Less than a week after winning another 7 year term in Syria’s “democratic election”, Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty for all prisoners within the country体彩手机在线怎么下载.
Syria’s pro-government Al Ikhbariya television station announced Assad would commute some death sentences to life imprisonment, reduce jail terms for many offences and cancel some others altogether. The decree would also give foreigners who entered the country体彩手机在线怎么下载 “to join a terrorist group or perpetrate a terrorist act” an amnesty option if they surrendered to authorities within a month. Kidnappers who free their hostages and army deserters would also be covered by the decree. Of course, Assad also insisted the Syrian government had no idea how those chemical weapons wound up in a Damascus suburb… so who knows if he’ll stand by his decree. As for the tens of thousands of jailed opposition supporters, there’s been no word yet on whether or not the amnesty will apply to them – but they probably shouldn’t hold their breath… unless they’re being water boarded in prison. Reuters
The world’s oldest man is no longer. Alexander Imich, the oldest known man on earth, died at the age of 111 Sunday in his Manhattan 体彩手机在线怎么下载. Born February 4, 1903, Imich came to the U.S. after fleeing a Nazi invasion of his native Poland. The retired chemist and parapsychologist lived on New York’s Upper West Side until his death and attributed his long life to never drinking alcohol and a healthy dose of swimming and gymnastics. Guinness is now investigating the claim that 111-year-old Sakari Momoi of Japan is the new world’s oldest man. But neither come close to the world’s oldest woman – 116-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan. Well, they actually came pretty close. Fox News
Obama is sticking by his swap! Speaking at a press conference in Brussels Thursday, President Obama strongly defended his decision to swap five members of the Taliban for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. A national controversy has erupted over whether or not Obama paid too high a price, but according to the president, “no man left behind” trumps “we do not negotiate with terrorists”. “We saw an opportunity and we seized it and I make no apologies for that,” Obama said. “It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind — no matter what,” John Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran, told CNN. As for the 28-year-old former captive, he’s not doing so hot. He is reportedly suffering from disorders affecting his skin after surviving five years of harsh treatment at the hands of his Taliban captors. Word on the street (the New York Times…) says the Taliban kept him in a metal cage in the dark for weeks after he tried to escape. He is also struggling with emotional issues and has yet to contact his parents. And to make matters worse (for Bergdahl), the soldier’s former comrades have charged he was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after deserting his post – an accusation that conservative Republicans and crazed pundits have pounced on. An alleged traitor coming back to America in exchange for FIVE dangerous terrorists?!? Maybe he would be better off back in the Taliban’s metal cage… Raw Story
There’s nothing like putting a positive spin on a military coup! The military junta that seized power in Thailand last month isn’t ready to relinquish power but they are ready to boost national levels of happiness. The army has launched an official campaign that involves free concerts, food, female dancers, and horses for petting (?) in order to “return happiness” to the country体彩手机在线怎么下载 after a decade of political upheaval. And what better way to usher in a new wave of happiness than with a happiness song. The song, Return Happiness to Thailand, features such reassuring lyrics as “we offer to take care and protect you with our hearts” and “give us a little more time”. The lovely ballad was penned by the army chief himself, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha and has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube, making the song far more popular with the Bangkok crowd than the General himself. Raw Story
Well, they had a good run… I guess. With just a month to go until Syria’s election, the rebels evacuated their last stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs.
The Homs withdrawal marks the end of three years of resistance in the central city where the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad first began. The rebels had held control of Homs since 2011, but over the past two years government forces gradually regained control by subjecting the city to continuous siege and bombardment. “We ate grass and leaves until there was nothing left for us to eat,” , who was preparing to leave Homs. “We kept urging the international community to lift the siege but there was no response,” he added. The abandonment of the bloodstained city is seen as a major symbolic victory for Assad, who is excited to be running for a third presidential term and even more excited that the democratic process is extremely corrupt in his favour. BBC News
Rob Ford is loving rehab! “I feel great. Rehab is amazing. It reminds me of football camp. Kind of like the Washington Redskins camp I went to as a kid,” Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor told the Toronto Sun. Ford also inisisted that he, NOT his brother Doug, will be running for mayor in the October election. “Of course, I am coming back and I am going to kick butt,” he said. Pending any new crack videos, of course… Ford — who is on the city payroll during his “leave of absence” — still wouldn’t divulge the name of the rehab facility he is in or even if it’s in Canada. Hmmm… are we sure he’s just not just up north at his family’s cottage? The Toronto Sun
Maybe this is part of the reason #myNYPD failed so miserably? A former New York City police officer was arrested and charged with committing a hate crime after he was caught on surveillance video vandalizing buildings in a largely Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn community with anti-Semitic messages. 36-year-old Michael Setiawan was picked up before dawn on Sunday after police received a 911 call about some mysterious swastikas, courtesy of Setiawan’s Saturday night anti-Semetic graffiti spree. The former cop, who’s been off the force since 2007, faces 19 counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime. New York’s finest! Huffington Post
Wednesday marked the beginning of a long-delayed peace conference on Syria, but things are off to a rough start.
The peace conference, set in the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux, marks the first time the Syrian regime has sat down at the negotiating table with the opposition since the conflict began in March 2011. But on the first day of the conference things got a little testy between Syria’s government and the main political opposition, casting some doubt on the whether or not the peace talks will be able to ease the ongoing violence or even open up emergency aid corridors to help displaced civilians.
The main source of conflict was what to do with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad has already stated that he will not step down, but the opposition and US said the Syrian dictator had no legitimacy and must resign from power.
US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that Assad “will not be part of that transitional government”.
“There is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has lead the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern,” Kerry added.
Apparently slaughtering your own citizens and showering them with chemical weapons isn’t as popular with the international crowd as it used to be.
The Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, who led his country体彩手机在线怎么下载’s delegation, struck back at Kerry saying only the Syrian people could decide their president.
“No-one in the world has the right to confer or withdraw the legitimacy of a president, a constitution or a law, except for the Syrians themselves,” he told Kerry, adding that the Syrian insurgents were evil traitors who had “Syrian blood on their hands” and accusing the U.S. of supporting terrorist groups in the opposition.
After the UN’s Ban Ki-moon warned him his speech was running far over the allotted 10-minute slot, Moallem snapped back at him too.
“You live in New York. I live in Syria,” Moallem told the UN secretary general. “I have the right to give the Syrian version here. After three years of suffering, this is my right.”
Huh. Well, it’s only the first day. And look at the bright side – at least Iran didn’t show up.
Either Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is testing out his fallback career of being a stand-up comedian or he’s crazier than originally thought.
During a recent meeting with visitors at the presidential palace, Assad “joked” that he deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize instead of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is currently working to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal by mid-2014. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that the Syrian President said the coveted prize “should have been mine.” Good one Assad!
The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee announced last week it would award the OPCW for its “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons,” but Al-Akhbar, a newspaper sympathetic to the Syria regime, claims Assad said in 2003 that all nations in the region should hand over their chemical weapons. So really, he was robbed!!! Now he and Putin will have one more thing to talk about during their friendly get-togethers.
Even if Assad was joking about winning the peace prize, the 100,000 people who have died since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, including the 1,400 people who died in August in a chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb, probably don’t think it’s very funny. In fact, the OPCW inspectors who are currently travelling through war zones trying to eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons probably don’t think it’s the best joke either. Maybe he should work on a new fallback career… may I suggest Beaker from the Muppet Show lookalike? The pay may not be great, but at least he can still work with chemicals.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he needs one year to destroy all the chemical weapons he has but has “never used”.
In an interview with FOX News, Assad insisted that destroying the stockpiles of chemical weapons would cost US$1 billion and would take roughly one year. Assad claims he’s totally on board with handing over the weapons but calls the procedure “a very complicated operation, technically” that “needs a lot of money”. Is this Assad’s way of asking for a billion dollar handout? Kind of…
And when asked whether he would be willing to hand over chemical weapons to the US, President Assad said:
“It needs about one billion. It is very detrimental to the environment. If the American administration is ready to pay this money and take the responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States, why don’t they do it?”
Despite his apparent willingness to give up his chemical weapons, Assad is sticking to his story that his government never sanctioned any sarin gas attacks.First, he tried to pin it on the rebels, saying terrorists were to blame for the chemical attack which killed more than 1,400 people.
“Sarin gas is called kitchen gas,” he said. “You know why? Because anybody can make sarin in his house. Any rebel can make sarin!”
So can any dictator – especially one with a large kitchen. But Assad says he has some mystery evidence that it was the terrorist groups who used sarin gas and has handed that info over to Russia (for safekeeping?).
Next he decided to blame photoshop. Assad said that the shocking videos of victims following a chemical weapons attack could have been forged.
“You cannot build a report on videos,” he said, adding, “There’s a lot of forgery on the Internet.”