14 Filipinos killed in Iraq hotel blaze

Fourteen Filipinos were among the 19 people killed in a fire that struck Capitol Hotel in Erbil in northern Iraq on Friday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed yesterday.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Kurdistan authorities informed the Philippine embassy in Baghdad about the fatalities, who are yet to be identified.

Charge d’Affaires Elmer Cato of the Philippine embassy in Baghdad is going to Erbil to coordinate with authorities of the Kurdistan regional government to identify and repatriate the remains of the 14 Filipinos.

Three Iraqis, a Palestinian and another person of unknown nationality also died in the fire, according to Saman Barzanji, director general of the Erbil health department.

Cato said the victims were mostly employees at Capitol Hotel.

The fire hit the four-star Capitol Hotel where rooms cost from $100 to $240 per night.

The hotel’s website says it has a 740-square-meter spa that includes saunas and a pool.

Photos and video posted on social media showed dark grey smoke pouring from windows on the top floor of the building.

“The incident is now under investigation. We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and will do everything we can to bring them home as soon as possible,” Cato said.

Malacañang expressed sadness yesterday over the deaths of 14 Filipinos in Capitol Hotel.

“We are very sad about this. It’s a terrible way to die. They were many and it was, I believe, in a massage center,” Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said yesterday over dzRB.

“We would like to get more details and do everything that is possible to bring our countrymen home and to look at every possibility to assist their families at this time of sadness and need,” he added.

Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the DFA should “do everything possible to repatriate the remains of the deceased overseas Filipino workers the soonest time.”

He also urged the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to fast track the release of benefits and assistance due to the 14 OFWs.

Marcos has been pushing for better government support for OFWs in recognition of their contribution to the economy, which has been buoyed in large part by their remittances.

–  With Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy, AFP

U.S. releases photos tied to Iraq detainee abuse

U.S. releases photos tied to Iraq detainee abuse

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A black strip placed by censors masks the identity of a detainee in an undated photo from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

The Pentagon on Friday released 198 photographs linked to allegations of abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them showing close-ups of cuts and bruises to arms and legs of prisoners held in U.S. facilities.

The Pentagon said the photos came from criminal…

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Oil price and Isis ruin the Kurds' dream of riches - The Independent

The Independent
Oil price and Isis ruin the Kurds’ dream of riches
The Independent
The civil war in Syria and Iraq and the rise of Islamic State (Isis) has brought the 30 million Kurds in the Middle East new terrors and fresh opportunities. In Syria, the conflict has led to the creation of a Kurdish quasi-state between the Tigris and …

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Watch: Bill Maher Endorses Bernie Sanders With an Emphatic ‘F— Yeah’

Outspoken political pundit Bill Maher has announced his support for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders using his famously zesty vernacular.

“Do you want Bernie Sanders getting off Airforce One and making a deal with… Seriously. On foreign policy, do you think he’s at the level that we need?” MSNBC analyst Alex Wagner asked Maher on the Friday edition of “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO.

“F— yeah,” Maher said with gusto. “The guy who voted right on the Iraq War? Yeah, I do.”

He went on to defend Sanders further. “Doesn’t Bernie deserve this?” Maher said. “He has proved — I think, at this point — that this is a year when anything can happen. I think the rules are out the window until proven otherwise.”

Sanders received another high-profile endorsement from the Red Hot Chili Peppers Friday evening as they performed a special fundraising concert for the candidate in Los Angeles.

“Real Time With Bill Maher” airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on HBO.

Related storiesRed Hot Chili Peppers Headline Bernie Sanders Fundraising ConcertRatings: MSNBC Democratic Debate Draws 4.5 Million Viewers – Lowest This CycleHillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders: Hollywood Donors Take Sides

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9/21/15 - Fareed Zakaria GPS | Nonfiction | #Nonfiction #tvseries

Today: Fareed discusses the world’s problems with a star panel including David Miliband, David Frum and Danielle Pletka. Then, Fareed takes a look at what the GOP can learn from its counterpart across the pond. And, an expert discussion on Iraq and the Islamic Republic’s struggles.

Fareed Zakaria GPS
Genre: Nonfiction
Price: $1.99
Publish Date: September 20, 2015

Fareed Zakaria GPS is a weekly public affairs show hosted by journalist and author Fareed Zakaria. As of November 2011, the show airs Sundays at 10am Eastern Time and 1pm Eastern Time on CNN. The show also airs Sundays at 1200 and 1900 GMT on CNN International. The “GPS” in the show’s title stands for “Global Public Square,” a reference to the show’s focus on international issues and foreign affairs.

© 2011 Cable News Network, Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.

3Novices:Iraq's water minister judges only tiny danger of Mosul dam collapse

3Novices:Iraq’s water minister judges only tiny danger of Mosul dam collapse

Iraq’s minister of water resources on Saturday played down warnings that Mosul dam will collapse, estimating only a “one in a thousand” chance of failure and saying the solution was to build a new dam or install a deep concrete support wall.
#3Novices #News #OnlineMedia3Novices

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Sharing stories is how to best leave a legacy, RootsTech presenters say
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Before his son Zach left for U.S. Marine Corps service in Iraq, Scott Skiles told him, “Of every gift I’ve been given, I don’t have a better one than to be your dad.”

When Cpl. Zach Skiles came home, life fell apart for him.

“I was pretty sure someone was going to kick down my door, and I was scared to go to sleep,” he recalled “I couldn’t sustain employment. I couldn’t pay rent and pay for groceries. It all just kind of fell apart, and then I was homeless.”

The interview between the father and son is one of 50,000 that have been recorded by StoryCorps, which was started in Grand Central Station in New York City about 12 years ago by documentarian and author David Isay. The concept is simple: You go into a booth with someone you want to honor — a grandparent or other relative or a friend — and get that person to tell his story in 40 minutes. Afterward, one copy is given to the family who did the interview and another copy goes to the Library of Congress, where posterity will have access to it indefinitely.

Isay, who broadcasts the StoryCorps recordings on National Public Radio and on podcasts, was one of the Friday main-session speakers for RootsTech 2016, the largest family history event in the world, convening this week at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The Skiles’ interview, recorded last year, was one of several he played for the RootsTech audience.

“There was a time when I didn’t know where you were,” the father told his son in the audio recording. “And it is difficult to watch anyone let go of hope, but when it’s your son, it’s excruciating.”

Scott Skiles remembered his relief when Zach made the decision to receive in-patient treatment.

“I remember one night you getting out of the car as you walked back into the treatment building. It was dark and your head was kind of down, and for a moment I could feel the weight that you were carrying. As I watched you walk into that building, I uttered these two words — I don’t know if they were some kind of prayer or not, but they just came out — ‘my son.’

“I was absolutely overcome with grief and love and the beginning of hope.”

Zach Skiles is doing better now. He has received a college degree, graduating summa cum laude.

“Everyone in this room does a lot of listening, and you’ve heard a lot of stories,” Isay told the audience. “You have a lot of love in your hearts for the people you honor through family history. Mother Theresa used to say, ‘We’ve forgotten we belong to each other.’ What you are doing each and every day helps us to remember.”

The telling of stories is, in fact, the emphasis of this year’s annual RootsTech conference, which is sponsored by FamilySearch International, the Internet genealogy service offered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

RootsTech creator Shipley Munson of FamilySearch said registration on Thursday edged above the 26,000 mark for the four-day event, which ends Saturday. Attendees hale from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 37 countries. A potential 150,000 viewers have seen or will see the proceedings by Internet streaming. Local family history fairs held around the world later will use recorded RootsTech content.

Earlier during the Friday general session, the crowd heard from Josh and Naomi Davis. After they were married nine years ago in New York , she began to chronicle their life through a blog, “love, Taza,” which was begun initially as a way to keep connected with family. Today, millions follow it as it celebrates motherhood, family, travel, good food and the simple joys of life.

“Can you imagine those ancestors that you come across in your research, that you’ve grown to love and connected with as you’ve learned more about them, and how it would be to have a more complete and full history of their beautiful lives?” she asked. “The technology didn’t exist for our ancestors to project their current events and thoughts and feelings down to our present day in Technicolor and high definition.”

She added, “You and I are lucky because we do have those tools and that technology, and our posterity can have a rich history of stories, stories we can share with others today and with our posterity in the future.”

Her husband noted that it is not a story if it is not told, that big stories can come from small moments, and that sharing stories is how one can best leave a legacy.

She shared entries from her blog, including this from March 28, 2013, when daughter Elenore was 2, son Samson was not yet 1, and husband Josh was working away from home:

“Monday was one of my hardest days yet as a mother. … By 3:30 in the afternoon I was done for the day. I put my kids in the tub for their bedtime bath, even though it was only midafternoon, and I sat on the floor beside the tub … and cried. Elenore looked up at me and scrunched her face while extending her hands toward me and said, ‘Mama cry? Mama sad?’ I told her yes, mother was sad, mother was tired, and mama wanted a nap. She asked if I had a boo-boo. I told her no boo-boo, but she kept asking to see my boo-boo. She asked to kiss it better. I told her to kiss my cheek, that it would help me feel better. She stood up in the tub and held my face between her wet hands full of bubbly soap and kissed me. I cried even harder, which might have confused her, and thanked her for my kiss.”

During Friday’s RootsTech proceedings, the Innovators Showdown was held. It is a competition that has involved companies vying for $100,000 in cash and prizes. From dozens of applicants, the field was narrowed first to 12, then to six.

At the Friday event a panel of judges selected as the showdown winner Tap Genes, a company based in Chicago, which Crowdsources a family’s health information to identify health conditions that run in the family. The information can then be shared with doctors and other caregivers.

Twile, based in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, was the people’s choice winner, selected by the audience members, whose votes sent in by cellphones were tallied instantly. Twile helps users create a family history timeline on the Internet with milestones and photos. The timeline can then be shared on the Internet. Twile was also the third-place winner selected by the judges.

Second place went to Studio by Legacy Republic, which offers scanning of photo albums using what it touts as “the best archival scanner in the world.” The scanned copies are then placed in a computer cloud where family members can access them. More information on the contestants can be obtained at http://ift.tt/1J42Col

RootsTech continues Saturday with an address in the general session from former Utah governor and former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Michael O. Leavitt, and with “Family Discovery Day” a suite of sessions offered primarily to LDS Church members, including thousands of teenagers and children.

For more information and online streaming, go to www.RootsTech.org.


Sharing stories is how to best leave a legacy, RootsTech presenters say

SVILENGRAD, BULGARIA - JUNE 25: Customs officials dispossess a taxidermy lion due the owner does not have related permission documents in Kapitan Anreevo custom gate while it has been transporting from Austria to Iraq on June 25, 2015 in Svilengrad, Bulgaria. (Photo by Nahit Dogu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) http://dlvr.it/KRDHl5

3Novices:Iraq's water minister judges only tiny danger of Mosul dam collapse

3Novices:Iraq’s water minister judges only tiny danger of Mosul dam collapse

Iraq’s minister of water resources on Saturday played down warnings that Mosul dam will collapse, estimating only a “one in a thousand” chance of failure and saying the solution was to build a new dam or install a deep concrete support wall.
#3Novices #News #OnlineMedia3Novices

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Pentagon releases Bush-era torture pictures after 12-year-long legal battle
The US Department of Defense grudgingly released 198 photographs of detainees mistreated by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2006, after fighting for over a decade to keep them secret.

Most of the photographs are close-up body shots, showing bruises and scrapes. Black bars block out the faces of prisoners. The photos come from internal military investigations and are dated between 2003 and 2006, shortly after the US invaded Iraq under President George W. Bush.

Some of the pictures in the newly released batch are disturbing.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued in 2004 to have the photographs released, posted the images on its website Friday afternoon. The ACLU continues to push for the publication of 1,800 additional images from the investigations, which the Pentagon continues to withhold.

“It’s most likely the case that these are the most innocuous of the photos, and if that’s true, it’s a shadow of meaningful transparency,” said Alex Abdo, an ACLU attorney who has worked on the lawsuit to release the photos since 2005.

“Today’s release illustrates just a small portion of the real-life horror story that was the US government’s practice of torture,” Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, said in a statement.

Friday’s release does not include any contextual information about the photos, such as where the detainees were held and under what circumstances, or the specific abuses that were being investigated.

The ACLU sued to obtain the photos after images of US personnel torturing prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison were leaked in 2004. Lawyers for the government have maintained that the release of the images could do “grievous harm to national security” because terrorists could use them as propaganda against the US.

President Barack Obama intended to release all of the images in 2009, but changed his mind after objections from the Iraqi government and the top US military commander in the country. Last November, Defense Secretary Ash Carter decided to approve the release of the 198 photos.

The release was expected at the end of January, but the Pentagon claimed delays due to a snowstorm that blanketed Washington, DC the week prior.

Iraq's water minister judges only tiny danger of Mosul dam collapse

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s minister of water resources on Saturday played down warnings that Mosul dam will collapse, estimating only a “one in a thousand” chance of failure and saying the solution was to build a new dam or install a deep concrete support wall.

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Iraq's water minister judges only tiny danger of Mosul dam collapse

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s minister of water resources on Saturday played down warnings that Mosul dam will collapse, estimating only a “one in a thousand” chance of failure and saying the solution was to build a new dam or install a deep concrete support wall.

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Syria says any foreign troops would 'return in coffins'

Forgein soldiers who enter Syria without government consent would “return home in wooden coffins”, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said, in a warning to Saudi Arabia.

Muallem’s statement at a news conference on Saturday came two days after Riyadh said it would send troops to Syria if the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rebel group would approve of it.

When asked about the possibility of Saudi ground troops entering Syria, he said although it was unlikely, “with the crazy Saudi leadership nothing is far-fetched”.

“Any ground intervention in Syria, without the consent of the Syrian government, will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen,” he said. “I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins.”

He repeated the line three times during the one-hour press conference, saying it applies to anyone who attacks Syria with ground troops.

Muallem also appeared to indicate a boosted confidence that the government’s recent military advances against opposition fighters put it “on track” towards winning the five-year war.

“Like it or not, our battlefield achievements indicate that we are headed toward the end of the crisis,” he said, before calling on rebel fighters to “come to their senses” and lay down their weapons.

Muallem’s comments follow the collapse of the latest UN-led Syria peace efforts and a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive near the city of Aleppo that sent thousands of residents fleeing toward Turkey.

Meanwhile, Iran, which is backing the Syrian government militarily, also criticised Saudi Arabia over its offer to deploy troops to Syria.

The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Mohammad Ali Jafari, a commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, as saying he did not think the Saudis were “brave enough” to send ground troops.

“They talk big,” Jafari said. “But even if it happens, it won’t be bad because they would be definitely defeated.”