Thursday, July 24 2014 1:51 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:51:33 GMT
The father of two toddlers who died after a dresser fell on them was charged with involuntary manslaughter because he heard a crash coming from another room and didn't immediately check to see if his daughters...More >>
The father of two toddlers who died after a dresser fell on them was charged with involuntary manslaughter because he heard a crash coming from another room and didn't immediately check to see if his daughters were OK,...More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 1:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:48:18 GMT
A vintage rail company that hauls hundreds of thousands of tourists every year along the route of the historic Klondike Gold Rush has suspended operations while it investigates a derailment that injured nine people.More >>
Officials now say 19 people were seen for minor injuries when a tourist train derailed in southeast Alaska - an increase from the initial report of nine injuries.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 1:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:48:12 GMT
Linda Close was grateful to learn she qualified for a sizable subsidy to help pay for her health insurance under the new federal law. But in the process of signing up for a plan, Close said her HealthCare.gov...More >>
Linda Close was grateful to learn she qualified for a sizable subsidy to help pay for her health insurance under the new federal law. But in the process of signing up for a plan, Close said her HealthCare.gov account...More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 1:32 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:32:34 GMT
Sen. John Walsh said his unattributed use of others' work in his master's thesis was not plagiarism but "a few citations that were unintentionally left out of a term paper" that he blamed in part on...More >>
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Thursday he had no knowledge that Democratic Sen. John Walsh had plagiarized his master's thesis when he appointed the former lieutenant governor to the Senate in February.More >>
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department's top human rights official is accusing Myanmar authorities of resorting to police-state tactics after five journalists from a weekly magazine got 10 years at hard labor for a disputed story about a weapons factory.
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski's comments, in an Associated Press interview Wednesday, are the stiffest U.S. criticism yet following last week's sentences. The case is troubling for the Obama administration, which has cast its support of Myanmar's democratic reforms as one of its important foreign policy achievements.
Malinowski said the U.S. remained committed to engagement with Myanmar's government as it grapples with difficult institutional reforms and shifts the nation also known as Burma from five decades of direct military rule. He urged protection of the press freedoms that were unleashed when a repressive junta ceded power three years ago. He said that would be crucial to its democratic transition and for the credibility of national elections next year.
The chief executive and four reporters of the journal Unity were charged under a colonial-era security law. Myanmar authorities have defended the arrests as a matter of national security. The magazine has since gone out of business.
The punishment has raised alarm among rights groups and Myanmar journalists. Police have also opened a case against 50 journalists after they staged a peaceful protest in the main city of Yangon against the sentences. They could face charges for violating a law on peaceful assembly that carries a six-month prison term.
"The release of political prisoners has been one of the most important success stories of the last couple of years, and it would be unfortunate if we got back to having to address more cases like that," Malinowski said.
"So obviously sentencing a journalist to 10 years' hard labor for reporting the news, whatever one thinks of the quality or accuracy of a particular news story, is not a great sign," he said.
Malinowski urged that the case be reviewed and that any journalists prosecuted for reporting a story be freed.
Malinowski, who raised the issue of press freedoms when he met top government and military officials in Myanmar in late June, said concerns over journalistic ethics and irresponsible reporting were legitimate and to be expected in Myanmar's fledgling media but the U.S. has stressed "the way to deal with those problems is not through the tactics of a police state."
"If your response is to arrest journalists, we are going to go back to the kind of relationship between Burma and the rest of the world that is not in your interests," he said.
Unity had reported in late January that the military had seized farmland and constructed a chemical weapons factory in central Magwe Region. It printed a denial from authorities.
Government spokesman Ye Htut did not respond to an email requesting comment Wednesday. After the arrests of the journalists in February, he told The Irrawaddy, a Thailand-based online news site, that it was a national security issue and even a country like the U.S. would respond in the same way.
Zaw Thet Htwe, a journalist and member of the Myanmar Press Council, likened it to treatment of journalists under the former ruling junta and said it did not augur well for democratic reforms.
Zaw Thet Htwe is one at least 14 journalists among the more than 1,100 political prisoners who have been freed by President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian administration. He had been sentenced to death by a military court in 2003 for publishing articles critical of the military; his sentence was commuted.
David Mathieson, senior researcher on Myanmar for Human Rights Watch, said new laws this year have also stifled press freedom, and there have been cases of journalists held on spurious charges.
Last week, five staffers of the Bi Mon Te Nay weekly were arrested and are being charged under a security law for publishing an article suggesting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be installed as leader of an interim government.
Outbreaks of deadly anti-Muslim violence and the uncertain prospects for reforming the current military-dominated constitution have also raised questions from U.S. lawmakers about whether the Obama administration moved too quickly in easing sanctions against Myanmar and ramping up aid.
Malinowski said he did not believe Myanmar was backtracking on reforms but was now in a more difficult stage in its transition that requires fundamental legal and institutional changes. Despite new openness, many laws on its books date back to a more repressive era, leaving journalists and civil society activists still vulnerable to prosecution, he said.
"I see a contest between people who are trying to push this remarkable transformation forward and those who are either confused or threatened by the rapid pace of change," he said.
Malinowski said the U.S. would encourage Myanmar to keep up the momentum on reforms ahead of the 2015 national elections, a key test of its democratic progress.
Associated Press writer Aye Aye Win in Yangon, Myanmar, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thursday, July 24 2014 1:52 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:52:55 GMT
The official Algerian news agency says an Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers has disappeared from the radar.More >>
An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali during a rainstorm, officials said. France deployed fighter jets to search for...More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 1:27 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:27:29 GMT
Ukraine's government says 51 containers holding bodies and body parts of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash are ready to depart for the Netherlands aboard two military transport planes.More >>
Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the...More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 1:18 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:18:11 GMT
Republicans have cleared legislation for a vote in the House that authorizes the filing of an election-year lawsuit accusing President Barack Obama of failing to implement the 4-year-old health care law.More >>
House Republicans cleared the way Thursday for a House vote on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit that accuses President Barack Obama of failing to implement the 4-year-old health care law.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 12:31 AM EDT2014-07-24 04:31:15 GMT
Someone has replaced two American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with mysterious white flags.More >>
Police are searching for four or five people they believe scaled to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge's two towers in the dead of night, disabled lights illuminating two large American flags and then replaced the flags...More >>