This is an Open Thread: Come On Take a Test Drive.
Poll Finds G.O.P. Field Isn’t Touching Voters
Three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Republican voters across the country appear uninspired by their field of presidential candidates, with a vast majority saying they have not made a final decision about whom to support, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Not one of the Republican candidates is viewed favorably by even half the Republican electorate, the poll found. And in a sign of the fluidity of the race, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who barely registered in early polls several months ago, is now locked in a tight contest nationally with Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney
Ex-CIA Officer Says It ‘Probably Saved Lives’ but Is Torture
By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 11, 2007; Page A01
A former CIA officer who participated in the capture and questioning of the first al-Qaeda terrorist suspect to be waterboarded said yesterday that the harsh technique provided an intelligence breakthrough that “probably saved lives,” but that he now regards the tactic as torture.
Zayn Abidin Muhammed Hussein abu Zubaida, the first high-ranking al-Qaeda member captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, broke in less than a minute after he was subjected to the technique and began providing interrogators with information that led to the disruption of several planned attacks, said John Kiriakou, who served as a CIA interrogator in Pakistan.
Lost tapes may entangle CIA
Questions now arise as to whether the agency’s action impeded terrorism investigations and criminal trials.
By Richard B. Schmitt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 11, 2007
WASHINGTON — In reconstructing the events leading up to Sept. 11, 2001, the blue-ribbon commission investigating the terrorist attacks got a lot of help from the CIA.
The agency summarized intelligence reports about interrogations of suspects and even agreed to pose the commission’s questions to detainees. But the agency strictly prohibited personal contact with the detainees, even though the panel thought that seeing how they responded would help determine their credibility.
Now, it appears that the CIA withheld what would have been the next-best thing.
Putin anoints deputy prime minister as heir to presidency
· Dmitry Medvedev named ruling party candidate
· President intends to keep control of security services
Luke Harding in Moscow
Tuesday December 11, 2007
President Vladimir Putin ended months of speculation yesterday by naming Dmitry Medvedev, a 42-year-old economic liberal, as his preferred candidate to win Russia’s presidential election next year.
The move all but guarantees that Medvedev, a first deputy prime minister, will win overwhelmingly in the poll on March 2. “I have known him very closely for more than 17 years and I completely and fully support this proposal,” Putin said, during a meeting with leaders from four parties who announced they were all backing Medvedev’s candidacy.
US gives blessing to France-Libya nuclear deal
WASHINGTON, Dec 10, 2007 (AFP) – The United States gave its blessing Monday to a civilian nuclear energy deal between France and Libya, saying it expected its former foe to respect its decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction.
“In light of Libya’s historic decision in 2003 to rid itself of its WMD programs, we expect any cooperation with Libya on a peaceful secure and responsible use of nuclear power to be consistent with the highest standard of non-proliferation,” said Kurtis Cooper, a State Department spokesman.
France announced plans to sell nuclear reactors to Libya as well as 10 billion euros of trade deals, as President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on Monday for a five-day visit.
Led Zeppelin Finds Its Old Power
LONDON, Dec. 10 – Some rock bands accelerate their tempos when they play their old songs decades after the fact. Playing fast is a kind of armor: a refutation of the plain fact of aging, all that unregainable enthusiasm and lost muscle mass, and a hard block against an old band’s lessened cultural importance.
But Led Zeppelin slowed its down a little. At the O2 arena here on Monday night, in its first full concert since 1980 – without John Bonham, who died that year, but with Bonham’s son Jason as a natural substitute – the band found much of its old power in tempos that were more graceful than those on the old live recordings.
Israeli tanks move into southern Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – About 30 Israeli tanks and bulldozers moved into the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday in an operation against Palestinian militants, setting off clashes with Hamas fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds.
Soldiers took over the rooftops of several homes and detained about 60 people in house-to-house raids, residents said. The Israeli military said they were detained for questioning.
The gunfire kept frightened motorists away from the main road between the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah, which was blocked at one section by an Israeli tank. Troops also were demolishing a gas station on the road.
‘Westernised’ women being killed in Basra
By Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad
Published: 11 December 2007
Religious extremists have killed at least 40 women this year in Basra because of their “un-Islamic” dress, according to Iraqi police.
The police said women were being apprehended by men patrolling on motorbikes or in cars with tinted windows before being murdered and dumped in piles of rubbish with notes saying they were killed for “un-Islamic behaviour”. He said men had been victims of similar attacks.
Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the rise of Iraq’s Shia-dominated government, armed men have forced women to cover their heads or face punishment. In parts of the predominantly Shia south, even Christian women have been forced to wear headscarves. In some areas of Basra, graffiti warns women that forgoing the headscarf and wearing make-up “will bring you death”.
In September, the headless bodies of a woman and her six-year-old son were among those found. A total of 40 deaths have been reported this year but police believe many go unreported for fear of reprisals.
Cuba makes human rights promise
Cuba is going to sign up to two major United Nations agreements on civil and political rights, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque confirmed.
Legally binding protocols on economic, social and cultural issues, and civil and political rights, make up the UN Bill of Human Rights.
Communist Cuba is one of the countries which has never signed up.
The news came as government supporters in Havana mobbed dissidents marking UN international human rights day.
Fujimori outburst at trial captivates Peru
The former president screamed at a panel of judges, protesting the human rights and corruption charges against him in proceedings broadcast live.
By Adriana León and Patrick J. McDonnell, Special to The Times
December 11, 2007
LIMA, PERU — Former President Alberto Fujimori on Monday shouted at a panel of judges and declared he was “totally innocent” in an impassioned address on the opening day of his trial on allegations of human rights abuses.
“I reject the charges entirely!” an agitated Fujimori screamed at the three-judge Supreme Court panel presiding over his long-anticipated trial. “I am innocent and do not accept this accusation!”
His stunning outburst, broadcast live on television throughout Peru via a closed-circuit feed, marked a dramatic first day in the case. He seemed ill at ease early on and launched into a tirade when permitted to respond.
Flight of the young ones
Thousands of children are fleeing the misery of Zimbabwe in search of new lives in South Africa. Even for those who make it, it is a perilous business. Basildon Peta reports on the charity trying to help
Laina Moyo’s dream was to become a doctor. It was not a wild ambition. She was the star pupil in maths and science at her school – until, that is, she was forced to leave because her mother could no longer afford the tuition fee increases in Zimbabwe’s hyperinflationary environment. But it was when her mother began to be unable to afford not just fees, but also food, that 13-year-old Laina took the boldest decision of her life.
Algiers blasts leave dead and wounded: witnesses
ALGIERS (AFP) – Two simultaneous blasts in Algiers — one on a school bus in front of the supreme court in Algiers and another in a residential area — on Tuesday killed or wounded several people, witnesses said.
Ambulances with sirens wailing rushed to the centre of the Algerian capital where a huge column of black smoke rose from wreckage of the school bus.
Road blocks were thrown up around the zone where Algeria’s highest court and the constitutional council are located.
Australia scraps ‘Pacific Solution’ for refugees
By Kathy Marks in Sydney
Published: 11 December 2007
It was, perhaps, the most reviled policy of John Howard’s centre-right government: sending asylum-seekers to remote Pacific islands, where they spent years behind razor wire before being declared, for the most part, genuine refugees.
Yesterday the new Labour government, led by Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister, began dismantling the discredited policy, granting asylum to seven Burmese men held on Nauru for more than a year and signalling its intention to resolve the cases of 82 Sri Lankans also on Nauru.
Australia paid the tiny, impoverished nation millions of dollars to set up a detention centre where would-be refugees intercepted at sea were incarcerated, under the notorious “Pacific Solution”. Another centre was set up on the island of Manus, in Papua New Guinea.
Cargo trains begin service in Koreas
DORASAN STATION, South Korea – North and South Korea began regular freight train service across their heavily armed border Tuesday for the first time in more than a half century, in another symbolic step in their reconciliation.
The 12-car train carried construction materials to a North Korean border station, and then returned home carrying shoes, underwear and other items produced at a South-North joint industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong.
The service is one of the tangible results of an October summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun that outlined a series of joint projects. It comes months after the two sides conducted a one-time test run of passenger trains on two reconnected tracks on the western and eastern sides of the peninsula.
Pakistan’s News Media No Longer Silent, but Musharraf Has Muted His Critics
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 10 – Nearly all private television channels blacked out last month by President Pervez Musharraf’s emergency decree are back on the air. But the country’s once-thriving television news media remain largely muzzled by sweeping new restrictions that journalists and Western diplomats say stifle criticism of the government.
After the blackout cost leading channels tens of millions of dollars in lost advertising revenues, owners of all but one channel agreed to stop broadcasting the country’s highest-rated political talk shows and signed the government-ordered “code of conduct.”