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11 Oct

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Dublin: Dame Street Occupied By Protesters In Tents: UPDATED

10 Oct

A group of people are continuing to protest outside the Central Bank plaza in Dublin city centre.

The protests are under the banner of ‘Occupy Dame Street’, which saw demonstrators set up camp outside the building on Saturday afternoon.

The group has said its mission is to end corporate corruption and keep the IMF and ECB out of Irish affairs.

The group is also demanding the return to the Irish people of oil and gas reserves off the Irish coast.

It is acting in solidarity with movements including ‘Occupy Wall Street’ in the US and similarly aims to be a non-violent, leaderless resistance movement with no political affiliations.

Keywords:  protest, dublin, dame street

NEWS UPDATE:

A group of people are continuing to protest outside the Central Bank plaza in Dublin city centre.

The protests are under the banner of “Occupy Dame Street”, which saw demonstrators set up camp outside the building on Saturday afternoon.

The group has said its mission is to end corporate corruption and keep the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank out of Irish affairs.

The group is also demanding the return to the Irish people of oil and gas reserves off the Irish coast.

It is acting in solidarity with movements, including “Occupy Wall Street” in the US, and similarly aims to be a non-violent, leaderless resistance movement with no political affiliations.

The protests have led to heated debate in the US, with much of the criticism coming from Republican politicians.

“It’s anti-American,” Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said on CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday.

“Even though we have our challenges, I believe that the protests are more anti-capitalism and anti-free market than anything else.”

His comments were echoed by fellow Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who said “I think the sad thing is this a natural product of (President Barack) Obama’s class warfare”.

But Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, told ABC’s This Week “I support the message to the establishment, whether it’s Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen.

“When we said everyone should pay their fair share, the other side (Republicans) said that’s class warfare … No, it’s not. It’s the most endearing American value, fairness.”

London: Beat The Burglars and Say Safe At Home:

10 Oct A3. Visit The Garda Website and Download Crime Prevention Info

Barely a day goes past without another news headline proclaiming someone viciously attacked, robbed or worse in their own home.

The past year has seen domestic burglaries rise 14 per cent, while recent figures for England and Wales revealed a householder is attacked by a violent burglar every 30 minutes.

But the crime statistics needn’t make you feel like a victim-in-waiting in your own front room. 

 There are some easy steps you can take to make your house a safer place to be. 

To mark this year’s National Personal Safety Day (October 10) the Suzy Lamplugh Trust – set up following the disappearance of the 25-year-old estate agent in 1986 – has launched a campaign to get more people taking simple safety precautions.

So what can you do to minimize the risks at home?

Protect against bogus callers

Install a door chain and outside lighting – and never answer the door before you’ve checked through a spy-hole or window if you know the caller. If not, put the chain on before opening the door and ask for ID.

Don’t be rushed into accepting their claims – keep them waiting even if that means calling the company they say they work for to check.  And once you have let the caller in, never leave them alone while you go into a different room. Thieves often work in pairs so don’t open the front door to a stranger without locking your back door first.

Keep doors and windows locked
Invest in good door and window locks. Check all locks before leaving the house and keep front and back doors and accessible windows locked to outsiders even when you are in.
It may sound extreme, but the Lamplugh Trust advises avoiding opening doors and windows wide even in summer. The Trust insists: “It’s safer to open a lot of windows a little way (and locking them to prevent them being opened further) than it is to open one or two windows far enough for someone to climb through.”

Pretend you’re in when you’re not
If you’re out, try to make your house look like someone is in. That means cancelling the milk to avoid bottles piling up, asking a neighbour to collect post and leaving a light on or installing an automatic light on/light off system – and even a system that switches radios on and off. Other tips from the Metropolitan Police include: encourage a neighbour to park on your drive, draw the curtains if you will be out after dark and install a burglar alarm or a dummy alarm box as a deterrent.

Keep hedges trimmed
Along with security lighting it is a good idea to keep hedges and bushes trimmed to allow clear views and avoid having places where someone could hide. But it is also advisable to have a secure boundary around your back garden, which is high or awkward enough to make scaling it difficult.

Get crunchy gravel

Crunchy gravel on driveways and paths will make any approach noisier – a useful warning for householders and a deterrent for intruders.
 
Check in with friends and family
If you live alone, try to ensure someone always knows where you are and that you are OK. Even a quick text to let a friend know you’re home and safe after a night out is enough.

Don’t get comfortable in your own street
Stay alert when approaching your home, until you are safely indoors. Have your keys to hand so you are not fumbling on the doorstep and think of safe places you could go if you felt threatened, whether that be a shop, friend’s house or a pub.

Carry a personal safety alarm
These devices, costing as little as £5, can shock or disorientate an attacker, giving you vital seconds to get away. Pick one with the shrillest, loudest siren possible.

Don’t  shout about it
Avoid broadcasting – whether on sites such as Facebook or when you’re out or at work – that you live alone or will be alone in the house at a certain time. Similarly, don’t boast about your upcoming holidays to anyone you don’t know well.

Keep keys hidden
Never leave a spare key concealed anywhere near the front door – as the Met Police note: “Burglars know all the hiding places.” Also never store keys near the front door to avoid letterbox burglaries, and never label your house keys in case you lose them.

IRELAND: www.garda.ie

Lamezia Terme, Italy: Pope Denounces ‘ndrangheta mob’ As “Inhuman Mafia”

9 Oct

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives with his popemobile to celebrate …

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives with his popemobile to celebrate a mass in Lamezia Terme, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

LAMEZIA TERME, Italy (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday denounced the “inhuman” mafia that plagues southern Italy and urged residents there to respond to the region‘s suffering by caring for one another and the common good.

Benedict made the comments while celebrating an open-air Mass in Lamezia Terme, in Calabria in the “toe” of boot-shaped Italy.

The region is home to the ‘ndrangheta mob, which is today considered more powerful than the Sicilian Mafia and is one of the world’s biggest cocaine traffickers. Calabria is also one of the poorest regions in Italy, with a 27 percent unemployment rate.

Benedict noted the region is seismic — “not just geologically but from the structural, behavioral and social point of view” — and said high unemployment and Calabria’s “often inhuman criminality wounds the fabric of society.”

He praised Calabrians for their ability to live with such problems and a near-constant state of emergency and urged them to continue responding to the ills afflicting the region with faith and Christian values.

“Force yourselves to grow in the ability to collaborate with one another, care for one another and all the public good,” he said.

It was Benedict’s first visit to the region and police estimated about 40,000 people had turned out under cold, dark skies for the Mass.

The city’s mayor, Gianni Speranza, welcomed Benedict but didn’t gloss over the region’s ills. “Welcome to Lamezia Terme, your holiness, a land of suffering,” he said.

He said the region’s young people needed a sign of hope that they can live without the mob and fear. “Enough with the mafia!” he added.

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives to celebrate a mass in Lamezia Terme, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. At right is Lamezia Bishop, Luigi Cantafora. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives to celebrate a mass in Lamezia …

Mexico City: Vicious Drug Gangs Competing For ‘Cartel Cred’

9 Oct

Alfredo Carmona alias “el Capi,” leader of the New Generation gang, right, is escorted …
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Masked gunmen dump the bodies of 35 slaying victims during rush hour as terrified motorists watch and tweet friends to avoid the avenue in a Gulf coast city. A couple of weeks later, 32 more corpses are found nearby in three houses.

A woman’s decapitated body is left at a border city’s monument to Columbus, the head atop a computer keyboard with a sign saying she was killed for blogging about drug traffickers.

The severed heads of five men are dumped outside an elementary school in Acapulco, and two more near a military base in Mexico City days later.

That was just in the last three weeks.

The brutal public killings that began about five years ago have worsened as Mexican drug cartels try to one-up each other in their quest to scare off rivals, authorities and would-be informers — and still stun Mexicans increasingly numbed to the gory spectacles.

“These gangs have to keep escalating because they want the shock value but the shock value wears off,” said Clark McCauley, a psychology professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and an expert on terrorism. “Now, to get a headline you have to get more heads, or more bodies or do something more horrific.”

Latin American drug lords have long turned to grisly killings and torture tactics. At the height of its powers in the 1990s, the Juarez cartel used to cut off the fingers of snitches and shove them down their throats, a practice that other cartels soon followed.

The current show of savagery began in April 2006 when two police officers were decapitated; their heads dripping blood were left in the resort city of Acapulco, where four alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel had been killed in a shootout with police. Along with the heads was a sign that warned, “So that you learn to respect.”

The Zetas are a gang of drug smugglers and hit men led by deserters from an elite Mexican army unit, who for many years were assassins for the Gulf cartel.

Five months later, the La Familia cartel rolled five human heads purportedly belonging to Zetas across a dance floor in the western state of Michoacan. An attached note said La Familia “doesn’t kill for money, doesn’t kill women, doesn’t kill innocents, just those who should die,” an apparent retaliation warning for the particularly violent group.

Since then, drug traffickers have plunged into even more gruesome tactics. They have tied victims to overpasses and shot them to death during rush hour as sickened motorists watched. Some have decapitated people alive and then posted videos of it on the internet.

“In terms of the cruelty, it’s the Zetanisation of the country because the Zetas were the first to introduce these ghastly tactics into Mexico,” said George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, who has written several books about the rapidly expanding drug cartel. The Zetas are the game-changers.

Officials blame a group calling itself the “Zeta Killers” for dumping 35 bodies on a busy boulevard in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz on Sept. 20. They say the group also killed 32 people whose bodies were found at three houses in the area on Thursday.

On Monday, police in Mexico City found two severed heads on a street near a major military base accompanied by a note referring to the “Mano con Ojos,” or “Hand with Eyes,” drug gang. Motorists called the police after spotting one of the heads on the hood of an SUV.

“If you want to have cartel cred,” said Grayson, “you have to show you can carry off any act at any time and go as far as your enemy.”

Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna has said Mexican drug traffickers copied the terror tactic from the al-Qaida in Iraq after it posted videos on the internet of the decapitations of Americans. He said the cartels are using al-Qaida’s methods to pressure the government to halt its crackdown against drug traffickers, which has fractured many of the gangs.

Authorities have also said that in 2005, the Zetas began enlisting “Kaibiles,” former members of an elite Guatemalan counterinsurgency unit, to train newly recruited foot soldiers. The Kaibiles were known for massacres during the Guatemalan civil war that ended in the mid-1990s.

Very few of the killings result in arrests or convictions, so the only deterrent is revenge by another cartel.

In the five years since the beheading of the two Acapulco police officers, decapitations have become almost weekly occurrences and a prime terror tactic.

The practice dates back at least 2,000 years, said Dr. Michelle Bonogofsky, an bioarchaeologist who edited two books on the significance of of the human head in different cultures, from skull collection to decapitations.

“One of the worst things you can do to the body, in some instances, is to desecrate or dismember it and historically, this has been used by kings and various other groups to establish control,” Bonogofsky said. “This could be tied to the religious belief that you need your body intact to be resurrected.”

Residents in some cities caught in the bloody turf battles are already adapting to living with violence, said Dr. Oscar Galicia, a psychology professor who specializes in violent behavior at Iberoamerican University in Mexico City.

In the northern city of Monterrey, where the Zetas are fighting the Gulf drug cartel, many people don’t go out at night in certain neighborhoods, they avoid night clubs and bars and have added extra locks to their doors at home.

“What people are doing in Monterrey is adapting,” he said.

More worrisome is that the prolonged violence is creating a sense of helplessness among Mexicans, who are becoming increasingly numb to what’s happening, Galicia said.

“Now if it’s not 20 bodies, it doesn’t get our attention and that’s terrible and really dangerous for our society because we’re becoming as desensitized as the criminals,” he said.

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo, relatives weep after gunmen opened fire on a taxi killing the driver and the passenger in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico. The brutal public killings that began about five years ago have worsened as Mexican drug cartels try to one-up each other in their quest to scare off rivals, authorities and would-be informers _ and still shock Mexicans increasingly accustomed to the gory spectacles. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo, relatives weep after gunmen opened fire on …

Nepal: Unpaid Charity Workers ‘Turn To Prostitution’ For Survival

9 Oct

Desperate AIDS charity workers in Nepal are turning to prostitution to pay bills and buy food because government bureaucracy has denied them their wages, campaigners said Friday.

Gay rights and AIDS charity the Blue Diamond Society said it had been unable to pay its outreach workers, who receive as little as 3,000 rupees ($38) a month, for 12 weeks because of a lack of funding.

The group’s leader, Nepalese lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant, said he employed about 400 “educators” in Nepal, some with HIV, who worked to raise awareness about safe sex, contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases.

“We don’t have exact details, but many have turned to sex work to survive,” he explained.

Nepalese youth volunteers take part in a rally to mark World AIDS Day in Kathmandu in 2009

Pant said some of his employees working in border areas might even be failing to use condoms because of the lack of free contraception there.

The World Policy Institute think-tank highlighted this week that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) battling HIV/AIDS in Nepal were being denied $10 million in aid currently being held by the government.

The money has been in limbo since 2009, when Nepal announced it would stop funding HIV/AIDS education programmes, saying that infection rates were slowing down.

After pressure from the World Bank, the deeply impoverished Himalayan country agreed to reverse its decision, but problems with contract negotiations and other bureaucratic delays have meant the money has still not been released.

“While stories of stagnant bureaucracy in Nepal?s fledgling democratic government are not new, the consequences this time will put those increasingly dependent on NGO support at great risk,” said Kyle Knight, author of the World Policy Institute blog post.

About one percent of the adult population of Nepal is estimated to be HIV positive, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

But female sex workers are said to be a particularly high-risk group.

Since Nepal?s first cases were reported in 1988, the disease has primarily been transmitted by intravenous drug use and unprotected sex, UNAIDS said.

“About 70,000 people are estimated to be infected with HIV in Nepal, most of whom are not aware of their infection,” the United States Agency for International Development‘s 2010 Nepal HIV/AIDS profile said.

“As of the end of 2009, only 14,320 HIV-positive persons were officially reported.”

Nepal’s National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC) reports HIV infections to be more common in the far western region of the country, where migrant labour is more common, and in urban areas.

Poverty, low levels of education, illiteracy, gender inequalities, marginalisation of at-risk groups and stigma and discrimination compound the epidemic?s effects, the organisation said.

No one was available for comment from the health ministry.

Desperate AIDS charity workers in Nepal are turning to prostitution to pay bills …

Nepalese transgender performer Swecha Lama dances on World AIDS Day in Kathmandu in 2008

Killarney, Co Kerry: Drug Culture Can Be Changed By Tackling Social Issues

8 Oct

THE prohibition system favoured in this country in the fight against drugs has failed miserably and should be abandoned to facilitate a more practical and workable policy, a leading criminologist has insisted.

Dr Paul O’Mahony, associate professor of psychology at Trinity College, Dublin, said the traditional “cops and docs” method, combining the criminal justice system with the health service, is totally inadequate and new legislation is urgently needed if matters are to improve.

He said medics and law enforcers obviously have significant roles to play but to totally rely on them is a farce that provides an excuse for the Government to do nothing.

“We need to tackle the whole issue of social justice, culture and our love of mood-altering substances through education and prevention.

“We have an almost universal and irresistible urge to indulge in mood-altering substances and problems have been created by doctor-caused epidemics through the supply of tranquillisers and drugs such as Prozac,” he remarked.

Speaking at the annual Getting A Grip conference in Killarney — organised by Kerry Life Education and the Southern Regional Drugs Task Force — he said the whole drug culture takes on a glamour that is appealing to rebellious young people.

“They resist attempts at control and need to establish independence and autonomy as they grow. It’s as if drug use proves maturity.

“Prohibition has created a criminal monopoly that enriches those willing to defy the law who are ruthless enough to use violence and intimidation to turn a profit.”

Dr O’Mahony said that while there was a flow of “showcase successes” highlighting major drugs seizures made by gardaí, prohibition has been a massive failure as situations where there is huge profit are being created and spread through the prison system.

“We are spending huge amounts of money on law enforcement that’s simply not working.”

The respected criminologist said triggers for drug abuse include the stresses of attempting to maintain materialistic lifestyles, more competition in education and in the workplace, and the increased pace and intensity of life.

“We had a mad situation where people were buying houses 50 or 60 miles away and commuting for two hours to work while their children were in care for 10 or 12 hours a day.”

He said that another major problem is what he termed “the X-Factor scenario” in which expectations of success are limitless but there was not much to go around.

“All of these interacting changes have impacted dramatically on our way of life and on the quality of life and people have become more susceptible to the allure of drugs,” he said.

He said the way to succeed was through legislation and not medicalisation and with ubiquitous and energetic educational programmes highlighting the destructive use of drugs.

www.drugsfreeworld.org  & www.drugs.ie