Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 15th 2014 Contents A19
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PARIS---In a first yet fragile step
toward peace, Syria s government and
the main but disputed moderate oppo-
sition group seeking to oust it have
agreed to allow humanitarian aid into
some blocked-off parts of the scarred
The agreement was announced by
the top envoys for the US and Russia,
who together are working the opposite
sides to broker progress in any possible
way to ease the bloody strife that has
engulfed Syria for nearly three years
without an end in sight.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
are still pushing for a cease-fire in local
pockets around the country and a pris-
oner exchange, which they said would
help set the tone for compromise in
the run-up to a peace conference
scheduled for next week.
Both men grimly conceded that a
final settlement for both sides to build
a new government would happen no
time soon---if ever.
Militants threaten fragile step to Syrian peace
Mexican security forces sent
to quell unrest in the western
state of Michoacan have started
disarming local vigilante
groups, state officials say.
The "self-defence groups"
took control of a number of
towns in an effort to drive out
members of a drug cartel.
The army moved into Nueva
Italia, where vigilantes and
members of the Knights Templar
drug gang engaged in a fire fight
Mexico s interior minister has
urged the vigilantes to lay down
The minister, Miguel Angel
Osorio Chong, said they should
either join the police force or
Soldiers and marines have also
moved into the towns of Nueva
Italia, Paracuaro and Antunez.
Leaders of the "self-defence
groups" have given contradictory
statements as to whether they
The leader of the General
Council of the Community and
Self-Defence Groups of Michoa-
can, Jose Manuel Mireles said
in a video message from Mexico
City ---where he is being treated
for injuries sustained in a hel-
icopter crash---that he would
"heed the call from the interior
But in a subsequent video
published on YouTube, Mireles
denied he had ordered his group
to disarm, saying he could not
give such orders without calling
a meeting of the group s general
Other vigilante leaders were
adamant they would not lay
Estanislao Beltran, who heads
a vigilante group in the town of
Tepalcatepec, said two of his
men had been killed amid a
tense standoff with federal secu-
rity forces. (BBC)
A looter carries boxes of beer as a Corona truck burns in a
roadblock allegedly set up by followers of the Knights Templar
cartel in Tierra Caliente on January 10. BBC PHOTO
Mexican police start to disarm vigilantes
French President Francois Hollande has
said he is experiencing a "difficult
moment" in his private life, following
claims of an affair with an actress.
But he refused to answer questions over
the report, saying "private matters should
be dealt with privately".
Hollande was speaking at his first news
conference since the allegations in the mag-
azine Closer last week.
He said he would clarify whether Valerie
Trierweiler was still first lady before a Feb-
ruary trip to the US.
A long half-hour of less-than-riveting
talk about the economy finally ended, and
the first question came from the French
press. As expected, it asked the president
to clarify the position following the allega-
tions about his affair with the actress Julie
His answer was concise and not especially
revealing. Yes, he was passing a difficult
moment in his private life. And yes, there
would be a decision about the status of
Valerie Trierweiler in advance of his planned
visit to Washington next month.
But for the rest, this was a private mat-
ter---and therefore he was not ready to say
The French press accepts this. It is perhaps
to its credit that it agrees that private matters
should remain just that.
He plans to travel to Washington on Feb-
The news conference was a long-planned
event aimed at unveiling policies to help
France s struggling economy.
Facing hundreds of journalists at the pres-
idential palace, Hollande said it was "neither
the time nor the place" to answer questions
about his personal life.
He said he would not be drawn on the
reports of the affairs with actress Julie Gayet
"out of respect for those involved".
Trierweiler has been in hospital since Fri-
day suffering from "shock", her aides say.
Asked about the state of his partner s
health, Hollande said she was resting and
that he had no further comment to make
on the subject.
On the issue of his personal security---
which some reports of his affair suggested
had been compromised---Hollande said:
"When I travel officially and when I travel
on a private basis, I have protection that is
less suffocating. But I am protected every-
The president left open the possibility of
suing Closer over its report.
Actress Julie Gayet, Francois Hollande and First Lady Valerie Trierweiler.
First Lady questions
Thai protesters have marched on several gov-
ernment buildings on the second day of what
they are calling a shutdown of the capital,
Demonstrators surrounded the Customs Depart-
ment and key road junctions remained blocked.
The protesters want the government of Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to be replaced by an
unelected "people s council."
They say they will remain on the streets until
their demands are met.
The protesters allege that Ms Yingluck s gov-
ernment is controlled by her brother, ousted former
PM Thaksin Shinawatra, and say money politics
have created a flawed democracy in Thailand.
Ms Yingluck, who leads an elected government
which enjoys strong support in rural areas, has
called a snap election on 2 February in response
to the protests. The opposition is boycotting the
polls. On Monday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban
appeared to rule out negotiations.
"You cannot mediate with this undertaking, you
cannot compromise with this undertaking, he said.
"In this undertaking, there s only win or lose...
today, we must cleanse Thailand.
Yingluck reiterated yesterday that she was "asking
for co-operation" from all sides. ---BBC
march as 'shutdown'
continues in capital
KINGSTON---A press advertisement by a local
gymnasium featuring a fat pig in a Carnival cos-
tume has sparked heated controversy among
users on social networking site, Twitter.
The ad, which appeared in the Jamaica Observer
on Monday, has left Twitter users enraged, charging
that it is a clever form of body shaming and will,
in fact, do more harm than good.
"People are harming themselves to be skinny
and a pig in a dress is just what they need right?
Awesome idea. Kmt @..." one user posted.
"Could put a picture of road march then offer
some carnival prep package to help people get in
shape. But that would be too easy," she added.
Others commented that the ad would only serve
to keep overweight people out of the gym, through
fear of embarrassment.
One user asked, "Likening them to pigs...is that
what a gym is about?"
"There are better ways to target out of shape
people. The ad is in poor taste," another com-
There were however some people on Twitter
who argued that the ad is quite humourous and
would definitely get the point across.
"I think it s funny and will reach its target audi-
ence," one person said. ---Observer
Carnival 'fat pig'
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