Saturday, March 5, 2011

Yemen Says Unemployment Rate not over 18 per cent

Sana'a- Mar 5, 2011- The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said on Saturday that the unemployment rate does not exceed 18 per cent among the country's workforce.

Shayef Aziz, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs for Workforce, said the number of the jobless in the country reaches 900000 people, as he added that other figures or estimates of the unemployed Yemenis remained untrue.

Yemen has 6 million male and female labourers, Aziz said in a statement, pointing out that the ministry is on the verge of launching the workforce survey project.

Also, the Somali jobless who arrive in the country within the refugees fleeing the deteriorating situation in their country boosted the high local unemployment rate, said Aziz, urging the international community, International Labour Organization and world refugee agencies to intervene and help bring effective solutions to the issue of the continuous inflow of African refugees into Yemen.

The remarks come as hundreds of thousands have been conducting sit-ins in Sana'a and Taiz for the fourth week and as millions of people continue to take to the streets in various cities demanding the ouster of President Saleh.

Among the demands of the youths and people protesting the deteriorating situation under the 33-year rule of Saleh is to reduce the soaring unemployment rate estimated at 40 per cent.

Source: Yemen Post

Radical Cleric Still Speaks on YouTube


WASHINGTON — From the shootings at Fort Hood, Tex., to the stabbing of a British member of Parliament, investigators have identified Anwar al-Awlaki’s stirring online calls to jihad as an important instigator of terrorism.

So members of Congress last year appealed to YouTube to remove calls for violence by Mr. Awlaki, the militant American-born cleric now hiding in Yemen, and in an announcement reported around the world last November, YouTube agreed.

End of story?

Not at all. A quick search of YouTube today for “Anwar al-Awlaki” finds hundreds of his videos, most of them scriptural commentary or clerical advice, but dozens that include calls for jihad or attacks on the United States.

The story of You Tube and Mr. Awlaki is a revealing case study in the complexity of limiting controversial speech in the age of do-it-yourself media, as the House prepares for hearings next week on the radicalization of American Muslims.

In eloquent American English or Arabic with English subtitles, Mr. Awlaki can be seen in videos decrying America’s “war on Islam”; warning Muslims why they should “never, ever trust a kuffar,” or non-Muslim; praising the attempt by his “student” to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner; and patiently explaining why American civilians are legitimate targets for killings. Such videos have been posted in multiple copies and viewed hundreds or thousands of times.

Since YouTube relies on viewers to flag objectionable material, and only a fraction of Mr. Awlaki’s videos violates its rules, it was never likely that his pronouncements would disappear from the site. Even if they did, scores of other sites without YouTube’s rules also host the declarations — written, audio or video — of Mr. Awlaki, the man some have called the Osama bin Laden of the Internet.

“There’s no way as a practical matter to wipe this material off the face of the Internet,” said John B. Morris Jr., general counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group in Washington. “It’s very unrealistic to believe that any action of any American company or American politician can keep this material off the Web.”

But Evan F. Kohlmann, a terrorism analyst with the consulting company Flashpoint Global Partners, who has followed Mr. Awlaki for years, acknowledged the difficulties but said that YouTube should make a greater effort to curtail his pro-terrorism message.

“YouTube has become a major alternative distribution point for jihadi propaganda, especially for homegrown militants who may not have the pedigree to gain access to the classic password-protected jihadi chat forums,” Mr. Kohlmann said, referring to militant sites that restrict access. “If you don’t have online friends who can sneak you in, and if you don’t speak Arabic, then YouTube may be the best available option.”

Mr. Kohlmann said that while it might not be easy or cheap, “there are ways of removing this material in a relatively expeditious manner.”

YouTube, the six-year-old California-based powerhouse of Web video which is owned by Google, says that every minute, day and night, it receives an average of 35 hours of video from millions of contributors. That ratio makes prescreening impractical, said Victoria Grand, YouTube’s head of communications and policy.

Instead, just as YouTube relies on its users to provide content, it relies on them to police the content. The site posts its “community guidelines,” which prohibit incitements to violence, hate speech, bomb-making instructions and postings by a member of a designated terrorist organization. A signed-in YouTube user who objects to a video clicks on the “flag” beneath it and indicates the reasons for a complaint by clicking on a label: for instance, “nudity,” “child abuse,” “animal abuse” or “mass advertising.”

In the case of terrorism-related material, objections could fall in the categories “violent or repulsive conduct,” including subcategories for “physical attack” or — in a label added last November after complaints about Mr. Awlaki — “promotes terrorism.” Militant messages could be “hateful or abusive content,” with a subcategory for “promotes hatred or violence.”

Then YouTube reviewers look at the flagged videos with the assistance of sophisticated software. Any video that violates the company’s guidelines is removed, Ms. Grand said.

“We encourage our users to continue to bring this material to our attention,” she said. “We review flagged videos around the clock.”

The system has prevented YouTube from succumbing to the otherwise inevitable flood of pornography, which is directed to reviewers by software that scans uploaded videos for flesh tones. Computers also give priority to the review of videos with a high “flag-to-view ratio,” suggesting that many viewers are upset about it. Software bumps to a low priority videos that have previously been reviewed, as well as those flagged by users who have a record of, say, objecting to every Justin Bieber video.

YouTube explained this system, but declined to say how many employees review videos, what percentage are reviewed, and how many are removed, either over all or specifically relating to Mr. Awlaki.

But Ms. Grand, the company official, explained the importance of context. A video that shows bullying (one banned category) might be permitted if it is intended to educate the public about the hazards of such behavior.

The variety and volume of Mr. Awlaki’s YouTube material makes it more difficult than might be supposed to decide its fate. Should his sermon on what makes a good marriage come down? His account of the final moments of the Prophet Muhammad? His counsel on the proper diet for a good Muslim?

Such material does not violate any YouTube standard. But there is evidence that those inspired by Mr. Awlaki to plot violence usually were first drawn by his engaging lectures, including Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shootings; the young men who planned to attack Fort Dix, N.J.; and the 21-year-old British student who told the police she stabbed a member of Parliament last May after watching 100 hours of Awlaki videos.

Even Mr. Awlaki’s most incendiary material appears in widely varying contexts on YouTube. A long interview he gave last year justifying violence against Americans, for instance, appears in some videos with the logo of Al Qaeda’s media wing, but in others as excerpted in newscasts by CNN and Al Jazeera.

Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, a prominent Congressional voice in calling for YouTube to remove Mr. Awlaki’s material (he can be seen doing so on YouTube), said he recognized that the company is “wrestling with a difficult issue” and opposed any government ban, which would be likely to violate constitutional protections for free speech.

Still, Mr. Weiner said, he thinks YouTube “could do a better job,” adding, “I’d give them a C with an opportunity to improve.”

It may be that the crowdsourcing that drives YouTube, its reliance on the masses, becomes the ultimate answer to violent messages on the site, more than company censors. Anti-jihad activists with names like the YouTube Smackdown Corps patrol the site constantly, flagging what they consider to be offensive material.

At a site called Jihadi Smackdown of the Day (“Countering the cyber-jihad one video at a time”), the links for past YouTube videos of Mr. Awlaki now usually lead to a standard message: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy.”

Source: The New York Times

Shiekh Hamid Al-Ahmar In-Laws Resign from Ruling Party

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a- Mar 5, 2011- At least five people, including two businessmen, on Saturday announced their resignation from Yemen's ruling General People Congress party, GPC.

Ali Al-Imrani, an MP from Al-Baida province, and Fathi Tawfiq Abdulrahim, head of the finance committee of the Yemeni parliament, resigned from the GPC on Saturday.

Sheikhs Sam Yahya Al-Ahmar, the deputy culture minister, and Hashid Abdullah Al-Ahmar, the deputy minister for youth and sports and Nabil Al-Khameri, a businessman, have also quit the ruling party.

This brings the number of resigned ruling party MPs to 13 since the wave of protests against Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule began.

Al-Ahmar resignation comes a week after his brother Hussein Abdullah Al-Ahmar had left the party.

They attributed their resignation to the current political situation in Yemen, and to the negative aspect of the Yemen's authorities in which they treated protesters harshly.

New USAID Mission Director to Yemen Sworn In

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mar 5, 2011- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Special Assistant to the Administrator for Middle East George Laudato administered the oath of office to Senior Foreign Service Officer Robert Wilson as the new USAID Mission Director to Yemen.

"During this time of transition in the Middle East, we are pleased that Mr. Wilson will lead the Agency's efforts in Yemen. He brings an outstanding record of service in high profile, transitional posts and exemplary leadership skills to this critical post" said Laudato. "We are confident in Mr. Wilson's abilities to partner with the people of Yemen on critical development issues."

As Mission Director to Yemen, Wilson will lead an innovative strategy designed to increase stability in highly vulnerable areas of the country. He will oversee a mission whose $48 million bilateral budget this year is improving livelihoods and strengthening governance capacities in order to mitigate drivers of instability.

A member of the U.S. Foreign Service, Wilson most recently served as the USAID Mission Director to Pakistan, where he oversaw a $1.1 billion program focused on improving education and health care, expanding political participation, increasing economic growth and job creation, and improving administration of justice. After heavy monsoon flooding struck Pakistan in July 2010, Wilson directed the U.S. Government's nearly $550 million relief and recovery effort that delivered essential supplies and services to affected individuals and helped communities rebuild after the waters receded.

Wilson joined USAID in 1982 as an agricultural economist intern and has served in Georgia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Mozambique, Peru, Barbados, Honduras, and Haiti. He was a Peace Corps volunteer for rural development in Togo, West Africa and holds an M.S. in agricultural economics from Purdue University.

Source: USAID

Yemen police arrest 16 anti-regime protesters

ADEN- Mar 5, 2011- Yemeni security forces arrested 16 protesters in Aden on Saturday, as thousands continued to demonstrate in the south demanding the fall of the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The anti-government demonstrators were nabbed as police dispersed protesters who were gathering to hold a sit-in outside Al-Nur mosque in Aden, police said.

Witnesses said police used tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse the protesters and that two demonstrators were wounded after being beaten with batons.

Meanwhile, thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in the city of Ataq, in the eastern province of Shabwa, on the third consecutive day of protests, witnesses said.

"People want to topple the regime," demonstrators chanted, echoing a slogan that has gripped many Arab capitals and that has already forced the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt to quit.

An MP from the neighbouring Al-Bayda province announced Friday his resignation from the ruling party of Saleh in protest to using force against demonstrators.

Ali al-Umrani announced his decision to quit the General People's Congress and join anti-government protests at an anti-Saleh demonstration in the capital, Sanaa.

Another member of the GPC, prominent businessman Nabil al-Khameri, also announced his resignation to protest the violence.

Eleven MPs who had quit GPC last week have since announced forming a new parliamentary bloc, named as the "Free Deputies", headed by MP Abdo Bisher.

Yemeni troops killed four demonstrators and wounded seven others on Friday when they fired on an anti-regime rally in the northern Amran province, officials and Shiite rebels said.

The shooting came a day after the opposition and clerics offered embattled Saleh a smooth exit from power.

Saleh's government has been rocked by a wave of protests in which at least 19 people have been killed since February 16, according to an AFP toll based on reports and witnesses.

Rights group Amnesty International has put the toll at 27.

Source: (AFP)