Reports and breaking news

Iranian President Stumbles at Polls

...There were also elections last Friday for the 86-member Assembly of Experts, an all-mullah body that appoints, for a life term, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. (The current Supreme Leader is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.) In those elections, Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, fanatical fundamentalist Ayatollah Mohammed-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, came in sixth. Mesbah-Yazdi, who appears frequently in public with Ahmadinejad, is the de facto head of the Hojatieh—a secretive society, founded in the 1950s to purge Iran of the minority Baha'i faith—which has since become a redoubt of the most hard-line homophobic fundamentalists.

According to Agence France-Presse, Mesbah-Yazdi has aggressively argued for increased use of public floggings and executions for homosexuality as "immoral behavior," saying both forms of punishment are a "fundamental principle" of Islam.

"If the Westerners do not like it, that is their problem," he was quoted as saying, "but the death penalty and the use of flogging are fundamental principles of our religion."

{josquote}First place in the elections for the Assembly of Experts went to former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani...{/josquote}

There have been reports that Ahmadinejad's mentor wanted to use last Friday's elections as a springboard to eventually replace Ayatollah Khameini as Supreme Leader, but Mesbah-Yazdi's poor showing suggests that was a still-born wish. First place in the elections for the Assembly of Experts went to former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, beaten by Ahmadinejad in last year's presidential race; he was re-elected to the Assembly with 1.56 million votes, well ahead of the 880,000 votes garnered by Mesbah-Yazdi. However, when Rafsanjani was president he was shunned by Iranian reformers, who considered him a part of the conservative establishment....

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Promotions, pay rises, honours

How the key players in the Kelly scandal were rewarded

The politicians and officials at the heart of the David Kelly scandal have been showered with honours, promotions or lucrative retirement jobs in the three years since the scientist's death.

While the Kelly family continue to mourn quietly in private, The Mail on Sunday today reveals how the men and women who share the blame for his demise have prospered.

On the eve of the third anniversary of the Hutton Report into the affair, an investigation charts the upward career paths of figures central to the inquiry who were called to give evidence or played a major part from behind the scenes.

The senior officials accused of covering up No. 10's manipulation of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have gone on to be rewarded with some of the most glamorous jobs in the public sector.

Meanwhile, the Labour chairmen of the Commons committees that failed to probe the bogus Government dossiers on Saddam Hussein have been placed in the House of Lords.

And Alastair Campbell, the spin doctor whom critics accuse of tampering with intelligence and whipping up the hysteria that led to the scientist's alleged suicide, now stands to make an estimated £1 million from his memoirs.

Even junior and middle-ranking officials who were caught up in the political tornado have been recognised by the honours system and given significant promotions.

The research was carried out by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who is probing the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly in July 2003.

Mr Baker said: "Nobody in Government came out of this episode with any credit or integrity. Yet, three years after the Hutton Inquiry, the principal players in the drama of the death of David Kelly - those who backed the Government or cravenly caved in to No. 10's demands - have prospered handsomely."

Meanwhile, the men who stood up to the Establishment have not fared so well.

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UGA will accept frat, but no bias

Brothers Under Christ - a formal group photo

University of Georgia officials agreed Thursday to accept a Christian fraternity as an official student organization, allowing the group to require its members to be Christian, as long as the fraternity agrees not to discriminate based on age, race, color, class, nationality, sexual orientation or disability.

Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX) or Brothers Under Christ, sued UGA leaders in federal court Tuesday, claiming that university staff refused to register the group because it requires its members to be Christians.

. . .

The suit cites the Baha'i Association of UGA, which the lawsuit says requires its members to be members of the Baha'i faith.

But the Baha'i group's leader said her organization never has required its members or officers to be Baha'i, just to be dedicated to the group.

"We didn't have to put anything we didn't believe in our constitution," said the group's chairwoman, Crystal Rapier, referring to the university's requirement that registered student groups must include a nondiscrimination statement in their constitutions.

Furthermore, one of the officers in 10-member group is not Baha'i but Catholic, Rapier said.

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UCLA Taser Incident

Tabatabainejad in handcuffs, being removed from Powell Library by UCPD officers.

The UCLA Taser incident occurred on November 14, 2006 when Mostafa Tabatabainejad, an Iranian-American UCLA student was stunned several times with a Taser by campus police for refusing to be escorted out of the college Library Instructional Computing Commons in the Powell Building. This was after refusing to provide ID to a Community Service Officer showing that he was a student, a normal request for anyone at the library after that late at night. Part of the incident was recorded on video by a camera phone.

Tabatabainejad has said through his lawyers that he refused to identify himself because he believed himself a victim of racial profiling, and that the Tasering was an instance of police brutality.

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Student to file suit in Taser incident

Civil rights attorney for Tabatabainejad plans to sue UCPD on grounds of ‘brutal excessive force’

Mostafa Tabatabainejad has hired a lawyer to sue university police, and his attorney has offered the public its first look into the student's perspective of the incident in Powell Library in which he was hit with a Taser five times Tuesday.

Tabatabainejad's lawyer, civil rights attorney Stephen Yagman, announced plans Friday to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against UCPD for "brutal excessive force" and false arrest, and described the sequence of events as his client saw them.

{josquote}Tabatabainejad was born in the United States and is Baha'i by religion and Iranian by descent.{/josquote}

At around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Tabatabainejad, a fourth-year Middle Eastern and North African studies and philosophy student, was asked to leave the library for failing to present his BruinCard during a random check. The 23-year-old student was hit with a Taser five times when he did not leave quickly and cooperatively upon being asked to do so.

According to Yagman, Tabatabainejad was approached by Community Service Officers, but declined to present his BruinCard when asked because he believed he was the subject of racial profiling.

Tabatabainejad was born in the United States and is Baha'i by religion and Iranian by descent.


Nov 14th, 2006, around 11:30 pm, Powell Library CLICC computer lab, UCLA: student shot with a Taser multiple times by UCPD officers, even after he was cuffed and motionless.

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