Friday, 30 September 2011

Michael Jackson doctor 'did not tell about propofol'


Doctor Murray's response to a question by Richard Senneff "did not add up", the paramedic said as he gave evidence

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A jury has heard that Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray failed to tell paramedics he had been giving the star propofol as they tried to revive him.
Dr Murray said only that he gave Jackson the sedative lorazepam and the singer had no medical conditions, paramedic Richard Senneff testified.
Prosecutors allege Dr Murray lied to paramedics about Jackson's health, and covered up his use of propofol.
Dr Murray pleads not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Mr Senneff, who was the first member of his paramedic team to enter Jackson's bedroom, said Dr Murray appeared to be agitated and was sweating profusely.
"I knew that we got there very, very quickly. It meant we'd have a good chance of restarting the heart if that was the issue," Mr Senneff said.
But Jackson's skin was cool to the touch and his eyes were open, suggesting his heart had been stopped for more than five minutes, the paramedic said.
"That did not add up to me," he said to the jury.
The paramedic said he made other observations in the 42 minutes he spent trying to revive Jackson, which did not seem consistent with the information Dr Murray was telling him.
He told the court he saw Dr Murray collecting items near Jackson's bed, after the body was taken down to the ambulance.
The doctor also spent some moments alone in the star's bedroom before travelling with the paramedics to the hospital, he added.
'Gross negligence' In the first week of the trial the jury has heard from Jackson's concert promoter, choreographer, personal assistant and security guards.
Prosecutors have scrutinised events during the moments after Jackson stopped breathing, in an attempt to show that the doctor was trying to hide Jackson's use of propofol.
They claim Dr Murray's "gross negligence" of the star while administering the powerful sedative caused Jackson's death.
Dr Murray's lawyers argue that Jackson self-administered the fatal dose of propofol while Dr Murray was out of the room.
If convicted, Dr Murray could face up to four years in prison and lose his license to practice medicine. The trial is expected to last about five weeks

Mother Shayma Ali killed daughter, four, 'as sacrifice'


A woman "sacrificed" her daughter to Allah to "exorcise evil spirits", the Old Bailey has heard.
Shayma Ali, 36, who was suffering from psychosis, stabbed the four-year-old up to 40 times and took out her liver.
The girl's body was found at her east London flat on the Chatsworth Estate, Clapton, east London, in December.
Ali pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. She was sent to a mental hospital indefinitely.
When police arrived at their east London home, the woman was chanting: "I seek refuge in God from the curse of Satan".
The Old Bailey heard Ali had sunk "suddenly and deeply into mental illness" and was convinced the spirits or jinn had entered the bodies of members of her family.
Koranic verses Her daughter had remained at the flat in December because she had been ill and was not allowed to go to nursery.
After her arrest, Ali told her husband: "Suddenly it came into my mind that I should correct my behaviour towards Allah.
"Then a voice told me 'if you love Allah you should sacrifice your daughter."'
She told a doctor she strangled the child and when she was unconscious, she carried her on to the kitchen table where she used the knife to ensure the spirits were exorcised.
As she stabbed the girl, Koranic verses were played in the background on an electronic device, the court heard.
Judge Anthony Morris told Ali: "One of the horrifying aspects of this case is how quickly you lost control of yourself."
Gary Dolby, head of London's Crown Prosecution Service Homicide Unit, said: "Family members and police officers encountered appalling scenes when they entered the house.
"This is clearly a very sad case and our thoughts go to the family at this difficult time."

UN urges increase in Somalia force to 12,000

The U.N. Security Council urged the African Union on Friday to increase its 9,000-strong force in Somalia to its U.N.-mandated level of 12,000 troops to help improve security in the capital, Mogadishu.
It did not, however, agree to the African Union's request to raise the size of the force to 20,000 troops.
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the council also called on Somalia's transitional government to carry out a roadmap leading to elections within a year. The deal, signed earlier this month, includes drafting a new constitution, carrying out security and governance reforms, and holding talks with armed opposition groups.
The council urged the government "to remain united and redouble its efforts to complete the priority tasks and goals agreed on in the roadmap, paving the ground for a better future for Somalis."
Somalia has had transitional administrations for the past seven years, but has not had a functioning central government since 1991 when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and then turned on each other, plunging fthe impoverished country into chaos.
The transitional government, backed by African Union troops, has been fighting against al-Shabab insurgents. The Islamic militants abandoned Mogadishu in early August but still hold most of southern Somalia, where tens of thousands are believed to have starved to death and tens of thousands more have fled _ or tried to flee _ in hopes of finding food.
The council stressed "the terrorist threat" that al-Shabab and other armed opposition groups and foreign fighters pose for Somalia and the the international community.
It welcomed recent security improvements in Mogadishu and urged the transitional government to adopt a plan to stabilize the capital that includes the provision of basic services.
A year ago, the African Union called for an expansion of its force to 20,000 troops and said Uganda was ready to provide the soldiers if donors came up with the money. The current force includes only troops from Uganda and Burundi.
The council said in Friday's resolution the AU should first increase the force to the current 12,000 ceiling. When it reaches that level, the council said it will consider "the possible need" to raise the ceiling.
Somalia's U.N. Ambassador Elmi Ahmed Duale expressed concern at the council's failure to increase the force now.
"The Somali security forces are overextended at this moment and are contained only in Mogadishu," he told the council after the vote. "It is of urgency to enlarge and improve the Somalian armed forces and police."
The United Nations, which has based most of its Somalia operations in neighboring Kenya, has been increasing its presence in the country _ a move welcomed by the council. It urged "a more permanent and increasing presence ... in particular in Mogadishu, consistent with the security conditions."
The Security Council agreed that the increase in U.N. organizations and staff in Mogadishu was placing additional pressure on the AU force, known as AMISOM, for security, escort and protection services.
It encouraged the U.N. and the AU to establish "a guard force of an appropriate size" within AMISOM's 12,000-troop mandate to carry out these duties for personnel from the U.N. and the international community.
The AU had also called for its troops to be paid at the same scale as U.N. peacekeepers. The council didn't approve that but it did increase U.N. logistical support for AMISOM.
But Somali's Duale told the council that "critical gaps" remain in the support package "which continue to impact the effectiveness of the mission."

AU forces in Somalia get 3,000-troop boost


The African Union Mission for Somalia is getting 3,000 more troops to keep its hold on Mogadishu, but there's no indication that AMISOM will be able to gain control of the country.

By Alex ThurstonGuest blogger / September 30, 2011
Ugandan peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia ride in an armored personnel carrier as they patrol the streets of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu on Aug. 31.
Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
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Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is battling Al Shabab, a Muslim rebel movement, for control of the southern part of the country. Assisting the TFG in this campaign is the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM), which has around 9,000 soldiers drawn primarily from Uganda and Burundi. In August, Al Shabab completed a “tactical withdrawal” from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, allowing the TFG to extend its control over much of the city. Conquering the rest of southern Somalia, however, will prove very difficult.
Skip to next paragraph AMISOM commanders have long asked for greater international support and for reinforcements. In July, Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra, the head of AMISOM, wrote in Foreign Policy:
Virtually everything we do at AMISOM revolves around donor support. If that support were to stall now, amid our biggest gains to date, the results for Somalia would be disastrous. The extremists, now on the brink of defeat, would regroup and renew their campaign of terror — not just in Somalia, but as they have shown, across the region and potentially the globe.
The support AMISOM most wants is more men. Now AMISOM is slated to get some of the reinforcements it wants. The BBC reports that some 3,000 troops will join the force over the next six months, coming primarily from Sierra Leone and Djibouti. But the reinforcements will not necessarily solve AMISOM’s problems, nor is their deployment an indication that international doubts regarding the TFG and AMISOM have been allayed. The subtle skepticism toward AMISOM’s claims evident in the BBC’s language is interesting to see, and likely reflects broader skepticism regarding the force:
AU commanders have long complained they have do not have sufficient numbers.
Their current force deployment is too small to hold the whole of the city, they argue, even though the Islamist insurgents of al-Shabab have pulled back from some areas they held until early August.
[...]
Now they are promised the reinforcements they say they need.
One reason for skepticism toward the AMISOM (and I suspect there are many in Washington, London, and elsewhere feeling skeptical) is the math. If AMISOM needs 3,000 more soldiers just to hold Mogadishu, how many will it need to take territory beyond Mogadishu? (20,000, at least?) And what are the chances that those forces are available? And how long, given problems within AMISOM such as soldiers’ complaints about unpaid salaries, will existing troop commitments last? Taking Mogadishu was a major accomplishment for AMISOM, and the TFG almost certainly could not survive without AMISOM, but the barriers to future success are huge, even with the scheduled reinforcements.
Alex Thurston is a PhD student studying Islam in Africa at Northwestern University and blogs at Sahel Blog.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Africa bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

UN Renews Peacekeeping Mandate in Somalia


Posted Friday, September 30th, 2011 at 5:30 pm
The United Nations has renewed its mandate for its peacekeeping mission in Somalia as heavy fighting broke out near Somalia's border with Kenya,
The U.N. Security Council Friday also called on the African Union to increase the number of troops in Somalia to the maximum of 12,000, up from the 9,000 now deployed.
However, the Security Council did not agree to an A.U. request to increase the mandate to allow for 20,000 troops, saying it will reconsider once current cap is reached.
VOA's correspondent at the U.N. said some of the additional troops may come from Sierra Leone, while Burundi and Uganda also discussed raising their numbers. However she said there were no official commitments Friday.
The news comes as al-Shabab fighters attacked a town near the Kenyan border controlled by forces loyal to Somalia's transitional government.
The militant Islamist group carried out the attack on the southern Somali town of Dhobley, five kilometers from the border with Kenya. Witnesses say forces loyal to the government later regained control of the town.
Six al-Shabab militants were killed in the fighting, while government forces also suffered casualties.
Earlier this year, African Union troops and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government drove al-Shabab fighters out of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, but the al-Qaida-linked group is still battling the government and controls large sections of southern and central Somalia.
The United Nations has declared six regions of south Somalia famine zones, most of which are under al-Shabab control. Al-Shabab has banned most foreign aid groups from operating in areas under its control.
The site of Friday's fighting, Dhobley, lies within the semi-autonomous state of Azania, about 100 kilometers from Dadaab, Kenya, which hosts the world's largest refugee camp.
Dadaab currently hosts 440,000 refugees. Conflict and drought in Somalia have sent a surge of refugees to the camp this year, with 150,000 people arriving in the past few months.
The U.N. refugee agency said earlier this month that 1,200 Somalis are crossing into Kenya on a daily basis.
The Horn of Africa is struggling with a severe drought that has left more than 13 million people in need of food aid.
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Fighting Erupts on Somalia’s Border With Kenya


NAIROBI, Kenya — Intense fighting erupted along the Kenya-Somalia border on Friday as the Shabab militant group tried to take back a slice of strategic territory from militias allied with the Somali government. At the same time, Shabab fighters are breaking up camps for victims of Somalia’s famine, sending tens of thousands of starving people straight back into drought-stricken areas.

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The Shabab militants say they will provide enough food to tide people over until the next harvest, expected around January, and some of the people who recently left seemed content with the initial rations of rice, sugar, powdered milk and oil that they had been given. But many aid officials worry that the famine victims are going to soon find themselves in a bleak and barren environment once back in their home villages and that dispersing them will complicate an already strained aid effort.
“This is a nightmare,” said a United Nations official who asked not to be identified because he was criticizing the Shabab and feared reprisals. “It has been hard enough to access famine victims in Shabab areas, and now that the people have been scattered, that means more checkpoints, more local authorities to deal with, more negotiations.”
It seems that the Shabab, which has lost several chunks of territory in the past few months, is regrouping to some degree. In August, Shabab leaders pulled hundreds of fighters out of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, calling it a strategic withdrawal, though it seemed more of an acknowledgement that their mostly young and inexperienced troops could no longer go toe-to-toe with a better armed and trained African Union peacekeeping force. The African Union has 9,000 soldiers in Mogadishu to support Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, whose own army is weak and fragmented.
But in recent days, witnesses have reported hundreds of Shabab fighters heading south toward Somalia’s border with Kenya. The border area is controlled by a fractious group of warlords and militias who get covert support from Kenya and Ethiopia and are nominally loyal toward Somalia’s transitional government. On Friday morning before dawn, Shabab forces struck Dhobley, a market town jointly controlled by an Islamist warlord and a French-educated intellectual who is trying to form his own mini-state called Azania, an ancient Greek name for the Horn of Africa.
According to Adan Adar, Somalia program director for the American Refugee Committee, a private aid group that assists feeding centers in Dhobley, the Shabab attacked from several different directions, and all sides suffered casualties.
“It was a big fight,” Mr. Adan said. “And it’s likely to impact humanitarian operations because there are many feeding centers in Dhobley.”
By midafternoon on Friday, witnesses said that the Shabab fighters had been repulsed and that the Kenyan military was poised to get involved should the Shabab try again to take Dhobley. The town is only a few miles away from the border with Kenya and Kenyan officials are increasingly concerned that the Shabab, a vehemently anti-Western group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, might attack inside Kenya.
A Kenyan security official interviewed Friday said that he had just been sent to the border and that hundreds of Kenyan soldiers and police officers were preparing to enter Somalia. Residents in the area reported seeing Kenyan fighter planes and helicopters flying over Dhobley, though Kenyan officials have thus far been careful not to directly engage in Somalia’s internal fighting — or at least not to allow such activities to be made public.
The Shabab controls much of the southern third of Somalia, which has been hit by a famine caused by drought and war. The United Nations says that tens of thousands of people, mostly children, have already died and that 750,000 urgently need food and could starve to death in the next few months if aid efforts are not rapidly scaled up. The Shabab has blocked most large Western aid agencies from operating in its areas, and in a few places, the group’s fighters have set up their own camps to feed starving people who have fled drought zones, sometimes even forcing people to stay in their camps.
But last week, the group abruptly announced that it was closing several of its camps, and Shabab fighters began ordering tens of thousands of people to return to their farms to plant crops before the rainy season starts, which should be in a few weeks. The Shabab called it a “resettlement program,” and the picture was mixed about how well this was going.
In Buurhakaba, a midsize town that the Shabab controls, residents said that after the Shabab closed down the camp there, many people decided to flee all the way to Kenya.
“There is no way for people to return home because back there, there’s nothing to eat,” Sultan Said, a resident of Buurhakaba, said by telephone.
But, he added, there had not been much food anyway in the Shabab-run camps because the Shabab fighters had been stealing it.
“They’re starving too,” Mr. Sultan said.
In Baidoa, a bigger Shabab-controlled town, some people who had sought help in the Shabab-run camps said the fighters had given them enough food to survive until the harvest. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Unicef have been able to distribute life-saving food in some Shabab areas, and both organizations say that despite difficulties, they have been reaching more people in recent weeks.
One destitute farmer who spoke by telephone from a village about 50 miles outside of Baidoa said that he had been living in a Shabab-run camp in Baidoa for two months and that the militants had treated him and his five children fine. When the Shabab decided to shut down the camp about a week ago, he said, nobody protested and the Shabab provided sacks of food and rides by truck back to the camp residents’ home villages.
“If it rains, we’ll be O.K., if it doesn’t, there will be famine,” the man said, adding that he did not like or dislike the Shabab.
But at the end of the interview, the man pleaded not to be identified, saying the Shabab does not allow people to talk to newspapers.

Sale Of U.S. Bombs To Israel Raises Questions

Audio for this story from All Things Considered will be available at approx. 7:00 p.m. ET
 
Penetrator bombs, commonly known as bunker busters,  are stored on pallets at an ammunition plant in McAlester, Okla., in 2002. The U.S. sold 55 bunker busters to Israel in 2009, according to a recent Newsweek report.
Enlarge Sue Ogrocki/AP Penetrator bombs, commonly known as bunker busters, are stored on pallets at an ammunition plant in McAlester, Okla., in 2002. The U.S. sold 55 bunker busters to Israel in 2009, according to a recent Newsweek report.
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September 30, 2011
With all the recent turmoil in the Middle East, one piece of news that has been overlooked is the revelation that the Obama administration approved the sale of 55 deep-earth penetrator bombs to Israel in 2009.
The transaction was recently reported by Newsweek. No U.S. officials have talked openly about why the bunker busters were provided to Israel, but speculation falls most heavily on a single target.
"The one obvious use of these munitions that comes to mind would be a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program," says Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA Middle East analyst who now teaches security studies at Georgetown University.
"Providing these bombs, No. 1, may make it more likely that Israel does that," Pillar says. "No. 2, even if they can come up with the technology themselves, this transfer could be interpreted as a green light from the United States for Israel to strike."
Commonly referred to as bunker busters, the bombs have a specialized use: They can burrow deep into the earth or cut through a dozen feet of concrete before they explode.
Israel Cites Iran As Top Threat
It's no secret that Israel has given serious thought to attacking Iran's nuclear installations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently cited Iran and its nuclear program as Israel's most important security concerns.
Just last week at the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu referred to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech the day before as an outrageous rant.
The one obvious use of these munitions that comes to mind would be a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
"Can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons?" Netanyahu asked. "The international community must stop Iran before it's too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism."
But the U.S. has not given Israel the green light to mount an attack. So it was all the more surprising when it was disclosed that President Obama agreed to the sale of these bunker busters.
U.S. officials have not commented on the report, but a diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, written in November 2009 and found among the documents released by WikiLeaks, confirms the imminent delivery of bunker-busting bombs to Israel.
The subject came up during a meeting of the U.S.-Israel Joint Political Military Group. The cable warns that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid allegations that the U.S. government is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.
At that time, it was the stated policy of the Obama administration to engage in diplomacy with Iran, not threaten it with military force.
Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Eli Lake, the Newsweek reporter who broke the story.
Seeking Influence On Other Issues?
The disclosure about the bunker busters raises the question: Did the Obama administration's policy toward Iran actually include the use of force?
Dalia Dassa Kaye, a fellow at UCLA's Burkle Center and a specialist on Iran, doesn't think so. She argues it was part of Israeli preparedness.
"Israel clearly wants all the capabilities that are necessary to have a military option on the table," Kaye says. "They always want to show they can do it; but whether they really want to do it is an open question."
Israel clearly wants all the capabilities that are necessary to have a military option on the table. They always want to show they can do it; but whether they really want to do it is an open question.
There is another possible American motivation for providing these bombs to Israel. At the time, President Obama was pressuring Netanyahu to freeze the construction of new Israeli settlements on the West Bank in the interest of peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Arms deals like this one could be meant to sweeten such an effort, says Georgetown's Paul Pillar.
"The provision of munitions would be one traditional way of trying to buy influence," Pillar says. "In this particular instance, it apparently did not. But I expect that that was the context in which the Obama administration was looking at it."
Kaye also thinks this was a motive for President Obama's support.
"There are some in the Obama administration who may have expected to get more," she says. "Not that it was a direct linkage. But they may have expected that given the extensive defense cooperation that they have been engaged [in] with the Israelis, that would buy them some political leverage. And they no doubt were disappointed."
The Iranian government has made no comment on the bomb transfer.

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Banned preacher can seek damages over illegal arrest


A banned Islamic preacher who entered Britain illegally following a Home Office blunder is entitled to seek damages after being detained unlawfully, a judge has ruled.

Sheikh Raed Salah
Sheikh Raed Salah was able to walk through immigration at Heathrow Airport unchallenged despite being banned by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, days before Photo: EPA
Sheikh Raed Salah, a Palestinian activist, could receive thousands of pounds for being wrongfully imprisoned shortly after entering the country in June this year.
Mr Salah, 52, was able to walk through immigration at Heathrow Airport unchallenged despite being banned by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, days before.
His exclusion order had been sent to the wrong terminal at the airport allowing him to arrive unopposed. He was arrested three days later when the error was discovered.
Yesterday, the migration watchdog, Migration Watch UK, condemned the judge’s decision. Sir Andrew Green, its chairman, said: “It is quite extraordinary that someone who had no right to be in Britain in the first place should be able to claim damages for his arrest.”
Mr Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, flew to Britain on June 25 for meetings including an engagement at the Houses of Parliament. He was detained at his London hotel and taken to Paddington Green police station where he was held for 21 days.
The father of eight has now been granted the right to seek damages for “false imprisonment” after his lawyers said he had always planned to leave the country and his detention was therefore unnecessary. He also claimed his human rights were breached because the reasons for his detention were not explained in his own language.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Nicol, sitting at the High Court in London, ruled that Mr Salah was not given “proper and sufficient reasons” for his arrest on June 28 — “nor was he given them until some time on the 30th”. As a result he is entitled to damages for wrongful detention.
The amount of damages to which Mr Salah will be entitled could be several thousand pounds, said lawyers.
Judge Nicol rejected the claim that his detention as a whole was contrary to the statutory power to detain and contrary to the Home Secretary’s policy on detention pending deportation. Mr Salah is due to appeal against Mrs May’s decision to deport him in separate proceedings.
In the past, Mr Salah has been accused of inciting anti-Semitic violence. He has always denied the accusations.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are pleased that the court has found that the Home Secretary used her powers correctly. The court decided that there was a technical problem when Mr Salah was initially detained.”

Anwar al-Awlaki, al-Qaida cleric and top US target, killed in Yemen


Obama welcomes news of Awlaki's death in US air strike, and says dual US-Yemeni citizen advanced 'murderous agenda'
  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Article history
  • Anwar al-Awlaki
    Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been killed in Yemen. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
    A missile fired from an American drone has struck and killed a radical US-born Islamic cleric in Yemen, bringing an end to a controversial, two-year manhunt but reigniting questions over the targeting of a US citizen on foreign soil. Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual US-Yemeni citizen, has been one of America's top targets in its fight against al-Qaida. His firebrand rhetoric had become renowned on jihadi websites and is thought to have inspired many more followers. With a blog, a Facebook page and numerous YouTube videos of his sermons, he had increasingly been regarded by the US as one of the most dangerous al-Qaida leaders. President Barack Obama authorised a request to target Awlaki in April last year, making him the first US citizen to be a legal target for assassination in the post-9/11 years. He was one of two US citizens killed in the strike. Samir Khan, US-born editor of Al Qaeda's online jihadist magazine, was also killed in the attack, according to Yemeni officials. Faced with accusations from critics on Friday afternoon that the administration had authorised an "extra-judicial murder", White House officials sought to justify the strike on Awlaki officials as "self defence." Obama welcomed the news of Awlaki's death. At a ceremony at the White House to welcome the appointment of a new joint chief of staff for the US military, Obama broke from his prepared schedule to say Awlaki's death was a major blow to America's enemies and condemned him as a dangerous terrorist. "He repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda," Obama said. Awlaki is credited with inspiring or directing at least four plots against the US in recent years, three of which were unsuccessful – a shooting inside the Fort Hood military base, the failed Times Square bombing, the failed underwear bomber, and a parcel bomb hidden inside a printer that also failed to explode inside a passenger jet. The administration avoided giving details of the strike with experts saying they clearly feared further complicating their complex relations with Yemen. At a White House briefing spokesman Jay Carney dodged questions about the legality of the assassination and details of the US's involvement. Nor would he confirm Khan's death or how the bodies were identified. Asked if the White House would publish evidence that Awlaki was "operationally involved" in terrorism, Charney said: "Again, this is — the question is — makes us – you know, has embedded within it assumptions about the circumstances of his death that I'm just not going to address." Awlaki's exact role in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is much debated by security analysts: some claim he had a senior operational role, others say he had a more informal relationship, and some reports said he was at odds with the established leaders of the group. His key role, both locally and internationally, was as a propagandist and inspiration to potential terrorist operators. The bespectacled and bushy-bearded cleric usually appeared in videos dressed in traditional Yemeni long robe, headscarf and tribal dagger, but he spoke in conversational American English. With his native English and grasp of Western culture, Awlaki was able to make the often esoteric worlds of radical Islamist theology and Middle Eastern politics accessible and understable to a new audience in Europe and American, introducing political arguments more familiar to listeners who may have had limited understanding of their professed faith. Awlaki was also linked to failed plots to target British and European interests, according to security officials. The attempted murder of the MP Stephen Timms was inspired by Awlaki's sermons, and a British Airways employee, Rajib Karim, was convicted in February of plotting attacks against the airline. Awlaki was born in New Mexico in 1971 to Yemeni parents who took him back to Yemen after early childhood. He returned to the US in 1991 to attend college. US authorities believe he came into contact with at least two of the 9/11 hijackers while giving sermons at a San Diego mosque. He is believed to have been killed at 9.55am on Friday morning at a site 90 miles (140km) east of Sana'a between the provinces of Marib and al-Jawf in what is believed to have been an air strike. Few details have been released about the strike – not least because the Obama administration is wary of further destabilising the embattled regime of Yemeni president Ali Abdulla Saleh. But witnesses say that Awlaki was boarding a 2005 Toyota Hilux along with five other supporters when the US drone attack hit the vehicle. Initial reports suggest that it was the drone was operated by the CIA, working alongside the US joint special operations command team that directed the Osama bin Laden assassination. The death of Awlaki is the most significant blow to the al-Qaida organisation since Bin Laden was assassinated in May. He was one of the few senior operatives orientated to western ways, and in recent years had become increasingly strident in his calls for Muslims to wage jihad against the US. The CIA and the US military have used drones to target al-Qaida officials in Yemen and had placed Awlaki near the top of a hit list. Yemeni officials initially said they were not yet sure who had killed him. However, they released details of the killing within several hours of it happening, suggesting that Sana'a was either directly involved or well-briefed by the US. Perhaps mindful of the difficult circumstances in Yemen, Obama was careful to praise the country's involvement in the strike and stress that Islamic militants have carried out many attacks in Yemen. "Awlaki and his organization have been directly responsible for the deaths of many Yemeni citizens," he said. "His hateful ideology and targeting of innocent civilians has been rejected by the vast majority of Muslims and people of all faiths, and he has met his demise because the government and the people of Yemen have joined the international community in a common effort against al-Qaida." In a comment piece for the Guardian, former general Wesley Clark said Alwaki's "death makes his final legacy a proof of the effectiveness of America's active defense against terrorists." Would-be Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry praised Obama and the US military for the death of "American-raised al Qaida leader." But not all reaction was positive. The campaign to take out Alwaki has been criticised by some as a worrying development where the US government can undertake to kill a US citizen without any form of trial. Republican presidential candidate, libertarian-leaning congressman Ron Paul, spoke out against the attack. "Nobody knows if he [Awlaki] ever killed anybody," Paul said after a political event in New Hampshire where he is currently campaigning. "If the American people accept this blindly and casually … I think that's sad," he added. Paul is a long-standing critic of American foreign policy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American Civil Liberties Union also condemned the attack. The organisation, which campaigns on legal and human rights issues, put out a strongly-worded statement saying the strike was a clear violation of both US and international law. "This is a programme under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public, but from the courts," said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer. He added: "It is a mistake to invest the president - any president - with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country."

Philippine immigrant maid wins landmark Hong Kong case


Migrant Workers Union members outside the Hong Kong high court Foreign domestic helpers are required to leave the country within two weeks if dismissed by employers

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Hong Kong's High Court has ruled that a domestic helper from the Philippines should be allowed to apply for permanent residency in the city.
The case was brought by Evangeline Banao Vallejos, who has lived in Hong Kong since 1986.
The ruling follows a landmark judicial review and could lead to more than 100,000 other foreign maids winning rights to residency.
The case has sparked widespread debate on equal treatment for foreign maids.
Mark Daly, the lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Vallejos, said that she was very pleased by the ruling, which meant that all domestic helpers now were able to apply for permanent residency.
"When we told her she said 'thank God'," he said, adding that it was a normal working day for her.
"It's a good day for the rule of law," he added.
Mr Daly pointed out that the government had 28 days to appeal.
A spokesman said the government was analysing the judgement and would issue a formal response later in the day.
Public resources
Some critics have said granting residency to domestic helpers would strain the provision of health care, education and public housing.

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We hope it will pave the way for Hong Kong to open its doors to equal treatment for migrant workers”
Norman Carnay Mission for Migrant Workers
While other non-Chinese nationals can obtain residency after working in Hong Kong for seven years, immigration rules exclude domestic helpers from seeking permanent residency.
Human rights lawyers and many domestic helpers argue that this is discriminatory.
Permanent residency means that a person can remain in Hong Kong indefinitely, vote and stand in elections.
But some politicians and commentators warned that allowing foreign domestic helpers to have permanent residency would allow them to bring their children and other relatives to the city, who would require education and housing.
Equal treatment
Norman Carnay, programme officer at the Mission for Migrant Workers said that he welcomed the decision.
"We hope it will pave the way for Hong Kong to open its doors to equal treatment for migrant workers," he said.
But he added that right of abode was not necessarily a priority for many domestic helpers.
"From surveys of our community, the more pressing concerns are wages and working conditions," he said.
There are more than 300,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines. It is thought that around 120,000 have lived here for more than seven years.
They are required to live with their employers and cannot accept other jobs.
Without the right to permanent residency, if a maid is dismissed by her employer, she must find another job as a domestic helper or leave Hong Kong within two weeks.
Hong Kong's domestic workers have a guaranteed minimum wage of 3,740 Hong Kong dollars ($480; £308) a month and day off each week, meaning their working conditions are better than other countries in Asia with large numbers of domestic helpers, such as Singapore

Yemen's Ali Abdullah refuses to step down


President Ali Abdullah Saleh. 25 Sept 2011 President Ali Abdullah Saleh blames the opposition for delaying the transition of power
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he will not stand down as promised if his opponents are allowed to stand in elections to succeed him.
Mr Saleh, who returned to Yemen last week after a three-month absence, warned of civil war in an interview with Time and The Washington Post.
He faces a widespread protest movement as well as an insurrection by renegade army units and tribal fighters.
He has refused to sign a transition deal brokered by Gulf states.
Under the deal, he would hand over to Vice-President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.
Mr Saleh appeared to accept the deal, first presented in March, but he has repeatedly failed to sign or act on it.
"If we transfer power and they [rival forces] are there, this will mean that we have given in to a coup," Mr Saleh said in his first interview since returning to Yemen.
"If we transfer power, and they are in their positions, and they are still decision makers, this will be very dangerous. This will lead to civil war."

Yemen's protests

  • 27 Jan: Thousands take to the streets in Sanaa and southern cities urging President Saleh to quit; weeks of mass protests follow
  • 18 Mar: 52 protesters killed by snipers; Mr Saleh declares state of emergency
  • 21 Mar: Several senior army commanders defect to join the protesters
  • 23 Apr: Mr Saleh says he will stand down within weeks; he later appears to renege on the deal
  • 24 May: Clashes erupt between Saleh loyalists and tribal groups; dozens die in days of fighting
  • 3 Jun: Shells hit presidential compound, injuring Mr Saleh; he leaves the country for treatment
  • 18 Sep: Government forces launch crackdown on protester camps; more than 50 die in two days
  • 23 Sep: President Saleh returns to Yemen
Mr Saleh's rivals for political power are currently Gen Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, who declared his support for the protest movement in March, and the powerful Ahmar family.
Mr Saleh spent three months in Saudi Arabia for treatment after his presidential palace was shelled in June.
Journalists said Mr Saleh's face was marked by "deep scars" and he had trouble hearing. No close-up photographs were published with the articles.
Anti-government protesters have been camped out in an area of the capital Sanaa - dubbed Change Square - since January, demanding an end to President Saleh's rule.
'Misunderstanding' Many have been killed, but in the interview Mr Saleh blamed army units that have defected to the opposition and tribal fighters who support the protesters.
"They assassinate protesters from behind so they can blame the state," he said.
However, he said he remained committed to the deal brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and blamed the opposition for delays.
"This is a misunderstanding. We are willing within the next hours and next days to sign it, if the JMP [opposition coalition] comes closer," he said.
"We don't want to prolong it. And we don't want this crisis to continue. We want this country to get out of this crisis. The transfer of power is a given, whether sooner or later.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Man stabbed to death at halal butchers in Wood Green


A man in his 20s has been murdered in a dispute at a butchers in north London.
Police said they were called to Halal Food Direct on The Broadway, Wood Green, at about 15:15 BST following reports of an attack.

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It appears there was dispute in the shop which resulted in the victim being stabbed”
Det Ch Insp Steven Lawrence Metropolitan Police
Paramedics treated the victim but he was was pronounced dead at the scene. The man was an employee at the business.
No arrests have been made but a murder inquiry has begun. The A105 High Road has been shut in both directions.
An eyewitness, a security guard in the local Morrisons supermarket, described a member of the public trying to save the man moments after the attack.
He said it knew it was a serious injury as there was a lot of blood.
The security guard said the dead man was well known locally, and did not seem like the type of person to get in trouble.
Police forensic teams are still at work in the butchers.
Det Ch Insp Steven Lawrence said: "At this early stage it appears there was dispute in the shop which resulted in the victim being stabbed.
"The male suspect then made off from the premises on foot.
"This incident occurred in a busy area in the middle of the afternoon, and we need to hear from any witnesses who have not yet come forward."
A BBC reporter on the scene said the mood was one of shock, with many people asking how such a thing could have happened.
A post-mortem examination is due to take place shortly.

Woman teacher held over sex with schoolgirl, 15


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A teacher who admitted sexually abusing a 15-year-old female pupil has been detained under the Mental Health Act.
Suzanne Harrison, 38, pleaded guilty to four sex offences which took place when she worked at a school in Colchester.
Ipswich Crown Court heard Harrison swapped numbers with her victim at the girl's 15th birthday party.
The judge ruled the former Ipswich sixth form college worker, of Wacker Field Road, Rendlesham, Suffolk, should be held in a psychiatric hospital.
Judge Peter Thompson said he had made the ruling after a "very thorough" assessment of her condition.
"This does not mean the court takes a less serious view of the offending - the victim has suffered very significantly, " he told the court.
'Emotional abuse' Prosecutor Godfried Duah told the court: "Their friendship developed very quickly... and sometimes Miss Harrison would take the victim home from school.
"Miss Harrison was very often at the victim's home address and sometimes would have meals and barbecues with her family."
During a walk in a park, Harrison told the girl: "Don't tell anybody about this."
Mr Duah said: "This was a very vulnerable victim who relied on her teacher's support as a friend."
He added that even when the girl went to university, she was subjected to "emotional abuse" by Harrison.
Defending, Richard Atchley said Harrison had been referred to mental health teams and continued to suffer psychological difficulties.
Harrison also used to teach at Otley College, near Ipswich, and Suffolk One sixth form centre in the town.
A Suffolk One spokesman said: "We can state that the charges like the ones being faced are indefensible.
"We would like to reassure parents and guardians that our students' safety, security and welfare is our utmost priority."

Halifax teacher William Drury watched as pupils had sex


A 48-year-old drama teacher who watched as two pupils had sex on the back seat of his car has been found guilty of a string of sex offences.
Leeds Crown Court was told how the 16-year-old girl and boy, 17, were being driven home by William Drury from his house in Chester Road, Halifax.
The jury heard the married father-of-two was "infatuated" with the girl and told the pair they looked "beautiful".
Adjourning sentencing, the judge said a prison term was "inevitable".
The jury was told Drury had pulled into a lay-by to allow the teenagers to have sex.
Teenagers 'groomed' Jurors heard he told the girl he loved her and kissed her. He also took topless photographs of her.
He was arrested after pupils saw the pictures on his computer.
Police who examined the computer found several other photographs of students, including one of a girl sunbathing in a bikini and some of a 15-year-old girl in her underwear.
Prosecutors said Drury had been "grooming" the teenage couple who had sex in his car.
He was found guilty of two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity by a person in a position of trust; two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity by a person in a position of trust; and two counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.
Drury had earlier been found guilty of one count of engaging in sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust and six counts of making indecent photos of a child.
He will be sentenced on 31 October.

Grandfather murder plot girls sentenced


Injury to grandfather A number of injuries were inflicted on the 89-year-old grandfather

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Two girls have been sentenced for a plot to kill their 89-year-old grandfather in order to obtain money.
The man was attacked by his adopted daughter, 49, her daughters aged 16 and 14, her son, 19, and his girlfriend, 17, near Winchester.
At Winchester Crown Court, the 16-year-old got 26-months' detention while the 14-year-old received a two-year youth rehabilitation order.
The 17-year-old girl involved was given three years' detention.
The victim's daughter is serving a 17-year jail sentence and her son is already in a young offenders institution.
Hit with bricks None of the defendants, from Eastleigh, can be named because of legal restrictions.
The elderly victim, who suffered from dementia, lived with his wife at a bungalow in a village near Winchester, where he was attacked on 15 November last year.
Det Sgt Bryan Carter: "The mother and the son were the driving force behind the offences"
During the six-week trial, the jury was told the man was lured outside his home by his daughter pretending to have fallen over.
He then was knocked to the ground by the son and hit with bricks by the two young girls.
He survived with cuts and bruises and was able to tell paramedics - called by his daughter - that he had been hit.
The family had also been running a campaign to try to scare the man to death by smashing a window at his home and even cutting the fuel line of his car in a bid to make it explode.
'Final act' The prosecution said the attack was the final act to kill him for his money even though he had generously given cash for cars and horses for the family, which had been squandered.
In the weeks before, some family members researched how to kill him on the internet with Google searches such as "1,000 ways to die", "poisonous toadstools" and "easiest way to kill an old person".
The girls sobbed as their sentences were handed down.
Injury to grandfather The 89-year-old survived the attack but was left with a number of cuts and bruises
Mr Justice Foskett described the three girls as "vulnerable" and under the influence of the mother, adding that they had acted out of "fear" of her.
He concluded by saying to the younger sister: "I express the hope that arrangements can be made for you and [the older sister] to maintain contact.
"You and she will probably need each other even more in the longer term than at present."
Sentencing the two adults last month, the judge called the attack "despicable and inhuman".
He said the plot and the attempts to kill the pensioner "will defy belief in the minds of any right-thinking person".
Four of the group were found guilty of conspiracy to murder at an earlier hearing, while the youngest girl was acquitted of that charge but convicted of wounding with intent.
The grandson is serving an indeterminate sentence.

London shooting: Two women and a girl injured


A teenage girl and two young women have been injured in a shooting in west London, Scotland Yard has said.
The victims, aged 17, 18 and 19, were taken to a central London hospital after the incident outside an address in John Fearon Walk, North Kensington.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We understand the victims are in a serious condition but we do await an update."
Police said they had been alerted by the ambulance service at 19:17 BST and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
There have been no arrests.
A police spokesman said the young women's injuries were "not life-threatening".
He said: "We have got officers down there trying to piece together what is going on.
"At this stage we are doing all we can."

Pakistan PM Gilani rejects US Haqqani pressure


AN FBI wanted poster for Sirajuddin Haqqani Adm Mullen has described the Haqqani group as a 'veritable arm' of Pakistan's spy agency
Pakistan will not bow to US pressure to step up its fight against militancy, its prime minister has said.
Yousuf Raza Gilani told a rare meeting of political and religious parties that relations between the two countries should be based on mutual respect.
Relations have hit new lows since the top US military officer said Pakistan backed the Haqqani militant group in Afghanistan, a charge Pakistan rejects.
Correspondents say many Pakistanis see the US comments as a threat of war.
Washington wants Islamabad to sever links with the Haqqani group, which analysts say has roots deep inside Pakistani territory.
US officials say they are close to deciding whether to label the group as a foreign terrorist organisation, and on Thursday the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on five individuals it said are linked to "the most dangerous terrorist organisations operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
"These financiers and facilitators provide the fuel for the Taliban, Haqqani Network and al-Qaeda to realise their violent aspirations," said Treasury official David Cohen said in a statement.
Correspondents say that the department's move means that US companies and individuals are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the targeted individuals - and any assets they hold under US jurisdiction are frozen.
Among the five is Abdul Aziz Abbasin, who the Treasury Department accused of a series of high-profile attacks and described as a "key commander in the Haqqani network".
Angered and humiliated But in the Islamabad meeting, Mr Gilani said that Pakistan "cannot be pressured to do more" in the battle against militancy.
"The blame game should end, and Pakistan's sensitive national interests should be respected," he said, in comments carried live on local television stations.

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Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani
I am confident that our nation is determined to defend its geographical frontiers, independence and sovereignty”
Yousuf Raza Gilani Pakistani prime minister
He said that Pakistan was united over any threat to its sovereignty.
Pakistan's army head Gen Ashfaq Kayani and ISI spy chief Lt-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha were also at the meeting.
Lt-Gen Pasha said told the meeting that any US military action against insurgents in Pakistan would be "unacceptable" and that the Pakistani army was capable of responding.
He said that Pakistan would not allow the situation to get to a "point of no return".
The US has been targeting militants, including members of the Haqqani group, for months in Pakistan's tribal areas near the Afghan border - some in the US Congress are now calling for it to go beyond drone strikes.
Pakistan's military was deeply angered and humiliated when US commandos killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in a secret raid on Pakistani soil in May.
'Shocked' Tensions between the two countries rose still further last week when the most senior US military officer, Adm Mike Mullen, made his accusations, calling the Haqqanis a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's spy agency.
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says the emergency meeting of Pakistan's parties is the largest gathering of its kind in the country for years.

FIVE SANCTIONED INDIVIDUALS

  • Abdul Aziz Abbasin: Described by the Treasury Department as a "key commander in the Haqqani Network"
  • Haiji Faizullah Khan Noorzai: Described as a prominent Taliban financier
  • Haiji Malik Noorzai: Pakistan-based businessman and brother of Haiji Faizullah Khan Noorzai
  • Abdur Rehman: Described as a Taliban facilitator and fundraiser
  • Fazal Rahim: Described as a financial facilitator for al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
He says Adm Mullen's comments have caused much anger in Pakistan and led many people to feel the US is threatening war.
The White House, however, made slightly more conciliatory noises on Wednesday.
Spokesman Jay Carney said he would not have used the same language as Adm Mullen, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the two countries have to "work together".
At the meeting, Mr Gilani said that any attempts by America to put pressure on Pakistan to do more would fail.
"American statements shocked us, and negate our sacrifices and successes in the ongoing war against terror," he told the gathering in his opening remarks.
"We should give up talking about assumptions for the sake of meaningful negotiations. Pakistan cannot be pressurised to do more. Our national interests should be respected. Our doors are open for dialogue."
The prime minister also rejected allegations made by Adm Mullen that Pakistan had helped orchestrate attacks on US targets in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has long denied supporting the Haqqani group, but BBC correspondents say it has a decades-old policy of pursuing foreign policy objectives through alliances with militants.

Rocket launches Chinese space lab


The Tiangong-1 space lab was launched in the Gobi desert

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A rocket carrying China's first space laboratory, Tiangong-1, has launched from the north of the country.
The Long March vehicle lifted clear from the Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi Desert at 21:16 local time (13:16 GMT).
The rocket's ascent took the lab out over the Pacific, and on a path to an orbit some 350km above the Earth.
The 10.5m-long, cylindrical module will be unmanned for the time being, but the country's astronauts, or yuhangyuans, are expected to visit it next year.
Tiangong means "heavenly palace" in Chinese.
The immediate plan is for the module to operate in an autonomous mode, monitored from the ground. Then, in a few weeks' time, China will launch another unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou 8, and try to link the pair together.
This rendezvous and docking capability is a prerequisite if larger structures are ever to be assembled in orbit.
"Rendezvous and docking is a sophisticated technology," said Yang Hong, Tiangong-1's chief designer. "It's also essential to building China's own space station," he told the state broadcaster China Central Television.
China has promised to build this station at the end of the decade.
Assuming the Shenzhou 8 venture goes well, two manned missions (Shenzhou 9 and 10) should follow in 2012. The yuhangyuans - two or three at a time - are expected to live aboard the conjoined vehicles for up to two weeks.
Tiangong graphic
  • Tiangong-1 will launch on the latest version of a Long March 2F rocket
  • The lab will go into a 350km-high orbit and will be unattended initially
  • An unmanned Shenzhou vehicle will later try to dock with Tiangong
  • The orbiting lab will test key technologies such as life-support systems
  • China's stated aim is to build a 60-tonne space station by about 2020
The Tiangong project is the second step in what Beijing authorities describe as a three-step strategy.
The first step was the development of the Shenzhou capsule system which has so far permitted six nationals to go into orbit since 2003; then the technologies needed for spacewalking and docking, now in progress; and finally construction of the space station.
At about 60 tonnes in mass, this future station would be considerably smaller than the 400-tonne international platform operated by the US, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan, but its mere presence in the sky would nonetheless represent a remarkable achievement.
Concept drawings describe a core module weighing some 20-22 tonnes, flanked by two slightly smaller laboratory vessels.
Officials say it would be supplied by freighters in exactly the same way that robotic cargo ships keep the International Space Station (ISS) today stocked with fuel, food, water, air, and spare parts.
China is investing billions of dollars in its space programme. It has a strong space science effort under way, with two orbiting satellites having already been launched to the Moon. A third mission is expected to put a rover on the lunar surface. The Asian country is also deploying its own satellite-navigation system known as BeiDou, or Compass.
Bigger rockets are coming, too. The Long March 5 will be capable of putting more than 20 tonnes in a low-Earth orbit. This lifting muscle, again, will be necessary for the construction of a space station.
"There are loads of ideas floating around, and they're serious about implementing them," said UK space scientist John Zarnecki, who is a visiting professor at Beihang University, the new name for the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
"There's a sense of great optimism. It's not driven so much by science, but by the desire to develop new technologies. The money is there, although it's not limitless. And they're taking it step by step," he told BBC News.
Tiangong-1 has a two-year lifetime. It is likely to be followed by a second lab and possibly a third. China says that at the end of their missions, the modules will be driven into the atmosphere for a destructive descent into a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.

German parliament approves expanded EU bailout fund


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (c) smiles surrounded by MPs holding their ballots on September 29, 2011 at the lower house of German parliament Chancellor Merkel achieved her majority after intense lobbying
Germany's parliament has voted by a large majority in favour of supporting a more powerful fund to bail-out troubled Eurozone economies.
Chancellor Angela Merkel received strong support despite criticism of the plan from some of her ruling coalition.
Many Germans are against committing more money to prop up struggling eurozone members such as Greece.
There are protests in Athens where international inspectors have held talks on further bailout funds.
The measure is expected to pass in Germany's upper house of parliament, where it will be put to a vote on Friday.
In the Bundestag, 523 deputies approved the bill to support the expansion of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) - 85 voted against and three abstained in the 620-seat chamber. Nine members were not present.
Dissidents Some members of Mrs Merkel's coalition had vowed to vote against the bill.
But in the end, 315 deputies voted in favour, meaning that Mrs Merkel did not have to rely on opposition support to get the measure passed.
The outcome of the vote was not in question, however, as the main opposition parties, the SPD and the Greens, indicated they would support the expansion of the fund.
Before the vote, there was intense lobbying by Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their coalition allies to pressure the handful of dissidents to get in line.

Analysis

Chancellor Merkel got her majority more easily than she might have expected. Fifteen members from parties in her coalition government voted against her, not enough to make her have to rely on the opposition.
The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, supported the government.
As one of its MPs put it in the debate: "We will vote with you because Europe needs this vote. Don't rely on us next time."
In the end, 523 MPs voted with the government and 85 against, including the left group.
Chancellor Merkel emerges not quite unscathed but not as a dramatically weakened leader either.
A reliance on this support would have cast into doubt her ability to get forthcoming votes on both a further bailout for Greece and a permanent successor to the EFSF through the Bundestag.
"The broad majority in parliament clearly shows Germany is committed to the euro and to protecting our currency," said Hermann Groehe, the number two in Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) party.
But Frank Schaeffler of the Free Democrats party - a junior coalition member - argued that bailout measures have made Greece's economic situation deteriorate.
"Despite all arguments, the first bailout did not make the situation for Greece better, but worse," Mr Schaeffler said, according to the AP news agency.
"Expanding the fund will make the situation even worse."
Athens blockade All 17 countries that use the euro must ratify the commitment made in July to expand the powers of the EFSF and boost its bailout guarantees from 440bn euros (£383bn) to 780bn euros.
So far, 10 have approved the measure.
As Europe's largest economy, Germany's commitment to the fund would rise from 123bn euros to 211bn.
That bigger fund is already being dismissed as inadequate in the light of the worsening Greek crisis and the threat of it spreading to other economies.
The former President of European Commission Romano Prodi said the German public will come round to supporting the deal
Inspectors from the "troika" of international creditors supporting Greece - the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - returned to Athens on Thursday to decide if the government has done enough to warrant another 8bn euros (£6.9bn) of loans.
"The climate was positive and creative after the tough measures that were decided," Greece's finance ministry said in a statement.
Public workers blocked entrances to a number of ministries in Athens, protesting against the deep austerity measures the government has imposed as a condition of the bailout.
"Take your bailout and leave," shouted protesters outside the finance ministry, Reuters news agency reported. They said they wanted to prevent Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos from meeting the troika officials.

Europe economy essentials

Taxi drivers, hospital workers and other public sector staff were also due to strike on Thursday, angered by the announcement of new austerity measures including pension cuts and a new property tax.
Without the new loans - laid out under the terms of a bailout agreed last year - Greece will soon run out of money.
New taxes have been approved and deeper spending cuts have been promised, but some decisions have been delayed and privatisation is running behind schedule says the BBC's Chris Morris in Athens.
Many people believe that austerity measures are pushing Greece's crippled economy deeper into recession and strangling any chance of growth.

UN: Starvation threatens 2 million in drought-hit Somalia

Fri Sep 13, 2019 01:44PM [Updated: Fri Sep 13, 2019 01:52PM ] Home Africa Somalia A newly arrived woman fleeing from the drought...