Archive for March, 2016


Richmond’s fake beggars.

Martin, an Englishman, has a house, a dog and a van. Why is he begging outside this shop?

Women who have abortions should be punished if the practice were illegal, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said on Wednesday, before retracting his claim amid an outcry.

Trump, who has held opposing positions on the abortion in the past, said women should receive “some form of punishment” if it were banned in the US. He was unable to say whether he believed the punishment should be a small fine or a long prison sentence.

The remarks prompted an outcry from all quarters, and once again underscored his poor approval ratings among women. The Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, decribed the comments as “horrific and telling”. Anti-abortion campaigners, who focus their efforts on punishing those who carry out abortions, distanced themselves from the remarks.

Amid the storm, Trump issued a swift clarification of the comments. His position “had not changed”, he said, despite going on to fully recant the earlier statements he made to interviewer Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

The latest Trump conflagration began during the taping of a town hall event, when Matthews asked him to define his “pro-life” stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

“Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle,” asked Matthews.

“The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,” said Trump.

“For the woman?” Matthews said.

“Yeah, there has to be some form,” Trump replied.

“Ten cents, 10 years, what,” Matthews asked again, pressing.

“That I don’t know,” said Trump.

Source: Donald Trump retracts call for women who have abortions to be ‘punished’ | US news | The Guardian

A police officer charged with raping a 17-year-old girl and two further counts of sexual assault has appeared in court.

Pc Declan Gabriel, who is a local response officer with Northamptonshire Police, allegedly carried out a sex attack on the teenager on September 21 2015.

The 27-year-old has also been charged with misconduct in a public office, with all four allegations said to have happened on the same date.

Gabriel was suspended from duty following the allegations and the Independent Police Complaints Commission has also been informed.

Appearing at Kettering Magistrates’ Court, Gabriel spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth before he was conditionally bailed to appear at the Crown Court in just over a month’s time.

Addressing Gabriel, chairman of the bench Mrs H Winfield told him: “Your case is now being sent to the Crown Court in Northampton on May 4.

“Between then and now you’ll remain on conditional bail.”

Magistrates ordered that the publication of Gabriel’s address be banned after an application by his defence solicitor.

The application was opposed in court by the Press Association.

Source: Police officer in court charged with raping 17-year-old girl

A photo taken from a book assembled to commemorate the life of Gul Rahman, the only man known to have died in the CIA’s torture programme [Courtesy Dr. Ghairat Baheer]

“There is a proverb that a human being is stronger than a stone and more tender than a flower.” – Habib Rahman, brother of Gul Rahman (Prisoner #24) who died in CIA custody

Just days after the 9/11 attacks, US President George W Bush authorised the CIA to begin covertly detaining people it suspected of being terrorists. Within the year, Department of Justice lawyers provided the first set of memos that would draw a legal line between so-called “enhanced interrogation” and torture. Up to that point, secret imprisonment was considered a violation of human rights.

While I was starving, near freezing, naked and cut off from my family, my torturers would keep me awake for days…. From all the beatings, I learned that sleep meant pain.

Ammar al-Baluchi, victim of the CIA torture programme

CIA black sites were set up all over the world, and suspected terrorists were rendered, detained and subjected to brutal abuses: sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, auditory overload, rectal rehydration, waterboarding and stress positions, as well as other forms of treatment designed to humiliate and degrade.

The torture years continued for nearly a decade until, in 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order putting an end to the practice.

In December 2014, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released what is now known as the “Torture Report”, the 500-page executive summary of a roughly 6,700-page still-classified investigation. The abridged version was declassified despite fierce objections from the CIA, some Republicans and even the White House.

It revealed that the programme was not only more brutal than the CIA had let on for years, but also ineffective – suggesting that the agency had wilfully misrepresented its tactics’ usefulness to policymakers and the public. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoamn of the Intelligence Committee, a Democratic senator from California who has supported the agency in the past, concluded that: “Under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured.”

Source: The dark prisoners: Inside the CIA’s torture programme – Al Jazeera English

Theresa Kachindamoto was the youngest of 12 children born into a family of chiefs [Hannah McNeish/Al Jazeera]

Mtakataka, Malawi – The mild-mannered woman who zips around a farmhouse packed with knick-knacks and insists her guests eat a meal before any introductions, presents a character at odds with her fearsome reputation of being Malawi’s top marriage terminator.

Thirteen years ago, Theresa Kachindamoto could not have conceived of ever leaving her job of 27 years as a secretary at a city college in Zomba, another district in Southern Malawi.

She had no desire to return home to Monkey Bay, a stunning cluster of mountains in Dedza District around Lake Malawi. Although she had the blood of chiefs – Malawi’s traditional authority figures – running through her veins, as the youngest of 12 siblings, a woman, and a mother of five, Kachindamoto never expected to become a senior chief to the more than 100,000 people.

But when the chiefs called, she says, they told her to pack her bags and go home to Dedza district, as she had been chosen as the next senior chief.

She was told that she had been chosen because she was “good with people”, and that she was now the chief, “whether I liked it or not”, she recalls.

Kachindamoto duly donned the traditional beads, red robes and a leopardskin headband, and started touring the rows of mud-walled, grass-thatched homes to meet her people.

Terminating early marriage

She was shocked when she saw girls as young as 12 with babies and teenaged husbands, and was soon ordering the people to give up their ways

“I told them: ‘Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated.'”

A 2012 United Nations survey found that more than half of Malawi’s girls were married before the age of 18. It ranked Malawi 8th out of 20 countries thought to have the highest child-marriage rates in the world.

Last year, Malawi’s parliament passed a law forbidding marriage before the age of 18. But under customary law of the traditional authorities, and the constitution, Malawian children can still marry with parental consent.

On the human development index, Malawi is considered as one of the world’s poorest places, ranking 160th out of 182 nations. Early marriage is more common in rural areas, where parents are eager to get girls out of the house to ease their financial burden.

Emilida Misomali is part of a mothers group in the village of Chimoya, in Dedza district. They warn parents about the long-term ills of early marriage and childbirth, but say it falls on deaf ears.

“Most of them say ‘It’s better that she gets married. We can’t afford to keep her … she will make us poorer’,” Misomali tells.

No matter the rationale, whether better health, education or wellbeing, Misolmali says “stubborn parents” won’t stop giving away their children.

“We see a lot of complications, like cesarean births and girls cut as their bodies are too small to give birth.”

Sexual initiation

In this area – outside Kachindamoto’s jurisdiction – Misomali says that chiefs and police “can’t intervene” as the community backlash is too strong.

The litany of sexually abusive traditions here include sending girls bound for marriage away to camps for “kusasa fumbi” – which means cleansing.

Reportedly at these sexual initiation camps , the girls are taught ‘how to please men’ by performing titillating dances and sex acts. Some “graduate” only by having sex with the teacher. Others return home untouched, only to be preyed on by a local “hyena” – men hired by parents to take their girls’ virginity, or by prospective husbands to impregnate them.

Source: Malawi’s fearsome chief, terminator of child marriages – Al Jazeera English

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