Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts

October 8, 2012

A Wedding for 57 Yr Old Too Much, He Dropped Dead at Brawl

A 57-year-old man reportedly dropped dead from a heart attack during a wild wedding-party brawl inside a Philadelphia hotel this morning.
The deadly brouhaha was captured by a guest at the Sheraton Society Hill, who posted the footage on YouTube.
It wasn’t clear if the victim -- identified by the Philadelphia Inquirer as the uncle of the bride -- is shown in the one-minute, 12-second clip below.

 Footage shows police officers in blue shirts swinging batons and a woman in a long white gown knocked to the ground during the commotion.

“Did they just deck the bride?” the clip’s narrator could be heard saying.
All the while, at least one woman could be heard letting out a blood-curdling scream.
The narrator seemed irritated the brawl was interrupting his night of sleep: "It's my freakin' birthday, go to bed."
The victim was taken to Jefferson University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:51 a.m., officials told the newspaper.

January 26, 2012

Does Rouge belongs to Louboutin? Red Color Court Rules


Posted by Barry Silverstein  
Christian Louboutin is not about to let its very recognizable red sole get stepped on. The flash of color under spikey heels has become an identifying mark of the designer's high-priced shoes. Last August, Louboutin sought to protect that red sole in a case that pitted the iconic design house against another fashion legend, Yves Saint Laurent, who introduced shoes that were red all over, including the soles. But Louboutin was rebuffed by US District Judge Victor Marrero.
Hizzoner ruled that Christian Louboutin did not have a lock on the color red. In his opinion, Marrero wrote that "Louboutin's claim would cast a red cloud over the whole industry, cramping what other designers could do while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette. Louboutin would thus be able to market a total outfit in red, while other designers would not."
On Tuesday, Christian Louboutin was back in court, this time at the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, in an attempt to defend its right to exclusively use red, and specifically a tone it calls "China Red," on the soles of it shoes. Louboutin's attorney, Harley Lewin, told a three-judge panel that "Christian Louboutin has created one of the more iconic trademarks of the 21st century. Louboutin turned a pedestrian item into a thing of beauty."
Opposing attorney David Bernstein, arguing on behalf of Yves St. Laurent, countered "Artists of this type need the full palette of colors available. In order to compete and compete fairly, we need red. We don't want to find out that we can make green, blue, purple shoes... but we are enjoined from making red."
Louboutin actually was granted a federal trademark for its red-soled shoes in 2008. It followed a precedent that suggests a color can be trademarked when it is a single, distinct color used only to identify or promote a brand. Examples include Owens Corning's pink insulation and Tiffany's teal blue packaging.
Jeannie Suk, a Harvard professor of law, wrote in the New York Times that "the Supreme Court has previously held that a color alone could be a trademark... because the color served to identify the maker of the product — and had no other function." According to Suk, however, "if the color is a useful feature in a product... it can't be a trademark, even if it is source-identifying, because excluding competitors from a useful feature would be anti-competitive." Suk says Louboutin's case might be stronger if the company wanted to trademark "China Red" rather than "red," but it seems to be standing on the side of the broader color. Fashion, writes Suk, "remains a realm in which copying is perfectly legal — unless a design is deemed a trademark, that is." Suk suggests that more lawsuits could be likely in the fashion world unless laws are revised to give the it "limited industry-specific protections."
Another more subtle reason for Christian Louboutin's protective posture may be the fact that it has been battered by counterfeiters. In May 2010, Louboutin launched a "Stop Fake Christian Louboutin" website in an effort to stem the tide of cheap knockoffs. The company pointedly says on the site: "Keep in mind that when something is too good to be true, that's usually what it is worth. Websites selling low low priced Louboutin looking shoes (so called “cheap Louboutin”) are probably not selling the real thing. We make no shoes in Asia. There is no factory in China that can sell legitimate shoes to anyone as we do not use any factories in China."
A brand's trademark does not guarantee protection, but having the trademark legally registered makes it easier to prosecute counterfeiters.
As for Louboutin's appeal, Fordham law professor Susan Scafidi generally agreed with professor Jeannie Suk. Scafidi told the Wall Street Journal, "there are broader issues raised by this case, and they're that fashion designs really have no protection. The industry has been trying for 100 years, but intellectual property law still stops right at fashion's door."

December 20, 2011

Virgin Founder Richard Branson } ‘End the war on drugs’

By Andrew Jones
Inspired by a visit to Portugal, billionaire Richard Branson is calling on the United States and the rest of the world to end its war on drugs.
In a blog post on his company’s site, the Virgin Media founder was impressed by the European nation’s move a decade ago to remove all crimes for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.
Branson went on to cite a Cato study of how Portugal now has the lowest rate on of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the European Union after decriminalization. The Iberian nation also has a decrease in drug usage among teens as well as death from heroin and other small drugs reduced by half.
“Portugal’s 10 year experiment shows clearly that enough is enough,” he said. “It is time to end the war on drugs worldwide.”
“We must stop criminalizing drug users. Health and treatment should be offered to drug users – not prison. Bad drugs policies affect literally hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities across the world. We need to provide medical help to those that have problematic use – not criminal retribution
 (CreativeCommons licensed)
Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones is a staff writer/reporter for Raw Story. Besides covering politics, he is also a freelance sports journalist, as well as a slam poetry and music artist. You can follow him on Twitter @sluggahjells.

December 3, 2011

The effects of war on military dogs } “PTSD"

 German shepherds and Labrador retrievers returning from war suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome — just like their human handlers

Pablo, a military working dog pictured with his handlers in Afghanistan: Dogs suffering from PTSD may withdraw completely or become unusually aggressive.
Pablo, a military working dog pictured with his handlers in Afghanistan: Dogs suffering from PTSD may withdraw completely or become unusually aggressive. Photo: Gunnery Sgt. Bryce Piper SEE ALL 68 PHOTOS
Humans aren't the only ones to bear the emotional scars of war.The New York Times reports that veterinarians are now recognizing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in dogs that have been deployed with combat forces. More than 5 percent of military dogs who've seen action may be affected, and roughly half of the damaged animals will have to be retired. Here, a brief guide to the"disturbing" effects of war on our loyal, four-legged soldiers:
 With PTSD in canines, as in humans, the symptoms vary but typically involve a marked change in temperament and character. Some dogs become overly vigilant, others get "unusually aggressive with their handlers," while still others become shy and needy. "Most crucially," says James Dao in The New York Times, "many stop doing the tasks they were trained to perform." It's only in the last 18 months that vets have begun recognizing and treating the concept of PTSD in dogs — which is a "bit surprising," says Margaret Hartmann atJezebel, given how long we've known that abused dogs tend to cower and act out.
 A big one. Once merely "furry sentries," military dogs have become increasingly important in modern warfare. German shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador retrievers now perform various specialized tasks, such as sniffing out improvised explosive devices (I.E.D.'s), the leading cause of casualties in Afghanistan in recent years. "If the dog is trained to find improvised explosives and it looks like [the dog is] working, but isn't, it's not just the dog that's at risk," says Dr. Walter F. Burghardt Jr., the chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. "This is a human health issue as well."

 Treatment can be challenging since dogs can't tell vets and handlers what's bothering them. Mild cases of PTSD can often be treated by giving the dog a break, some extra playtime, and a gentle brush-up on obedience training. Dogs with more serious cases require "desensitization counterconditioning," wherein a dog is exposed to sights and sounds, like an explosion or a loud vehicle, from a comfortable distance. If the dog doesn't react, he's given a treat, and then progressively moved nearer to the action. Controversially, some dogs also receive the sort of anti-anxiety medications humans rely on (e.g. Xanax). "There's a disturbing undertone" here, says Hartmann. These "dogs are all forced into service, and in addition to risking their lives, they're suffering from psychological trauma they can't explain [and which] we don't quite know how to treat."

It can. Gina, a five-year-old German shepherd with the 21st Security Force Squadron, made news last year after she returned from a five-month-tour in Southwest Asia and wasn't herself.  "She was so messed up, she didn't want to see anybody," says one of her handlers. "She didn't want to go inside buildings. She was terrified of everything." After a successful desensitization treatment, Gina's been cleared to deploy again. A Labrador that was left scared and cowering after witnessing a firefight was given Xanax and cleared to work again within days. Still, vets stress that PTSD can likely only be managed and treated, not cured. "Dogs never forget,"says Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at Tufts University.

October 30, 2011

Crooks& Liers} Marco Rubio, Lied and Lied—Until he got caught

Why should we care about Marco Rubio embellishing the tale of his parent's immigration? Because it really does matter. It carries a great deal of significance not only in the Cuban communities in Florida, but across the nation.
Rubio has presented himself as an exile for very specific reasons. He wants the narrative that he fled political oppression to come to this country and make something of himself without bootstraps. He has painted his family as political refugees, when in fact, they're economic refugees just like 99.9 percent of the other immigrants in this country.
A simple embellishment for political gain. After all, how could Rubio be anti-immigrant if he descends from an immigrant family? How could Rubio possibly identify with Latino immigrants as a conservative without changing his own history? Just a little date change and he becomes part of something he and his family never were.
Rubio's response when the story hit the airwaves was to push back with this:
I now know that they entered the U.S. legally on an immigration visa in May of 1956. Not, as some have said before, as part of some special privilege reserved only for Cubans. They came because they wanted to achieve things they could not achieve in their native land.
That paragraph summarizes the essence of why many have come to this country, including Mexican immigrants who have literally risked their lives to enter this country. There is only one difference between the children of Rubio's parents and the children of Latino immigrants all around this country, and it's a significant one. Those immigrants are being threatened, demonized, tossed into privatized prison systems and deported because our immigration policy is practically non-existent. No family from Mexico could present themselves at an immigration office, apply for a visa and declare their intent to stay permanently simply because they wanted opportunity. Political exiles might have a chance, but not those who were simply choosing to immigrate.
By claiming this...
I am the son of immigrants and exiles, raised by people who know all too well that you can lose your country. By people who know firsthand that America is a very special place.
...Rubio flatly lied. His parents came to this country in 1956 looking for economic opportunity. They declared at that time they intended to stay permanently. The fact that Castro came to power in 1959 makes a nice excuse to claim his parents were exiles, but it's simply not true. They came here looking for opportunity and assumed they'd be able to return to Cuba for visits whenever they could. Castro complicated the latter, but didn't change the former.
Marco Rubio is just like every immigrant family -- Latino, Irish, Italian, Pakistani or otherwise -- who comes to this country seeking opportunity and a better life. The only difference is that Marco Rubio has allied with political forces who don't want the same for anyone else. He altered his family history to fit a politically expedient narrative and has ridden it farther than he should have.
Rubio isn't the first to do this and he won't be the last. Still he should not be regarded as someone who is fit for national office because of his "exile" background. In fact, he's unfit for national office because of it, because he would deny the same opportunity and legal pathway for every other family who looks just like his did in 1956 living in a country where opportunity lay in a country called the United States and doors were open to walk through.
Beyond the obvious issues with his "story", it proves something else about Marco Rubio. He lies to get what he wants, and does it without blinking. It's a habit with him. He has trouble separating campaign funds from his own checkbookdouble-billed Florida taxpayers for pricey plane tickets, and still faces questions about his credit card and foreclosure issues.
You might think Rubio was the type who would sell his own mother down the river for political gain. If you did, you'd be right, since he voted to kill Medicare and Medicaid even as he extolled their virtues for keeping his parents out of poverty.

Former US chief prosecutor condemns 'law-free zone’ } Guantanamo

 in New York
A shackled detainee is taken from a vehicle for interrogation at Camp Delta, at the Guantanamo base in Cuba in 2006. Photograph: Brennan Linsley/AP
The former chief prosecutor for the US government at Guantánamo Bayhas accused the administration he served of operating a "law-free zone" there, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the order to establish the detention camp on Cuba.
Retired air force colonel Morris Davis resigned in October 2007 in protest against interrogation methods at Guantánamo, and has made his remarks in the lead-up to 13 November, the anniversary of President George W Bush's executive order setting up military commissions to try terrorist suspects.
Davis said that the methods of interrogation used on Guantánamo detainees – which he described as "torture" – were in breach of the US's own statutes on torture, and added: "If torture is a crime, it should be prosecuted."
The US military, he said, had been ordered to use unlawful methods of interrogation by "civilian politicians, and to do so against our will and judgment".
Davis was speaking at a conference on human rights law at Bard College in New York state. After resigning from the armed forces, in a dramatic defection to the other side of the raging debate over conditions at the camp, he became executive director of, and counsel to, theCrimes of War project based in Washington DC. The speech was to launch the project's 10th anniversary campaign and to protest against the existence of the camp and the torture there and at so-called "black sites" run by US intelligence around the world.
"No court has jurisdiction over Guantánamo," said Davis. "Some senior civilian Bush adminstration officials chose Guantánamo to interrogate detainees because they thought it's a law-free zone where we can unlawfully… handle a very small number of cases. We have turned our backs on the law and created what we believed was a place outside the law's reach." He added that America was "great at preaching to others, but not so good at practising what we preach. There is a point when enough is enough, and you have to look at yourself in the mirror. Torture has no place in American courts."
He admitted that "for a couple of years I was a leading advocate of military tribunals", but at his first meeting as prosecutor "I told my prosecution team that I would not use any enhanced interrogation techniques – we didn't need to". However, he continued: "We had these political appointees telling us to get in there and use them."
Speaking to the Observer, he said: "The uniformed services were in opposition to what was going on. But the military was cut out of the loop. Civilian politicians excluded the military in establishing the process and then handed it to me, saying: 'Here, go make it work.' Political appointees were making the decisions and, so far as I was concerned, the methods being used were unlawful. They said: 'President Bush said we don't use torture, so if the president said it's not torture, who are you to say it is?' " At first, said Davis, "the Bush administration didn't want civilian lawyers involved. They didn't even want the Red Cross on the island."
Davis, an expert on the law of war, and former judge advocate for the US Air Force, said that prisoners at Guantánamo have "fallen between" the conventions and rules governing prisoners of war. He questioned the notion of a "war on terror", saying: "Prisoners of war are supposed to have been captured on the battlefield. Abducting people off the streets of Indonesia and other places far from Afghanistan is pushing the envelope on what is a battlefield. The whole world is in essence the battlefield."
After his resignation in 2007 and retirement in 2008, Morris was officially deemed to have acted "dishonourably". But, he said: "The people who said I had behaved dishonourably were all political appointees. I've had no one from the military or the intelligence community who has criticised what I did."
Davis's Crimes of War project is leading pressure on the administration of President Barack Obama during Guantánamo's 10th anniversary, with firm reminders of Obama's unequivocal pledges to abolish military commissions and close the camp. Professor Thomas Keenan, the head of the Bard College human rights programme, which staged the conference, said: "The president campaigned on a pledge to close down the jail at Guantánamo Bay, and to end the use of military commissions to try its inmates. How is it possible that, two years after he was elected, there are still more than 150 prisoners there, and this November, one of them will go on trial before one of those very commissions?"
The 10th anniversary of the executive order will come four days after the arraignment on 9 November of Saudi-born former millionaire Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of masterminding the attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 US sailors in 2000. The trial is the first to be held at Guantánamo in which the government will seek the death penalty.
But lawyers for al-Nashiri, who claim he was tortured at a "black site" in Poland, will present a motion arguing that the trial is meaningless, since the government has said it will not necessarily release the accused even if he is acquitted.
Davis said he thought the handling of terrorist suspects should proceed "one step at a time, and the first step is to close Guantánamo". Trials could then be moved to the federal courts.

October 25, 2011

UK’s M16 role in Libyan rebels' rendition 'helped to strengthen al-Qaida'

Secret documents reveal British intelligence concerns and raise damaging questions about UK's targeting of Gaddafi opponents
Abdel Hakim Belhaj
Britain already faces legal action over its involvement in the plot to seize Abdul Hakim Belhaj, who is now the military commander in Tripoli. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP
British intelligence believes the capture and rendition of two top Libyan rebel commanders, carried out with the involvement of MI6, strengthened al-Qaida and helped groups attacking British forces in Iraq, secret documents reveal.
The papers, discovered in the British ambassador's abandoned residence in Tripoli, raise new and damaging questions over Britain's role in the seizure and torture of key opponents of Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
Britain is already facing legal actions over its involvement in the plot to seize Abdul Hakim Belhaj, leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who is now the military commander in Tripoli, and his deputy, Sami al-Saadi. Both men say they were tortured and jailed after being handed over to Gaddafi.
The documents reveal that British intelligence believe the pair's rendition boosted al-Qaida by removing more moderate elements from the insurgency's leadership. This allowed extremists to push "a relatively close-knit group" focused on overthrowing Gaddafi into joining the pan-Islamist terror network.
One document, headed "UK/Libya eyes only - Secret", showed the security services had monitored LIFG members since their arrival in Britain following a failed attempt to kill Gaddafi in 1996, and understood their aim was the replacement of his regime with an Islamic state.
The briefing paper, prepared by the security service for a four-day MI5visit in February 2005, said that following the seizure of its two key leaders the year before the group had been cast into a state of disarray.
"The extremists are now in the ascendancy," the paper said, and they were "pushing the group towards a more pan-Islamic agenda inspired by AQ [al-Qaida]".
Their "broadened" goals, it continued, were now also the destabilisation of Arab governments that were not following sharia law and the liberation of Muslim territories occupied by the west.
The 58-page document, which included names, photographs and detailed biographies of a dozen alleged LIFG members in the UK, went on to highlight "conclusions of concern" in the light of these changes.
These included the sending of money and false documents to a contact in Iran to help smuggle fighters into Iraq, where British and US forces were coming under fierce attack. "UK members have long enjoyed a reputation as the best suppliers of false documents in the worldwide extremist community," said the report. It added that British LIFG members were becoming "increasingly ambitious" at fundraising through fast-food restaurants, fraud, property and car dealing, and raised nearly all the money for the group outside of Libya.British security also asked Gaddafi's security forces for access to detainees and their debriefs.
Asked about the document, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "It is the government's longstanding policy not to comment on intelligence matters."
The LIFG eventually merged with al-Qaida in 2007. However, a second document, a secret update on Libyan extremist networks in the UK from August 2008, says the response of British members was "subdued and mixed".
It concluded that those already supporting the wider aims of al-Qaida continued to do so, but "those with reservations retain their focus on Libya". It added, however, that some money raised by members in Manchester may have gone to "assist operational activity".
The cache of confidential documents - which included private letters to Gaddafi from Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and key Downing Street aides - was abandoned when the three-story residence was attacked by Gaddafi loyalists in April. .
There was also a dossier prepared by British intelligence with suggested questions for the captured men. The 39-page document, entitled Briefs for Detainees and labelled "UK Secret" on each page, was written in three sections in March, June and October 2004.
The first section is dated the month of Belhaj's arrest, and sought answers on everything from his private life to his military training, activities in Afghanistan and links to al-Qaida. There were also personalised questions for Saadi.
The LIFG, founded by veterans of the mujahideen's war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was for many years the most serious internal threat to Gaddafi, coming close to blowing up the dictator with a car bomb in his home town of Sirte in 1996. The government denied claims by David Shayler, the renegade British spy, that this assassination attempt was funded by British intelligence.
After Gaddafi's clampdown on the group, dozens of dissidents were allowed to settle in Britain. London only designated the LIFG a terrorist organisation after Libya said it was abandoning its weapons of mass destruction programme in 2003. The move is understood to have been agreed as part of the negotiations with Gaddafi's regime that paved the way to the controversial Blair deal.
Belhaj, now a key figure in liberated Libya, is preparing to sue Britain after other documents discovered in the wake of Gaddafi's fall indicated that MI6 assisted in his rendition to torture and brutal treatment from the CIA and Gaddafi's regime.
MI6 informed the CIA of his whereabouts after his associates told British diplomats in Malaysia he wanted to claim asylum in Britain.
He was allowed to board a flight to London, then abducted when his aircraft landed at Bangkok.
Belhaj claims he was suspended from a ceiling and tortured at Bangkok airport before spending six years in solitary confinement at Tripoli's notorious Abu Selim jail. He also alleges that he was questioned by three British agents, one a woman, who ignored his complaints about mistreatment, and that his pregnant wife was also beaten.
Belhaj has claimed repeatedly that his sole motivation was the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime and that he had no interest in the goals or activities of al-Qaida.
David Mepham, UK director of Human Rights Watch, said: "It is extraordinary and shameful that Britain should have supported the rendition of individuals back to Libya, given that human rights abuses under Gaddafi were so egregious, widespread and well-documented."

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