The ‘anti-blasphemy’ bill was submitted to the Russian parliament’s lower house in September, in the wake of infamous case against the punk band Pussy Riot.The draft law – bitterly criticized by rights activists and lawyers – passed first reading in April when MPs voted to add a new article to the Russian Penal Code.Under the bill, public insults and humiliation of divine services as well as believers’ feelings was to be punished with a fine of up to 300,000 roubles ($US 9,500), up to 200 hours of forced labor or up to three years in prison. Vandalism and desecration of holy sites would cost the offender up to 500,000 roubles (over $US 15,000) or up to 5 years behind bars.Ahead of the second out of three required readings, the Duma’s committee on law worked out amendments to the legislation. The initial idea to add a new article to the code was dropped. Instead, lawmakers suggest amending the existing Article 148 (‘Obstruction of the Exercise of the Right of Liberty of Conscience and Religious Liberty’).The committee also changed the wording of bill which has been slammed by opponents for being too loose and could therefore lead to outrage.Now, if new version of the bill is passed, a person could be sent to court for “public actions which indicate obvious disrespect towards society and aimed at insulting believers’ religious feelings.” An offender would have to pay up to 300,000 roubles in fines, or a sum of money equivalent to their two years’ salary. One could also be sentenced to up to 240 hours of compulsory community service or up to a year in jail.The Duma committee also proposes that these offenses committed in places for religious ceremonies or services must be subject to fines of up to 500,000 roubles ($US15,000), or a sum of money equivalent to offenders salary for up to 3 years. Alternatively, violators may face up to 480 hours of compulsory community service or up to three years in prison.Besides that, the lawmakers recommended to toughen criminal liability for illegal obstruction of activities of religious organizations or administration of religious ceremonies. Such violations must be subject to fines of up to 300,000 roubles. If committed by an official or with the use of force, such crimes could be punished with up to one year behind bars.The idea to protect believers’ feelings by the law was prompted by a large number of sacrilegious situations and events that took place in 2012. Apart from infamous Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” staged in the Moscow’s main cathedral, there were also desecration of icons, the Nazi and Satanist graffiti in churches and synagogues and cutting down of memorial Orthodox crosses in various Russian regions. …
The confession specifically named US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq as motives for the attack, and called the Boston Marathon bombing victims ‘collateral damage’ in the same vein that Muslim civilians had been killed in American led wars, CBS news reports.”When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims,” the note allegedly added. Dzhokhar reportedly declared he did not mourn the death of his older brother Tamerlan – the other suspect in the bombings, who died from injured received during a shootout with police – saying he was already a martyr in paradise. Dzhokhar added that he expected to join his brother in the afterlife. Law enforcement sources told the network the wall the note had been scribbled on was riddled with bullet holes. Police unloaded a volley of shots after Dzhokhar lifted up the tarpaulin, claiming they feared he had another bomb. He had sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was severely bleeding from injuries to his left ear, neck and thigh. Initial reports said his neck wound was possibly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a botched suicide attempt, though it was later revealed that Dzhokhar was unarmed when captured in Suburban Watertown Massachusetts on April 19. His arrest followed a massive manhunt which brought the greater Boston area to a standstill. Police say the contents of the confession mirror many of the things he communicated to investigators while recovering from his injuries at a hospital several days later. The confession will be admissible in court. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is currently convalescing in a federal prison hospital in Massachusetts and has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the deadly attack which killed three people and injured 264 near the marathon finish line on April 15.If found guilty, he could face the death penalty. …
Senior White House officials leaked word of the plan to the Washington Post just days after Obama decried what he saw as the Assad regime’s “willingness to escalate its horrific use of violence” on the Syrian people but claimed that Washington was exhausting all available options before deciding whether to aid the insurgency.The Obama administration has increased its attempts to sway Russian President Vladimir Putin from his position of non-intervention in Syria. US Secretary of State John F. Kerry is planning a trip to Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation with Putin before a scheduled meeting between the two presidents in June.During a news conference Tuesday Obama told reporters he needed to “make sure I’ve got the facts…If we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, we can find ourselves in a position where we can’t mobilize the international community to support” increased pressure on the Assad government.Obama’s comments, combined with snippets from his subordinates, could be interpreted as a not-so-subtle reference to the disastrous US invasion of Iraq in 2003.“We’re clearly on an upward trajectory,” a senior Obama official told the Washington Post. “We’ve moved over to assistance that has a direct military purpose.”It was not revealed what type of military action the US is considering, but the results of a New York Times/CBS News poll reveal that 62 per cent of the American public thinks the US has no responsibility to get involved in the Syrian conflict.Still, the unnamed senior official reportedly said that Obama has “not closed the door to other military actions” and that the US decision-makers are “reviewing all options.” The White House has steadily moved toward militarizing the rebels in recent months, first saying it would provide food and medical supplies then announcing body armor and night-vision goggles would be sent.Last week Obama told reporters the US knows chemical weapons were used in Syria, although it’s unclear in what capacity and by whom. He said the only solution is Assad’s resignation.“I think it’s important to understand that for several years now what we’ve been seeing is a slowly unfolding disaster for the Syrian people,” Obama said. “And this is not a situation which we’ve been simply bystanders to what’s been happening. My policy from the beginning has been that President Assad had lost credibility, that he attacked his own people, has killed his own people, unleashed a military against innocent civilians and that the only way to bring stability and peace for Syria is going to be for Assad to step down.” …
http://www.youtube.com/v/5D9EFvVuizQ?version=3&f=videos&app=youtube_gdata Read the article: CrossTalk: Whistleblowers Endangered Species?
North Korea is “skating very close to a dangerous line” with its heated rhetoric and provocative actions, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters Wednesday. The United States and its allies hoped Pyongyang would tone down its inflammatory language but the American military was…
The compelling interest in the public knowing that a high-ranking public official has taken part in highly controversial and perhaps even illegal actions, in the view of these news outlets, is apparently outweighed by their duty, as they see it, to keep the government’s secrets. …
A study out of Harvard
calculates that the combined Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost
the United States between
$4 to $6 trillion after future medical costs for veterans is
factored in. Good luck paying for that, children of tomorrow!
President Barack Obama is moving forward with his
promised executive actions to bolster gun control policies even
as new regulations in the Senate face a tough road.
Outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says it’s a
“done deal” for Chicago to get a
$100 million federal loan to build six blocks worth of
recreational activity along the Chicago River downtown. Remember
that when the state goes crawling to the feds for a pension
National Public Radio’s famous Talk
of the Nation show will be ending after 21 years at the
end of June.
The EPA is looking to for gasoline manufacturers to
reduce sulfur and nitrogen oxides in their products to curb air
pollution. It will also, obviously, increase gas prices.
Union interests in California are looking to expand their
reach. Shocking, we know.
The targets this time are interpreters who work with the
state’s medical program for low-income families. The goal is to get
these interpreters to pay union dues and also guarantee them $60 an
hour in pay.
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