soldiers in full camouflage march during the Army Day parade in Tehran on Thursday. The Iranian army "alone" is able to destroy Israel, Tehran's regional
arch foe, Islamic republic army commander general Ataollah Salehi said, on the
sideline of the country's annual Army Day. (BEHROUZ
Pakistani volunteers search a destroyed vehicle at the site
of a suicide bomb attack at an election campaign rally in Peshawar on Tuesday. A suicide bomber killed nine people and wounded dozens more at a Pakistan
election campaign rally attended by a former cabinet minister in the
northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said. Pakistan's umbrella
Taliban faction claimed responsibility for what was the fourth deadly attack on
politicians or political parties in three days as the country prepares to hold
historic polls on May 11. (AFP/Getty Images)
A member of Charlie Circle, a Charlie Chaplin fan club gets
made up before the annual parade to celebrate the birthday of Charlie Chaplin in
Adipur, Gujarat state, India, Tuesday. Canes in hand and bowler
hats firmly in place, dozens of Charlie Chaplin impersonators tramped through
the streets of this small port town in western India on Tuesday to celebrate the
birthday of the legendary comic actor and filmmaker. (AP Photo/Ajit
Hassan Mekki, a 32-year-old Sudanese migrant, shows scars
on his back in Athens. Mekki alleges he was attacked by men with Greek flags. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)
Hate crimes are on the rise in Greece and urgent action is needed to help stop xenophobic attacks on immigrants, warns the European commissioner for human rights.
Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's human rights czar, said Tuesday in a new report that the steep increase in the rise of hate crimes in Greece is being directed at migrants and it is of grave concern for all in Europe.
Among his recommendations, Muiznieks wants to see the recently added 70 anti-racism police officers properly outfitted and supported to help diffuse the rising tide of hate. And to help integrate other cultures, he suggested the construction of a mosque and a Muslim cemetery in Athens. The European Council represents 47 member states.
"Democracy in Greece is seriously threatened by the upsurge of hate crime and a weak state response," he said in a release. "Sustained and concentrated action, notably by the police and the courts, is necessary to protect the rule of law and human rights in the country."
For years, Greece has been rocked by economic uncertainty, high unemployment and social unrest leading to violent protests in Athens.
The court system is buckling under excessively long proceedings, court fees and a "lack of an effective remedy," he warned in his stinging report.
He pointed out a particularly troubling issue is violence against Roma people and "persistent reports" of ill-treatment and torture committed by law officials. He called on officials to stop the institutional culture of impunity and any possible "collusion" by the police with the Golden Dawn party, which has been described as having neo-Nazi views.
There have been calls for Greek authorities to ban the party, the Associated Press reports, adding Muiznieks told them Greece would be within its rights to not allow the party to participate in the democratic process.
Muiznieks visited Greece at the end of February. Greek authorities, in a statement, welcomed his research and said the proposals contained in the report will be carefully considered.
However, they added racist attitudes remain a marginal phenomenon in Greece and that culturally the people are open and hospitable.
"Huge problems currently facing the Greek society due to the economic crisis, combined with the problems arising from the continued influx of thousands of illegal immigrants, have not blurred the society's judgement," the government statement added.
The Greek parliament urged prudence and wisdom, going forward. "As such, solutions and treatment cannot be products of emotional responses which could backfire or bring about more unwanted results."
A man stands
shocked in the remains of a house following an airstrike by the Syrian airforce
in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday. The conflict in Syria,
which is now in its third year, has cost 70,000 lives, according to the United
Nations.(DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Gordon Lightfoot is pictured on April 12, 2012. (David Cooper/Toronto Star)
It's fitting that on the tail of a winter that just wouldn't let go, Orillia's own Gordon Lightfoot is winning fresh acclaim as a master journalist for his telling of one of the most tragic winter gales Ontario has known.
The song in question, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," involves 457 of the most powerful journalistic words you will ever read, according to a new line-by-line deconstructon by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.
Lightfoot's use of first- and second-level nut grafs and employment of sweep, scope, tension, sensory detail and other writerly devices make the song an outstanding example of narrative journalism, the Nieman Story Board blog contends.
Weighing in as a whopping six-minute sea shanty during the height of the three-minute disco era, the song never had a chance when it was released in November, 1976, on the one-year anniversary of the deadly Lake Superior gale it immortalized.
Except that it shot straight to Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, further evidence, says Nieman, of the sage advice of legendary U.S. journalist/professor Conrad Fink, who said, "Never do that -- unless it works."
While it is true that Lightfoot took small liberties with certain facts surrounding the wreck that cost 29 lives, the Toronto songwriter, like any good journalist, has adjusted the lyrics over the years to accommodate new information as it emerges.
Most recently, Lightfoot changed words in 2010 after Toronto-based father-and-son filmmaking team Mike and Warren Fletcher attained new images of the bottom of the ship that debunked the popular theory the Fitzgerald ran aground during the gale.
Mitch Potter is the Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Potter led the Star’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he won a 2006 National Newspaper Award for his reportage. His dispatches include datelines from 33 countries since 2000. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites
North Koreans dance beneath a mosaic painting of the late leader Kim Il-sung during a mass
folk dancing gathering in Pyongyang on Thursday, to mark the
anniversary of the first of many titles of power given to leader Kim Jong-un
after the death of his father Kim Jongi-il. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
to be released into their outdoor enclosure at a bird park in Marlow, eastern
Germany, on Thursday. The park is expecting this year's first stampede of
visitors for the upcoming weekend. (BERND WUESTNECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Pasona's headquarters in downtown Tokyo. (All photos courtesy of Kono
Work cafeteria food just got
a lot more interesting. A downtown Tokyo office
building is one of the first urban farms in Japan, connecting the ideas of
green energy and sustainability with the day-to-day realities of office life.
Office workers at Pasona, a staffing firm specializing in
farming and related jobs, are encouraged to cultivate indoor and outdoor
gardens and eat the fruits (and vegetables) of their labour.
Pasona's headquarters in the bustling
Japanese metropolis features both interior and exterior "green"
ideas. There are vegetable and fruit bushes -- beans, tomatoes, eggplant,
broccoli and passion fruit -- next to desks and work stations.
There's a rice paddy field on one office floor. There's a pumpkin patch by the reception
Outside, roses and other flowers grow from
The multi-million dollar project included a
complete renovation of the 50-year-old building. The entire project was
designed by New York City-based design firm Kono Designs.
Yoshimi Kono, the president of Kono said one
of the many challenges with designing the project was creating urban farming
examples that were actually edible and sustainable and not just decorative
"Living plants and a living human
environment is sometimes not the same," Kono said in an interview with the
He said that while plants and vegetables
need certain lighting and temperature conditions to grow and thrive the same
conditions are not always the same for a human environment. (Just think about
all of that humidity in a greenhouse and what it would do to your hair.)
The project is a work in progress. While it
was completed in 2011, Kono often heads back to Tokyo to try out new "green"
projects at Pasona, see how the building’s irrigation system is working or find
out how the workers are doing with their plant "coworkers."
Urban farming is a growing trend around the
world. As food shortages continue to dwindle, scientists, designers and
environmentalists are all looking for innovative, urban ways to increase the
supply of food.
Projects range from community
gardens to gardens in unlikely places like in the case of Pasona.
In the last two years, Pasona has helped
train and secure jobs for about 350 people as farmers throughout rural areas of
"We are spending some (energy) to grow
some vegetables but behind it, we have a bigger purpose," he said.
Lorianna De Giorgio is the Star's foreign web editor. Follow her on Twitter: @ldegiorgio
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