Thursday, 30 June 2011

Ethiopia: Terrorist arrests linked to Eritrea?


Thursday, 30 June 2011 10:13
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Ethiopian police on Wednesday said they had arrested nine people including two journalists on terrorism charges.

Ethiopian police on Wednesday said they had arrested nine people including two journalists on terrorism charges.

Map of Ethiopia
Map of Ethiopia

Zeryihun Gebreegziabher, the chairman of the Ethiopian National Democratic Party (ENDP), and Dejene Tefera, a member of the party, were also among those who were arrested.

Police said that the nine were involved in terrorism activities and were preparing to cut electric and telephone lines throughout the country.


“They were organising a terrorist structure for their operation with cooperation from the Eritrean government and other local bodies,” police said.

Demelash Gebremichael, the assistant commissioner for central information and crime intelligence directorate indicated that the federal police’s anti-terrorist taskforce said those arrested belonged to a “terrorist network.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Government Communication Affairs, Shimeles Kemal said the arrest of the journalists had nothing to do with their work.


“The arrests have no relation with what the journalists wrote or with their views published on newspapers,” Kemal said.

“They were found to be involved in terrorism activities, nothing else.” said Kemal.
Reyot Alemu, a reporter for the Amharic language weekly Feteh, and Woubeshet Taye, the deputy editor of the Amharic language Awramba Times have been identified as the journalists under arrest.

Police said they will be produced in court soon.

Ethiopia recently enacted a strict anti-terrorism law making it one of the African countries with such legislation.

Eric Holder opens CIA detainee death inquiry


Attorney General Eric Holder Mr Holder said investigations of other CIA interrogations were "not warranted"

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The US is to open criminal inquiries into the deaths of two CIA detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003.
Gul Rahman died in November 2002 at a CIA prison in Afghanistan and Manadel al-Jamadi died at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003, according to reports.
Attorney General Eric Holder accepted the recommendation of an investigation into treatment of detainees.
But he said the probes into 101 cases since the 9/11 attacks would lead to no other prosecutions.
Mr Holder's announcement on Thursday came more than three years after his predecessor, Michael Mukasey, appointed justice department lawyer John Durham to investigate a report that videotapes of CIA-led interrogations of prisoners were destroyed.
In August 2009, Mr Holder expanded that inquiry to covered allegations of mistreatment of detainees in CIA custody.
Legal protection Rahman, described by CIA operatives as a hardened conduit between Afghan Taliban forces and al-Qaeda militants, died in November 2002 after being shackled to a cold cement wall at a CIA prison in northern Kabul, officials told news agencies.
Al-Jamadi is said to have died at Abu Ghraib prison, where he arrived wounded after a fight with US special forces in 2003.
In his initial inquiry, Mr Durham reviewed whether CIA operatives used unauthorised interrogation techniques on detainees, and examined CIA involvement in the questioning of 101 detainees following the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.
"Mr Durham and his team reviewed a tremendous volume of information pertaining to the detainees," Mr Holder said in a statement on Thursday.
"Mr Durham has advised me of the results of his investigation, and I have accepted his recommendation to conduct a full criminal investigation regarding the death in custody of two individuals. Those investigations are ongoing.
"The department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted."
The BBC's Paul Adams, in Washington, says the Obama administration has said from the start that it does not intend to prosecute anyone who acted within the scope of available legal guidance.
Under the presidency of George W Bush that guidance included a variety of techniques, including waterboarding, which are now officially regarded as torture.

17 children die at Calcutta hospital


Relatives and parents gather outside the BC Roy Hospital for Children in Calcutta Around 400 people protested outside the BC Roy Hospital for Children

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The Indian state of West Bengal has ordered an investigation into the deaths of 17 infants reportedly within 36 hours at a Calcutta hospital.
It says that it wants to establish whether or not the babies died because of negligence.
News channels on Thursday showed images of weeping and wailing parents outside the BC Roy Hospital for Children.
A hospital official said the babies were premature, suffering from septicaemia or had low birth weights.
The hospital denied any negligence in remarks to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The investigation into the deaths was announced by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"This is a very sad incident," she said. "We have ordered an inquiry into the unusual deaths."
Around 400 people, including angry parents of the dead children, protested outside the hospital on Thursday and were later reported to have clashed with baton-wielding police.
Correspondents say that the hospital usually accommodates 360 children, but is generally overcrowded, with many infants and young children forced to sleep on the floor because of the lack of beds.
The BBC's Amitabha Bhattasali in Calcutta says that a similar incident at the hospital happened five years ago when 10 children died.

US in contact with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - Clinton


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a press conference in Hungary on 30 June 2011 Hillary Clinton said the US would stress the importance of human rights in any talks
Washington has had "limited contacts" with Egypt's largest Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
She said the US wanted to "engage with all parties" seeking peace and non-violence following Egypt's uprising.
The Muslim Brotherhood has a strong following in Egypt but was illegal under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The group is planning to stand in parliamentary elections scheduled for September.
'Respect our values' Mrs Clinton, on a visit to Budapest, told reporters that the Obama administration was "continuing the approach of limited contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood that have existed on and off for about five or six years".
She went on to say that "given the changing political landscape in Egypt... it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful, and committed to non-violence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency".
She insisted that they would, in any talks, continue to press home the importance of democracy, non-violence, respect for minority rights and the full inclusion of women.
The Muslim Brotherhood said it welcomed Mrs Clinton's remarks but that no "direct contact" had yet been made.
"We are willing to meet in a context of respect," spokesman Mahmud Ghozlan told the AFP news agency.
"If the US is truly willing to respect our values and support freedom, as it says it does, then we have no problem."
The Brotherhood is still technically illegal under Egypt's constitution, which bans parties based on religion, class or regionalism.
But it is assumed to be Egypt's best organised and most popular opposition movement, and has begun its campaign to be recognised as a formal political party.
The Muslim Brotherhood has stressed that the new party it has set up to contest September's elections will be a civil, not a theocratic, group.
But correspondents say that with its Islamist agenda and historical links to radical groups, the group is feared and mistrusted in the West and to some extent in Egypt.

China opens world's longest sea bridge near Qingdao


Thousands of drivers are expected to use the bridge every day
China has opened the world's longest sea bridge to general traffic.
The bridge spans 42.4km (26.3 miles) to connect the eastern coastal city of Qingdao to the suburb of Huangdao, in Jiaozhou Bay.
State media say the bridge passed construction tests on Monday and it opened to traffic on Thursday, along with an undersea tunnel.
The bridge would easily cross the English Channel, which is 32km wide at its narrowest point.
It is 4km longer than the previous record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the US state of Louisiana.
It took four years to build and state media say the project cost over 10bn yuan ($1.55bn; £970m). The bridge is supported on more than 5,200 pillars.
It is expected to carry more than 30,000 cars a day, and will reportedly cut the commuting time between Qingdao and Huangdao by up to 30 minutes.
However, this cross-sea bridge may not hold on to the record as the world's longest.
In 2009, China began work on a bridge linking southern Guangdong province, China's main manufacturing hub, with Hong Kong and Macau.
However, only 35km of that structure - set to open in 2016 - will actually be above water.

Saudi Arabia bars Indonesia and Philippines workers


Protestors demonstrate over the recent execution of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia, on June 24, 2011 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia The execution of an Indonesian maid sparked protests earlier this month

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Saudi Arabia has said it will stop issuing permits for workers from Indonesia and the Philippines.
Riyadh said it was responding to new guidelines issued by the two Asian countries, which have long demanded better protection for their citizens.
Earlier this month Jakarta announced a moratorium on its nationals working in Saudi Arabia after an Indonesian maid was executed for murder.
More than two million Filipinos and Indonesians work in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi labour ministry said in a statement that the new rules would come into effect on Saturday.
The statement added: "The ministry's decision coincides with its great efforts to open new channels to bring domestic workers from other sources."
The Indonesian labour ministry played down the effect of the ban, saying Jakarta's moratorium on sending maids is due to come into effect on 1 August.
In the meantime, the ministry said about 10,000 Indonesians had visas and would be going to Saudi Arabia.
The execution of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia by beheading earlier this month sparked emotional protests, and criticism of the government for failing to prevent it.
Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the execution of Ruyati Binti Sapubi went against the "norms and manners" of international relations.
The BBC's Kate McGeown in Manila says the Philippines has argued for months that the Saudis need to increase the minimum wage for maids, and give a guarantee of humane working conditions.
Rights groups say maids are often mistreated in Gulf states, and there are few labour laws to protect them.
But the Gulf governments deny the claims, and highlight the fact that they recently signed up to the International Labour Organisation's convention on domestic workers.

Ugandan police seize Yoweri Museveni 'birthday cake'


Police in Kampala, Uganda, walk away with a birthday cake for President Museveni

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Ugandan police have broken up a "mock birthday party" for President Yoweri Museveni held by opposition activists.
They declared the party in the capital, Kampala, illegal and confiscated a birthday cake and the presents.
President Museveni's exact date of birth is not known.
The government says he is 68 but the opposition says he is 73, which would make him too old to stand for re-election in 2016. He has been in power since 1986.
The BBC's Joshua Mmali in Kampala says about 20 activists from the Free Uganda Now group arrived at the party singing and carrying nicely-wrapped gifts.
They also had a cake iced with the words: "Happy Birthday Taata Muhoozi", meaning Happy Birthday Muhoozi's father - a reference to the president's son, who is commander of the Special Forces Unit, which includes the Presidential Guard Brigade.
'Business risk' But the activists were outnumbered by about 200 policemen dressed in riot gear.
The policemen chased away the activists with batons and walked away with the cake and gifts, our reporter says.
Deputy Police spokesman Vincent Ssekate said police broke up the "mock party" because the organisers did not seek permission to hold it.
Police in Kampala, Uganda, walk away with a birthday cake for President Museveni It is not clear what happened to the cake
"They failed to come out and tell us their intentions," he said.
Mr Ssekate said the police were also concerned that it was taking place in the heart of Kampala's business district.
"We could not risk people's businesses to allow such a gathering," he said.
Brenda Nabukenya said the party was organised to inform Ugandans of Mr Museveni's age.
"Through thorough research, we found out he is 73. We have gone to the schools where he went and also to his friends. They told us he is 73 years," she said.
Our correspondent says there are no official celebrations to mark Mr Museveni's birthday.
Under Uganda law, presidential candidates must be aged 75 or less.
Our correspondent says there are no proper records in Uganda of when people were born, and it is difficult to verify the conflicting accounts.
Mr Museveni was declared the winner of elections earlier this year but the opposition said they were rigged.
Opposition activists then staged protests against the rising cost of living, which human rights activists said were brutally suppressed, leading to several deaths.

Nigeria imposes curfew on Abuja nightclubs and pubs


Burning vehicles in police HQ car park The police HQ attack was an embarrassing strike at the very heart of the security establishment

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A curfew has been imposed on Nigeria's capital, Abuja, following recent attacks by Islamist militants, meaning nightclubs, beer parlours and cinemas must close early.
They must shut by 2200 local time (2100 GMT) and public parks that admit children should close by 1800.
Two weeks ago, eight people were killed when the Islamist sect Boko Haram attacked the police HQ in Abuja.
On Sunday, its fighters bombed a beer garden in Maiduguri, killing 25.
This is the group's most deadly attack to date - later on Sunday, it killed another 10 people with a car bombing in the city.
The group, which usually targets the north-eastern state of Borno, around Maiduguri, says it is fighting for Islamic rule, and campaigns against all political and social activity associated with the West.
Abuja city's administration said it has also banned parking of vehicles on two roads where most government offices are located.
"These measures are necessitated by the need to ensure adequate security of lives and property in the federal capital territory [in light of] the prevailing security concerns," the city's spokesman said in a statement.
The BBC's Naziru Mikailu in Abuja says beer gardens are busy after work at the weekends and the curfew is likely to prove unpopular.
After a lull, Boko Haram's attacks have intensified in the last nine months.
In May, it staged attacks at the inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The group's trademark has been the use of gunmen on motorbikes.
Dozens of people have been killed - mostly security officers and politicians but also a Christian preacher and Muslim clerics who have criticised Boko Haram.
The sect's leader Mohammed Yusuf and several hundred of his supporters were killed by security forces in Maiduguri in 2009 after the group attacked police stations.

Libya: Russia decries French arms drop to Libya rebels


Libyan rebels with a captured tank in Zintan, 25 June 2011 Libyan rebels have been battling government forces for months
Russia has strongly criticised France for dropping weapons to Libyan rebels and demanded an explanation from Paris.
"If this is confirmed, it is a very crude violation of UN Security Council resolution 1970," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The African Union has also criticised the move, saying it risks causing a "Somalia-sation" of Libya.
The French military says it has dropped arms to Berber tribal fighters in the mountains south-west of the capital.
Mr Lavrov said Russia had formally requested information from France about the move, to check that it "corresponds with reality".
Mr Lavrov is due to meet French counterpart Alain Juppe in Moscow on Friday.
'Undefended populations' Moscow abstained from the UN Security Council vote in March that authorised an international mission in Libya to protect civilians.
Russia and China have both criticised the Nato campaign in recent weeks, saying it had gone beyond the remit of UN resolution 1973.
Another resolution, 1970, had imposed an arms embargo on Libya.
But US and UK officials have argued that resolution 1973 could nonetheless allow weapons to be supplied to rebels fighting to topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
France is also said to have been concerned at the stalemate in the Libyan conflict, which began in February.
Libyan rebels have recently been making gains and hope to advance on Tripoli from the existing front line on the northern side of the Nafusa mountains about 65km (40 miles) from the capital.
French officials have said the arms dropped to rebels earlier this month were for the protection of civilians threatened at the time by pro-Gaddafi forces.
"It appeared that in certain zones the security situation was extremely tense for these undefended populations," French military spokesman Thierry Burkhard said on Thursday.
'Somalia-sation' He said the supplies had been limited to ammunition and "light arms" including machine guns and rocket launchers. He denied a report in Le Figaro newspaper that anti-tank missiles had been parachuted in.
French media reports have said "light armoured cars" were also delivered to the rebels from Tunisia, and that France had not informed its allies about the move.
Earlier on Thursday, African Union chief Jean Ping listed a number of "problems" linked to France's decision to air-drop weapons to the rebels.
"The risk of civil war, risk of partition of the country, the risk of 'Somalia-sation' of the country, risk of having arms everywhere... with terrorism.
"These risks will concern the neighbouring countries," said Mr Ping, speaking at an African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea.

Swaziland judge suspended for 'insulting king'


Swaziland's King Mswati (archive shot) King Mswati III has refused to introduce multi-party democracy in Swaziland

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A senior judge in Swaziland, Thomas Masuku, has been suspended for allegedly insulting King Mswati III.
Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi told the BBC that Judge Masuku is accused of using the expression "forked-tongued" in a ruling referring to the king.
Judge Masuku was quoted by AFP news agency as saying he would defend himself in the appropriate forum.
King Mswati III is an absolute monarch who has ruled the southern African state for more than two decades.
The AFP news agency reports that Judge Masuku described the king as "forked-tongued" in a ruling last year.
His judgement said that policemen had wrongfully seized cattle in the monarch's name.
"It would be hard to imagine that his majesty could conceivably speak with a forked tongue, saying one thing and authorising his officers to do the opposite," the ruling said, according to AFP.
'Suspension outrageous' Chief Justice Ramodibedi told the BBC Mr Masuku also faced other allegations of "serious misbehaviour".
This included claims that he supported "regime change" in Swaziland, Chief Justice Ramodibedi said.
He told the BBC Mr Masuku would be investigated by the Judicial Services Commission.
"It would then make recommendations to his majesty, in terms of the constitution," the chief justice said.
The chairman of Swaziland's Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations, Musa Hlope, told AFP the judge's supension was outrageous.
"If one reads these charges you can see somebody is painting Masuku as a bad guy in the eyes of the king," Mr Hlope said.
The Swazi monarchy banned political parties nearly 40 years ago, and has resisted opposition calls to introduce multi-party democracy.
In April, police fired teargas to break up pro-democracy protests organised by trade unions.
King Mswati III was crowned in 1986 at the age of 18, succeeding his long-serving father King Sobhuza II.

'Missing' hungry boa constrictor found at Ipswich home


A dead rat was used to try to tempt Diva out of hiding

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A "hungry" snake which was thought to have escaped, leading police to warn children to stay indoors, has been found safe at the owner's home.
The 7.5ft (2.3m) boa constrictor, called Diva, escaped from a tank at her owner's home in Broom Crescent, Ipswich, Suffolk, on Wednesday morning.
The owner had described the snake as "unfriendly" and said it might bite if approached, but it was not venomous.
On Thursday afternoon the snake was found under the kitchen sink.
'Window of opportunity' Diva's owner Abbi Harding said the snake escaped by breaking the lock to her tank.
"She had a small window of opportunity when I let the dogs out and I came back and saw the door was ajar... In those few moments I thought she might have gone straight out there," she said.
Ms Harding said she had an "inkling" the snake may have still been in the house and left a dead rat under the kitchen sink in the hope that Diva would be tempted by it.
She said she would be fitting two locks on the snake's tank to make sure Diva does not escape again.
On Wednesday night Suffolk Police advised people to keep children and pets indoors.
At the time a police spokesman said: "The snake was last fed about three weeks ago and is due a feed.
"Suffolk Police cannot rule out a risk to the public and residents are advised to keep children and pets indoors.
"However, our understanding is that this snake will only feed on small animals such as mice and rats."
Boa constrictors are commonly found in tropical forests in South America and are from the family of constricting snakes, which kill their prey through asphyxiation.

Birmingham Airport's Tehran flight grounded in dispute


More than 100 passengers bound for Tehran are caught up in a dispute at Birmingham Airport involving an Iranian airline and a leasing company.
Birmingham Airport has confirmed that the 1430 BST Mahan Air flight for Tehran has been grounded.
It said the dispute involved Mahan Air and GECAS Aircraft Leasing and Financing Solutions company.
Passengers are waiting at the airport but neither party involved in the dispute was available for comment.
Are you supposed to be on the Mahan Air flight? Are you among the passengers waiting at the airport? Send us your comments and experiences.

Mother-in-law's manners e-mail: Right or wrong?


Manners montage
For any bride (or groom) to-be, one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of entering married life is winning over the future in-laws.
So when one young woman, Heidi Withers, returned from visiting hers in Devon, it's unlikely she welcomed the detailed critique of her manners that dropped into her inbox from her fiance's stepmother, Carolyn Bourne.
Having forwarded the e-mail that described her behaviour as "staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace" to her friends, it then went viral, attracting attention from around the world.
Here are some examples from the missive, followed by some expert opinions.
"When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early - you fall in line with house norms."
Staying at someone else's home can be a minefield of dilemmas for many a guest but choosing what time to appear at the breakfast table is one that can be easily cleared up the night before, says etiquette expert Liz Brewer.
"Even when staying at the grandest houses, the hostess will say breakfast is at X o'clock and we'd like you to join us then. If you are very tired, it is acceptable to maybe ask 'would you mind if I have a lie in?'. But that has to be established beforehand.
"When staying with the in-laws you'd have thought you would have wanted to make a good impression."
"No-one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity-style behaviour."
Madonna, Guy Ritchie and their son Rocco Madonna and Guy Ritchie tied the knot at Skibo Castle in the Scottish Highlands
For many couples - and brides in particular - their big day is something they have spent years imagining and planning. With this in mind, it's no surprise that the choice of venue tends to be somewhere special, like a castle.
Andrea Ventress of Wedding magazine says just because you don't happen to live in one doesn't mean you have to rule it out, particularly as more and more stately homes and castles have got wedding licences in the last decade.
"It's a way that a lot of these big places stay open.
"Yes, someone like Madonna got married in a castle but a lot of very normal, real-life couples can get married in these settings. There are lots of castles around the UK where you could absolutely afford to get married. Everyone has the right to a fairytale wedding. "
"You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host."
The suggestion that Miss Withers helped herself to seconds before being offered more by her hostess is seen as a definite no-no. Unless, that is, you are considerate enough to look out for your fellow diners first, says etiquette expert William Hanson.
"If there are communal dishes, and wine, on the table the polite thing to do is turn to the person next to you, offer them some more sprouts, wine or whatever it is and then help yourself."
"I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved for their daughters' marriages.) If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding."
By discussing money Mrs Bourne is mentioning the very British unmentionable. And on the subject of a bride's parents paying for a wedding, it is outdated, says Miranda Eason, editor of You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride.
"Our research [21st Century bride online survey 2010] shows that only around 10% of couples rely on their parents for funds. Forty-two per cent of weddings are an all-in-it-together venture with everyone contributing - the couple and both sets of parents. But nearly half (47%) of couples now finance the entire celebration themselves, largely because they are older than when their parents married - the average age for a bride is 29 - and are more financially independent.
"They want to plan the wedding they want without feeling obliged to give into pressure from the parents paying the bills."
"When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something."
In a world full of food awareness and choice, people are increasingly picky about what they eat. But when sitting at someone else's table in their home, Jill Harbord, the headmistress in ITV's Ladette to Lady, says suggesting a dislike for something that has been prepared for you is unacceptable.
"You certainly don't go into the house and say I hate X. That would be very bad manners. If you are allergic to something, you don't say it as you arrive. You should give prior warning before your visit. It's about having respect for your hostess."
"I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around."
Lucie Clayton teaches women about posture Is there still a need for finishing schools?
For William Hanson, this was the comment that "tipped it completely over the mark". Mrs Bourne's decision to comment on her future stepdaughter-in-law-to-be's manners is one that could call into question her own manners.
"Whilst she's technically correct on all the points she made she was rude herself handling it in the way she did. She could maybe have gone for the softly, softly approach, or just picked up on a couple of things that particularly bugged her."
Her decision to put her thoughts down in an e-mail could itself be described as a social faux pas. In person, it would have been easier to use tone to lighten the conversation.
"What she needed to do was address this one-to-one, in a friendly tone, not antagonising or dictating to her. She should have given an explanation why.
"Where there is a rule there is always a plausible reason and the reason is normally common sense."

Hariri murder: UN tribunal issues arrest warrants


Women pass by a giant portrait of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri near his grave, Beirut, Lebanon, 30 June 2011 Rafik Hariri is widely credited with getting Lebanon back on its feet after the 15-year civil war
Four arrest warrants have been issued by the UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the court said.
Hariri's son, Saad, welcomed the indictments and described them as a "historic moment" for Lebanon.
Local reports say the warrants name senior members of the Shia militant and political group Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has repeatedly denounced the tribunal and vowed to retaliate.
Divisions over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), based in The Hague, have thrown the country into political turmoil and prompted fears of sectarian unrest.
'Innocent until proven guilty' Rafik Hariri and 22 others were killed in February 2005 in central Beirut when a huge bomb went off as his motorcade passed by.

Analysis

The arrest warrants divide opinion in Lebanon. Many Lebanese want to know who killed Rafik Hariri. But the long years of delay in the international judicial process have made many people sceptical wondering whether the truth will ever come out.
Others believe that the constant vulnerability of Lebanon's political system means that stability is more important than justice. They question whether the tribunal process and the risks it entails are worth it.
There are also Lebanese - many of them Hezbollah supporters - who reject the tribunal outright, seeing it as a tool of Israel and the West to discredit enemies such as Syria and Hezbollah.
The newly installed government of Najib Mikati is well aware of the divergent views. And with Hezbollah a dominant force in the new government, handling the issue is going to be an early test of the new prime minister's political skills.
On Thursday, Lebanon's state prosecutor Saeed Mirza said he had received the indictments and four arrest warrants from an STL delegation in the Lebanese capital Beirut.
The STL later confirmed the indictment, stating that the judge "is satisfied that there is prima facie evidence for this case to proceed to trial".
It added that it would not reveal the identities of those named in the indictment.
"Judge Fransen has ruled that the indictment shall remain confidential in order to assist the Lebanese authorities in fulfilling their obligations to arrest the accused," the statement reads.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said his government would deal "responsibly and realistically" with the indictment, while "bearing in mind that these are accusations and not verdicts".
"All suspects are innocent until proven guilty," Mr Mikati told a news conference.
But the BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones in Beirut says the new prime minister is in a difficult position.
With Hezbollah now a strong force in the new Lebanese government, it is difficult to see how any arrests could be made, our correspondent says.
In a policy statement, the government said it would "follow the progress of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon... as long as it does not negatively affect Lebanon's stability and civil peace."
Thirty days

Hariri timeline

The aftermath of a car bombing is seen in Beirut, Lebanon, 14 February 2005
  • February 2005: Rafik Hariri is killed in a bombing in Beirut
  • April 2005: Syrian troops leave Lebanon after 29 years amid international pressure, despite Damascus denying any role in the killing
  • June 2007: UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) created
  • April 2009: The STL orders the release of four Lebanese generals detained in 2005
  • October 2010: Hezbollah urges all Lebanese to boycott the UN inquiry
  • January 2011: Hezbollah forces collapse of government led by Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri's son, after he refuses to stop co-operating with the tribunal
Officials from Hezbollah declined to comment, but the group's al-Manar television described the indictment as "politicised".
Hezbollah has denied always any role in the assassination. The group claims the tribunal is a plot involving the United States, Israel and France, and the group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has threatened to cut the hand of anyone who tries to arrest Hezbollah members.
Saad Hariri - himself a former prime minister - described the indictment over his father's case as a milestone for the country.
"After many years of patience, of struggle... today, we witness a historic moment in Lebanese politics, justice and security," he said.
He urged Lebanon's new Hezbollah-dominated government to live up to its international obligations.
Hezbollah forced the collapse of Saad Hariri's government in January after he refused to stop co-operating with the tribunal.
Mr Mikati has previously said that he would strive to uphold Lebanon's international obligations, but that he was also mindful of his responsibilities when it came to the country's stability.
According to tribunal officials, Lebanon now has 30 days to serve out the arrest warrants.
If the suspects are not arrested within that period, the STL will then make public the indictment and summon the suspects to appear before the court.

Somalia: What is it like to be kidnapped?


 
Suspected pirate boat
The growing menace of hijacking and kidnapping by Somali pirates has governments around the world desperate for a solution, with British MPs again discussing the issue. But the fate of the hostages and of Somalia itself is getting grimmer, writes foreign correspondent and kidnap victim Colin Freeman.
There are two conceptions of the pirate.
One lives in children's imaginations, flavoured by illustrated storybooks and Johnny Depp. The other wields a Kalashnikov rather than a cutlass.
It was the modern-day version of the buccaneer that I was investigating when I was kidnapped in Somalia in 2008.
Abducted at gunpoint in the pirate port of Bossasso in the Puntland region of Somalia, my photographer Jose Cendon and I were imprisoned in a mountain cave, surviving off goat meat and rice, receiving occasional death threats, and dodging bullets one day when our captors had a gunfight with a rival gang.
Colin Freeman (left) and photographer Jose Cendon Freeman and Cendon were well-treated, but now many hostages are not
As the days turned into weeks, our fears of succumbing to illness of either body or mind grew ever greater. The worst part, though, was the crushing boredom of Stone Age life.
Our only distraction, apart from talking to each other, was a short wave radio, and much as I love the BBC World Service, listening to it all day gets a little repetitive.
Frightening though it was, however, our ordeal was indeed child's play compared to the sufferings of the thousands of sailors taken hostage as Somali piracy has boomed in the past three years.
The average length of time that ships are hijacked for now is five months, while some are kept for up a year.
As I write, hundreds of sailors are in captivity, and although they are generally kept on their boats rather than transferred to caves on the mainland, living cheek-by-jowl with gunmen who are often drunk, high on drugs or plain aggressive is not pleasant.

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Our guards - the odd death threat notwithstanding - were generally reasonably cordial”
End Quote
More worryingly, pirates are starting to abandon their one-time "code of honour", under which sailors were generally not hurt as long as they did what they were told.
In a bid to get shipping firms to cough up ransoms faster, gangs have started torturing their hostages, sometimes hanging them by their wrists from ships' masts, sometimes throwing them overboard and dragging them by a rope through the sea.
One Indian sailor I recently interviewed told me how a fellow crewman was stripped naked and locked in the ship's walk-in deep freeze for half an hour, at -17C.
Unsurprisingly, many such victims suffer lasting psychological trauma.
All of which makes Jose and I feel very lucky with hindsight. Our guards - the odd death threat notwithstanding - were generally reasonably cordial, feeding us more rice and spaghetti than we could eat, and chatting in pidgin English about Arsenal and Chelsea (even among the outlaw fraternity of the Somali mountains, the international language of football is widely spoken).
As a result, the only psychological wounds I emerged with were a lifelong loathing of goat meat risotto, a cigarette habit I'd previously kicked in 1992, and the trauma of appearing at a press conference with a beard that would have had even Ben Gunn reaching self-consciously for a razor.

The piracy capital

Map showing Bossasso
Puntland has become notorious as the centre of Somalia's lucrative pirate industry. The north-eastern region makes up almost one third of Somalia's land mass and declared itself autonomous in 1998.
In local fishing towns like Eyl piracy is one of the main industries, with profits paying for sprawling mansions and expensive cars.
The authorities are trying to clear Puntland's coastline - and reputation - of the stain of piracy. It has been recruiting and training troops for an anti-piracy force. About half of its prison population is now made up of pirates.
My release, which came after weeks of round the clock negotiations by everyone from fellow journalists and diplomats through to Somali clan elders, felt nothing short of ecstatic, twinned with a sense of profound relief that neither of my parents had suffered a heart attack due to the stress.
While in the cave, though, there were some distinctly dark moments of the soul. Especially once Jose and I ran out of things to say to each other (which took about a fortnight) leaving us with only our own thoughts to occupy ourselves.
For it is then that you realise that your mind, already tired and stressed, is not the limitless sanctuary you might expect. Rather than passing the time with intellectual, life-affirming insights, I increasingly found I could only manage things like listing old pubs I'd visited in my youth, and ranking the girls I knew in order of attractiveness.
So much for that university education and all those books I'd read over the years, I thought to myself, staring blankly at the cave wall. Not only am I a scruffy, smelly hostage, I'm a dullard as well. And how much longer before I ran out of thoughts altogether, and the descent into some kind of madness began?
For a start, all the talk that the only way to fix the piracy problem is to fix the problems in Somalia itself strikes me as a little glib. Somalia has been ignored by the outside world for 20 years now, and at the risk of sounding pessimistic, I sense no appetite for the kind of immense Iraq or Afghanistan-style commitment that would be required for outside intervention to stand a chance.
Meanwhile, the pirate attacks are continuing at such a rate that some sailors' unions are now threatening to boycott the Horn of Africa region altogether.
Suspected Somali pirate The Puntland region has problems with piracy
The shipping industry, likewise, is fed up with Western navies releasing captured pirates because of a lack of courts willing to try them.
Some shipping bosses I know now talk darkly of pressing for "a more military solution". They don't quite like to say that the navies should just blow them out of the water, but they do argue that in the past, that was how the "pyrates" of old were defeated.
Somehow, I can't see human rights groups ever approving that, although oddly enough, it might have backing from the one other group of people whose future is jeopardised by piracy.
Somalis themselves are mostly horrified at how an entire generation of their youth is being enticed into a lucrative criminal lifestyle.
They recognise that as the hostage-taking culture spreads from the sea to the land, any visitors will be at risk, be it aid workers, foreign investors or journalists like me.
And as long as the country is bereft of the outside help it so badly needs, those pirate pieces of eight - or, to be more precise, those crisp bundles of $100 bills - will remain a tempting way to earn a living.
Colin Freeman is chief foreign correspondent on The Sunday Telegraph and author of Kidnapped: Life as a Somali pirate hostage.

Somalia parliament approves new PM


2011-06-28 19:14 Mogadishu - Somali legislators have approved the appointment of Adiweli Mohamed Ali as prime minister, their speaker said on Thursday, and the new government's main goal will be quashing an Islamist insurgency.

Ali was named to the post last Thursday by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. Like his predecessor, Ali comes from the Somali diaspora. Before joining Somalia's transitional government he was a professor of economics in the United States.

He was sworn in front of the parliament after the 337-2 vote with two abstentions.

"The new PM has been approved by the parliament and so he is expected to appoint his cabinet ministers as soon as possible," parliament speaker Sherif Hassan Sheikh Aden told reporters.

Somalia has been mired in violence and awash with weapons since the overthrow of a dictator in 1991, and the weak Western-backed government controls only parts of the capital.

Western security agencies warn that the lawless Horn of Africa nation is a fertile breeding ground for Islamist militants, while the chaos on land has allowed piracy to flourish off its shores.

Ahmed's administration is propped up by African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, but al Shabaab rebels, who claim links with al Qaeda, control large areas of the capital Mogadishu and much of south and central Somalia.

Former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was forced out by a deal struck earlier this month in Kampala between the president and speaker of parliament that extended the beleaguered administration's mandate by 12 months.

The Kampala agreement ended persistent wrangling between Ahmed and Aden that had angered international donors, who are keen to see an acceleration in the pace of political reform and military gains against the al Shabaab.

Somalia's latest administration had been due to dissolve in August with Ahmed, a former Islamist rebel leader, and Aden, who covets the top job, at loggerheads over what should happen then.

US 'extends drone strikes to Somalia'


First such attack reported in east African nation reportedly wounds two leaders of anti-government group al-Shabab.
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2011 20:06
Al-Shabab fighters parade new recruits after arriving in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, in October 2010 [Reuters]
A US drone aircraft is reported to have fired upon two senior members of al-Shabab, the Islamist anti-government armed group, in Somalia last week, marking the first time a US unmanned plane has been used for such an attack inside the country.
The strike, said to have been carried out on June 23, is believed to have targeted a convoy of fighters belonging to al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia's weak Transitional National Government and impose Islamic law.
The attack was not immediately identified as a drone strike, but a senior US military official familiar with the operation told the Washington Post newspaper on Thursday that it had come from such an aircraft.
The strike would make Somalia the sixth country where the US has reportedly used drones to conduct air strikes.

They have also been used in Libya, Yemen, Iraq and most extensively in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The strike hit the convoy as it drove along the cost in Kismayo, a southern port town, the AP news agency reported. Two fighters were wounded.
Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig, the deputy defence minister, declined to identify who the fighters were or who carried out the attack, except to say it had been done by a "partner country".
In 2009, a raid involving US special operations troops succeeded in killing Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan national wanted for a 2002 truck bombing at a tourist hotel in Mombasa.
Al-Shabab, which is believed to maintain links with al-Qaeda franchises, is growing stronger as it consolidates its hold on the majority of Somali territory, including more than half of the capital, Mogadishu.
"They have become somewhat emboldened of late, and, as a result, we have become more focused on inhibiting their activities," the US official told the Post. "They were planning operations outside of Somalia."
The Somali Transitional National Government, led by President Sharif Ahmed, relies on international funding and military support from the African Union to maintain its tenuous hold on power.

Wounded soldiers face 'postcode lottery' of care


Badly wounded soldiers are subjected to a “postcode lottery” of care on the NHS when they leave the Services, charity chiefs have told MPs.

Wounded soldier
More than 2,000 servicemen have been wounded in action on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan Photo: AFP/GETTY
Despite government promises on the Military Covenant, which is soon to be enshrined in law, veterans are also receiving the same priority for council housing as former prisoners.
Air Vice Marshal Tony Stables told the Commons Defence Committee said the treatment wounded troops received after being released from the rehabilitation centre at Headley Court was a matter of chance.
“The delivery and support of veterans by other government departments is the subject of postcode lottery that is compounded by devolved administrations,” said the retired officer, who is chairman of the Confederation of Service Charities.
He added that a soldier had made the point to him that “‘I lost my leg in the service of my country not in the service of East Midlands.’”
The soldier then asked “why should I not have parity across the UK?”
Wounded veterans are also facing further difficulties as advances in prosthesis means that NHS technicians are struggling to understand how to fit them to limbs properly.
The latest Ministry of Defence figures show that there have been more than 2,000 servicemen wounded in action on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them are amputees that will need care for life.
Some soldiers are still receiving the same standard of care as criminals when it came to housing AVM Stables told the committee, that was taking evidence on military casualties.
“I was recently talking with mayor of Solihull who said priority for the provision of social housing for ex members of the armed forces was equal to that of prisoners coming out of prison.
“He said do you think that is right?”
While charities such as Help For Heroes have received more than £100 million in public donations the charity chiefs, including the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, said public funding should not make up for the “shortfall” of facilities that should be paid for by the Government.
Under the Armed Forces Bill going through Parliament an obligation will be put on a statutory footing to ensure fair and proper treatment for those who risk their lives for Britain.
Free bus passes will be given to seriously wounded veterans, including amputees and those with head injuries.
Men who have suffered genital injuries will be given three free courses of IVF treatment funded by the NHS; troops on operations will get a 50 per cent rebate on council tax, up from a 25 per cent rebate; and a “Veterans’ Card” will be given to all serving and former military personnel giving a discount at a variety of shops and sports events.
Councils will also be ordered to prioritise soldiers, sailors and airmen for housing.
A previous Whitehall report has shown that more than a third of GPs were unaware that war pensioners should be given priority, while those that did know received their information from the media rather than Whitehall.

30 Thriving Careers Your Children Should Consider


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June 29th, 2011
Our future is in a constant state of change, and as such, so are the careers of the future. New technologies, developments, and trends have a huge impact on the careers that will be thriving now and in the future. Here, we’ll take a look at 30 careers that are great now, and for the next generation.
  1. Delivery Service Driver: This job doesn’t sound like the most glamorous career, but delivery service drivers are predicted to continue to be in high demand. Drivers for carriers like UPS, FedEx and USPS should enjoy excellent job security as online shopping and delivery increases in use.
  2. Epidemiologist: As more and more outbreaks occur in the world, epidemiologists are needed now more than ever. These experts are often called in to explain how outbreaks can spread, and how they can be contained. You don’t even need an MD to become and epidemiologist.
  3. Tissue Engineer: Researchers have been able to create man-made skin, and are working on artificial cartilage, and growing new tissues can’t be far behind. Tissue engineers can expect to work on growing new organ tissue, including livers, hearts, and kidneys.
  4. Construction Worker: Although the housing market has died down, construction employment is expected to rise by 19%, fueled by commercial and roadway construction. This career is a good alternative for those who would otherwise be interested in manufacturing, as that is a job sector that is expected to decline.Continued

Doctor barred from flying after refusing body scan on health grounds


An eye consultant was barred from boarding a flight at Manchester airport after refusing to go through a body scanner in case if gave him a dangerous dose of radiation.

Doctor barred from flying after refusing body scan on health grounds
Tony Aguirre said he was not prepared to take the risk of going through the scanner as it was potentially dangerous to his health Photo: HUDDERSFIELD DAILY EXAMINER
Tony Aguirre a specialist at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary declined to go through the full-body scanner on both medical and ethical grounds.
But instead of being offered a pat down search as an alternative, the father-of-two was escorted out of the airport by police and not allowed to board his flight to Zurich.
It is now mandatory for passengers to go through the full body scanners before boarding their flights at Manchester, Gatwick and Heathrow airports staff there have been told that anyone who refuses should be grounded.
The X-ray device scans through a persons clothes creating an image of a persons naked body in order to look for hidden objects potentially hidden on their person.
But Mr Aguirre said he was not prepared to take the risk of going through the scanner as it was potentially dangerous to his health. He also said it was undignified to expose his nude body.
"X-rays are known to cause cancer and I think somebody will get cancer from this body scanner whether its me or someone else," said Mr Aguirre.
"It is well known that X-rays can cause cancer. It can cause mutations in the genes in the spermatogenetic cells, as in most other cells.
Recent studies have suggested that the X-rays used at Manchester airport could produce 20 times as much radiation than first thought.
Mr Aguirre, who is originally from Spain, said no-one should be forced to be viewed naked and it is demeaning and undignified.
"You shouldn't be forced to expose yourself and it raises moral issues and dignity issues," he argued.
Mr Aguirre said in the United States people can exercise their right to opt out of a full body scan. He said: "This raises the suspicion that perhaps its more expensive to do a manual search and that's why they are forced to go through an X-ray."
Because he was grounded Mr Aguirres wife had to quickly book him another flight to Zurich. The consultant flying to treat patients in Swizerland had to take a flight from Liverpool where the scanners are not used and make a connection in Amsterdam.
Easyjet in Manchester wouldn't refund his £58.98 ticket.
A Manchester Airport spokesperson said: "The safety and security of our passengers is our number one priority."
"The technology is fully approved by the Radiation Protection Board and the Health Protection Agency and since instructed by the UK Government in February 2010, is a mandatory part of the security process, which we will continue to inform our passengers of.
"We now have full body scanners at all three of our terminals and the majority of passengers rate the process to be an improvement on the traditional airport security pat down check."
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "A no scan, no fly rule exists in the UK, meaning that if selected for screening, passengers do not have the option of a pat-down search and are escorted landside."

China can't let go of Chairman Mao


As the ruling Chinese Communist Party marks its 90th birthday, Peter Foster reports from the megacity of Chongqing.

China can't let go of Chairman Mao
Plenty to eat now: customers at the Red Leader Hot Pot Restaurant Photo: ADAM DEAN
It might seem odd that a man responsible for the starvation of more than 30 million people could be chosen to promote a restaurant, but there is no mistaking the avuncular features of Mao Zedong staring from the portrait above the entrance to the "Red Leader" Hot Pot eatery.
"Comrades! Welcome Comrades!" breezes a pretty hostess dressed up as one of Chairman Mao's Red Guards, complete with armband and Mao lapel badge.
She is, of course, far too young to remember the Cultural Revolution, the Mao-inspired political civil war of 1966-1976 that tore her parents' generation apart. Back then "comrade" was the standard form of address; today it is only used by young Chinese as slang for "gay".
Welcome, then, to China 2011: a country of such abiding contradictions that the ruling Communist Party's darkest moment can be the subject of a vapid theme-restaurant, even as a battle rages between conservatives and reformers over the country's political direction.
Today the party that Mao brought to power will mark its 90th birthday, celebrating its founding by a small group of revolutionaries in Shanghai in 1921 with an outpouring of "Red" propaganda. Groups of party faithful will gather to sing "Red" songs; cinemas will show the state's latest star-studded propaganda epic, The Founding of a Party, while newspapers and television stations will lionise the party's achievements.
This revival of the cult of Mao finds its apogee in the steaming southern megacity of Chongqing, whose charismatic Communist Party leader, Bo Xilai, has mounted a campaign to paint the city "Red". Party cadres have gathered to sing rousing old party songs, citizens have been bombarded with millions of text messages carrying selected Mao bon mots, and the city's satellite television station broadcasts only improving red-themed programmes.
It is difficult to know how seriously to take China's red revival. Like the idea of a Cultural Revolution-themed restaurant – could the world imagine an Auschwitz CafĂ©? – to Western eyes the campaigns are almost beyond parody. It seems the young – when they are not waiting tables dressed as Red Guards – are either openly scornful or just plain uninterested.
"Honestly, I don't like all that 'Red' stuff," says 18-year-old Han Yutong, who dreams of being a television anchorwoman. "I think it's just for show, just a propaganda exercise for the party."
"To be honest, Mao doesn't mean much to me," agrees a 26-year-old diner looking up at a life-sized portrait of the late Chairman. "You should ask our parents about him, they remember the Cultural Revolution. Mao's just a national leader. He's not good, not bad."
"Was it really 30 million that died in the famine [of 1959-61]? I never heard about that," adds Luo Dong, a 19-year-old, looking vaguely troubled as he dunks another slice of beef into a pot of bubbling oil. "But then I did study sciences. I want to be an environmentalist."
To listen to their blasĂ© responses, you could be forgiven for thinking that the resurgence of the red Left was a theatrical irrelevance put on by the state. But to others, the revival reflects an ideological battle behind the scenes among the political elite, pitting those – like Mr Bo – who want to see the Communist state forcefully reassert its grip on power, against more liberal, reforming forces.
Thoughts are turning to which direction the next generation of leaders, who assume power next year, will take China: will they turn to the Left, curtailing freedoms and stepping up party controls, or go Right, embracing a more liberal agenda that will build a more independent civil society, as a prelude to democracy many years hence? In recent months, in a portent that China might be "turning Left", there has been a marked tightening of security, with more than 100 activists arrested, including the artist Ai Weiwei, who was released on bail last week after 81 days in detention.
Mr Bo, one of the few charismatic figures in politics, is unapologetic, claiming that his red song campaigns – and the Communist spirit they evoke – were the driving force behind China's great revival. "Not only have they [red songs] allowed an impoverished, weak, quasi-colonised and semi-closed China to establish itself among the great peoples of the world," he says. "It has also enabled us to become the world's second largest economy."
However, for many Chinese, who have embraced the fruits of capitalism in recent decades, attempts by the party to take the ideological credit for China's transformation ring hollow. The party, for all its professions to clean up its act, is mired in constant corruption scandals – a leaked report from the central bank estimates corrupt officials stole £6 billion in the decade from the late 1990s – and there is a widespread belief that it has become a decadent, self-enriching elite.
Another of Mr Bo's more high-profile attempts to "reconnect" the party and proletariat demonstrates the depths of the party's trust problem. This year, in a deliberate echo of Mao's re-education campaigns, Mr Bo ordered 10,000 officials "back to the countryside" to deepen their understanding of the problems of the rural poor.
Officials were ordered to spend their weekends farming and Chongqing's TV station duly showed them tilling the land, and planting peach trees as a gift to the agricultural poor, each hung with a crimson, peach-shaped tag bearing the name of the official that had planted it. However, when The Daily Telegraph visited Guangfu, the poor farmers made no secret that the scheme was a sham, explaining that local officials had paid five villagers 800 yuan (£75) each a month to do the work.
"The leaders just used the tools in front of the TV cameras for a few minutes. When the cameras were switched off, they all left," said 58-year-old Chen Kerong, one of those paid to do the work. "They only posed like farmers for the TV show. We weren't even invited to watch."
Such stories go to the heart of the cynicism that many feel towards the party, with some activists openly deriding the red schemes of Mr Bo – who chose to educate his son, Bo Guagua, at Harrow, Oxford and Harvard – as hypocritical nonsense.
"This is an absurd era: they encourage you to sing the revolutionary songs, but do not encourage you to make revolution," a Chongqing-based activist, He Bing, wrote in a pithy microblog post. "They encourage you to watch the glory of the founding of the party, but do not encourage you to found a party."
Such talk can prove dangerous, as Fang Hong, a retired forestry worker discovered in April, when he was sentenced to a year of "re-education through labour" for posting a rude joke about Mr Bo (his name puns loosely in Chinese with the word for "erection") on his microblog.
Not everyone derides Mr Bo. Supporters say that aside from his clunky socialist propaganda – which is proclaimed from hoardings along Chongqing's highways – he has done much that is good, building low-cost housing, cleaning up corruption and boosting benefits for the poor.
Support is also guaranteed from party cadres gathered in the main square outside City Hall, where a party branch of a pharmaceutical company was on an outing, posing for photographs while chanting slogans with clenched fist salutes. "We follow the Party leadership! We keep the Party secrets!" they cried. "We give our lives to the Party! Without the Party there is no China! The Party points China the right way!"
Such displays of devotion might seem anachronistic, even unnerving, to Western eyes but in a country where the party still holds the keys to advancement in many areas, the motivations are often more practical than ideological. "We sing because it makes us happy and is good for our health," says He Rongjun, 57, a laid-off textile worker (and not a party member) who was leading a group of mostly retired Chinese in a round of red songs in Shapingba Park. "We never sing songs from the Cultural Revolution, they raise too many painful memories. If we sing songs to the party, it is for the good things that the party has brought, the prosperity, which is what everyone cares about.
"It is impossible to go back [to the era of the Cultural Revolution]. People just aren't like that any more. They are not stupid, they cannot be told what to think and they won't just listen blindly to what the party says, not any more."
And that simple truth, as Mr Bo's "Red" campaigns perhaps inadvertently show, may yet prove to be the Communist Party's biggest headache of all.