Archive for March, 2010
Calderon, who has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and police to fight drug cartels, told Fareed Zakaria’s “GPS” program on CNN that there was resistance in Washington to Mexico’s demands that sales of such weapons be stopped.
“They (U.S. officials) say that they are facing strong opposition and there is powerful lobbies in the Congress in order to change that situation,” Calderon said in a pre-taped interview in Mexico City.
The Mexican leader added that solving the cross-border gun trafficking problem was critical to his bid to crack down on the drug-related violence that has killed 4,600 people in the past two years.
Mexico says 90 percent of the weapons used by drug gangs are bought in the United States, often legally. Mexican officials also want to see the U.S. Congress reinstate a ban on the sale of assault weapons that expired in 2004.
U.S. gun rights groups generally oppose such a restriction.
The United States is already deeply involved in Mexico’s struggle with drug gangs and has pledged some $1.4 billion over three years in a thus-far unsuccessful effort to crush cartels who ship $40 billion worth of illegal drugs north each year.
But concerns the violence in Mexico is escalating — two U.S. citizens were shot to death this month in the violent Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez — has led top U.S. officials to pledge more assistance.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led a high-level delegation to Mexico City last week for talks, underscoring the Obama administration’s concerns about the drug violence south of the border.
Washington has started to increase searches of southbound vehicles on its border with Mexico for guns and money heading to Mexican cartels.
(Writing by Paul Simao, Editing by Doina Chiacu)
Originally appeared 3/28/2010 http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62R13320100328?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FworldNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+International%29
Former president of IWOE
Two burglars who a pub landlord confronted with a shotgun to protect his family made off after police took 50 minutes to respond to his emergency call.
By Nigel Bunyan
Published: 5:43PM GMT 07 Mar 2010
Simon Thomas, 45, initially pointed his shotgun at the raiders and later pursued them in his Land Rover.
By the time police reached The Anchor Inn at Barcombe, east Sussex, the men were nowhere to be seen.
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Burglars spared jail despite being photographed in actMr Thomas, whose children, Toby, 14, and Holly, 12, were asleep at the time of the raid, said: “If push came to shove I would have opened fire.
“In some ways I wish I had done – to stop them. Both my children were asleep in the house and protecting them was my priority.
“I don’t want people to think I’m some gun nut, but I was prepared to do pretty much whatever it would take. I would not hesitate to do it again to protect my children and my livelihood.”
Mr Thomas, an experienced hunter with a collection of licenced guns, recalled hearing the burglars moving about outside shortly before 2am on Saturday.
“I am a firearms man and have been for 25 years, so I went to my cabinet and got out a shotgun. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
“One of them was loading the bikes into his car and the other was breaking into the conservatory. I opened the bedroom window and shouted out `Do not move – I have got a loaded gun on you`.”
Mr Thomas conned the burglars into believing he had already dialled 999 and that the police were on their way.
When they saw his shotgun they begged for their lives and started unloading their haul of stolen mountain bikes from their car.
They claimed to have thought the premises were empty.
The raiders drove off into the night as Mr Thomas lowered his gun and finally went to summon police.
He said: “I called the police and they told me they didn’t have anyone available to come over right away but to put the gun away so I did.”
A few moments later he gave chase in his Land Rover but lost the pair as they drove through Barcombe.
Sussex Police confirmed that it took them 50 minutes to get officers to the scene and that there was no trace of the offenders when they arrived despite control room staff having graded the alert as one requiring an “immediate response”.
A police spokesman said: “The call was graded for immediate response. Officers arrived as soon as possible but were responding to other calls at the time.”
The thieves were still at large last night as police continued to investigate the attempted burglary.
Originally appeared: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7393079/Burglars-make-off-as-police-take-50-minutes-to-attend-emergency-call.html
Locals in Concepcion hunker down with guns and hand-held radios, while mobs run free and the military tries to gain traction.
By Jimmy Langman — Special to GlobalPost
Published: March 3, 2010 06:53 ETCONCEPCION, Chile – About 3,000 Chilean military troops now have a tight hold on the center of Chile’s second-largest city, located 70 miles from the epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake that devastated much of central Chile.
But food, water and medical supplies are still slow to arrive in Concepcion. And concern about one of the world’s worst earthquakes in a century quickly shifted to an even greater worry about the mass of fellow residents breaking into shops left and right.
Soon after the earthquake, many of the city’s residents began to pour onto the streets. Eventually, hundreds of poor residents in search of food broke into supermarkets on Sunday. But that soon swelled into mobs ransacking whatever they could get their hands on in the city.
“The social earthquake that has happened here in recent days has been worse [than the earthquake],” said Thomas Forende, 45, who manages a milk cooperative in the city.
Slideshow: scenes of destruction
Slideshow: day three of Chile quake
On Sunday evening around 6 p.m., a giant Lider supermarket on the corner of Prat and Maipu streets was targeted. The police at first reluctantly let some looters take away food, but when some started lugging out widescreen television sets, even laundry machines, the police stepped in with tear gas and water cannons.
Angelea Villalobos, 41, witnessed the ransacking of the Lider. As she sits amid the rubble of her 1932 home, which splattered into thousands of pieces, a coffee pot simmers over a small fire. She explains that her family has enough food to hold out for two or three more days.
Villalobos says she and her neighbors on Maipu Street remain vigilant 24 hours a day behind makeshift fences set up on each entrance to their street to keep the looters at bay. Last night, she heard bullets.
“Till yesterday, this was a lawless no man’s land,” said Villalobos.
Jose Gonzalez, 46, chief of a gas distribution service in Concepcion, shares a similar view. He and dozens of neighbors coordinate with hand-held radios and wield guns, knives and thick wooden sticks to protect their middle-class Valle Noble community about 10 minutes outside of town.
Across the street from Valle Noble, with its neat, modern homes, they watched in horror as mobs plundered a gas station and a Ripley department store warehouse. “All day, people did not take food away from Ripley, rather televisions, clothes, everything they could get their hands on. This is just thievery,” said Gonzalez.
Others like Caroline Poblete, 34, a housewife with two children, complain about the slow response from Chile’s government. “I did not support General Augusto Pinochet, but right now we could use a Pinochet,” she says in disgust.
As one Chilean news television presenter said: “Chileans in earthquake areas are asking why the press can arrive so quick and not the government.”
In a tactic reminiscent of the Pinochet era, the government has declared martial law to halt the looting. From 8 p.m. Monday to noon Tuesday, residents were prohibited from walking or driving the streets. Tuesday, martial law commenced even earlier, at 6 p.m.
Troops toting large rifles man the city’s most important and busiest steets and stand guard in front of gas stations.
Basic services are still absent in almost the entire city.
Many residents ride the streets on bicycles as they can not re-fuel their automobiles. Water service has been restored to only a few homes in the city center. Buses are arriving carrying worried family members. And Tuesday newspapers arrived for the first time since the earthquake hit, informing the isolated city that hadn’t had access to the outside world since early Saturday morning.
“Have you heard what has happened to the town of Constitution? How is Santiago faring after the earthquake?” asks Alex Canete, a social worker, who said he was going to help the regional government deliver food staples such sugar, flour, rice, salt, milk and water to residents street by street.
In one stunning story, as soon as Cristina Perez, 57, opened the front door of her century-old home on 729 Colo Colo St. in the center of Concepcion immediately after the earthquake struck, the entire brick and mortar facade pancaked to the ground in front of her creating a mountain of rubble.
The entire contents of the home and the stores she rents out on her first floor are laid bare to everyone. An angry Perez yells at onlookers to ¨go away¨ as she seeks to recover her belongings. Perez was born there, and the home has been in their family for more than 100 years.
The Sanhuez family saw the spine of the four-story apartment building just one block from the Bio Bio River wilt under the power of the 8.8-magnitude quake. With continuing aftershocks rocking the city, threats of a tsunami, a crime wave and no lights or water, they have huddled their brothers, wives and children and relocated to a roadside lot about 15 minutes outside Concepcion.
In a few more days their food will run out, but what they fear even more than hunger is going back.
Originally appeared March 3, 2010 http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/chile/100302/earthquake-concepcion-social-unrest
There will be informational meetings during EXA in Brescia, Italy.
There will be an informational meetings at IWA in Nuremberg on March 12, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at Booth 313 in Hall 3. Look for the Visier banner.
BMS Meeting will take place at United Nations in New York.
The ATT meeting will take place at the United Nations in New York.
SAN FRANCISCO (March 3) — The Starbucks coffee chain announced today that it will continue letting customers openly wear unloaded handguns in its coffee shops.
At the same time, the company asked members of the “open carry” gun movement and their opponents to refrain from putting Starbucks in the firing line of the national debate over the right to bear arms.
“The political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores,” the Seattle-based company said in a statement released to the media.
Forty-three states allow citizens to openly wear a handgun in public. State laws vary on whether the handgun must be unloaded.
Brady Campaign / CREDO
This logo is part of an effort by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to pressure Starbucks to ban guns in its stores.
The informal open-carry movement apparently originated in Virginia several years ago but has come to unlikely prominence in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In recent months, Bay Area gun advocates have staged frequent open-carry “meet-ups” at Starbucks coffee shops and other restaurants. Some of the events have attracted dozens of men and women wearing handguns.
Last weekend, about 20 members of the movement — 12 of them sporting guns — came to Presidio National Park in San Francisco to pick up trash at scenic Baker Beach.
“We decided to do a serious activity while educating the public about responsible firearm ownership,” said Jon Schwartz, a leader of the informal movement. He was wearing a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber automatic on his left hip.
“It’s not just law enforcement and criminals that have guns but law-abiding citizens as well,” he said.
Schwartz, like other participants in open-carry events, was carrying two magazines on his belt with the maximum 10 bullets each. It takes about two seconds for him to load his weapon.
In California, much of the open-carry movement is focused on protesting county rules that sharply restrict the number of concealed weapon permits that are issued.
Bill Shelbrick, who also took part in the beach cleanup, said many of the open-carry advocates are former police officers and members of the military who believe they can protect themselves and the people around them by carrying weapons.
For Shelbrick, an electrician who said he once worked as a police officer in a Pennsylvania township, wearing his Ruger 9 mm automatic is an attempt to show the public that law-abiding citizens can go around armed.
“It’s my right and I want to exercise my right,” he said. “I think everybody should. We are not the gun-toting crazies that anti-gun organizations make us out to be.”
The sight of armed men drinking a venti latte at a Starbucks or dining out at a restaurant can be unsettling for some customers.
Police are frequently called to the scene of open-carry events, where they typically check to make sure all weapons are unloaded and in plain sight.
For business owners, open-carry events can create a dilemma. Employees risk offending armed customers by asking them to leave. But other patrons might walk out because of the presence of weapons.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen have banned customers from wearing handguns on their premises. But Starbucks has allowed the practice to continue in the states where open carry is legal.
Richard C. Paddock for AOL
Jon Schwartz, a leader in the movement to allow people to carry guns in public, picks up trash in San Francisco during a recent open-carry event. He was wearing a handgun on his left hip. He said such events promote responsible firearms ownership.
As a result, Starbucks has come under fire from gun-control advocates, particularly the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has urged the chain to ban guns on its premises.
“Tell Starbucks: Espresso Shots, Not Gunshots,” the group says on its Web site. “The practice of packing heat in places like Starbucks is intimidating and could be potentially dangerous to our families and communities — and it must be stopped.”
Last month, the Brady campaign sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz urging him to reverse the company’s policy. The campaign noted that three Starbucks employees were shot and killed at a Washington, D.C., outlet in 1997 during a robbery attempt.
“These gatherings of armed individuals have provoked a strong and adverse reaction from members of the public who are appalled that coffee shops and restaurants would allow guns on their premises,” the letter said.
Starbucks did not cite the Brady Campaign by name in its statement today, but appeared to be responding to the anti-gun group.
“We recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding the issue of open-carry weapons laws,” the company said. “Advocacy groups from both sides of this issue have chosen to use Starbucks as a way to draw attention to their positions.”
The company noted that if it prohibited weapons in its shop, its employees would have to ask law-abiding citizens to leave, placing them in “an unfair and potentially unsafe position.” The statement also said the company is “extremely sensitive to the issue of gun violence in our society” but believes “that supporting local laws is the right way for us to ensure a safe environment for both partners and customers.”
Whether Starbucks’ attempt to disassociate itself from the issue will work remains to be seen.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but I might think twice about having a large-scale event at Starbucks,” said Schwartz, the Bay Area open-carry advocate. “But I wouldn’t think twice about taking myself and my family and meeting a couple of friends for a great cup of coffee while participating in unloaded open carry.”
Originally appeared http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/facing-gun-issue-starbucks-throws-up-its-hands/19381679?sms_ss=email
LONDON (March 3) — Amid an ongoing global effort to raise funds for earthquake-stricken Haiti, new allegations surfaced today that millions of dollars raised by the 1985 Live Aid concerts for the victims of the Ethiopian famine were actually spent on weapons. The charges offer a timely reminder that collecting money is the easy part of any relief effort; making sure it gets to the right people is often far more complex.
Former Ethiopian rebel leaders have told the BBC that they siphoned off hundreds of millions of aid dollars to buy guns. Some of the diverted funds allegedly came directly from Western governments, and some from money raised in ticket sales at the twin concerts in London and Philadelphia. A 1985 CIA assessment of the country uncovered by the broadcaster also acknowledges that money ending up in militants’ coffers. “Some funds that insurgent organizations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes,” it said.
Joe Schaber, AP
Live Aid concert organizer Bob Geldof speaks at the start of the blockbuster hunger relief effort on July 13, 1985, in London. Former Ethiopian rebels told the BBC that they used hundreds of millions of donated dollars to buy guns.
At the time of the famine, the Ethiopian government was fighting rebellions in the northern provinces of Eritrea (now an independent country) and Tigray. As it had lost control of much of the countryside in the north, relief agencies brought in aid to those regions from neighboring Sudan. Some was carried across the border in the form of cash, which was used to buy grain from Ethiopian farmers with surplus crops.
Rebels got their hands on this currency by disguising themselves as traders — a trick they were using before Live Aid money flooded into the country. The BBC quoted Christian Aid worker Max Peberdy, who took $500,000 into Ethiopia in 1984 to buy food supplies. A photo from the time shows him counting out money for a grain merchant, who was in fact Gebremedhin Araya, a senior member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). A member of the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) — the TPLF’s humanitarian wing, which was supposed to distribute the aid — supervised the transaction.
“I was given clothes to make me look like a Muslim merchant. This was a trick for the NGOs,” said Araya, who added that most of his grain bags were filled with sand. He said the money was passed to TPLF leaders, including Meles Zenawi, who became Ethiopian prime minister in 1991 and still rules the country. (He has not commented on the allegations.)
“As far as we were concerned and as far as we were told by REST, the people we were dealing with were merchants,” Peberdy told the BBC. “It’s 25 years since this happened, and in the 25 years it’s the first time anybody has claimed such a thing.”
Aregawi Berhe, a former rebel commander now living in exile in the Netherlands, backed up Araya’s story. He said that in 1985 the TPLF and affiliated groups got ahold of $100 million, 95 percent of which was spent on arms. He told the broadcaster that his men would stage a “drama” to get the cash. “The aid workers were fooled,” he said.
How much of the $140 million-plus raised by Live Aid ended up buying guns instead of grain is not clear. According to the BBC, Band Aid’s accounts suggest that it gave almost $11 million to groups linked to the rebels. But one of the event’s organizers, Irish rock star Bob Geldof, told British radio that this figure was wrong, as only 0.45 percent of all Live Aid money spent in 1985 went to Tigray.
He also dismissed evidence given by ex-military chief Berhe. “You’re talking about a disgruntled, exiled army general, someone who was not in any way connected with the relief organization,” said Geldof. He added that while it was possible that some money was mislaid, the scale of the fraud alleged by the BBC would have meant that all of the aid groups operating in Tigray — including Oxfam, Save the Children, UNICEF and Christian Aid — “were somehow all duped. And that’s simply not the case.”
Ultimately, Geldof said, this controversy wouldn’t detract from Live Aid’s achievements. “What [the event] did was superb,” he said. “And there are millions of people alive today because of it.”
originally appeared 3/3/2010 http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/live-aid-famine-cash-bought-guns-not-grain/19381649?sms_ss=email