‘Chinese Agents Acted Like Triads’, says Bookseller in Abduction Row

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An outspoken Hong Kong bookseller who has become a symbol of opposition to China’s authoritarian government has accused Chinese security agents of behaving like the notorious triad gangs in a bid to silence the publishers of provocative books about the country’s leaders.

Lam Wing-kee shot to prominence in June when he revealed how he had been spirited into secret detention in eastern China by a mysterious group of agents supposedly acting on the orders of the Communist party leadership.

Writing in the Diplomat, Amnesty International’s China researcher William Nee said Lam’s testimony had provided “a blow-by-blow account of the abusive tools that have become Chinese authorities’ modus operandi to silence critics since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012”.  Read the rest of this entry »


‘Clock Boy’ Family Circus Pulling Up the Tent: Ahmed Mohamed Will Move to Qatar

Avi Selk reports: After finally meeting President Obama last night, Ahmed Mohamed and his family plan to leave the United States for the foreseeable future.

“We are going to move to a place where my kids can study and learn and all of them being accepted by that country.”

— Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed

Schools from across the country have made offers to Ahmed since he was arrested at Irving’s MacArthur High last month—his homemade clock confused with a hoax bomb, transforming him into a symbol of perceived anti-Muslim bias.

The family’s full statement follows:

But apparently it was an offer from the Middle East that most intrigued the family. The Mohameds announced today that they’ve accepted a foundation’s offer to pay for the 14-year-old’s high school and college in Doha, Qatar, which Ahmed visited a few weeks ago as he began a world tour.Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“Looking at all the great offers we’ve had, it’s the best decision. They even have Texas A&M at Qatar … It’s basically like America.”

His sister, Eyman Mohamed, said Ahmed will study at Doha Academy, while she and his other siblings find schools in the rich capital city, which hosts a huge university complex called Education City.

“Looking at all the great offers we’ve had, it’s the best decision,” said Eyman, 18. “They even have Texas A&M at Qatar … It’s basically like America.”

She spoke as the family boarded an airplane from Washington, where Ahmed concluded his world tour at the White House this week, back to their smallish house in Irving.

[Read the full text here, at Dallas Morning News]

But they’ll only be here for a few days, Eyman said, before they jet off to a new life on the other side of the world.

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Not that their story in the United States is done. Before leaving Washington, Ahmed appeared with a U.S. Congressman who, along with nearly 30 other members of congress, have asked the federal government to investigate whether anti-Muslim discrmination prompted Ahmed’s arrest. Read the rest of this entry »


Wife of India Minister Found Dead after Twitter Conflict

Sunanda Puskhar Tharoor, right, wife of India's Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, poses with her husband at the Indian F1 Grand Prix outside New Delhi, October 27, 2013. Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a New Delhi hotel room Friday, police said, days after she was involved in a row with a Pakistani woman on Twitter.

Sunanda Puskhar Tharoor, right, wife of India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, poses with her husband at the Indian F1 Grand Prix outside New Delhi, October 27, 2013. Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a New Delhi hotel room Friday, days after she was involved in a row with a Pakistani woman on Twitter.

William M. Welch  reports:  Abhinav Kumar, a minister’s aide, said that Tharoor and his wife had moved into the five-star hotel Thursday while their home was being painted. The minister first thought his wife was sleeping when he returned to their suite Friday night after a meeting, but she was found dead, he said.

Pushkar on Thursday gave a series of rambling interviews to Indian TV stations in which she said did not plan to leave her husband.

Read the rest of this entry »


Interpreter at Mandela Event: ‘I Was Hallucinating’

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(JOHANNESBURG) — report:  The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela‘s memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were “armed policemen around me.” He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.

A South African deputy Cabinet minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, later held a news conference to announce that “a mistake happened” in the hiring of Jantjie.

Government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Thamsanqa Jantjie but the owners “have vanished into thin air,” said Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.

Read the rest of this entry »


Shut up and play nice: How the Western world is limiting free speech

Free speech is dying in the Western world

from Johathon Turley, in the October 12  Washington Post

While most people still enjoy considerable freedom of expression, this right, once a near-absolute, has become less defined and less dependable for those espousing controversial social, political or religious views. The decline of free speech has come not from any single blow but rather from thousands of paper cuts of well-intentioned exceptions designed to maintain social harmony.

“when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”

In the face of the violence that frequently results from anti-religious expression, some world leaders seem to be losing their patience with free speech. After a video called “Innocence of Muslims” appeared on YouTube and sparked violent protests in several Muslim nations last month, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “when some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected.”

“…our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures — which is what you did.”

It appears that the one thing modern society can no longer tolerate is intolerance. As Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard put it in her recent speech before the United Nations, “Our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred.”

A willingness to confine free speech in the name of social pluralism can be seen at various levels of authority and government. In February, for instance, Pennsylvania Judge Mark Martin heard a case in which a Muslim man was charged with attacking an atheist marching in a Halloween parade as a “zombie Muhammed.” Martin castigated not the defendant but the victim, Ernie Perce, lecturing him that “our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures — which is what you did.”

Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people — challenging social taboos or political values…

More…

The Washington Post