Docudharma Times Sunday Dec.16

This is an Open Thread: The Toll Booth is Closed

Headlines For Sunday December 16: Control sought on military lawyers: Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry: Obama is hitting his stride in Iowa : Balkanized Homecoming


Control sought on military lawyers

Bush wants power over promotions

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

The administration has proposed a regulation requiring “coordination” with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps – the military’s 4,000-member uniformed legal force – can be promoted.

A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination – which many former JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or appointment – is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater control over the military lawyers.

Wider Spying Fuels Aid Plan for Telecom Industry

This article is by Eric Lichtblau, James Risen and Scott Shane.

WASHINGTON – For months, the Bush administration has waged a high-profile campaign, including personal lobbying by President Bush and closed-door briefings by top officials, to persuade Congress to pass legislation protecting companies from lawsuits for aiding the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program.

But the battle is really about something much bigger. At stake is the federal government’s extensive but uneasy partnership with industry to conduct a wide range of secret surveillance operations in fighting terrorism and crime.

The N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before, according to government and industry officials, yet that alliance is strained by legal worries and the fear of public exposure.

To detect narcotics trafficking, for example, the government has been collecting the phone records of thousands of Americans and others inside the United States who call people in Latin America, according to several government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. But in 2004, one major phone carrier balked at turning over its customers’ records. Worried about possible privacy violations or public relations problems, company executives declined to help the operation, which has not been previously disclosed.

Obama is hitting his stride in Iowa

The candidate once criticized for lacking specifics now peppers his speeches with policy proposals — and confidence.

By Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

December 16, 2007

MAQUOKETA, IOWA — It was an unusual question at the end of a long day. What, the fifth-grader asked Barack Obama, would you do as president if illegal immigrants staged a terrorist attack on the United States while you were pulling troops out of Iraq?

Without losing sight of his main purpose — convincing the 200 or so adults in the crowd to caucus for him Jan. 3 — the Democrat responded at length. He promised tougher border enforcement and a crackdown on employers who hired illegal immigrants. He called for compassion for exploited workers. He needled Republican candidate Mitt Romney for talking tough on immigration when, it turned out, illegal immigrants were tending his yard.

Middle East

Balkanized Homecoming

As Iraqi Refugees Start to Trickle Back, Authorities Worry About How They Will Fit Into the New Baghdad

By Karen DeYoung

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, December 16, 2007; Page A01


When the Iraqi government last month invited home the 1.4 million refugees who had fled this war-ravaged country for Syria — and said it would send buses to pick them up — the United Nations and the U.S. military reacted with horror.

U.N. refugee officials immediately advised against the move, saying any new arrivals risked homelessness, unemployment and deprivation in a place still struggling to take care of the people already here. For the military, the prospect of refugees returning to reclaim houses long since occupied by others, particularly in Baghdad, threatened to destroy fragile security improvements.

UK troops return Basra to Iraqis

British troops have transferred control of Basra province to the Iraqi authorities, four-and-a-half years after the invasion.

The handover marks a significant milestone towards Britain’s final withdrawal from southern Iraq.

Maj Gen Graham Binns, who led British troops into the city in 2003, said it had “begun to regain its strength”.

Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Dr Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said the “historic” day marked a “victory for Iraq”.


Inside Ebola’s zone of death

Uganda is gripped by fear of an epidemic ‘explosion’ as the killer virus develops a slower and potentially more lethal version

Anushka Asthana in Kampala

Sunday December 16, 2007

The Observer

It is a country where the President has asked people to stop shaking hands, where MPs have called for an end to public gatherings, market vendors wear gloves and Roman Catholic priests no longer give the communion wafers and wine by hand. Uganda is gripped by terror over a new strain of one of the world’s most deadly diseases. Ebola haemorrhagic fever, which is spread by touch, kills between 50 and 90 per cent of victims.

Briefing: ANC to choose South Africa’s next president

Battle starts today to find Thabo Mbeki’s successor

By Raymond Whitaker

Published: 16 December 2007

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, begins one of the most important conferences in its history today.

What’s at stake?

The meeting could be crucial for the future of South Africa. It will choose the next president of the party: since the ANC holds an overwhelming majority in parliament, that in effect means the delegates will be deciding who becomes president when Thabo Mbeki steps down in 2009.

Who’s in the running?

Mr Mbeki, who is in his second term, is barred by the constitution from standing again. But he wants to retain the leadership of the ANC so that he can name his successor. He certainly would not choose the populist Jacob Zuma whom he fired as deputy president in 2005. But Mr Zuma has the endorsement of five of the country’s nine regions.


Pakistan lifts emergency rule but media curbs remain

Jason Burke in Islamabad

Sunday December 16, 2007

The Observer

President Pervez Musharraf yesterday lifted emergency rule in Pakistan but otherwise gave few signs of further concessions towards restoring democracy in the nuclear-armed country ahead of the 8 January election.

In a televised address last night, Musharraf said his objective of ‘saving Pakistan from destabilisation’ had been achieved.

After six weeks of emergency rule which have seen hundreds of lawyers, judges and opposition activists deposed and imprisoned, many, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, remained under house arrest and the purged judiciary continued in place. Some curbs will go on being imposed on the media, with a ban on live broadcasts.

Ousted Thai leader plots long-ball return

HALF a world away from their home turf, Manchester City are vying with Everton as Premier League clubs become political footballs in Thailand’s first general election since a military coup last year.

Since being ousted, Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, has bought Manchester City and is turning his £81m acquisition into a trophy to win hearts and minds among Thai voters from his exile in Britain. Thaksin has used the club’s prestige among football-crazy Thais to stage a comeback, as the country prepares for a general election that will restore civilian rule next Sunday.

He dispatched Sven-Goran Eriksson, City’s manager, to Bangkok a few weeks ago to announce that City were signing three well known Thai players and setting up a football academy. For good measure, Eriksson said he found his proprietor “nothing short of amazing”.


Belgians stage big protest rally

Thousands of trade union members have protested in Brussels against rising prices and the failure of Belgium’s politicians to form a new government.

Belgium has been without a government since elections in June, as Dutch- and French-speaking political parties remain split over autonomy plans.

The trade unions say economic and social policy had been neglected because of the political paralysis.

They were also protesting against high food and fuel prices.

The trade unions say economic and social policy had been neglected because of the political paralysis.

They were also protesting against high food and fuel prices.

Kremlinology: Vladimir Putin has chosen Medvedev: the votes will follow

What does Russia’s third President have in store for the West, asks Shaun Walker

Published: 16 December 2007

A short, low-key man with a penchant for Black Sabbath seems sure to become Russia’s third president after the current incumbent, Vladimir Putin, announced last week that he supports the candidacy of Dmitry Medvedev to take over in March. That laid to rest speculation that Putin might seek to change the constitution so that he could serve a third term, but few doubt that, one way or another, he will remain in charge.

Mr Medvedev, the chairman of Gazprom, the state-owned energy giant, and a leading minister in Putin’s government, has long been seen as one of the favourites for the succession. His anointment was quickly described as a victory for the “liberals” in the Kremlin over the “hardliners”, even though the chairmanship of Gazprom hardly marks one out as an opponent of monopolies and state capitalism. In Russia, however, everything is relative. As one opposition columnist put it, “When you look at the other candidates, you think ‘Thank God! It could have been so much worse.'”


  1. Have had strikes and protests in the last little while.

    Proof that Euro TV isn’t as good as American TV?

    • Edger on December 16, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    I like animals. Especially the cat who deigns to share my house with me.

    I also like science and technology. But there are some things that I think should not be done… and I don’t think we need to be doing this to cats. If I was a cat I think I’d be a lot more than pissed off.

    Cloned Cats That Glow?!

    CLICK FOR VIDEO: Photos from South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Technology
    show cats with a gene for producing red fluorescence protein. The cats appear
    normal in visible light, at left, but their skin glows red under ultraviolet light, at
    Click here or on the image to watch the video from NBC’s TODAY show.

    South Korean scientists say they have cloned cats whose genes have been altered so that they glow in the dark – taking advantage of a technological twist that could someday be used to make more dramatic genetic changes in all sorts of creatures.

    A research team at Gyeongsang National University, headed by Kong Il-Keun, produced several kitty clones in January and February, the government-managed news service reported Wednesday. This week the scientists showed off the cats, which now weigh about 7 pounds (3 to 3.5 kilograms) and glow a dull red under ultraviolet light.

    “The ability to manipulate the fluorescent protein and use this to clone cats opens new horizons for artificially creating animals with human illnesses linked to genetic causes,” the Ministry of Science and Technology said in Wednesday’s report.

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