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Latest update : 2011-08-25

Bloodshed in Homs as the Syrian authorities continue their violent crackdown on protesters

There has been bloodshed in Homs as the Syrian authorities continue their violent crackdown on protesters. Online campaigning intensifies for the release of two American hikers detained in Iran. Finally, American billionaire Donald Trump takes us inside his very own Boeing 757.

Syria: crackdown continues in Homs

A UN delegation arrived in Syria at the weekend to assess humanitarian needs and on Monday it visited Homs. Opponents of Bashar al-Assad were there to greet the mission for this much awaited visit, but the situation degenerated and security forces used violence against protesters.

Despite the ongoing repression across the country, thousands of residents gathered for the UN mission’s visit to the western Syrian city to voice their despair and request  the international community to intervene to stop the regime’s violent crackdown on protesters.

As we can see in these amateur videos, as the UN mission arrived, demonstrators shouted out slogans attacking the president. Some, like this man, reportedly even warned the UN delegates there would probably be further bloodshed once they had left the city.

He was not wrong. According to reports from anti-government demonstrators, once the UN delegation left Homs, Syrian troops opened fire on protesters, killing several and sparking panic in the streets. It is shown in this footage, which is doing the rounds on sharing sites, although it is difficult to verify. 

And it would appear that the armed forces adopted heavy-handed measures to silence protesters and regain control. A number of videos which have been posted online by rebels which appear to show tanks rolling through the streets of Homs. And here someone has filmed the damage left after Monday’s violent confrontations between troops and protesters. This building has been completely devastated and these shops destroyed by military fire.

 

Online campaign to free two American hikers

On the 20th August, a Tehran court sentenced Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to eight years in prison. The two American men were arrested two years ago at the border between Iran and Iraq on charges of espionage by the Iranian authorities. They deny the charges and have won the support of web users who have been campaigning for their release.

A site called 'Free the Hikers' was set up shortly after their arrest in 2009. Web users have since being using the site to proclaim the prisoners’ innocence, claiming that they did not intentionally overstep the Iranian border. A lot of documentation has been posted online and in particular videos filmed before their arrest, to prove that the hikers are just ordinary tourists and not spies working for the US government.


The campaigning has also spread to social networks and to Facebook in particular, where over 29,000 web users have expressed their support for the American prisoners. A petition demanding their immediate release has also been circulating on the web and has been signed by over 5,300 web users.

Many others however, like Dell Hill, have been wondering about the real reasons behind the hikers’ trip. The American blogger suspects they had in some way been working with the Kurdish freedom fighting group and does not think we should be intervening on their behalf.

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer will be appealing their sentence. This German web user feels that if the Iranian authorities ignore international pleas, then more drastic action should be taken. He thinks that the United States should arrest some Iranian nationals and then negotiate an exchange for the hikers held in Tehran.

 

Arkive.org

The site arkive.org has been set up to protect wildlife and help save the world’s endangered species. With regular contributions from film makers, photographers, conservationists and scientists, the site hopes to become the ultimate online guide to the plant and animal kingdom.

 

5 years of YouTube politics

YouTube has put together a graphic looking back over 5 years of political highs and lows to demonstrate how the Internet has become an essential part of political communication in the US. We learn that 92% of house and senate members have official channels on the video sharing site and that the White House uploads on average 17 videos per week.

 

Video of the day

American billionaire Donald Trump, who made his fortune in property, recently bought himself a Boeing 757 which he had transformed into a flying luxury hotel. In this video which is currently doing the rounds on sharing sites, we are invited to take a look around.

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