Saturday, July 11, 2009

Somalia's al-Shabab beheads 'spies'

Somalia's al-Shabab beheads 'spies'

Government soldiers have been battling al-Shabab
for control of the capital, Mogadishu [AFP]

An armed group that has vowed to overthrow Somalia's UN-backed government has beheaded seven people it accused of being "spies" or having abandoned Islam, witnesses have said.

Al-Shabab, which controls large areas of southern and central Somalia, executed the men in the town of Baidoa, which until January was the home of the transitional government.

"My husband was missing up to 20 days. Al-Shabaab confirmed to us that he and six others were beheaded. We are waiting for his dead body," Maryan, the wife of one of the victims, told the Reuters news agency on Friday.

The group, which believes in a strict interpretation of sharia (Islamic law), reportedly executed the men on Wednesday.

"Al-Shabab told us that they were beheaded for reasons they described as being Christian followers and spies," Aden, a relative of another of victims told the Reuters news agency.

Muktar Abdullahi, whose brother was one of the murdered men, told the AFP news agency: "Nobody has clearly explained to us why they were killed, but some Shabab members say they were aiding the Somali government."

Torture and execution

The transitional government is led by Sharif Ahmed, the president, who is a former leader of the opposition Islamic Courts Union, which included al-Shabab among its members and seized power in much of the country in late 2006.

In depth

Profile: Sharif Ahmed
Timeline: Somalia
Inside Story: What next for Somalia
Video: Foreign fighters 'invade' Somalia
Riz Khan: Somalia - From bad to worse
Restoring Somalia
A long road to stability
Al-Shabab: Somali fighters undeterred
Somalia at a crossroads
Somaliland: Africa's isolated state

However, after Ahmed became president as part of a UN-brokered peace deal, his former allies called him a "traitor" and vowed to topple his government.

Since May, the violence has increased as al-Shabab, along with the allied Hizbul Islam movement, has fought back against a government offensive aimed at pushing them out of the capital, Mogadishu.

Benedicte Goderiaux, a Somalia researcher for Amnesty International, said that Wednesday's executions reflected a broader pattern of torture and extrajudicial executions by the armed opposition.

"It's definitely linked to al-Shabab wanting to show or portray themselves as restoring law and order in the region they control," Goderiaux said.

"It's also linked to them wanting to terrorise the population under their control under the guise of applying sharia law."

In Kismayo, a southern port city under al-Shabab control, a 13-year-old girl was stoned to death last October after being accused of adultery and a man also had a hand amputated after being accused of theft.

Last month, four men each had a hand and foot amputated after being accused of theft in Mogadishu and another man accused of rape and murder was stoned to death in a town south of the capital.

Foreign fighters

The government says that al-Shabab, which the United States accuses of having close links with al-Qaeda, has been bolstered by hundreds of foreign fighters.

"The current war is a foreign war led and supported by outside forces. The money and ideologies are foreign-based. Somalis all support the government," Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, the Somali foreign minister, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

"This is not a war between Somali clans. It is a war against foreign forces who come into the country to overthrow the government that has been elected constitutionally by the Somali people and supported by the international community."

Al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam say they are nationalists seeking to rid Somalia of a Western-imposed government which has no popular support and the foreign troops, in the shape of 4,300 African Union peacekeeping soldiers, that back it.

Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 when the overthrow of the president plunged the country into chaos.

Dream Designs: 10 Uncanny Ultramodern Homes


Many designers must content themselves with imagining and drawing things that may never be built - very few can realize ultramodern home visions in the real world. Like a blast from the future, these ten architects have brought to life incredible houses that most of us could not even dream of - let alone afford.

Ultramodern Cantilevered Forest Home



Contrary to popular belief, most architects make far less money than other highly trained professionals in more lucrative fields. That is part of the reason why it is a rare opportunity when an architect can design their own home. Michael Rantilla is one with this unusual chance and has constructed a personal residence that is masterfully detailed and geometrically engaging from every possible angle.

Ultramodern Buried Bunker Home



A sloping site is challenging enough - but a narrow and particularly steep one is all the more difficult. Alvaro Siza took what many would see as a bad situation and turned it into a series of amazing design opportunities, creating a cascading series of concrete spaces and capturing a set of amazing views along the way.

Ultramodern Spiral Shell Home



Working with nature can be one of the most challenging things in constructing a non-urban residence. This spectacular spiral house by ARTechnic weaves and flows organically within its forest setting but also stands out, a white concrete intrusion in its lush green surroundings. In short, it works in tension with the natural world, providing security for those within but also visual connection to the outside scenery.

Ultramodern Urban Hilltop Home



What do you build for your personal residence when your family is known throughout the city for its towering downtown skyscrapers? Here, the design-oriented family running TYL Design Group opted for opulence and chose to stand out starkly from their surrounding neighborhood with a house that is as much a castle as it is a home.

Ultramodern Tiny Lot Home



Small lots can be challenging but they can also inspire great things, like this creative residence by K2LD Architects which fills its site as completely as possible and pushes the edges with a series of sleek geometric moves that at once break up the overall volume but also contribute to the amazing ultramodern composition of the whole construction.

Ultramodern Skinny Lot Home



Skinny lots are a tough sell - except to those like Shuhei Endo who have a vision for what to do with them. This house deals with grade changes, a thin and varying footprint and other kinds of locational issues that would send most builders and buyers running. However, the resulting design is both beautiful and fully engaged with its environment, providing interesting on-site niches and views of the water below.

Ultramodern Contextually Designed Home



Creating new constructions in existing historical environments is all about balance - fitting in without appearing to falsely copy what came before. A successful contemporary design, by the estimates of some anyway, should be like what you see above: something that works with the materiality and scale of what is around it but that is also clearly understood as a new intervention.

Ultramodern Concrete Fortress Home


When building in a rural area one generally wants to connect to nature but clearly also seeks a sense of seclusion. Built somewhat like a modern concrete fortress, this home rings around a central courtyard accessible only to the residents but also opens up along its circumference for maximum views to the forest around it.

Ultramodern Glass Cube Home


When a neighborhood is beautiful as it is, many architects choose to respect the vernacular architecture and build something that fits. When the neighborhood is somewhat less aesthetically desireable, it conversely gives designers like October Ueda & Nakagawa Architects license to do something radically different, creative and new like the ultramodern box home shown above.

Secret Codes You Aren’t Meant To Know

Secret Codes You Aren’t Meant To Know

The use of codes is intended to convey essential information quickly and with a minimum of misunderstanding to staff. Some places use secret codes to pass information between store employees. These are meant to be a secret as they don’t want to alarm the non-staff members or alert someone like a thief to the fact that they have been noticed.

Name Codes

Code Oscar: On a ship, a code oscar means someone has gone overboard. If the ship has to maneuver erratically to handle the situation, it must also send out blasts on the signal so that other ships nearby are aware of the fact that it is about to change its course. It should be noted that ships don’t have an internationally standardized set of PA signals and they can differ from place to place, but this is a fairly commonly used one.

Code delta: can mean that there is a biological hazard - though who knows what that might be on a passenger ship.

Code Alpha: often means “medical emergency”.

Code Adam: was invented by Walmart but it is now an internationally recognized alert. It means “missing child”. The code was first coined in 1994 in memory of Adam Walsh, a six-year old, who went missing in a Sears department store in Florida in 1981. Adam was later found murdered. The person making the announcement will state “we have a code Adam,” followed by a description of the missing child. As soon as the alert is heard, security staff will begin to monitor the doors and other exits. If the child is not found within 10 minutes, the police are alerted and a store search begins. Also, if the child is found in the first 10 minutes in the company of an unknown adult, the police must be called and the person detained if it is safe to do so.

Computer Support Codes

In computer support, a variety of codes can be used when referring to a customer

PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

PICNIC: Problem in chair - not in computer

ID 10 T Error: ID 10 T is, of course, IDIOT

"Doctor" Codes

"Doctor" codes are often used in hospital settings for announcements over a general loudspeaker or paging system that might cause panic or endanger a patient's privacy. Most often, "Doctor" codes take the form of "Paging Dr. _____", where the doctor's "name" is a codeword for a dangerous situation or a patient in crisis.

Doctor Brown: is a code word often used in hospitals to alert security staff to a threat to personnel. If a nurse or doctor is in danger from a violent patient or non-staff member, they can page Doctor Brown to their location and the security staff will rush to their aid. In some hospitals

Dr. Allcome: Serious emergency. "Doctor Allcome to Ward 5." would indicate that all medical staff not presently occupied are needed. (The Med, Memphis Tennessee)

Dr. Firestone: Fire in the hospital. If a fire's location can be isolated, the location of the fire is included in the page, e.g. "Paging Dr. Firestone to 3 West" indicates "Fire in or near west stairwell/wing on third floor" (William Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak and Troy, MI).

Dr. Pyro: Fire in the hospital/healthcare facility. "Paging Dr. Pyro on ____" indicates a fire and its origin or current location, e.g. "Paging Dr. Pyro on 3" means "Fire on third floor" (Kaiser Permanente, system-wide).

Dr. Strong: Patient needing either physical assistance or physical restraint. "Paging Dr. Strong ..." indicates that any physically capable personnel (orderlies, police or security officers, EMTs or firemen, etc.) in the proximity should report and be prepared either to move a patient who "fell down" and cannot get back up or to "capture and restrain" an uncooperative patient.

"Colour" Codes

Code Black:

- In Australia code black is a personal threat. This incorporates a diverse range of situations including assaults, confrontations, hostage situations and threats of personal injury or attack

- Bomb Threat (Ontario, Manitoba)

- In the military code black is bomb threat or discovery of suspicious package.

Code Gray/Grey

- A combative person with no weapon under HASC suggestions.

- Severe Weather (Cook Children's Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX)

Code Green

-A combative person using physical force, especially weapons. (some American hospitals)

-Used to indicate an evacuation situation, and can refer to the evacuation of a ward/floor/wing or the entire hospital (Code Green - Stat) depending on the call (Ontario Hospital Emergency Codes, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority)

Code Pink

- Biohazardous contamination of a patient or staff. (Heartland Regional Medical Center)

- Patient is under influence of illegal substances (UK First Aid organisations)

Code Purple

- Australian Standard for Bomb or Substance alert

- Hostage situation or patient abduction (Ontario Hospital Association)

- Emergency department can no longer accept patients; divert incoming cases to other hospitals if at all possible (Canada, also Wellstar Health Group)

Code Silver

- Combative person with a Lethal Weapon (HASC recommendations).

- Violent Situation - Lockdown (Cook Children's Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX)

Code Yellow

- Missing patient (Ontario Hospital Emergency Codes).

Code Orange

- Used in Ontario hospitals to indicate an external disaster with mass casualties. Lockdown or controlled facility access is often used as part of the response. Volunteers, Families and Students were denied access during SARS Outbreak of 2003.

Code Brown

- Missing Adult (University of Toledo Medical Center) (University of Cincinnati Medical Center)

Another 15 Bizarre Statues

Reykjavik, Iceland --thanks Mace!

El Parque del Amor, Lima, Peru --thanks Sandra

in Prague, Czech Republic --thanks for the info Eric!

In Cheltenham, UK

In Stockholm, Sweden

Cupid in Ginza, Tokyo, Japan

Worcester, USA, they call it "the turtlefucker" --thanks Ryan and Caroline!

"The Awakening" in Haines Point Park, Washington, D.C. --thanks Diane!

"Green giants" in Sylt, Germany --thanks fatbob!

"The passing" in Wroclaw, Poland --thanks Piotr!

"Desperate Dan" in Dundee, Scotland --thanks Craig!

"The Virgin Mother" in NYC, photo by Edward Sudentas

In Berlin, Germany

"UFO has landed" in Utrecht, Netherlands --thanks Wouter!

Massive Karaoke In Paris

Two months ago we've seen 13.500 people sing "Hey Jude" on Trafalgar Square. The french claimed they could do it better so they organized their own sing along meeting with Yahoo! at the Eiffel Tower. One thing is for sure, they outnumbered the Trafalgar Square karaoke with ease. Tnx 2 m1r55



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