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    24 July 2009

    ALERT|Bush Administration Debated Using Military in Terrorism Arrests

    Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the
    Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of
    Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with
    Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.

    Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including
    Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the
    power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the
    terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna
    Six, and declare them enemy combatants. Mr. Bush ultimately
    decided against the proposal to use military force.

    Jersey City Mayor 'Official 4' In Corruption Case

    Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy issued a statement acknowledging that he, too, is a target of the investigation that saw 44 people, including three other New Jersey mayors, arrested by federal agents in a decade-long corruption investigation. Healy said he was identified in official court documents as "Official 4," a public official also being targeted by feds.

    E. Lynn Harris Died At Age 54

    E. Lynn Harris, a pioneer of gay black fiction and a literary entrepreneur who rose from self-publishing to best-selling status, has died, his publicist said Friday. He was 54.

    Publicist Laura Gilmore said Harris died Thursday night after being stricken at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, and a cause of death had not been determined. She said Harris, who lived in Atlanta, fell ill on a train to Los Angeles a few days ago and blacked out for a few minutes, but seemed fine after that.

    Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said only that a man matching Harris' name and date of birth had died Thursday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which was confirmed by hospital spokeswoman Simi Singer. Gilmore said an autopsy would be performed Monday or Tuesday.

    An improbable and inspirational success story, Harris worked for a decade as an IBM executive before taking up writing, selling the novel "Invisible Life" from his car as he visited salons and beauty parlors around Atlanta. He had unprecedented success for an openly gay black author and his strength as a romance writer led some to call him the "male Terry McMillan."

    He went on to mainstream success with works such as the novel "Love of My Own" and the memoir "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted."

    His writing fell into several genres, including gay and lesbian fiction, African American fiction and urban fiction. But he found success in showing readers a new side of African American life: the secret world of professional, bisexual black men living as heterosexuals.

    "He was a pioneering voice within the black LGBT community but also resonated with mainstream communities, regardless of race and sexual orientation," said Herndon Davis, a gay advocate and a diversity media consultant in Los Angeles. "Harris painted with eloquent prose and revealing accuracy the lives of African American men and the many complicated struggles they faced reconciling their sexuality and spirituality while rising above societal taboos within the black community."

    Harris published 11 novels, 10 of which were on The New York Times best-seller list. There are over 4 million copies of his books in print, according to his publisher, Doubleday.

    ------

    "We at Doubleday are deeply shocked and saddened to learn of E. Lynn Harris' death at too young an age," said Doubleday spokeswoman Alison Rich, his longtime publicist. "His pioneering novels and powerful memoir about the black gay experience touched and inspired millions of lives, and he was a gifted storyteller whose books brought delight and encouragement to readers everywhere."

    In an interview last year, Harris recalled the first time he realized he was poor, when as a young boy his family was invited to the housewarming of a well-to-do family in his hometown of Fayetteville, Ark. Fresh from an afternoon of playing outside, he tried desperately to tuck his bare, dusty feet underneath the sofa after another guest remarked on his appearance.

    "I didn't grow up in the kind of environment that my characters grew up in, or the kind of environment that I live in now," he said. "It was one of the things that I always aspired to."

    His 1994 debut, "Invisible Life," was a coming-of-age story that dealt with the then-taboo topic.

    "If you were African American and you were gay, you kept your mouth shut and you went on and did what everybody else did," he said. "You had girlfriends, you lived a life that your parents had dreamed for you."

    Harris was not living as an openly gay man when "Invisible Life" was published, and could not acknowledge the parallels between himself and the book.

    "People would often ask, 'Is this book about you?' I didn't want to talk about that," he said. "I wasn't comfortable talking about it. I would say that this is a work of fiction."

    Harris said that the courage readers got from the book empowered him to be honest about himself. He continued to tell stories dealing with similar issues, to tell black middle class readers about people they knew, but who were living secret lives.

    For years, he was alone in exposing the "down low," but the phenomenon exploded into mainstream culture in 2004, a decade after "Invisible Life." That year, J.L. King's "On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men Who Sleep With Men" hit bookstores and the author appeared on Oprah Winfrey's TV show.

    His 10th novel, "Just Too Good to Be True," focused for the first time on a straight relationship, telling the story of a 21-year-old football star, his mother, and his cheerleader love interest. Harris taught writing classes at his alma mater, the University of Arkansas, and leaned on his students there to gather material for the book.

    The last book Harris published, "Basketball Jones," focused on a hidden relationship between a successful business professional in New Orleans and an NBA star.

    Janis F. Kearney met Harris when the two were among a handful of black journalism students at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The two became fast friends and their relationship deepened as they both evolved into authors. Kearney, who now lives in Little Rock, Ark., recalled Harris' huge heart.

    "I've seen him help so many people," Kearney said. "He was very open, very giving, very caring, someone you felt so fortunate to have in your life. He's just one of those people I'll never stop missing."

    N Korea 'tests weapons on children'

    Analysts believe North Korea has one of the most aggressive biochemical weapons programmes

    [By Steve Chao in Seoul, South Korea]

    When Im Chun-yong made his daring escape from North Korea, with a handful of his special forces men, there were many reasons why the North Korean government was intent on stopping them.

    They were, after all, part of Kim Jong-il's elite commandos - privy to a wealth of military secrets and insights into the workings of the reclusive regime.

    In video

    Interview: North Korea weapons threat

    But among the accounts they carried with them is one of the most shocking yet to emerge – namely the use of humans, specifically mentally or physically handicapped children, to test North Korea's biological and chemical weapons.

    "If you are born mentally or physically deficient, says Im, the government says your best contribution to society… is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing."

    Even after settling into the relative safety of South Korea, for 10 years Im held on to this secret, saying it was too horrific to recount.

    But with Kim's health reportedly failing, and the country appearing increasingly unpredictable, Im felt it was time he spoke out.

    Daughter given up

    The former military captain says it was in the early 1990s, that he watched his then commander wrestle with giving up his 12-year-old daughter who was mentally ill.

    The commander, he says, initially resisted, but after mounting pressure from his military superiors, he gave in.

    Im watched as the girl was taken away. She was never seen again.

    One of Im's own men later gave him an eyewitness account of human-testing.

    Asked to guard a secret facility on an island off North Korea's west coast, Im says the soldier saw a number of people forced into a glass chamber.

    "Poisonous gas was injected in," Im says. "He watched doctors time how long it took for them to die."

    Other North Korean defectors have long alleged that the secretive nation has been using political prisoners as experimental test subjects.

    Some have detailed how inmates were shipped from various concentration camps to so-called chemical "factories".

    'Widespread practice'

    But Im's is the first account of mentally-ill or physically challenged children being used.

    Kim Sang-hun believes there are at least three to five experimental weapons sites

    Security analysts believe Kim oversees one of the most aggressive and robust biochemical weapons programmes in the world.

    A member of the special forces' Brigade No.19, Im says he was trained on how to use biochemical weapons against the "enemy" – including how to fire them from short-range "bazooka-style" weapons.

    He says such training was normal practice for all elite units.

    Today it is estimated the country has accumulated a stockpile of more than 5,000 tonnes of biochemical weaponry; from mustard gas, to nerve agents such as sarin, to anthrax and cholera.

    The extent of the stockpile is a concern to Kim Sang-hun, a retired UN official who has spent years investigating the North's chemical and biological weapons programme.

    He believes over the past 20 years, the programme has advanced at a startling pace, specifically because the country’s rulers approve and support the use of human test subjects.

    [In Their Own Words]

    "If you are born mentally or physically deficient, the government says your best contribution to society… is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing"

    [Im Chun-Yong, former North Korean commando]

    "Human experimentation is a widespread practice," Kim says.

    "I hoped I was wrong, but it is the reality and it is taking place in North Korea and it is taking place at a number of locations."

    There are some who question claims that the North conducts human trials. But Kim says he has interviewed hundred of defectors who, more times than not, volunteer personal vivid accounts.

    "The programme is now a commonly known fact in the North Korean public," he says.

    As a former member of the elite special forces, Im agrees.

    While the government may be secretive about a lot of things, he says "when it comes to human experimentation, most know it happens".

    Investigating what he says are serious UN violations regarding the rights of children and prisoners, Kim Sang-hun has amassed a vast amount of evidence.

    Compiled in folders at his home in Seoul are reams of testimonies and documents.

    Some bear what appear to be official government stamps approving the transfer of prisoners from camps to chemical "factories".

    He says he believes these are, in reality, experimental weapons sites.

    He has pinpointed at least three to five labs that he believes are situated in different parts of the country, including one just a few kilometres north of the capital, Pyongyang.

    Security analysts suspect there are as many as 20 such plants across the country.

    Biochemical threat

    As the world's attention focuses on the North's nuclear programme, Im is worried the international community will miss what he believes is the more imminent threat posed by the country's biochemical arsenal.

    Defectors have told of prisoners being shipped to chemical 'factories'

    Arms experts say at least 30 per cent of North Korea's missile and artillery systems are capable of delivering such weapons. With each successive test, they warn the North's accuracy improves, and so too its range.

    The UN Security Council now says it believes three of the seven missiles tested by the North on July 4 were Scud-ER missiles, which are known to be more accurate and have a range of 1,000km.

    Tokyo is roughly 1,160km from the base on North Korea's east coast from where the missiles were fired, while other parts of Japan are closer.

    Im believes the government would not hesitate to use such arms, saying he has seen the "ruthlessness" of the country’s leaders.

    During his escape from North Korea in December 1999, Im says he and his men battled their way out, chased by dozens of members of other commando units.

    "I myself killed three men," he says. "Then after swimming across the half frozen Tumen river into China, we sold our guns, and left that life behind."

    Im now devotes his time to gathering intelligence about the North's military capabilities.

    Even a decade after his escape, the threat he still poses to the North Korean government means that he now lives under the constant protection of South Korea's National Intelligence Service.

    Videos By Aljazeera English
    101 East looks at the future of North Korea
    A rare look at life inside North Korea
    Hans Blix on North Korea's nuclear fallout
    Double standards on nuclear weapons
    South Korea's nuclear fears
    China's troublesome ally
    N Korea test sparks alarm
    UN 'should expel N Korea'
    N Korea's 'nuclear gamble'

    In depth


    N Korea 'tests series of missiles'
    North Korea's nervous neighbours
    N Korea's nuclear trump card
    Timeline: N Korea's bomb
    Timeline: Missile launches

    Written By Steve Chao For  Aljazeera English

    This Article is Property of Aljazeera English

    Protesters shot dead in Yemen

    yemeni protest

    Up to 12 people have been killed in clashes between government security forces and opposition groups in southern Yemen.

    Witnesses said hundreds of security forces opened fire on about 7,000 protesters in the city of Zinjibar in Abyan province on Thursday in an effort to disperse them.

    Yemen's north and south were separate countries until they united in 1990, only to dissolve into civil war four years later when the south tried unsuccessfully to secede.

    Secessionist sentiment has since been on the rise in the south and regular demonstrations by former army members demanding political reforms have heightened tensions between the two sides.

    A doctor at al-Razi government hospital in Zinjibar said ambulances rushed to the scene and brought back 10 dead civilians and at least 12 injured police.

    Another doctor at Aden's May 28th hospital said he received eight critically injured civilians, two of whom later died.

    Violence

    Ali Dehmes, an opposition member in the south, said that government forces "fired live bullets" and "have committed a massacre against unarmed civilians".

    But Ahmed al-Maysari, the governor of Abyan province, denied that security forces had fired on the protesters and said that only eight civilians were killed when the demonstrators started shooting.

    The Yemeni government issued a statement expressing regret about "the killing, sabotaging, and hostilities perpetrated by outlawed" individuals in Abyan.

    Witnesses said armed men from two cities to the north and east of Zinjibar clashed with security forces who prevented them from participating in Thursday's protest by cutting off roads heading to the provincial capital.

    Some people participating the demonstration in Zinjibar called for a revolution in the south, while others complained about deteriorating services, including scarce water and frequent power outages.

    One witness said that plainclothes security agents used batons to beat up protesters and drag them across the ground into waiting police trucks.

    Soldiers killed

    At least seven Yemeni soldiers were killed and several wounded in attacks launched by Shia rebels in northern Yemen over the past two days, a military source said on Friday.

    "Clashes broke out after Huthi rebels attacked army bases in the Saada province, during which seven soldiers were killed, while a number of others were wounded or captured," the source told the AFP news agency on Friday.

    Thousands of people have died since 2004 in clashes between government forces and rebels led by Abdel Malek al-Huthi.

    They reject the current government and want the Zaidi clerical regime overthrown in a military coup in 1962 restored.

    Hoboken Mayor Proclaims Innocence, Won't Step Down

    Hoboken, N.J., Mayor Peter Cammarano was among many public officials and others arrested by federal agents involved in a corruption  investigation, July 23, 2009. Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III is proclaiming his innocence and says he will not step down from office despite being one of the 44 suspects arrested in a major federal corruption investigation on Thursday. "The charges that are leveled against me in a federal court are completely baseless, and I deny any wrongdoing in connection with the allegations that are contained in that complaint," he said Friday.

    ALERT| Obama Says He Regrets His Language on Gates Arrest

    President Obama said Friday that he "could have calibrated"
    his words more carefully in the racially-charged controversy
    over the arrest of a Harvard professor, making a surprise
    appearance at the daily White House briefing to try and cool
    the tensions surrounding the case.

    Mr. Obama said he had talked to the arresting officer and
    hoped the case could become "a teachable moment" to be used
    to improve relations between minorities and police officers.

    Karzai 'to review foreign forces'

    asnycnow15Newslogo3 (14) Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said that he will review agreements with foreign forces operating in Afghanistan if he is re-elected.

    He said he would make international forces sign an agreement governing how they operate, in an effort to limit civilian casualties.

    President Karzai is seeking re-election in next month's presidential poll.

    The Afghan government has long been concerned about the civilian death toll as foreign troops battle insurgents.

    New lizard species found in India

    asnycnow15Newslogo3 (14) Scientists have discovered a new species of lizard in the lush Western Ghats mountain range in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

    The small reptile is a form of gecko and was found by taxonomist Varad Giri in the Kolhapur district. It has been named Cnemasspis kolhapurensis.

    Mr Giri and his co-workers published their findings in this month's edition of the Zootaxa journal.

    It is the third new species of lizard recently discovered in the area.

    NY Senate, Bloomberg Reach Deal On Mayoral Control

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (File) State Senate Democrats say there's a deal to resolve how New York City schools are governed, reauthorizing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's authority over the school system, the Associated Press reports. Three Senate officials familiar with negotiations, including a Democratic senator, say the deal Bloomberg's camp helped negotiate will create a $1.7 million training center for parents to give them support and a method for participating in the school system.

    Hoboken Mayor Proclaims Innocence, Won't Step Down

    Hoboken, N.J., Mayor Peter Cammarano was among many public officials and others arrested by federal agents involved in a corruption  investigation, July 23, 2009.

    Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III is proclaiming his innocence and says he will not step down from office despite being one of the 44 suspects arrested in a major federal corruption investigation on Thursday. "The charges that are leveled against me in a federal court are completely baseless, and I deny any wrongdoing in connection with the allegations taht are contained in that complaint," he said Friday.

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