Cross-posted in orange.
Hamid Karzai says security in Helmand better before British troops arrived
The Guardian; Emma Graham-Harrison
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has questioned whether western troops were “fighting in the wrong place” during their decade-long mission in Afghanistan, saying security was better in southern Helmand province before the arrival of British forces.
Speaking exclusively to the Guardian and ITN in London, Karzai said he was unclear if western forces were leaving Afghanistan because they felt they had achieved the aim of making their own countries more secure by tackling international terror groups – or because they had realised the mission was mistaken.
“They feel fulfilled with regard to the objective of fighting terrorism and weakening al-Qaida, or they feel that they were fighting in the wrong place in the first place, so they should discontinue doing that and leave,” Karzai said in an interview ahead of trilateral talks with David Cameron and the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari.
Bold. Very bold.
Rio Carnival goes to dogs at canine street party
Yahoo News, AP; Jenny Birchfield
The crowd at the Blocao Carnival street party Sunday was a decidedly mixed one. Roughly half the revelers were humans, the other half dogs, though the canine contingent was unquestionably the better dressed of the two.
Several hundred revelers of both species turned out for the 11th edition of the Blocao, the most animal friendly of the nearly 500 “blocos,” or raucous, heavy-drinking street parties that stop traffic during Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival festivities.
Pet owners in flip flops and cutoff shorts and T-shirts paraded down Copacabana beach with packs of pooches sporting smart neckties, pink tutus, jester hats, dashing tuxes fitted with satin capes, and a myriad of other get-ups for four-legged partiers.
‘Blood Must Flow’: Searching for the Perpetrators of a WWII Massacre
Der Spiegel; Charles Hawley
“Today, blood must flow.” The sentence is said to have been uttered by Heinz Barth, a junior officer in the SS division “Reich,” which was stationed in France in the summer of 1944. A group of some 150 soldiers from the division were on the road to the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane when Barth allegedly spoke the words. Just hours later, the village lay in smoking ruins, its population massacred by the Nazi troops.
Now, seven decades later, the sentence — and whether it can be proven that Barth indeed said it — has become a key element into an ongoing German investigation into the events of June 10, 1944, one of the most horrific slaughters perpetrated by the Nazis in World War II. This week, investigators from the public prosecutor’s office in Dortmund travelled to Oradour-sur-Glane as part of this search for evidence. Should they ultimately be successful, a handful of aging Germans could finally be brought to justice for a crime that has never been adequately atoned for.
“As a state prosecutor, one of the things that I must prove is that the perpetrators knew that murders were taking place,” Andreas Brendel, head of the central Nazi war crimes investigation unit in Dortmund, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “Barth’s statement means that members of the unit knew what was going to happen on that day. That was one of the main things that encouraged me to reopen the investigation.”
French warplanes blast Islamist targets in Mali
Mail & Guardian; SAPA-AFP
Fighter jets, refuelling and reconnaissance planes took part in the “major” overnight operation in the Tessalit area north of Kidal, military spokesperson Colonel Thierry Burkhard told AFP in Paris.
Kidal is the last bastion of radicals who occupied the desert north for months before France’s surprise intervention.
Mali crisis takes toll on Timbuktu economy I do recommend peace, and prefably democracy for economic development.
Puzzling Greek connection revealed in embassy attack
Hürriyet Daily News; wire services
Police investigations have revealed crucial details about the man responsible for the Feb. 1 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, including his illegal entrance into the country from Greece.
The attacker, identified by state officials as former Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) member Ecevit Şanlı, reportedly entered the country illegally through the Greek islands. Şanlı, 30, lived in Germany after entering the country in 2002 with a fake passport, and then applied for asylum in the country. He was initially rejected, but was the decision was overturned after he appealed the decision.
The DHKP/C claimed responsibility for the attack a day after Şanlı detonated heavy explosives by the personnel entrance of the U.S. embassy, citing American policies in Syria, Egypt and Libya, according to Turkey’s state television. He was buried on the same day in his hometown Ordu, with a group of 50 people accompanying his family.
Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri has said that by calling off the protest, the people have allowed the constitution and democracy to succeed in the country.
He further stated that martial law would have been imposed in the country if the sit-in had not been called off.
Speaking to the press in Lahore, after a Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) council meeting, Qadri said that the council had given him a mandate of the movement’s decisions.
On the occasion, when speaking about participating in the elections, he said that impartial people will conduct surveys.
China to host peace talks to defuse Kachin crisis in Myanmar
South China Morning Post; AFP
Myanmar’s government and ethnic Kachin rebels said on Sunday that they would hold talks in China this week after some of the worst fighting in the country in years.
The two sides will attend an “emergency meeting” in the Chinese border town of Ruili on Monday to seek a breakthrough in the bloody conflict, Khun Okker, a spokesman for the United Nationalities Federal Council, said on Sunday.
“China arranged it,” he said. “They might want to give their views to both the KIA (Kachin Independence Army) and the Myanmar government.”
But Okker said the rebels “have not had much time to prepare” and the problem was unlikely to be resolved without talks at further meetings including the whole UNFC, formed by about a dozen ethnic groups.
Almost a dozen rounds of talks between Myanmar’s reformist government and the Kachin since the conflict flared up again in 2011 have failed to make progress.
Bihar MLA beaten up, wife molested on train
HindustanTimes; Avinash Kumar, Mukesh Kr Mishra,
BJP MLA from Agiaon, Shivesh Kumar, his wife and their six-month old baby were seriosuly injured in an alleged incident of molestation and assault by a bunch of railway employees in an AC-2 coach of Danapur-Howrah express. As per the complaint, the incident happened on Friday night, when Kumar, son of former union minister Muni Lal, boarded the train at Patna Junction to attend a family function. He had reserved two berths for the purpose. When the train reached Rajendra Nagar, around 17-18 people boarded the train.
“Two berths opposite ours were booked in the name of an MP. They were vacant. This group of people sat there and started vulgar talk. My wife protested but they did not stop. She complained to the TTE on duty Jitendra Singh. He said, all are railway staff and assured us there will no problem,” said Shivesh over phone from Howrah to HT.
When the train left the next station, Patna Saheb, the trouble makers took our liquor bottles and started drinking. The MLA opposed this and was beaten up for it.
India also has started the fast-track verdicts.
Compare & contrast to the non-punishment in Saudi Arabia from last night’s diary.
Unreliable sources may be taking intelligence agencies for a ride
Times of India; TNN; Josy Joseph
A series of dramatic intelligence inputs by various agencies from along the India-Pakistan border has raised troubling questions if untrustworthy sources are feeding fantastic stories for a payment.
According to at least two sources in the security establishment, the Intelligence Bureau and the Military Intelligence, in the third week of January, filed similar narratives about the January 8 beheading of Lance Naik Hemraj. The strikingly similar reports, sources said, came from their humint ( human intelligence).
A senior official who has been involved in intelligence for a few decades said they suspect that both the agencies were fed by the same source. “This is not an isolated incident. We have been seeing a pattern,” he said, citing the instance of a much publicized report last year about five terrorists coming to Mumbai for attacks. The photos released to the public turned out to be that of Lahore traders.
Sydney Morning Herald: Nicky Phillips
A phone bid followed a few hours later and the Cullens became the owners of the largest and most complete Lindt collection, 37 images.
While the pictures, many of which are held by state libraries, helped to build Lindt’s international career, the individuals in the photographs remained unnamed and unknown.
”That’s always been an interest to us – who are these people?” said Mr Cullen, 82, who gave the series to the Grafton Regional Gallery eight years ago. ”I thought they deserved some dignity and recognition.”
The Cullens, along with historians, local elders and, more recently, a journalist from the ABC, had a difficult task ahead of them. Their only clues to the subject’s identities were a few English names – King Charley, King Harry of Swan Creek – inscribed on breastplates in several pictures, and a pencil inscription – Mary-Ann of Ulmarra – on the back of another Lindt photograph held by the NSW State Library.
But Dr Kate Allen, executive director of science and public affairs at WCRF, said: “These results are a real concern because they show that a significant proportion of people don’t realise that there’s a lot they can do to reduce their risk of cancer.
“By eating healthily, being physically active and keeping to a healthy weight, we estimate that about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented.
“Everyone has a role to play in preventing cancer but governments and health professionals are key to raising awareness and making it easier for individuals to change their lifestyle habits.”
The Union for International Cancer Control, a non-governmental organisation working across 155 countries, estimates that 1.5 million lives could be saved worldwide if urgent action is taken to raise awareness about cancer.
Otherwise, it says, there could be six million premature cancer deaths by 2025.
The UICC and the WCRF want governments and the public to dispel four important myths and misconceptions about cancer, namely that cancer is just a health issue, that it is a disease of the wealthy, developed countries, that it is a death sentence and that getting cancer is down to fate.
Who Deserves Health Care? UT lawmakers will decide whose lives matter
City Weekly: Stephen Dark
Utah is at a crossroads. The expansion of Medicaid could help shoulder the burdens of not only those who struggle with substance abuse and mental-health issues, but also the working poor, people who have declared medical bankruptcy and those juggling multiple part-time jobs without insurance. If expansion is adopted, non-disabled individuals without children who earn less than $14,856 annually could get Medicaid for the first time. That amount is 133 percent of the 2012 Federal Poverty Level, the salary baseline from where the feds measure poverty.
But, argue lawmakers, expanding Medicaid could have the potential to bankrupt the state.
At the heart of all those conversations is one issue: Is access to health care a right? State Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, a former nurse, argues that the U.S. Congress failed to address that issue with the Affordable Care Act, and while acknowledging she doesnât know if it is a right or not, she wishes Utah âwould have that discussion. The problem is theyâre tough questions, there are difficult emotions wrapped up in them. Itâs peopleâs lives, for goodnessâ sake.â
Hovercraft meant to protect Flaming Gorge Dam from attack
Salt Lake Tribune; Marissa Lang
The Daggett County Sheriffâs Office unveiled its new hovercraft Saturday by offering rides across the frozen gorge to ice fishermen and curious passersby. The vessel, a 24-foot amphibious vehicle equipped to move seamlessly over land, water and ice, has been a long time coming.
In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigations coordinated an anti-terrorism drill at Flaming Gorge Dam, a dam at the very edge of the state, where Utah meets Wyoming and Colorado. As authorities tried to evacuate people from the top of the dam, ice, snow and waves prevented boats from reaching the structure from the lake.
Red flags went up immediately: What if the dam were attacked in the dead of winter?
The answer, officials decided, was to buy an all-terrain vehicle â a hovercraft.
Daggett County purchased the vessel using $100,000 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and funds from the Bureau of Reclamation. Itâs supposed to be used to patrol the dam, already secured by 24-hour police presence, security cameras and motion detectors, but Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen said the hovercraft will probably be used more to rescue ice fishermen who fall through the ice or get stranded in spots unreachable by land or water. Jorgensen said anyone who falls into the water this time of year is not likely to survive more than five minutes.
Comments are hilarious.
“Y’know it’s games like these that make all the concussions and murder suicides worth it.” — The NFL, definitely
– Julian McCullough (@julezmac) February 4, 2013