the Kremlin's chief ideologue Vladislav Surkov of ordering two talk shows to be taken off the air on Friday, linking this to an obscenity-strewn interview she gave about Khodorkovsky.

"My director told me that the Let Them Talk show ... was pulled on the personal order of Vladislav Surkov," the former Bolshoi ballerina wrote on her blog about the state-owned Channel One's highest-rated talk show.

She added that a second discussion show in which she was due to appear Friday, NTVshniki on NTV channel, was also pulled.

Speaking to AFP by telephone from the city of Samara on Monday, Volochkova said that she believed the decision to pull the shows was "revenge" from the ruling United Russia party, which she joined in 2003.

"When I joined the party, I never thought I would have this feeling: it's like I was a member of a gang and if I take a step back, there will be revenge," she said.

She said the Channel One show's host had phoned the channel's director to try to save the show and told her the decision had been taken on a "very high political level."

Attention

Mideast Unrest Spreads

Protests Target Iran, Bahrain, Libya; Egypt Dissolves Parliament, Sets Elections

As Egypt's new military leadership suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and promised fresh elections, demands for similar political reform swept across the Arab world - from Libya to Iran - following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's dramatic moves incorporate many demands issued during the mass demonstrations by doing away with the institutional framework that buttressed Mr. Mubarak's three-decade rule. But the military's new road map for governing Egypt in the short term came down by fiat, without input from the political opposition, raising questions about how deeply the military understands the democratic process and the demands of modern politics.

On Monday, Egypt's ruling military council issued a communique calling on labor leaders to stop strikes and protests to allow a sense of normalcy to return to the country, the Associated Press reported. The communique, read out by a military spokesman on state television, came as thousands of state employees, from ambulance drivers to police and transport workers, protested Monday to demand better pay and conditions. Egypt is in the midst of a growing wave of labor unrest unleashed by the uprising that ousted Mr. Mubarak from the presidency on Friday.

Mr. Mubarak's resignation has also emboldened protesters throughout the Middle East where opposition movements are aggressively calling for political freedom. Security forces and protesters clashed in Yemen and Bahrain on Sunday while thousands of Algerians, defying a ban on protests, flooded a central square in Algiers on Saturday calling for political reform. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank ordered the dismissal of its Cabinet and said it would hold long-delayed parliamentary and presidential elections by September.

Magnify

Why Our Government Would Fear Wikiarguments More than WikiLeaks

truth graphic
© unknown
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." - Thomas Paine

In its landmark ruling on the Pentagon Papers, the US Supreme Court said: "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell."

Our "free press" is clearly abdicating its responsibilities. Worse yet, mainstream media do much more to aid and abet government deception than to expose it. For example, The New York Times and The Washington Post functioned as cheerleaders to deceive the people in America's disastrous, illegal invasion of Iraq. Enter WikiLeaks to take on a job shirked by our "free press".

Our government fears WikiLeaks, not because it poses a national security threat, but because it exposes government deception. Deception is the currency of our political system. If our government couldn't lie to the people, our present system of lobbyists transferring millions from special interests to our so-called "representatives" in return for taxpayer billions would disintegrate.

Democracy requires that the people know the truth. The truth is our government often lies to us. The truth is our government's foreign policies make us less secure (we're making enemies faster than we can kill them). The truth is government deception is used to justify spending trillions on endless, illegal wars and on an endless, bogus "war on terror", which has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of foreigners and tens of thousands of Americans.

Arrow Down

'I was going to do her!' The grubby comments by TSA agents that infuriated one female passenger

It seems some airport security staff are more interested in looking at what lies underneath women's clothes rather than respecting passengers.

Amy Sullivan, senior editor of Time magazine, was at a security checkpoint in Miami Airport on Tuesday when she opted out of passing through a backscatter scanning device - described by experts as a 'virtual strip search'.

When she went through a metal detector instead and was searched by a woman, a male Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official is alleged to have said: 'Hey, I thought she was mine - I was going to do her!'

TSA 1
© thepartyfaithfulbook.com
Upset: Time senior editor Amy Sullivan said she was unhappy with a male security officer's comment of: 'I thought she was mine' at Miami Airport.
Ms Sullivan was annoyed by the incident, in the context of a 'one-woman protest against the machines' that she said she is trying to make.

Controversial backscatter devices have been used in selected airports since last autumn, and have provoked fury from thousands of Americans pushing for a boycott.

Che Guevara

Gaddafi Tells Palestinians: Revolt Against Israel

Gaddafi
© Gallo/Getty
* Libyan leader says refugees should mass on Israel's shores

* 'This is a time of popular revolutions': Gaddafi

* Accuses Western powers of being enemies of Islam


Palestinian refugees should capitalise on the wave of popular revolts in the Middle East by massing peacefully on the borders of Israel until it gives in to their demands, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Sunday.

Gaddafi is respected in many parts of the Arab world for his uncompromising criticism of Israel and Arab leaders who have dealings with the Jewish state, though some people in the region dismiss his initiatives as unrealistic.

He was giving his first major speech since a popular uprising in neighbouring Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign, an event which electrified the Arab world and prompted speculation that other Arab governments could also be toppled.

"Fleets of boats should take Palestinians ... and wait by the Palestinian shores until the problem is resolved," Gaddafi was shown saying on state television. "This is a time of popular revolutions."

"We need to create a problem for the world. This is not a declaration of war. This is a call for peace," he said in a speech given to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohamed, a holy day in the Islamic calendar.

Bad Guys

Tehran Beats Back New Protests

Iran protest
© European Pressphoto Agency
Iranian demonstrators clash with Iranian riot-police during a demonstration in Tehran. The opposition reported that tear gas had been fired near Tehran's University and Azadi Square.
In Year's Biggest Rally, Iranians Seek Spiritual Head's Ouster

Iranian police used tear gas and electric prods to crack down on the country's biggest antigovernment protests in at least a year, as demonstrators buoyed by activism across the Middle East returned to the country's streets by the tens of thousands Monday.

The day of planned antigovernment rallies began largely peacefully, according to witnesses, with protesters marching silently or sitting and chanting. But as demonstrators' ranks swelled, police and antiriot forces lined the streets, ordered shops to shut down and responded at times with force, according to witnesses and opposition websites, in a repeat of the official crackdown that helped snuff out months of spirited opposition rallies a year ago.

By day's end, online videos showed garbage bins on fire, protesters throwing rocks at the police and crowds clashing with motorcycle-mounted members of the pro-regime Basij militia.

Monday's protests come as calls for regime change have led to the popular ousters of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. They mark a broadening from Iranian rallies that drew hundreds of thousands through 2009 and early 2010.

Health

Gulf of Mexico residents: "We're Poisoned. We're Sick."

crew suctioning BP's crude
© Erika Blumenfeld
Vessels of Opportunity crew suctioning BP's crude oil off the oil-soaked marshlands.
Residents who live along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, all the way from Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to well into western Florida, continue to tell me of acute symptoms they attribute to ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals being released from BP's crude oil and the toxic Corexit dispersants used to sink it.

Shirley Tillman from Pass Christian, Mississippi, and former BP Vessels of Opportunity oil cleanup worker wrote me recently:
"You can't even go to the store without seeing sick people! You can hear them talking to people and they think they have the flu or a virus. I saw a girl that works at a local store yesterday that had to leave work because she was so sick! Others, throughout the entire store were hacking & coughing. It's crazy that this has been allowed to happen to all of us!"
Oil continues to wash ashore. That which was already there, usually in the form of tar balls or mats of tar, is being uncovered by the weather.

Four of the fragile barrier islands of Mississippi have had four million pounds of oil removed, thus far. The embattled coastline never gets a break. However, BP cleanup crews, who returned to work the first week of January after an 11-day break, removed another 11,000 pounds of oil from Petit Bois Island Thursday, January 6, and another 3,800 pounds from Horn Island.

"The northerly wind seems to do the uncovering [of the oil]," a cleanup supervisor said. "Southerly winds appear to be covering it up."

Alarm Clock

South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers

Image
© Flickr/brunosan (Creative Commons)
— A new bill under consideration in South Dakota is an "invitation to murder abortion providers," critics say.

A bill under consideration in the Mount Rushmore State would make preventing harm to a fetus a "justifiable homicide" in many cases.

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus - a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state's GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state's legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person "while resisting an attempt to harm" that person's unborn child or the unborn child of that person's spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman's father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion - even if she wanted one.

Heart - Black

UK: Hungry, thirsty, unwashed: NHS treatment of the elderly condemned

Elderly people treated by the NHS were denied even the most basic standards of care, according to a scathing report that reveals a health service rife with ageism.

Patients were left hungry and thirsty, unwashed, in soiled clothes, without adequate pain relief or an emergency call button in reach. Relatives were ignored or forgotten.
A helping hand to the elderly
© MoxieGal/Alamy
The NHS ombudsman's report highlighted 10 cases where elderly patients were not treated with respect.

Investigations of 10 cases in which patients suffered unnecessary pain, indignity and distress while being looked after in hospital or by GPs, exposed a fundamental lack of humanity and compassion. The patients were selected from among 9,000 complaints to the Health Service Ombudsman. Nine of the 10 patients cited in the report died.

The shocking catalogue exposes the gulf between the principles and values laid out in the NHS constitution and the reality of being an older person in the care of the health service today, said the Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham. Her report comes after a decade of investigations that have revealed an NHS riddled with ageist attitudes, in which elderly patients are neglected, poorly treated and marginalised.

Pharoah

King Tut Statues Stolen from Egypt Museum

Image
© Ken Garrett
Missing: Akhenaten holding an offering table.
Sad news was announced about some of the treasures kept at the Egyptian National Museum just after Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt's president.

According to Zahi Hawass, who under Mubarak was recently named minister of antiquities, some 18 objects went missing following a break-in at the museum on Jan. 28, 2011.

"The staff of the database department at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, have given me their report on the inventory of objects at the museum following the break in. Sadly, they have discovered objects are missing from the museum," Hawass wrote in his blog.

The artifacts include a limestone statue of Akhenaten holding an offering table (previously announced to have been under restoration), and two gilded wood statues of King Tutankhamun, one of the boy king being carried by a goddess, the other of the pharaoh harpooning.

"Only the torso and upper limbs of the king are missing from this object," Hawass said, referring to the harpooning statue.

The other artifacts are a statue of Queen Nefertiti making an offering, the sandstone head of an Amarna princess, a stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna, and 11 wooden statuettes plus a heart scarab (a protective amulet for the heart) belonging to Yuya, King Tut's great-grandfather.

Comment: Let us not forget that it was Mubarak's undercover police who were caught stealing and desecrating ancient artifacts belonging to the Egyptian people.

Looters included undercover Egyptian police, hospitals tell Human Rights Watch

Egypt's undercover police behind museum looting, group claims