Monthly Archives: April 2019

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British PM warns Karzai he could lose backing

LONDON – Afghan President Hamid Karzai, winner of a fraud-tainted election, risks losing British and international support unless he acts decisively to fight corruption, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Friday.

Brown, seeking to bolster dwindling public backing at home for keeping British troops in Afghanistan, said Karzai must pass five key tests.

He listed them as fighting corruption, building up Afghan security forces, promoting reconciliation, encouraging economic development and fostering closer co-operation with Pakistan.

"If the government fails to meet these five tests, it will have not only failed its own people, it will have forfeited its right to international support," Brown said in a speech at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.

NATO’s Afghan mission involves 65,000 U.S. troops and 39,000 from allied nations, including 9,000 from Britain.

Karzai’s controversial re-election and rising losses among its force in Afghanistan have led many in Britain to ask why the British troops are there.

A new YouGov poll for Channel 4 news found that 57 per cent of people thought it was impossible for British troops to win the war against Taliban insurgents and 73 per cent wanted British troops home within a year – up sharply from last month.

"I am not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm’s way for a government that does not stand up against corruption," Brown said in his toughest public message to Karzai.

Seven British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the last week – including five shot dead by an Afghan policeman – bringing total British deaths there to 230 since 2001.

U.S. President Barack Obama is still considering a call from the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, for tens of thousands more soldiers and NATO has asked other countries to increase their contributions.

Norway said on Friday it would maintain its current support for the Afghan mission, implying it had declined a request from NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen for more troops.

Brown’s spokesman said Britain had discussed the five tests for Karzai with its allies.


Continuing loss of British lives in Afghanistan could damage Brown’s Labour Party in an election he must call by next June and which the opposition Conservatives are favourites to win.

Speaking on GMTV, Brown said Karzai had agreed with him in a telephone conversation on Thursday that his government’s priority would be to take "decisive action" against corruption.

Brown avoided the question however when asked repeatedly what sanction Britain might take against Karzai if he did not carry out Brown’s demands.

Government sources say it is unlikely Britain would cut off development aid to Afghanistan if Karzai did not implement reforms, but they suggest Britain could stop giving financial aid to a ministry that was ineptly run.

Brown defended his strategy in Afghanistan, insisting British troops were there to protect Britain from terrorism.

"We have got to be there to make sure that we can prevent al-Qaida gaining power in Pakistan and Afghanistan," he told GMTV.

"We cannot, must not and will not walk away," said Brown, who argues that Britain and other allies must expand training of Afghan security forces so they can eventually take over responsibilities from foreign forces.

The NATO chief also urged member states to step up efforts to train and equip Afghan forces, and added there were other ways to support the mission besides sending more troops.

"Countries that have put limitations on the use of their troops can allow for more flexibility. There’s also a big need for more civilians to assist the Afghan development," the former Danish prime minister said in Oslo.


Lee Harvey Oswald photo real: Computer expert

A photograph of accused John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, which for many years was thought by conspiracy theorists to be forged by authorities, is real, says an American computer scientist.

Hany Farid, an expert in digital forensics at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, has found a new way to analyze photos using 3D imaging and discovered the shadows in the photograph are consistent with a single light source.

"If this photograph is fake, then it would almost certainly point to a broader conspiracy because it means the police doctored a photograph to try to spin a story," said Farid, in a Dartmouth College video posted on YouTube.

The problem people have had since the photo was made public in the 1960s is that they were concerned the shadow from Oswald’s nose didn’t match the shadows on the ground, suggesting the picture was a fake.

Farid said the shadow cast by his body goes back and to the right which suggests the light is low and the shadow on his nose suggests the light is much higher.

"And I thought this is weird. How did that happen? I thought this is really a fake image," said Farid, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth, in the video.

On Friday, Farid told Canwest News Service his team is working on new forensic tools to look at other iconic photographs that have come into question over the years, for example the famous moon landing in 1969.

"Similarly with the Oswald photograph some people have found inconsistencies with light and shadow in the (moon landing) photographs," he said.

Farid used the new forensic technology to create 3D models of Oswald’s head and body and scene around him. He determined the photo was genuine.

"Everything in this photo is exactly consistent," he said. "If this was a fake it would almost unimaginable how they could have done this in 1963 because the light and the shadows from the person, from the beam would have been exactly right which even today would have been extremely hard to do."

From his 3D models, Farid concluded all the shadows could be explained by the direction of the sun. His study will appear an upcoming issue of the journal Perception.

"The science for all of this is very cool but some of it is for fun," he said. For example, Farid said he would like to determine whether some viral videos on YouTube, such as 100-metre basketball shots, are for real.

"The trajectory has to follow the laws of physics," he said.

The video of Farid explaining how he analyzed the photo can be viewed on YouTube.

The video of Farid explaining how he analyzed the photo can be viewed at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活youtube杭州龙凤/watch?v=D4gw_3nA5G4

Dartmouth Professor finds that iconic Oswald photo was not faked


Afghan Taliban say have bodies of 2 foreign troops

HERAT, Afghanistan – Two members of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan were reported missing on Friday and the Taliban said they were holding the bodies of two drowned foreign soldiers.

The Islamist militants’ spokesman Qare Yousuf told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location that they had recovered the bodies of the drowned soldiers on Wednesday in the western Badghis province.

The province’s police chief, Abdul Jabar, said the two service-members were Americans, who drowned in a river after arriving in the area during a gunbattle on Wednesday.

Earlier the NATO-led force in Afghanistan said two of its members were reported missing during a routine resupply mission in the west of the country on Wednesday.

"We continue exhaustive search and rescue operations to locate our missing service members. We are doing everything we can to find them," said U.S. Navy Captain Jane Campbell, a press officer for the NATO-led force.

"The families of these service members have been notified about their loved ones’ status, and we will continue to keep them informed as information becomes available."

The force did not identify the nationality of the missing service members. Troops from more than 40 nations are members of the nearly 110,000-strong NATO-led force, two-thirds of them American. The biggest contingents operating in the west of the country are from the United States and Italy.

Reports of missing troops in Afghanistan are extremely rare. A U.S. soldier has been missing in the south since late June. Insurgents say they are holding him, and U.S. forces in the area launched a massive manhunt.


Top court rejects malicious prosecution charge in child abuse case

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that a Crown prosecutor was not acting maliciously when he prosecuted 12 members of a Saskatchewan family in the early 1990s after three foster children accused them of sexual abuse and bizarre satanic ritual abuse.

The ruling – which clarifies standards for when wrongly accused individuals can sue for malicious prosecution – overturns two earlier decisions in the Saskatchewan courts that found Matthew Miazga liable for building a case against foster parents Dale and Anita Klassen and members of their extended family.

The Saskatchewan government has supported Miazga in his lengthy court battle, asserting that a ruling against him could have a chilling effect on prosecutors, causing them to err on the side of caution in pursuit of wrongdoing to the detriment of public safety.

The Supreme Court unanimously concluded that the case against Miazga did not meet the stringent standards, set out by the court 20 years ago, for suing Crowns for maliciously prosecuting innocent people.

"In this case, there is no evidence to support a finding of malice," Justice Louise Charron wrote in the 7-0 decision.

She concluded that the trial judge who found Miazga liable in 2003 made a "palpable and overriding error" when he ruled that Miazga could not have had a subjective belief that he had reasonable grounds to pursue the case and that he, therefore, acted out of malice.

"The absence of a subjective belief in sufficient grounds, while a relevant factor, does not equate with malice," wrote Charron.

The three foster children were age four, four and seven when they were apprehended in 1987 from their deaf mute, alcoholic and sexually abusive, biological parents, who were later convicted.

The youngsters were placed in the Klassen home and, in the following years, accused their foster family of sexual abuse and satanic ritual abuse, including animal sacrifice and drinking their blood, and cutting up the children themselves to obtain their blood to drink, and forcing them to eat feces and drink urine.

In 1993, criminal charges against all but one member of the Klassen family were stayed and the children later admitted they had made up the story. One family member, Peter Klassen, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual abuse.

In ruling against Miazga in 2003, the trial judge questioned how the prosecutor or anyone else could have possibly believed the children’s "patently absurd" story of sexual and ritual abuse at the hands of their foster family, particularly when there was no corroboration.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upheld the decision in 2007.

"The judge clearly believed it should have been evident to anyone, from the outset of the investigation and throughout the prosecution, that the evidence of the children, because of the bizarre and incredible nature of some of their allegations, and their propensity to lie, was not sufficiently credible or reliable to support the laying of charges or the prosecution of them," said the 2-1appeal court ruling.

The Supreme Court decision to overrule the Saskatchewan courts comes 20 years after it first established a test for malicious prosecution in a case involving nurse Susan Nelles, who was falsely accused of baby deaths at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.

In the landmark 1989 ruling, the court discarded blanket immunity for prosecutors, saying that they can be successfully sued. The bench, however, cautioned that it was not open season on Crowns and it established a stringent test for lawsuits to succeed.

The Saskatchewan government has paid the Klassen family $2.46 million in a 2004 damages agreement.

Brian Dueck, the police officer who investigated the case and laid the charges, was also found liable for malicious prosecution, but he did not appeal the decision.


Second coyote involved in fatal N.S. mauling is killed

CHETICAMP – Parks Canada says it has killed two adult male coyotes in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, following the mauling death of a hiker more than a week ago.

Chip Bird, Cape Breton field unit supervisor for Parks Canada, said Thursday it’s believed one of the two animals was responsible for killing Toronto folk singer Taylor Mitchell, 19, on a hiking trail on Oct. 27.

"We’re confident one of the animals we shot was the second animal we were looking for," Bird said.

He said that assessment was made by the park warden’s physical inspection of the coyote, its aggressive behaviour and from eyewitness accounts of the attack on Mitchell.

There is no indication the animal was diseased.

A healthy adult female coyote was the other animal involved in the attack and it was killed by Cheticamp RCMP shortly after police responded to a 911 call on the Skyline trail.

As was the case with the first coyote killed, the two male coyotes have been sent to the Canadian Centre for Wildlife Health at the University of Prince Edward Island for a necropsy and additional disease testing.

Bird said park staff will continue to observe the trails for coyotes to make "absolutely certain" it’s safe for people to use the trail, which is the most popular hike in the national park with 25,000 visitors a year.

"Once we’re assured that the situation is returned to normal the trail will reopen," he said.

Signs cautioning hikers to be wary of moose and bears will soon include a warning about coyotes.

Mitchell was hiking the Skyline trail during a break in her solo tour when she was attacked. She died the following morning at a Halifax hospital.