Saturday, June 27, 2009

Amnesty: Iran journalists should be freed

TEHRAN, June 27 (UPI) -- Dozens of journalists
imprisoned in Iran since June 12 are at risk of being tortured in in jail, Amnesty International says.
The group said in a release Friday that it has designated the jailed journalists as prisoners of conscience.
"It is shocking that journalists -- whose job it is to provide information to others -- are being detained, on top of all the other draconian measures the authorities have taken to restrict the free flow of information about what is really happening in Iran," Amnesty's statement said. "Rather than trying to investigate alleged abuses, the only message the authorities are sending is that they are seeking to hide the truth, both from their own citizens and the rest of the world."
Amnesty says dozens of journalists, some who also campaigned for opposition presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been detained for two weeks with their whereabouts mostly unknown.
In one example, Amnesty said around 20 of 25 employees
of the newspaper Kalameh Sabz arrested at their office June 22 and are still being held at an unknown location. Kalameh Sabz is a newspaper established by Mousavi this year. It has not been published since June 14.

Air France body search called off

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 27 (UPI) -- It is unlikely more bodies will be found from the crash of Air France Flight 447, so further searching has been called off, Brazilian officials said.
The country's military announced late Friday it has suspended searches in the Atlantic Ocean where wreckage of from Flight 447 was spotted last week, CNN reported.
Military investigators say they have found 51 of the doomed flight's 228 passengers and have recovered more than 600 parts and components of the aircraft. CNN reported the bodies were given to Brazilian authorities to be identified, while debris from the airplane has been handed over to French aviation officials.
The U.S. broadcaster quoted Brazilian military officials saying ships will stay in the area in a bid to discover the plane's missing flight data recorders.

Anti-immigrant militia faces slay charges

ARIVACA, Ariz., June 27 (UPI) -- Three people described as U.S. border vigilante militia members have been charged with killing a man and his 10-year-old daughter in Arizona, officials say.
Jailed in Pima County, Ariz., on first-degree murder charges are Minutemen American Defense leader Shawna Forde, 41, and two other militia members, Jason E. Bush, 34, and Albert R. Gaxiola, 42. Prosecutors allege they entered the home of a suspected drug dealer, killing him and his daughter while looking for drug money to finance their vigilante operations, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Former militia member Merrill Metzger, Forde's half-brother, told the Times she had developed a plan to rob drug dealers to finance an underground militia set up to use violence against illegal immigrants entering the country from Mexico.
"I had to take an oath, and part of the oath was that I couldn't eat Mexican food," Metzger said. "That's when red flags went up all over for me. That seemed like prejudice."
Another former Minuteman told the newspaper he and Forde went on immigrant "hunting" excursions wearing camouflage and carrying handguns and rifles.
The newspaper said attorneys for the militia members did not respond to calls for comment.

Ulster loyalists destroy arsenals

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, June 27 (UPI) -- Three Ulster loyalist paramilitaries say they are decommissioning their weapons at the behest of an independent Northern Ireland commission.
Two of them, Ulster Volunteer Force and the Red Hand Commando, thought to be responsible for the deaths of almost 1,000 Catholics during "the Troubles," confirmed Friday they had destroyed their arsenals in moves overseen by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, led by General John de Chastelain, The Daily Telegraph reported.
De Chastelain also oversaw the decommissioning of the Irish Republican Army's arsenal of guns, ammunition and explosives four years ago, the newspaper said.
A statement issued by the UDA's leaders said: "The dark days are now behind us and it is time to move on. There is no place for guns and violence in the new society we are building. It is time to work for a better future."
A third loyalist paramilitary, the Ulster
Defense Association, said it has also started to destroy its arsenal, the Telegraph said.

Ahmadinejad faces post-protest troubles

TEHRAN, June 27 (UPI) -- The troubles for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not be over even though street protests have been effectively silenced, analysts say.
With opposition leaders saying they will no longer stage rallies without the permission of the government, the direct threat to Ahmadinejad from bloody civil disturbances appears to have passed. But the president's foes have been emboldened by the Tehran protests and his road to second term may be rough one, The New York Times reported Saturday.
"There has been too much violence to forget about it," said an expatriate Iranian analyst whom the Times did not identify because he has relatives in Iran and is afraid of reprisals against them.
"There are quite a few people sitting on the fence watching to see which way the wind will blow," added Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at St. Andrews University in Scotland.
The newspaper said Ahmadinejad's legitimacy may rest with a third Iranian interest group situated halfway between his camp and that of opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi: Pragmatic military and security figures who have competed with Ahmadinejad but are believed to remain close to his chief backer, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Britain celebrates Armed Forces Day

LONDON , June 27 (UPI) -- Britain celebrated Armed Forces Day Saturday, with thousands of people attending events honoring troops across the country, observers say.
Troops serving in Afghanistan raised flags in a series of events, while around 30,000 residents, veterans and current members of the armed services gathered at an Armed Forces Day event at the historic dockyard in Chatham, Kent, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The newspaper said a parade of 450 veterans and 200 current military personnel, led by the Royal Marines band, was set for Chatham, where the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were said to be in attendance.
Queen Elizabeth, meanwhile, was expected to attend Armed Forces Day events in Edinburgh where she was scheduled to give campaign medals to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards as the regiment's Colonel-in-Chief, the Telegraph said.
Armed Forces Day is a chance for civilians "to register the deep and enduring gratitude that we as a nation have for all those who have served their country," the Queen said.

N. Korea: Will shoot down Japan spy planes

PYONGYANG, North Korea, June 27 (UPI) -- Any Japanese aircraft entering North Korean airspace will be shot down, Pyongyang warned Saturday.
The North Korean military accused Japan this week of conducting spying missions and warned that it would "not tolerate even a bit" of what it calls aerial reconnaissance by Tokyo, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
A report carried by the official Korean Central News Agency said, "The air force of the Korean People's Army will not tolerate even a bit the aerial espionage by the warmongers of the Japanese aggression forces but mercilessly shoot down any plane intruding into the territorial air of the DPRK (North Korea) even 0.001 millimeter."
Pyongyang said a Japanese E-767 passed over Musudan, the site used for North Korea's long-range rocket launch in April, on Thursday, adding that a Japanese surveillance aircraft had also conducted an aerial espionage mission a day earlier.
Yonhap said analysts believe North Korea may be preparing to test launch another long-range missile.