Islamists to rule Tunisia; clashes in cradle of revolt

TUNIS, (Reuters) – The leader of the Islamist party  which won Tunisia’s first free election appealed for calm in the  town where the “Arab Spring” began, accusing forces linked to  the ousted president of fanning violence there.

Rachid Ghannouchi

Party officials said coalition talks were already under way  and they expected to form a new government within 10 days.

Troops fired in the air yesterday to disperse a crowd  attacking government offices in Sidi Bouzid, where 10 months ago  vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in a  protest that ignited revolts around the Arab world.

The Ennahda party, which was banned for decades and its  leaders forced to flee abroad, will lead Tunisia’s new  government after an election victory likely to set a template  for other Middle Eastern states rocked by uprisings this year. Ennahda has tried to reassure secularists by stressing it  will not impose a Muslim moral code.

It will not impose the wearing of the Islamic headscarf, or  hijab, on women because all attempts to do that in other Arab  states have failed, the party’s leader said on Friday.

Rachid Ghannouchi said women would have jobs in the new  government “whether they wear a veil or don’t wear a veil”. Ennahda would honour an undertaking to finish writing a new  constitution within one year, he said at his first news  conference since the election. It would respect all Tunisia’s  international treaties when it forms a new government.

He blamed the Sidi Bouzid clashes on forces connected with  ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

The unrest was not linked directly to the Ennahda win, but  to the fact that a party headed by a businessman popular in the  town, a former supporter of Ben Ali, had been eliminated from  the ballot over allegations of campaign finance violations.


Two witnesses in Sidi Bouzid told Reuters a large crowd had  tried to attack the local government headquarters.

“The military are trying to disperse the people with shots  in the air and tear gas,” one of the witnesses, Attia Athmouni,  said by telephone.

The witnesses said shops and schools were shut and a  security forces helicopter was hovering overhead.
Late on Thursday, after officials announced they would  cancel several seats won by the Popular List, a crowd set fire  to an Ennahda office and the office of the mayor. The party had  been running in fourth place in the election, according to  preliminary results, before its seats were cancelled.

An Interior Ministry source said a night curfew would be  imposed in the town from 7 p.m. (1800 GMT) until 5 a.m.

Ghannouchi paid tribute to the town’s role in the revolution  which forced Ben Ali to flee the country.

“We salute Sidi Bouzid and its sons who launched the spark  and we hope that God will have made Mohamed Bouazizi a martyr,”  said the Islamic scholar, who spent 22 years exiled in Britain.

Announcing the results, election commission members said  Ennahda had won 90 seats in the 217-seat assembly, which will  draft a new constitution, form an interim government and  schedule new elections, probably for early 2013.

Rachel Uchitel denies pregnancy rumors

Thursday, October 27th 2011, 8:05 AM

Rachel Uchitel, former Tiger Woods mistress, is reportedly pregnant, according to Life  Style.

LOS ANGELES – If Rachel Uchitel is pregnant, she’s certainly not saying.

The former paramour of PGA great Tiger Woods acted surprised Wednesday when asked about an exclusive Life Style report that she’s got a bun in the oven.

“What? Where are you reading that?” she replied in a text message to the Daily News.

She then said she was about to take a flight and referred all questions to her publicist.

Spokeswoman Valerie Allen did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Life Style said the former New York nightlife hostess learned she was expecting her first child when she auditioned for “The Amazing Race” with her new hubby Matt Hahn.

“They were going to try out to be a couple on the show, and when she had a drug test, it came back positive that she’s pregnant,” an unnamed source told the magazine.

Uchitel and Hahn married Oct. 2 in a small, surprise ceremony in Las Vegas, she previously told The News.

“We are really happy and feel extremely fortunate to have one another,” Uchitel, 36, said.

“We attended a wedding that day and were inspired,” she explained. “It was very spur of the moment and very romantic.”

The nuptials took place at the Little White Wedding Chapel where Britney Spears married her hometown hunk and Bruce Willis and Demi Moore tied the knot.

A dozen friends witnessed the ceremony, she said.

The newlyweds recently moved to San Francisco, where Uchitel is doing some private investigative work.

Uchitel reportedly collected $10 million in hush money from Woods shortly after calling off a 2009 press conference with lawyer Gloria Allred.

She lost her banker fiancé in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and later married Wall Street trader Steven Ehrenkranz in 2004. The marriage ended in divorce after about a year.

Hahn, 26, was a football player at Penn State.

Islamists head for win in Tunisia’s Arab Spring vote

TUNIS, (Reuters) – Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party  yesterday claimed a thumping victory in the country’s first  election, sending a message to the region that once-banned  Islamists are challenging for power after the “Arab Spring”.

Rachid Ghannouchi

With election officials still counting ballots from Sunday’s  vote — the first to follow as a result of the uprisings which  began in Tunisia and spread through the region — the Ennahda  party said its own tally showed it had won. Several of its  biggest rivals conceded defeat.

Seeking to reassure secularists in Tunisia and elsewhere who  see a threat to liberal values in the region, party officials  said they would share power and would not try to push through  radical measures.

“There will be no rupture. There will be continuity because  we came to power via democracy, not through tanks,” campaign  manager Abdelhamid Jlazzi said at party headquarters.

“We suffered from dictatorship and repression and now is an  historic opportunity to savour the taste of freedom and  democracy,” he said.

Shortly before he spoke, an Ennahda female candidate who  does not wear the Islamic head scarf, or hijab, sang along to  Lebanese and Tunisian pop songs on a stage. The party says her  inclusion is proof of its moderate outlook.
In the only hint of trouble so far in the election, about  400 people protested outside the election commission building,  alleging that Ennahda, led by the long exiled Rachid Ghannouchi,  was guilty of vote fraud.  The protesters, encircled by police, carried banners saying:  “What democracy?” and “Shame on you, Ghannouchi!”  Election officials say there were only minor violations and  Western monitors applauded the election.

Ennahda, citing its own figures, said the election gave it  40 percent of the seats in the assembly which will draft a new  constitution, appoint an interim government and set a date for  new elections late next year or early in 2013.

That tally, if confirmed by the election commission counting  the votes, would still require the party to form alliances with  secularist parties if it is to have a majority. That is expected  to dilute its influence.

The victory was the first in the Arab world for an Islamist  party since Hamas won a 2006 election in the Palestinian  Territories. The election result is likely to resonate in Egypt, which  starts voting in November in a multi-stage election. An Islamist  party which shares much of the same ideology as Ennahda is  predicted to perform strongly.

Tunisia became the birthplace of the “Arab Spring” when  Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable seller in a provincial town, set  fire to himself in protest at poverty and government repression.

His suicide provoked a wave of protests which forced  autocratic President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi  Arabia in January.

The revolution in Tunisia, a former French colony, in turn  inspired uprisings which forced out entrenched leaders in Egypt  and Libya, and convulsed Yemen and Syria — re-shaping the  political landscape of the Middle East.

Only a trickle of official results has so far appeared —  unlike votes under Ben Ali when the outcome was announced  straight away, probably because it had been pre-determined.

Ennahda won half of the 18 seats allocated to Tunisians  abroad. Of the four electoral districts inside Tunisia that have  so far declared, it led the field in two and was joint winner in  the other two, officials said late on Tuesday.


Ennahda’s leader Ghannouchi was forced into exile in Britain  for 22 years because of harassment by Ben Ali’s police. A  soft-spoken scholar, he dresses in suits and open-necked shirts  while his wife and daughter wear the hijab.
Ghannouchi is at pains to stress his party will not enforce  any code of morality on Tunisian society, or the millions of  Western tourists who holiday on its Mediterranean beaches. He  models his approach on the moderate Islamism of Turkish Prime  Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Report: Bruce Willis to be a dad again

Matt Sayles / AP file

Bruce Willis and his wife Emma Heming are expecting their first child together, Life Style is reporting. Willis, 56, and Heming, 33, married in 2009, and this will be the couple’s first child.

Willis has three daughters from his marriage to Demi Moore: Rumor, 23, Scout, 20, and Tallulah, 17. The couple hasn’t confirmed the pregnancy themselves.

Add a new baby to the list of films Willis has in production and the actor has quite the full plate. According to IMDB, the actor is currently shooting “G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation,” and “Expendables 2.”

Occupy Google Reader?

Don’t fear the Reader.
(Joerg Sarbach/dapd – AP)
I’m going to go ahead and file this one at the front of “First-World Problems”: A group of Google Reader fans decided to stage a peaceful demonstrations — during their lunch hours, presumably — Wednesday at Google’s Washington headquarters.

TBD has the full report, but apparently they’re incensed over new modifications to the Internet news feed reader. A manifesto from the group’s Facebook event:

Google has decided — without any user consultation — to effectively kill our beloved Google Reader, and force us all to use G+ in its stead. Without any of the functionality that made Reader so useful transferring over to make G+ work for us. While the Google Reader name may stay, none of the social functions that make Google Reader so great will survive its incorporation into G+, thereby destroying a thriving community of dedicated and loyal followers.

Discuss — and maybe think about exporting your feeds.

( H/T: DCist.)

Of course we’re on Facebook:

UK & World News: Turkey earthquake: Boy who used rock in bid to dig himself …

Oct 28 2011

ferhat tokay rescued after turkey earthquake

A 13-YEAR-OLD boy used a rock in a desperate bid to dig himself out as he lay trapped in rubble for five days after the Turkish earthquake.

Rescuers pulled Ferhat Tokay out of the debris of a multi-storey building early today.

Shortly before he was rescued, his father had been told by rescuers to go and get some rest because there was no hope of finding him alive.

He was the latest survivor to emerge from the devastation of the 7.2-magnitude quake that flattened buildings and killed at least 570 people in eastern Turkey on Sunday.

Some 2500 were injured in the quake that brought down about 2,000 buildings and left thousands homeless.

The boy was working in a shoe shop on the ground floor of a multi-storey building in Ercis when the quake hit.

“With a rock, he tried to open up a hole,” the uncle, Sahin Tokay, told television later. “He thumped on walls to try to open up a space for himself.”

Tokay said the boy also placed shoes under his head and used them as a pillow to sleep, peering through a tiny gap to distinguish between day and night.

“He was hungry on the first day, but the hunger pangs later disappeared,” Tokay said.

The boy reportedly drank rain water which helped keep him alive.

For the family who had anxiously waited outside the crumbled building for days, Ferhat’s rescue was a miracle.

Rescue teams sent the boy’s father and other relatives away from the site to get some rest in the early hours today, saying there was no chance of finding him alive. Soon after, they were called back with news that the crew had reached him.

“He didn’t even have a scratch on him!” the uncle said.

Television footage showed the boy smiling at people standing around his hospital bed.

“He said he was hungry and asked for food,” his uncle said.

“He also got his father to promise not to play tile rummy (in coffee houses) anymore,” Tokay said in reference to a popular pass-time for men in Turkey.

The 213-person team from the Azeri Special Risk Rescue Service, equipped with sniffer dogs, have pulled out 10 survivors since arriving to offer help late on Sunday, including Tokay and 18-year-old Imdat Padak who was brought out late on Thursday.

During Padak’s rescue rubble fell on a sniffer dog called Cip seriously injuring its paws.

The government’s crisis management centre said a total of 187 people have been freed from rubble alive. Search and rescue operations have ended in the provincial capital of Van, but were continuing in Ercis.

Turkish authorities delivered more tents after acknowledging distribution problems that included aid trucks being looted.

Tents, prefabricated homes, blankets and heaters also started arriving from a dozen countries, after Turkey said asked for assistance to help shelter people left homeless in near-freezing conditions.

Israel, which has a troubled political relationship with Turkey, sent emergency housing units, blankets and clothing. Britain, Ireland, Germany, Russia, Romania and Ukraine also contributed.

About 2000 buildings have been destroyed and authorities declared another 3,700 buildings unfit for habitation.

Unleashed: Don’t forget about keeping your pets safe on Halloween

Halloween dog costumes

If you’re sending the kids out trick-or-treating this Halloween, please, please, please be careful when it comes to leaving their haul around the house. Pets are notorious for digging into those little plastic pumpkins filled with Halloween candy and making off with treats that are not only bad for them, they can be downright lethal.

Petplan, a pet health insurance company, sent out a release that said their data shows candy-related pet health problems and emergencies increase by 284 percent in the week after Halloween. Now, that’s just from their claims data, but Petplan is one of the largest pet health insurers in the country.

Regardless of the actual number, pet owners do need to take caution with their pets around Halloween. Most pet owners know that chocolate is poison to dogs and can be fatal. In fact, the press release said, just one ounce of dark chocolate can poison a 50-pound dog.

But chocolate, while probably the most common among causes for emergency visits this time of year, isn’t the only culprit.

Petplan’s email offered up the following tips to help prevent any Halloween health hazards:

bull Runaway pets: If you’re expecting lots of ghosts and goblins at your door, make sure your pet isn’t tempted to go trick-or-treating with them! Consider setting up a room with water, food, toys and a comfy pet bed where your pet can stay safe and sound. Also, make sure your pet has a microchip. The tiny chip, implanted easily in the back of your dog’s neck, will make a reunion much easier should he/she feel like haunting the neighborhood for a spell.

bull Pet costumes: According to the National Retail Federation, 14.7 percent of pet parents will dress up Fido or Fluffy for the holiday. If you costume your pet, keep your pet’s vision clear, their movement unencumbered and be sure the costume is free of frills that can easily be chewed off and/or swallowed. Take temperature into account, too, as pets clothed in costumes can become overheated and dehydrated.

bull Candy wrappers: Even if you’re careful to keep candy out of reach of your pet’s prying paws, beware of their wrappers, which can prove horrifyingly hazardous. They can lead to intestinal obstruction, which often requires surgery.

bull Raisins:Some pet parents prefer to skip candy altogether, opting to hand out mini-boxes of raisins to trick-or-treaters instead. While healthier for children, raisins are extremely poisonous to pets, especially dogs. Even in small doses, raisin consumption can cause kidney failure in four-legged family members, so treat these treats the same as you would sugary sweets.

Sidenote: Did you know there are at least 14 pet health insurance providers in the U.S? If you’re considering getting insurance for your pet, you might want to check out a site I stumbled upon, Pet Insurance Review. It not only lists companies but offers reviews.

E-mail Mary Ullmer: and follow her on Twitter at

Possible Reduction of Sentence for İnan Süver

After conscientious objector İnan Süver was examined at the Gülhane Military Medical Academy (GATA), the related report determined to reduce Süver’s sentence due to his mental illness at the time. It was also suggested that Süver shall serve his remaining sentence in hospital. The conscientious objector was convicted of “absence without leave” in 2007.

Mentally ill but suitable for military service

bianet talked to Süver’s lawyer Davut Erkan about the latest developments. Erkan said that the report prepared at GATA claimed that İnan Süver was suitable for military service at the time of the offence. According to the lawyer, the report foresees a reduction of punishment because “the perception of his movements and his ability to direct them was decreased” due to his mental illness in 2007 when he committed the offence of “absence without leave”. Süver’s sentence can be reduced by one sixth according to Artilce 32/2 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK), Erkan said and added that the sentence can be served at hospital.

Erkan highlighted that the joint lawyers were going to request the court to have Süver serve his remaining sentence at hospital. In case the court refused this demand, they would request to transfer Süver to a place like Metris Prison (Istanbul) which is close to hospital since his medical treatment is compulsory, Erkan reported. This way, Süver would be able to obtain medical support at the mental health hospital, the lawyer explained.

“Mentally depressed because he was forced to military service”

Lawyer Erkan emphasized that the report was definitely not sufficient. He said that it ignored the fact that Süver was a conscientious objector and that he did not want to do his military service.

Erkan indicated that it was not enough to just say “His ability of perception decreased because he was mentally depressed, so let’s reduce his sentence”. The lawyer stressed that the reason for his depression was the fact that he refused to do his military service but was forced to do so. (EKN/VK)