Home' Greymouth Star : April 30th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014
peace bid stalls
Baghlan Markazi (Afghanistan)
Afghani police have arrested the
parents of a 14-year-old girl after
they attacked a religious cleric
and cut off his nose and ears in
retaliation for what they say were
a series of sexual attacks on their
Rights activists say there has
been a sharp rise in violent attacks
against women in the deeply
conser vative Muslim country,
where women have fought hard
to gain rights after the collapse of
Taliban government in 2001.
Restoring women’s rights after
the Taliban was ousted by a United
States-led coalition of troops was
cited as one of the main objectives
of the war.
The provincial head of women’s
affairs, Khadija Yaqeen, told
Reuters the girl had told her
parents four months ago she had
The father invited the mullah to
his house on Monday for dinner,
“ I cut off his ears and nose,” her
father Abdul Qahar, dressed in a
traditional shalwar kameez and a
turban, said from the police chief ’s
office in the northern Baghlan
“ I don’t know if a cat ate his ears,
but his nose went down the drain,”
he told Reuters, speaking in the
Police arrested the girl’s
parents overnight. Ahmad Jawid
Basharat, a police spokesman in
Baghlan, said Qahar had tied the
cleric’s hands and feet and cut off
The 32-year-old cleric denied he
had assaulted the girl. Police said
they have opened a case against
Religious, or sharia, law often
holds sway over contitutional
law in some parts of rural
“If there was a functioning
rule of law, then he would be
punished even more severely,” the
girl’s mother, Sultana, wearing
a traditional all-covering burqa,
There is growing fear among
many people in Afghanistan that
the withdrawal of Nato-led forces
and efforts to reach a political
agreement with the Taliban to
end the 12-year-old war could
undermine hard-won freedoms
government banned girls from
attending school when it ruled
the country from 1996 to 2001,
and during the insurgency its
militants have regularly bombed
girls’ schools built with US money.
Khirbet al-Taweel (West Bank)
Israeli forces demolished several structures,
including a mosque, in a Palestinian village
overnight, the day a deadline for a deal in now-
frozen peace talks expired.
A Reuters correspondent saw several hundred
soldiers deployed in Khirbet al-Taweel, in the
occupied West Bank, about daybreak. They
guarded six bulldozers that reduced to rubble
buildings that were constructed without Israeli
permits. Palestinians say such documents are
nearly impossible to obtain.
Palestinians saw a link between the
demolitions and the passing, without a peace
deal, of the April 29 deadline set when the talks
began in July. Israel has also drawn Palestinian
anger by continuing to expand settlements on
land they seek for a state.
Villagers said the stone mosque was built in
2008, and that soldiers removed prayer rugs and
holy scriptures before tearing it down.
Other razed buildings included three one-
storey family houses, animal shelters and a
communal well. Locals said about 30 people
were made homeless.
The Israeli army said in a statement that eight
structures, including a “mosque in use”, were
demolished because they had been built illegally
inside a dangerous live-fire military training
“I went to make my dawn prayers at the
mosque and found the army surrounding it,”
resident Abdel Fattah Maarouf, 63, said. “ Then
they tore it down. They want this area so they
can build settlements in it. ”
Speaking on local radio, Yasser Abed Rabbo,
a top Palestinian official, said that “unless acts
like this cease completely” there was no room to
return to US-sponsored peace talks with “this
expansionist, racist occupier”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
suspended negotiations last week after western-
backed President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine
Liberation Organisation signed a unity dealt
with Hamas, an Islamist group which advocates
The pact envisages the formation of a
government of non-political technocrats within
five weeks and a Palestinian election six months
later. Israel said such a government would
effectively be backed by Hamas and could not
be a peace partner. — Reuters
Cleric mutilated over sexual assaults on girl
Israel approved plans for nearly 14,000 new
settler homes during the nine months of peace
talks with the Palestinians, an Israeli settlement
watchdog says as the negotiation period
Figures quoted by Peace Now overnight
showed that during the talks, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government
approved at least 13,851 new housing through
the advancement of plans and the publication
“This is an unprecedented number representing
an average of 50 housing units per day or 1540
per month,” it said.
“Netanyahu broke construction records during
the nine-month peace talks,” Peace Now head
Yariv Oppenheimer said.
Israel’s ongoing settlement building has
weighed heavily on the negotiation process,
with the Palestinians infuriated by the relentless
pace of new construction approvals on land they
want for a future state.
They have demanded a complete settlement
freeze as one of the key conditions for any
return to the crisis-hit talks.
But Israel has flatly refused.
Netanyahu has rejected outright the notion
that settlement building ran counter to the
peace efforts, saying he never agreed to any
“restraints on construction” throughout the
talks. — AFP
Israeli allows 14,000 ‘settler’ homes
Putin cool on sanctions
President Vladimir Putin
said overnight that Russia
saw no need for counter-
sanctions against the west,
but could reconsider the
participation of western
companies in its economy,
including energy projects,
if sanctions continued.
“ We would very much
wish not to resort to any
measures in response,” he
told reporters after meeting leaders of
Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“ But if something like that continues,
we will of course have
to think about who is
working in the key sectors
of the Russian economy,
including the energy sector,
yesterday announced a new
round of sanctions aimed
at business leaders and
companies close to Putin,
while the European Union
followed up overnight by
naming 15 Russians and Ukrainians to
its blacklist, moving to freeze assets and
deny visas. — Reuters
A television debate show in northern India
has ended in horror after a spectator set himself
ablaze and embraced a local politician, leaving
both men fighting for their lives.
The election show on India’s State-owned
national television channel Doordarshan was
being recorded in a park yesterday in Sultanpur,
a town about 160km from the city of Lucknow.
A man, named by police as Durgesh Kumar
Singh, emerged from a crowd of about 150
onlookers, doused himself in petrol then grabbed
the local leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party,
Kamruzzama Fauji, engulfing the pair in flames.
Singh sustained burns to 95% of his body
which are likely to be fatal, while Fauji was in a
critical state with 75% burns, police said.
“This man suddenly came on the stage, poured
petrol on himself and set himself on fire before
tightly hugging one of the political guests,” local
photographer Pankaj Kumar Gupta told AFP.
“ People were just too shocked to know what
was happening,” Gupta, whose photos show the
men engulfed in flames with spectators fleeing
the scene, said.
Two other local politicians taking part in
the show, Ram Kumar Singh and Chowdhary
Hriday Ram Verma, also sustained minor burn
injuries while trying to save the pair.
“The injured were first admitted to the district
hospital here (in Sultanpur) and were then
referred to Lucknow,” a police statement said.
The motive for the incident is unknown.
India’s numerous television channels are
holding nightly debate shows during the
ongoing parliamentary elections, often staged
in villages and towns with politicians taking
questions in front of local voters.
The election, the world’s biggest, will end
on May 16 with results expected to show the
Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata
Party coming to power after 10 years of rule by
the leftist Congress party.
Gupta said the show yesterday was called
Janmanch 2014 (People’s Forum 2014)
featuring five local politicians. It was coming to
an end when the man suddenly appeared.
Dog registered to vote in European poll
A dog owner from north-eastern England
has been threatened with police action after
his ageing pet rottweiler was registered to
vote in next month’s European Parliament
Russell Hoyle, 45, from Stockton, near
Newcastle, was asked to attend a police
inter view and risks a fine or even prison for the
registration of his dog Zeus, according to the
local Evening Gazette newspaper.
Hoyle blamed the mix-up on an official who
came to his house to take names of residents for
the electoral register.
“ I remember saying, ‘ There is myself and
my wife. My son is not old enough to vote’,”
recalled Hoyle, a security guard.
Then he said he had quipped to the official:
“ We have got Zeus living here as well and he is
63 in dog years.”
The next thing he knew, a polling card arrived
on his doormat for “Zeus Hoyle”, informing
the dog where to go to cast his ballot in the
May 22 vote.
The local council launched an investigation
and has referred the case to police, saying: “It
is an offence to provide false information on an
electoral registration form.”
Hoyle was unimpressed.
“ Even the police said it was daft that I had
been reported. The council is trying to flex its
muscles. It ’s disgusting,” he said. — AFP
Fier y end to tv debate
A future containing self-driving cars is
not very far away according to internet
giant Google, which already has a
prototype on the streets.
In a new post on the company’s official
blog, the search engine provider showed
off the software it has created and is
testing in cars on the streets of Mountain
View, California, where the company is
“Since our last update, we’ve logged
thousands of miles on the streets of our
hometown of Mountain View,” Chris
Urmson, director of the self-driving car
project at Google, said.
“A mile of city driving is much more
complex than a mile of freeway driving,
with hundreds of different objects
moving according to different rules of
the road in a small area.
“ We’ve improved our software so it
can detect hundreds of distinct objects
simultaneously — pedestrians, buses, a
stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or
a cyclist making gestures that indicate a
“A self-driving vehicle can pay
attention to all of these things in a way
that a human physically can’t — and it
never gets tired or distracted.”
A self-driving car is just one of
the futuristic projects that Google is
working on as part of the company ’s X
Lab — which is where Google Glass,
the company ’s wearable headset that
links with your smartphone, originated.
The technology firm
experimenting with weather balloons
that contain wifi signal in order to bring
internet access to remote parts of the
world. Facebook has also announced
plans for a similar project involving
The self-driving car project has been in
existence for four years, and came as a
response to World Health Organisation
figures which reported that more than
one million people are killed in road
traffic accidents each year. — PA
Self-driving cars on way: Google
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