Rio reborn, declares mayor, as police march through shantytown

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

More than two thousand heavily armed police operatives swept into Rio’s most notorious shantytown today following a week of explosive confrontations that have left at least 50 people dead.

The operation, unprecedented in the city’s history, began at around 8am and focused on the Complexo do Alemao, a gigantic network of slums that is the HQ of Rio’s Red Command drug faction and houses around 70,000 impoverished residents.

According to police the favela had been “conquered” by around 9.30am, with drug traffickers offering little resistance.

Gang members reportedly attempted to flee the 2,600 police and army operatives through the favela’s sewage system or by disguising themselves as Bible-carrying evangelical preachers…

Around 10 tonnes of marijuana were seized along with a small arsenal of assault rifles and a missile. At least three suspected drug traffickers died in confrontations with police operatives while several gang members handed themselves in at special “surrender centres” that opened around the slum.

This was the HQ, the fortress and the heart of the drug faction with the greatest firepower,” said Colonel Mario Sergio Duarte, the head of Rio’s military police. “We will continue chasing them wherever they are.”

In an interview with Brazilian TV, Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, said the operation represented “virtually a re-foundation of this city”. He added: “Rio will go back to being the marvellous city. There is still a lot of work to be done but today this city has taken a major step forwards.”

A strong beginning. There will be inevitable parallels made with Mexico.

Brazil has lots of commercial and political motivation to get things cleaned up before the World Cup and the next Summer Olympics – both hosted in Brazil. The long-range success of these quasi-military operations will be defined by the ease or not – of drug gangs re-establishing themselves in the political life of favelas.

Okinawa anti-base governor Hirokazu Nakaima re-elected

Hirokazu and supporters celebrate re-election
Daylife/Getty Images used by per mission

The governor of Japan’s Okinawa has been re-elected, in a poll which was closely tied to the future of a controversial US base on the island.

Hirokazu Nakaima, who has fiercely opposed the relocation of the Futenma base, repeated his call that it be removed from the island.

Mr Nakaima had faced tough opposition from Mayor Yoichi Iha. But he will now have the power to veto the plan, which has severely strained ties between Tokyo and Washington…

I am demanding the base be removed off the island and the Japan-US agreement be reviewed,” the Jiji news agency quoted him as saying…

The unpopular Futenma base is located in the densely populated south of the island.

Both the US and Japan want to relocate it to a new offshore facility in the less populated north.

But residents and law makers in Henoko oppose the plan, as do environmentalists who say it will devastate marine life in the area. Many residents also say that Futenma should be moved off Okinawa altogether – they say Okinawa hosts more than its fair share of bases, leading to disruption, noise and crime.

Most of the treaty has been kept secret from both American and Japanese citizens. Even politicians who win the national election and are voted in as Prime Minister by the Parliament don’t get to see it until afterwards.

We’re still ruling the foreign policy of a nation as the result of a war won 65 years ago. If that ain’t a symptom of the corruption of imperialism – nothing is. Meanwhile, each democratic vote by the people who actually live on the island is meaningless in the eyes of our State Department and Japan’s Home Office.

With damned few exceptions, we should bring all our troops home. Now.

How do you reward a community for their anti-terror efforts? Gawrsh, let’s set fire to their church!

Ahson Saeed, of Corvallis reacts over burnt debris from the mosque
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been called in to aid the investigation into an arson fire at the Corvallis mosque where Portland bomb plot suspect Mohamed Osman Mohamud sometimes attended.

The fire at the Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center was discovered by an on-duty police sergeant at about 2:15 a.m. today. It took firefighters 10 minutes to put it out and it damaged about 80 percent of the office it was contained to. No one was injured.

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said it’s standard for the agency to become involved in attacks on religious groups, but that the possible connection between the fire and the arrest of Mohamud makes their involvement even more important…

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the fire…

Arthur Balizan, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon stated: “We have made it quite clear that the FBI will not tolerate any kind of retribution or attack on the Muslim community…We are working very closely with the leadership at the mosque. We will find the person responsible for this attack and bring the full force of the federal justice system to bear…”

If you’ve followed the details of the teenage fool who wanted to commit terrorist murders at a tree lighting ceremony, you would know that the initiatives that turned this creep up to the FBI and Homeland Security came from the Islamic community in Oregon.

OTOH, the sort of cowardly bigot that committed the arson attack upon the Corvallis mosque will likely turn out to be someone who has trouble reading the Sunday comics.

FCC finally notices that texting can aid 911 calls

Texting – old school

In a bid to bring the life-saving emergency service 911 into the 21st century, the FCC is looking at letting citizens report crimes through text messages and even stream video from their mobile phones to emergency centers.

Established as a national standard in 1968, 911 handles more than 230 million calls a year — 70 percent of which now come from mobile phones.

The last real overhaul of 911 by the FCC came in 2001, when mobile carriers were required to allow 911 to identify the location of callers either through GPS or cell-tower data…

But the 911 system still can’t handle text messages, multimedia messages or streaming video, all of which could be very helpful to first responders.

A system that could handle those messages would also allow people to report crimes without being overheard, which could be useful in situations ranging from kidnapping to seeing someone being robbed on the street…

It’s not clear yet where the money will come from for the upgrades, whether they will be federal requirements states and cities must carry out or if they will simply be suggestions.

Perish the thought our politicians adopt useful, constructive protocols like this without giving every local hack a chance to get in on an opportunity to be “lobbied” by equipment vendors.

Push comes to shove, the Federalist rationale supports small-time graft as well as it does the Congressional flavors.

Hindu group stirs debate over who “owns” Yoga

Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it.

But a group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.

The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism. The small but increasingly influential group behind it, the Hindu American Foundation, suggests only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.

That suggestion, modest though it may seem, has drawn a flurry of strong reactions from figures far apart on the religious spectrum. Dr. Deepak Chopra, the New Age writer, has dismissed the campaign as a jumble of faulty history and Hindu nationalism. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said he agrees that yoga is Hindu — and cited that as evidence that the practice imperiled the souls of Christians who engage in it.

The question at the core of the debate — who owns yoga? — has become an enduring topic of chatter in yoga Web forums, Hindu American newspapers and journals catering to the many consumers of what is now a multibillion-dollar yoga industry.

RTFA. To me, the best that religions can offer is guidance to the spirit of charity that lies at the [oft-forgotten] roots of most. I never worked construction projects with Habitat for Humanity because the inevitable prayer sessions were a distraction from the task at hand; but, I would be the last to deny the good performed by such groups.

Ownership of the brand more often comes down to conflict, armed or otherwise, over who owns which patch of ideology, ritual or a chunk of land and livelihood. The article provides beaucoup details. All pretty silly.