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 on: Apr 16, 2015, 07:56 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Seattle elephants hit the road to Oklahoma City Zoo

Originally published April 15, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Woodland Park Zoo’s two elephants were loaded onto a truck Wednesday and sent off to Oklahoma City after a federal court declined to block the move.

By Sandi Doughton
Seattle Times science reporter

Within hours of a federal-court decision clearing the way for the move, Woodland Park Zoo’s two elephants were on the road to their new home at the Oklahoma City Zoo Wednesday.

With news helicopters hovering overhead and a few protesters weeping outside the zoo gates, two containers — each holding one of the multi-ton animals — were loaded onto a flatbed truck during the afternoon.

Accompanied by a convoy of zoo staffers and veterinarians, the truck pulled out at 6:15 p.m. 

The 2,000-mile trip is expected to take about 40 hours. The $111,000 price tag for the move will be split between the two zoos.

In a statement, Woodland Park Zoo CEO Deborah Jensen said Oklahoma City offers a state-of-the-art elephant exhibit, excellent veterinary care and a multigenerational herd with which the Seattle elephants can socialize.

But activists, who battled nearly a decade to have the aging pachyderms retired to a sanctuary instead of being kept on display in a zoo, were bitterly disappointed.

“It’s been a tragedy that they’ve spent their whole lives in a zoo since they were babies, and it’s a tragedy that they’re going to die in a zoo without ever having one single day off display, being an elephant,” said Alyne Fortgang, of Elephant Justice Project and Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants.

Bamboo, 48, and Chai, 36, were both captured in the wild and have lived in Seattle most of their lives.

Their departure brings an end to the city’s long and tumultuous relationship with captive elephants. Animal-welfare advocates and even some former zoo officials have long argued that the massive beasts are ill-suited to life in captivity. A 2012 Seattle Times investigation found that two elephants die for every one born in zoos.

Woodland Park opted to close its elephant exhibit after the death last year of a third elephant, 45-year-old Watoto, who collapsed in the yard and was euthanized.

Zoo officials picked Oklahoma City because it’s among a handful of zoos with active breeding programs for elephants. Chai and Bamboo will join a herd that includes a bull, two adult females and two youngsters.

Legal efforts to block the move came to an end with Wednesday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not to grant the injunction sought by Elephant Justice Project.
Advocates also had appealed to Mayor Ed Murray and members of the Seattle City Council to invoke their authority under the zoo society’s 20-year operating agreement with local governments that provides about a third of its budget. Murray said he would have preferred the elephants be sent to a sanctuary and that he was disappointed by the selection of Oklahoma City. But neither he nor the council stepped into the fray.

The risk posed by the trip to Oklahoma City was among the issues brought up in the court documents. But a federal judge dismissed those concerns in an earlier ruling.

Jensen said the truck carrying the elephants will be escorted by eight elephant handlers, zoo staffers and veterinarians traveling in three vehicles. The convoy will stop every few hours to check on the animals and provide food. In between stops, the elephants will be monitored by cameras in their climate-controlled crates.

For the past two months, zoo staffers have been working to get the elephants comfortable with the crates, said Martin Ramire, Woodland Park’s curator of mammals.

When they arrive in Oklahoma City, Chai and Bamboo initially will be kept away from the other elephants for a 30-day quarantine. They will have their own, small outdoor yard. In the barn, they will be physically separated from the other animals. But all the elephants will be able to hear, see and smell each other.

When the keepers feel it’s safe, the Seattle elephants and their new companions will be allowed to touch each other with their trunks through the bars in the barn.

“During the introduction process, elephants work out a social hierarchy,” said Laura Bottaro, curator at the Oklahoma City Zoo. It could take days or months, she added. “We will follow the cues of the animals.”

A federal lawsuit by the Elephant Justice Project that argues that the move violates the Endangered Species Act has not been dismissed. A judge ruled earlier that he thought the activists might succeed on the question of whether the zoo failed to get a proper federal permit for the move.

But with the elephants already gone, it’s unclear whether the litigation will continue.

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 07:47 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by cat777
Hi Rad and Group,

One question sprang to mind after reading everything that Linda and Skywalker wrote. Here we are talking about a soul that is essentially a victim. He has a fear of drowning due to unconscious memories of dying in a Nazi gas chamber and other traumatic experiences throughout the course of time based on issues of trust, abandonment, abuse, sexual abuse so on and so forth. What flashed into my mind after reading all of this was something that Patricia Walsh said in a video. She was talking about victim and perpertrator lives and said something like it seems that many souls will create hundreds or thousands of victim lives after having been a perpetrator. What I am wondering, in a case like this, we are focused on looking at the chart from the pov of the souls being a victim. The memory of whatever caused the soul to create these types of lives must be represented by the chart as well. Are there specific astrological signatures that may be clues to what originally happened and when the "switch" occurred. By "switch" I'm thinking how we can see signs of a gender switch, so I'm thinking there may be signs of perpetrator/victim switching. Maybe? It would seem like his 10th/11th12th house stellium that stretches from Moon in Leo to Pluto in Libra would tell much of the story of guilt and atonement. Is that correct? I'm also wondering about Chiron. Would Chiron, one's deepest wound, opposition Uranus have any significance here? I'm thinking maybe in terms of the soul having memories of a life in which it was a prepetrator rather than a victim come into awareness to some degree be it conscious awareness, or an awareness through dreams or some other form that is semi-conscious. I guess the bottom line of what I am wondering about is once we determine what past life trauma has caused present life behavior, how can we go further and determine why the saoul chose to experience all that past life trauma in the first place.

Looking forward to your thoughts and those of anyone else who has anything to add.



Hi Cat,

He did and does not think of himself as a victim as all. He had and does fully accept the responsibility of his own actions. Examine the 10th and 11th Houses including his Sun being conjunct Saturn. His question about all this was very simple: "why did I create all this".

Whenever any Soul can not accept the responsibility for their own actions it creates the victim of course. When a Soul creates this sense of being a victim it does not automatically equal or correlate to it then desiring to victimize others: to be some sort of perpetrator. It can of course but it is not some automatic thing. In his last life he was one of four to five million Jews, two to three million Gypsies, and other 'undesirables, that were rounded up by Hitler's forces and sent to the concentration camps. Does that mean then that all of them are victims who were, as some previous point, perpetrators victimizing others ?  

God Bless, Rad

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 07:11 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi All, Linda, and Skywalker

I am Rad's assistant who is writing this to let you know that he is under the weather and will be back here as soon as possible. He wishes to thank you for your effort and contributions.

Take care ........

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 07:02 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Long Before Obama and Iran, Conservatives Compared Reagan to Neville Chamberlain

APRIL 15, 2015

If the wrangling in Washington to give Congress a say on the terms of a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program caused some irritation in Tehran, the compromise bill approved by a Senate committee on Tuesday also drew catcalls from the far right of the American political spectrum.

    Our counterpart is not US Senate or Congress; it's P5+1. They should all know, if there is no end to #sanctions, there will be no #IranDeal.
    — Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) April 15, 2015

Richard Viguerie, a veteran conservative activist who helped invent the political direct-mail business to elect Republican candidates, called Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, “a traitor” for agreeing to a plan that could give Congress the right to review the agreement but also make it difficult to block a deal entirely.

    #tcot #Republican @SenBobCorker is a TRAITOR #IranDeal #IranNuclearWeapons #AprilFoolsDeal #TeaParty #MolonLabe
    — Richard Viguerie (@RichardViguerie) April 15, 2015   

For Mr. Viguerie, a vocal supporter of efforts by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, to subvert President Obama’s negotiations with the Iranians, opposition to arms control agreements with American adversaries runs very deep. In 1988, Mr. Viguerie even turned against President Ronald Reagan for negotiating a pact with the Soviet Union to eliminate an entire class of nuclear missiles.

    #47Patriots or #47Traitors? take my no sign-in poll at to stand with @SenTomCotton on #IranDeal #tcot #TeaParty
    — Richard Viguerie (@RichardViguerie) March 11, 2015

As Hedrick Smith reported in The New York Times Magazine in 1988, Mr. Viguerie was part of a coalition of conservative activists who took the fight to Mr. Reagan in full-page newspaper ads that compared his arms-control deal with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to Neville Chamberlain’s accord with Adolf Hitler in 1938.

Writing about decades of consistent conservative opposition to all arms control accords, Jonathan Chait dug up a copy of the Reagan-as-Chamberlain ad published on Jan. 25, 1988.

all presidents who negotiate with enemies appeasers
    — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) March 30, 2015

“Conservative opposition to Obama’s expected deal with Iran is based on a critique of Obama’s peculiar failings,” Mr. Chait argued in New York magazine. “He is naïve in the face of evil, desperate for agreement, more willing to help his enemies than his friends.

”The problem is that conservatives have made this same diagnosis of every American president for 70 years. They do not merely oppose this deal, they oppose all of them, because they believe evil regimes cannot be negotiated with.”

Daniel Larison, a senior editor at The American Conservative, echoed those thoughts earlier this week, writing that hard-line critics of the proposed deal with Iran “have never really accepted” the logic of arms control. “Indeed, most of them have never seen an arms control or nonproliferation agreement that they haven’t wanted to derail or defeat,” he wrote.

”We saw that in the vehement hawkish opposition to New Start a few years ago, and that was over the renewal of an earlier arms reduction treaty that one would have thought had become completely uncontroversial,” Mr. Larison added. He was referring to the updated Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia to limit the deployment of nuclear weapons that the Senate approved in 2010 despite conservative objections.

”These critics are ideologically opposed to making diplomatic compromises of any kind with regimes like the one in Iran,” Mr. Larison continued. “They are the political descendants or, in some cases, the very same people that accused Reagan of appeasement when he pursued arms control agreements with the Soviets. Past warnings about these agreements have been repeatedly discredited over time, but that doesn’t stop them from being recycled in the next debate.”

As the conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin noted, Senator Cotton told The Atlantic this week, “It’s unfair to Neville Chamberlain to compare him to Barack Obama.”
Continue reading the main story

    Cotton: It's unfair to Neville Chamberlain to compare him to Barack Obama,
    — Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) April 13, 2015

But if, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning,” in the historical memory of conservatives who fight arms control deals with American enemies as the appeasement of evil empires, it is always 1938 in Munich.
Continue reading the main story
A 1938 British newsreel report on Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s accord with Adolf Hitler over the Czech Sudetenland. British Pathé, via YouTube

One of Mr. Viguerie’s old allies, Newt Gingrich, denounced President Reagan’s first meeting with Mr. Gorbachev in 1985 as “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”

Two years later, The Times reported that a candidate to succeed Mr. Reagan, Pat Robertson, attacked his talks with the Soviets by “comparing the President to Neville Chamberlain, the British leader who was the architect of the policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany.”

In 2008, when Mr. Obama suggested during the presidential campaign that year that he would negotiate with the Iranians, then-President George W. Bush, in a speech to Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, compared that idea to appeasing the Nazis.

When asked about those remarks, Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s opponent in the campaign, agreed with Mr. Bush, telling reporters, “Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain.”

That comparison to Chamberlain has been used increasingly against President Obama’s foreign policy team by hard-line critics of the negotiations with Iran. Speaking to Politico two weeks ago, Senator Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican who now holds Mr. Obama’s old Senate seat, turned his fire on Wendy Sherman, the lead American negotiator in the multinational talks with Iran.

“I would say that Neville Chamberlain got a lot more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman got out of Iran,” Mr. Kirk said.


Obama Wallops Republicans With The Facts About Their Plan To Cut Taxes For The Rich

By: Jason Easley
Wednesday, April, 15th, 2015, 8:34 pm   

President Obama used facts and math to reveal the true agenda behind the Republican plan to cut taxes for the wealthy during an event in Charlotte, NC.

The President said:

Now, it is significant that today is Tax Day. If you haven’t filed, you — But the reason I mentioned all the policies that I just talked about is that overall when you put my policies together in the budget, I want to cut taxes for more than 5 million middle-class families who need help paying for child care. I want to cut taxes for more than 8 million families of students who need help paying for college. I want to cut taxes to help 30 million workers save for retirement. I want to cut taxes for 13 million low-wage workers the same way that I fought to expand tax cuts like the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit — and we’ve been able to implement those.

So all told, my plan would cut taxes for 44 million working and middle-class families. That’s who our tax code should benefit — working Americans who are out there struggling every day, doing the right thing, supporting their families and trying to get a leg up in this new economy.

Now, it is a good thing that Republicans in Washington have started to talk about wages and incomes and the middle class. It’s better late than never, and so I’m encouraged. Unfortunately, the policies they’re putting forward don’t answer the mail — they don’t speak to the issues that ordinary families are facing.

I’ll just give you a couple examples. Their tax plan would give the average millionaire and billionaire a $50,000 tax cut. That’s about what the average middle-class worker makes in an entire year. They’re also pushing a new $270 billion tax cut for the very wealthiest of the wealthiest. It would affect about 5,000 families all across America; it would cost $270 billion. Here in North Carolina, it would benefit precisely 120 households.

For $270 billion, which is the cost approximately of the tax breaks I’m giving to 44 million people, it would benefit a little over 5,000 people.

So their plan would cut taxes for the top one-tenth of 1 percent and let taxes go up on 25 million working families and students. And my view is we don’t need tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

Republicans are doing their best to hide the facts behind their tax plan. They keep discussing tax fairness, which in GOPspeak means rich people should pay less while everyone else pays more. All of the Republican tax plans are the same. Taxes get cut for the wealthy and raised for everyone else. The plan is nothing new. The American people have caught on to it, but every year it comes back again.

Republicans try to dress it up as helping “job creators” or some vague definition of fairness, but at its core, it is the same plan that they have been trotting out for the last thirty years, and it everytime that the trickle down tax plan was tried, it failed.

Democrats will be running on economic fairness and middle-class tax cuts in 2016. Tax plans like the one that Republicans are proposing make it almost too easy. Republicans have put it in writing. It’s clear whose interest they are looking out for, and it’s not the 99% who work the hardest but have the least.


Bernie Sanders Calls For A Mobilization Of Millions Of Americans To Take Down The Kochs

By: Jason Easley
Wednesday, April, 15th, 2015, 2:23 pm      

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reminded MSNBC of what liberalism looks like by calling for a mobilization of millions of Americans to take down the Koch brothers and other conservative billionaires.

The Morning Joe crew wanted to play up a potential Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton conflict, but Sen. Sanders had a bigger message.

Sanders called on millions of Americans to stand together to take down the Koch brothers.

Sen. Sanders said:

    I think the issue is, frankly, it’s not just Hillary, Elizabeth, or Bernie Sanders, or anybody else. This country faces enormous problems. Our middle-class is disappearing. We more people living in poverty than at any time in the history of America. We’re the only major country without a national health care program guaranteeing health care for all people. What’s it all about? The question is this one basic question. How do take on a billionaire class, which has so much economic power, and with Citizens United, can now buy elections. Where we are moving in many ways towards an oligarchic form of society rather than our traditional democracy.

    Who is prepared to do it? So let me just say this, no president, not Hillary, not Bernie Sanders, not anybody, will succeed unless there is a mass mobilization of millions of people who stand up and say, enough is enough. Koch brothers and billionaires can’t have it all.
    The bottom line is we need people to stand up to the billionaire class, and their economic and political power. That is what we need.

Sen. Sanders was correct. Unless the American people mobilize and stand up to billionaires, like the Koch brothers, no Democratic president can succeed with the people behind him/her. President Obama has been able to fight back because his argument about middle-class economics is popular with tens of millions of Americans. Obama has mobilized a coalition that stands by his side every day.

The next Democratic nominee will need an ever bigger coalition because the billionaires are dumping more and more money into our electoral process in an attempt to purchase the most powerful elected office in the world. One of the reasons why Hillary Clinton is putting people first in her campaign because it is going to take an army of people armed with their voices and their votes to beat the billionaires.

The Beltway press will continue to obsess over the horserace elements of 2016, but for 99% of the country what is at stake is their voice and power in our elections.

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 06:54 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Rosetta changes trajectory, continues search for Philae

April 15, 2015
Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

The ESA’s Rosetta orbiter is continuing its search for the Philae lander, despite experiencing issues during a recent flyby of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that forced the spacecraft to enter safe mode and change its trajectory, the space agency has announced.

Rosetta, which entered orbit around Comet 67P/C-G last September, is now once again using some of its science instruments, and more are expected to be re-activated before the end of the week. It was forced to enter safe mode after experiencing “significant difficulties in navigation” that caused its large solar arrays to be exposed to too much drag.

Rosetta getting confused

On March 28, the ESA spacecraft performed a 16 km flyby (about 14 km from the surface) over the comet’s large lobe, and its star trackers which are used for navigation began to mistake comet debris for stars. In addition, its high gain antenna began to drift away from pointing at the Earth, impacting communications and forcing Rosetta to be put into safe mode.

The agency said that the orbiter has been successfully recovered, and had started using some of its science instruments again, but had been moved into an “escape trajectory” that took it roughly 400km from Comet 67P/C-G. An orbital correction maneuver was performed on April 1 to bring it back, followed by a second that allowed it to reach its target distance of 140km on April 8.

Due to those navigational difficulties, ESA officials said that they plan to exercise caution while bringing Rosetta closer to the comet. Specifically, they said that they will have to assess how the star trackers behave in the environment of the increasingly active comet, and whether or not the earlier confusion by comet particles responsible for those issues can be avoided.

Rosetta spacecraft operations manager Sylvain Lodiot said that the problems have required “a complete replanning of the upcoming flyby trajectories,” and that the team plans to move first to “a terminator orbit” of 140km before closing to a distance of 100km. Then they will start flying “pyramid” trajectories, monitoring the spacecraft’s performance before moving closer.

“We’re now assessing the impact of the new trajectory scheme on the planned science observations for the months ahead, including those which anticipated close flybys,” added Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor. “Our science operations team… is extremely busy working with the instrument teams to optimize science observations and associated spacecraft pointing for this new scheme. As we move forward, we will analyze what can be modified and improved in order to maximize science return within the capabilities of the spacecraft.”

The search is still on for Philae

Despite those changes to Rosetta’s trajectory, the orbiter’s search for the Philae lander will not be affected, according to the ESA. A new listening window for the lander will begin on April 12, and Dr. Stephan Ulamec of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) said that the communication unit on Rosetta will be turned on “around the clock” during this period.

Dr. Ulamec said that Philae “most likely” will not wake up until May or June, but added that the agency scientists “don’t want to miss the moment” in case it has enough energy and an operating temperature that is high enough to reactivate earlier. In order to wake up and listen for signals from Rosetta, the lander must have at least 5.5 watts of power and an operating temperature of at least -45 degrees Celsius, and it needs 19 watts of energy to respond.

“As we did already last month, we will send blind commands to the lander that will help it make optimum use of its energy for heating and communication,” he added. If Philae is already awake, it may be able to receive and run commands, even if it lacks the power to report that it has done so. Once it can transmit data again, it will report on its health, its temperature, and the amount of energy that its solar panels are receiving, according to the ESA’s report.

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 06:53 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
NASA releases first-ever color map of Ceres

April 14, 2015
Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

NASA has released the first color map of Ceres, and while the data is still said to have come from early observational stages, it nonetheless indicates that the dwarf planet was shaped by a series of diverse processes since its formation some 4.5 billion years ago.

According to BBC News, the map (the colors of which were exaggerated to illustrate the subtle differences in its surface materials) was unveiled on Monday at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna and is the result of the US space agency’s Dawn mission.

Dawn instruments capture subtle surface differences

Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter, is depicted as having been formed by a series of diverse processes which indicate that the dwarf planet has been very active throughout its lifetime, the British media outlet explained.

Martin Hoffmann, who works on Dawn’s Framing Camera instrument, told BBC News that the color differences depicted in the image were primarily due “to compositional differences at the surface,” with “the way light is reflected off the different grain sizes” also playing a role.

To the naked eye, Ceres would appear to be a dark entity with little color differences, the NASA team explained, but thanks to the sensitivity of the Framing Camera, they have been able to find and magnify even the most subtlest of differences in different areas of the dwarf planet. This data has helped them begin to understand what processes helped form its surface.

Still no explanation for those unusual bright spots

Dawn arrived at Ceres back on March 6, and is currently moving itself into position for its first complete science orbit around the dwarf planet. In the near future, the spacecraft will once again be in position to get a glimpse at one of the object’s most intriguing features: the bright spots of mysterious origin that have had astronomers talking since they were first spotted.

While the Dawn science team is trying not to discuss possible explanations behind the formation of those features until they have access to higher-resolution data, BBC News noted that they are obviously comprised of some type of highly-reflective material, and that since it is not likely that ice would be stable on its surface without air, salts appear to be the most likely culprit.

However, Nature noted that infrared images of one area of the planet (identified as Spot 1) seem to indicate that it is, in fact, made of ice. The website added that the pair of bright gleams (known as Spot 5) are invisible in the infrared images – perhaps due to the low resolution, Dawn scientist Federico Tosi from the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology explained.

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 06:50 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Colombia President Renews Anti-FARC Air Raids after 10 Troops Killed

by Naharnet Newsdesk 15 April 2015, 22:50

Suspected FARC guerrillas killed 10 soldiers and injured 20 others in a pre-dawn attack in western Colombia on Wednesday prompting President Juan Manuel Santos to order a resumption of air strikes against the rebels.

The attack in a remote mountainous area in Cauca province was one of the deadliest since the government opened peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana in November 2012.

"I have ordered the armed forces to ignore the order suspending bombings of FARC camps until further notice," Santos said in a televised speech.

"Let this be clear to the FARC: I'm not going to be pressured... by vile acts like this to make a decision on a bilateral ceasefire," he added.

Less than a week ago, the president had extended a suspension of the air strikes for 30 days in recognition of a unilateral ceasefire by the FARC.

A senior military official said the infantry troops were ambushed by FARC rebels as they conducted a patrol in an area considered a FARC stronghold.

"They were attacked with explosives, grenades and firearms," Brigadier General Mario Augusto Valencia, the commander of the army's Third Division, told reporters.

Cauca Governor Temistocles Ortega told Blu radio the soldiers came under fire in a hamlet known as La Esperanza.

Military officials said 10 soldiers were killed and 20 others injured, three of them seriously.

A search of the area also turned up the body of a guerrilla armed with a rifle and dressed in black, they said.

The wounded were being evacuated with the help of the Red Cross and emergency personnel, but bad weather and the remote location were hampering the operation, Valencia said.

The FARC has observed a unilateral ceasefire since December in a bid to advance the peace talks.

Santos reciprocated by suspending air strikes on the rebels for 30 days, which he extended less than a week ago for another 30 days.

However, he has long refused to commit to a bilateral ceasefire until there is a comprehensive peace agreement ending the half-century conflict.

- Impact on peace process -

"We deplore the deaths of the soldiers in Cauca. This is precisely the war that we are trying to end," Santos said on Twitter.

In Havana, a FARC spokesman expressed regret over the bloodletting, but blamed the government's "incoherence in ordering military operations against a guerrilla force observing a truce."

"Whether it was an ambush or a counterambush, what we have before us is some dead Colombians," said the spokesman, Pastor Alape, calling on the government to join the FARC in a ceasefire.

Santos, who met the army's high command to examine the circumstances surrounding the attack, traveled to the site where the soldiers were killed.

"The armed forces must and will confront with maximum firmness all those who violate the rights of Colombians," the defense ministry said in a statement.

Jorge Restrepo, the head of a research center that specializes on the Colombian conflict, said the attack was a "serious" blow but doubted it would lead to a breakdown in the peace talks.

He added that it might even serve "to accelerate the negotiation of a definitive ceasefire in Havana."

The public defender for human rights, Jorge Armando Otalora, denounced the guerrillas' "rupture of the unilateral ceasefire," calling it "an open contradiction with the discourse of the FARC negotiators in Havana."

The attack also aroused opponents of the peace talks, led by former president Alvaro Uribe, a popular figure in Colombia for his hardline campaign against the FARC from 2002 to 2010.

"Santos' peace is the extermination of the armed forces," Uribe thundered on Twitter.

"Santos, please don't deceive us any more, don't justify the assassination of our soldiers with the story about 'the war that wants to end.'"

Formed in 1964 amid a peasant uprising, the FARC has an estimated 8,000 fighters, deployed in rural areas of Colombia.

More than 200,000 people have died and another five million have been uprooted as a result of the conflict.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 06:48 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
U.N. Urges Exhumation of Bodies from DRC Mass Burial

by Naharnet Newsdesk 15 April 2015, 22:54

The U.N. said Wednesday it has urged the Congolese authorities to exhume hundreds of bodies buried in a mass grave near Kinshasa, to find out how they died.

Last month, at least 421 bodies were found in a mass grave in Maluku near the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital, which  local authorities said contained hundreds of dead babies and fetuses.

he affair has raised alarm in DR Congo, while rights groups and the EU have called for independent probes.

"We have recommended an exhumation, but it is up to the authorities to take all the necessary steps to reassure the population (and) to fight rumors," said Jose Maria Aranaz, director of the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in DR Congo.

"Every effort must be made to shed light (on) this affair. That means reassuring (the population)... and showing civil society and the international community that there is nothing to hide," Aranaz said.

"We hope... to reassure (everyone) about what happened in Maluku," he added.

Kinshasa has said the prosecutor-general must decide whether or not to exhume the bodies.

The authorities say the bodies were buried on the night of 18 to 19 March near the Maluku cemetery, because the Kinshasa morgue was full.

They say collective burials of this kind are frequent in a city of 10 million residents, and where some 600 people die each day.

The discovery of the grave fed into rumors that the bodies could belong to people who died during January unrest over a controversial electoral law.

Dozens of people were killed in violence at the time, mainly in Kinshasa.

Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo has told AFP there had "perhaps been administrative errors in the burial process", but added that there was "nothing to fear."

Congolese authorities announced Monday they would soon carry out a new collective burial in Kinshasa, despite the international concern.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 06:46 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Kenya 'Begins Construction' of Somalia Security Barrier

by Naharnet Newsdesk 16 April 2015, 12:49

Kenyan youths have begun construction of a security barrier along the vast and porous border neighboring war-torn Somalia, although critics have scoffed it can work, reports said Thursday.

The proposed barrier is the latest in a string of measures Kenya has announced to stem attacks by Somalia's Al-Qaida-linked Shebab insurgents in the wake of a university massacre in the northeastern town of Garissa.

Youths from a government youth training scheme started digging a ditch this week in Kiunga, Kenya's coastal Lamu district, which officials said would stretch for some 700 kilometers (435 miles).

"The fence will consist of various obstacles including a ditch and a patrol road," Immigration Services director Gordon Kihalangwa said, according to The Star newspaper.

The government has given no details of the construction, cost or how long it will take to complete the fence, which would separate Kenya's northeastern ethnic Somali region from Somalia itself.

However, Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto said Saturday that "the way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa".

The Shebab group has warned of a "long, gruesome war" unless Kenya withdraws its troops from Somalia, where they have been fighting the Islamists since 2011.

Cartoonist Victor Ndula in The Star newspaper drew an image of a half-built wall, with a hole knocked through labeled "corruption."

"They are building a wall to keep us out but leave a gaping hole to let us in," a Shebab gunman says in the cartoon.

Since the Garissa attack, Kenya has demanded the U.N. refugee agency shut down the world's largest refugee camp complex at Dadaab, and repatriate hundreds of thousands of Somalis by July.

The U.N. has warned that would have "extreme humanitarian and practical consequences" and would violate international law.

Nairobi has also frozen key money transfer companies vital for impoverished Somalia, sparking warnings by aid agencies that the move will hit the poorest hardest.

It has also suspended two key Muslim civil society organizations for suspected Shebab links, which rights groups say will damage efforts to counter extremism.

Since the attack, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that the masterminds were "deeply embedded" inside Kenya, not just Somalia.

A $215,000 (200,000 euro) bounty has also been offered for alleged Shebab commander Mohamud, a former Kenyan teacher also known as "Kuno", who is believed to in Somalia.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 16, 2015, 06:45 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Somali Shebab University Massacre Gunmen were Kenyans

by Naharnet Newsdesk 16 April 2015, 13:31

All four gunmen from Somalia's Al-Qaida linked Shebab who carried out the Kenyan university massacre earlier this month were Kenyans themselves, reports said Thursday.

The militants attacked the university in the northeastern town of Garissa on April 2, lining up non-Muslim students for execution and killing 148 people in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described as a "barbaric medieval slaughter".

One of the four gunmen killed by Kenyan special forces who ended the day-long siege has already been named as Abdirahim Abdullahi, an ethnic Somali Kenyan national who was top student and law graduate.

But Kenya's major Daily Nation newspaper, quoting unnamed intelligence reports, said the other three gunmen killed were also Kenyan, believed to be from the port city of Mombasa and the far western district of Bungoma.

The fact that all four are reported to be Kenyans highlights the Somali insurgents' ability to recruit within Kenya.

"Identities will be confirmed once their fingerprints are matched," the Nation said, citing intelligence officials.

There was no immediate response from Kenyan police to confirm the report.

After the attack, Kenyatta warned that the terrorists were "deeply embedded" inside Kenya, not just Somalia.

A $215,000 (200,000 euro) bounty has also been offered for alleged Shebab commander Mohamed Mohamud, a former Kenyan teacher said to be the mastermind behind the attack.

While the Shebab emerged as a Somali Islamist group in 2006 in Mogadishu, they have recruited across the wider region.

The group has carried out a string of revenge attacks in neighbouring countries, notably Kenya and Uganda, in response to their participation in the African Union force fighting them in Somalia.

Following the attack the Shebab warned of a "long, gruesome war" unless Nairobi withdraws its troops from Somalia, saying the gunmen carried out the Garissa attack in revenge for the "systematic persecution of the Muslims in Kenya".

Shebab fighters also carried out the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi in September 2013, a four-day siege which left at least 67 people dead.

Source: Agence France Presse

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