Friday, January 31, 2014

Netinho de Paula filiou rolezeiros à União da Juventude Socialista, do PCdoB

Ai, ai, sinto vergonha até de transcrever um trecho de reportagem de Pedro Venceslau, publicada pelo Estadão. Netinho de Paula, o pagodeiro do PCdoB que é secretário da Igualdade Racial de Fernando Haddad, aproveitou a sua aproximação com os rolezeiros para atrair a molecada para o PCdoB. Ele só se esqueceu de avisar os jovens. Leiam trecho.
A polêmica em torno dos “rolezinhos” de jovens da periferia em shoppings de São Paulo começa a ganhar contornos partidários. Três dos principais organizadores dos encontros combinados pela internet que dividiram a opinião pública se filiaram anteontem à União da Juventude Socialista (UJS), entidade que representa a juventude do PC do B e dirige a União Nacional dos Estudantes (UNE).
A ponte entre os jovens e a organização, que foi fundada em 1984 pelo então líder estudantil Aldo Rebelo, atual ministro dos Esportes, foi feita pelo secretário de Igualdade Racial da prefeitura paulistana, Netinho de Paula, que integra o partido. Ele foi escalado pelo prefeito Fernando Haddad (PT) para negociar um acordo entre os “rolezeiros” e os comerciantes que reclamam do movimento.
A filiação do trio ocorreu durante o seminário nacional de formação política da UJS. Também participaram do evento os ex-ministros Luiz Dulci e Orlando Silva, e Renato Rabelo, presidente nacional do PC do B. “A aproximação com eles reforça nossa atuação na periferia”, afirmou Camila Lima, presidente da UJS paulistana.
Apesar do entusiasmo da UJS, o principal líder dos “rolezeiros” demonstrou espanto ao ser informado pelo Estado que a entidade a qual se filiou é ligada a um partido político. “Eu não sabia que era um grupo político. Eles disseram que a UJS é um grupo de amigos e que ela não tem nada a ver com partido. Se tiver, eu vou me afastar”, disse o estudante Vinicius Andrade, de 17 anos, morador do Capão Redondo, zona sul de São Paulo.
Com quase cem mil seguidores no Facebook, ele afirma que os polêmicos encontros não têm o objetivo de fazer uma denúncia social. “Nosso objetivo é curtir, tirar umas fotos e dar uns beijos. Não queremos saber de política. A gente não queria essa polêmica toda”, disse Vinicius.

‘Além de bacalhau & vinho’, p


Então ficamos assim: a presidente come o que quiser, no restaurante que quiser, porque ela paga a conta. E pronto.
A comitiva dela pode sair da Suíça e ir para Cuba com uma ligeira paradinha em Lisboa porque o avião não tem autonomia de voo e precisava abastecer.
Enquanto o avião abastece e a comitiva presidencial tem todo direito de alugar as suítes que quiser, no hotel que quiser, pagar as diárias que quiser.
Enfim, a comitiva presidencial tem o direito de fazer o que quiser, inclusive o de mentir e de dizer que a escala foi improvisada, embora o governo português jure que tinha sido informado dois dias antes.
A oposição, como não podia deixar de ser, fez praça de mais essa vistosa aventura governamental, e encaminhou um pedido à Procuradoria Geral da República para que a escala fosse investigada.
A Comissão de Ética Pública da Presidência da República não se sente habilitada a investigar essa tal de escala secreta ─ tão secreta que até as fotos do chef do restaurante lisboeta com a presidente foram publicadas em todos os jornais ─ e daqui a alguns dias ninguém lembra mais de nada.
No Brasil há uma extraordinária vocação para magnificar a banalidade ao mesmo tempo em que se banaliza aquilo que talvez devesse se magnificar.
Enquanto se discute se a escala foi secreta ou não, se a presidente pagou ou não pagou a conta do restaurante, se as diárias do hotel foram ou não abusivas, a presidente chegou tranquilamente a Cuba, entregou o porto novo financiado com dinheiro brasileiro, e posou para fotos carinhosas com o vovô ditador aposentado mais longevo do planeta.
Já que se trata, aparentemente, de exigir um pouco mais de transparência, talvez fosse mais útil, em vez de pedir à PGR que investigue a escala do avião, o menu do restaurante, as diárias do hotel e quem pagou a conta, que a oposição conseguisse explicações claras sobre as condições de financiamento do porto de Mariel, sobre o projeto da Zona Especial de Comércio que o governo cubano pretende implantar lá, e quais vantagens o Brasil pretende tirar disso.
O governo poderia aproveitar também para deixar claro porque o dinheiro que está sendo gasto lá não é o mesmo que faz falta na melhoria da nossa infraestrutura portuária, rodoviária e aeroviária. Se não é falta de dinheiro, é falta do que? De vontade? De competência?
E já que se trata de deixar as coisas claras, porque não aproveitar para pedir explicações também sobre os detalhes do contrato de prestação de serviços que o Brasil assinou com Cuba para a importação da mão de obra de médicos, e se as leis trabalhistas do país estão ou não sendo desrespeitadas por ele.
Enfim, saber que Dilma paga as suas próprias contas no restaurante pode ser muito tranquilizador, mas as preocupações da oposição e do país deveriam ir muito além da conta do bacalhau e do vinho.

Ex-namorado de Amanda Knox é detido perto da fronteira

Polícia italiana acredita que Raffaele Sollecito tentava fugir do país para escapar da pena de 25 anos de prisão pelo assassinato da estudante Meredith Kercher

Raffaele Sollecito, ex-namorado da estudante Amanda Knox, foi detido nesta sexta-feira pela polícia italiana em um hotel próximo à fronteira da Itália com a Áustria, no nordeste do país, informa o jornal The Guardian. A prisão de Sollecito, de 25 anos, ocorre um dia após suasegunda condenação pelo assassinato, em 2007, da estudante britânica Meredith Kercher, na cidade de Perugia. Apesar de condenado, a Justiça italiana ainda não tinha emitido a ordem de prisão para Sollecito.
A estudante americana Amanda Knox – que não compareceu ao julgamento por estar morando nos Estados Unidos – também foi condenada nesta quinta-feira a 28 anos e seis meses de prisão pelo assassinato de Meredith. À época do crime, as duas dividiam um apartamento na cidade de Perugia. Este foi o terceiro julgamento do casal. Os dois foram condenados em 2009 e absolvidos em 2011. Esta decisão, porém, foi anulada pela Suprema Corte italiana, que ordenou a reabertura do caso.
Um oficial italiano não identificado pelo jornal disse que Sollecito, que desapareceu da sala do tribunal antes que o veredicto fosse lido, tinha passado a noite com sua atual namorada, Greta Menegaldo, em um hotel na vila de Venzone, próxima a fronteira. "Ele foi advertido que está proibido de deixar o país", disse o porta-voz da polícia. "O passaporte dele foi confiscado e sua carteira de identidade foi carimbada para mostrar que ele não deve deixar a Itália", completou o oficial.
De acordo com o jornal La Repubblica, por volta das 15 horas de quinta-feira, uma câmera de segurança em Palmanova, cidade italiana próxima a Áustria, flagrou o carro modelo Mini Cooper pertencente ao pai da namorada de Sollecito. O carro seguia pela autoestrada A23, que leva à fronteira com o município de Villach, no sul da Áustria.
O tribunal de Florença, onde Sollecito e Amanda foram julgados, informara nesta quinta-feira que havia um perigo "real e presente" de o rapaz condenado fugir do país. O juiz Alessandro Nencini disse que, embora Sollecito tivesse participado dos trâmites judiciais, ele tinha demonstrado interesse em obter “apoio logístico em países com os quais a Itália não tem relações de assistência judicial". Recentemente, Sollecito esteve de na República Dominicana e também procurou por trabalho na Suíça. Depois disso, o tribunal decidiu que ele não poderia deixar a Itália mais uma vez sem a permissão de um juiz.
Fugitiva' – Em entrevista ao jornal The Guardian nos dias que antecederam o veredicto, Amanda reafirmou que não pretende voltar à Itália. “Eu serei tecnicamente considerada uma fugitiva. Eu definitivamente não vou voltar à Itália por minha vontade. Eles terão de me capturar e me colocar aos chutes em uma prisão na qual eu não mereço estar. Eu vou lutar pela minha inocência”.
É pouco provável que Amanda volte à Itália para cumprir a nova sentença porque a lei americana determina que uma pessoa não pode ser julgada duas vezes sob a mesma acusação, informou um especialista à rede CNN. Quando a reabertura do caso foi anunciada, a rede BBC informou que o novo julgamento representaria, tecnicamente, uma continuação do original, o que afastaria a possibilidade de “dupla condenação”.

José Henrique Paim Fernandes, secretário executivo do Ministério da Educação

Novo ministro da Educação é réu em processo na Justiça

Escolhido de Dilma para o MEC, o petista Henrique Paim responde a processo por irregularidades em convênio firmado entre uma ONG e o FNDEDesde que o atual ministro da Educação, Aloizio Mercadante, se instalou em uma sala na Casa Civil para fazer o processo de transição para Pasta, o nome de José Henrique Paim Fernandes (PT), secretário executivo do MEC desde 2006, começou a pipocar na imprensa como possível substituto ao cargo. A confirmação de seu nome para o cargo ocorreu no começo da tarde desta quinta-feira, na reforma ministerial realizada pela presidente Dilma.

O economista de 47 anos é o nome técnico do MEC, tendo anteriormente passado dois anos como presidente do Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Educação (FNDE), cargo que assumiu em 2004 com a indicação de Tarso Genro, atual governador gaúcho, com quem atuou na Secretaria Especial do Conselho de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social em 2003.
Entre as fontes ouvidas pelo site de VEJA, os elogios à sua capacidade como gestor não faltam. “É uma pessoa séria, técnica, que nunca quis agradar ninguém por politicagem”, disse Mozart Neves Ramos, Diretor de Articulação e Inovação do Instituto Ayrton Senna e membro do Conselho Nacional de Educação.
De sua passagem pelo FNDE, autarquia que administra 31,2 bilhões de reais em receitas, Paim se destacou durante as negociações do Plano de Ações Articuladas (PAR), autorizando repasses de verba para Estados e municípios. Uma fonte próxima ao MEC que não quis se identificar disse que, na época em que os acordos estavam sendo definidos, o economista conversou com todos representantes estaduais e cuidou dos 27 projetos apresentados. “Ele é do tipo que chega às 9h, sai às 22h e não tem problemas em marcar reuniões na sexta-feira às 19 horas”, comentou.
Outro ponto que conta – e muito – a seu favor é a parceria com a presidente Dilma Rousseff. Ambos trabalharam juntos no governo do Rio Grande do Sul e de lá trazem a parceria que segue até hoje. Dizem que é para ele que Dilma liga na hora de saber o andamento dos projetos educacionais que costuma ostentar em seus discursos. A contar pela reputação, Paim tem tudo para ser bem-sucedido nos dez meses que vai chefiar a pasta.
Entretanto, datam de seu período no FNDE denúncias envolvendo irregularidades em convênios firmados com ONGs para programas de alfabetização. Um dos processos, que se estende até hoje, teve início em 2006, quando o Ministério Público Federal (MPF) entrou com uma ação civil pública para denunciar irregularidades em um convênio de 491.040 reais assinado em 2005 com a ONG Central Nacional Democrática Sindical (CNDS) para educar jovens e adultos.

Fundada em 2001, a CNDS é uma associação civil criada para representar membros de entidades sindicais e outras ONGs. Segundo a denúncia do MPF, a ONG firmou o primeiro contrato com o FNDE em 2004, no valor de 532.222 reais no âmbito do programa Brasil Alfabetizado. A vigência desse contrato venceu em abril de 2005 e, logo em seguida, os responsáveis pela CNDS tinham 60 dias para apresentar a prestação de contas do recurso do governo federal - o que não foi feito.

Esse fato, somado a denúncias por falta de pagamento feitas por professores vinculados a ONG, levou o MPF a emitir uma recomendação destinada à presidência do FNDE para que a pasta não fechasse novos contratos com a ONG. A recomendação não foi acatada e, mesmo com as irregularidades, a autarquia fechou um novo convênio com a CNDS em dezembro de 2005.

A situação ficou mais complicada para Paim quando a Justiça Federal em São Paulo acatou a ação do MPF e abriu um processo para a investigação do caso. Em sua defesa, o ex-presidente do FNDE afirmou que o convênio foi firmado sem seu conhecimento. Eximindo-se da acusação de improbidade administrativa, ele pediu uma auditoria no MEC e passou a responsabilidade do contrato com a CNDS para os servidores que fiscalizavam os convênios da autarquia.
Enquanto a Advocacia-Geral da União (AGU) tratava da defesa de Paim, a CNDS e seu então presidente, Edmilson de Almeida Santos, desapareceram. A sede da ONG, em Guarulhos, foi fechada. Um advogado, que preferiu não se identificar, conta que foi procurado por Edmilson logo após a denúncia por falta de pagamentos, mas que renunciou ao caso em 2007. Em sua defesa, anexada ao processo, ele afirma que estava afastado por tuberculose e responsabilizou o vice-presidente da CNDS, Acácio Paulino, pela falta de pagamento aos educadores. Assim como Edmilson Santos, Acácio Paulino nunca respondeu às intimações para prestar depoimento à Justiça, o que causou a demora de julgamento no processo. Atualmente, o caso está nas mãos do juiz aguardando decisão e, até que saia a sentença, Paim segue como réu.

Os problemas com esse convênio vieram à tona quando o então ministro da Educação, Fernando Haddad, saiu para candidato à prefeitura de São Paulo e declarou que nenhum dos seus secretários no MEC tinha impedimentos legais. Na época, Haddad disse: "Um Henrique Paim vale por uma dúzia de Alexandre Schneider [ex-secretário municipal de Educação de São Paulo]”. A denúncia sobre o envolvimento de Paim nas irregularidades apareceu na imprensa nos dias seguintes à declaração. O secretário executivo era, até então, um dos cotados para substituir Haddad.
Questionado pelo site de VEJA sobre as irregularidades apontadas pelo MPF, o MEC informou que o ex-presidente foi "induzido a erro por falha administrativa interna do FNDE" e que o Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU), responsável por fiscalizar a utilização do dinheiro público, investigou paralelamente as denúncias de irregularidade no convênio. Em 2009, o TCU acatou as alegações de Paim e o eximiu de qualquer responsabilização no caso, condenando a CNDS a devolver o dinheiro recebido no segundo convênio. O MEC também afirma que, como o processo ainda não foi julgado em 1ª instância, foi solicitado o julgamento em separado de Paim, "sendo aguardada no momento a prolação de sentença eximindo o ex-presidente do FNDE de qualquer responsabilidade."
Após quase sete anos, ainda não ficou explicado, nem pelo processo judicial, nem pelo acórdão do TCU, onde foram parar os 491.040 reais repassados à ONG, já que a entidade parou de responder pelo serviço de alfabetização a que havia se proposto e nunca devolveu a quantia aos cofres públicos.
Homem segura um celular com o programa do Facebook 'Home'

Ações do Facebook disparam na bolsa e alcançam novo recorde histórico

Valor do papel da rede social chegou a 62,03 dólares, nível mais alto desde que a empresa começou a ser negociada na Nasdaq, em maio de 2012

A ação da rede social Facebook disparou quase 16% nesta quinta-feira e alcançou um novo recorde histórico, após surpreender no dia anterior com resultados inesperados até para os analistas do mercado de capitais.Uma hora depois do começo da abertura dos negócios da Nasdaq, a bolsa de valores eletrônica dos Estados Unidos, as ações do Facebook subiam 15,88% e eram negociadas a 62,03 dólares, seu nível mais alto desde que a empresa começou a ser cotada na bolsa em maio de 2012.
A empresa fundada por Mark Zuckerberg ganhou 1,5 bilhão de dólares no ano passado, frente aos 53 milhões de dólares de 2012; as receitas chegaram a 7,8 bilhões de dólares, 54% a mais que no ano anterior.
No último trimestre do ano, o lucro líquido da empresa chegou a 523 milhões de dólares, 717% a mais que entre outubro e dezembro de 2012, ao mesmo tempo em que suas receitas subiram, em termos anualizados, 63%, até os 2,5 bilhões de dólares.
Os analistas celebraram especialmente o maior peso que teve a publicidade em dispositivos móveis no faturamento do último trimestre, que representou 53% do total das receitas, enquanto um ano antes foi de 23%.
O Facebook tem 1,2 bilhão de usuários mensais, dos quais 945 milhões entram na popular rede social através de um dispositivo móvel. A média de usuários ativos diários no mês passado foi de 556 milhões, 49% a mais que um ano antes.
O grande mercado da empresa continua sendo os Estados Unidos e o Canadá, de onde veio quase metade dos acessos totais no trimestre passado. Da Europa, veio um terço dos ingressos.
Desde a sua acidentada estreia na Nasdaq em maio de 2012, os papéis do Facebook tiveram valorização de 62,12%. Se só for computado o ano passado, a alta foi de 98,4%.

Let Them Drink Coke: The Mainstream Media's Casual Incuriosity of the West Virginia Chemical Spill

Last winter, 3,000 vacationing Americans were deprived of drinking water and functioning bathrooms when an unexpected fire aboard a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean left it with almost no power. The deprivation and unsanitary conditions dragged on for almost a week and forcing a handful of people to be emergency airlifted off the ship for medical reasons. This was a legitimate news story, no doubt, but thanks to cable news’s sudden infatuation with it, it blew up into a full-blown media phenomenon—the “poop cruise.” As the ship limped back to port, no major newspaper or TV news network could resist the pull of covering it, none more so than CNN, which churned out an unbelievable 758 broadcast minutes—more than twelve full hours—to “poop cruise” coverage on the voyage’s final day.
Last Thursday, 100 times as many Americans lost access to clean, safe water for drinking, cooking, and bathing in West Virginia when a 7,500-gallon spill of a hazardous chemical using for coal processing contaminated the Elk River and the region’s water supply. Lacking water, the state capital effectively shut down, leaving Charleston’s streets ominously empty, like in some dystopian future. As the ordeal stretched into a new workweek, still no date had been given for when residents might be able to trust what comes out of their faucets again. This too is a news story, a big one, in fact. But with a few exceptions (among them, Al Jazeera America), it has been shrugged off by the major newspapers and mostly ignored by the broadcast and cable news TV networks. CNN, contra their “poop cruise” saturation coverage, has devoted around thirty minutes—a mere half-hour—to the water crisis over the past several days.
So, what’s behind this disproportionate journalistic response? Why the disconnect about focusing on what really matters? I’d submit that a lot of the mainstream media’s latent biases are lurking in this story, forming an almost perfect storm of national press apathy to West Virginia’s plight. And it’s instructive to unpack how they work.
To be fair, one has to look at the lack of coverage of the spill and subsequent water crisis in the context of the news events surrounding it. It’s pretty easy to identify the major stories grabbing the attention of the pundits and filling up most of the news hole the past few days—Chris Christie’s bridge-closure scandal and, yes, the Golden Globes. That these stories are rooted in Los Angeles and the New York metro area may seem like a coincidence, but it’s not. A vast majority of the national press lives in New York, LA, and Washington, DC. These journalists know what they see and hear, and this effect has been magnified of late, as almost every major news organization has uprooted most, if not all, of its local bureaus across the country. As a result, unquestionable confirmation and proximity biases, which have unmistakable class undertones, drive mainstream media editorial decision-making.
For instance, it’s no accident that Wall Street Journal reporters started poking around the Christie Bridgegate scandal not long after a few Journal editors got stuck in the Fort Lee traffic on their way into work. One wonders what kind of wall-to-wall coverage that same size chemical spill might have enjoyed if it had shut down the water in a tony neighborhood like Georgetown or the Upper East Side. Similarly, if you were looking to NBC News for an update Sunday night on the hundreds of thousands of poor and middle-class people suffering in West Virginia, you were out of luck. That’s because NBC chose to forego that evening’s national newscast to instead spend the 6:00 hour covering rich celebrities arriving at the Golden Globes. (In an ironic twist, a minor pipe leak occurred on the red carpet, which likely received more cumulative media attention than the spill in West Virginia.)
Now, one could argue the spill’s impact on West Virginia had been well mitigated by Sunday night. And that’s true. (Although that doesn’t mean the ongoing water embargo wasn’t newsworthy). By all accounts, the FEMA response has been swift and substantial, helping to avoid an even larger public health emergency and possible loss of life. But it also reveals the media’s reductive, reactive nature, which is marked by being more caught up in the immediate response to man-made or natural disasters than their systemic causes.
There was a similar obtuseness in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, where the coverage all too often focused simply on "rebuilding" rather than asking tougher questions about the long-term impact of climate change on coastal communities. And sometimes the press doesn’t even stick around long enough to miss the point. For example, last spring, the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, pried big-time media folks like Anderson Cooper out of their studios for a day or two. But the Boston bombing story proved too good to give up, and before anyone had figured out what ignited the blast, the national press had lost interest and moved on.
Similarly, a competent government response to disaster can actually cause the press to overlook or badly misread the potential dangers averted. How else to explain these outrageously tone-deaf sentences, stuck in the middle of an otherwise well-reported Washington Post story on West Virginia from Sunday?
Even if this does not turn out to be a public health disaster, the water crisis has provided a reminder of why the Kanawha River Valley is sometimes called Chemical Valley. 






Utah school district apologizes for seizing kids' lunches for unpaid bills

One of Utah's biggest school systems apologized Thursday and told angry parents it was investigating why dozens of elementary school children had their lunches seized and thrown away when they didn't have enough money in their accounts.
"This was a mistake," said Jason Olsen, a spokesman for the Salt Lake School District. "There shouldn't have been food taken away from these students once they went through that line."
The district came under national criticism after as many as 40 kids were given fruit and milk and their real lunches were thrown away Tuesday at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City.
"She took my lunch away and said, 'Go get a milk,'" fifth-grader Sophia Isom told NBC station KSL. "I came back and asked, 'What's going on?' Then she handed me an orange. She said, 'You don't have any money in your account, so you can't get lunch.'"
Sophia's mom, Erica Lukes, called the move "traumatic and humiliating" and told the Salt Lake Tribune she was all paid up.
"I think it's despicable," she said. "These are young children that shouldn't be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up."
Olsen said that parents had been notified about negative balances Monday and that a child nutrition manager had decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue. They were thrown away because once food is served to one student it can't be served to another, he said.
That brought a storm of criticism on the elementary school's Facebook page, where scores of people denounced school and district officials as "heartless" and "inhumane."


A protester stands on top of barricades in Ukraine's capital of Kiev on Tuesday, January 28. Long-running demonstrations escalated into violent confrontations this month, with police and protesters fighting in Kiev's icy streets.

East vs West -- What's behind Ukraine's political crisis?Young and old, they have braved the freezing cold for weeks to voice their discontent. Using snow, wood, metal and tires, thousands of protesters have barricaded themselves into a makeshift tent city, paralyzing central Kiev and refusing to leave until their demands are met.

Undeterred by the Ukrainian winter chill, the demonstrators chant day and night, sometimes to the drumbeat of sticks on corrugated iron, and take to the stage to give speeches, demanding the government's ouster and new elections.
For the past few weeks, billowing smoke, large fires, burnt out tires and cars as well as smashed windows of public buildings have become familiar scenes in the snowy city as protests have plunged Ukraine, an eastern European country of 45 million people, into a deep political crisis.
Some of the images beamed around the world have been particularly dramatic -- protesters knocking down a giant statue of the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin and hacking it with hammers to loud cheers, explosions reminiscent of a war zone echoing around downtown Kiev, fierce clashes and abuse. One protester, naked aside from his shoes, was seen being kicked and forced onto a police bus.
The battlefield is central Kiev, the power base of an opposition which is demanding change in the former Soviet Union state. The lines have been drawn.Batons have been raised on both sides -- between the protesters armed with petrol bombs and stones and shielded riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets -- sometimes resulting in deadly clashes.
But despite a crackdown, demonstrators' morale is high with no sign of their labyrinth of tents, railings and metal barrels that have taken up Kiev's central arteries being dismantled just yet.
It has been two months since the first rattled demonstrators took to the streets, underscoring tensions in a country split between Europe and Russia. But Ukraine's political unrest seems to be worsening by the day -- drawing concern from its neighbors, Western European states and Washington.
Here are some key questions about Ukraine's political unrest.
What sparked the protests?
The protests began in November as a pro-Europe gesture, underscoring the tensions in a country split between pro-European regions in the West and a more Russia-oriented East.
Thousands spilled onto the streets after President Viktor Yanukovych did a U-turn over a trade pact with the European Union that had been years in the making -- favoring closer relations with Russia instead.
Angered by this backpedaling, the demonstrators demanded the EU deal be signed, saying it would strengthen cooperation with the bloc.
Their daily protests soon escalated, drawing parallels to Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, which toppled the government.
But with Ukraine desperately in need of a cash injection, Kiev cited the need for financial assistance if it were to do business with the EU. Yanukovych, in power since 2010, said Ukraine could not afford to sign the deal, alluding to economic pressure from Russia.
Another factor in Yanukovych's decision not to sign the deal is likely to have been the EU's demands that he free from jail former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his political opponent. The Orange Revolution that swept him from office in 2004, when he was prime minister, also swept Tymoshenko to power.
Soon afterward, he flew to Moscow where he and President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt and slash the price Kiev pays for its gas.
While unhappy with that, what inflamed the demonstrators even more, however, was the adoption of a sweeping anti-protest law by the parliament on January 16.
The new law included provisions barring people from wearing helmets and masks to rallies and from setting up tents or sound equipment without prior police permission.
This sparked concerns it could be used to put down demonstrations and deny people the right to free speech -- and clashes soon escalated.
Last week, several people were killed and hundreds of others injured in heavy street fighting.
The epicenter of the protests has been Kiev's central Independence Square, Maidan, but the demonstrators have also blocked other streets and government buildings. On Sunday, they briefly seized the justice ministry.
The changes that occurred after the Orange Revolution weren't simply deep enough. This time around, it appears that the disenchantment is so strong that there is a genuine opportunity to make a fresh start," said Dalibor Rohac, policy analyst with the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.
"For Ukrainians this is a chance to get on a different trajectory from the one the country has been on for the past 22 years and become eventually a part of prosperous, democratic Europe."
What's being done to try to reach an end to the fighting?
The leaders of three opposition factions have met several times with Yanukovych and a government working group to try to resolve the crisis.
They are former boxer Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party; Arseniy Yatsenyuk, of the Fatherland party; and Oleh Tiahnybok, of the Freedom party, or Svoboda.
The president's foes have mainly been calling for the government to be dissolved, new elections to be held and for the protest laws to be absolved.On Saturday, Yanukovych offered a package of concessions under which Yatsenyuk would have become the prime minister and, under the president's offer, been able to dismiss the government.
He also offered Klitschko, a champion boxer known as "Dr. Ironfist," the post of deputy prime minister on humanitarian issues and also agreed to a working group looking at changes to the constitution. But the opposition refused.
"No deal @ua_yanukovych, we're finishing what we started. The people decide our leaders, not you," Yatsenyuk tweeted.
By Tuesday, however, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov had resigned and deputies loyal to Yanukovych backtracked and overturned the anti-protest law they had rammed through parliament 12 days ago.
A special parliamentary session also looked at legislation that might provide amnesty for more than 200 people arrested since the demonstrations began in late November. It was adjourned until Wednesday, when lawmakers will continue the debate.
The moves, the first concrete concessions by Yanukovich since the crisis erupted two months ago, brought cries of joy from several thousand demonstrators massed on Independence Square.
But opposition leaders, who want to see wide-ranging constitutional reform and a shake-up of the Ukrainian political system, said they would try to to wring even more gains from Yanukovych.
This has been been highlighted by the International Trade Union Confederation, which has criticized Qatar's system of sponsorship which ties workers to employers and has been abused in the past. The ITUC also point to the high number of worker deaths and the conditions that many find themselves in. Temperatures on building sites in the summer months can hit 50 degree Celcius.

Qatar set deadline by FIFA over conditions for migrant workers


Organizers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have been set a tight deadline by FIFA to explain how conditions are improving for migrant workers on the various building projects associated with the hosting of football's showpiece competition.
The world governing body are demanding a "detailed report" by February 12 with "information on specific steps" being taken to improve the situation.
FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke wrote to Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Thursday to request the assurances.
Concerns over the welfare of migrant workers in Qatar was highlighted by an Amnesty International report last year, which reported on widespread abuse.
It prompted FIFA president Sepp Blatter to describe the conditions as "unacceptable" and he raised the issue with the Emir of Qatar on a visit to Doha last November.
FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger has been given the responsibility to monitor any progress and has held a series of meeting with human rights and labor organizations, including Amnesty and the International Labor Organization (ILO).
"We are currently in the middle of an intensive process, which is exclusively aimed at improving the situation of workers in Qatar," Zwanziger said in a statement released by FIFA.
"Ultimately, what we need are clear rules and steps that will build trust and ensure that the situation, which is unacceptable at the moment, improves in a sustainable manner."
The Qatar World Cup 2022 Committee was not immediately available forZwanziger is due before the European Parliament on February 13, the day after the deadline for Qatar to report, in a hearing over workers' rights in the Arab emirate.
The executive committee will also receive an update at its March 20 and 21 meeting.
"FIFA firmly believes in the power of the World Cup in triggering positive social change in Qatar, including improving the labor rights and conditions of migrant workers," it added.
Since Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup it has been dogged by various controversies, with FIFA still to decide on an actual date for the competition.
Acute summer temperatures in Qatar have led to fears over safety for players and spectators and Valcke told a French radio station earlier this month that he favored a winter World Cup with a November start.
 FIFA's official position is that a final decision will be made in December 2014.

China's 'bulldozer' mayor kicked out of party, handed to prosecutors


Hong Kong (CNN) -- China's ruling Communist Party has expelled the former mayor of Nanjing for bribery and abuse of power, describing him as "morally corrupt."
State news agency Xinhua said on Thursday that an investigation into Ji Jianye's alleged transgressions found he took advantage of his position to seek benefits for others and accepted a huge amount of money and gifts personally or through family members.
The decision was made by the Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which said that Ji's case would now be handled by ChiExpulsion from the ruling party typically precedes criminal charges.
Ji, who was removed from his post in October, was known, according to local media, as "mayor bulldozer" for his fondness for demolition and reconstruction projects across the city -- home to eight million and a former capital.
President Xi Jinping has embarked on ananti-corruption drive since taking office in March 2013, pledging to target both "flies and tigers" -- both low- and high-ranking officials, sparing no one regardless of their position.
According to state media, some 108,000 officials were disciplined in the first nine months of 2013 and almost 20 minister-level senior officials have fallen from grace since late 2012.na's judicial system.

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Michael Schumacher: Doctors start 'waking up process'

He has been in a medically induced coma for over a month, but former Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher's sedation is being reduced to start the "waking up process," his agent said Thursday.
Schumacher suffered severe head trauma in a skiing accident at the French Alps resort of Meribel on December 29.
The announcement marks a key change to Schumacher's condition, which has been routinely described as "stable" by agent Sabine Kehm in recent weeks.
"Michael's sedation is being reduced in order to allow the start of the waking up process which may take a long time," she said in a statement on Thursday.
For the protection of the family, it was originally agreed by the interested parties to communicate this information only once this process was consolidated.
"Please note that no further updates will be given."
Kehm went on to repeat previous requests for the media to respect the privacy of Schumacher's family.
"The family of Michael Schumacher is again requesting to respect its privacy and the medical secret, and to not disturb the doctors treating Michael in their work. At the same time, the family wishes to express sincere appreciation for the worldwide sympathy."
A seven-time world champion whose F1 career ended in 2012, Schumacher has been treated in Grenoble since his accident.
Neurosurgeons there operated twice to remove blood clots on the brain and reduce swelling, the reason he has been kept asleep since the surgery.
The German has been inundated with support from around the world during his stay, with his former stable Mercedes running the message "Keep Fighting Michael" on its silver livery when they revealed their new car for testing on Monday.
The Ferrari team, who Schumacher raced for between 1996 and 2006, also showed their support for their five-time world champion this week in the Spanish city Jerez, where teams are conducting winter testing ahead of the new F1 season.
On the eve of the first day of testing, the team's crew posed with a pit board showing the message "Forza Michael" while the new F14-T scarlet racer made its track debut with the same words of encouragement.
On Tuesday, the team published a note from Niki Lauda, who won two world championships for Ferrari in the 1970s, which read: "Michael, every day I follow your improvements and every day I am close to you. I hope I can speak to you very, very soon!"
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso told CNN that F1 was "still in shock" over Schumacher's accident and condition.
"The day that I received the news I could not believe it to be honest," Alonso, who was speaking in Madrid on Wednesday at an exhibition that charts the course of the driver's career.
"He was the man that can beat anything and can win any race and can do anything without any worries, so to see him and to see the accident ...
"We're all hoping every day to have some good news coming from the hospital," added Alonso.
In early January, a French prosecutor investigating the accident said that speed was not a reason for Schumacher's fall.
His investigative team believe the experienced skier hit a rock hidden beneath the snow, while traversing an area between two marked pistes, which catapulted him face first onto another rock.
Schumacher ended up 9 meters (30 feet) from the edge of the piste, said prosecutor Patrick Quincy.
Footage filmed on a small camera attached to Schumacher's helmet has been used to help the investigators' analysis.

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Thailand elections: Politics of crisis

 A state of emergency, streets paralyzed with protesters, the fatal shooting of a leading pro-government activist and an election campaign teetering on chaos may not sound like the script from a rising Southeast Asian economic powerhouse.
But for Thailand -- which manages to combine economic success and political mayhem in equal measure -- this weekend's elections are just another page in an eight-year struggle between supporters and opponents of Thaksin Shinawatra.
The former prime minister may have been out of Thailand since 2008, but his populist policies -- which included subsidized healthcare and microcredit schemes targeted at a rural and impoverished electorate -- have made him the driving force behind governments that have won every election since 2001.
Even with fresh elections this weekend, few are predicting that the opposition will settle for the result.
Ten people have already been killed since the demonstrations began last November. The results of the election, some analysts say, could be annulled if the opposition mounts a successful legal challenge in the country's increasingly politicized courts.
Coup still possible
For Duncan McCargo, professor of Southeast Asian politics at the University of Leeds, a military coup is still not out of the question.
The protestors appear to have no clear political agenda other than a desire to 'return' Thailand to an imagined pre-Thaksin era in which the ruling network and its supporters can still call the shots, and provincial voters can be marginalized," he told CNN.
"In the short term, they are trying to provoke a military coup of some kind."
At the heart of the protesters concerns is the fear that Thaksin, from his self-imposed exile in Dubai, is still exercising influence through his younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra, the current prime minister.
"There's no doubt that Thaksin has remained an influential figure, working through and behind the Yingluck government," McCargo said. "But Yingluck hasn't been Thaksin's 'clone,' as he originally hoped, and there has been ample evidence that she was often able to set her own agenda and to form her own political alliances."
Economy at the fault-line
Thailand's successful export-based economy itself is one of the faultlines of the current political discord.
While growth in Thailand, Southeast Asia's second largest economy after Indonesia, is slowing, the traditionally impoverished northeast of the country is booming.
Traditionally the poorest region of Thailand, Isan, in the northeast of the country, accounts for a third of Thailand's population. However, it is rapidly turning from its economic staple of subsistence farming to an economy Economic growth in the region hit 40% from 2007 to 2011, compared with 23% for the rest of Thailand over that period and just 17% for greater Bangkok, according to government figures.
Isan, which once exported people to Bangkok and the rest of the world as cheap migrant labor, is seeing its workers return and is demanding greater political representation.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has brought in a raft of measures that ensure Thaksin's populist policies continue to underpin the boom in the red shirt heartland.
Chief among them is a 2.2 trillion baht ($71 billion) infrastructure program aimed at the northeast and a nationwide minimum wage of 300 baht ($10) a day. In some parts of Isan, this boosted household incomes by more than 35%. by trade and services.
A rice subsidy, which guarantees farmers 40% above market price for their crops, has led to a conservative estimate of losses in the region of 136 billion baht ($4.3 billion). It has been widely criticized in Thailand and even recently drew fire from the International Monetary Fund, which urged the country to drop the $21 billion scheme.
Changing demographic
As the boom fuels a growing middle class, Bangkok's elite now realizes that it ignores the northeast -- which holds a third of the electorate -- at its peril.
"In the past, Thailand was run by a relatively small Bangkok-based elite which I term 'network monarchy,' centering on the palace, the military, the bureaucracy and major business groups," McCargo said.
"While electoral politics have been the norm for more than 30 years, elected governments needed the blessing of this network in order to remain in office. Without this endorsement, governments quickly collapsed -- or were removed by military coups."
The blank generation
Meanwhile, for Thailand's growing base of unaligned voters, the latest political drama is just one more scene in an all-too familiar saga.
"I think I will post a blank ballot," one disgruntled voter from Korat in the northeast who did not want to be named, told CNN. "Once there were many parties but nowadays there's just two: Thaksin/Yingluck or Abhisit.
To me both of them are troublesome -- they both have problems with corruption and they are both pushing their own agendas so hard they're splitting the country in two.
"Corruption has been with this country since the beginning of time, but when I was young there were some ex-prime ministers who really did a good job for their countries, even if they did line their pockets from the national budget too."

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