Category: DIREC REPORT


Amateur video purporting to show an explosion in Homs, Syria, on 20 April

Homs has been heavily shelled by government forces

The Security Council has voted to increase the number of UN observers in Syria to 300 for three months.

A small UN team is currently in Syria to monitor a fragile ceasefire between government and rebel forces.

The UN resolution was unanimously approved by the 15-member council, as the monitors were allowed to visit the city of Homs for the first time.

The visit came amid a lull in fighting in the opposition stronghold, which has been under bombardment by the army.

Rebels said tanks had been temporarily hidden out of sight while the observers were in the city, and that shelling was likely to resume.

However amateur video posted on the internet shows gunfire breaking out during the visit and monitors being surrounded by Homs residents. It is not clear who is responsible for the firing.

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Analysis

image of Barbara PlettBarbara PlettBBC UN correspondent

The resolution was a compromise between a Russian and a European text. The main difference was over conditions required for sending the monitors.

The Russians didn’t specify any criteria. Western states wanted the deployment contingent on government compliance with the ceasefire, especially its pledge to pull troops and heavy weapons back to barracks.

In the end, all agreed to let the Secretary General make the decision about when it would be safe enough to deploy the unarmed observers.

But Western diplomats made no secret of their concern about the fragile state of Kofi Annan’s peace plan. The US ambassador Susan Rice warned that Washington wouldn’t wait the full three months of the monitors’ mandate to pursue measures against Damascus if it continued to violate its commitments.

But it’s difficult to see what alternative the West has to the Annan plan, given that it doesn’t support foreign military intervention, and would face Russian and Chinese vetoes for any UN sanctions.

A Homs activist calling himself Abo told the BBC that he and other activists had tried to protect the monitors.

“This is our first day of calm for months,” he said. “The regime today didn’t shell any area or open fire until the observers came here.”

There is no word from the UN itself about the alleged incident.

Ban Ki-moon’s call

The UN resolution was adopted following a debate about the conditions for deployment.

European states had said the unarmed observers should be sent only when Syria implemented its pledge to send troops and tanks back to barracks.

Russia – which is regarded as an ally of Damascus – simply emphasises the need to send more monitors to Syria quickly.

In the end, the resolution leaves it to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to decide how and when they will be deployed.

Although overall violence has fallen since the truce was signed by the UN and Syria on Thursday, many violations have been reported by activists and journalists on the ground.

According to Reuters news agency, at least 23 people were killed on Friday, 10 of them in a roadside bomb targeting security forces and most of the others in army shelling on the city of Homs.

Footage emerged appearing to show UN observers under fire in Homs

The Damascus authorities say they are fighting armed terrorist groups and that the ceasefire allows them to respond to attacks.

The UN estimates that government forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the uprising. Syria says foreign-backed militants have killed more than 2,600 soldiers and police.

Aid fears

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council after Saturday’s vote that the resolution was “of fundamental importance” to push forward the six-point peace plan negotiated by international envoy Kofi Annan.

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Annan’s six-point peace plan

1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people

2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians

3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause

4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons

5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists

6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully

Britain’s envoy Sir Mark Lyall Grant said the expanded observer mission “represents the last opportunity to secure a solution to the crisis in Syria.

“US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier in the week called for a global arms embargo and further sanctions if the government continued to break the ceasefire.

The international community has also been looking at ways of getting humanitarian aid to Syria, with diplomats meeting in Geneva on Friday to discuss the situation.

They agreed to a draft plan to provide $180m (£112m) for food, medicine and other supplies to about one million people inside Syria.

That comes on top of the aid that is being delivered to refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries.

 

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Just because a job seems glamorous, requires a lot of education, is stressful or dangerous, it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily be earning the big bucks by pursing a career in one of these fields. Some jobs seem like they should pay a lot more than they actually do. If you’re the type to be more motivated by the paycheck than by the work itself, these are a few career choices that you might want to steer clear of.

Emergency Medical Technician
You trust these professionals with your life. They’re the people who step in to help those who are sick, injured or in danger, at times even placing themselves in precarious situations in the process. However, you might be surprised to learn that emergency medical technicians (or EMTs) aren’t earning the big bucks. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average income for this occupation is only about $27,000 per year. Considering that this position requires workers to obtain post-secondary education, be on call, work shift work and deal with a huge amount of stress, this wage seems incredibly low.

Event Coordinator
Planning a big event takes a lot of work. Event coordinators take the stress out of event planning for others, thereby taking on all the stresses of organizing vendors, dealing with the hiccups, and ensuring that guests enjoy the event. Ensuring that every wedding, party or conference runs smoothly takes a lot of skill on the part of event planners or coordinators. They need to be organized, professional and able to juggle multiple tasks all at once. How much does this stressful position pay? Only about $36,000 per year.

Probation Officer
Dealing with those who are on probation or parole may not seem like a particularly glamorous position, but there’s no doubt it’s a stressful one. This job can be particularly rewarding, especially in the fact that you’re helping to keep reformed criminals engaged and on track by helping to support their rehabilitation, assisting them with finding jobs and homes once they’re released. On the other side of the coin, people in this field also have to deal with a great deal of disappointment and stress, since many former cons have a tendency to reoffend. CNN Money reports that this challenging job comes with an annual salary of about $38,400.

Family Therapist
Seeing how important family wellness is, it’s surprising to find that those who are responsible for ensuring our family relationships function properly are only be paid about $45,000 per year. Therapists typically require quite a bit of education in order to practice, so this position comes with a fairly low rate of pay considering that some therapists might be repaying student loans. Therapists also have a tendency to experience burnout, since they are often responsible for seeing a number of clients each day, while helping these families to sort through some of the most stressful of situations.

Addictions Counselor
Similar to family therapists, addictions counselors help their clients to sort through some very challenging and stressful situations. Addictions counselors assist their clients with creating and adhering to treatment plans, which certainly has its share of challenges. Also, most addictions counselors are required to have post-secondary education in order to practice. Given the stressful nature of this job, it might be surprising to learn that this position typically comes with an annual income of only about $32,000 per year.

News Reporter
Being a reporter may seem exciting, but it doesn’t guarantee a high salary by any stretch of the imagination. News reporters typically earn about $33,000 per year. This is quite a small amount of compensation considering that many news reporters are required to work unusual hours and work within strict deadlines.

Film or Television Producer
A job in film and television? That has to be glamorous, right? Well, the sad truth is that the majority of people working in this field are not earning the big bucks, especially when they’re just starting out. Many film and television producers work long hours in order to ensure that their productions run according to plan and budget. The median income for individuals in this field is about $48,000 per year, though some producers have had to sacrifice their own salaries in order to inject more funds into the projects they’re working on. This is definitely proof that not all jobs in the television industry are a sure-fire ticket to easy street!

Architect
Though this position may not come close to the lowest paying on our list in terms of actual earnings, it could be considered a lower-paying job because of the fact that it requires a lot of education and experience before you’re able to practice in the field. Most architects require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree before being able to work, which is then followed by licensing exams and internships. Architects in their first year of work can expect to earn roughly $35,000 per year, with those who are more senior earning about $69,000 per annum. Considering that most architects leave school with a fair amount of student debt, this certainly isn’t going to leave a huge amount of cash for these professionals to spend on themselves after making their debt repayments.

The Bottom Line
It’s a sad fact that not all stressful jobs are valued equally. Just because an occupation requires post-secondary education or deals with the unpleasant side of life, it doesn’t ensure that you’ll be living that comfortable of a life yourself, at least financially speaking. Before investing in post-secondary education, it’s a good idea to investigate what kind of annual salary you’ll be able to expect before hitting the books. You’ll want to know how easily you’ll be able to repay your student debt, and if you’ll be able to support yourself on your earnings. Keep in mind that loving your job counts for something, but you also need to make sure that you can take care of your own needs with your annual income.

During an interview with Oufah a few days before leaving for the long awaited South American tour, the MOBO award winner revealed that his inspiration through music has been encouraged by reggae legend Bob Marley.

‘I owe all my success to date to Bob Marley, he has paved the way for many aspiring reggae musicians like myself,’ he says.

Alborosie who now resides in Jamaica, is originally from Italy and believes that the work of Bob Marley reaches and impacts the lives of many people around the world.

‘Bob Marley is THE KING of reggae, without his music I would probably be back in Italy or somewhere else in the world, but not in Jamaica,’ he added.

With the upcoming premiere the Marley documentary, Alborosie encourages Jamaicans to go out and take part in the historic film presentation. His final words to Oufah were, ‘Rasta and Non Rasta, Bob would love us to Unite – ONE LOVE!’ The Official movie for the King of reggae Bob Marley premieres in Kingston Jamaica on April 19, 2012 at Emancipation Park at 7pm.

Click here to view the Marley Movie Trailer

Alborosie’s 2 TIMES REVOLUTION South American Tour Now on!

Dates and locations as follows:

12.04.12 LIMA (Peru) / Centro de Convenciones Embarcadero 41
14.04.12 SANTIAGO DE CHILE (Chile) / Chimkowe — Festival Siempre Vivo Reggae
15.04.12 BUENOS AIRES (Argentina) / Niceto
16.04.12 BUENOS AIRES (Argentina) / Niceto
18.04.12 MAR DE PLATA ( Argentina) / Abbey Road
20.04.12 CORDOBA (Argentina) / La Vieja Usina
21.04 12 SAN LUIS (Argentina) / Palacio de los Deportes
22.04.12 ROSARIO (Argentina) / Pugliese
27.04.12 BELEM (Brasil) / Parque dos Igarapes
28.04.12 FORTALEZA (Brasil) / Barraca Biruta
29.04.12 SAO LUIS (Brasil) / Trapiche
05.05.12 MARACAY (Venezuela) / Parque Carlos Raul Villanueva — Festival Full Reverberancia

Click here for more on Alborosie

The Field Museum (Photo: Courtesy The Field Museum)

Last year, we picked 15 U.S. landmarks every child should see before they turn 15, and you didn’t always agree with our picks. This time we asked you to help us put together the definitive family vacation checklist.

If you’d like to see your images on Yahoo! Travel, join now and submit your own!

What made a monument worthy of inclusion? It needed to be fun, educational, and especially magical through the eyes of a child. It needed to inspire adults to tap back into that childlike sense of wonder. And it needed to have universal appeal.

Of course, the surest way to rile folks up is to publish a list, and this case was no different. Our nominations process was fierce and brought out the full range of emotions in our audience—passion, joy, sadness, anger. You spoke up to nominate 562 attractions and voted over 138,000 times.

So how did we arrive at the final list? As we explained in the rules, we used your votes—combined with factors such as geographic and thematic diversity—to guide our selection-making process. And we automatically eliminated places that had made our story last year. The final list for 2012 represents the best that our nation has to offer our children.

The Field Museum
Chicago

Across its nine acres of floor space, the Field showcases giant robot wolf spiders, 23 Egyptian mummies, and the biggest Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever dug up, in one of the broadest arrays of natural wonders under one roof. The collection of dioramas hold a dizzying array of species, from African lions and giraffes to Arctic penguins and polar bears, and it’s a favorite childhood fantasy to slip inside one of the magical timeless worlds.

Kids 12 and under can dress up like animals, dig up dinosaur bones, and explore a pueblo home at the Crown Family PlayLab. Friday nights from mid-January to mid-June, the museum hosts sleepovers, where children 6 to 12 and their parents can sleep right next to the dinosaurs (the 2012 nights are sold out, so book early for 2013). Talk about a dream vacation.

  • FILE - This May 8, 2006 file photo shows Mike Wallace, longtime CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent, during an interview at his office in New York. Wallace, famed for his tough interviews on "60 Minutes," has died, Saturday, April 7, 2012. He was 93. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)FILE – This May 8, 2006 file photo …
  • This May 8, 2006 file photo shows Mike Wallace, veteran CBS " 60 Minutes" correspondent, waiting in a hallway near his office to see a colleague in New York, Monday May 8, 2006. Wallace, famed for his tough interviews on "60 Minutes," has died, Saturday, April 7, 2012. He was 93. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)This May 8, 2006 file photo shows …

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Wallace didn’t interview people. He interrogated them. He cross-examined them. Sometimes he eviscerated them.

His reputation was so fearsome that it was often said that the scariest words in the English language were “Mike Wallace is here to see you.”

Wallace, whose pitiless, prosecutorial style transformed television journalism and made “60 Minutes” compulsively watchable, died Saturday night at a care facility in New Canaan, Conn., where he had lived in recent years, CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco said. He was 93.

Until he was slowed by heart surgery as he neared his 90th birthday in 2008, Wallace continued making news, doing “60 Minutes” interviews with such subjects as Jack Kevorkian and Roger Clemens. He had promised to still do occasional reports when he announced his retirement as a correspondent in 2006.

Wallace, whose career spanned 60 years, said then that he had long vowed to retire “when my toes turn up” and “they’re just beginning to curl a trifle. … It’s become apparent to me that my eyes and ears, among other appurtenances, aren’t quite what they used to be.”

Among his later contributions, after bowing out as a regular, was a 2007 profile of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, and an interview with Kevorkian, the assisted suicide doctor released from prison in 2007 who died last year.

In December 2007, Wallace landed the first interview with Clemens after the star pitcher was implicated in the Mitchell report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball. The interview, in which Clemens maintained his innocence, was broadcast in early 2008.

Wallace’s “extraordinary contribution as a broadcaster is immeasurable and he has been a force within the television industry throughout its existence,” Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. president and CEO, said in a statement Sunday.

Wallace was the first man hired when late CBS news producer Don Hewitt put together the staff of “60 Minutes” at its inception in 1968. The show wasn’t a hit at first, but it worked its way up to the top 10 in the 1977-78 season and remained there, season after season, with Wallace as one of its mainstays. Among other things, it proved there could be big profits in TV journalism.

The top 10 streak was broken in 2001, in part due to the onset of huge-drawing rated reality shows. But “60 Minutes” remained in the top 25 in recent years, ranking 15th in viewers in the 2010-11 season.

The show pioneered the use of “ambush interviews,” with reporter and camera crew corralling alleged wrongdoers in parking lots, hallways, wherever a comment — or at least a stricken expression — might be harvested from someone dodging the reporters’ phone calls.

Such tactics were phased out over time — Wallace said they provided drama but not much good information.

And his style never was all about surprise, anyway. Wallace was a master of the skeptical follow-up question, coaxing his prey with a “forgive me, but …” or a simple, “come on.” He was known as one who did his homework, spending hours preparing for interviews, and alongside the exposes, “60 Minutes” featured insightful talks with celebrities and world leaders.

He was equally tough on public and private behavior. In 1973, with the Watergate scandal growing, he sat with top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman and read a long list of alleged crimes, from money laundering to obstructing justice. “All of this,” Wallace noted, “by the law and order administration of Richard Nixon.”

The surly Ehrlichman could only respond: “Is there a question in there somewhere?”

In the early 1990s, Wallace reduced Barbra Streisand to tears as he scolded her for being “totally self-absorbed” when she was young and mocked her decades of psychoanalysis. “What is it she is trying to find out that takes 20 years?” Wallace said he wondered.

“I’m a slow learner,” Streisand told him.

His late colleague Harry Reasoner once said, “There is one thing that Mike can do better than anybody else: With an angelic smile, he can ask a question that would get anyone else smashed in the face.”

Wallace said he didn’t think he had an unfair advantage over his interview subjects: “The person I’m interviewing has not been subpoenaed. He’s in charge of himself, and he lives with his subject matter every day. All I’m armed with is research.”

Wallace himself became a dramatic character in several projects, from the stage version of “Frost/Nixon,” when he was played by Stephen Rowe, to the 1999 film “The Insider,” based in part on a 1995 “60 Minutes” story about tobacco industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, who accused Brown & Williamson of intentionally adding nicotine to cigarettes. Christopher Plummer starred as Wallace and Russell Crowe as Wigand. Wallace was unhappy with the film, in which he was portrayed as caving to pressure to kill a story about Wigand.

Operating on a tip, The New York Times reported that “60 Minutes” planned to excise Wigand’s interview from its tobacco expose. CBS said Wigand had signed a nondisclosure agreement with his former company, and the network feared that by airing what he had to say, “60 Minutes” could be sued along with him.

The day the Times story appeared, Wallace downplayed the gutted story as “a momentary setback.” He soon sharpened his tone. Leading into the revised report when it aired, he made no bones that “we cannot broadcast what critical information about tobacco, addiction and public health (Wigand) might be able to offer.” Then, in a “personal note,” he told viewers that he and his “60 Minutes” colleagues were “dismayed that the management at CBS had seen fit to give in to perceived threats of legal action.”

The full report eventually was broadcast.

Wallace maintained a hectic pace after CBS waived its long-standing rule requiring broadcasters to retire at 65. In early 1999, at age 80, he added another line to his resume by appearing on the network’s spinoff, “60 Minutes II.” (A similar concession was granted Wallace’s longtime colleague, Don Hewitt, who in 2004, at age 81, relinquished his reins as executive producer; he died in 2009.)

Wallace amassed 21 Emmy awards during his career, as well as five DuPont-Columbia journalism and five Peabody awards.

In all, his television career spanned six decades, much of it spent at CBS. In 1949, he appeared asMyron Wallace in a show called “Majority Rules.” In the early 1950s, he was an announcer and game show host for programs such as “What’s in a Word?” He also found time to act in a 1954 Broadway play, “Reclining Figure,” directed by Abe Burrows.

In the mid-1950s came his smoke-wreathed “Night Beat,” a series of one-on-one interviews with everyone from an elderly Frank Lloyd Wright to a young Henry Kissinger that began on local TV in New York and then appeared on the ABC network. It was the show that first brought Wallace fame as a hard-boiled interviewer, a “Mike Malice” who rarely gave his subjects any slack.

Wrote Coronet magazine in 1957: “Wallace’s interrogation had the intensity of a third degree, often the candor of a psychoanalytic session. Nothing like it had ever been known on TV. … To Wallace, no guest is sacred, and he frankly dotes on controversy.”

Sample “Night Beat” exchange, with colorful restaurateur Toots Shor. Wallace: “Toots, why do people call you a slob?” Shor: “Me? Jiminy crickets, they musta been talking about Jackie Gleason.”

In those days, Wallace said, “interviews by and large were virtual minuets. … Nobody dogged, nobody pushed.” He said that was why “Night Beat” ”got attention that hadn’t been given to interview broadcasts before.”

It was also around then that Wallace did a bit as a TV newsman in the 1957 Hollywood drama “A Face in the Crowd,” which starred Andy Griffith as a small-town Southerner who becomes a political phenomenon through his folksy television appearances. Two years later, Wallace helped create “The Hate That Hate Produced,” a highly charged program about the Nation of Islam that helped make a national celebrity out of Malcolm X and was later criticized as biased and inflammatory.

After holding a variety of other news and entertainment jobs, including serving as advertising pitchman for a cigarette brand, Wallace became a full-time newsman for CBS in 1963.

He said it was the death of his 19-year-old son, Peter, in an accident in 1962 that made him decide to stick to serious journalism from then on. (Another son, Chris, followed his father and became a broadcast journalist, most recently as a Fox News Channel anchor.)

Wallace had a short stint reporting from Vietnam, and took a sock in the jaw while covering the tumultuous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. But he didn’t fit the stereotype of the Eastern liberal journalist. He was a close friend of the Reagans and was once offered the job of Richard Nixon’s press secretary. He called his politics moderate.

One “Night Beat” interview resulted in a libel suit, filed by a police official angry over remarks about him by mobster Mickey Cohen. Wallace said ABC settled the lawsuit for $44,000, and called it the only time money had been paid to a plaintiff in a suit in which he was involved.

The most publicized lawsuit against him was by retired Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who sought $120 million for a 1982 “CBS Reports” documentary, “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception.” Westmoreland dropped the libel suit in 1985 after a long trial. Lawyers for each side later said legal costs of the suit totaled $12 million, of which $9 million was paid by CBS.

Wallace once said the case brought on depression that put him in the hospital for more than a week. “Imagine sitting day after day in the courtroom hearing yourself called every vile name imaginable,” he said.

In 1996, he appeared before the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging to urge more federal funds for depression research, saying that he had felt “lower, lower, lower than a snake’s belly” but had recovered through psychiatry and antidepressant drugs. He later disclosed that he once tried to commit suicide during that dark period. Wallace, columnist Art Buchwald and author William Styron were friends who commiserated often enough about depression to call themselves “The Blues Brothers,” according to a 2011 memoir by Styron’s daughter, Alexandra.

Wallace called his 1984 book, written with Gary Paul Gates, “Close Encounters.” He described it as “one mostly lucky man’s encounters with growing up professionally.”

In 2005, he brought out his memoir, “Between You and Me.”

Among those interviewing him about the book was son Chris, for “Fox News Sunday.” His son asked: Does he understand why people feel a disaffection from the mainstream media?

“They think they’re wide-eyed commies. Liberals,” the elder Wallace replied, a notion he dismissed as “damned foolishness.”

Wallace was born Myron Wallace on May 9, 1918, in Brookline, Mass. He began his news career in Chicago in the 1940s, first as radio news writer for the Chicago Sun and then as reporter for WMAQ. He started at CBS in 1951.

He was married four times. In 1986, he wed Mary Yates Wallace, the widow of his close friend and colleague, Ted Yates, who had died in 1967. Besides his wife, Wallace is survived by his son, Chris, a stepdaughter, Pauline Dora, and stepson Eames Yates. His wife declined to comment Sunday.

___

Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela, former Associated Press writer Polly Anderson and National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

Police

Police in Tulsa hunting for the shooting suspects

Police in Oklahoma have arrested two white men after three people, all black, were shot dead on Friday.

Two other black victims are in a critical condition in hospital following the shootings in Tulsa.

The suspects have been named by police as Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32.

They are expected to face three counts of first-degree murder and two of shooting with intent to kill.

Anonymous tip-off

The men were arrested at a home in Tulsa at 01:47 local time (06:47 GMT) on Sunday following an anonymous tip-off. They have been taken to a police station in the city for questioning.

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“Start Quote

We are going to turn over every rock”

Jason WillinghamTulsa Police spokesman

A helicopter was used in the operation to detain the suspects.

None of the victims are thought to have known each other and all five of them were out walking when they were shot within a 3 mile (4.8 km) radius of one another early on Friday.

The north Tulsa area, where the shootings took place, is a predominantly black area, although police have yet to establish a motive.

‘No motive’

Tulsa police spokesman Jason Willingham said: “We don’t have a motive at this time.

“We are still asking questions and hopefully that will become clear in the coming days.”

Mr Willingham could not confirm whether the suspects were armed when they were taken into custody.

However, of the investigation into the killings, he said: “We are going to turn over every rock.”

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan had earlier said officers would do whatever it took to apprehend those responsible for what he described as “vicious and cowardly attacks”.

 

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Pope Benedict gives mass and his Urbi et Orbi message in St Peter’s Square

Pope Benedict XVI has delivered his traditional Easter message of peace in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square in Rome.

He urged Syria’s government to end the bloody year-long conflict, and spoke of the trouble in Nigeria and Mali.

At a Mass on Saturday, he warned that mankind is “groping in the darkness, unable to distinguish good from evil”.

Earlier, the Vatican confirmed the Pope would be travelling to Lebanon for a three-day visit in September.

“May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights,” said Pope Benedict during his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and the World) Easter message.

“Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community.”

He voiced hope that the “many refugees” currently in need of humanitarian assistance “find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings”.

For the West African nation of Mali, which was plunged into political crisis after army officers seized power in a coup two weeks ago, he said “may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability”.

And for Nigeria, which has been hit by inter-religious and ethnic violence, “may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of its citizens”.

However, as he spoke, reports were coming in of a deadly car bombing close to a church in the Nigerian city of Kaduna.

Single candle

The theme of the Saturday evening vigil was the contrast between darkness and light.

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“Start Quote

The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general”

Pope Benedict XVI

The service was brought forward from its traditional midnight start in order not to tax the 84-year-old’s strength – and he was wheeled on a raised mobile platform along the central nave of a darkened St Peter’s Basilica carrying a single lighted candle, symbolising the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Gradually, as other believers lit their individual candles from a single flame, St Peter’s was flooded with light, the BBC’s David Willey reports from Rome.

During the Mass, the Pope also baptised eight new converts by pouring water over their bowed heads.

The pontiff’s official schedule – which recently saw him return from visits to Cuba and Mexico – is taking a toll, our correspondent says.

His elder brother in Germany has said that Pope Benedict – who turns 85 later this month – intends to cut back on foreign travel, as it wears him out.

However, the Vatican has confirmed the Pope has accepted an invitation by religious leaders in Lebanon to visit the country for three-days in September.

Easter is one of the most joyous celebrations in the Christian calendar, marking the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

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Defacement message

Defaced pages urged Chinese people to stage their own protests

The Anonymous hacking group claims to have defaced almost 500 websites in China.

Targets hit in the mass defacement included government sites, its official agencies, trade groups and many others.

A message put on the hacked sites said the attack was carried out to protest against the Chinese government’s strict control of its citizens.

It urged Chinese people to join Anonymous and stage their own protests against the regime.

Attack pattern

The announcement about the defacements was made via anAnonymous China account that was established in March. A list of the 485 sites affected was put on the Pastebin website. Separate Pastebin messages posted email addresses and other personal details stolen when sites were penetrated.

Sites defaced had the same message posted to them that chided the nation’s government for its repressive policies.

It read: “Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.”

China has one of the most comprehensive web surveillance systems in the world, known as the Great Firewall of China, that reinforces its broader social controls. The system polices where Chinese people can go online and tries to restrict what they can talk about.

On defaced pages, the Anonymous attackers also posted links to advice that could help people avoid official scrutiny of what they do and say online. Much of the advice was in English so it is unclear how much help it would be.

There has been no official confirmation of the defacements. News wires reported that government officials had denied any had taken place.

However, many of the sites listed are now offline and a few others displayed a hacked page for a long time rather than their own homepage.

 

Charles Manson in June 2011 (California Dept. of Corrections)

Charles Manson has a parole hearing next week, and at the request of CNN, the Calif. Dept. of Corrections has released two photos of the notorious 77-year-old murderer.

The network published the nearly-identical photostaken at the state prison in Corcoran in Junelate on Wednesday. Before that, the most recent known photo of Manson was from three years ago.

As CNN pointed out, photos of prisoners are taken “when they are transferred to other prisons or medical facilities or, in the case of Manson, when an inmate’s appearance changes.”

In the photos, Manson appears with long white hair, beard and the infamous swastika on his forehead.

Manson’s parole hearing is scheduled for April 11. He has been denied parole 11 times since being sentenced to death for the murder of actress Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and four others.

In 1971, Manson was found guilty of ordering the killings. Manson’s death sentence was changed to life in prison in 1972, when California’s death penalty was overturned.

Click image for more photos

 

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