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Egypt security forces move in to clear Morsy supporters from Cairo protest camps; deaths reported

14 Aug

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Egyptian security forces moved in on two massive camps filled with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy, bulldozing tents, lobbing tear gas and arresting protesters Wednesday.

In the chaos of the raid, it was impossible for CNN to verify the claims and counter claims of casualties.

The Muslim Brotherhood said 200 Morsy supporters were killed and more than 8,000 injured.

But Egypt’s deputy head of emergency services put the number at five protesters dead and 26 wounded.

The Interior Ministry said that on the government side, two security officials were killed and nine injured while trying to disperse the protesters.

Less than three hours after the raids began, security forces had cleared out the smaller of the two camps — the Nahda camp, near the Cairo University campus.

The larger camp — near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo — proved trickier.

Forces came under heavy fire from protesters, state-run Nile TV said.

The government blocked all roads leading to the camp, and suspended rail service to Cairo.

The Brotherhood said it was to prevent more of its members from streaming into the city.

Hassan Al Qabana, who works at the media center set up at the Rabaa camp, said the location was facing a “full-on assault” and the wounded were streaming in.

Police in riot gear were out in full force, escorting men away. The Interior Ministry said more than 200 were arrested, caught with weapons and ammunition.

Huge black plumes of smoke billowed into the sky, and at least one fire burned near the protesters.

Mothers and fathers whisked away children, gas masks on their faces.

A group of protesters tried unsuccessfully to overturn a police van.

Protests leaders stood on a stage with a microphone. Throngs of supporters raised their hands in a peace sign or waved Egypt’s flag.

The Muslim Brotherhood said police were throwing Molotov cocktails at the clinics inside the camps.

The Interior Ministry said security forces did not use gunfire and instead were attacked by “terrorist elements” inside the camps.

“Egyptian security forces are committed to the utmost self-restraint in dealing with the protesters,” the ministry said.

Cities within a city

For six chaotic weeks, Morsy supporters had massed at the two camps — refusing to budge until Morsy was reinstated. Their camps quickly morphed into cities within a city.

They lived and slept in tents.

Vendors sold everything from bottled water to masks. Children played in inflatable castles and splashed in kiddie pools.

The government have accused the protesters of packing the sites with their children to use them as human shields.

The raid Wednesday was not unexpected.

Since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ended last week, the protesters had hunkered down and waited for the crackdown that the government had long hinted at.

They fortified their sites with sandbags, tires and stacks of bricks.

A deadly toll

The protests started soon after Egypt’s military toppled Morsy in a coup last month.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands have been injured in recent weeks, either in clashes between opposing protesters or in clashes between protesters and Egyptian security forces.

Last month, Information Minister Durriya Sharaf el-Din said the gatherings were a threat to national security and traffic congestion.

And two weeks ago, Mansour issued orders in the event of a possible “state of emergency,” the EGYnews website reported.

“State of emergency” is a loaded term in Egypt. Former President Hosni Mubarak ruled for 30 years under an emergency decree that barred unauthorized assembly, restricted freedom of speech and allowed police to jail people indefinitely.

Morsy’s fall

Morsy became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012, a year after popular protests forced Mubarak to resign and end his three-decade rule.

But a year into Morsy’s term, many Egyptians wanted him out, too. They said the Western-educated Islamist, aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, was not inclusive and they said he had failed to deliver on the people’s aspirations for freedom and social justice.

Morsy was accused of authoritarianism and trying to force the Brotherhood’s Islamic agenda onto the nation’s laws. He was also criticized by many Egyptians frustrated with rampant crime and a struggling economy that hadn’t shown improvement since Mubarak resigned.

But supporters say Morsy repeatedly offered Cabinet positions to secularists and liberals — only to get repeatedly rejected.

Since taking power from Morsy, Egypt’s military has installed an interim civilian government with Mansour as interim president.

But Egypt’s generals, the ones who oversaw Morsy’s ouster and led the country for a year after Mubarak’s resignation, still wield significant power.

The list of accusations against Morsy include: collaborating with the militant group Hamas to carry out hostile acts, attacking law enforcement buildings, officers and soldiers, storming prisons, vandalizing buildings and deliberately burning a prison.


Loose rail connector ’caused France train crash’

13 Jul

The train and station were busy for the start of a holiday weekend

The train crash south of Paris which left six people dead was caused by a fault in the rail tracks, says the state rail company.

SNCF said a metal bar connecting two rails had become detached close to Bretigny-sur-Orge station.

Earlier, Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier ruled out human error and praised the train driver for averting a worse accident.

Thirty people were injured in the accident, eight of them seriously.

The train had just left Paris on Friday afternoon and was heading for Limoges when it derailed at Bretigny-sur-Orge.

Giving its initial findings, SNCF management told reporters the connector had worked its way loose and become detached at points 200m from Bretigny station causing the train to derail.

The inquiry is now expected to focus on how the piece of metal had become detached, and checks on these components are to be carried out on the whole of the network.

Continue reading the main story

Scene of train crash south of Paris, 13 July 2013French rail company SNCF says that a piece of metal connecting two rails outside Bretigny-sur-Orge station caused the train to leave the tracks.
‘Extraordinary reflexes’

Six carriages derailed as the train passed through the station at 137km/h (85mph). The train’s third and fourth carriages derailed first and the others followed. One mounted the station platform in the accident which happened at 17:14 (15:14 GMT).

On a tree-lined residential street in a quiet suburb just south of the capital, women in their sandals carry plastic grocery bags, bulging with thick, fresh French baguettes.

Today they have to manoeuvre around reporters, TV satellite tracks and police security barriers. France’s worst rail disaster for a quarter of a century struck at the top of their street

The quiet hum of generators blurs with summer bird song. If it weren’t for the emergency haulage trucks, staffed by men in orange and yellow vests, and the odd burst of a siren, it might be difficult to believe that such a devastating event happened here just yesterday.

Blue cranes keep heaving chunks of crushed and curled metal off the tracks. Police watch, arms crossed. Hanging baskets shudder in the breeze.

Aside from SNCF, investigations are being conducted by judicial authorities and France’s BEA safety agency.

Speaking on RTL radio, Mr Cuvillier said the train driver had reacted quickly to the accident: “Fortunately, the driver of the locomotive had absolutely extraordinary reflexes in that he sounded the alarm immediately, preventing a collision with another train coming in the opposite direction and which would have hit the derailing carriages within seconds. So it is not a human problem.”

French transport routes were particularly busy at the time of the crash due to the run-up to a holiday weekend marking Sunday’s Bastille Day. SNCF said 385 passengers were on board when the train crashed. The station platforms were crowded.

British student Marvin Khareem Wone was on a train on another platform when the carriages of the intercity ploughed into the station.

“The train went off the railway; it just went on the platform and kind of flew in the air for a second and went upside down,” he told the BBC.

“The first and the second coach were completely destroyed. I really thought no-one could survive that because it was completely mashed up. Everyone was crying and running everywhere. A woman was crying for her daughter who was still on the train.”

French media comments

Francois Sergent in Liberation calls the accident a “a national tragedy” that “touches the hearts of all French people. All of us have been, at one time or another, passengers on the French rail network.”

Bertille Bayart in Le Figaro says the accident, which comes days after the government announced investments in the railways, will spark controversy over infrastructure that is “characterised by ‘serious degradation’, in the words of the transport minister”.

Olivier Razemon in Le Monde contends that the crash “must not eclipse the fact that railways remain one of the least_68707956_68707955 dangerous means of transport in the world, in terms of deaths per kilometres or hour travelled”.

Transport expert Alain Bonnafous on Atlanticowebsite says it is impossible at this stage to know what caused the accident, but vandalism is always a possibility. “But few like to talk about it because it is so easy to disrupt the network,” he adds.

Because of the damage to the station, he said ambulances could not reach the platform and the lift was not working.

Other media reports spoke of passengers being electrocuted and crushed.

“I saw many wounded women children trapped inside,” Vianey Kalisa, who was waiting for his train from Bretigny to Paris, told AFP.

“People were screaming. A man had blood on his face. These are images of war,” he said.

Many people feel it was lucky that the accident was not a lot worse, given the violence of the impact and the fact that a packed train ploughed onto the platform at peak time, says the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris.

Local media said a group of people had attempted to steal from the victims and rescuers shortly after the crash and threw stones at emergency workers as they tried to reach passengers.

Journalist Olivier Ravanello was one of the first at the scene of the crash

However later Mr Cuvilier said there had only been “isolated acts”, including an attempt to steal a mobile phone – although small groups had given the rescuers a “somewhat rough welcome”.

Local socialist MP Jerome Guedj tweeted that it was necessary “not to play things down (…) but not to exaggerate anything either”.

Bollywood’s 100th birthday celebrated at Bradford international film festival

11 Apr


Photo by The Gardian

Photo by The Gardian

Thursday marks the start of the 19th Bradford international film festival(Biff), which this year, in recognition of 100 years of Bollywood, includes a strand devoted to Indian film. Happy Birthday Indian Cinema features a range of classics, such as the 12 surviving minutes of India‘s very first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, and the most expensive film ever made up to 1960, Mughal-e-Azam. Raja Harishchandra, released in 1913, was originally around four times this length.

The festival also features The Chess Players, a 1977 film by one of the great auteurs of world cinema, Satyajit Ray. There’s also a rare opportunity to watch some of the greatest Indian films of all time. Silsila (The Affair) was made by the late Yash Chopra, known as the godfather of romance. The 1981 film famously popularised the tulip fields of Holland and featured a love triangle with a twist. The audience took issue with this film’s theme of adultery, particularly because the story was widely believed to be based on a real life love triangle involving the actual stars of the film, Amitabh Bachchan, his wife Jaya and lover Rekha. Although Silsila is now regarded as a masterpiece, the contentious theme was blamed for the film’s lack of success at the box office.

When Yash Chopra’s son Aditya made his directorial debut in 1995, he paid an affectionate tribute to his father by borrowing some of his visual vocabulary. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Braveheart Shall Take Away the Bride), commonly abbreviated as DDLJ, became Indian cinema’s first diaspora film. Not only was the story about second-generation British Indians, the film’s London setting was a key feature of the storyline. Britain had previously featured in Bollywood films, but usually only as an ‘exotic’ backdrop for the numerous song and dance sequences. Yash Chopra was even credited with promoting the Lake District by setting some of his songs in the national park.

When Mughal-e-Azam (The Greatest of the Mughals) was released in 1960, it was the most expensive film ever made. Inspired by true events, the film recounts the story of a 16th century Mughal emperor whose rebellious son falls in love with a beautiful court dancer, but is deemed too lowly for the heir. The director, K Asif, was such a perfectionist that it took him 10 years to complete the black and white film, at which point he approached the funders about shooting the entire thing again in Technicolor. Their refusal forced him to compromise by adding a few scenes in colour. The most notable of these is arguably the greatest song and dance sequence of all time, Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya (What Is There to Fear When You Fall in Love). The set for this exceeded the cost of making an entire film in those days.

Mughal-e-Azam went on to become the highest-grossing film of its day thanks to its sweeping love story, epic battle scenes, legendary cast, unforgettable performances, memorable dialogue and one of the best soundtracks in the history of Indian cinema. Mother India is perhaps the quintessential Indian film, thanks to its powerful portrayal of womanhood and community in traditional Indian society. Bollywood fans love reading elements of the stars’ real lives into their films. They love watching Mother India knowing that the luminous actress Nargis fell in love with Sunil Dutt during filming, allegedly after he saved her from a fire on the set. Their son, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt,was last month sentenced to five years in prison by the Indian Supreme Court for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Happy Birthday Indian Cinema is part of Biff, which runs until 21 April 2013. Vibrant posters from these films are also featured in the Bollywood Icons exhibition, which celebrates some of the greatest stars of Indian cinema and runs at the National Media Museum in Bradford until 16 June 2013. • Irna Qureshi is giving a talk on Indian cinema at the Museum Cafe on Saturday 13 April at 4pm. Qureshi is a an anthropologist and writer on British Asian culture and curator of the Bollywood Icons exhibition. She also blogs about being British, Pakistani, Muslim and female in Bradford

Francis begins his challenging papacy

14 Mar


Pope Francis is beginning his first day at the helm of the Catholic Church, attempting to set out his vision for his papacy amid a testing schedule. He will lead cardinals in his first Mass, begin appointing senior Vatican staff and may visit his predecessor, Benedict, Pope Emeritus. The first Latin American and Jesuit pope has received a flood of goodwill messages from around the world. But the Argentine also faces a series of tough challenges. The Church has been dogged by infighting and scandals over clerical sex abuse and alleged corruption. Thursday morning saw Pope Francis begin the day with a visit to a Rome basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore, for a private prayer. ‘Journey of love’ The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio shocked many onlookers when it was revealed on Wednesday. The election of the first non-European Pope for more than a millennium- and the first from Latin America, home to 40% of the world’s Catholics – reveals in the cardinals who elected him an awareness of the size and importance of the flock outside Europe. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had a reputation as a humble pastor who even in high office commuted to work by bus, lived in an apartment rather than an apostolic palace and cooked his own meals. In the inevitable comparisons with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, some will point to the new pontiff’s credentials as a local bishop, rather than a Vatican insider. The 76-year-old Argentine has described inequality as “a social sin that cries out to Heaven” – and has emphasised the Church’s duty to serve the poor and disenfranchised.

Although he reportedly came second to Pope Benedict XVI during the 2005 conclave, few had predicted the election of the first pope from outside Europe in 1,300 years. Pope Francis will return to the Sistine Chapel on Thursday afternoon, scene of his election, to celebrate Mass with the cardinals. Over the weekend, he will meet the world’s media at a special papal audience, an opportunity perhaps to set out some of his global vision, says the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, James Robbins, in Rome. Pope Francis had been greeted by crowds roaring their approval when he appeared at the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square on Wednesday evening, about an hour after white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel to announce to the world that a new pontiff had been elected. “It seems that my brother cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth [to find a pope],”Francis said wryly, referring to his native Argentina. “Now, we take up this journey… A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us,” he said. He endeared himself to the crowds – and underlined his reputation for humility – when he asked them to bless him before blessing them in return. Later, according to the New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Pope Francis shunned a special car and security detail provided to take him to the Vatican – “I’ll just go with the guys [cardinals] on the bus,” Cardinal Dolan quoted him as saying.

Argentine Catholics celebrate the election of their archbishop as pope in Buenos Aires on WednesdayCatholics in Argentina’s capital were delighted at the surprise election of their archbishop At the dinner itself, Cardinal Dolan said the Pope had made the cardinals laugh when he referred to the seven days of meetings that led to his election, saying: “I am going to sleep well tonight and something tells me you are too. The 76-year-old from Buenos Aires is the first pope to take the name of Francis – reminiscent of Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century Italian reformer and patron saint of animals, who lived in poverty. The new Pope faces a gruelling schedule over coming days, with a visit to his predecessor Benedict XVI at his retreat at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome reportedly planned, as well as audiences with his cardinals, the media and the faithful.
  • Francis will be installed officially in an inauguration Mass on Tuesday 19 March, the Vatican said.

His election was met with thunderous applause at the cathedral in Buenos Aires and with delight and surprise elsewhere in Latin America – home to 40% of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Guillermo Lopez Mirau from Salta, Argentina, said he was delighted with Cardinal Bergoglio’s election. “People here are overjoyed. You can hear sirens and church bells ringing in the air.”

US President Barack Obama sent “warm wishes” on behalf of the American people to the newly elected pontiff, hailing the Argentine as “the first pope from the Americas”. The new leader of the world’s Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said he was looking forward to “walking and working together”. And Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner – who is said to have clashed with the Argentine archbishop in the past over issues including gay marriage – wished the pontiff a “fruitful pastoral mission”. Pope Francis takes the helm at a difficult time for the Catholic Church, facing an array of challenges which include the role of women, interfaith tensions and dwindling congregations in some parts of the world. Cardinal Bergoglio, who was not among the frontrunners before the election, is regarded as a doctrinal conservative. But he is also seen as a potential force for reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, which may have won the support of reforming cardinals. Pope Francis will come under strong pressure to reform the Curia, the governing body of the Church. Are you in Argentina? What’s your reaction to the new Pope? If you’re Catholic how are you marking the appointment? Send us your comments using the form below.

Rihanna and Chris Brown to record another duet‏

7 Nov

Rihanna performs on stage of Baku Crystal Hall on October 6, 2012

R&B star Rihanna unveiled a duet entitled “Nobodies Business” with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown on November 6, three years after Brown was charged with assaulting her. The song was part of an official track list that Barbadian singer Rihanna tweeted to her followers for her upcoming album “Unapologetic,” and comes after weeks of speculation in the media that the couple have rekindled their romance being spotted together at numerous events. While Rihanna, 24, has stayed mum on her relationship status with Brown, the “Turn Up The Music” singer attended Rihanna’s Halloween party last week and tweeted a photograph of himself dressed in Arab robes and a rifle. Brown, 23, is currently halfway through his five-year probation after pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna on the eve of the Grammy awards in 2009. He was ordered to complete community service and a domestic violence program. Brown was given permission by a Los Angeles judge to embark on his European tour at a recent hearing overseeing his progress on his probation.  Continue reading

Disney to buy Lucasfilm for $4 billion

31 Oct

Chief Executive of  Walt Disney Company  Bob Iger

Walt Disney Co agreed to buy filmmaker George Lucas’s Lucasfilm Ltd and its “Star Wars” franchise for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, a blockbuster deal that includes the surprise promise of a new film in the series in 2015. The deal unites a boutique Northern California film studio that brought special effects into the digital era with a venerable Hollywood powerhouse that has shown a knack for getting the most out of big-name entertainment brands.

Disney plans to release at least three more films in the Star Wars sci-fi saga that ranks among the biggest movie franchises of all time, Chief Executive Bob Iger told analysts on 30 October. The last “Star Wars” picture was “Revenge of the Sith” in 2005. Although Lucas has in the past denied plans for any new “Star Wars” movies, he said in a video interview released on that he had already created story treatments outlining three more films as well as many other Star Wars story lines. Continue reading

Three top-earning dead celebrities in 2012

25 Oct

Elizabeth Taylor
$210 million
Died: March 23, 2011
Age: 79
Cause: Heart failure

It’s amazing how much money an artist can earn after they have died. It can be a true testament to their talent or the real loyalty of their fans. Elizabeth Taylor tops our list this year thanks to Christie’s record-breaking sale of the late movie star’s jewelry and art. The massive sale, which took place in New York and London, brought in $184 million. The most expensive piece sold was a Van Gogh painting which sold for $24.6 million. Now that Taylor’s friends and family are set for life financially, her estate will turn its attention to how best to exploit Taylor’s image. There’s lots of potential in Taylor’s embodiment of old Hollywood glamour. Continue reading