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Posts tagged ‘Travel and Tourism’

Putin to Pardon Jailed Tycoon Khodorkovsky.

Image: Putin to Pardon Jailed Tycoon KhodorkovskyA demonstrator holds a portrait of Mikhail Khodorkovsky during a rally marking the 50th birthday of Russia’s former richest man in Moscow on June 26.

MOSCOWPresident Vladimir Putin is to pardon one of his best known opponents, jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in what may be a gesture to critics of his human rights record before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics.

Putin made the announcement that he would soon free Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, after a marathon news conference in which he exuded confidence that he has reasserted his authority in the face of street protests.

Editor’s NotePutin Looks to Build on Foreign Policy Successes
Khodorkovsky, 50, spectacularly fell out with Putin a decade ago and had his Yukos oil company dissolved following his arrest on fraud and tax evasion charges in 2003.

He became Putin’s nemesis, a symbol of what investors say is the Kremlin‘s abuse of the courts for political ends — and share prices rose in Moscow on the news he would be pardoned.

Putin has long singled out Khodorkovsky, who would be due for release in August, for bitter personal attacks, once saying that “a thief should sit in jail.”

On Thursday, he said: “He has been in jail already more than 10 years. This is a serious punishment.”

Saying that Khodorkovsky’s mother was ill, he added: “I decided that, with these circumstances in mind, we should make a decision to pardon him.”

Russian stocks rose by 1.3 percent after Putin’s comment, even though his lawyers and mother said he had not asked for a pardon. One of the lawyers said, however, that Putin did not need a pardon request to release him from prison.

Investors had long seen the treatment of a man who built a business empire on the ruins of Soviet communism as evidence of the weakness of property rights and the rule of law in Russia.

Supporters say Khodorkovsky was jailed to curb a political challenge to Putin, bring his oil assets under state control and send a signal to other wealthy “oligarchs” to toe the line. His assets were sold off, mainly into state hands.

In the eyes of Kremlin critics at home and abroad, Khodorkovsky’s jailing is one of the biggest stains on the record of Putin, who was first elected president in 2000 and has not ruled out seeking another six-year term in 2018.

Khodorkovsky’s mother, Marina, who will turn 80 next year, said she had just heard the reports and was unaware of a request for a pardon.

“I want to believe he will pardon him,” she told Reuters. “I want to believe Putin is not totally lost.”

Khodorkovsky is due for release in August. But he has previously had his jail term extended on other charges and analysts have said Putin would allow Khodorkovsky to walk free only if he no longer regarded him as a political threat.

Editor’s Note: North Korea’s Brutal Purge Raises Serious Security Questions 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Thousands Gather for 1Nation1Day in Honduras.

The government of Honduras gathered this weekend with thousands of people, leading pastors and civic leaders for the first government transformation session for national change.

The government of Honduras—including the department of governments, the military, the police and judicial departments—gathered this weekend with thousands of people, leading pastors and civic leaders for the first government transformation session for national change.

Missions.Me, founded by Dominic Russo, organized 1Nation1Day, a project that has attracted the largest foreign missions team in history, in Honduras. The event, which took place Friday and Saturday, was declared a national holiday by the nation’s president.

Myles Munroe was a special guest at the event Friday and delivered the powerful message “Transforming Politicians Into Leaders.” Honduras President Lobo Sosa has invited Munroe to return to the country to continue his training.

About 10,000 people attended Munroe’s session, where he saw the spirit of kingdom transformation fill the arena. Members of Honduras’ military rose to their feet in response to his message, after which he led the crowd in prayer.



PHOTONEWS: 9 Month Old Baby Boy Killed In Accra Shack Fire.

A 9 month old baby was burnt to death Sunday night in Accra, Ghana after a  candle lit by the mother of the child caught fire in the wooden shack in which the family resides at Odona market in Nkrumah Circle in Accra

The parents of the baby boy who were roadside hawkers could not save the 9 months old baby; also there was no sign of fire officials or police  on the scene of the incident  several hours after the tragedy.

When our reporter arrived the scene the mother of the baby boy had taken off afraid that she might be attacked for causing the fire. However, the father collapsed on the floor unable to speak to sympathizers that besieged the scene.

Dozens Feared Dead in Russian Psychiatric Hospital Fire.

RAMENSKY, Russia — At least 36 people were feared dead after a fire raged through a psychiatric hospital north of Moscow on Friday, killing some patients in their beds and others who were trapped by barred windows.

The fire broke out in the early hours and swept through a single-story building at the hospital in woods in the village of Ramensky, officials said.

Twelve bodies had been found by mid-morning, the Emergencies Ministry said, as gray smoke billowed from the charred yellow-brick building.

Andrei Vorobyov, interim governor of the Moscow region, said a nurse had led two patients to safety. He said 36 others were believed to have been in the hospital when the fire broke out, but another local official said 38 were feared dead.

“Those who were in there said it happened in a flash. The nurse opened the door to the room and there was smoke, and even when she saw the fire she could not get to the fire extinguisher. It all happened very quickly,” he told Russia 24 television.

He said some windows had been barred to meet regulations while others had not, so the investigators would be able to determine whether they had prevented people from escaping.

“Obviously, all the patients were sleeping and they were sick people . . . so they would have needed help to get out,” he said, adding that the nearest fire station was a 40-minute drive away.

President Vladimir Putin called for an explanation of the “tragedy” and told emergency services to do all they could to help.

Fires at state institutions in Russia such as hospitals, schools, drug treatment centers, and homes for the elderly or disabled often cause casualties, raising questions about safety measures, conditions and escape routes.

Dmitry Pestov, deputy head of the Moscow region, said 41 people had been in the building but three had been saved and were in hospital.

“Fire safety watchdogs constantly check all [public] institutions and issue recommendations. As far as I know, all the recommendations had been followed,” he told reporters outside the hospital which still smoldered. “There are different versions, including arson and a short circuit. They will be checked.”

Some people stood on the opposite bank of the Moscow canal from the hospital, trying to get across to check whether their relatives had survived. The police had stopped the ferry and fishing boats were not allowed to cross.

“They are not letting the relatives in. Why? How can we get there?” said Konstantin, whose father was in the hospital, which is about 120 kilometers (70 miles) north of Moscow. “Living conditions? It was a slum in there. No conditions.”

More than 12,000 people were killed in fires in 2011 and more than 7,700 in the first nine months of 2012 in Russia, where the per capita death rate from fires is much higher than in Western nations including the United States.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

On This Day: Sri Lanka gains independence.

February 4: The proud island nation of Sri Lanka gained its full independence on this day back in 1948.

Then called Ceylon, the new constitution took effect after rising public pressure for change following the end of the Second World War.

During the war the island had served as an important base for the Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire.

It was Don Senanayake who held the honour of becoming the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

In the British Pathé video (which has no sound) Mr Senanayake can be seen  walking across the parade ground in Colombo alongside Prince Henry and the Duke of Goucester, while the Duchess of Gloucester watches on.

He raises the flag of the newly-independent nation in a ceremony full of pomp and pageantry, cheered on by thousands of jubilant islanders.

The day is now marked every year with much dancing, singing and performances that showcase the island’s national unity and fascinating culture.


Yahoo! NewsYahoo! News 

AG Pastor Dragged, Beaten in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka
(Mayakaru )

A national Assemblies of God pastor and his wife were viciously attacked by a mob in Sri Lanka after being accused of “spreading Christianity.”

According to reports, the pastor, who is also a regional presbyter, and his wife went to visit a church member. On their way home, they were suddenly cut off by an SUV, and a mob of about 40 people surrounded them. Grabbing the pastor, they dragged him along the ground and beat him, accusing him of spreading Christianity.

The pastor and his wife were then dragged to the home they had just left. The angry mob demanded the church member and her daughter tell how much the pastor paid them to convert to Christianity. Despite the family’s adamant claims that they had been a Christians a long time and made the decision voluntarily, the mob beat the pastor again.

Although the pastor and his wife managed to escape and alert authorities, their ID cards and the pastor’s mobile phone, Bible and other documents were stolen during the assault. Several church members whose phone numbers were stored on the pastor’s phone have since received calls from a person pretending to be the pastor, asking them to meet him at various locations. The ID cards have been returned, but the phone and Bible are still missing.

“Dreadful scenes like this are tragically becoming all too common in many areas of the world,” says Omar Beiler, AG World Missions regional director for Eurasia. “This pastor, his wife, their children and their entire church family are in desperate need of our prayers.”

This was not the first attack on the pastor and his family. Unknown assailants attacked the pastor’s home Aug. 1, using clubs to smash all the windows. Although no one was injured, the incident left the couple’s children, ages 14, 10 and 8, traumatized and fearful, and glass fell on the 10-week-old baby’s bed while the child slept.

Greg Mundis, AG World Missions executive director, says that about 500 Christians are in that area of Sri Lanka, but Christians throughout the country–as well as in other areas of the world–are also beingpersecuted.

“We are receiving reports more frequently of believers who are being persecuted and even killed in many countries of the world,” Mundis says. “We must respond to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for the sake of the gospel. It is both our responsibility to pray for them and advocate on their behalf.”



Sixteen dead in South Africa bus crash.

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Sixteen people were killed in a collision between two buses in South Africa’s remote Eastern Cape province on Saturday, the latest in a string of public transport tragedies in the continent’s biggest economy.

SAPA news agency said four people were seriously injured. One of the buses was carrying schoolchildren to an event near the town of Cradock, 700 km (440 miles) south of Johannesburg. It was not known how many of the dead were youngsters.

Even though it is Africa‘s wealthiest country, South Africa has a dire road-safety record, with poor driving or unreliable vehicles mostly to blame.

Twenty people were killed when a bus careered off a highway near Johannesburg in June, and 26 died earlier this month when a freight train ploughed into a truck carrying farm workers over a level-crossing.

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Mark Heinrich)



Boat carrying 200 capsizes between Indonesia and Australia.

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A boat carrying about 200 suspected asylum seekers has capsized in Indonesian waters 120 nautical miles north of Australia’s Christmas Island, rescue officials said on Thursday.

An Australian customs spokesman said border protection had detected what was believed to be a people-smuggling boat in distress earlier on Thursday.

The sinking occurred within Indonesia‘s search and rescue zone and Australian authorities were offering assistance, Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority said.

An Australian defense force aircraft had spotted survivors in the water, Sky News reported.

Refugees seeking asylum in Australia often set sail from Indonesia heading for Christmas Island in dangerous and overcrowded boats.

Fifty asylum seekers travelling from Indonesia to Christmas Island died when a storm dashed their boat onto rocks in December 2010.

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast Editing by Jeremy Laurence)



Amsterdam’s oldest home discovered at 527 years.

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  • People walk through the red-light district, known as De Wallen, in Amsterdam, in 2011. A 527-year-old home that is believed to be the oldest in Amsterdam has been discovered in the red-light district, officials said Saturday (AFP Photo/Koen van Weel)People walk through the red-light …

A 527-year-old home that is believed to be the oldest in Amsterdam has been discovered in the city’s famous red-light district, officials said Saturday.

“We have discovered what is believed (to be) Amsterdam’s oldest home, dating back to 1485,” Boudewijn Oranje, an alderman for the city centre, told AFP.

The wooden structure of the historic house, situated in the Old Side district, lay hidden behind a facade built in the 1800s.

Two years ago, a fire broke out in the building used as a bar, causing extensive damage, Oranje said.

“A council inspector afterwards noticed that there was something special to the heavy wooden structure, which was barely damaged. Samples were taken and sent for testing in Germany,” he said.

The tests revealed the home dated back to the 15th century.

Until now, Amsterdam’s oldest home was believed to have dated from 1530, situated about a kilometre away.

Called the “wallen”, the Dutch word for the banks of the city’s old canals, the red-light district has been around since the 1400s, with prostitutes doing business with visiting sailors and tourists ever since.



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