This is an Open Thread: For The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy
Defying U.S. Plan, Prison Expands in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON – As the Bush administration struggles for a way to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a similar effort to scale down a larger and more secretive American detention center in Afghanistan has been troubled by political, legal and security problems, officials say.
The American detention center, established at the Bagram military base as a temporary screening site after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, is now teeming with some 630 prisoners – more than twice the 275 being held at Guantánamo.
Voter ID Laws Are Set to Face a Crucial Test
INDIANAPOLIS – In April 2006, a federal judge upheld Indiana’s law on voter identification, the strictest in the nation, saying there was no evidence that it would prevent any voter from having his ballot counted.
But on Election Day last November, Valerie Williams became that evidence, according to lawyers in a case that will be argued Wednesday before the Supreme Court. After Ms. Williams grabbed her cane that day and walked into the polling station in the lobby of her retirement home to vote, as she has done in at least the last two elections, she was barred from doing so.
GOP Doubts, Fears ‘Post-Partisan’ Obama
Exploiting a deep well of voter revulsion over partisan gridlock in Washington, Sen. Barack Obama is promising to do something that has not been done in modern U.S. politics: unite a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents behind an agenda of sweeping change.
But in pitching himself as a “post-partisan” politician, Obama (D-Ill.) is only the latest in a string of presidential candidates promising to remake Washington into a city that sings in unison. George W. Bush was to be a uniter, not a divider. Bill Clinton was going to put people first. Even Richard M. Nixon, on the day after the 1968 election, invoked a sign he had seen during the campaign that said, “Bring Us Together,” and said that was the goal of his administration.
Stories China’s media could not write
When journalists at China’s national broadcaster CCTV log on, one of the first things that pops up on screen is a notice about what not to report.
These notices are often short and seldom say who has authorised them, but they all contain strict instructions about how to report a story.
Journalists were recently warned off a health scandal, told how to report the death of Benazir Bhutto and had to steer clear of a Hollywood film story.
Chinese teenager kidnapped and murdered by classmates
David Stanway in Beijing
Monday January 7, 2008
The city of Shantou in southern China’s prosperous but crime-ridden province of Guangdong is coming to terms with the brutal murder of a 15-year-old boy by classmates trying to extort money from his well-off father.
Four teenagers have already been arrested for the murder of Zhao Shaoxu, the son of a local entrepreneur, whom they kidnapped in an attempt to extort 500,000 yuan (£35,000) in ransom money.
Zhao was lured from his home on December 29 by a classmate who, along with three others, kidnapped and beat him. Zhao was already dead when the classmate called his father for the ransom. His father recognised the voice, and alerted police, according to the Guangzhou Daily newspaper. The boys, aged between 15 and 17, have reportedly confessed to the murder. Two of them had discussed kidnapping Zhao with their families, the paper said.
More than 10,000 police will guard Bush during Israel visit
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
Monday January 7, 2008
Israeli officials in Jerusalem are to deploy more than 10,000 police officers in a vast security operation ahead of the arrival this week of George Bush, the first US president to visit in a decade. Graffiti are being cleaned off walls, road markings are being repainted and hundreds of American flags are being put up across the city. The floodlights which illuminate the stone ramparts of the Old City will stay on for an extra two hours every night, until 2am, to give the president the chance to catch the view.
Egypt police officer jailed 5 years
CAIRO, Egypt – An Egyptian court sentenced a police major to five years in prison and two policemen to one year for forcing a male detainee to wear women’s underwear and parade up and down a busy street, a judicial source said Sunday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said Maj. Yousri Ahmed Issa was convicted Saturday in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria for ordering his men to force the detainee to wear the underwear and walk on a major street.
It was not immediately clear what specific charges the officers were convicted of.
Party’s over: Ibiza calls time on after-hours raves
By Graham Keeley in Barcelona
Published: 07 January 2008
Time has been called on the party in Ibiza. From next season “after-hours” dance clubs on the island where the party never stops will be banned.
The Consell Insular d’Evissa, or regional council, said these clubs, which operate between 6am and 10am, after normal club hours, were causing a disturbance for residents and less nocturnal holidaymakers. And local authorities in Ibiza Town want to close the clubs between 6am and 6pm, putting an end to afternoon raves.
The clampdown was prompted by continued problems with drug-taking among clubbers and the deaths of three people in shoot-outs between rival gangs in the past two years.
Pope calls for continuous prayer to rid priesthood of paedophilia
Pope Benedict XVI has instructed Roman Catholics to pray “in perpetuity” to cleanse the Church of paedophile clergy. All dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries will be expected to organise continuous daily prayers to express penitence and to purify the clergy.
Vatican officials said that every parish or institution should designate a person or group each day to conduct continuous prayers for the Church to rid itself of the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Alternatively, churches in the same diocese could share the duty. Prayer would take place in one parish for 24 hours, then move to another.
Violence stalks the alleys of Nairobi
An opposition rally planned for Tuesday raises fears of a new increase in killings, as Kenya’s political impasse continues.
NAIROBI, KENYA — In Nairobi’s slum district of Kibera, people prayed for peace Sunday under the charred cross and blackened walls of the burned Lutheran church. But in the narrow alleys just 100 yards away, the thugs with machetes still rule.
When the service ended, the parishioners in their Sunday best walked home through neighborhoods still teetering on a knife’s edge.
Just after the service, around the corner from the church, the intimidation went on: An angry, wild-eyed young man with a machete shouted at a woman standing by her gate.
She cringed, terrified, as he whacked her with the flat of the blade.
With no sign of a solution to Kenya’s political impasse, an opposition rally planned for Tuesday has raised fears of a new increase in killings.
S. Africa’s Teens Give New Law the Kiss-Off
The lights dimmed. Couples skated purposefully onto the ice. And at the command of an unseen deejay, teenage lips touched in defiance of what even authorities here have grudgingly come to call “the kissing law.”
“The law to me is nothing. I don’t think it’s going to stop anyone,” said Bianca Secchia, 14, who participated in the demonstration Saturday and shared another, less political smooch afterward with her boyfriend, Attie Nortje, 17, at the darkened Northgate Ice Arena.
Chavez to slow socialism drive
CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez is putting the brakes on his drive for revolutionary change in Venezuela, shifting away from radical socialist reforms in favor of a pragmatic focus on everyday problems from soaring crime to trash-strewn streets.
The turn comes one month after voters rejected reforms that would have greatly expanded his power and enshrined socialist principles in the constitution.
“I’m forced to reduce the speed of the march,” Chavez said Sunday, telling new members of his Cabinet to “accept reality” and “put their feet on the ground.”
“This will be the year of the three R’s: Revision, rectification and relaunching,” he said.