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Showing posts from January 27, 2013

Drug traffic fuels addiction in Sierra Leone

As the global narcotics trade expands in West Africa, it leaves a trail of addicts in its wake.

Freetown, Sierra Leone - Leaning against a wall, his eyes red and glazed over, Patrick Hindowa described how he spends his days getting high. "I got no job here," he explained. "Whatever [drugs] I'm going to be able to do, I'm going to do. Because I really don't have nothing."

Huddled at the end of a narrow alleyway downtown, Hindowa and two friends shared stories of addiction and life on the street.

"My mother died, my father died," recalled Bakar Sesay. "Since then - since I was a kid - I chose the street life. Coke and all that." The 20-year-old said that he has used drugs since he was seven.

The group listed heroin as their favourite, with freebased cocaine a close second. When hard drugs were not available, they turn to marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines, or prescription pills - anything, really. "From the time we wake up, 'till t…

Hundreds killed in Brazil nightclub fire

More than 245 people killed in blaze caused by a pyrotechnics show in the city of Santa Maria, local police report.
At least 245 people have been killed and 200 others injured in a nightclub fire caused by a pyrotechnics show in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, a police official has said.

"There are 245 dead and 48 in the hospital," Major Cleberson Bastianello, a military police commander in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria, told local news media on Sunday.

Bodies were still being removed from the Kiss nightclub, according to Major Gerson da Rosa Ferreira, who was leading rescue efforts at the scene for the military police.

Ferreira said the victims died of asphyxiation or from being trampled, and there were as many as 500 people inside the club when the fire broke out.

Gabriel Elizondo, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Brazil said the nightclub, which is near a college campus, was full of teenagers and people in their 20s.

“Images that we’ve seen indicat…

DPRK leader vows to safeguard national dignity

PYONGYANG - The paramount leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Sunday pledged to resort to "powerful physical countermeasures" in safeguarding his country's dignity and sovereign rights.

Kim Jong-un's pledge was made known by KCNA, DPRK's official news agency, in a statement. Though without elaboration, Kim said it while attending a work meeting of officials for national security and external affairs held recently on current situation, said KCNA's statement, quoting a report from the meeting.

The 15-nation United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the Resolution 2087 which condemns DPRK's rocket launch in December and requires the DPRK to comply with all relevant resolutions approved by the Security Council and not to use the ballistic missile technology for any launch. It also reiterated to seek a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the issues concerned and advocated the renewal of the six-par…

Japan to launch radar, optical satellites

TOKYO - The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. are set to launch an information-gathering radar satellite and an optical satellite using an H-2A rocket Sunday, local media reported.

The liftoff is scheduled at around 1:40 p.m. Sunday from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, according to the Kyodo News Agency.

The radar satellite is reportedly capable of detecting objects on the ground even at night and through cloud cover, while the optical satellite is designed to demonstrate higher resolution shooting technology.

Japan currently has a radar satellite and three optical satellites in operation. With the planned launch on Sunday, it aims to expand its satellite network so that any specific point on the ground can be shot at least once a day, according to reports.

Hackers take down US govt website

WASHINGTON - Hackers on Saturday took down a US Justice Department website, in what was believed to be retribution for the death of an internet activist.

The website of United States Sentencing Commission, the agency responsible for federal sentencing guidelines, was taken down. Hackers also posted a message demanding the United States reform its justice system or they would leak sensitive information obtained in the attack.

According to numerous news reports, the infamous hacker group "Anonymous" was suspected to be behind the attack. Reports quoted a letter from the group saying it hijacked the website to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, an internet activist who committed suicide earlier this month.

Reports indicated federal prosecutors had aggressively pursued Swartz for allegedly downloading millions of academic articles with the intention of distributing them for free, before he committed suicide on January 11. He was facing federal computer fraud charges and could have s…

Death toll rises to 61 in Venezuela prison riot

CARACAS - The death toll of a prison riot in northwest Venezuela has risen to 61, medics said on Saturday.

Ruy Medina, director of the Medical Center in Barquisimeto, capital city of Lara state, said 30 people were still being treated for injuries, most of them had suffered gunshot wounds.

Early on Saturday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro called the riot "regrettable" and "tragic," saying the government had launched an investigation.

Crossfire broke out in Uribana prison outside Barquisimeto after prisoners resisted a spot check on weapons.

Penitentiary Services Minister Iris Varela said most of the victims sustained "bullet injuries" and others were stabbed or burned by explosives.

Varela said the Attorney General's Office as well as the Judicial Power were working on the autopsies of the deceased. A total of 28 corpses had been handed to their families.

"Prisoners who were injured or died had cuts and stabs with knives or homemade weapons at the jail,…

Successful flight for China's 1st jumbo airfreighter

China on Saturday successfully tests its first domestically made jumbo airfreighter, Yun-20, or Transport-20, a multi-function plane for long-distance transport of cargo and passengers. [Photo/Xinhua]

Has the Security Council's North Korea resolution merely provoked Pyongyang?

North Korea has reacted strongly to a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Pyongyang's December 12 satellite launch, stating that it will conduct nuclear and missile tests that will target the Unites States, which it describes as a "sworn enemy".

Tuesday's unanimously approved Resolution 2087 requires Pyongyang to comply with all relevant resolutions and to refrain from using ballistic missile technology for any launches. It suggests seeking a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution for related issues but promises further “significant action” if Pyongyang conducts a nuclear test or launches another rocket.

In an explicit response, a statement from North Korea's National Defense Commission said "We will not hide the fact that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets will be launched and a nuclear test of a higher level will be carried out during the next phase of the anti-US struggle."

North Korea, officially the Democratic Peopl…