Human Rights Watch criticised "failures" in Bahrain's justice system, saying it severely punishes pro-reform protesters while offering impunity to abusive security personnel. "A police officer in Bahrain who kills a protester in cold blood or beats a detainee to death might face a sentence of six months or maybe two years," said HRW deputy Middle East director Joe Stork in a 64-page report, released Thursday. In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry found that security forces had used "excessive force" and tortured detainees in its month-long crackdown on dissent. HRW's report criticised "the stark contrast between prosecutions of serious human rights violations by security personnel on the one hand and prosecutions for 'crimes' based on speech and peaceful assembly-related activities on the other."
WASHINGTON (AP) — About 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off the official waiting list at the troubled Phoenix veterans hospital, the Veterans Affairs watchdog said Wednesday in a scathing report that increases pressure on Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.
By David Lawder and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Calls for U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign grew louder on Wednesday as the agency's inspector general confirmed "systemic" and widespread VA scheduling abuses to cover up long wait times for veterans' healthcare. The Department of Veterans Affairs' internal watchdog is probing manipulation of appointment data at 42 VA medical centers, up from 26 last week, it said in an interim report on allegations of secret waiting lists. "Our reviews at a growing number of VA medical facilities have thus far provided insight into the current extent of these inappropriate scheduling issues throughout the VA health care system," the VA Inspector General's Office said. The office also said it has confirmed that "inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic" throughout the Veterans Health Administration.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council urged Mali Wednesday to implement fully a ceasefire between the government and armed rebel groups following fresh fighting in the northern desert town of Kidal. Members "urged signatories to implement the ceasefire fully" and reiterated their "full support" in contributing towards the stabilization of Mali and the launching of peace talks. The Mali presidency earlier Wednesday appointed a retired air force colonel as defense minister after the predecessor resigned over last week's deadly rebel takeover of Kidal. Armed groups including the Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) humiliated the army in a deadly offensive across the northern desert.
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday urged China to stop censoring news about the Tiananmen Square crackdown as authorities enforced a tight blackout ahead of the 25th anniversary. In a nearly unanimous vote, the House of Representatives approved a resolution that called on China "to stop censoring information about the Tiananmen Square massacre." Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House leader of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party, brought onto the floor a framed copy -- signed by exiled dissidents -- of the famous picture of the man who stood alone on June 5, 1989 to hinder a column of tanks at the square in central Beijing.
Venezuela's ruling party accused opposition members and the US ambassador to Colombia on Wednesday of plotting a coup and the assassination of President Nicolas Maduro. The accusations came as the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials responsible for a crackdown on anti-government protests that have left at least 42 people dead. Surrounded by socialist party leaders, Jorge Rodriguez, the mayor of the Caracas municipality of Libertador, said US ambassador Kevin Whitaker acted as a coordinator "in a coup in collusion with Venezuelan politicians and civilians." Rodriguez showed reporters emails written by former opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado and other government critics in which they allegedly discuss how to heat up a political crisis to oust Maduro.
Egypt's ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was headed on Thursday for an overwhelming victory in a presidential election touted as a plebiscite on his ouster of the elected Islamist leader last year. With almost 15 percent of polling stations accounted for, the retired field marshal led with about 93 percent of votes cast over the three-day election, trouncing his sole rival Hamdeen Sabbahi. The outcome had never been in doubt, with Sisi riding on a wave of support for a potential strongman who can restore stability after several years of tumult. But the army-installed government and Sisi were eyeing a large turn out as an endorsement of the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, and the subsequent crackdown on his supporters.
Pressure on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign increased today after an inspector general’s interim report found that inappropriate scheduling practices have been “systemic” throughout the VA. For the first time, Senate Democrats are joining Republicans in issuing new calls for Shinseki to step...
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - California lawmakers urged swift action on Wednesday to better train law enforcement officials to recognize and deal with mental illness after last week's bloody rampage in an idyllic college town near Santa Barbara. The killing spree by the son of a Hollywood film director has raised questions about whether police have adequate training to spot warning signs of violence after it emerged that deputies sent to the young man's home weeks prior to the rampage found him to be polite and left without taking further action. California Democrats hoping to improve the ability of police to spot warning signs renewed a call on Wednesday to spend $12 million on better training for police on such issues as part of a broader measure seeking increased funding for mental health services in California's criminal justice system.
US Secretary of State John Kerry lashed out at fugitive Edward Snowden Wednesday, urging him to "man-up" and do his patriotic duty by returning home to face trial for leaking intelligence secrets. Kerry's comments came only hours after Snowden alleged he was not just a low-level contractor working for the CIA, as the White House has repeatedly insisted. "I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas -- pretending to work in a job that I'm not -- and even being assigned a name that was not mine," he told NBC. In his first interview with US media, Snowden said he had worked covertly as "a technical expert" for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and as a trainer for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to impose targeted sanctions on Venezuelan officials responsible for violent crackdowns on anti-government protests that have left at least 42 people dead. The bipartisan bill, should it become law, would allow President Barack Obama to freeze assets, block property and ban US visits by any former or current official of President Nicolas Maduro's government behind the abuse. "The Venezuelan people have sent us a distress signal for help," the bill's author, House Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said shortly before the voice vote that encountered little if any verbalized dissent. "Today, we answer that call by condemning the actions taken by the Maduro regime and showing our support to the people of Venezuela who are seeking liberty, freedom, human rights and justice," she added.