Saturday, 23 August 2014

Iraq conflict: UN warns of possible Amerli 'massacre'

Iraqi security forces and Turkmen Shia fighters hold a position in Amerli (4 August 2014)Amerli has been besieged by Islamic State for two months
The UN has called for action to prevent what it says may be a possible massacre in the northern Iraqi town of Amerli.
Special representative Nickolay Mladenov says he is "seriously alarmed" by reports regarding the conditions in which the town's residents live.
Amerli, under siege by Islamic State (IS) for two months, has no electricity or drinking water, and is running out of food and medical supplies.
IS has seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months.
Since 8 August, the US has carried out 94 air strikes to support Iraqi and Kurdish troops tackling the insurgents.
'Immediate action' needed
The majority of Amerli's residents are Turkmen Shia, seen as apostates by IS.
The town's inhabitants say they have had to organise their own resistance to the militants and no foreign aid has reached the town since the siege began.
Dr Ali Albayati, Amerli resident: "We don't have enough food because the city is under siege...there is no way to leave"
"The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens," Mr Mladenov said in a statement.
"I urge the Iraqi government to do all it can to relieve the siege and to ensure that the residents receive life-saving humanitarian assistance or are evacuated in a dignified manner."
Mr Mladenov's deputy, Gyorgy Busztin, told the BBC that the UN had no contact with IS representatives.
"We are not talking to terrorists and this is a matter of principle," he said.
"There is no way anybody can have any positive effect on these people. We have contacts with moderate Sunnis connected to the... areas which [IS] has overrun."
On Friday, the most influential Shia cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, expressed concern over the plight of Amerli's inhabitants.
UN deputy special representative for Iraq Gyorgy Busztin: "We are not talking to terrorists"
The rise of IS has sparked widespread violence.
  • On Saturday, a suicide bomber blew up a car in central Baghdad, killing at least nine people and injuring several others.
  • In the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, at least 18 people including security personnel were killed by simultaneous car bombs.
  • Another bomb exploded in the Kurdish regional capital Irbil, a rare occurrence in a region that has seen far less violence than elsewhere in Iraq.
  • An attack by suspected Shia militiamen on a Sunni mosque in Iraq's Diyala province killed at least 68 people on Friday.
Firefighters work to extinguish flames at the scene of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk Three bombs exploded in the Kurdish-run city of Kirkuk
Map of Iraq showing Amerli
  • Formed out of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2013, IS first captured Raqqa in eastern Syria
  • By early 2014, it controlled Falluja in western Iraq
  • Has since captured broad swathes of Iraq, seizing the northern city of Mosul in June
  • Fighting has displaced at least 1.2 million Iraqis
  • Pursuing an extreme form of Sunni Islam, IS has persecuted non-Muslims such as Yazidis and Christians, as well as Shia Muslims, whom it regards as heretics
  • In July alone, IS expanded dramatically, recruiting some 6,300 new fighters largely in Raqqa, an activist monitoring group said
'End-of-days' vision
On Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel described IS as an imminent threat to the US.
Gen Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said IS was "an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated".
He said that IS fighters' bases in Syria also had to be attacked.
The Shia-dominated Iraqi government has been trying to secure backing from Sunni groups in its battle against IS jihadists.
Prime Minister designate Haider al-Abadi, a moderate Shia, is trying to form a more inclusive government - following international criticism of outgoing PM Nouri Maliki, who was widely seen as a divisive figure.
The IS campaign has displaced an estimated 1.2 million people in Iraq, many of them minority Christians and Yazidis.
Refugees say the hardline Islamists have demanded that Christians and Yazidis convert to Islam, threatening them with death if they refuse.
Are you in Amerli or the wider region? Have you been affected by the violence in Iraq? If you have any information you wish to share with BBC News, you can email

Iceland volcano: Eruption under ice-cap sparks red alert

Melting ice could trigger bigger eruptions, says geophysicist Dr Ian Stimpson

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Iceland has issued a red alert to aviation after indications of a possible eruption under the country's biggest glacier, the Vattnajokull.
The Icelandic Met Office warned that a small eruption had taken place under the Dyngjujokull ice cap.
Seismic activity is continuing at the Bardarbunga volcano, about 30km away.
Airspace over the site has been closed, but all Icelandic airports currently remain open, authorities say. A Europe-wide alert has also been upgraded.
European air safety agency Eurocontrol said it would produce a forecast of likely ash behaviour every six hours.
Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing ash that severely disrupted air travel.
The red alert is the highest warning on the country's five-point scale.
Flooding threat
The Icelandic Met Office said a team of scientists was flying across the region on Saturday afternoon to monitor seismic activity.
"The eruption is considered a minor event at this point," police said in a statement.
"Because of pressure from the glacier cap, it is uncertain whether the eruption will stay sub-glacial or not."
Warning sign on the road to the Bardarbunga volcano (20 August)On Wednesday several hundred people were evacuated from the volcano area
Eyjafjallajokull eruption (18 April 2010)The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in April 2010 caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War Two
The Met Office later issued an update saying that tremor levels had decreased during the afternoon but that earthquake activity was continuing.
Virgin Atlantic said it had rerouted a flight from London to San Francisco away from the volcano as a precautionary measure.
It said its other flights "continue to operate as normal".
British Airways said it was keeping the situation "under close observation", but that its flights were continuing to operate normally for now.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said there would be no impact on flights unless there was an actual eruption.
Bardarbunga and Dyngjujokull are part of a large volcano system hidden beneath the 500-metre (0.31-mile) thick Vatnajokull glacier in central Iceland.
Authorities have previously warned that any eruption could result in flooding north of the glacier.
On Wednesday, authorities evacuated several hundred people from the area over fears of an eruption.
The region, located more than 300km (190 miles) from the capital Reykjavik, has no permanent residents but sits within a national park popular with tourists.
The move came after geologists reported that about 300 earthquakes had been detected in the area since midnight on Tuesday.
The Eyjafjallajokull eruption in April 2010 caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War Two, with losses estimated at between 1.5bn and 2.5bn euros (£1.3-2.2bn).
Criticism following the strictly enforced shutdown resulted in the CAA relaxing its rules to allow planes to fly in areas with a low density of volcanic ash.

Holocaust survivors condemn Israel's Gaza 'genocide'

A man supporting Israel (L) argues with a protester demonstrating against Israeli action in Gaza during a rally outside of the Holocaust Museum on 10 August 2014 in WashingtonIsrael's actions in Gaza have generated heated debate in parts of the US
More than 300 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and descendants of survivors have issued a public statement condemning Israel's "genocide" of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
The statement was released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and was placed as an advertisement in the New York Times.
It calls for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and Israel to be boycotted.
The signatories expressed alarm at the "colonization of historic Palestine".
It condemns the "racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever pitch".
Advert condemn Hamas in New York TimesThe statement was released as a response to an advertisement criticising Hamas written by Nobel prize-winning author Elie Wiesel and published in many newspapers
"As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine," the statement says.
"We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation.
"Genocide begins with the silence of the world."
The statement goes on to call for an economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel.
Organisers say that the statement was drafted as a response to an advertisement written by Nobel prize-winning author Elie Wiesel and published in many newspapers which accused Hamas of "child sacrifice" and behaving like Nazis.
More than 2,090 Palestinians - mostly civilians - and 67 Israelis have been killed in recent weeks.

10 things we didn't know last week

Woman listening to music while making online purchase
1. The Prince of Wales has an official harpist.
2. Snakes squeeze tree trunks far harder than necessary.
3. Richard III was partial to swan, crane, heron and egret, and drank a bottle of wine a day after becoming king.
4. Classical music is the worst genre to listen to for thrifty online shopping.
5. It used to be believed that until 1903 the Auld Alliance made it possible for French people to claim Scottish nationality and vice-versa, although there's no record of this ever actually happening.
6. Senior technology gurus at the White House don't have to tuck their shirts in.
7. Italy has a national law permitting hunting with bow and arrow.
8. Baby corals and fish can smell the difference between good and decaying reefs.
9. Whether one eats breakfast or not appears to have no impact on losing weight.
10. River turtles chat to each other using at least six different sounds.
Seen a thing? Tell the Magazine on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek
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The graphic selfies from inside the Swiss parliament

Woman taking a selfie
What's going on in Swiss politics? Or, rather, what's coming off? Throughout this cool, damp summer, hot and steamy stories have been emerging from Switzerland's parliament - in the form of some very graphic naked selfies.
First there was a series of selfies from a parliamentary secretary, taken in her office inside parliament.
Were they stolen from her? Leaked to the public by an unscrupulous colleague?
Why no, she posted them on twitter herself - admitting all the while that she was terrified one of her parliamentary co-workers might find out.
Well, since she had 11,000 followers on Twitter that didn't take long, and the pictures did of course find their way into the papers.
There is no disguising the familiar, staid, matronly shape of the parliamentary furniture in the background - although once those pictures reached the media, that was the only shape that was recognisable, since everything in the foreground was so graphic, it had to be pixelated into invisibility.

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The case caused a brief debate in Switzerland - was it permissible to take such pictures at work?
Surely, some argued, taking photos of yourself naked was a private matter? But, quicker than you might a drop a hat, or indeed any other item of clothing, her bosses decided the secretary's behaviour was inappropriate, and she was divested of her job.
But the matter didn't stop there: this week a Swiss member of parliament and city mayor, Geri Muller, has also been found taking selfies.
This is a man who regularly adorns the studios of the political chat shows, he's a darling of the left, he's a man we've all interviewed.
Geri Muller
Now we know far more than any of us wanted to know about him: he has been sending worryingly revealing pictures of himself via WhatsApp to an online friend.
Some of the pictures were taken and sent in his mayor's office, one was even sent from the debating chamber of the Swiss parliament - although we're told reassuringly, the picture was actually taken somewhere more private.
Unfortunately perhaps for Muller his pictures, and the more than suggestive texts that accompanied them, were kept by his female friend even after the relationship cooled.
He wanted them back, she didn't oblige, he called the police, and soon enough the story was all over the papers.
And so a humbled politician appeared at a packed press conference.
Tears in his eyes, voice breaking, he apologised, he told us he was thoroughly ashamed.
We were beginning to feel sorry for him, until he hastened to add that the WhatsApp exchanges hadn't been about sex at all.
Oh no, he and his friend had been having "an intellectual conversation about a book project on erotic fantasies".
At this point a muttered chorus of "Pull the other one" could be heard.
Politicians in trouble
Anthony Weiner
• In September 2006 US Congressman Mark Foley resigned after it was revealed he had sent sexually explicit e-mails to men as young as 16 who were on his staff
• In June 2011 US Congressman Anthony Weiner (pictured) resigned after sending lewd photographs to several women on Twitter
• In July 2013 Weiner's bid for the Democratic nomination in New York's Mayoral election was derailed after it emerged he had been sexting a woman
• Later the same month Louisiana politician Joe Stagni apologised after an image of him in his underwear turned up on the city council's computer - he admitted sending it to a city employee and having an "inappropriate" relationship with her
So what do these cases tell us about Swiss politics?
Are they even more boring than we suspected? Is removing their clothes and taking photographs the only highlight in the everyday tedium of Swiss politicians and their staff?
Interestingly the Swiss media are now engaged in an intense bout of soul-searching about whether #selfiegate should have been reported on at all.
In Switzerland the domain known as the "privatsphaere" is still, to many, sacrosanct.
It means more than the usual definition of the right to privacy. It's a belief that what happens in your home, or outside of work is for you alone, and no-one, not the police, not the social services, and certainly not the media, should have access.
This attachment to personal privacy is at the root of all sorts of aspects of Swiss life, from banking secrecy to the slowness with which Switzerland introduced laws against domestic violence.
Your money, and the way you treat your wife, are - the thinking goes - your business, and no one else's.
In fact what this case suggests to me is that there is still one rule for powerful men, and another for ordinary women.
The parliamentary secretary was suspended from her job, the politician, although temporarily relieved of his mayoral duties, will stay in the national parliament.
"We'll have forgotten about it in a couple of weeks," said one loyal colleague.
Personally I'm not so sure - just as Bill Clinton and cigars remain inextricably linked for many, I think it's going to be hard to watch this politician debating in parliament and not remember him, sitting in his mayor's office with his smart phone, wearing only a T-shirt.
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Sir Cliff Richard interviewed by police over assault claim

Sir Cliff RichardSir Cliff Richard denies a claim of an alleged historical sexual assault

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Sir Cliff Richard has been interviewed under caution in connection with an alleged historical sexual offence, South Yorkshire Police has said.
Sir Cliff voluntarily met officers and was not arrested or charged.
It comes after police searched his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on 14 August as part of their investigation.
The veteran pop star denies the alleged offence, saying the claim of an assault at a religious event in Sheffield in 1985 is "completely false".
South Yorkshire Police confirmed it had spoken to a 73-year-old man.
A police spokesman said: "The man was interviewed under caution but was not arrested. He entered South Yorkshire Police premises by arrangement."
A spokesman for Sir Cliff said: "Today Sir Cliff Richard voluntarily met with and was interviewed by members of South Yorkshire Police. He was not arrested or charged.
"He co-operated fully with officers and answered the questions put to him.
"Other than restating that this allegation is completely false and that he will continue to co-operate fully with the police, it would not be appropriate for Sir Cliff to say anything further at this time."
Story source
The BBC has been criticised for its coverage of the search after it found out about the operation in advance and sent cameras to Sir Cliff's home when officers arrived.
The BBC has previously confirmed that its source relating to the police investigation was not the South Yorkshire force.
The BBC says its journalists "acted appropriately" in its coverage but police have accused the corporation of a "cover-up" afterwards over what it had known.
The bosses of both the BBC and the South Yorkshire Police have been summoned to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee to explain how the broadcaster knew of the search in advance.
The allegation against Sir Cliff relates to an assault claim at an event featuring US preacher Billy Graham at the Bramall Lane stadium in Sheffield in 1985, the BBC understands.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Daawo: Sawirada qaar kamid ah Jawaasiista ay Ethiopia u soo dirtay Bariga Africa.

Sunday, June 22, 2014      1 Views
Qaar kamid ah Sirdoonkanaga qarsoon ee ku sugan Gudaha Ogaadeeniya ayaa noosoo gudbiyay Macluumaadka iyo Sawirada labo nin oo kamid ah Jawaasiista ay Xukuumadda Gumeysiga Ethiopia u soo hawlgaliyeen Bariga Africa gaar ahaan waddamada Kenya iyo Uganda.
Ninka Sawrikan leh waxaa lagu magacaabaa Axmed Cabdullaahi Maxamed ( Shaakir ) waxuu kasoo jeedaa Gobolka Qoraxay ee Ogaadeeniya, waa nin dhanka Jawaasiisnimada Number kore ka galay oo ay Xukuumadda Gumeysigu si adag been ugu sheegtay, waxuu ku sugan oo loosoo hawlgaliyay Magaalada Kampala ee dalka Ugandha.
Warqadan hoose waxay kasoo baxday ama soo qortay Safaaradda Gumeysiga Ethiopia ee Magaalada Kampala, sida aad u jeedaan ama aad ka aragtaan waxay Safaarada Ethiopia ee Kampala warqaddan ku cadaynaysaa Jaajuusnimada Axmed Cabdullaahi Maxamed ( Shaakir ) iyo waliba qaar kamid ah hawlaha uu qabto.
Ninka Sawirkan hoose leh waxaa lagu Magacaabaa Maxamed Xaaji Yuusuf Xayle, waxuu kasoo jeedaa Gobolka Jarar ee Ogaadeeniya waxuu kamid yahay Jawaasiista ay Ethiopia u soo hawlgalisay qurbaha gaar ahaan Dalalka Ugandha iyo Kenya, sida ay dadka aan xogtan ka helay noo sheegeen waxuu hadda ku sugan yahay Magaalada Kampala ee dalka Ugandha waloow sida la sheegay uu mararka qaar si qarsoodi ah ku yimid Magaalada Nairobi ee Caasimadda Kenya.
Mr Xayle Sawirkan waxaa laga qaaday markii ay Magaalada Adiss Ababa kasoo hawlgalinayeen Saraakiisha Tigreegu waxaana sida aad aragtaan Sawirkan kuwada jira Jaajuus Xayle iyo Saraakiil Ethiopian ah oo Amarkii Jawaasiisnimada siinaya.
Waxaan aad ugu mahadcelin haynaa Sirdoonkanaga Gudaha ee sida quruxda badan xogta iyo macluumaadkan noogu soo gudbiyay.
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