U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy dies aged 77

File photo of U.S Senator Edward Kennedy walking out of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston Reuters – U.S Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) waves as he walks out of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, …

By Scott Malone Scott Malone 13 mins ago

BOSTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America’s most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, has died at age 77, his family said on Wednesday.

Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts),” the Kennedy family said in a statement.

One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history — a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker — Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the family statement added.

His death marked the twilight of a political dynasty, and dealt a blow to Democrats as they seek to answer President Barack Obama‘s call for an overhaul of the healthcare system. Kennedy had made healthcare reform his signature cause.

Known as “Teddy,” he was the brother of President John Kennedy, assassinated in 1963, Senator Robert Kennedy, fatally shot while campaigning for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination, and Joe Kennedy, a pilot killed in World War Two.

When he first took the Senate seat previously held by John Kennedy in 1962, he was seen as something of a political lightweight who owed his ascent to his famous name.

Yet during his nearly half century in the chamber, Kennedy became known as one of Washington’s most effective senators, crafting legislation by working with lawmakers and presidents of both parties, and finding unlikely allies.

At the same time, he held fast to liberal causes deemed anachronistic by the centrist “New Democrats,” and was a lightning rod for conservative ire.

He helped enact measures to protect civil and labor rights, expand healthcare, upgrade schools, increase student aid and contain the spread of nuclear weapons.

“There’s a lot to do,” Kennedy told Reuters in 2006. “I think most of all it’s the injustice that I continue to see and the opportunity to have some impact on it.”

After Robert Kennedy’s death, Edward was expected to waste little time in vying for the presidency. But in 1969, a young woman drowned after a car Kennedy was driving plunged off a bridge on the Massachusetts resort island of Chappaquiddick after a night of partying.

Kennedy’s image took a major hit after it emerged he had failed to report the accident to authorities. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene and received a suspended sentence.

Kennedy eventually ran for his party’s presidential nomination in 1980 but lost to then-President Jimmy Carter.

His presidential ambitions thwarted, Kennedy devoted himself to his Senate career.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro in Washington; (Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Aung San Suu Kyi: Continued House Arrest

August 12, 2009

Pro-Democracy Leader in Myanmar Is Convicted

BANGKOK — Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, was sentenced Tuesday to three years of hard labor, but her sentence was commuted to a new term under house arrest of up to 18 months, diplomats reported.

In a trial that was being closely watched — and had been roundly condemned — by the international community, the court in Myanmar found her guilty of violating the terms of the house arrest under which she has already been held for 14 of the last 20 years.

She was put on trial after an American intruder swam across a lake in downtown Yangon and spent two nights at her lakeside villa in early May.

The intruder, John Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Missouri, was sentenced Tuesday to seven years of hard labor, according to the diplomats, who were reached by telephone in Yangon, the main city in Myanmar, the former Burma.

Mr. Yettaw was reported last week to have suffered a series of epileptic seizures and to have been taken to a hospital. On Tuesday he was reported to have been returned to his cell in preparation for the reading of the verdict.

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentence means she will be able to return home from the prison guest house where she has been held since the trial began in May 18.

Her lawyer, U Nyan Win, said Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, 64, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had been “prepared for the worst” and had collected a supply of reading matter and medications to sustain her. She had been facing a prison term of up to five years.

“From my point of view she is innocent and she should be acquitted,” Mr. Nyan Win said, speaking by telephone in advance of the verdict.

“But this is a political case and the authorities will decide it from a political point of view,” he said, adding, “I have never known of an acquittal in a political case.”

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial has been a setback for the emerging possibility of improved relations between Myanmar and Western nations, particularly the United States, which had said it was reviewing its policy of economic sanctions and political confrontation.

But in a statement last week, the State Department appeared to stand by that possibility, saying, “The door remains open for the regime to respect the wishes of the Burmese people and international community, and to step toward the path of engagement after so many years of isolation.”

As a “welcome first step,” it called for the release of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi along with all 2,100 political prisoners said to be detained by the military junta.

Some analysts have called the arrest of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi a ploy to keep her in detention at least through a parliamentary election scheduled for next year. Her latest six-year term of house arrest expired in mid-May.

The election could put a civilian face on the military rule that has isolated and impoverished Myanmar, formerly Burma, since a coup in 1962. It will be the first nationwide election since 1990, which the military annulled after Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won by a landslide.

The government newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar, has insisted that the trial of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, like those of the other prisoners, is not political, but is based on pure criminal conduct.

Since her arrest on May 14, Mr. Nyan Win said, she has been held in an individual dormitory in Insein Prison, where the trial is being held. He said she lives on the second floor together with two female housekeepers who were arrested and charged with her. Five prison matrons live on the ground floor, he said.

Mr. Yettaw, 53, of Falcon, Mo., faced at least five years in prison as an accomplice in violating Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest as well as for immigration violations and for violating a local ordinance that bans swimming across Inya Lake

During the trial, which began May 18, Mr. Nyan Win said Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi declared her innocence and said that she was being charged for political reasons.

At a news conference last week in Yangon, the national police chief, Brig. Gen. Khin Yi, said that 20 police officers had been demoted, and that some had been given jail terms for allowing Mr. Yettaw to breach security.

Mark McDonald contributed from Hong Kong.

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Myanmar sentences Suu Kyi to more house arrest

51 mins ago

YANGON, Myanmar – A Myanmar court convicted democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday of violating her house arrest by allowing an uninvited American to stay at her home. The head of the military-ruled country ordered her to serve an 18-month sentence under house arrest.

The 64-year-old Nobel Peace laureate has already been in detention for 14 of the last 20 years, mostly under house arrest, and the extension will remove her from the political scene when the junta stages elections next year.

The ruling — which also convicted the American, John Yettaw, and sentenced him to seven years — drew immediate criticism from world leaders, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling it “monstrous.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the European Union to adopt new sanctions, calling the verdict “brutal and unjust.”

But the term was less severe than the maximum sentence she faced — five years in prison — and shorter than the one the court initially ordered Tuesday — three years with hard labor.

Five minutes after that sentence was read out, Home Minister Maj. Gen. Maung Oo entered the courtroom and read aloud a special order from junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe, cutting the sentence in half and saying it could be served at home.

Than Shwe‘s order, signed Monday, likewise reduced the sentences of Suu Kyi’s two female house companions, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, to 18 months. Both are members of her political party.

The junta leader said he commuted the sentences to “maintain community peace and stability” and because Suu Kyi was the daughter of Aung San, a revered hero who won Myanmar‘s independence from Britain.

It seemed likely it was in response to intense international pressure, including a call for Suu Kyi’s release from the United Nations that was backed by China, Myanmar’s key ally and benefactor.

South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu warned, however, that the reduced sentence was “not a concession — it is a manipulation of an illegal process. It must not be accepted by any government.”

Suu Kyi looked alert but tired during the 90-minute court session. She stood as the verdict was announced and then thanked foreign diplomats for attending her trial.

“I look forward to working with you in the future for the peace and prosperity of my country and the region,” Suu Kyi said in a soft voice to diplomats seated nearby. She then was led out of the courtroom.

Officials said she was driven back to her lakeside villa in a six-car convoy. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the high-profile case.

One of her party members tied yellow ribbons at the gate and two nearby trees as a gesture of welcome. Suu Kyi had been in prison during the trial.

Yettaw — who swam across a lake, entered Suu Kyi’s home uninvited and asked to spend two nights before trying to secretly swim back — was sentenced to seven years in prison with hard labor.

Suu Kyi’s trial has sparked international outrage and calls for her release and that of Myanmar’s more than 2,000 other political prisoners. The sentence sparked angry reaction from across the globe.

“The facade of her prosecution is made more monstrous because its real objective is to sever her bond with the people for whom she is a beacon of hope and resistance,” Brown said, calling the verdict a “purely political sentence” aimed at keeping her out of the 2010 elections.

Burma Campaign UK, an activist group, called for a global arms embargo against Myanmar and said the junta was “determined to silence all pro-democracy voices in the country in the run up to rigged elections.”

Suu Kyi’s international lawyer, New York-based Jared Genser, said her most recent period of detention violated Myanmar‘s own laws.

“The real question is how the international community will react — will it do more than simply condemn this latest injustice?” he asked.

London-based Amnesty International called the sentence “shameful … nothing more than legal and political theater.”

The 53-year-old Yettaw, of Falcon, Missouri, was returned to Insein prison, the site of the trial, on Monday night after hospitalization for epileptic seizures.

The court sentenced him to three years in prison for breaching Suu Kyi’s house arrest. Yettaw was also sentenced to three years in prison for an immigration violation and to another year for swimming in a restricted zone.

It was not immediately clear if the prison terms would be served concurrently, but Suu Kyi’s lawyer Nyan Win said that if a court does not specify otherwise, sentences are usually served consecutively.

Yettaw, a devout Christian, earlier told his lawyer that he swam to Suu Kyi’s residence to warn her of an assassination attempt that he had seen in a vision.

Yettaw was hospitalized last Monday after suffering seizures. He reportedly suffers from epilepsy, diabetes and other health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder from his service in the U.S. military.

Tahniah Sotomayor dari Wanita KEADILAN

Sotomayor to be sworn in as justice Saturday

AP

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2009 file photo, Supreme Court designate Sonia Sotomayor AP – FILE – In this Aug. 7, 2009 file photo, Supreme Court designate Sonia Sotomayor leaves her West Village …

8 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Sonia Sotomayor, her family and friends are gathering at the Supreme Court for her swearing-in as the court’s first Hispanic, third woman and 111th justice.

Chief Justice John Roberts is to preside Saturday at two ceremonies that will officially make Sotomayor a high court justice.

Sotomayor, 55, has been a federal judge for 17 years. President Barack Obama nominated her in May to take the place of Justice David Souter, who has retired. The Senate confirmed Sotomayor’s nomination Thursday by a 68-31 vote.

Before she can begin her new job, though, she has to take two oaths.

In a private ceremony in the justices’ conference room, Roberts will administer an oath that the Constitution requires of all federal officials, to “support and defend” the Constitution. Then, in a public ceremony that is expected to be aired live on some cable networks, he will give Sotomayor a second oath in which she pledges to “administer justice” fairly and impartially, as prescribed by a 220-year-old federal law.

After that, the newest justice can get to work, although the court won’t hear arguments until Sept. 9, in a key campaign finance case.

The entire court will convene a day earlier, however, for a formal ceremony to welcome Sotomayor. Many presidents have been on hand to see their nominees take their seat on the Supreme Court bench for the first time. President George W. Bush attended Roberts’ ceremony in October 2005.

Ambassador of Conscience Award to Aung San Suu Kyi

Published: Tuesday July 28, 2009 MYT 8:38:00 AM

Myanmar democracy leader wins top Amnesty honor

DUBLIN (AP): Myanmar’s long-detained democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is receiving Amnesty International’s highest honor, U2‘s Bono publicly announced before 80,000 cheering fans.

The human rights watchdog earlier Monday said it hoped the Ambassador of Conscience Award would help protect her as she faces a potential prison sentence.

“Her crime is that, if she was free to participate in elections, she would win.

This week the brutal force that has her incarcerated will decide if she spends the next five years in prison,” Bono said. He added his wish that Suu Kyi’s latest international honor “will help keep her safe.”

Amnesty International leaders said the award was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Suu Kyi’s initial arrest on July 20, 1989, as she led a campaign to oust Myanmar’s military dictators.

Suu Kyi’s opposition party, the National League for Democracy, won national elections in 1990 but the military refused to relinquish power. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 but has been under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years.

Suu Kyi, 64, is on trial for allegedly harboring an American who swam out to her residence uninvited. The offense of violating house-arrest rules carries a potential five-year prison sentence, and foreign diplomats have been barred from key parts of her trial. Suu Kyi’s supporters accuse Myanmar’s junta of seeking to put her behind bars until after elections planned for 2010.

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, a fellow Nobel recipient and the first winner of the Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2003, said foreign recognition probably has deterred Myanmar’s rulers from imposing even harsher punishments on Suu Kyi.

“I know from my own experience that international attention can, to a certain extent, protect the unjustly persecuted from punishments that would otherwise be imposed. … Goodness knows what would have happened if her fate had not been highlighted as it is again today,” Havel said in a statement.

U2 – which won the top Amnesty honor in 2005 in recognition of Bono’s humanitarian campaigning – has been honoring Suu Kyi at each performance of the band’s ongoing European tour.

More than 100 people walked on stage Monday night, holding Suu Kyi masks over their faces, as U2 performed its 2000 song honoring Suu Kyi, “Walk On.”

An Amnesty International official who attended the concert, Donna Jean Guest, said the London-based organization hoped one day to be able to present Suu Kyi the award in person. Amnesty officials were permitted to visit her most recently in 2003.

“She should never have been arrested in the first place,” said Guest, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Asia-Pacific region. “We have been very concerned from the start that the authorities would use any pretext to lock her up until after the elections.”