May 01 2011

Six In The Morning

Costly Afghanistan Road Project Is Marred by Unsavory Alliances


Published: May 1, 2011

GARDEZ, Afghanistan – When construction crews faced attacks while working on a major American-financed highway here in southeastern Afghanistan, Western contractors turned to a powerful local figure named simply Arafat, who was suspected to have links to Afghanistan’s insurgents.

Subcontractors, flush with American money, paid Mr. Arafat at least $1 million a year to keep them safe, according to people involved in the project and Mr. Arafat himself.

Christian Legal Centre has more than 50 cases in religious discrimination fight

Lawyers’ group pursues US tactics against ‘sidelining’ of ‘people with traditional biblical views’

Jamie Doward and Seb Wheeler

The Observer, Sunday 1 May 2011  

The Christian group that backed an electrician in his battle to display a crucifix in his company van says it now has more than 50 similar cases on its books.

The Christian Legal Centre, which represented electrician Colin Atkinson, says it is receiving up to five calls a day from Christians seeking to take action against their employers whom they feel are failing to respect their faith.

The dispute over the crucifix, between Atkinson and Wakefield District Housing, was transformed into a front-page row and hijacked by the far right. Wakefield and District Housing found itself vilified, with death threats made to staff and more than 1,000 abusive emails sent to them. The British National party picketed its offices.

The savage toll from Burma’s dirty war

The regime is the last in the world still planting mines and the rebels improvise their own devices. Liane Wimhurst meets the people caught in the middle  

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Ootepew lies with his withered leg under a mound of coarse blankets, his face stoical as he awaits an amputation. It is more than a week since he trod on a landmine outside his home in Burma’s Kayin state, and his wounds have begun to fester. In a messy and bitter war between insurgent groups and the Burmese army that has spanned decades, this clandestine killer has become the weapon of choice.

Burma is the only regime in the world still planting landmines. A tenth of the Burmese population live just a few ill-chosen footsteps away from a blast that could maim or kill, according to the International Committee to Ban Landmines (ICBL). Despite this, the Burmese authorities still churn out mines modelled on old Chinese and US designs at the state-run ammunition factory.

Death toll rises as Syria crackdown continues

At least four deaths reported in Deraa as security forces storm a mosque after shelling the flashpoint city.

Last Modified: 01 May 2011  

Syrian forces have continued their military crackdown in the flashpoint city of Deraa, seizing control of a mosque and shooting dead the son of its imam, witnesses say.

Four people were reportedly killed as the southern city came under heavy shelling and gunfire on Saturday, as residents attempted to bury those killed a day earlier during Friday’s “day of rage” protests against the government.

“We are totally besieged. It is a tragedy. Many houses are levelled by shelling from the army. For the past six days we haven’t seen an ambulance,” one witness told Al Jazeera via telephone, as gunfire rang out in the background.

“We are keeping the bodies of the dead in refrigerator trucks, but many bodies are still lying in the streets. Many of the bodies are bloated and are reeking.”

Residents to buy Copenhagen hippie enclave  

An enclave of hippies in downtown Copenhagen has agreed to pay the government for the land they’ve been squatting on for 40 years.

CITIES | 01.05.201  

The 900 residents of the Christiania district of Copenhagen have agreed to pay for the former Marine training ground they settled on in 1971.

The community lost a legal battle earlier this year, in which they’d tried to assert their right to continue to live in Christiania.

They have collectively agreed to pay the sum of 150 Danish kroner (20 million euros, $29.6 million) to continue living in their semi-autonomous commune.

Turbulent relations

For a long time, the community was allowed to exist until the government cracked down on the open drug trade in the commune in 2004.