Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Afghan police: Man kills wife for giving birth to daughter instead of son

Kunduz, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Police in the northern Afghanistan province of Kunduz are looking for a man they say strangled his wife after she bore him a third child that was not a son.

Sher Mohammed, 29, married his 22-year-old wife, Storay, four years ago, police said.

The couple had three daughters, the last of whom was born three months ago, said Khanabad district police chief Sufi Habib.

After the youngest daughter was born, Mohammed blamed his wife for not being able to deliver a boy, Habib said.

"Finally on Saturday, the man, with the help of his mother, first beat the woman and then strangled her to death," the police chief said.

Khanabad is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Kunduz city.

olice arrested the mother, Wali Hazrata, and detained her at the Kunduz city jail. But her son fled.

In a jailhouse interview, Hazrata said her son's wife committed suicide out of guilt.

"My son did not commit the crime," Hazrata said. "... But after three daughters, Storay herself felt guilty and committed suicide."

The report comes weeks after Afghan police said they rescued a 15-year-old girl who was locked up in the basement of her in-laws' house, starved, and had her nails pulled out.

The girl, Sahar Gul, was married off to a 30-year-old man last year. Authorities in northern Baghlan province said the girl reportedly was tortured after she refused to submit to prostitution.

Activists say women continue to suffer in parts of Afghanistan despite overall progress since the fall of the Taliban.

In the second quarter of last year, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) registered 1,026 cases of violence against women. In 2010, it recorded 2,700 cases.

In December, gunmen attacked and sprayed an Afghan family with acid in their home after the father rejected a man's bid to marry his teenage daughter.

In another case, a 21-year-old, identified only as Gulnaz for her own protection, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after she reported that her cousin's husband had raped her.

Her plight attracted international attention when it came out that she had agreed to marry her attacker to gain her freedom and legitimize a daughter conceived in the attack. She was eventually freed, following President Hamid Karzai's intervention.

Horia Mosadiq, a London-based Afghan researcher for the rights group Amnesty International, said the abuse inflicted on Storay Mohammed is not an isolated instance.

"Generally the human rights situation, and particularly women's rights, is deteriorating," she told CNN. "I am in constant contact with women's rights groups across the country, and they say they are seeing an increase in violence."

This is in part because the Afghan government does little to implement or enforce the laws that protect women's rights, she said.

She also sees it as a consequence of women across the country gaining greater awareness of their rights, which is leading both to a backlash from men and to more cases of violence being reported.

On top of that, the Afghan government's move toward peace and reconciliation talks with the Taliban has led many people to think the current oppression of women will simply continue as it is, Mosadiq said.

"We need to make sure that we protect the women -- it's so important that women's rights in Afghanistan are non-negotiable," she said.

The alleged involvement of Storay Mohammed's mother-in-law in her abuse is not unusual, Mosadiq added, as women often play a role in violence against other women within the family, as do husbands, fathers and brothers.

And there is a heavy cultural pressure to bear sons, who are viewed as the breadwinners, she said, with the birth of a daughter seen as a burden rather than something to celebrate.

If the situation of Afghan women is to improve, Mosadiq said, a strong political will is needed at the government level, backed up by strong pressure from the international community.

"Where (the international community) puts so much pressure and focus on a military solution, they should also think about the protection of the Afghan people and Afghan women," she said.


Iraqi vice president predicts return to sectarian violence

Irbil, Iraq (CNN) -- Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has lashed out at Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, predicting that Iraq could soon return to widespread sectarian violence that could require the return of U.S. forces.

"Al-Maliki is pushing my country to reach a turning point with deeply sectarian dimension," the Sunni vice president told CNN on Sunday during an interview in the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north, where he has fled so that government forces loyal to the Shiite prime minister cannot execute an arrest warrant for him on charges of running a death squad.

He expressed concern that Americans "will face the same problem as they faced in 2003," when a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq, toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein and unleashing a wave of sectarian violence.

And he said he did not understand how U.S. President Barack Obama is able to characterize Iraq as a free, stable and democratic country.

"What sort of Iraq we are talking about?" he asked. "How the Americans will feel proud? How the American administration is going to justify to the taxpayer the billion of dollars that has been spent and at the end of the day the American saying, 'Sorry, we have no leverage even to put things in order in Iraq'?"

Though Iraq's instability may not affect this year's election campaign in the United States, "it is going to affect the American interest in the region, and they should be very much concern about that," al-Hashimi said. "The future of Iraq is grim."

The arrest warrant for al-Hashimi was issued last year, days after the Sunni majority bloc Iraqiya suspended its participation in Parliament amid that claims it was being cut out of the political process. The bloc ended that boycott on Sunday as a "gesture of goodwill." But a separate boycott of the Cabinet remains in place.
Iraqi VP: Sectarian violence to return

Al-Hashimi denied the charges against him as politically motivated. He accused al-Maliki of having "put my home and my office under siege" during the three months before he fled to the Dokan resort about 400 km (250 miles) north of Baghdad.

"I kept patient on that, hoping that al-Maliki is going to behave sensibly sometime, and things aggravated," al-Hashimi said.

Asked whether al-Maliki is becoming a dictator, al-Hashimi was blunt: "What sort of explanation could I give for a real and serious power consolidation?" he asked. "What could the average Iraqi people or the American citizen ... say for the prime minister to be chief in command, the minister of defense, the minister of interior and the chief of the national security?"

The charges appear to have been based on the confessions of three security guards for al-Hashimi. Iraqi state-run TV has aired video of the men's confessions. CNN cannot independently verify their identities.

An official in al-Hashimi's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, has said the men may have confessed under duress.

In one confession, a man detailed roadside bombings and shootings that targeted government and security officials in 2009. He said orders at times came directly from al-Hashimi and at times through his son-in-law, Ahmed Qahtan, who is a senior member of his staff.

The man alleged that the vice president thanked him after a number of attacks.

The man in the video said al-Hashimi ordered him to map out security locations and checkpoints for the Baghdad Brigade, which protects the Green Zone. He said he was speaking out to "clear his conscience" and "expose this criminal."

Since October, Iraqi security forces have rounded up hundreds of people accused of being members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party or terrorists. The Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition says most of them belong to its political bloc and that the prime minister is simply taking out his opponents.

The political turmoil in Iraq has raised concerns in Washington, with officials saying they are monitoring the reports about the arrest warrant.

"We are talking to all of the parties. We've expressed our concern regarding these developments. We're urging all political sides in Iraq to work out their differences peaceably, politically, through dialogue, and certainly in a manner that is consistent with democratic political processes and international standards of rule of law," Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in December.


Petition tells Apple: We want an 'ethical' iPhone 5

A new online petition is demanding that Apple clean up its act overseas in time to make its next iPhone "the first ethical iPhone."

Watchdog group SumOfUs last week put up a petition asking Apple to "make the iPhone 5 ethically," referring to the company's use of overseas manufacturing from companies such as Foxconn, which have recently come under fire for their working conditions and practices.

The petition, which the group says garnered more than 35,000 signatures in its first 24 hours, asks Apple to "overhaul the way its suppliers treat their workers," ahead of the release of its next smartphone, which is expected later this year.

"Can Apple do this? Absolutely," the petition reads. "According to an anonymous Apple executive quoted in The New York Times, all Apple has to do is demand it, and it'll happen."

Overseas manufacturers came under fire last week with a pair of investigative stories published by The New York Times that lambasted Apple for poor worker labor and safety issues in its supplier facilities, as well as using cut-throat business practices that prohibited those manufacturers from making improvements.

Apple did not respond to the reports in the press, though an internal memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook that leaked last week argued to employees that "any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us."

"If Tim Cook is really offended by these allegations, why isn't he doing anything to fix the problems?" Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfUs, asked in a statement. "This is the supply chain he set up as COO--he needs to start taking responsibility, not blaming the messenger."

This is the latest in a series of petitions targeting Apple, though it is less product-focused. One that launched early last year called on the company to remove a homophobic application from the App Store, a move that resulted in it getting pulled. Two others just a few months ago took aim at the company for the Siri voice assistant application on the iPhone 4S not being able to direct users towards an abortion clinic, which Apple referred to as a "glitch."


Megaupload Server Purge Delayed

A scheduled purging of Megaupload’s data was tentatively shelved Tuesday to give its millions of account holders an opportunity to attempt to retrieve their content from the file-sharing service, whose top officials were indicted on criminal copyright charges.

The authorities shuttered the Hong Kong-based site Jan. 19, and indicted seven of its top officials in what the Justice Department said was “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.”

As part of its prosecution, the government had copied an undisclosed amount of data from Megaupload’s servers in the United States.

The entire contents of Megaupload were set to be purged later this week by Carpathia and Cogent, two of Megaupload’s U.S.-based server hosts. The United States has frozen Megaupload’s assets, and it has been unable to pay its hosting bill, said Ira Rothken, Megaupload’s attorney.

Rothken said in a telephone interview he is negotiating with the government to unfreeze Megaupload assets to keep Megaupload’s servers active so the company can “deliver consumer data back to consumers.” He said the two companies have agreed not to purge data for at least two weeks.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said Tuesday it would assist those attempting to retrieve their data, but could not promise results to the estimated 150 million account holders.

Julie Samuels, an EFF attorney, said in a telephone interview it was unclear what data the authorities copied from Megaupload’s servers, and said it was too early to say what access the authorities have to data uploaded by individual account holders.

Jay Prabhu, chief of the Justice Department’s Cybercrime Unit, said in a court filing that search warrants authorized the government to seize “selected data.”

Megaupload’s terms of service inform account holders that they “have no proprietary interest in any of the files on Megaupload’s servers” and that “Megaupload can terminate site operations without prior notice.”

The government said the site facilitated copyright infringement of movies “often before their theatrical release, music, television programs, electronic books, and business and entertainment software on a massive scale.” The government said Megaupload”s “estimated harm” to copyright holders was “well in excess of $500 million.”

A five-count indictment from the Eastern District of Virginia was unsealed two weeks ago, when the Justice Department said it seized 18 domains in all connected to Megaupload. The agency said it executed more than 20 search warrants in the United States and eight countries, seizing $50 million in assets.

Megaupload, which often charges its 150 million registered members for its file-sharing service, was on the recording and movie industries’ most-hated lists, often being accusing of facilitating wanton infringement of their members’ copyrights. The indictment claims it induced users to upload copyrighted works for others to download, and that it often failed to comply with removal notices from rights holders under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

According to the indictment, the defendants generated revenue through subscriptions and online advertising. Subscriptions cost as “little as a few dollars a day” or $260 per lifetime. The indictment claimed the site took in $150 million in subscription fees overall and $25 million in advertising over a five-year period.

Among the indicted, they include:

*Kim Dotcom, 37, of New Zealand and Hong Kong, Megaupload founder.
*Finn Batato, 38, of Germany, chief marketing officer.
*Julius Bencko, 35, of Slovakia, graphic designer.
*Sven Echternach, 39, of Germany, head of business development.
*Mathias Ortmann, 40, of Germany and Hong Kong, chief technical officer co-founder and director.
*Andrus Nomm, 32, of Turkey and Estonia, software programmer.
*Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, of the Netherlands and New Zealand, programmer.

Dotcom, van der Kolk, Batato and Ortmann all were denied bail last week in Auckland, New Zealand, where they were arrested. The government is seeking to extradite them to the United States. The others remain at large.


Luba Shumeyko

Monday, January 30, 2012

Credit vs Debit

4 reasons to use credit cards versus debit cards


With all of the recent hype over Suze Orman's new debt card, it's no wonder why many folks think it's better to use a debit card versus a credit card. But for many folks that would be a mistake. The obvious reason many folks do this is to avoid getting into debt on a credit card and the high interest rates and fees that apply when you carry a balance. But if you resolve to never carry a balance, then a credit card is a far superior purchasing tool than any debit card, for the following reasons:

Protect from fraud: When you make a purchase with a credit card, there is a firewall between your bank account and the vendor. First, there is a federal law that provides protections unique to credit cards. Then there is this example: When you purchase something on your credit card, a bank issuing the credit card makes the payment to the vendor. You are obligated to pay the bank only after you are in agreement that the charge is legit and that the item or service you bought was delivered as agreed. But make a transaction with a debit card and the payment is immediately deducted from your bank account. Federal laws and bank's policies include some protections from fraudulent or unauthorized transactions due to debit card theft. But debt card use can be riskier than using a credit card. This is because before a questionable transaction is sorted out, the money is taken from your bank account. In the meantime, if your account is depleted because of this, any checks written could bounce. For this reason, I would never use a debit card to make a purchase online.

Build credit history: Responsible use of credit cards is one of the most effective ways to build a good credit record. Consumers who don't own a credit card have average credit scores that are lower as compared to folks with at least one card, according to Credit Karma, a consumer website that provides free credit scores. The fact is, many folks will need credit when it comes time to buy a car or a house. So you want to have a good credit history and credit score. And you can only get that by having used credit responsibly and repaid a credit account on time. According to credit experts, debit cards - which are simply a card substitute for paying by check - have zero impact on your credit score.

Rent cars and book hotels: It can be difficult to rent a car without a credit card. Some hotels may not book a reservation on a debit card, and those that do often place a hold of several hundred dollars, which freezes that money in your bank account, making your available bank account balance lower, which can cause incoming checks to bounce.

Get rewards and benefits: Finally, there are the credit card benefits and rewards programs that come with credit cards, which include frequent flyer miles, gift card rewards, college savings and other programs. Some credit cards provide good rates on foreign currency conversions, so these are a good option to use when traveling in a foreign country. Many credit cards also double the manufacturer's warranty when the item is purchased on the card, making credit cards a good payment option when buying and shipping gifts in the consumer electronics category.

But when folks get into credit card debt and can't pay off their balances, the fees and interest they pay will almost always outweigh these rewards and benefits.

more @ http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505146_162-57365965/4-reasons-to-use-credit-cards-versus-debit-cards/?tag=nl.e713

Stay focused at work

Losing focus? 9 ways to concentrate at work


Over the past few decades, attention deficit disorder has been recognized in schools; most good educators are aware of what is needed to help students succeed despite symptoms that include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. But dealing with attention issues in high school and college is different from coping with them in an office.

"While there are excellent support services available and many accommodations available on campus, this is less likely to be the case at work. Although the ADA offers some protection through requiring the employer to provide 'reasonable accommodations,' this is a lengthy, difficult process to achieve in the workplace and many employers are [resistant]," says Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., Director of the Chesapeake ADHD Center of Maryland and co-author of ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life.

Here are some tips, from Nadeau and her co-author, professional organizer Judith Kolberg, for anyone who feels his or her attention isn't where it needs to be. While Nadeau and Kolberg are focused on helping people who have an actual diagnosis of ADD, their advice can help all of us navigate the onslaught of distractions at the office.

Change your scenery

Between your TV, your smartphone, and your office cube, life can get redundant and feel like a collection of boxes -- and this can cause your mind to wander. "For ADDers, the lack of diversity of surroundings in offices can be especially tough. I always encourage my clients to get out of the building, take a walk, have a conversation, and move," says Kolberg.

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Help your manager help you

Suggest concrete, unobtrusive solutions to your direct supervisor, says Nadaeu. For instance, instead of complaining that you need a quieter working environment, ask if you can work in the conference room when it's empty. Or ask to schedule a weekly check-in meeting with your boss to show you're motivated -- not that you need help.

Carry a pen and pad with you

If you take notes constantly, you won't forget things as they get thrown at you. "ADDers have trouble keeping things in mind, an issue called 'weak working memory.' Details, work assignments, reminders, to do tasks -- much of it verbal. No ADD client of mine ever walks around without a way to capture flying bits of information," says Kolberg. If pad and pen seems too old-school, use your smartphone or even a service like Jott, which converts voice messages to a text message, suggest Kolberg. You can also ask people to put details in a quick email.

Overestimate how long it takes to do things

In an office, other people are relying on you to do something in a timely way. It's imperative to finish those tasks on time so as not to inconvenience others. "I tell my ADD clients every task will take them longer than they think so don't make false promises to begin with. I remind that ADD can devastate executive functions like time assessment, prioritizing, and follow through," says Kolberg.

Find your own best coping practices

Specific ways of dealing will vary person to person, says Kolberg: "Make your work fit you. Sometimes its best to read a report out loud, analyze data on a big white board, and do internet research with a timer on so you don't fall into a black hole."

Celebrate your successes

"ADDers can have a pretty low tolerance of frustration," says Kolberg. Being perpetually frustrated can make you feel like you're bad at your job -- even when you're not. Regularly reviewing what you've done right can give you a clearer view of your value.

Pair up with a partner

Whether you're self-employed or work for a corporation, finding a partner or team to work with can help you stay on track, says Nadeau. If you work from home as a freelancer, you might consider joining an office space with others who can help you stay on task.

Choose a career you're very interested in

This is an obvious tip for any recent grad, but especially important if you have attention issues. "Interest can lead to hyper-focus -- one of the unsung advantages of ADHD -- which can lead to superlative performance," says Nadeau.

Get professional help

These tips can all help -- again, whether you have a diagnosis of ADD or not -- but a doctor and/or coach can target a plan for someone who's struggling. "Some people have the misunderstanding that medication is only for school years and should be discontinued after graduation. Working with a coach can [also] be tremendously helpful," says Nadeau. These experts can tailor a plan devised specifically for you and your working environment.

Jada Fire