Thursday, 21 January 2010

Looking Back - Tehran Frees US Hostages After 444 Days

On this day in 1981, the 52 American hostages held at the US embassy in Tehran for more than 14 months arrived in West Germany on their way home to the United States. (Pictured right: The Americans had been held since November 1979).

The former diplomats and embassy staff stepped from the plane onto the tarmac at Wiesbaden airport looking tired but elated after their 4,000-mile (6,437km) flight from Iran.
Some waved to the crowd of well-wishers who had gathered, others gave the V-for-victory sign.
Iran finally agreed to release the hostages after the US said it would release assets frozen in American and other banks, including the Bank of England, since the embassy was seized.
Presidential presence
Former president Jimmy Carter, appointed as President Ronald Reagan's special envoy, had flown in to welcome home the embassy staff he had hoped would be freed while he was still in charge at the White House.
Stories of the "abominable treatment" the men and women suffered at the hands of their Iranian captors are beginning to emerge.
Letters from home were burned in front of the hostages, there were regular beatings and some talked of games of Russian roulette.
The Americans were flown via Algiers to Wiesbaden, where they were cared for at a military hospital while their conditions were assessed.
The US government has tried to dissuade families from flying out to Germany for reunions with their loved ones until they have been confirmed fit.
Reporters were able to shout a few questions to hostages who appeared briefly on the hospital balcony. One man said they had had no idea they were about to be released.
Captive in US embassy
The hostage ordeal began in November 1979 when a group of radical Iranian students stormed the American embassy in Tehran. Everyone inside was taken captive.
The students were angered by American support for the Shah, who fled into exile in January 1979 and arrived in the United States in October for cancer treatment. They demanded the Shah's return to stand trial for alleged crimes in office.
They had the backing of the Iranian government, led by Ayatollah Khomeini. But their demands for the Shah's extradition were foiled when he fled to Cairo.
The students still refused to release their hostages, however, until President Carter was defeated in the US elections. This paved the way for fresh negotiations with the Algerians acting as intermediaries.

President Carter ordered sanctions and the freezing of Iranian assets in the US in an attempt to force Tehran to release the hostages.
The Iranian Government did not give in so he ordered a rescue attempt.
But the effort, in April 1980, had to be aborted after a sandstorm damaged some of the helicopters and a troop carrier to be used in the evacuation.
Eight American servicemen lost their lives. In the end, the Iranian captors were forced to give way when the Shah died in exile in Egypt - and Iraq invaded Iran.
With Ronald Reagan now in charge at the White House, the US agreed to unfreeze Iranian assets in return for the release of the hostages.
The release of the prisoners was delayed until the day of Ronald Reagan's inauguration as president - in a final snub to President Carter.
Three of the four British hostages were released a month later following the intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury's special envoy, Terry Waite.
The fourth, Andrew Pyke, was released in February 1982 after being held in an Iranian jail without trial for 17 months.

To watch the arrival of the hostages in West Germany, click on the following video link:

Husband Of The Year Awards





Citizens Advice Bureau

One of the major orgainisations offering free support to society is the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The following article gives an insight into the many areas where the Bureau can help individuals to get confidential free advice and assistance on a wide range of personal problems.

A Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is one of a network of independent charities throughout the UK that give free, confidential information and advice to help people with their money, legal, consumer and other problems.
The twin aims of the Citizens Advice service are:
To provide the advice people need for the problems they face.
To improve the policies and principles that affect people's lives.
Trained advisers help write letters, make phone calls, negotiate with creditors and represent clients at tribunals and courts.
There are also Citizens Advice Bureau organisations in Australia, New Zealand, and the the
Bronx, New York, USA.
When referring to more than one local CAB, the abbreviation CAB is often pluralised as CABx because bureau is a French word with the plural bureaux, although CABs is also used.

The origins of the modern Citizens Advice service can be traced back to the Betterton Report on Public Assistance from 1924. This report recommended that advice centres should be set up to offer members of the public advice to help them with their problems. During the 1930s, as preparations and plans were drawn up for the possibility of war, the role that the voluntary sector should have was determined. The National Council for Social Service (NCSS) called a meeting in 1938 in which plans to establish 'Citizens Aid Bureaux' were devised in the event of war.
The first 200 bureaux opened on 4 September 1939, 4 days after World War II started. Many of these initial bureaux were run by 'people of standing' in the community, for example the local bank manager. By 1942 there were 1074 bureaux in a wide range of improvised offices such as cafes, church halls, private homes and air raid shelters. Mobile offices also became important in ensuring that people could access advice. Many of the issues dealt with during that time were directly related to the war. These included the tracing of missing servicemen or prisoners of war, evacuations, pensions and other allowances.
Many war time bureaux closed at the end of the war, although it was apparent that there was still a need for the services that had been established. A particular problem was the chronic housing shortage in the years immediately following the end of the war. In the 1950s the funding was cut and by 1960 there were only 415 bureaux. In 1972, The Citizens Advice service became independent. Before then, the national organisation was part of NCSS (National Council of Social Services) and most bureaux were run by the local CVS (Council for Voluntary Service).
In 1973 the government funded NACAB, the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, to enlarge the network. In 2003 this changed its name to Citizens Advice (in England and Northern Ireland) and Cyngor ar Bopeth or "Advice on everything" (in Wales).
In 2003 the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) changed its name to Citizens Advice. In Wales it was renamed Citizens Advice Cymru (Cyngor ar bopeth Cymru).
In 2006 there were 462 bureaux offering advice from over 3000 locations.
A 1984 afternoon television drama series Miracles Take Longer depicted the type of cases that a 1980s branch would have to deal with.
The principles of the CAB service
The Citizens Advice service in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland is guided by four principles. All Citizens Advice Bureaux and workers for the bureaux must adhere to these principles, and bureaux must demonstrate that they adhere to these principles in order to retain membership of the national umbrella bodies.
A free service
The service is also committed to:
Community accountability
The client’s right to decide
A voluntary service
Information retrieval
A generalist service
A lot of the Citizens Advice service's work involves providing advice on issues such as debt management and welfare benefits, housing, immigration and asylum, employment, consumer complaints and landlord/tenant disputes. Advice is available in the bureaux, but also in community venues, in people's homes, by phone, by email and at

The Citizens Advice service, both locally and nationally, also uses clients' problems as evidence to influence policy makers to review laws or administrative practices which cause undue difficulties to clients, in a process referred to as "Social Policy".
Organisation and funding
The Citizens Advice service is one of the largest volunteer organisations in the UK with over 20,000 volunteers. The majority of these are part time volunteer advisers with varying levels of training, but the figure also includes trustees and administrators. Typically there will be a paid bureau manager, advice session supervisors and in some cases some paid advisers. With the ever-increasing complexity of queries many bureaux are having to resort to employing more staff to cope with constantly changing legislation.
Each local bureau or group is a separate independent charity with independent trustees. Many bureaux are also limited companies and may have a board of directors, who will also be the organisation's trustees. Bureaux throughout the UK have varying community needs and very different resources, and consequently offer different styles and levels of service.
They often receive significant funding by local authorities, and local solicitors may agree to provide limited legal advice pro bono. Some staff may be qualified to give specialist legal advice or to advise on immigration. The umbrella bodies of the service in the UK provide access to training courses for all volunteers and employees.
All bureaux try to ensure their services are accessible to all sections of the community, so that provision can be made for the housebound, immigrant communities, rural inhabitants, elderly and disabled as appropriate.
All bureaux in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are members of Citizens Advice, the operating name of The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. Bureaux in Scotland are members of Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), part of the Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. Both Citizens Advice and CAS are registered charities and are financed partly by the Department of Trade and Industry (although both organisations are completely independent of central government); member bureaux also pay heavily-subsidised subscriptions for the services offered. Citizens Advice and CAS provide bureaux with information, training and consultancy services, and regularly audit individual bureaux against the requirements of their respective membership standards.
IT Support
Membership of Citizens Advice gives each bureau access to the national information portal, known as AdviserNet and to internet access provided through a Virtual Private Network.
Information on clients' problems and the advice offered to them is entered into the CASE national database, the use of which has been compulsory since 2008. Although the data on CASE is centrally stored and backed up by Citizens Advice, the data can only be accessed by the bureau that entered the information.
New initiatives
Despite the large number of volunteers working for the organisation, level of demand for the service often far outstrips resources. The National Association has recently begun looking at ways to reach all members of the community through new mediums such as email advice and DigiTV.
Another initiative has been allowing university students to train as advisers to gain credits toward their degree. This was pioneered by a partnership between the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Citizens Advice Bureau and is due to roll out to the University of Reading and the University of Northampton by July 2007.

Funny Signs

Can't say you haven't been warned !!!

Today's Smile

Muldoon lived alone in the irish countryside with only a pet dog for company.
One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked,
"Father me dog is dead. Could ya' be saying' a mass for the poor creature?"
Father Patrick replied, "I'm afraid not, we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there's no tellin' what they believe. Maybe they'll do something for the creature."
Muldoon said, "I'll go right away Father. Do ya' think £5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?"
Father Patrick exclaimed, "Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus! Why did ya' not tell me the dog was Catholic?"