Docudharma Times Friday January 25

This is an Open Thread: Who’s behind the door?

Friday’s Headlines: E.P.A. Chief Defends His Decision on California: Egypt moves to seal Gaza border: Pakistani army in onslaught against Taliban chief linked to Bhutto killing: US troops will be gone within 10 years, says Iraqi minister: Berlusconi eyes return to power in Italy

U.S. Asking Iraq for Wide Rights on War

WASHINGTON – With its international mandate in Iraq set to expire in 11 months, the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials.

This emerging American negotiating position faces a potential buzz saw of opposition from Iraq, with its fragmented Parliament, weak central government and deep sensitivities about being seen as a dependent state, according to these officials.


E.P.A. Chief Defends His Decision on California

WASHINGTON – Defending his refusal to let California set limits on the greenhouse gas emissions of automobiles, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency insisted before a Senate committee Thursday that climate change posed no “compelling and extraordinary” risk to the state.

Describing such change as “not unique to” and “not exclusive to California,” the agency’s administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, called it “a global problem requiring a global solution or, at least at a minimum, a national solution.”

But internal agency documents cited by members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works listed climate change effects specific to California, including wildfires and species loss.

Deal on stimulus reached

House and the Bush administration agree on a plan including tax rebates and higher limits on home loans

WASHINGTON — Hoping to jolt the ailing economy — and counter criticism that Washington is too divided to come to Americans’ aid — House leaders and the Bush administration reached a deal Thursday on a package of tax breaks and mortgage rules designed to put more money in consumers’ hands and stimulate business investment.

The centerpiece of the plan is a rebate of as much as $1,200 per household — even more for families with children — that could be mailed to most taxpayers as soon as late spring. The package also includes temporary tax breaks to encourage businesses to expand and create more jobs this year.

Middle East

Egypt moves to seal Gaza border

Egyptian security forces have begun intervening to try to stem the flow of Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip through its partly demolished border.

They are now stopping Palestinians from entering Egypt, only allowing people returning to Gaza to pass through.

Hundreds of thousands have crossed into Gaza to buy supplies since militants blew holes in the border on Wednesday.

Israel has been demanding Egyptian action, claiming weapons are likely to be smuggled into Gaza amid the chaos.

US troops will be gone within 10 years, says Iraqi minister

By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad

Friday, 25 January 2008

US military forces will not stay in Iraq for anything like as long as some American politicians are demanding, says the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari. He said crucial issues about “Who is in charge in Iraq – we or you?” would be settled in negotiations between Iraq and the United States, starting this month.

The Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, caused anger among Iraqis this month by saying during the New Hampshire primary that US military forces might stay in Iraq “for 100 years”. Mr Zebari, asked by The Independent in Baghdad if the American army would be in Iraq in 10 years, said: “Really, I wouldn’t say so.”


Pakistani army in onslaught against Taliban chief linked to Bhutto killing

· Dozens killed as troops encircle mountain base

· Locals flee air and ground assault on Afghan border

The Pakistani army has launched a blistering air and ground assault on the mountain stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban commander accused of orchestrating the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, as a battle for control of the lawless region near the Afghan border intensifies.

The onslaught follows months of sporadic clashes in Waziristan, where Islamists have embarrassed Pakistani forces in recent weeks, and comes amid growing pressure from the US, which finances the operations against the extremists.

The British have made matters worse, says Afghan President

Britain and Afghanistan fell out in spectacular fashion yesterday after President Karzai accused his British allies of bungling the military operation in Helmand and setting back prospects for the area by 18 months.

Mr Karzai, Britain’s key ally in Afghanistan, had little praise for the efforts of the 7,800 British troops deployed in his country. Most are in the restless southern Helmand province, where Britain has invested billions of pounds in trying to defeat the Taleban, bolster central government authority and begin reconstruction.

But Mr Karzai said that they had failed in the task, particularly the initial military mission launched nearly two years ago by 16 Air Assault Brigade – a unit that is returning for its second tour this year.


Berlusconi eyes return to power in Italy

· Confidence motion defeat ends Prodi coalition

· President may seek interim government

Italy’s president, Giorgi Napolitano, will begin consulting political leaders today on the country’s future after the collapse last night of Romano Prodi’s centre-left government.

Silvio Berlusconi, the opposition leader who has a huge lead in opinion polls, called for a snap election. Napolitano is known to favour a transitional government to steer through electoral reform, but the media mogul who governed Italy until two years ago said the project was “senseless”.

What the country needed was a “new and authoritative” administration, he said. “We need to go to the polls in the shortest time possible without delay.”

Netherlands braced for Muslim anger as second politician releases ‘anti-Islam’ film

By Claire Soares in The Hague

Friday, 25 January 2008

For a film that lasts just 10 minutes and for which no one has even seen a trailer, it is creating one hell of an uproar. The cinematic debut from the anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders has forced the Netherlands to wrestle with the limits of its age-old tradition of free speech and stirred up anxieties about a multicultural society.

The film, billed by Mr Wilders as an illustration of how the Koran inspires people “to do the worst things”, is the latest provocation from the maverick MP who has compared Islam’s sacred text to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, tried to ban the burqa and the building of mosques and called for all Muslims in the Netherlands either to give up their religion or go back to their own countries.

In a sign of how preoccupied the government is with the impending fallout, the Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, made an extraordinary statement before the Wilders film was even finished, let alone screened.


Kenya leaders meet and pledge peace as economy grinds to a halt

President Kibaki met his political challenger, Raila Odinga, yesterday for the first time since disputed elections nearly a month ago triggered waves of inter-ethnic violence. Both said that they were committed to seeking peace.

The symbolic meeting, brokered by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, raised hopes of a political resolution to end the bloodshed and ease the country’s economic crisis. “We are determined to get to the underlying causes of these unprecedented events and to lead the nation in a process of healing, reconciliation and lasting harmony,” Mr Kibaki said.

Power cuts cripple southern Africa

Lusaka, Zambia – Power outages are a common occurrence in Kabwata, a poor neighborhood in the capital of this Southern African nation, where residents spend many of their evenings by candlelight, cooking with charcoal.

“Our electrical infrastructure is too old. It hasn’t been rehabilitated for the last 40 to 45 years,” says Given Lubinda, an opposition member of Parliament who represents Kabwata. Power cuts “occur in my constituency on a daily basis, regularly, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.”

But when the lights flickered and then shut down throughout Zambia just before 8 p.m. last Saturday night, people immediately sensed that something different was happening.

Latin America

Rice lobbies for Colombia trade deal

MEDELLIN, Colombia – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday the challenges facing Colombia will only get harder if a trade deal with Washington doesn’t pass, as she met with union members during a visit to try to revive the pact.

Rice arrived in Colombia along with a delegation of U.S. Democratic lawmakers to lobby for the free trade deal, or FTA, which was first signed in 2006, but has not yet been passed by the U.S. Congress. The delegation met late Thursday in Medellin with unionists who oppose the deal.

Rice told reporters she was in Colombia “to say very strongly that whatever the challenges facing Colombia they are not going to be easier if this FTA does not pass. In fact they will be harder.”


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    • on January 25, 2008 at 14:06

    Friday night here in Japan.  I really enjoy watching movies. Tonight I watched  Kelly Hero’s starring Clint Eastwood its one of my favorite movies.

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