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    16 April 2009

    Eritrea becoming 'a giant prison': HRW

    The Eritrean government is turning its country into a giant prison, according to Human Rights Watch.

    The Horn of Africa nation is widely using military conscription without end, as well as arbitrary detention of its citizens, says HRW.

    Hundreds of Eritrean refugees forcibly repatriated from countries like Libya, Egypt and Malta face arrest and torture upon their return, says the group.

    Religious persecution and forced labour are also rife in Eritrea, says HRW.

    Asnycnow15 English © 2009.

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    Legendary NFL broadcaster John Madden retires

    John Madden, the most recognized analyst in television sports, is calling it quits.

    In a statement issued Thursday morning, Madden, who was NBC's No. 1 NFL analyst on the Peacock's Sunday night package, said: "It's time. I'm 73 years old...It's been such a great ride...the NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion - it still is. I appreciate all of the people who are and were such an important part of the most enjoyable, most fun anyone could have...It's still fun and that's what makes it hard and that's why it took me a few months to make a decision."

    There was some speculation last season concerning Madden's future when he missed one game. At that time, NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol said Madden just needed a brief rest.

    Ebersol said he spent all day Wednesday with Madden at his Bay area home. "I treied every way I could to make sure he was sure about his decision," Ebersol said. "And in true John Madden fashion, he was sure."

    Madden, who coached the Oakland Raiders to seven AFC Western Division titles and a win over the Vikings, in Super Bowl XI, started his broadcasting career atCBS. He also worked with Fox and ABC on "Monday Night Football."

    His likely replacement at NBC will be Cris Collinsworth

    .

    Japan PM pledges $1bn to Pakistan

    Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has pledged up to $1bn (£670m) in aid to Pakistan, after talks with President Asif Ali Zardari in Tokyo.

    Mr Aso said Pakistan's stability was important for the region and that of the international community.

    Mr Zardari thanked Japan for supporting Pakistan's "fight against terrorism".

    The pair were speaking on the eve of a donor conference hosted by the World Bank and Japan, which it is hoped will raise $6bn in loans and grant aid.

    Asnycnow15 English © 2009.

    Court orders Varun Gandhi release

    A grandson of ex-India PM Indira Gandhi, detained for inciting religious tension, has been freed on bail for two weeks to continue poll campaigning.

    The Supreme Court ordered Varun Gandhi to refrain from "provocative speeches" while he was on parole.

    He was detained in Uttar Pradesh under the National Security Act for alleged derogatory comments against Muslims.

    He is standing in the election as a candidate of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    Asnycnow15 English 2009.

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