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Thu, 17 Jun 2021
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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


Green Light

Egypt's Military Eyes Constitutional Referendum

Egypt protest
© Reuters/Asmaa Waguih
Egypt's new military rulers have signalled their intention to share power with civilians and amend the constitution rapidly by popular referendum, opposition activists and a British minister said on Monday.

Wael Ghonim, a Google executive detained then released for his part in the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, said members of the military council had told him a plebiscite would be held on constitutional amendments in two months.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik had told him that he would reshuffle his cabinet in the coming week to bring opposition figures into the line-up appointed by Mubarak last month.

Earlier, the ruling Higher Military Council urged workers to return to their jobs and help restart an economy damaged by the uprising which ended Mubarak's 30-year rule but also sparked a growing wave of strikes.

In a televised address three days after Mubarak was forced to step down and hand power to the armed forces, a military spokesman appealed for national unity.

In "Communique No. 5" read out on state television, the spokesman said: "Noble Egyptians see that these strikes, at this delicate time, lead to negative results." It added that work stoppages were harming security and economic production.

Arrow Down

Housing Crash Is Hitting Cities Once Thought to Be Stable

home for sale
© New York Times
Few believed the housing market here would ever collapse. Now they wonder if it will ever stop slumping.

The rolling real estate crash that ravaged Florida and the Southwest is delivering a new wave of distress to communities once thought to be immune - economically diversified cities where the boom was relatively restrained.

In the last year, home prices in Seattle had a bigger decline than in Las Vegas. Minneapolis dropped more than Miami, and Atlanta fared worse than Phoenix.

The bubble markets, where builders, buyers and banks ran wild, began falling first, economists say, so they are close to the end of the cycle and in some cases on their way back up. Nearly everyone else still has another season of pain.

"When I go out and talk to people around town, they say, 'Wow, I thought we were going to have a 12 percent correction and call it a day,' " said Stan Humphries, chief economist for the housing site Zillow, which is based in Seattle. "But this thing just keeps on going."

Seattle is down about 31 percent from its mid-2007 peak and, according to Zillow's calculations, still has as much as 10 percent to fall.

Mr. Humphries estimates the rest of the country will drop a further 5 and 7 percent as last year's tax credits for home buyers continue to wear off.

Attention

Honduras: Small commercial plane crash kills 14

Image
© Fernando Antonio / The Associated Press
Rescue workers remove bodies Monday from a commercial airplane that crashed in Las Mesitas, Honduras. All 14 passengers were killed.
A small Honduran commercial airliner crashed Monday near the capital, killing all 14 people aboard, including a senior government official and a top union leader, authorities said.

The Central American Airlines plane was flying to the Toncontin international airport in Tegucigalpa when it crashed Monday morning in the town of Las Mesitas, about three miles (five kilometers) south of the airport.

The cause of the crash is being investigated, but there was fog in the area at the time. Tincontin airport is considered dangerous because of its short runway and surrounding hills.

The Let L-410 Turbolet was carrying two pilots and 12 passengers, including Assistant Secretary for Public Works Rodolfo Rovelo, United Workers Federation of Honduras leader Jose Israel Salinas and former Economy Secretary Carlos Chain, said airline manager Felix Pacheco.

"I'm destroyed, in shock, because of what happened," Pacheco said, adding that it was a regularly scheduled daily flight.

The government declared three days of national mourning in honor of the government officials killed.

A pilot survived the crash but died on the way to a hospital, firefighters spokesman Jaime Silva said.

Bizarro Earth

US: Facing the Epidemic of Bullying

A recent video has surfaced that shows a young, school-aged male, being subjected to physical and verbal abuse from fellow students.


Sherlock

US: Report Exposes 'Gray Homicide' Epidemic, Reinforces Need for Funding Autopsies of Nursing Home Deaths, Kentucky Attorney Says

J. Marshall Hughes
© hughesandcoleman.com
J. Marshall Hughes
If legislation passes that would require nursing home deaths to be reported to county coroner offices, those coroners would need proper funding to carry out examinations, Kentucky personal injury attorney J. Marshall Hughes says.

A recently issued report on the state of autopsies in the U.S. highlights the need to require adequate funding for autopsies of Kentucky nursing home deaths, Bowling Green personal injury lawyer J. Marshall Hughes said this week.

"It's not enough to require that nursing home deaths be reported to the proper officials, which is what is currently being proposed in our legislature," Hughes said. "If we are going to do this right in Kentucky, we need to make sure those officials have the proper funding to conduct autopsies that are thorough and complete."

Hughes is a co-founding attorney of Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers, a personal injury law firm that represents Kentucky nursing home abuse and neglect victims and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

He has endorsed a bill currently pending in the Kentucky General Assembly, House Bill 69, which would require a designated staff member at long-term care facilities and hospices to report all deaths to the county coroner within 24 hours. Coroners, in turn, would be required to involve police or prosecutors if they suspect mistreatment played a role in the death.

Currently, state law does not require nursing homes to report most deaths to coroners, and coroners are rarely called, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported last summer in a series of stories that discovered flaws in the system used to investigate nursing home neglect and abuse.

Hughes spoke this week in reaction to an investigative report issued by National Public Radio, PBS Frontline and ProPublica. The report revealed a trend across the country in which "underfunded and understaffed" medical examiner and coroner offices are being forced to forgo autopsies of the elderly.