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sábado, 26 de novembro de 2011

Comissão da Verdade é cortina de fumaça para contornar decisão da Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos

walterfm1 às 14:38

A Comissão da Verdade, ou da meia verdade como já está sendo chamada, representou uma saída à brasileira para criar uma cortina de fumaça voltada a não enfrentar a decisão da Corte Interamericano de Direitos Humanos. A respeito, escrevi o artigo abaixo e que está publicado na revista Carta Capital.
Os fantasmas continuam atentos
Uma ativista espanhola da área de direitos humanos disse, certa vez e numa manifestação na madrilenha Porta do Sol, que fantasmas sempre aparecem quando os órgão do poder e agentes da autoridade pública buscam soluções incompletas ou paliativos para colocar uma pá de cal  sobre os mortos e os desaparecidos das ditaduras.
Todos lembram, em maio passado, do julgamento pelo Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF)  da Argüição de Descumprimento de Preceito Fundamental de registro 153. Uma arguição ajuizada pelo Conselho Federal da OAB e com petição inicial subscrita pelo jurista e professor emérito Fábio Konder Comparato. Por sete votos contra dois, a maioria dos ministros  seguiu o voto de Eros Grau, este com o entendimento de a Lei de Anistia  não afrontar a Constituição da República.
O então ministro Grau decidiu ter a anistia alcançado os crimes de lesa-humanidade num momento em que a sociedade desejava esquecer o passado e reconquistar a democracia. Grau ressaltou tratar-se de anistia bilateral e que a Emenda 26, de convocação da Assembléia Nacional,  balizou os constituintes ao admitir a anistia ampla, geral e irrestrita. Para rematar, Grau concluiu que a  Emenda 26  “constitucionalizou a anistia”.
Pena ter faltado a Grau, de triste passagem pelo STF,  uma leitura mais atenta da Constituição da República, já que a história deturpou e mostrou desconhecer. Os constituintes, sem engessamento, deixaram escrito não poder a anistia premiar os autores de crimes de lesa-humanidade.
Pouco tempo depois dessa maçada suprema, mais especificamente em dezembro de 2010,  a Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos tornou pública a sua decisão no caso Gomes Lund e sobre violações aos direitos humanos durante a chamada Guerrilha do Araguaia.  Essa Corte, é bom recordar,  não admite a autoanistia, caso típico da lei brasileira de 1979,  concebida em plena ditadura militar e com um Legislativo biônico.   No caso Gomes Lund, a Corte  condenou o Estado  brasileiro pela impunidade conferida a violadores de direitos imanentes ao ser humano.
Para a ativista espanhola mencionada, os fantasmas sempre aparecem de surpresa e  para desmontar injustiças em cima de corpos insepultos. O então ministro Jobim, da pasta da Defesa e talvez em razão do peso de uniformes militares que passou a trajar, esqueceu os regramentos legais e os livros.  Jobim  soltou a sua ordem dia e  no sentido de a decisão do STF, sobre a legitimidade da Lei de Anistia,  ser soberana e prevalecer sobre a da Corte Interamericana de Direitos Humanos.
Por evidente, Jobim  não espantou os fantasmas que lembrram que a Constituição do Brasil aceita a jurisdição da Corte interamericana de direitos Humanos: “O Brasil propugnará pela formação de um tribunal internacional dos direitos humanos” (art.7º. dos Atos das Disposições Constitucionais Transitórias).
Jobim errou o tiro. O único caminho para o Brasil não cumprir a decisão da Corte Interamericana seria deixar, por formal denúncia, a Convenção Americana sobre Direitos Humanos, embora a tenho subscrito e com aprovação pelo Congresso. A Convenção tem clareza solar ao estabelecer que “Os Estados-partes na Convenção comprometem-se a cumprir a decisão da Corte em todo caso em que forem partes”.
Com a desvinculação por meio de denúncia, frise-se, o Brasil  poderia ficar fora do alcance da jurisdição da Corte Interamericana e, assim, fazer valer, com relação às graves violações a direitos humanos havidas no período da ditadura militar (144 assassinatos sob tortura e 125 desaparecidos de repartições do Estado), a decisão do STF que foi capitaneada pelo ministro Eros Grau.
Na semana passada, uma  cortina de fumaça  procurou esconder a condenação do Brasil pela Corte Interamericana. Isto ocorreu por meio de uma concorrida cerimônia de promulgação da lei instituidora da Comissão da Verdade, tudo com choros de familiares de antigos presos políticos  e leve ranger de dentes dos chefes militares presentes e assessorados pelo ex-deputado José Genuíno, um ex-guerrilheiro do Araguaia, em novos e poucos solidários panos.  Essa Comissão, a ser integrada por sete membros escolhidos pela presidenta Dilma a vencer R$11.100,00 mensais,  terá dois anos para investigar e identificar violadores de direitos humanos, num arco temporal de 1946 a 1988.
Na verdade, a cerimônia mostrou um Brasil pusilânime, que  teme desagradar os militares e é incapaz de impor um projeto a revogar a lei de anistia ou reconhecer, para propositura de ações criminais, a força da jurisdição internacional em casos de graves violações a direitos naturais da pessoa humana. Uma jurisdição, com relação às graves violações, hierarquicamente superior ao do STF.
No mesmo dia da solenidade, ecoou a advertência de Navi Pillay, alta comissária de defesa dos direitos humanos das Nações Unidas. Navy recomendou a revogação da lei de autoanistia por inaceitável nesta quadra evolutiva. Pelo jeito, um fantasma soprou ao ouvido da alta comissária.


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#CORRUPÇÃO; Ministério das Cidades:Analista relata pressão para adulterar parecer de obra da Copa-2014


Analista diz ter sido pressionado a mudar parecer de obra da Copa


DE BRASÍLIA
Em depoimento ao Ministério Público Federal, o analista técnico do Ministério das Cidades Higor Guerra confirmou que foi pressionado a adulterar seu parecer em um projeto de transporte, do Ministério das Cidades, para a Copa de 2014.
Guerra atribui a pressão à gerente de projetos do ministério, Cristina Soja, e à diretora de Mobilidade Urbana, Luiza Vianna. O documento afirma, no entanto, que ele "não sabe dizer sobre de quem partiu a ordem para o procedimento adotado por Luiza e Cristina, de adulteração dos autos do processo".
Em conversa com a Folha, Guerra não quis responder se em algum momento ouviu falar que a ordem teria partido do ministro Mário Negromonte (Cidades). "Tudo o que tenho a esclarecer está no depoimento. Não quero mais exposição. Não tenho o menor envolvimento partidário, sou técnico, pai de família, só quero sossego".
Reportagem publicada pelo jornal "Estado de S. Paulo" revelou que a pasta adulterou parecer de um técnico, permitindo a implantação de um VLT (Veículo Leve Sobre Trilhos) em vez de uma linha rápida de ônibus na cidade de Cuiabá (MT). A mudança elevou em R$ 700 milhões o valor das obras.
Segundo o relato de Guerra, a movimentação teria começado após o governo federal ter tomado a decisão política de alterar o projeto.
A movimentação se intensificou, de acordo com o técnico, depois de o Ministério Público de Mato Grosso solicitar informações ao Ministério das Cidades.
CONVERSAS DESGASTANTES
O servidor declarou que em outubro foi claramente pressionado a mudar sua nota técnica, o que não considerava habitual. "A partir desse dia [6 de outubro], teve quatro dias de desgastantes conversas com Cristina Soja, pois o depoente se recusou a alterar a nota técnica que já tinha produzido".
Ele disse que manteve sua posição "no sentido de que a nota técnica destinava-se a subsidiar uma decisão do governo e não poderia ser retirada, pois isso seria um procedimento irregular.
Guerrra aponta que " o cronograma apresentado pelo Estado para a conclusão da obra do VLT era falho, pois previa várias fases sendo realizadas ao mesmo tempo de forma incorreta, a exemplo da obtenção de licenciamento ambiental ao menso tempo em que se fazia a licitação".
O analista disse que descobriu a adulteração em novembro, "com a extração de sua nota técnica e a inserção de outra com a mesma numeração" e que em seguida decidiu pedir transferência do setor em que trabalhava.
O Ministério das Cidades negou que haja irregularidades no projeto, que ainda nem foi licitado, e abriu sindicância para apurar se os servidores agiram ilegalmente no processo de alteração do modal de Cuiabá.


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24/11/2011 - 18:0

MPF vai investigar fraude no Ministério das Cidades

Pasta alterou o projeto de infraestrutura de Cuiabá para a Copa de 2014, mesmo elevando em 700 milhões de reais o custo das obras

Luciana Marques
O ministro das Cidades, Mário Negromonte O ministro das Cidades, Mário Negromonte (Antonio Cruz/ABr)
O Ministério Público Federal no Distrito Federal (MPF/DF) instaurou nesta quinta-feira investigação cível para apurar fraude ocorrida em procedimento administrativo do Ministério das Cidades. Reportagem do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo informa que o ministério alterou o projeto de infraestrutura de Cuiabá (MT) para a Copa de 2014, elevando em 700 milhões de reais o custo das obras, que já estavam orçadas em 1,2 bilhão de reais. A mudança foi feita com o aval do chefe de gabinete do ministro das Cidades, Mário Negromonte.
A procuradoria quer apurar a prática de improbidade administrativa por parte dos gestores do Ministério das Cidades. O aumento dos custos das obras aprovado pela pasta será analisado pela Procuradoria da República em Mato Grosso, que já investigava o procedimento.
Fraude - O jornal O Estado de S. Paulo revelou que a diretora de Mobilidade Urbana do ministério, Luiza Viana, fraudou o parecer técnico que negava ao governo do Mato Grosso a possibilidade de alterar o projeto inicial, construindo um Veículo Leve Sobre Trilhos (VLT) em vez de uma linha rápida de ônibus. Tudo foi feito com o aval do chefe de gabinete de Negromonte, Cássio Peixoto. A partir de então, o ministério passou a respaldar o projeto.

O acerto para a mudança no projeto foi feito diretamente entre o governo de Mato Grosso e o Palácio do Planalto. Para isso, o estado utilizou-se, justamente, do parecer fraudado. O documento original, assinado pelo analista Higor Guerra, desautorizava a mudança tendo em vista problemas de custo, prazos e falta de estudos que comparassem as duas modalidades de transporte. Antes de adulterar o documento, Luiza chegou a pedir a Guerra que fizesse outro parecer. O analista não só se negou, como pediu demissão da pasta pouco depois.
Resposta - Em nota, o Ministério das Cidades disse que quem estabelece as prioridades dos projetos é o governo do estado ou o governo municipal, respeitando as diretrizes traçadas pelo programa do governo federal. Segundo a pasta, houve discussão dos prós e contras das obras em Cuiabá.
“Qualquer outra análise ou nota técnica que tenha sido produzida dentro dessa dinâmica ao longo do tempo pertence a um momento anterior à conclusão da análise que seguiu o trâmite processual legal”, diz o texto. “A discussão e o aperfeiçoamento de propostas são uma constante na apresentação dos resultados de governo”.


Fraude no Ministério das Cidades encarece obra da Copa

Por AE
O Ministério das Cidades, com aval do ministro Mário Negromonte, aprovou uma fraude para respaldar tecnicamente um acordo político que mudou o projeto de infraestrutura da Copa do Mundo de 2014 em Cuiabá (MT). Documento forjado pela diretora de Mobilidade Urbana da pasta, com autorização do chefe de gabinete do ministro, Cássio Peixoto, adulterou o parecer técnico que vetava a mudança do projeto do governo de Mato Grosso de trocar a implantação de uma linha rápida de ônibus (BRT) pela construção de um Veículo Leve Sobre Trilhos (VLT).
Com a fraude, o Ministério das Cidades passou a respaldar a obra e seu custo subiu para R$ 1,2 bilhão, R$ 700 milhões a mais do que o projeto original. A mudança para o novo projeto foi publicada no dia 9 de novembro na nova Matriz de Responsabilidades da Copa do Mundo.
Para tanto, a equipe do ministro operou para derrubar o estudo interno de 16 páginas que alertava para os problemas de custo, dos prazos e da falta de estudos comparativos sobre as duas mobilidades de transporte.
O novo projeto de Cuiabá foi acertado pelo governo de Mato Grosso com o Palácio do Planalto. A estratégia para cumpri-lo foi inserir no processo documento a favor da proposta de R$ 1,2 bilhão. Numa tentativa de esconder a manobra, o "parecer técnico" favorável ficou com o mesmo número de páginas do parecer contrário e a mesma numeração oficial (nota 123/2011), e foi inserido a partir da folha 139 do processo, a página em que começava a primeira análise.
Resposta
Em nota enviada ontem à reportagem, o Ministério das Cidades não respondeu por que existem duas notas técnicas de número 123/2011 sobre o projeto de Cuiabá para a Copa do Mundo. Afirmou apenas que há um parecer com esse número, assinado pela diretoria e gerência de Mobilidade Urbana da pasta, "concordando com a defesa técnica do Estado e aprovando a mudança na matriz de responsabilidade apresentada pelo governo do Estado".
A nota, porém, admitiu que houve divergência interna por parte dos técnicos. "Seguindo o rito processual da administração pública, os técnicos envolvidos no trabalho discutiram, analisaram e reavaliaram a pertinência ou não do novo modelo de transporte proposto pelo governo do Estado, tendo manifestado opinião divergente ao parecer final, opinião essa que foi revisada e refutada tecnicamente no momento da conclusão da análise". As informações são do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo.
Copyright © 2011 Agência Estado. Todos os direitos reservados.

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Colombian Rebels Kill 4 Hostages





BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian FARC rebels executed four members of the security forces during a botched mission to free them from a decade as hostages, the most violent act by the group since troops killed its leader Alfonso Cano this month.
Reuters
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The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which has a policy of killing hostages if troops approach their camps, shot three of the captives in the head and the fourth in the back, President Juan Manuel Santos said.
The bodies were found in chains, he said.
"These heroes of Colombia sacrificed their lives trying to bring peace to Colombia," Santos said. "This is another demonstration of the FARC's cruelty ... It's an atrocious crime."
One police sergeant who was also being held hostage by the FARC managed to escape and was found alive by the military on Saturday, Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said.
Latin America's No. 4 oil producer has been wracked by bloodshed from guerrillas and cocaine barons for decades, although the FARC - once a powerful force controlling large parts of Colombia - has been severely weakened.
Santos said on Thursday the Andean nation was nearing the final phase of nearly 50 years of war and that his government would be willing to talk peace if the guerrillas were serious.
Troops launched the operation in southern Caqueta province 45 days ago after a tip that FARC captives were being held in the area, Pinzon told a news conference. The killings of the four hostages happened after a firefight between soldiers and the rebels.
"This is a reality shock," said security analyst Alfredo Rangel. "It shows that despite all the hits they have received in recent years that they are determined to fight the state, they are determined to continue their violent ways."
Bombings and kidnappings have eased sharply as Colombian troops use better intelligence, U.S. training and technology to take the fight to the rebels.
Foreign investment, especially in oil and mining, has surged as the insurgency weakens. But the FARC and other groups pose a threat in rural areas where the state's presence is weak and cocaine trafficking lets the rebels finance operations.
The FARC, considered a terrorist group by European nations and the United States, has lost key commanders in the past four years, including its founder Manuel Marulanda, military leader Mono Jojoy last year and Cano earlier this month.
The new leader Timoleon Jimenez - or "Timochenko" - has vowed to continue the fight against the government.
"What a great Christmas the FARC guerrillas have given the families of the police and military," said Marleny Orjuela, director of Asfamipaz, an association that represents families of kidnapped members of the armed forces.
"Santos has killed our hope, rescuing them when he knows they would be executed."
The FARC, which funds operations with extortion as well as drug trafficking, has held scores of politicians, police officers and soldiers as hostages, including French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt seized in 2002 and three Americans taken a year later.
They were rescued by the military in 2008, when Santos was defence minister.
This was the third group of hostages killed by the FARC.
In 2003, Guillermo Gaviria, governor of Antioquia province, was shot along with an adviser and eight military captives when troops attempted to free them. In 2007, 11 lawmakers were shot when the rebels falsely believed troops entered their camp.
(Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Nelson Bocanegra; Editing by Anthony Boadle, John O'Callaghan and Paul Simao)

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Last survivors of the Holocaust keep memories alive


Jamila Kolonomos: 'I survived the Holocaust because I joined the resistance'
Two remarkable women living hundreds of miles apart were fortunate enough to survive the Holocaust - one became a famous pianist, the other fought with Tito's Partisans.
Jamila Kolonomos leafs slowly through the ageing photographs, her finger tracing the outline of her family members.
"My mother Estef, my father Isaac," she begins, moving through them slowly. "Then my brothers and sisters."
She goes on, naming all 18 of her relatives killed in the Holocaust.
"I was the only one not taken. I didn't even say goodbye to them," she muses, grappling with the memories.
Jamila Kolonomos is one of the few Jews still remaining in Macedonia - a country that lost 98% of its Jewish population, the highest proportion anywhere in the world. I stopped off at her house in Skopje on the way to the city's new Holocaust museum.
Screams At 89 years old, she is one of the few who remembers the deportation of the Macedonian Jews, sent by the occupying Bulgarian forces to Treblinka concentration camp in Poland.
The Macedonian prime minister lights the eternal flame in memory of Jews from Macedonia who were executed at Treblinka concentration camp The Holocaust Memorial centre of Macedonian Jews opened in March 2011
Jamila only survived by hiding in Macedonia and then joining Tito's partisan resistance.
As she casts her mind back, her kindly eyes suddenly narrow and a look of sheer anger fills her elderly face.
"I can't forget the screams as the soldiers arrived," she says, almost shouting. "I still dream about them. And now, when I laugh, something aches in my heart."
As the cold, cramped trains filled with deportees wound their way from the Balkans through Central Europe and up into Poland, they may even have passed another camp on the way - Plaszow, just outside the city of Krakow, since immortalised in the film Schindler's List.
Allowed to live It was there that my grandmother, Natalia Karp, was taken in 1943.
She was a young, beautiful concert pianist from Krakow, trying to escape into the mountains with her sister when she was seized. The two women were sent to Plaszow, destined to be killed.
But the camp commander, Amon Goeth (played in the film by Ralph Fiennes) had one soft spot in an otherwise brutal character - he was a music lover, and the night my grandmother arrived was his birthday.
Natalia Karp circa 1970 Natalia Karp survived and played concerts into her 90s
An order was sent out for the young virtuoso Polish pianist to play at his party.
She told me years later how revolted she was by Goeth, dressed in his white uniform and surrounded by beautiful women.
She had not played for four years whilst in hiding. The commander suddenly turned to her.
"Sit down and play," he barked.
She chose Chopin's Nocturne in C Sharp Minor - a piece full of sadness.
As she ended the last note, she paused. The commander turned.
"She will live", he said.
"Not without my sister," my grandmother ventured. "She, too, will survive," Goeth proclaimed.
For 10 months, the two women remained in Plaszow. Then they were moved to Auschwitz Birkenau where, again, they survived.
Courage When the war ended, my grandmother moved to London. There, she continued a successful career and was, fittingly, elected a member of the Chopin Society.
Natalia continued giving concerts into her 90s. I remember watching her walking - unaided - to the grand piano for her recitals, and playing with such grace.

From Our Own Correspondent

  • Broadcast on Saturdays at 11:30 GMT on BBC Radio 4, and weekdays on BBC World Service
She always wore short sleeves so that her Auschwitz number tattooed onto her arm remained visible.
And then in July 2007, at the age of 96, she died suddenly of a heart attack.
One of the most important chapters in European Jewish history had closed, said the rabbi at her funeral, as we listened to her recording of the same Chopin nocturne that had saved her life.
The camps bequeathed to my grandmother a determination to survive, a courage that I will forever admire.
Untold suffering
Until the end, she looked so much younger than she was, always able to recall tiny details from years before.
She travelled and entertained and even drove (badly) into her 90s.

“Start Quote

Each of the survivors... passes on to the next generation the responsibility to remember and inform, and ensure that the stories never die ”
She was strong, she loved life, she was seemingly unbeatable. It was even as though she had chosen when to die suddenly, so as not to fade away through illness.
And so as I sat, looking at the gentle face of the elderly Macedonian Jamila, there was a lot of my grandmother there too.
Both were utterly lucid in their old age, both full of warmth.
One had been spared the horrors of the camp but lost her entire family. The other had been spared death but forced to live through beatings at Plaszow and Auschwitz. Both had endured untold suffering in their own ways.
I will always feel a deep connection to the stories of the survivors - Jamila among them.
With every sentence, every image that she paints, I can see my own grandmother Natalia on her way to the camp, and I can picture her decades on, sitting in her north London flat telling me anecdotes over a bowl of chicken soup.
Each of the survivors, each of those who lived through the agony of the Holocaust, passes on to the next generation the responsibility to remember and inform, and ensure that the stories never die.
Of Jamila, of Natalia, and of millions more.
 How to listen to From Our Own Correspondent:
BBC Radio 4: A 30-minute programme on Saturdays, 1130.
Second 30-minute programme on Thursdays, 1100 (some weeks only).
Listen online or download the podcast


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Panasonic plans to go forth with Android to all of Europe this spring, North America is a definite maybe




Have you been hoping to experience a Panasonic boom up close and personal, but found yourself in the wrong locale? The Japanese electronics giant wants to change all of that by expanding its Android lineup to Europe and North America, according to Nikkei. The company's said to be in talks with a "major telecommunications firm" in Europe to bring several devices to the continent as early as this spring, and is aspiring to eventually make it to North America and other Asian countries. This lines up with last week's rumors that it was seeking out a PR agency to help spread the news when the time's right. Might we expect Panasonic to make a mobile splash at CES or MWC in a major way? It's going to be exhibiting at both, so we'd say there's a pretty good chance.

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Islamic party wins Morocco parliamentary vote



Partial results indicate that Justice and Development Party is poised to win the election for the first time.
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2011 00:56
Abdelillah Benkirane, secretary-general of PJD said his party is 'open to everyone' wanting to form alliances [Reuters]
The Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a moderate Islamic party has taken a resounding victory in Morocco's parliamentary elections, Taib Cherkaoui, the country's interior minister, has announced.
Cherkaoui told a press conference on Saturday that PJD had won 80 seats from 288 seats announced out of the 395 up for grabs in the nationwide vote.
That is nearly double the 45 seats won by Prime Minister Abbas el Fassi's Independence Party which finished second and has headed a five-party coalition government since 2007.
Cherkaoui, whose ministry organised the election, said that complete results, including those of 90 seats reserved for women and youth and the 23 remaining regular seats, will be announced on Sunday
The PJD is expected to ultimately win up to 110 seats.
"We thank the Moroccans who voted for the PJD and we can only be satisfied," PJD secretary general Abdelilah Benkirane told reporters.
Under new rules introduced earlier this year as part of a package of constitutional reforms backed by the king, the prime minister will be drawn from the biggest party in parliament.
The PJD' biggest rivals in Morocco's elections is a coalition of eight pro-government parties led by Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, which has amassed more than 111 seats, but under the new constitution the party with the most seats gets first crack at forming a new government.
Potential partners
The PJD must now find coalition partners, with their natural allies being the "Democratic Bloc," an alliance of the right-of-centre Istiqlal, or Independence Party, the left-of-centre Union of Socialist Progressive Forces and the former communist party, venerable political parties that have been eclipsed by Mezouar's so-called Group of Eight.
Benkirane acknowledged his party would have to tailor its programme to appease prospective coalition partners. The PJD was "open to everyone" when it comes to forming alliances, he said.
"The nub of our programme and of those who will govern with us will have a double axis, democracy and good governance," Benkirane told the France 24 television channel.
PJD plans to push for a tax reform to "spare the state additional borrowings", said Lahcen Daoudi, PJD's deputy leader.
"We want value-added-tax on luxury products, we want to reform the income tax system and introduce taxes on owners of unoccupied property. It should help us boost consumption and create more jobs."

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Phone Hacking Tied to Terrorists




Four people in the Philippines hacked into the accounts of AT&T business customers in the United States and diverted money to a group that financed terrorist attacks across Asia, according to police officials in the Philippines.
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A statement from the Philippines Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, a law enforcement agency, said three men and one woman had been arrested in raids across the capital, Manila, last week.
According to the agency, the men were working with a group called Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda and responsible for the 2002 bombings in Bali, which killed 202 people.
The group has been held responsible for several other terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia, mostly in Indonesia but including the Philippines.
If the new accusation holds up, it would point to a troubling connection between hackers and terrorist cells.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Saturday that it was working with the police in the Philippines on the investigation into the telephone hacking effort, which apparently began as early as 2009.
The suspects remotely gained access to the telephone operating systems of an unspecified number of AT&T clients and used them to call telephone numbers that passed on revenues to the suspects.
AT&T said it reimbursed its customers for the charges. It said in a statement that “its network were neither targeted nor breached by the hackers.”
The company declined to say how many business customers were affected, nor how much it cost AT&T. The Philippines police agency’s statement said the scheme cost $2 million. It is known as a “remote toll fraud” and singles out telephone accounts that are protected by weak passwords.


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Philippines' little people thinking big




Kate McGeown meets some of the people proposing to set up "Dwarf City"
People of small stature in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, have ambitions to build a new community - of small houses - on a greenfield site. It's an unusual idea, but they are completely serious and determined to succeed.
Inspired by the books of JRR Tolkien, the Hobbit House is one of Manila's best-known bars. There are illustrations from the Lord of the Rings on the wall, and you enter through a round wooden door, just as if you were arriving at Bilbo Baggins' house.
But the illusion doesn't stop there - the waiters are all under 4ft (1.2m) tall.
"Hobbit House is very unique - we only recruit little people," says the proud manager, Pidoy Fetalino, 3ft 6in tall, who has been working at the bar for more than 30 years.
While some might question how politically correct it is, the reality is that a job at the Hobbit House is undoubtedly one of the best the staff can get.
The Philippines doesn't provide much, if any, state support, and many jobs have height restrictions, making a market which is already competitive due to high unemployment even tougher.
The waiters say that most of their friends, if they have jobs at all, work in the entertainment industry - as boxers, bit-part actors or even as human cannonballs.
One said his friend was paid half what other employees were paid just because he was short.
Family Unsurprisingly, the little people of Manila want more than this - and they are busy making plans.

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We're going to build houses like big mushrooms and big shoes”
Perry Berry President of the Little People's Association of the Philippines
They have formed a group called the Little People's Association of the Philippines, which meets most Saturday mornings in a ramshackle workshop at the back of a flat owned by the president, Perry Berry.
The most important item on their agenda is a radical proposal - for the entire group to move out of Manila and set up their own community.
A wealthy benefactor has donated a 6,000-square-metre (1.5-acre) piece of uncultivated land near the town of Montalban, and there they want to create a place called "Dwarf City".
Mr Berry has a clear vision of what he wants this community to look like.
"Wow, if you can imagine it," he says. "We're creating a housing project designed for small people and we have to create something unique. We're going to build houses like big mushrooms and big shoes."
Their idea is to construct buildings tailored to their size, to represent certain themes, and they hope they will be able to earn at least part of their income through tourism.
The day after the association meeting, armed with a rudimentary drawing of what this new community might look like, Mr Berry and other association members take me to visit the site.
Little People helping each other up the hill It is a steep climb to access the land where "Dwarf City" may stand one day
They try to go at least twice a month - piling into a hired van and taking a picnic along too.
At the moment, their potential new home is just grass and trees but Mr Berry says it is important for them to get used to the idea of living there, and get to know the locals.
As we climb up to the site, Mr Berry becomes increasingly animated about the future.
"We want a flea market here, and a big chapel over there," he says, pointing his hand into the distance. "We will each design our own home… it's a very fantastic and wonderful place."
His friends are equally enthusiastic. Dheng Bermudez, who is proudly wearing her Small is Beautiful T-shirt, says she wants the community to show that "we're more than people to make fun of".
They talk of living without discrimination, and being able to let their children run around in the fresh air.
"As small people, sometimes other people tease us or make fun of us. Sometimes it hurts, you know," Mr Berry adds.
"It's much better if we're together, because it's just like a family."
Dreams The little people of Manila don't want to confine this new "Dwarf City" just to the 47 families who are current members of the association - they envisage a much bigger settlement.

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We will definitely subject this proposal to study and evaluation”
Wendel Avisado Housing and Urban Development Council
"I believe that a lot of small people in other provinces have an inferiority complex, and don't want to come out," says Mr Berry.
"But if the existence of this community is well-known, I'm pretty sure they will come and join us. So this community will become bigger and bigger."
Mr Berry is looking for outside funding for some of the construction work, and the government says it will consider helping out.
"It's a novel idea - it's really worth looking into," says Wendel Avisado, from the Housing and Urban Development Council.
"This is the first time ever there is a group of Filipinos who are in these circumstances, who would like this kind of assistance from the government. We will definitely subject this proposal to study and evaluation."
One way or another, Mr Berry is determined to make sure his dreams come to fruition.
"One day people will realise that even though we are small, we're thinking big," he says.

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Second Body Identified in Ohio Craigslist Ad Scheme




Published November 26, 2011
| Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio-- A body found in a shallow grave in northeast Ohio was that of a man missing more than a week who answered a deadly Craigslist ad that police say lured victims into a robbery, a medical examiner said Saturday.
Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, was last seen Nov. 13 after driving to Akron for a job he called a "good offer but strange." His family has said it was out of character for him not to be in touch.
Kern died of gunshot wounds to the head, the Summit County Medical Examiner's office said.
Kern answered the same ad for a farmhand that authorities say led to the shooting death of Norfolk, Va., resident David Pauley, 51, in a rural area 90 miles south of Akron. A South Carolina man reported answering the ad but managed to escape after being shot Nov. 6.
The discovery of Kern's body Friday near the Rolling Acres shopping mall in Akron came just a few hours before the sheriff in Noble County in southeastern Ohio announced that another body had been found in a shallow grave there.
Sheriff Steve Hannum is under a judge's gag order and can't comment on the case, but the title of his emailed announcement -- "second body" -- implied the discovery was connected with Pauley's death.
If the two bodies discovered Friday are both linked to Pauley's case, that would bring to three the number of deaths associated with the phony Craigslist ad.
Two people from the Akron area are in custody: a high school student who has been charged with attempted murder and 52-year-old Richard Beasley, who is in jail on unrelated charges.
Beasley's mother has previously told The Associated Press that her son has "a very caring heart" and she prays that reports he is a suspect are not true.
Agents have contacted individuals to check on their well-being, FBI spokesman Harry Trombitas said Friday in an email.
The farm advertised on Craigslist does not exist; the area where the bodies were found in Noble County is property owned by a coal company and often leased to hunters.



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Syria unrest: Arab League drafts economic sanctions




Syrian soldiers attend a group funeral on November 26, 2011 of comrades reportedly killed in an ambush by an armed group in the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs Funerals were held for soldiers killed in an attack in the central province of Homs
Members of the Arab League have drafted a list of economic sanctions to impose on Syria, after a meeting in Cairo.
The proposals include the halting of dealings with the Syrian central bank, the suspension of commercial flights and a travel ban on senior officials.
Arab ministers are to vote on the proposals on Sunday - the latest move to punish Syria for its continuing brutal crackdown on protesters.
Syria's foreign minister has accused the League of meddling in its affairs.
In a letter to the 22-member organisation, Walid al-Muallem said it was seeking to "internationalise" the conflict.
'Humanitarian corridor' More than 3,500 people have died since protests against the Syrian government began in March, the UN estimates.
The League threatened Syria with sanctions earlier this month after President Bashar al-Assad repeatedly failed to implement steps to end the violence, including allowing international observers to enter Syria.
The draft document - drawn up by the Arab League's Social and Economic Committee on Saturday and seen by correspondents - requires the support of two thirds of foreign ministers.
It also includes the freezing of all Syrian assets in Arab countries.
The BBC's Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says the guidelines of the sanctions package had already been set by the foreign ministers, so approval is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Damascus depends on its Arab neighbours for half of its exports and a quarter of its imports, so the sanctions are expected to have some impact.
But our correspondent says Syria can still count on two neighbours - Iraq and Lebanon - not to enforce them fully. Neither country has endorsed the move.
On Saturday, Mr Muallem hit out at the group after it asked the UN to contribute to the proposed observer mission, calling it an invitation "for foreign intervention instead of a call to avoid one".
Soldier burials Meanwhile, France has suggested creating humanitarian corridors to provide food and medicine to civilians cut off by military operations.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the plan fell short of a military intervention but acknowledged that such convoys might need armed protection.
Earlier, Syria buried 22 members of the armed forces, including six elite pilots, killed in various attacks.
Activists say at least 16 civilians were killed on Saturday, most of them in the flashpoint Homs province.
A United Nations human rights panel has expressed alarm at reports it has received of security forces in Syria torturing children.
The Geneva-based UN Committee against Torture says it has received "numerous, consistent and substantiated reports" of widespread abuse in the country.
Reports from Syria are difficult to verify as foreign journalists are unable to move around the country freely.
Graphic of Syria's trade



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A Riot Over a Two Dollar Waffle Iron Is What the Holidays Are All About



We hope you found some great Black Friday deals today, while avoiding situations like this riot over a two dollar waffle maker at Walmart. This is your reward for waking up and standing in line at three in the morning?
Don't get me wrong, waffles are certainly delicious and definitely worth fighting for, but I can't see myself walking away from something like this feeling proud for the human race. Now a two dollar donut maker? You better believe I'd be jumping into that fray with both arms swingin

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#GASTRONOMIA Chocolate Cupcakes with Flaming Strawberries




Call me easily amused, but these little torch-topped cupcakes delight me.  Besides being a cute novelty item for a party, I think they would add a little drama to the end of a romantic meal.  I've been looking for something different to serve for Valentine's dessert, and this is definitely different.  The strawberries are hollowed out and filled with a bit of liquor, then ignited with a match.


For the cake portion, I chose a One Bowl Chocolate Cupcake recipe because 1. it's quick 2. it is easy, and 3. it fits my prerequisite for a light ending on date night.

I should say, a light ending provided you don't eat too many.  Which is really, really easy to do.

The cakes are just sweet enough, and have a light, fluffy crumb - the perfect vehicle for rich chocolate buttercream.

Add just a spoonful of 80 proof or above.

Notes for flaming strawberries:
  • Any alcohol below 80 proof will not ignite well.  I used 80 proof which makes a small blue flame.  Note: some have had trouble getting 80 proof to ignite - lots of people are recommending Bacardi 151 as a fail-safe. 
  • You can add a little sugar to the inside of the strawberry to sweeten things up.  However, the flame seems to last longer without the addition of sugar.
  • Make sure to use a liquor that you like.  Vodka is a good choice if you want very little flavor.
  • Alcohol evaporates, so light the strawberry soon after you spoon the liquor in.  
  • Room temperature alcohol ignites better than refrigerated.
  • Do I have to say it?  Probably not, but my conscience will not let me go without.  Do not attempt to eat a flaming strawberry.  It has a relatively short burn time, lasting about 30 seconds to 1 minute. So, enjoy but be careful.  Use your noodle.


Shaina made a margarita version of this on Babble Food. You can find the link HERE, along with some additional tips on getting the alcohol to ignite.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Flaming Strawberries
 Yield:  About 20 cupcakes
                                                                                       [click to print]
Cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin tin with cupcake papers and set aside.

Sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Add eggs, water, heavy cream, oil and vanilla.  Mix with a hand held mixer until smooth. 
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each half full.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool before frosting.

Frosting:
2 sticks softened butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream together sugar, cocoa and butter; beginning on low speed then increase to high.  Beat until fluffy and lightened in color.  Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Frost cupcakes.

 

Strawberries:
18-24 Strawberries - you'll need as many as you have cupcakes
Vodka, rum, or your choice of liquor 80 proof or higher (use Bacardi 151 for fail-proof results).

Hollow the strawberries carefully.  If you pierce the side of the strawberry accidentally, start with a new one.  Since you'll be setting the liquor aflame, it is important that the strawberry is leak-proof.

Set one strawberry atop each frosted cupcake.  Fill strawberries with liquor just before lighting (see tips).  If you need to light them all at once, (say, for a party) use a turkey baster to quickly fill all the strawberries and a grill lighter in lieu of matches.


http://www.sprinklebakes.com/


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Sexual Assault of Mona Eltahawy Marks Uncertain Times for Egyptian Women


November 26, 2011 by · 
At dawn on Thursday in Cairo, award-winning Egyptian American journalist and feminist Mona Eltahawy tweeted:
Beaten arrested in interior ministry
And then… silence.
After hours of #FreeMona trending on Twitter, Eltahawy emerged from Egyptian state custody with the defiant tweet: “I AM FREE.”
Via tweets, Eltahawy began describing in chilling detail her horrific ordeal with the Egyptian riot police:
5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count of how many hands tried to get into my trousers
Yes sexual assault. I’m so used to saying harassment but those f*uckings assaulted me. #CSF [Central Security Forces]
My left arm and right hand are broken acc to xrays
As the official account solidified in the media, a second story came to light: Another woman journalist, Caroline Sinz of the public television station France 3, had also been sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square by a mob of Egyptian protesters. Footage of the attack was captured on Arabic-language television.
“I was beaten by a group of youngsters and adults who tore my clothes… Some people tried to help me but failed. I was lynched,” Sinz told AFP. “It lasted three quarters of an hour before I was taken out. I thought I was going to die.” What happened to her, she says, “would be considered rape.”
Violent clashes between Egyptian security forces and protesters erupted this past week, stemming from growing dissatisfaction with perceived corruption and abuse of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), Egypt’s transitional military authority.
“SCAF is a continuation of Mubarak. When we got rid of Mubarak, we just chopped the head off the weed, but the regime lives on,” explains Amina, an 24-year-old Egyptian activist (name changed at her request). “We did not fight and die in our Revolution for another military regime, and that’s why we are back in Tahrir.”
Many Egyptian activists endorsed the new uprising, embracing it as the second step in the continuing Egyptian Revolution. However, the sexual assault of Sinz by protesters, not police, mars the righteous image of the revived movement. With the first round of parliamentary elections scheduled for Monday, these attacks heighten the tangible apprehension regarding the outcome of the elections and its effect on the status of women in Egypt.
Women’s rights are undeniably a major challenge facing Egypt today. In 2002, the UNDP and Arab civil society leaders released The Arab Human Development Report, which identified the lack of women’s rights as one of the top three barriers to development in the region. Egyptian women’s literacy rate is under 60 percent, and they make up only 23 percent of the workforce. According to The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, nearly half of Egypt’s women suffer sexual harassment on a daily basis, and all are subject to discriminationatory “personal status” laws dictating the terms of marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. Furthermore, judicial leniency toward domestic violence offenders leaves women vulnerable: An estimated 35 percent of married women experience violence from their partners, and honor killings persist.
With support from Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, women’s rights groups achieved a limited amount of legal gains before Mubarak’s ousting. Female genital cutting, once undergone by over 95 percent of women and girls–one of the highest rates in Africa–was outlawed in 2008, and a 12.4 percent quota of women in Parliament was adopted in 2009. During the post-revolutionary backlash against all-things-Mubarak, however, the gender quota was replaced with the weaker requirement of one woman candidate per party in each district, and long-time women’s rights activists fear that their hard-fought progress will be tainted by its association with the former regime.
Egypt is one of only five Muslim countries in which a majority of citizens support using Sharia law as the sole source of legislation. That opinion is shared by 60 percent of Egyptian women. With such popular support, some secular women’s rights activists fear the democratic victory of Islamic parties who would then impose “separate but equal” laws, in which men and women would be segregated in public spaces. However, such policies may prove extremely unpopular in a country where 88 percent of women believe that they should be allowed to work in any job for which they are qualified. Furthermore, when the Muslim Brotherhood created an official political party in June, 1 in 9 founding members were women, although critics note that the party’s official policy is to entirely exclude women from senior government positions.
On International Women’s Day, when Egyptian women assembled in Tahrir Square to express their desire for equal rights in “The New Egypt,” they were met with fierce sexual harassment and assault. Most Egyptians condemned the violence, but many political parties encouraged participants to eschew a focus on women’s rights in favor of broader human rights in order to prevent further fragmentation in Egyptian society. This notion was vehemently rejected by several women’s rights groups who continue to mobilize, some lobbying to postpone elections to allow women’s groups and their allies greater time to organize.
With crowds still amassing in Tahrir Square, incensed by the death of a protester on Saturday, it is unclear if the demonstrations will continue through the Monday and whether the elections will be held. Either route–the scheduled election or an extended transition–presents its own challenges for women’s rights organizers in Egypt. Delay may give women more time to organize, but it poses the risk of further threats to the security of women protesters such as Eltahawy.

To follow developments in Egypt and to learn more about women’s roles in the uprising, check out some further reading:
The Guardian’s Egyptian Elections: Key Questions Answered
Lucy Emmerson’s “Promise of Arab Spring Failing to Deliver for Middle Eastern Women” – in depth on women in Egypt and Tunisia
Christian Science Monitor reporter Kristen Chick’s “In Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Women Attacked at Rally on International Women’s Day”: full report
Amnesty International’s Statement: “Egypt Admission of Forced ‘Virginity Tests’ Must Lead to Justice”: on the army’s forced virginity tests on women activists, whom it claimed “were not like your daughter or mine”
Mona Eltahawy’s latest: “Egypt’s Naked Blogger is a Bomb Aimed at the Patriarchs in our Minds”: on trail-blazing artist, blogger, and feminist Aliaa Mahdy’s defiance of Egypt’s sexual norms
#MustFollow Egyptian Women on Twitter:



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Jaguar XF "Sportbrake" wagon caught in the wild




Posted Nov 26th 2011 6:02PM


It was confirmed over the summer that Jaguar was working on an XF wagon, and now the spy photogs at KGP have caught it testing. We've been told it's called the XF Sportbrake, and it's hard to pin down the exact lines in back with those bulging light units, but it should make itself right at home in the handsome XF line.

This car will begin the expansion of Jaguar's lower-end offerings as it tries to win over the buyers that have been lining up for Audi and Mercedes wagons. The last time Jaguar had an entry level load-lugger, the unlamented X-Type Estate. The XF Sportbrake, even with the swirlies and disguised taillights, already looks promising, and we know from experience that the 2012 XF sedan is a terrific driver.

Don't get too excited about it, though, because it's not heading Stateside. Jaguar's U.S. VP of communications released this statement:
Today in the news from the UK, Jaguar Cars confirmed the ongoing development and testing of a new Jaguar XF derivative, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake (a sport wagon). No vehicle information is being released at this time. Please be aware, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is not scheduled to come to North America due to significant design changes that would be required to meet U.S. federal regulations.
So there. You can admire it from afar in the attached photo gallery, at least.
Image Credit: KGP Photography

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A small jolt of electricity in the brain can improve math skills for 6 months!




Researchers have discovered that a small jolt of electricity, one that is so small, most patients don't even realize it, can improve a person's math skill. The key is to direct the electricity to pass through the brain's parietal lobe, which is involved in number processing.
What researchers did was teach the participant a new series of symbols (not our common Arabic numerals) that represented numbers. While their brains were being shocked, they tested their ability to organize the numbers. People who had received the electricity were better than people who weren't.
While there's no safe, practical use for these findings at the moment, scientists are excited at the prospect of being able to improve people's abilities in the future. And while people will still need to put an effort behind these skills, they can still help people. In the meantime, please don't lick batteries before your math tests.

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Osborne plans billions in 'credit easing' loans




Help
Chancellor George Osborne will unveil a new government scheme to underwrite up to £20bn of loans to small businesses when he delivers his autumn statement on the economy on Tuesday.
The "credit easing" scheme is intended to prevent the British economy falling back into recession.
The plan sees the government underwrite banks' borrowing, allowing them to borrow more cheaply.
This saving should then be passed on to the firms through lower interest rates.
Carole Walker reports.

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