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Friday, Apr 18th

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Unholy Alliance: The Vatican, Iran and Russia

UN commission on womenSome horrific events over the past few months, including the shooting of a Pakistani schoolgirl and the rape and murder of a young Indian physiotherapy student, should have been an alert for the world to unite in preventing violence against women.

But if a conference now under way at the United Nations is any guide, that message has not resounded with the necessary urgency. Halfway into their two-week annual meeting, delegates to the Commission on the Status of Women fear they will not be able to agree on a final communiqué, just like last year.

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Queen Elizabeth II to sign new charter backing gay rights

Queen ElizabethThe Queen will sign a new Commonwealth charter opposing discrimination suffered by women, gay people and ethnic minorities.

In a special ceremony to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday, she will also give a speech endorsing the new agreement which states signatories oppose “all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds”.

The words “other grounds” are said to refer to sexuality however any specific references to gay people are not included to avoid antagonising Commonwealth countries that retain laws against homosexuals, according to the Mail on Sunday.

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Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centers

Iraq torture linked to PentagonGeneral David Petraeus and 'dirty wars' veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse.

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war.

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U.N. investigator urges U.S. to pursue Bush-era abuses

Bush torture programA United Nations investigator called on the United States on Monday to publish its findings on the CIA's Bush-era program of rendition and secret detention of terrorism suspects.

Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, voiced concern that while President Barack Obama's administration has rejected Central Intelligence Agency practices conducted under his predecessor George W. Bush, there have been no prosecutions.

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Autopsy casts doubt over first Israeli version of how Palestinian prisoner died

Arafat jaradat funeralOn the evening of Feb. 18, Israeli authorities arrested Arafat Jaradat, 30, on suspicion that he had thrown stones at Israeli soldiers. Five days later, he was dead. Now his story has come to symbolize what many Palestinians and human rights groups say are the torturous interrogation methods used by Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet.

A spokeswoman for Israel Prison Services, Sivan Weizman, originally said that Jaradat had died in Meggido Prison of a heart attack. But a different picture emerged when Israel’s Ministry of Health released a statement describing what doctors found during their autopsy.

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W.H. urges Supreme Court to strike down Defense of Marriage Act

DOMAThe Obama administration implored the Supreme Court on Friday to strike out a section from the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional discrimination.

"Section 3 of DOMA violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection," the U.S. said in a brief.

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Report: Security forces participated in "Mexico's Disappeared"

Felipe CalderonSecurity forces in Mexico have participated in the disappearances of hundreds of people from 2006-12, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch issued a 176-page report, "Mexico's Disappeared: The Enduring Cost of a Crisis Ignored" Wednesday, documenting nearly 250 enforced disappearances during the administration of former President Felipe Calderon.

Toward the end of his presidency, Calderon promised to act on reports of enforced disappearances by the army, navy, and federal and local police, though he failed to do so, a release from Human Rights Watch said.

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