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Monday, April 30, 2012

Bosnian war crimes court jails first woman

A Bosnian Muslim woman was jailed on Monday for the wartime murders of Croat civilians and prisoners of war, in the country's first conviction of a woman for crimes committed during the 1992-95 conflict.
Rasema Handanovic, 39, a single mother and naturalized U.S. citizen, had pleaded guilty to the killings of six Bosnian Croats during an attack on the southern village of Trusina in April 1993.

The judge, Jasmina Kosovic, said Handanovic had been the victim of a wartime rape before committing the Trusina crimes and had lost several family members in the conflict. CONTINUE .. . .

Widow, mother-in-law of Davis shoot victim in Pakistan

The widow and mother-in-law of a man killed by CIA contractor Raymond Davis was today murdered along with her mother in Lahore following a family dispute over the blood money and her desire to remarry, in Lahore, Pakistan, police officials said.
Police said that both the women were found dead in their Jauher Town residence.

Zehra, 23, and her mother Nabeela were shot and killed in their home in Township area of Lahore by her father Shehzad Butt.
Zehra was the widow of Faizan Haider, one of the two men who were shot dead by Davis last year.
Zohra, the widow of Faizan Haider, and her mother were shot in a family dispute at their home, said police Inspector Javed Siddiqui. The bodies were sent to a hospital for an autopsy, and authorities were seeking a suspect, he said.

Haider was one of two men killed in Lahore in January 2011 by Raymond Davis, an American CIA contractor. The deaths sparked a diplomatic tussle that strained relations between the United States and Pakistan.
Davis said he shot the two in self-defense when they attempted to rob him at gunpoint as he drove through a busy Lahore neighborhood, but authorities at the time called the case "clear-cut murder."
He was charged with murder and illegal possession of a firearm, but was released after more than $2 million in compensation was paid to the victims' families, according to Pakistani officials.
The killings caused outrage in Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the war against al Qaeda and Taliban militants in neighboring Afghanistan. And it heightened tension between the two nations, with Congress warning Pakistani leaders that billions of dollars in U.S. aid could be jeopardized without Davis' release.
Davis appeared in a Lahore court after the payment was made and was acquitted of the charges in accordance with an Islamic practice known as diyat, or compensation. Diyat, enshrined in Pakistan's penal code, allows victims to pardon a murderer with or without being paid "blood money."
Haider's widow submitted an affidavit to court stating she had pardoned Davis after the payment.
The heirs of Fahim Shamshad, Davis' other victim, also received payment, Rana Sanaullah, the provincial law minister of Punjab province, said at the time.
Davis was finally freed when he paid millions of rupees as blood money to the families of the dead men.
Fahim Shamshad's widow committed suicide in Faisalabad days after the shooting.
"Today the wife of Faizan Haider is also no more. Money was the real bone of contention in Zehra's case," said Abid Hsasan, one of Zehra's neighbors.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tommy Marth commits death ruled a suicide

Tommy Marth, saxophonist for The Killers, was found dead on Monday in his Las Vegas home with a gunshot wound to the head in the backyard. He death has officially been ruled a suicide.

Tommy Marth, the former saxophonist for the band The Killers, was found dead in his Las Vegas home Monday morning in what authorities are calling an apparent suicide, the Las Vegas Weekly reported.
Details have yet to be released, but the news stunned members of Las Vegas' live music community, of which Marth was a high-profile member.

The 33-year-old Tommy Marth had most recently been a nightlife marketing manager at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas. He had never been a permanent member of The Killers, but started touring with them in 2008 and contributed to their second and third albums, “Sam’s Town” and “Day & Age.”
The Killers went to their Twitter, “Last night we lost our friend Thomas Marth. Our prayers are with his family. There’s a light missing in Las Vegas tonight. Travel well, Tommy.”
“I’m just trying to make sense of things right now and help some people who aren’t doing very well,” local musician Ryan Pardey told the paper.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Space shuttle Enterprise arrives at NY's JFK

An unusual flying object has landed at New York's Kennedy Airport.

It's the space shuttle Enterprise. Before arriving Friday morning, it zoomed around New York City's airspace, riding on top of a modified jumbo jet.
The shuttle prototype was brought from Washington.
The heralded event included low-altitude flyovers over landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid on Manhattan's west side.

It's eventually going to make its new home in New York City at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
It won't move into its new home until June. It's scheduled to be open to the public in mid-July.
In the meantime, the Enterprise will remain at Kennedy.

Suicide bomb near Damascus mosque

A suicide bomber killed nine people, some of them security men, outside a Damascus mosque on Friday, Syrian state media said, in another blow to a fraying U.N.-brokered truce between President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting for his downfall.
The explosion under a flyover occurred as worshippers were leaving the Midan district's Zain al-Abideen mosque, which was under heavy security due to its reputation as a launchpad for anti-Assad demonstrations after Friday prayers.
A resident who spoke to security officials at the scene said they reported a man in military uniform walking towards the area from a nearby street.
When several soldiers went to challenge him, he triggered an explosives vest, they said. Many of the body parts scattered across the tarmac were wearing green military-style clothing, the resident added.
State media said 28 people were also wounded in the blast, one of several in the country of 23 million on Friday.
"We had been trying to go to pray in the area but they stopped us at a checkpoint. Security weren't letting us in because there are usually protests there," one anti-Assad activist told Reuters by telephone.
"Then we heard the blast. It was so loud and then ambulances came rushing past us," the activist added. "I could see a few body parts and pieces of flesh on the road. The front of a restaurant looked destroyed. People were screaming."  CONTINUE . . . . .

Bin Laden Anniversary Triggers Law Enforcement Surge

While U.S. officials say publicly there is no specific threat of a terror attack, behind the scenes law enforcement officials tell ABC News there are plans for a major security surge at airports and transportation hubs in advance of next week's anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.
The precautions are based on intelligence reports that al Qaeda is determined to avenge the death of bin Laden, killed by Navy SEALs last May, with a focus on aviation targets. 

Of greatest concern to U.S. officials is al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and its master bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who has survived repeated U.S. efforts to kill him.
It was al-Asiri, according to U.S. officials, who designed the so-called "underwear bomb" worn by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to bring down Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab got the bomb past airport security but failed to detonate it successfully aboard the plane. 

Officials say al-Asiri also designed the bombs hidden in printers that were shipped from Yemen to Chicago. The bombs were intercepted in Dubai and the U.K. after they'd been placed aboard cargo planes.
In a joint intelligence bulletin issued overnight, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said the Yemen group "intends to advance plots along multiple fronts, including renewed efforts to target Western aviation."
"It doesn't take a great number of people to do the kind of attack that we had on September 11," said Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former White House counterterrorism official. "That was less than two dozen people and it's clear that they have that number available in places like Yemen today."
Threats of a revenge attack have been monitored by the U.S. ever since last year's raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Among the papers found in his home were repeated references to the importance of attacks timed to coincide with anniversaries.
Said Clarke, "I think the major issue for al Qaeda is to do something, to prove that they're still alive, to do some fairly major event or series of attacks that prove that they're not down, they're not out."
As a result, American law enforcement and White House officials say travelers at airports in the U.S. and Europe should expect to see enhanced security over the next several days.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Romney promises ‘Better America’

Romney shifts focus to Obama, vowing to unveil a ‘better America’ if elected
Coming off a clean sweep of all five primaries up for grabs Tuesday, including Pennsylvania and New York, Mitt Romney kicked off his general election pitch, insisting the upcoming campaign will be about the "very different visions" he and President Obama have for the country.

Speaking to a crowd in Manchester, N.H., Romney said the country is suffering from the "failed leadership" and "faulty vision" of the current president and insisted "a better America begins tonight."

"Four years ago, Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?" Romney said. "People are hurting in America. And we know that something is wrong, terribly wrong with the direction of the country."   CONTINUE . . . . . .

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Share Weekend Getaway

Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher romance rumors heat up as former costars go on weekend getaway. Kutcher has reportedly held a torch for the brunette beauty since they worked together years ago,
Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher romance rumors heat up -Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher romance rumors heat up to Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis spent the weekend together in the coastal town of Carpinteria, Calif. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis may deny being more than friends, however their actions speak louder than words. Inside Ashton & Mila's Seaside GetawayPeople MagazineAshton Kutcher & Mila Kunis Enjoy a Seaside GetawayiVillage EntertainmentAshton Kutcher & Mila Kunis Dating: 'That '70s Show' Fan Fiction May Come.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis may deny being more than friends, but their actions speak louder than words.
The longtime pals and former “That ‘70s Show” costars have set the rumor mill ablaze by spending some quality time together during a recent three-day getaway to the coastal town of Carpinteria, Calif.
According to People, the genetically-blessed twosome traveled from Los Angeles to the quaint oceanside city south of Santa Barbara last Thursday. They reportedly had a sushi lunch date the following day, before photographers spotted Kutcher and Kunis buying sunflowers and blueberries from a roadside fruit stand.
Kunis’ rep denied reports last week that the pair’s friendship had turned romantic.

“They have been friends for years and had dinner with a bunch of people that night,” the actress’ spokeswoman told the Daily News at the time.
Though reps have not commented on the pair’s latest outing together, a source told People that a romance may be under way.
The “Two and a Half Men” star has reportedly had a longtime crush on Kunis, who played his on-and-off love interest on-screen for eight years on their FOX sitcom.
Although they insist they are not friends with benefits, a source close to Kutcher, 34, tells People that he has long held a torch for 28-year-old Kunis, who played his girlfriend on the Fox series. "He was so in love with her for a while when they worked together. He thought she was a goddess, was always talking about how beautiful she is. But she was with Macaulay [Culkin] for a lot of that time and also just generally gave off a not interested vibe."
But now that she is no longer with the "Home Alone" star (they split in 2010) and Kutcher separated from wife Demi Moore last November amid reports he had cheated, the time could be right. Or, this could just be Kutcher sowing his wild oats to make up for the eight years he was with Moore, who's 15 years his senior. "He's not looking for anything serious," another source tells People. "He always talked about Mila like a little sister. They're definitely close pals and have been. I think if anything she's a good time for him."

Justin Bieber, we have never met

Justin Bieber has plenty of feelings to get off his chest about Mariah Yeater, who claimed Justin is the father of her unborn baby.
The 18-year-old tweeted: "Dear Mariah yeeter... we have never met... so from the heart i just wanted to say..."
He then attached a video of Borat saying: "You will never get this, you will never get this, la la la la."

Marilu Henner Has Hyperthyroidism, Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory,

Marilu Henner Has Hyperthyroidism, Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, Can Recall Every Day of Her Life
American actress Mary Lucy Denise "Marilu" Henner was producer and author. She is best known for her role as Elaine O'Connor Nardo on the sitcom Taxi from 1978 to 1983. She was born April 6, 1952.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, to a Greek mother and Polish father, Henner was raised on the northwest side of Chicago in the Logan Square neighborhood.
While a student at the University of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Henner originated the role of "Marty" in the Kingston Mines production of Grease in 1971.

 A good memory is essential for any aspiring actress struggling with her lines. But in the case of Marilu Henner - a Broadway star who rose to fame in the 1970s sitcom Taxi - her memory isn’t just good, it’s incredible. For her, the past is simply unforgettable.
Give her any date from the past 40 years and she can instantly tell you the day of the week, what she was wearing, what the weather was like and what was on TV.
Superior Autobiographical Memory. Basically, Henner can recall every single day of her life.
Do you remember what happened on June 3rd, 1986? How about April 19th, 1994? If you’re Marilu Henner you do. The actress is one of 12 people in the world who has been diagnosed with hyperthymesia, which is also known as highly
Henner, who is probably best known for playing Elaine Nardo in the hit TV show “Taxi,” can recall the exact moment when she got the part.
Landing the role in “Taxi” is a pretty big event in Henner’s life, so it’s understandable that she remembers all the little details. But Henner can also remember small events and insignificant days. According to ABC, the actress’s first memory was when she was baptized.

 Henner said:
“It was June 4 of 1978. It was a Sunday and I found out at the ‘Grease’ premiere party. ‘Taxi’ is so vivid to my mind. The very first rehearsal was July the 5th of 1978. That was a Wednesday and our first show was shot the 14th, a Friday.”
“I just remember the water, and I remember the white. Whenever I go back into memory, I’m always in my body looking out.”
Henner likens her memory to a movie, saying that whenever she’s given a date or a year she sees “these entire little movie montages, basically on a time continuum, and I’m scrolling through them and flashing through them.”
Since her time on “Taxi,” Henner has had parts in “whose The Boss?” “Cybil,” “ER,” “Numbers,” and “Unforgettable.” Henner said that she has been able to use her incredible super memory to enhance her acting. Henner said:
“Definitely being an actress, I learned how to embrace my memories and celebrate them and explore them without hesitation whatsoever.”
Henner.who is releasing a new book called “Total Memory Makeover” about hyperthymesia, said that her memory makes her feel that her life is significant. Henner said:
“It’s that defense against meaninglessness. I’m not just occupying time.  There’s some significance to what I’m doing and how I’m living my life.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Syrian rebels target security officials in capital

BEIRUT—Rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime launched three separate attacks on his security forces around Damascus on Tuesday, killing two ranking officers and rocking the capital with a booby-trapped car, activists and state media said. 

The attacks took place as a U.N. team observing Syria's violence-ridden truce was visiting another area near the capital, the restive suburb of Douma. Activists and amateur videos reported shelling and gunfire in that area Tuesday, just a day after 55 people were killed across Syria—most of them in a city the observers had recently visited.
Tuesday's attacks underline the increasing militarization of the 13-month-old conflict and show the effort by Assad's opponents to chip away at the security services he relies upon to quash dissent. 

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one intelligence officer was killed in the capital's Barzeh neighborhood but gave no information on how he died.
Separately, an army truck blew up as it was driving through downtown Damascus. The blast in Marjah Square near the Iranian Cultural Center left blood and shattered glass on the road. The truck's driver and two passengers in a nearby car were injured and taken to a hospital. 

Security officials at the scene said the truck driver did not appear to be implicated in the blast, suggesting the explosives had been planted on the vehicle. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. 
The Syrian government did not immediately comment on those attacks.
The state news service, however, said "terrorists" killed a retired lieutenant colonel and his brother in a Damascus suburb in a third attack.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. CONTINUE . . . . .

EU imposes new sanctions on Syrian regime

LUXEMBOURG, The European Union on Monday banned the sale of luxury goods and products to Syria that can have military as well as civilian uses as the U.N. political chief demanded that the Syrian government stop using heavy weapons and comply with a cease-fire.
B. Lynn Pascoe told the U.N. Security Council in New York that the cease-fire, which went into effect on April 12, remains "incomplete" and "human rights violations are still perpetrated with impunity." He said Syria has also failed to fully implement international envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, saying the government's compliance with requirements to release detainees and allow peaceful demonstrations "are clearly insufficient."

The EU ban on luxury items appears to take direct aim at some of Syrian President Bashar Assad's most loyal supporters: the business community and prosperous merchant classes that are key to propping up the regime. An influential bloc, the business leaders have long traded political freedoms for economic privileges in Syria.
So far, the wealthy classes have stuck to the sidelines, but if the economic squeeze reaches them, it could be a game changer, analysts say.
Assad, who inherited power in 2000, spent years shifting the country away from the socialism espoused by his father. In the process, he helped boost a new and vibrant merchant class that transformed Syria's economic landscape even as the regime's political trappings remained unchanged.

Emails purportedly from Assad and his wife Asma, published in February by London's Guardian newspaper, indicated that the Syrian first lady has a taste for the finer things in life. The emails, whose authenticity has been questioned, revealed the first lady shopping online for crystal-encrusted Christian Louboutin stilettos, expensive jewelry, custom-made furniture and other luxury goods as violence swept the country.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said the EU's 27 foreign ministers approved the new set of sanctions — the 14th in the past year — "because of deep concern about the situation and continuing violence in spite of the cease-fire."
"We expect the government to withdraw all troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities (and) we want to make sure that the regime gives full access to humanitarian organizations."
The U.N. estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed since an uprising against the government of Assad began 13 months ago.
Pascoe, the U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council "we are at a pivotal moment in Syria."
He said the U.N. hopes the deployment of 300 unarmed U.N. military observers, which the Security Council authorized on Saturday, "will help to stop the killing and consolidate the calm" with the aim of creating the conditions "for a serious and credible political process."
To create these conditions, Pascoe said, "it is essential that the government of Syria fully and immediately implement its obligations to stop using heavy weapons and to pull back military forces from population centers."
He said it is also essential that Syria implement other aspects of the Annan plan, noting "little progress" on its requirement to allow unimpeded access for aid workers to an estimated 1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
He said Annan, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy, will brief the Security Council on Tuesday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters late Monday that it is "absolutely important" that Syria protect the monitors and ensure their freedom of access and freedom of movement. There must be "no such obstacles," he stressed.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, again urged the Syrian government "to seize this chance for a peaceful political solution to the crisis — before it's too late."
The U.S. welcomes "the positive statements from various Syrian opposition figures and groups" about the expanded U.N. observer mission, she said, "but we are all sober in our expectations."
"The Syrian regime should make no mistake: we will be watching its actions day and night," Rice said. "We will work to ensure there will be consequences should the Syrian regime continue to ignore this Council's decisions, press ahead with its murderous rampage, and flout the will of the international community."
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari strongly criticized Qatar, saying its leader didn't believe that the Annan mission would succeed. Ja'afari accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of financing "terrorist groups," which the Syrian government blame for the violence.
Previous rounds of U.S. and EU sanctions have done little to stop the bloodshed, although there are signs the Syrian economy is suffering. International measures against Assad's regime have depleted its foreign currency reserves by half, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said last week.
EU experts will work out later precisely which goods will be included in the new embargo. One of the diplomats said so-called "dual-use" goods can include anything from vehicles to fertilizers and other chemicals.

Blagojevich washing dishes in prison

Two of Rod Blagojevich's former attorneys say the former Illinois governor is washing pots and pans in prison.
Attorneys Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. visited their former client for 90 minutes on Sunday in Littleton, Colo., WFLD-TV in Chicago reports.
The attorneys say Blagojevich has three cellmates. New inmates are assigned to kitchen duty for 90 days and Blagojevich has been washing dishes six days a week.
The attorneys said Blagojevich has three cellmates and gets along with all of them.
"The guy that he is bunking with, he likes very, very much," Sam Adam Jr. said. "They've bonded."

New inmates are assigned to kitchen duty for 90 days and Blagojevich has been washing dishes six days a week, the attorneys said.
Blagojevich told the attorneys the hardest thing is missing his wife and two daughters. The attorneys say Blagojevich told them his family visited and he was upset rules only allowed his younger daughter to sit on his lap and his teenage daughter to give him a hug.
Blagojevich has been told that when the 90-day period ends he will be teaching either Shakespeare or ancient Greek philosophy and mythology, they said. The ex-governor is known for citing poems by Lord Alfred Tennyson and Rudyard Kipling.
"He is so affable, you forget how educated and well-read he is," Sam Adam Sr. said. "He knows a great deal about Shakespeare."
Blagojevich reported to prison March 15 to begin serving a 14-year sentence on corruption charges.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Indian state of Bihar ejects French tourists 'for Maoist ties'

Nine French tourists have been ejected from the eastern Indian state of Bihar for their alleged involvement in Maoist activities, police officials said.
The group was detained in the remote Nawada region known to be a Maoist stronghold in the state.
Police said they had violated visa regulations after they were found to be working with a group alleged to be a front for Maoist rebels.
The nine French nationals have not yet commented on the allegations.
A tourist visa rule specifically prohibits any socio-political activities in the country. 

"The group has been sent to the eastern city of Calcutta, from where they will go to the capital New Delhi," said SL Das, the superintendent of police in Bihar.
It is unclear if they will be deported from India, but correspondents say this is likely.
The police became suspicious of the French tourists because they were working in Nawada with Unity Forum, the group alleged to be a Maoist rebel front.
Unity Forum says it is simply working to protect the land and water rights of the poor, according to the Associated Press news agency
Maoist rebels have been described as the country's most serious internal security threat by India's prime minister.
The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribal people and the rural poor and have a strong presence in large parts of the eastern states of India.

Suu Kyi's party set to boycott Burma parliament

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy will not attend opening session in dispute over wording of MPs' oath
The democracy leader and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) will not travel to the capital Naypyidaw to enter parliament on Monday , party spokesman Ohn Kyaing said, following a dispute over the swearing-in oath. 

Aung San Suu Kyi won a place in the Burmese lower house when her party took 43 of the 45 available seats in the 1 April election.
Burma's main opposition movement says Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of her party's newly elected MPs will not attend Monday's opening session of parliament because of a disagreement over the wording of the oath of office.
The National League for Democracy rejects the part of the MPs' oath that says they must safeguard the constitution, which it wants to see amended in part because it says it places too much power in the hands of the military.

"We are not boycotting, but we are just waiting for the right time to go," said Ms Suu Kyi, who won her first-ever seat in parliament in landmark April 1 by-elections, after a meeting on the issue in Yangon.
The NLD has baulked at the wording of the oath, which requires them to protect a constitution that was drawn up by the country's former junta.
Aung San Suu Kyi's absence was expected, as the party had already said it would not attend the assembly until the issue was resolved.
Opposition MP Ohn Kyaing confirmed the refusal to attend on Sunday, but said he believed the issue would be overcome quickly.
Authorities have rejected the party's appeal to change the wording of the oath from "safeguard" to "respect" the constitution and a letter to the office of Burma's reformist President Thein Sein on the issue was sent too late for the row to be resolved before the next session of parliament begins on Monday.
The NLD, which boycotted a controversial 2010 election, agreed to rejoin the political mainstream last year after authorities changed a similar phrase in party registration documents.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kent police break up large College Fest crowds after violence

KENT, Ohio -- Police say some of the nearly 3,000 students have also thrown beer bottles at police.
Police are attired in riot gear and, according to students who are tweeting from the scene and the website, using tear gas and "flash-bang" devices to disperse the crowd.

Police in Kent are dispersing large crowds near campus, after fights broke out an at annual event called College Fest. Students attending the large party have tweeted that beer bottles were being thrown and ambulances were dispatched to the scene.
Police from Kent, Kent State University and Hudson are trying to disperse large crowds of students throwing beer bottles after fights broke out during the annual "College Fest" near the KSU campus.

Kent police refused to answer questions about their response at the scene but students report police were trying to clear out a crowd of more than 3,000 with tear gas and flash-bang devices.
The Kent Fire Department was sent to University Driveafter a couch was set on fire near the roadway.
The Kent State student media website,, reported that some students were injured and that participants were throwing beer bottles at police.
Kent State police are assisting the Kent police department but did not release any information.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Guns saluting 86th Queen's birthday

A 21-gun salute was fired by the Royal Navy today to mark the Queen's 86th birthday.
The saluting gun at Fort Blockhouse at Gosport - at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour - was fired at noon by four specialist gunnery instructors. 

The portable 19th century gun at Fort Blockhouse has been firing salutes since it was acquired by the Navy in 1957.
Military gun salutes took place at several other military bases across the country to mark the Queen's birthday. 

It is one of six royal events marked annually with the traditional gun salutes.
The custom dates back to the early days of sail when ships visiting foreign ports would discharge their guns before entering, proving they were empty and that the visit was peaceful.
Also to mark the birthday, Royal Navy ships at Portsmouth Naval Base were ''dressed overall'' - displaying a variety of flags across the length of the ship.
A 62-gun salute was fired by The Royal Gibraltar Regiment at the Tower of London, the Ministry of Defence said.

It included 21 guns for the Queen's birthday, 20 because it's a royal palace, and 21 to follow a tradition in which ships would fire their guns before entering the City of London to show they were not threatening.
Hundreds of people also gathered for a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park to honors the Queen.
The salute was performed by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, using 80 Irish draft horses to pull six First World War-era guns into position.
The 41 rounds were then fired at 10-second intervals, the MoD said.

Hamidullah Zaker, Afghanistan Commando, Emerges As Hero of Kabul Battle

When half-dozen Taliban militants stormed the Intercontinental Hotel here last June in a bloody overnight siege, a photograph of a team of NATO special operations soldiers, their hands and clothes still bloody as they strode confidently away from the combat zone, became the iconic photograph of the battle.

On Sunday, after yet another drawn-out street battle with Taliban militants, this one in downtown Kabul, a similarly emblematic image was taken of a confident, rugged, and blood-strewn commando emerging from a hazy battleground. Only this time something was different: the hero was Afghan.

For days after the fighting, Afghans in Kabul appeared to bask in the glory of one of their own taking the spotlight; they changed their Facebook profile pictures to that of the unknown commando and printed thousands of flyers to post around the city.
It's the sort of shift -- in both tactical capability and public perception -- that Afghans seem ready to embrace, and American officials eager to see.  CONTINUE . . . . .