Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baby crushed by car containing China one-child policy team

BEIJING – A 13-month-old child was fatally crushed by a car containing Chinese officials after they went to collect a fine from the parents for breaching the country’s one-child policy, according to Chinese state media.
The incident reportedly occurred Monday in Dongshantou village near Wenzhou city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, after a delegation of 11 officials from the Ruian Town birth control office drove out to get the unspecified fine.
This did not go down well with the father, Chen Liandi, 39, and the conversation got heated.
According to a briefing given by the Ruian Municipal Propaganda Department and reported by state media, the officials convinced Chen’s wife, Li Yuhong, to accompany them back to Ruian to talk over the couple’s options.
The baby was reportedly left in the hands of his father and the group got back into their cars to leave.
What happened next remains unclear – perhaps due to the politically sensitive nature of this story – but the boy was then found crushed underneath a car.    
He was rushed to the Third People’s Hospital in Ruian, but could not be saved.
'You were too careless'
On China’s Twitter-like service, Weibo, users expressed frustration over the vague account given by Ruian officials and demanded more information, but no other Chinese press have printed much beyond the official government account.
For many in China, the story brings back uncomfortable memories of Feng Jiemei, who last June posted gruesome photographs of her lying in a hospital bed next to her 7-month-old aborted fetus.
Feng’s story created a social firestorm for Beijing when word got out that the 22-year-old mother had been forced to have the abortion because she did not have enough money to pay the $6,400 fine for having a second child.
“I told you, $6,400, not even a penny less. I told your dad that and he said he has no money,” a family planning official wrote to Deng in a blunt text message that quickly went viral. “You were too careless, you didn’t think this was a big deal.”
Feng was grabbed from her home and taken to a local hospital in her native Shaanxi province where she was blindfolded, thrown on a bed and forced to a sign a document she couldn’t read. Thirty hours later, her baby girl was aborted.
China has long defended its one-child policy as a way to prevent overpopulation and to help raise living standards across the country.
However, some experts in China and abroad argue that the policy has outlived its usefulness and may instead be a detriment to future growth.
Others in China have pointed out the abuses meted out in cases like Feng Jiemei’s show that it causes more social harm and have called on Beijing to remove it.
However Beijing just last month reaffirmed its support for the policy.
NBC News’ Le Li contributed to this report.
China: One-child policy is here to stay
Growing calls in China to change the one-child policy
Not Chinese enough in China? Americans' dilemma

First Thoughts: Changing the rules, not the party

Republicans in MI, OH, PA, VA are looking to change the Electoral College rules, not their party… The changes would give the GOP a HUGE advantage in presidential contests… But it would also present this dilemma for Republicans: It would speed up efforts to have the popular vote decide presidential elections… The Republican 2016ers: the insiders vs. the outsiders…
*** Changing the rules, not the party: As the Republican National Committee concludes its three-day meeting in Charlotte, N.C., you’ve by now heard all the different ways Republicans are looking to improve their standing in time for the next presidential election. They want to do a better job reaching out to Latinos (see Jeb Bush’s WSJ op-ed), they want to soften their tone when it comes to social issues, and they want to narrow their technological and get-out-the-vote operation gap with Democrats. But here’s another way you might not have heard: Some Republicans are looking to change the Electoral College system in battleground states that Democrats have won in the last two cycles. As the Washington Post reports, Republicans in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia -- all controlled at the state level (in some form or fashion) by the GOP -- have proposed awarding their Electoral College votes by congressional district instead of the winner-take-all approach used by every state except for two (Maine and Nebraska). “No state is moving quicker than Virginia, where state senators are likely to vote on the plan as soon as next week,” the Post says.

Alex Wong / Getty Images
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks as (L-R) Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) listen during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon January 22, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
*** That would give the GOP a HUGE advantage: The Republicans advocating these changes say they would give smaller communities more of a voice in presidential battleground states. But there’s a bigger story here: The moves would give the GOP a significant advantage due to the fact that redistricting has concentrated the Democratic vote to just a handful of congressional districts in these states. Take Virginia, for example: Obama won the state in 2012 by four percentage points and by about 150,000 votes -- and he took all of the state’s 13 electoral votes. But under the proposed changes, Mitt Romney would have won nine of the state’s electoral votes to Obama’s four. Put another way, if every electoral vote in the country was awarded by congressional district (plus two votes to the statewide winner), Romney would have defeated Obama, 276 to 262 in electoral votes (instead of Obama winning 332 to 206), according to Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz. And if only the states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin were changed to this system, Obama would have BARELY won, 271-267, Abramowitz adds.

*** The GOP’s dilemma: The current system vs. the popular vote: And this isn’t just coming from state-level Republicans. In an interview earlier this month with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus -- who’s expected to win re-election as RNC chair today in Charlotte -- appeared to bless these changes to the Electoral College system. "I think it's something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at," Priebus said, but he also added: "It's not my decision that can come from the RNC, that's for sure." But these proposed changes are shortsighted for two reasons. One, the Republicans pushing them are all but acknowledging that their party problems heading into 2016 are so significant that they have to change the rules in order to win. In other words, they are throwing in the towel and trying to rig the system. Two, the proposed changes would only speed up efforts to have the popular vote -- and not the Electoral College -- decide presidential contests, because many would see that as a fairer system. So Republicans need to ask themselves this question: Do they want the current Electoral College system, or do they want the popular vote? And a final question here: Where are the big leaders of the party on this issue? Haley Barbour? Jeb Bush? George W. Bush?

*** The insiders vs. the outsiders: Speaking of the RNC confab in Charlotte, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivered a speech last night arguing, “We must stop being the stupid party. It's time for a new Republican party that talks like adults.” His main contention, per NBC’s Carrie Dann: Republicans need to get away from the budget battles of Washington, D.C. "We as Republicans have to accept that government number crunching -- even conservative number crunching -- is not the answer to our nation's problems." This highlights a striking split among the possible 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls. Some of them, because they’re governors, are pursuing an outside game. (See Jindal and also see Chris Christie’s criticism of congressional Republicans on the Hurricane Sandy relief.) And others, because they currently serve in Congress, are playing the inside game. (See Marco Rubio, who is pushing immigration reform, and Paul Ryan, who is now arguing that Republicans need to wisely pick their budget battles.) So your Invisible Primary bracket has already begun -- the insider’s bracket vs. the outsider’s bracket.

John Brennan faces grilling over drone leak as senators demand answers

Nominee for CIA director set for tough confirmation questions from senators angered by lack of White House clarity on drones
John Brennan, nominee for CIA director
John Brennan, nominee for CIA director, arrives at a meeting with Senate intelligence committee chairman Dianne Feinstein. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

John Brennan, Barack Obama's nominee for CIA director, will come under renewed pressure at his confirmation hearing on Thursday to justify the targeted killing of US citizens in drone strikes, following the leak of a secret summary of the White House rationale for one its most controversial policies.

Senators angered by the lack of transparency over the legal basis for targeting Americans are planning to demand more details from Brennan, currently the White House counter-terrorism chief and a key architect of Obama's drones policy.

The white paper, leaked on Monday night and dating from 2011, was shown to senators several weeks ago, but failed to allay their concerns. It was made public by NBC and justifies the killing of those US citizens who hold senior positions in al-Qaida and pose an "imminent threat of violent attack" against America.

The white paper also provides some detail of the legal framework under US and international law for the drones policy, including that the US is at war with al-Qaida. But it has come under criticism from human rights groups for making too broad a case for killing, rather than capturing, suspected American and foreign terrorists.

Eleven senators wrote to the president on Monday demanding the administration hand over all legal justifications for killing US citizens by drones. They are pressing to see a more detailed 50-page memorandum from the office of legal counsel.

The letter, signed by eight Democrats and three Republicans, hints at confrontation over Brennan's appointment if the administration does not co-operate.

"We ask that you direct the Justice Department to provide Congress, specifically the judiciary and intelligence committees, with any and all legal opinions that lay out the executive branch's official understanding of the president's authority to deliberately kill American citizens," the letter said.
"The executive branch's co-operation on this matter will help avoid an unnecessary confrontation that could affect the Senate's consideration of nominees for national security positions."

The letter notes that the president has previously promised to share with Congress information that he cannot make public for national security reasons.

One of the signatories, senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the intelligence committee, responded to the white paper being made public by saying that it leaves unanswered many questions about the president's authority to order drone strikes that kill Americans.

"Questions like: 'how much evidence does the president need to decide that a particular American is part of a terrorist group?', 'does the President have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender?', and 'can the president order intelligence agencies or the military to kill an American who is inside the United States?' need to be asked and answered in a way that is consistent with American laws and American values. This memo does not answer these questions," he said.

Wyden also set the tone that Brennan is likely to encounter at his confirmation hearing when he also complained that the White House counter-terrorism chief has failed to respond to a letter the senator sent him three weeks ago asking about the legal basis and practical rules for the targeting of US citizens by drone.

That letter said: "For the executive branch to claim that intelligence agencies have the authority to knowingly kill American citizens but refuse to provide Congress with any and all legal opinions that explain the executive branch's understanding of this authority represents an alarming and indefensible assertion of executive prerogative," Wyden was also frustrated that the administration would not tell Congress which countries drone attacks were being carried out in.

A congressional staff member with knowledge of the issue said Brennan is likely to face detailed questioning about the legal basis for a drones policy he helped forge.

"The white paper raised a lot of questions that can only be answered by access to the detailed legal justifications the administration has consistently refused to share (with Congress)," he said. "John Brennan is at the heart of this policy. It would be my expectation he will face a lot of questions. There's no national security issue around a legal opinion. There is no reason why Americans cannot know the legal basis for the administration killing Americans."

The white paper has drawn criticism from human rights groups, which say its legal justifications for drone strikes are ill-defined.

Andrea Prasow, senior counter-terrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch, said she was particularly troubled by the white paper's claim that a person would only be killed when it was not feasible to capture them.

She said the policy was a deception. "The US government has said that it will capture someone where feasible rather than immediately target them. But when you read the white paper you realise that they really mean when capture is feasible at the same moment they think killing the person is," she said.

"By affirmatively saying to the public that the US government seeks to capture people rather than kill them they've set a standard they should be held to. But when you actually read the legal authorisation you realise they have defined themselves out of the standard."

Prasow also said the white paper reveals that the Obama administration has effectively shunned international law.

"What is striking about the white paper is that it doesn't seek to track international law. It tracks US law. When the US is engaging in lethal conduct in other nations it must be in compliance with international law, and the white paper doesn't suggest that it takes that requirement seriously.

The US government has repeatedly talked about compliance with lawful principles, and the white paper says that. But that's different from complying with the laws of war," she said.

Forced abortion probed amid outrage 

Images of forced late-term abortion in Shaanxi shock China [Warning: Graphic!]

Updated: 2012-06-14 21:54
( Xinhua)

XI'AN - Authorities in Northwest China's Shaanxi province have launched an investigation into an instance of forced abortion, pledging that anyone found responsible will be punished according to relevant laws and regulations.
Feng Jianmei, 27, was forced to terminate her pregnancy at seven months in a hospital in Zhenping county on June 2. Details of the case, including several photos showing the remains of the fetus lying next to the mother on her hospital bed, were posted on online forums and have since shocked and angered many nationwide.

Feng Jianmei and her aborted baby.

"It is brutal to end a new life that will soon come into the world. It breaks my heart to see such a thing," netizen "Fen Hong Shan Hu Hai" said in a post on Sina's, the country's largest microblogging website.

Many netizens described the case as outrageous and tragic. However, it has yet to be confirmed if the photos are genuine, and the photographer has yet to be identified.

The Shaanxi Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission, which oversees the family planning work in the province, announced Thursday it has dispatched an investigatory team to Zhenping and ordered the local government to punish any officials who are found to be responsible for the forced abortion.

"What the authorities did in Zhenping represents a serious violation of national and provincial policies and regulations on population and family planning, has undermined the reputation of our work and negatively impacted society," the commission said.

The commission said most of the descriptions of Feng's case found in online posts were factual. But investigators are still looking into allegations that Feng was illegally detained before the abortion was performed.

Authorities in Zhenping said Feng consented to the abortion, adding that Feng was not legally entitled to have a second child. Feng previously gave birth to a girl in 2007.

"Feng is not entitled to have a second child, according to policies on family planning. Therefore, local officials brought her to the hospital to receive the abortion," Su Huaichun, a publicity official in Zhenping, said Thursday.

However, Feng's abortion took place late in her pregnancy, a practice that is prohibited by China's laws on population and family planning.

"According to law, mothers who are not entitled to have a second baby are indeed required to terminate their pregnancy at an early stage," an anonymous official with the Shaanxi Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission said Thursday.

"But in Feng's case, she was in the late phase of her pregnancy and an abortion could cause physical injury to her. The correct way to deal with the case would have been for local officials to allow her to deliver the baby first, and then mete out punishment according to regulations," the official said.
"We have ordered local governments in Shaanxi to prevent such things from happening again," he said.

While rural residents and ethnic minorities are permitted to have more than one child, urban residents like Feng are limited to a single child, according to family planning policies introduced in the 1970s to rein in China's surging population.

Local officials and doctors insisted that the abortion was carried out with Feng's consent, a claim that Feng and her family have denied, according
 to a report in the Thursday edition of the Huangshangbao Daily, an influential newspaper in Shaanxi.

Deng Jiyuan, Feng's husband, told the newspaper that the forced abortion took place because the family refused to pay a deposit of 40,000 yuan ($6,349) to the township government. "I don't know what the deposit was for," Deng said.

Yuan Fang, a population and family planning official from the township government, said Feng's urban "hukou," or household registration permit, prevents her from having more than one child.

"She would need to transfer her 'hukou' to our township first before having the baby. The money was charged as a deposit for the transfer and would have been paid back if her family had done so," Yuan said.

Last year, relatives of a 37-year-old woman said she died after she was forced to have a late-term abortion in eastern Shandong province. A statement on the Lijin government website said Ma Jihong died in a "labour-inducing operation", and it was investigating the case, vowing to punish any officials found guilty of professional misconduct. But as of earlier this year no investigation results had been announced and Lijin officials did not respond to queries on Thursday.

 I can not guarantee this photo as that of  Feng Jianmei

China forced-abortion woman suffering state harassment, lawyer says

Family of Feng Jianmei attacked as 'traitors' for talking to foreigners after late termination sparked outrage on microblogs
Feng Jianmei
Feng Jianmei's hospital was targeted by banner-wielding protesters at the weekend. Photograph: Quirky China News / Rex Features

The family of a woman whose forced late-term abortion caused outrage in China have been attacked as "traitors" for discussing her plight with foreigners, while her husband has not been seen for two days, according to a a relative and a lawyer.

Authorities in Ankang, in Shaanxi province, last week apologised to the couple and said they had suspended three local officials after the publication of a photograph showing Feng Jianmei with the bloodied body of her seven-month-old foetus sparked outrage on microblogs.

Relatives say they have been followed for days, and Feng's hospital was targeted this weekend by protesters carrying banners, one of which read: "Beat the traitors and expel them."

Feng's husband, Deng Jiyuan, has not been seen for two days. His sister Deng Jicai told the Guardian he rang on Tuesday afternoon to say that he was safe, but she did not know his whereabouts.

"The whole family feels very depressed and pressured," she said. "The government have sent a team to investigate and don't have a result yet, but right now we want freedom before the investigation results come out.

"Three or four guys are following me. I don't know who they are."

Earlier, she told the South China Morning Post the protesters at the hospital this weekend had "shouted and shouted, saying we were ungrateful and traitors since the government had promised to solve this matter but we still talked to foreign media ... My cousin, who took pictures of them, was injured, with bruises and scratches all over his body."

Zhang Kai, a lawyer who has been advising the family, added: "It is impossible the villagers made the banner about Deng Jicai. It must have been orchestrated by local officials."

He said that higher levels of government had handled the matter correctly by launching an investigation but noted:
"Things seem to be getting worse for the family, as some local officials have to take responsibility for this incident, and it will be criminal responsibility. They are panicking."

Supporters also believe local officials may be behind a large number of online attacks on the family and smears about them.

Zhang said a relative who visited Feng on Tuesday found her tyres had been slashed when she returned to the hospital car park.

Forced abortions in China are illegal, but critics say they are carried out because of the pressure on officials to meet strict birth-control targets.

Feng said she was coerced into the abortion. Her husband added that she had been hooded, abducted and forcibly injected to induce the abortion because they were unable to pay a 40,000-yuan fine for breaking birth-control rules. Local officials said at the time that Feng had agreed "after repeated persuasion".

Officials in Zhenping county and Ankang did not answer calls on Tuesday.

Asked whether officials would investigate claims of harassment of the family, a spokesman for Shaanxi provincial government, who gave his name only as Mr Jia, said: "I don't know where you got that information. I have not heard of that. You said you had heard it – how did you hear it? The government is doing the investigation. We have announced everything on our website. You should check our website rather than following rumours."

A spokesman for the National Population and Family Planning Committee said its investigation was continuing.

Chinese officials agree payout for family of woman forced to have abortion

Husband of Feng Jianmei, who had planned legal action, says government has agreed to pay family 70,600 yuan
Chinese mother and child
The forced abortion case has sparked debate about China's one-child policy. Photograph: Claro Cortes Iv/Reuters

Chinese officials have agreed a 70,600 yuan (£7,160) deal with the family of a woman who was forced to undergo a late-term abortion because they could not afford to pay a fine for breaking the country's strict birth control policies.

The case in Ankang, in Shaanxi province, caused widespread outrage after a photo of Feng Jianmei lying alongside her seven-month-old foetus was published online.

Feng's husband, Deng Jiyuan, had previously planned legal action, but told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the government had agreed to pay the family 70,600 yuan. He said his family wanted to return to a normal life.

Forced abortions are illegal in China, but the family came under intense pressure after speaking out. Relatives said they were followed, harassed and denounced as traitors for speaking to foreign media.

Authorities in Ankang later said they had fired two officials over the case and given five more formal warnings.

Deng said his wife had been hooded, forced into a car and forcibly injected to induce the abortion because they could not afford the 40,000 yuan fine for having a second child.

Asked if the family were satisfied with the deal, his sister Deng Jicai told the Guardian: "It can only be like this. Not everything can be measured in money."

Zhang Kai, a lawyer who has been advising the family, said the government had described the payment as an allowance, when it should have been compensation.

He added: "70,000 for a person's life? It is too little."

The case has helped to fuel a wider debate about China's one-child policy. Government researchers and other experts have urged authorities to ease the restrictions.

Doc: We inject late-term fetus with potassium chloride to avoid problem of live, aborted infant

  • Tue Feb 05, 2013 14:13 EST
A pro-abortion doctor is insisting there are strict protocols in place to avoid the awkward problem of having "to deal with a live, aborted infant."

In a letter printed in Tuesday’s National Post, Dr. Christiane Dauphinais seems to be trying to quell public concern after the mainstream media reported on StatsCan data suggesting hundreds of babies were left to die after being born alive following failed abortions between 2000 and 2009. But something tells me this isn’t going to help her cause.

The doctor writes:
“When performing an abortion on a woman who is 21 weeks pregnant or more, in addition and prior to following general procedures, we are instructed to inject digoxin or potassium chloride into the fetus or the amniotic sac. This effectively kills the fetus, thereby avoiding having to deal with a live, aborted infant."
The instruction, she says, comes from a document she received this week by the Quebec College of Physicians.

After three MPs called for a homicide investigation into the death of these 491 children last week, Canada’s abortion lobby rushed to pass it off as a rehashing of the abortion debate rather than a concern over babies who were born alive and already protected under the Criminal Code.

But the abortion advocates also recognized that the story posed a danger because it highlighted the reality of late-term abortion in Canada. Though it’s legal to give a lethal injection to a child in the womb who’s capable of surviving on his own, most Canadians have little idea this is going on and would be horrified to learn that many hundreds or more babies are killed this way every year.

The fact is that the vast majority of people are disgusted by abortion, even if they think it should be legal, so they would rather simply ignore it. Many might support the amorphous ‘right to choose’, but you’d be hard-pressed to get much public support for lethally injecting viable children in the womb, let alone dismembering and decapitating them as happens in second-trimester D&E abortions.

We get a powerful opportunity, however rare it is, when we can break through into the mainstream media to highlight the nitty-gritty of what actually happens during an abortion.

The most high-profile abortion advocates actually rarely talk about abortion in public. Up until recently Planned Parenthood’s mantra has been all about ‘choice’ with little but hushed mention of what’s actually being chosen. And now they’re even backing away from the ‘pro-choice’ label because it’s too connected to abortion in the public mind.

All of this points to a good general rule for pro-lifers: when we can get the media talking about abortion, we win.

Today’s letters: Late-term abortions are not happening in Canada without a ‘reason’

Paul Russell | Feb 5, 2013 1:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Feb 5, 2013 8:00 AM ET
Dr. Carolyn Bennett says late-term abortions are never done in Canada without serious indications of a problem.
Yvonne Berg/National PostDr. Carolyn Bennett says late-term abortions are never done in Canada without serious indications of a problem.

Re: Waiting For An Abortion Law, editorial, Feb. 2.
On Twitter, Jonathan Kay (the Post’s Managing Editor Comment) stated: “If you can find an incorrect sentence in this editorial, identify it.” The misleading sentence is:
 “It is perfectly legal in Canada to have or perform an abortion — for any reason, or no reason at all — at 20, 25, 30 or 35 weeks gestation.”
I am totally fed up with “lawyered” assertions that totally misrepresent the facts. While in Canada we do not have a law, we do have very strict professional guidelines. No physician in Canada can terminate a pregnancy over 24 weeks without serious indications that the life of the mother is at risk or that the fetus has very serious malformations. I have sat with these women as they received the terrible news and sat with them throughout the terrible long, tear-drenched process. The assertion that late-term abortions can be performed “for any reason, or no reason at all” is just not true.

I challenge Mr. Kay to find one late-term abortion performed in Canada to a healthy mother with a healthy fetus. I am one of many politicians “willing to tackle” this subject. He needs to be one of many journalists who are prepared to admit when their fine prose may have misled Canadians … in this case that late-trimester abortions are not happening in Canada without “reason.”
Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP for St. Paul’s, Toronto.

How to avoid live fetuses
Re: Treat Late-Term Abortions As Homicide, Backbench MPs Say, Feb. 1.
As physicians, we are trained to assist as best we can people facing various medical challenges. One of the challenges a pregnant woman may face is a miscarriage. If a woman miscarries before her fetus is viable (i.e., during the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy), our role is to support her in her grief. If she miscarries in or after the 21st week, our duty is to provide her newborn child with the care it requires to survive. As a result of this training, it has always been clear for me where the limit on elective abortion should be set: At 20 weeks of gestation.

This was reinforced this week in a document I received from The Quebec College of Physicians, titled “Guidelines in performing abortions.” When performing an abortion on a woman who is 21 weeks pregnant or more, in addition and prior to following general procedures, we are instructed to inject digoxin or potassium chloride into the fetus or the amniotic sac. This effectively kills the fetus, thereby avoiding having to deal with a live, aborted infant.
Dr. Christiane Dauphinais, Toronto.

Abortion is a travesty …
Alberta MP Leon Benoit says that in late-term abortions some babies are born alive and then killed. Of course this is homicide or, more appropriately, infanticide, just as killing a baby in the womb is feticide. Canadian law permits feticide if the procedure is a “medical abortion,” but not the killing of a child that is born, whether or not as the result of an unsuccessful abortion. That is the law, regardless of practice. Yet, what is the difference between feticide or infanticide? A baby dies in either case, even although one procedure is “legal” and the other is not. The problem lies in Canadian law’s definition of “person,” which is a travesty of justice, crying out for revision.
Moira McQueen, executive director, Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Toronto.

Regarding abortion, MP Rona Ambrose states: “This is an issue that women are not interested in debating.” I must correct Ms. Ambrose — I am one of tens of thousands of Canadian women who are very much interested in debating this issue. As minister of the Status of Women, Ms. Ambrose should be listening to all women, not just those who agree with her values on abortion.
Liz Rybka, Brampton, Ont.

The letter the three MPs sent to the RCMP is not speaking to late-term abortions in general, which are legal in Canada, one of the few countries world-wide with no restrictions at all on abortion. What the letter is decrying are the 491 late-term abortions documented by Statistics Canada in which the baby was born alive, but then was left to die. The MPs are simply requesting an investigation. Is that too much to ask? Are we really comfortable as a society sweeping this under the rug?
Ruth Meerveld, Beamsville, Ont.

… or is the status quo OK?
The abortion issue was settled years ago. Until it is born, a fetus is part of its mother’s body and is subject to her wishes — and no one else’s.
Leave this subject; let it die.
Charles Hooker East Garafraxa, Ont.

Re: Anti-abortion display ‘private property’, B.C. town says, Feb 1.
Regarding the mock cemetery for aborted fetuses in Abbotsford, Joyce Arthur, spokesperson for the Vancouver based Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, states that abortion is a “private experience that is absolutely no one’s business” (beyond that of the woman herself, obviously). How very wrong she is. That that aborted fetus will not be supporting me in my dotage makes it very much my business. That it is a human being, not an orange or an apple, and I my brother’s keeper, makes it much, much more so.
Jeff Willerton, Airdrie, Alta.

Re: Treat late-term abortions as homicide, backbench MPs say, Feb. 1; Re: Waiting for an abortion law, editorial Feb. 2.
The three Tory MPs named in this editorial are to be praised for raising the issue of “homicide” when a baby who has already exited the womb live is killed or left to die.
The Post, while allowing that an abortion law is long overdue, takes exception to the use of the term “homicide,” calling it “lurid.” But technically, as laws now stand, there may indeed be cases of “homicide,” at least where there is a chance that the baby may survive with some quality of life if proper care is given.
The term “lurid” reminds me of the rhetoric hauled out by pro-abortionists whenever photographs are shown of aborted fetuses. Their delicate sensibilities are supposedly offended by such photographs. But aren’t they rather more worried that the general public, confronted graphically with the consequences of abortion to living beings (the fetuses), will rise up in repugnance against the hateful practice, which for thousands of years was dismissed out of hand as intrinsically evil?
Yes indeed, some kind of law, any law, is needed to curb the killing of fetuses. How about defining as a “human person” the human egg as soon as it is fertilized? Scientists tell us unequivocally that it is a human being with potential, not merely a potential human being.
Lars Troide, Apple Hill, Ont.

Canada’s justice system is the most important tool in providing protection for the weak and vulnerable. That these live-birth abortions have not been investigated shows the system is failing those members of the human family who are the weakest and most defenceless and that we are on a slippery slope to legalized infanticide. Canada needs to act now to address this gross violation of human rights by enforcing existing Criminal Code protections for newly born children. Thus I applaud the three MP’s who brought this to the attention of the RCMP Commissioner.
It’s time that as a collective nation we ask if “choice” is enough reason for law enforcement to be silent, even after a child is born? For truly, how is this choice any different than the choice to kill an infant or any other born human?
Either human rights apply to all humans or we may as well throw the notion out the window all-together.
Mike Schouten, Campaign Director,, Surrey, BC

Thank you, National Post for reminding us of the fact that Canada “is the only nation in the Western world without an abortion law.”
God Bless Messers, Vellacot, Benoit and Lizon for being men of fortitude in their pursuit of the truth. I pray that the MP’s supporting you silently will find the courage to stand with you publicly in the House of Commons.
Rhonda Wood, Brampton, Ont.

Kudos to the three federal backbenchers, MPs Maurice Vellacott, Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon, for fighting to keep the atrocities from being swept under the rug by their brave efforts. This should uncover the truly insidious evil of abortion and all its ugly realities. It has progressed from originally attempting to protect women from harming themselves to women and babies being harmed by doctors, to expanding and extending the term limit to no limit, without regard to consequences for any kind of moral or ethical responsibility by doctors to babies, (who also become their patients in reality). How can we ignore the 491 babies left to die and not cry out for some kind of retribution or justice? What would it take to at least admit that it is nothing short of premeditated first degree murder and it has to stop?
Anne Smyth, Toronto.

I am horrified to see the effects of the crown jewel of the feminist movement: abortion on demand, that requires that for later term abortions the baby be killed in the womb “perhaps using lethal injection” to “avoid legal complications and psychological trauma for the staff” and that live-born babies are “likely due to professional failure” of not killing the baby prior to that abortion so that the staff is not traumatized by receiving an alive baby.

I think every one involved should feel the psychological trauma of killing the baby in the womb: the mother, the father, the family, the doctor’s performing the killings despite taking the Hippocratic Oath of “First Do No Harm”, the nurses, the politicians who have legalized such killings and the complicit voters who support the abortion legislation, so that they can weigh the blood that is on their heads for freeing women and men from the natural consequences of sexual behaviour.

Also, let us not hide behind the euphemism ‘fetus’, considered to be a non-human being. Call abortion the killing of the baby growing in the womb of the mother, who is in the family way because of a union between a man and a woman.
Jiti Khanna, Vancouver,

I read with rapt attention Saturday’s front page article concerning  late term abortions in Canada.  Thank you for giving it the coverage it deserved even though it was not an emotionally easy read .  So interesting how language effects how we think and act.  A mother who plans to take her pregnancy to full term will refer to the unborn as “her baby.”  One who plans not to carry the unborn to full term and those who will assist her refer to the unborn as “a fetus.”
Patrick Stewart, Combermere, Ont.

Leaked Obama administration memo sets out case for killing US citizens

Lawyers give 'rules' on killing senior al-Qaida members, and seek to justify drone attacks abroad

Anwar al-Awlaki
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Photograph: EPA

The detailed circumstances in which a US government may order the killing of an American citizen who is a high-ranking member of al-Qaida have been revealed in a leaked memo prepared by Obama administration lawyers.

The document, acquired by NBC and dating from 2011, lays out for the first time the precise rationale for carrying out targeted killings of senior al-Qaida members who are US citizens, and who are believed to pose an "imminent threat of violent attack" against Amercia.

Although the white paper deals specifically with the issue of when and how the president can order the killing of a US citizen who is a member of al-Qaida, it also provides one of the most comprehensive accounts of the wider international legal framework the US believes supports its controversial drones policy.

Although the paper does not specify the "minimum legal requirements" for launching such an operation, it insists that the killing would be constitutionally justified as the United States is engaged in an "armed conflict", as defined by international law and authorised by Congress, with al-Qaida and its affiliates.

In a key passage in the document – which is unsigned – it argues that for a US citizen who has rights under the due process clause and the fourth amendment, "that individual's citizenship would not immunise from a lethal operation".

The paper concludes: "Where certain circumstances are met, a lethal operation against a US citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qaida … and who himself poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States, would not violate the constitution."

The leaking of the documents came as eight Democratic and three Republican senators wrote to Barack Obama requesting the disclosure of all the legal opinions drawn up at his request authorising the killing of Americans.

The question of the constitutionality of such operations emerged after the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born radical Muslim cleric, in a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. Although the leaked paper is not understood to be the legal determination that authorised that killing, it is understood to mirror it.

The paper argues that the operation must be consistent with the laws of war, and that capture of the individual must have be found to be unfeasible. But in a number of areas, it controversially appears to give considerable flexibility to administration officials to define key issues.

Those include defining the imminence of the specific threat and the operational seniority of the target, considerations outside of the overview of the US courts. The paper insists the decision to authorise a lethal operation may be made by an "informed, high-level official of the US government", rather than by the courts.

On the issue of imminence, the justification is particularly wide-reaching: as attacks are "continually" being planned by al-Qaida, it is argued, "imminence must incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity."
The paper justifies the exclusion of the courts by arguing that "judicial enforcement of such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorised the use of force."

The leaking of the document, with its dense legal argument justifying the targeted killings of US citizens, is certain to escalate the arguments that have been swirling around the issue.

Speaking to the New York Times, Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national security project, denounced the memorandum as "a profoundly disturbing document", adding: "It's hard to believe that it was produced in a democracy built on a system of checks and balances. It summarises in cold legal terms a stunning overreach of executive authority: the claimed power to declare Americans a threat and kill them, far from a recognised battlefield and without any judicial involvement."

Obama should defend pro-choice

Updated: 2013-02-01 07:34
By Chen Weihua ( China Daily)

The United States is a jarring contrast between liberals and conservatives.

President Barack Obama talked passionately about gay rights and other liberal ideals in his inauguration speech on Jan 21. But during his speech, a man perched in a tree just behind where I sat and not that far from the Capitol building, kept shouting anti-abortion slogans. He called Obama a "baby killer" and held up a sign that read: "Pray to end abortion."

Four days later, on Friday morning, when I arrived at Woodley Park subway station, I was shocked to see some 100 teenage students holding anti-abortion slogans and gruesome fetus pictures. They were on their way to the National Mall for the so-called March for Life.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade case in 1973 when the Supreme Court legalized abortions. Opponents have staged an annual march in Washington ever since.

Out of the subway and walking on a downtown street, I saw a group of teenagers, led by two adults, protesting outside a Planned Parenthood center. A woman, clearly angry at the scene, shouted from across the street, accusing the two men of using those children to scare away women who need the services there.

However, the crowd grew bigger as I walked past Pennsylvania Avenue toward the National Mall. With the gray sky and freezing weather that day, it looked like a movie setting for the Dark Ages.

Conservatives such as Rick Santorum, who ran as a Republican presidential candidate, made speeches at a rally in front of the Supreme Court. However, I doubt if the large number of teenagers, many organized by religious groups, had any idea what they were really about.

A Pew Center survey released a week ago shows that 25 percent of Americans see abortion as morally wrong and would like to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling, 18 percent think abortion morally wrong but don't want to completely overturn the decision, and 42 percent don't see abortion as morally wrong.

The Republican Party platform unveiled last year states that an unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life that cannot be infringed.

However, abortion has long been a reality and is accessible to women in most parts of the world. Even in the US, more than 1 million abortions are conducted each year, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Women choose an abortion for a variety of reasons, such as to delay childbearing, because they are unable to afford a baby, not to become a single parent and not to disrupt their education or job, or because they have been raped.

Yet for the protesters last Friday, abortion is a sin, equivalent to murder. Of course, no one, not even Santorum, has talked about punishing the women that do have an abortion. In the name of protecting lives, these protesters try to deny women the right to decide about their own bodies.

I interviewed teenage mothers in the US back in 1998 and still remember the sad stories and hopelessness expressed by the girls, most of whom had a poor family background.

While fewer Americans want to overturn Roe v. Wade these days, the past two years have seen some 135 state-level restrictions on abortions introduced. 

Meanwhile, the number of abortion clinics in the US has declined. And 87 percent of US counties don't even have a clinic. In North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas and Mississippi, there is only one abortion clinic for the entire state. This has put women's lives in danger.

Obama must fight back by leading a pro-choice march to protect the rights of American women and to enlighten the throng of teenage students in last Friday's march.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA.

(China Daily 02/01/2013 page8)

Premature sex education cause for concern

Updated: 2012-12-13 08:23

By Berlin Fang (China Daily)

The other day I heard an 8-year-old boy say that he had "a small crush" on a girl in his class. I asked for the difference between a big crush and a small crush. A big crush, he said, is when you go "mmmmmoooch", demonstrating a kiss. I sighed out of relief. "A small crush," he explained, "is when you stare at somebody and think peaceful thoughts." That is just so beautifully naive.

The innocence of children is precious, necessary, yet tragically vulnerable. It takes only a photo, a joke, a dialogue, or a short video clip to destroy it.

After singing the song of experience, you no longer have the songs of innocence in your repertoire. Once sexual knowledge has been acquired, there is no turning back.

Adults in China are in a hurry to bring sex education to minors. TV reporters are on the streets asking people to talk about sex in public. In cities, special exhibits are put up for children to learn about sex.

Newspapers carry reports on how lacking our sex education is.

If a crisis is brewing, it is a manufactured one. Sex education may be necessary at some point, but what's the rush? Most people of my age grew up not receiving sex education of any kind. Our teachers and parents were never paranoid about us plunging into matrimony in ignorance and stupidity. Yet we figured it out and turned out just fine.

Avid sex-education advocates often claim that China is not up to speed with developed countries in sex education. But I think we seem to be rather advanced in this area, as some corrupt officials are found to have dozens of mistresses. No politician in the United States has been capable of such amazing feat and even one is enough to knock them off whatever pedestal they occupy.

National benchmarking about sex education is unnecessary and misleading, especially if we look only at whether, and how much, sex education is available to students. One risks taking things out of context when talking about sex education of a particular country, as other factors, such as parent choices, can be left out of the picture. In the US, children are actually well protected from sexual content in public media. Movies follow a rating system that makes it illegal to show certain types of content to minors. Child protection laws forbid inappropriate adult content on TV and on the radio. 

Web sites for children are free from adult content, or their administrators face criminal charges. In China, a visit to a news portal is sufficient to destroy the innocence of children, as there is so much pornographic or semi-pornographic content. There are few children or family friendly sites that are free from inappropriate adult content. Movies and TV programs constantly broadcast to the general public content that make even adults blush. On social networking sites, adult content is everywhere, in text, audio or visuals. China in general seems to have become an oversexed society.

Even when sex education becomes necessary at a certain age, the curriculum should not be narrowly focused on how sex works, which is the easy part. It is an affected and disgusting exaggeration for "experts" to claim the widespread ignorance of sexual behavior. Any coming-of-age movie or book will show you that children discover such things eventually.

After all, it's not rocket science. 

Hardly anyone stands up to bring attention to the social and moral aspects of sex for younger people. Children may get educated to know how sex works, but they are not taught about the social, moral or spiritual aspects of sex. The high rate of abortions among college and even high school students these days is probably one consequence of such misguided education.

Sexologists are almost superstars in China. They use their public platforms to vehemently advocate sex education. It is as if people are losing sleep worrying that young people have a sex-education deficit compared to their peers in other countries. If young children do not know the facts of life, that's not the end of the world. They will figure it out sooner or later. What's the harm? And remember, some fake ignorance to fool others. 

Sex is a beautiful thing. It is a gift to humanity. However, premature education takes the beauty out of sex.

The author is a US-based instructional designer, literary translator and columnist writing on cross-cultural issues.

(China Daily 12/13/2012 page8)

Analysis: Israel airstrike may foreshadow Iran attack

Oliver Weiken / Pool via Reuters
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed up his rhetoric last week with an airstrike targeting a Syrian convoy.
News analysis
It's hard to get a handle on it — few Israelis are willing to talk about it on the record — but there's been a palpable shift in thinking in Israel about launching an airstrike on Iran. Nowhere more than in the counter-terrorism community itself.

Even among the more reasoned — and moderate — voices there, the tone has moved from cautious optimism that an Israeli strike on Iran's uranium enrichment facilities could be avoided to gloomy inevitability.

"It's no longer a question of if but when," replied one Israeli analyst when asked if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would respond militarily if Iran crossed his "red lines" and acquired a nuclear bomb.

Several analysts ticked off different factors behind the change of heart:
  • A growing realization that sanctions — no matter how robust — won't stop Tehran from crossing Netanyahu's "red lines" and posing an existential threat to the nation.
  • Fueled by the Arab Spring, a sense of chaos swirling around Israel's borders has led Israelis to vote once again for the tough-minded Netanyahu  — albeit in fewer numbers  — and to sympathize with his hardline policy of protecting Israel at all costs, with walls, fences, and airstrikes, if necessary.
  • There was a belief  — call it a hope  — that Netanyahu would not "go it alone" against Iran  — that President Barack Obama would prevail upon him to avoid any unilateral action that might trigger an unforeseen Arab conflagration against Israel. But some Israeli analysts say that Netanyahu seems much less worried than Obama about a lethal Arab response to an airstrike on Iran.
Only a few months ago the Israeli consensus on Iran felt much different. At the height of last fall's Iran–Israel crisis, former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak  — once Netanyahu's boss in an elite commando unit  — not only had the prime minister's ear, but seemed to counter his most hawkish impulses. Then, in late November, Barak quit the cabinet – and Israeli politics.

After elections last month, a new centrist party and leader were swept onto the political scene. Yair Lapid – a charismatic, former news anchorman – was expected to pressure Netanyahu into softer positions. So far, just the opposite has happened.

"It seems that Lapid is not as committed as Bibi (Netanyahu) to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear…(Lapid) is not being regarded as a military authority in Israel and he might not have the weight to balance Bibi," said Dr Boaz Ganor, director of the Herzliya Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

Ganor went on to say that  — ultimately  — the order to strike Iran will be most influenced by the next Israeli defense minister. It now looks likely that will be the even more hawkish vice premier, Moshe Yaalon (unless Barak returns to the fold).

Israeli forces conducted an airstrike on a convoy├é  the Syrian-Lebanese border Wednesday. NBC's Richard Engel joins Brian Williams with his analysis.

With some reports suggesting that Iran is only months away from a nuclear bomb, the Obama administration is sticking to its support for tough sanctions, but also saying that Iran cannot be allowed to get a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, has backed up his rhetoric: last week, the Israeli Air Force summarily destroyed a Syrian convoy of sophisticated rockets — inside Syria — allegedly heading to Lebanon and into the hands of Hezbollah, a sworn enemy of Israel.

"In Israel, there is wall to wall consent that Israel should do whatever it takes so that Hezbollah does not get access to these dangerous materials," Ganor said.
Will Iran be next?

Jim Maceda is an NBC News foreign correspondent based in London who has just returned from an assignment in Israel.

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Surprisingly centrist vote has Netanyahu reaching to the left

Michael Isikoff To Rachel Maddow: DOJ Drone Memo Shows Obama Has 'More Elastic' Concept Of Imminent Threats (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted:

Rachel Maddow spoke to NBC News' Michael Isikoff Monday night about his acquisition of a Justice Department white paper that lays out some of the Obama administration's thinking behind its practice of killing American citizens with drone strikes.
Isikoff landed a major scoop for NBC, which immediately splashed the white paper on its website. In it, the Justice Department says, according to Isikoff, that:
The U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be "senior operational leaders" of al-Qaida or "an associated force" -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
Although evidence suggests that the paper is not the official memo which laid out the administration's guidelines for the killing of Americans such as Anwar al-Awlaki, it does provide a partial look at how Obama justifies such strikes.
Maddow noted that the details of the paper, as well as other questions surrounding the Obama administration's policy, are certain to come up when his counterterrorism czar John Brennan faces Congress during his confirmation hearing for CIA director on Thursday. She wondered, in particular, whether the administration thought its rights to kill Americans extended to people inside the United States.

"Could the CIA or any other intelligence agency come kill you if the appropriate high-ranking official in the Obama administration -- say, President Obama -- decided that you were affiliated with al-Qaeda and you were a threat and you might act imminently to endanger this nation, could you then legally be killed as you laid in your bed?" she asked.
She then turned to Isikoff, who said that the paper "fleshes out some of the arguments that have been made publicly, and in ways that in some instances contrast with what has been said publicly."
The paper says that anyone targeted for killing must present an imminent threat and that their capture must be unfeasible before they can be hit with a drone. Isikoff noted that the interpretations of what a threat means are "a bit more elastic and open to interpretation" than previously known.
"They refer to a 'broader concept of imminence' than direct active intelligence of a plot against the US," he said. "In fact, it explicitly states that imminence does not mean that the United States has to have clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons or interests is underway. If the US believes that the target has in the past been involved in such violent activities and the target has not renounced such activities it can be assumed that they are an imminent threat now and that that would justify an attack."
"The definition for why a capture [instead of a killing] is impractical also seems to be very, very wide," Maddow said.

Verdict issued on skeleton found under parking lot: It's King Richard III

Researchers say they've found the skeleton of King Richard III of England.

DNA analysis supports the claim that a skeleton dug up from beneath a parking lot in the English city of Leicester represents the mortal remains of King Richard III, British experts declared on Monday.

"It's the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England," Richard Buckley, the project's lead archaeologist, said during a news briefing in Leicester.

The project used 21st-century forensic science to solve a 500-year-old mystery surrounding one of William Shakespeare's best-known villains. Shakespeare's play, "Richard III," made the king out to be a scheming monster who killed children to get to the English throne. The bard gave Richard III dramatic lines that are still evoked today, ranging from "the winter of our discontent" to "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"

In real life, Richard III's battlefield death in 1485 marked the end of England's Wars of the Roses, a decades-long conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster. Tradition held that he was buried in the choir of Leicester's Greyfriars Church, but the precise location of his remains was lost in the mists of time. Some even speculated that Richard's bones were thrown into the River Soar during Henry VIII's reign.

It was only in the past few years that archaeologists have been able to zero in on the location of the Greyfriars site again. Last year, a team led by the University of Leicester excavated a city parking lot and found a wealth of intriguing evidence — including a skeleton with a battle-scarred skull and a spine that was curved due to scoliosis. There was no evidence of a coffin, a shroud or clothing that was buried with the body.

All those clues suggested that the skeleton could have been that of the historical Richard III, but to firm up the connection, scientists put the bones through genetic tests, radiocarbon dating and more detailed osteological analysis.

"The skull was in good condition, although fragile, and was able to give us detailed information about this individual," University of Leicester archaeologist Jo Appleby reported Sunday in a news release. During Monday's news briefing, Appleby said experts identified 10 injuries to the bones, including eight wounds to the skull and "postmortem humiliation injuries." Such wounds are "highly consistent" with the accounts of Richard III's death, she said.

"Historical sources tell us that Richard's body was stripped," hacked and put on public display after the battle, Appleby noted.

The skeleton's relatively delicate structure was consistent with descriptions of Richard III's physical appearance, University of Leicester historian Lin Foxhall said.

University of Leicester
A photo shows the Greyfriars skeleton lying in the site where it was found.
University of Leicester
The Greyfriars skeleton is laid out for forensic analysis. Experts believe the foot bones were separated from the rest of the body after burial.
University of Leicester
The Greyfriars skull was found by researchers during a search for the remains of King Richard III.
Buckley told journalists that the position of the hands suggested that they might have been bound together. Initially, the team reported that an arrowhead was found among the bones, but Buckley said a closer look determined that the object was a nail that was apparently mixed in with the remains.

Radiocarbon dating showed that "the individual could have died in 1485," Buckley said. Two tests yielded dates possibly ranging from 1455 to 1540.

The team's genetic analysis reinforced the link to Richard III: DNA was extracted from bone samples and compared with modern-day mitochondrial DNA from two direct descendants of Richard III's family, including an anonymous donor as well as Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born cabinetmaker who is a 17th-generation descendant of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York.

"The DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III," said Turi King, a geneticist at the University of Leicester. She said additional DNA tests were still in progress.

Genetic matches based on mitochondrial DNA aren't as clear-cut as, say, a paternity test — but a mismatch would have ruled out any family connection. Similar techniques were used to identify the remains of Czar Nicholas II and other members of Russia's royal family, who were killed in 1918 during the Russian Revolution.

A documentary about the Leicester project, "Richard III: The King in the Car Park," is to be aired by Britain's Channel 4 on Monday night. But this isn't the end of the story. For one thing, the results announced on Monday will have to go through review and publication in scientific journals. The announcement also could lead to a reassessment of Richard III's reign, which some historians say wasn't nearly as terrible as Shakespeare made it out to be.

"It will be a whole new era for Richard III," Lynda Pidgeon of the Richard III Society told The Associated Press. "It's certainly going to spark a lot more interest. Hopefully people will have a more open mind toward Richard."

And then there's the matter of reburying the remains: Authorities said the skeleton would get a proper interment in Leicester Cathedral, not far from the parking lot where it was found. The cathedral's canon chancellor, David Monteith, said planning for an interment ceremony in 2014 has already begun, and he expressed the hope that after more than 500 years, Richard III "may come to rest in peace, and rise in glory."

More about the search for Richard III:

Greatest birthday' for boy rescued from Alabama bunker by FBI

Harri Anne Smith, a state senator in Alabama, has been in close contact with five-year-old Ethan's family since he was taken hostage last week. She said there are "lots of smiles" now that he's been freed and former FBI hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt discusses the details of the case.
An Alabama boy is set for the "greatest" birthday of his life after being freed from a week's captivity in an underground bunker, a pastor said Tuesday.

The boy, snatched from a school bus in a fatal shooting, was rescued after a daring raid by FBI agents that left his kidnapper, Jimmy Lee Dykes, dead.
The 5-year-old, who is recovering in hospital, turns 6 on Wednesday.

“I would image it’s going to be the greatest birthday that family and that little boy has ever experienced and probably will ever experience,” local pastor Michael Senn told TODAY.

The boy was reunited with his mother and is "laughing, joking, playing, eating," said Special Agent in Charge Stephen Richardson at a press briefing Monday.

After a six-day standoff, a federal hostage team stormed an underground bunker in Alabama, where Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was holding five-year-old Ethan hostage. Ethan was freed safely, while Dykes was found dead. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports, and Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson and former FBI hostage negotiator Clint van Zandt discuss the case.

"He's very brave, he's very lucky. His success story is that he got out and he's doing great."
Richardson said the operation began when Dykes was seen holding a gun. "At this point, FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child.”

The Dothan Eagle newspaper reported that two loud blasts came from the scene shortly before 3:30 p.m. According to the report, an ambulance then drove up the private dirt road where Dykes’ homes is located and then left a short time later.

The blast apparently came from a "diversionary device," an FBI source confirmed to NBC News. FBI officers had lowered a camera into the bunker -- they would not reveal how, saying they may want to use the method in the future -- which allowed them to determine when to throw in the flash-bang to distract Dykes.That's when they entered through a door at the top of the bunker.

At the Monday night press briefing, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said that Dykes, 65, was harmed when officers entered the bunker but he would not say how the captor died. A law enforcement official told NBC News they are waiting for the medical examiner's report to determine how he died.

Authorities have not said how long they believe Dykes could have lasted underground, or discussed a motive for the kidnapping.

President Barack Obama also weighed in, calling FBI Director Robert Mueller to compliment his officers.