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DULLES, Va. (PRWEB) October 30, 2014

In recognition of Veterans Day, Freedom Alliance will present Corporal Jeramie Green with a custom-made, all-terrain wheelchair; also known as an Action Trackchair. This Trackchair will be awarded to Green in honor of his bravery and sacrifices while deployed. The donation will take place at Freedom Alliance headquarters at 22570 Markey Court Suite 240, Dulles, Virginia 20166.

At age 25, Green joined the U.S. Army where he specialized in welding. During his last mission in Afghanistan in 2012, he was injured during a motor vehicle accident and suffered injuries to his legs which led to an amputation. The horrific accident happened just two days before Greens nine-month mission was coming to an end.

Corporal Jeramie Green showed true courage when he risked his life for our nation. Jeramies injuries are the result of a deliberate decision to risk his own safety for that of his fellow soldier. He is selfless and courageous, said Freedom Alliance President, Tom Kilgannon. This chair will help Jeramie participate in the activities he enjoys and continue his rehabilitation, said Kilgannon. It is our honor to provide it to him. It is the least we can do for an American hero.

Green is rehabilitating at the Military Advanced Training Center (MATC) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He is motivated by the impending birth of his daughter in March. The first anniversary of his Alive Day is approaching and is a reminder of how grateful he is for life and his family and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors again. Some of his favorite actives include mud running and fishing.

The ceremony will take place:

Monday, November 10, 2014 Freedom Alliance Headquarters 22570 Markey Court, Suite 240 Dulles, Virginia 20166 10:30 a.m.

In addition to Trackchair donations, Freedom Alliance has provided over $8 million in college scholarships for the children of military heroes who were killed or disabled in military service, and millions more to help wounded troops and military families with outdoor recreational therapy such as hunting and fishing trips, Heroes Vacations, care packages for deployed troops, home donations and much more.

For more information about Freedom Alliance visit http://www.FreedomAlliance.org.

Media should RSVP to Kendra Cummings of Vistra Communications at 813.321.3312 or Kendra(at)ConsultVistra(dot)com.

Link:
Freedom Alliance to Honor Military Veteran with Customized Wheelchair Donation



NSA spied Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff
Brazilian TV – English subtitle available. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff lambasted US spying on her country at Tuesday's UN summit, calling it a breach of international law. She further…

By: Andrzej Sitz

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NSA spied Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff – Video

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) — The U.S. and NATO congratulated Ukraine for holding successful parliamentary elections on Sunday.

According to a preliminary assessment released by the OSCE’s International Election Observatory Mission, the elections “were transparent and assessed positively overall.”

The OSCE, U.S., and NATO recognized that unrest in Ukraine’s eastern region and the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula by Russia had impacted the ability of all Ukrainians to participate in Sunday’s election.

“Despite a challenging security environment in certain regions, millions of Ukrainians turned out across the country to cast their ballots in an orderly and peaceful manner,” President Barack Obama remarked Monday.

Secretary of State John Kerry applauded Kiev for its voter outreach to embattled areas, notably in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk.

“Their hard work to provide for alternate voting arrangements, including for internally displaced persons, was a particularly laudable effort to overcome actions by Russian authorities occupying Crimea and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine to prevent voters from exercising their democratic rights.”

Obama included a message intended for Moscow in his congratulatory statement:

“I call on Russia to ensure that its proxies in eastern Ukraine allow voters in the parts of Donetsk and Luhansk subject to the Special Status Law to choose their representatives in legitimate local elections on December 7, in keeping with the agreement that Russia and separatist representatives signed in Minsk, Belarus, on September 5, 2014.”

NATO Secretary Genera Jens Stoltenberg applauded Ukrainians for embracing “an ambitious reform agenda and a European path. I welcome their determination to further promote an inclusive political process based on democratic values and respect for human rights, minorities and the rule of law.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc was the clear winner in Sunday’s election, followed by Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front. Both parties are pro-European and support further Ukranian integration with the European Union.

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U.S., NATO applaud Ukraine for holding successful parliamentary elections

FILE – In this file image made from video released by WikiLeaks on Oct. 11, 2013, former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden speaks in Moscow. Faced with congressional inaction to curtail the NSA?s bulk collection of Americans? telephone records, civil liberties groups are looking to cases already in the courts as a quicker way to clarify just what surveillance powers the government should have. Three appeals courts are hearing challenges to the National Security Agency phone records program, creating the potential for an eventual Supreme Court review. Judges in lower courts are grappling with the admissibility of evidence gained through the NSA?s warrantless surveillance. The flurry of activity follows revelations last year by former contractor Edward Snowden of once-secret intelligence collection programs. (AP Photo, File)(The Associated Press)

WASHINGTON While Congress mulls how to curtail the NSA’s collection of Americans’ telephone records, impatient civil liberties groups are looking to legal challenges already underway in the courts to limit government surveillance powers.

Three appeals courts are hearing lawsuits against the bulk phone records program, creating the potential for an eventual Supreme Court review. Judges in lower courts, meanwhile, are grappling with the admissibility of evidence gained through the NSA’s warrantless surveillance.

Advocates say the flurry of activity, which follows revelations last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of once-secret intelligence programs, show how a post-9/11 surveillance debate once primarily hashed out among lawmakers in secret is being increasingly aired in open court not only in New York and Washington but in places like Idaho and Colorado.

“The thing that is different about the debate right now is that the courts are much more of a factor in it,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. Before the Snowden disclosures, he said, courts were generally relegated to the sidelines of the discussion. Now, judges are poised to make major decisions on at least some of the matters in coming months.

Though it’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will weigh in, the cases are proceeding at a time when the justices appear increasingly comfortable with digital privacy matters including GPS tracking of cars and police searches of cellphones.

The cases “come at a critical turning point for the Supreme Court when it comes to expectations of privacy and digital information,” said American University law professor Stephen Vladeck.

Revelations that the government was collecting phone records of millions of Americans who were not suspected of crimes forced a rethinking of the practice, and President Barack Obama has called for it to end.

Since then, the House has passed legislation that civil libertarians say did not go far enough. In the Senate, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee chairman, is seeking a vote on a stricter measure to ban bulk collection, and it has bipartisan backing and support from the White House.

As Congress considers the matter, the federal judiciary has produced divided opinions.

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As Congress mulls reining in NSA phone records collection, attention turns to court challenges

WASHINGTON While Congress mulls how to curtail the NSA’s collection of Americans’ telephone records, impatient civil liberties groups are looking to legal challenges already underway in the courts to limit government surveillance powers.

Three appeals courts are hearing lawsuits against the bulk phone records program, creating the potential for an eventual Supreme Court review. Judges in lower courts, meanwhile, are grappling with the admissibility in terror prosecutions of evidence gained through the NSA’s warrantless surveillance.

Advocates say the flurry of activity, which follows revelations last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of once-secret intelligence collection programs, show how a post-9/11 surveillance debate once primarily hashed out among lawmakers in secret is being increasingly aired in open court not only in New York and Washington but in places like Idaho and Colorado.

“The thing that is different about the debate right now is that the courts are much more of a factor in it,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. Before the Snowden disclosures, he said, courts were generally relegated to the sidelines of the discussion. Now, judges are poised to make major decisions on at least some of the matters in coming months.

Though it’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will weigh in, the cases are proceeding at a time when the justices appear increasingly comfortable taking up digital privacy matters including GPS tracking of cars and police searches of cellphones.

The cases “come at a critical turning point for the Supreme Court when it comes to expectations of privacy and digital information,” said American University law professor Stephen Vladeck.

Revelations that the government was collecting bulk phone records of millions of Americans who were not suspected of crimes forced a rethinking of the practice, and President Barack Obama has called for it to end.

Since then, the House has passed legislation that civil libertarians say did not go far enough. In the Senate, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee chairman, is seeking a vote on a stricter measure to ban bulk collection, which has bipartisan backing and support from the White House.

As Congress considers the matter, the federal judiciary has produced divided opinions that are winding through appeals.

The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard arguments in an appeal of a judge’s opinion that had upheld the program’s legality. The D.C. appeals court hears arguments next week after a judge there found that the program is probably unconstitutional. Anna Smith, a nurse in Idaho who contends the program is unconstitutional and that bulk record collection violates her privacy rights, will soon have her appeal heard by the appeals court in the 9th Circuit.

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Focus turns to court challenges as Congress considers reining in NSA phone records collection

KABUL, Afghanistan The international military coalition said Sunday it would continue to provide air support to Afghan forces after the scheduled end of combat operations in December, even as it shuttered a major regional command in the violent Helmand province.

Maj. Paul Greenberg, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, said in a statement to Stars and Stripes that cooperation with the Afghan police and military after the transition to Afghan control “will include continued aviation support” by the coalition.

The framework for the continued air support was laid out in a recent agreement between Afghanistan and NATO, said Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi.

“According to our new agreement, the NATO air forces will support Afghan security forces until the Afghan air force is sufficient,” he told Stripes in a phone interview. He said the current goal is to have the Afghan air force fully operational by 2016.

That news came as the United Kingdom essentially ended its combat mission in Afghanistan by handing over control of Camp Bastion to the Afghan forces in Helmand. Neighboring Camp Leatherneck was also formally transferred, signaling that the mission for U.S. Marines in the province is also nearing its end.

The planned American drawdown announced by President Barack Obama calls for about 9,800 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan next year for a “noncombat train, advise, and assist mission.” Other NATO partners have pledged to send about 2,000 troops. It is not clear whether coalition air forces will be counted in those numbers.

Continuing violence in the country has led the Afghan government to retain a massive national security force and to seek additional support from NATO.

There has been much speculation about the exact nature of future international military backing. Now ISAF says combat aviation forces may be part of that support.

While he said the past two years have seen “exponential growth of the Afghan Air Force and the ability of the ANSF to operate independently,” Greenberg said military support will continue.

“Upon the request of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the International Security Assistance Force has provided robust aviation support to the ANSF throughout Helmand Province in the form of close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft,” he said in the statement to Stripes. “This support has been provided consistently over the past two years. Upon request of the ANSF, NATO will continue to provide aviation support to Afghan forces during Resolute Support.”

Link:
NATO promises Afghans air support after 2014 as it shuts key base



Malala Yousafzai Accepts the 2014 Liberty Medal
Malala Yousafzai's acceptance speech at the 2014 Liberty Medal Ceremony at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on October 21, 2014. Award presented by Jeffrey Rosen, President…

By: ConstitutionCenter

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Malala Yousafzai Accepts the 2014 Liberty Medal – Video



Zuma reaffirms freedom of expression in SA
20 October 2014 – President Jacob Zuma has reaffirmed the country's commitment to freedom of expression, 37 years since so-called Black Wednesday. He met members of the media in Pretoria on…

By: eNCAnews

Excerpt from:
Zuma reaffirms freedom of expression in SA – Video

MIAMI (PRWEB) October 22, 2014

More than 900 physicians researchers and regenerative medicine experts from around the world attended the First International Symposium on Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina Oct. 2-4, 2014.

The event, hosted by Global Stem Cells Group in partnership with Julio Ferreira, M.D., President of the South American Academy Cosmetic Surgery, offered an opportunity for many of the worlds most respected authorities on stem cell and regenerative medicine to showcase advancements in research and therapies on a global level.

An interdisciplinary team of leading international stem cell experts provided a full day of high-level scientific lectures geared to medical professionals. Pioneers and luminaries in stem cell medicine who served as featured speakers at the event included:

Lord David Harrell, PhD., a scientific leader recognized nationally, internationally recognized expert in neuroscience and regenerative medicine and a member of the Global Stem Cells Group Advisory Board spoke on spoke on the cellular composition of bone marrow with a focus on stem and progenitor cell activities of bone marrow stem and progenitor cells.

Joseph Purita, M.D., Director of The Institute of Regenerative and Molecular Orthopedics in Boca Raton, Florida, member of the Global Stem Cells Group Advisory Board and a pioneer in the use of stem cells and platelet rich plasma for a variety of orthopedic conditions, spoke about the use of PRP and stem cell injections for treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. He detailed cutting-edge treatments he now offers to his clinic patients, including extensive use of platelet-rich plasma in conjunction with bone marrow stem cells (BMAC), adipose stem cells (SVF) and fat grafts.

Vasilis Paspaliaris, M.D., CEO of Adistem, Ltd., a member of the Global Stem Cells Group Advisory Board and a thought-leading and highly experienced clinical pharmacologist and medical scientist discussed the proven differences in efficacy between the mesenchyme stem cells (MSCs) of a young donor and those of an aging donor, primarily due to the younger donor cells ability to secrete more trophic factors.

According to Benito Novas, Global Stem Cells Group CEO, the world-class event was well received at a time when the field of regenerative medicine is on the verge of changing medical science forever.

We wanted the symposium to help clear up old misconceptions and change outdated attitudes by educating people on the wide range of illnesses and injuries stem cell therapies are already treating and curing, Novas says. We set out to establish a dialogue between researchers and practitioners in order to help move stem cell therapies from the lab to the physicians office and I believe we achieved our goals with this symposium.

Our objective is to open a dialogue among the worlds medical and scientific communities in order to advance stem cell technologies and translate them into point-of-care medical practices.

See the article here:
More than 900 Physicians Converge on Buenos Aires for Global Stem Cells Groups First International Symposium on Stem …



Building the Liberty Movement
What makes for a successful movement in favor of liberty and reason? Alexander McCobin, Co-Founder and President of the hugely successful Students for Libert…

By: Atlas Society

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Building the Liberty Movement – Video

State legislators are concerned about Second Amendment rights so much so that the Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit local regulation of firearms or ammunition.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway, announced Friday that the senate passed House Bill 80 by a vote of 34 to 14 on Thursday.

State Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, said he supports the bill that would put a stop to local laws or ordinances attempting to regulate firearms or ammunition.

Now the bill is in the hands of the state House of Representatives following Thursdays vote.

I think its very much needed, Causer said, who was a co-sponsor of the original House Bill.

Causer said the measure promotes uniformity in regards to firearms across Pennsylvania. People traveling throughout the state would not have to worry about local gun laws being different.

Scarnati says the legislation would protect Pennsylvanians Second Amendment rights.

This legislation is a commonsense measure to not change, but simply clarify current law, Scarnati said. Senate Bill 80 clarifies existing law to ensure that firearms and ammunition laws are consistent across Pennsylvania.

There has never been such an issue across the region, Causer said, but he sees a problem in southern Pennsylvania, especially Philadelphia.

Causer said the bill would let an individual or organization sue to block or overturn a local ordinance. If successful, the individual would be able to recoup expenses, including attorney fees, costs, and lost income from employment, according to Scarnati.

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Senate passes bill prohibiting local firearm regulations

BRUSSELS NATO said Thursday it saw no sign of any significant Russian pullback from Ukraines border, despite President Vladimir Putin ordering thousands of troops to withdraw ahead of truce talks.

We would welcome the withdrawal of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, as this would be a step in the right direction. But for the moment, we have not seen major and significant movements yet, a NATO official told AFP.

The Kremlin said on Saturday that Putin had ordered the pullback of 17,600 servicemen who had participated in summer drills in the southern Rostov region on the border with Ukraine.

The order came ahead of key talks between Putin, Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko and European leaders in Milan on Friday on the fragile truce in the former Soviet country.

But the Nato official said: There is still a large and capable force sitting on the border of Ukraine and heavy equipment still has to be pulled back.

As NATO leaders made clear at the Wales summit (in September), Russia must end its support for militants in eastern Ukraine, withdraw its troops and stop its military activities along and across the border with Ukraine.

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NATO sees no sign of major Russian pullback from Ukraine border

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) NATO’s top military commander said Wednesday that the alliance would welcome the withdrawal of Russian troops from a Russian region bordering Ukraine, but that it has seen no “major movement” so far.

On Saturday Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered about 17,600 Russian troops to return to their bases from Rostov. The region in Russia borders east Ukraine, where pro-Russian insurgents have been battling government troops since April.

“We would welcome withdrawal of troops on that border, and we are anxiously watching what is happening,” U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a NATO conference in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

“We have not seen major movements yet,” he said. “Now we will watch to see if there is delivery on the promise.”

Russia has consistently denied Ukrainian and Western claims that it has supported the insurgency in eastern Ukraine with weapons, expertise and fighters, saying troops stationed in Rostov are participating in drills.

NATO has countered previous Russian claims of troop withdrawals. In the spring, the U.S. and NATO said Russia had deployed about 40,000 troops near the border, though Putin ordered the troops back to their home bases in late May. While the U.S. and NATO did confirm those moves, in August they said Moscow was again bolstering its forces in the region and that Russia had allowed troops and vehicles to cross the border to assist the separatists.

“Actions speak louder than words,” another top NATO military commander, Gen. Frank Gorenc, who heads the alliance’s air command and the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, told the AP. “And the fact of the matter is, in today’s environment strategic messaging without action are just words. And so their actions remain to be seen.”

Breedlove noted it was important for the West to comprehend the possible motives for Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“We have to understand in the West that Mr. Putin may actually have felt threatened along the lines of Ukraine leaning to the West, both in the European union and in the NATO alliance,” Breedlove said.

Putin has repeatedly accused the U.S., the EU and NATO of stonewalling Moscow’s economic and security concerns and trying to pull Ukraine into the Western orbit. He accused the West of encouraging the ouster of Ukraine’s former president in February, and cast the annexation of Crimea the following month as a necessary move to protect Russian speakers there.

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NATO Chief: No Russian Withdrawal From Ukraine Border



Ryan Johnson's Opening and Closing Comments at Life Liberty Property Summit
Ryan Johnson, President of the Missouri Alliance for Freedom, delivers the opening and closing comments at the Life Liberty Property Summit in Jefferson City, Missouri on October 4, 2014.

By: Missouri Alliance for Freedom

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Ryan Johnson’s Opening and Closing Comments at Life Liberty Property Summit – Video



Putin Russia and liberty – euspectator reports
Eu spectator based in Brussels covers a musical event entitled “Music of Hope” which sought to draw attention to the oppressive regime of President Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation, expressed…

By: euspectator

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Putin Russia and liberty – euspectator reports – Video

Liberty Tax, Inc. , the parent company of Liberty Tax Service, announced today that Robert Lougen has been named Vice President of Operations.

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Liberty Tax Service Names Robert Lougen as Vice President of Operations

LETTERS

Headed for a “shirt-front”: President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Has the world ever encountered such a pair as Abbott and Putin (“Australians were murdered … I am going to shirt-front Mr Putin”, October 14)? They seem to be a unique breed of testosto-Illuminati those who are mysteriously inspired by their testosterone. I think that truly, once they sort through their posturing, they’ll realise how deep their affection is for each other. Bring on the G20 bromance of 2014.

Catherine HoskinPennant Hills

Many Australians would probably be happy for Tony Abbott to confront Vladimir Putin about the loss of life of passengers on flight MH17, but talk of “shirt-fronting” isn’t the talk we expect of a leader, let alone a prime minister. Grow up Abbott. Speak and represent us appropriately.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Paul Parramore Sawtell

Advertisement

Russian-backed rebels murdered 38 Australians. The Prime Minister’s tough words about Putin were inspirational and showed great leadership. But where is the tough talk from the other world leaders who lost so many in the MH17 tragedy? The Russian President must be laughing at their weakness. Full marks also to the Opposition Leader for refusing to meet Vladimir Putin.

Phil Johnson Dee Why

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Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin were made for each other

News

Posted Oct 14, 2014 by Raymond Fang

The committee established last month by President Robert Zimmer to review the Universitys free speech policy was created due to free speech-related incidents at other universities around the country, committee head Geoffrey Stone said. The committee will send its recommendations to the Faculty Council by the end of 2014.

According to a University-wide e-mail from Zimmer on September 25, the committee will draft a statement reflecting the Universitys commitment to and tolerance of multiple forms of free expression.

The committee began meeting last month and will release its statement on free speech on January 1, 2015, after which the statement will head to the Faculty Council for a vote during winter quarter. Zimmer selected Stone, along with the other committee members, for their diverse fields of study, their well-respected status in the University, and for their judgment, which, according to Stone, Zimmer thought well of.

Stone said that Zimmers decision to form an updated statement on the Universitys free speech policy was unrelated to anything specific that occurred at the University.

I think what triggered it was more the fact that issues have arisen in universities across the nation in the last couple of years, and we didnt have a formal statement on policy on these issues, he said. The president thought it would be useful to have one, but it was not triggered by anything in particular at Chicago.

Stone speculated that cancellations of convocation speakers and reactions to student protests at other universities might have been the cause for the committee.

My guess is Zimmer talked with other university presidents and they were wrestling with some of these questions, and he realized it would be a good thing for the University to think about this and come up with general principles that would help guide discussion when such issues arise in the future, Stone said.

The Universitys neutrality policy, the Kalven Report, sets a precedent for the current committees work. The Kalven Report was produced in the 1960s by a similar committee headed by Law Professor Harry Kalven, Jr. as a response to student protests at the University and across the country. It proclaims an official University policy of neutrality on social and political issues.

Originally posted here:
Stone to update free speech policy

A U.S. army soldier, center, takes his position at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. An Afghan official said a suicide bomber targeting a NATO convoy in Kabul killed one civilian and wounded three others. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) A mountain ambush by Taliban fighters killed at least 14 Afghan security force troops, authorities said Monday, as villagers elsewhere in the country alleged a NATO airstrike that the coalition said targeted militants actually killed civilians.

The fighting in Sari Pul province, as well as the disputed NATO airstrike in eastern Paktia province, show the serious challenges facing new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. Former President Hamid Karzai repeatedly clashed with NATO forces over civilian casualties from airstrikes, straining relations as public anger against the coalition grew.

The ambush in Sari Pul, where Taliban fighters reportedly have been massing for days, happened Sunday in its Kohistanat district. There, militants opened fire on an Afghan Army unit heading back to the capital after several months being deployed there, killing 12 soldiers and two police officers, said Kazim Kenhan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief.

Kenhan said 13 troops and four police officers were wounded and six troops are missing after the ambush there, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) northwest of the capital, Kabul.

“A very intensive gun battle is going on right now and the casualty number might change overnight,” Kenhan said Monday. “It is a mountainous area and very difficult to reach. We do need air support as we requested from the international forces, but they didn’t help us.”

In Paktia province, hundreds of villagers protested over their allegation that a NATO airstrike killed seven civilians in an operation NATO said killed “eight armed enemy combatants.”

The protesters brought seven corpses to the governor’s office there, claiming they were civilians killed Sunday during a NATO airstrike in a mountainous area on the outskirts of the city of Gardez. The villagers said the strike targeted eight people collecting firewood and left one man wounded.

“From the evidence it seems that all seven who have been killed in the airstrike of the coalition forces are civilians, but this needs to be investigated more to find out why and how this incident has happened,” said Abdul Wali Sahee, deputy provincial governor of Paktia province.

Sahee said that there was a dead body of a 12-year-old boy among those brought to the provincial capital.

Continue reading here:
Afghans allege NATO airstrike kills 7 civilians

The criminal action taken by South Korean prosecutors against a former Seoul bureau chief of Japans Sankei Shimbun daily on the charge that his column posted online in August defamed President Park Geun-hye raises serious questions about the countrys commitment to freedom of the press. It could border on abuse of power if the South Korean investigators are using the charge of libel against a public figure like the president selectively on members of the media that are critical of her administration.

The column in question quoted rumors originally reported in the South Korean media and circulating in the financial industry that Park was with a man during the seven hours when her whereabouts was unconfirmed on April 16 the day the passenger ferry Sewol sank and killed more than 300 people, mostly teenagers on a school trip. The writer, Tatsuya Kato, was indicted Oct. 8 without being detained. He had been questioned three times by the prosecutors and banned from leaving the country since early August even though he was relieved of his position as bureau chief as of Oct. 1.

The Seoul prosecutors charge that Katos column defamed Parks reputation by carrying information without the minimum backup reporting necessary to support its validity.

The presidents office says Park was inside the presidential compound during the hours in question. The prosecutors were acting on a criminal complaint filed by a local conservative civic group against the article, but it would be safe to assume that the administration was behind the push for the indictment, given that a senior official of the presidents office said earlier that the South Korean authorities would pursue civil and criminal charges against the journalist.

When South Korea was under the rule of a succession of military dictators until the 1980s, people could be punished for defamation of the state by criticizing those in power.

Although such a law was abolished in the countrys subsequent democratization, certain restrictions linger on freedom of thought and expression, such as a national security law that can subject people to penalties for praising North Korea, which Seoul deems as illegally occupying the northern half of the peninsula.

There is reportedly criticism that the Park administration is also using the libel charge as a tool not only against members of the media but also against opposition lawmakers and lawyers that are critical of the government.

That no criminal action has been taken against or investigations made of Chosun Ilbo, a leading conservative South Korean newspaper that originally reported the rumors, has raised the question of whether the investigators selectively targeted the Japanese daily, which takes a position critical of the Park administration on many of the disputes between Japan and South Korea.

Sankei, which strongly protested and called for retraction of the action by the Seoul prosecutors, has said that the column was not meant to defame the president but to serve the publics interest by reporting on the developments in South Korea concerning the top government leaders whereabouts on the day the major accident took place.

Maximum restraint is urged on the use of defamation charges by those in power since such an action can be considered discretionary as a way of intimidating the people and organizations that criticize them.

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Freedom of the press in South Korea



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