This is an Open Thread: Throw Caution to the Wind
For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets
A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets.
Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.
She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-Qaeda terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11 hijackers while he was in Turkey.
U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan
This article is by Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt.
WASHINGTON – President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
The debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, several senior administration officials said.
Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of President Bush’s top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
Underdog Clinton Goes After Obama
By Anne E. Kornblut and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, January 6, 2008; Page A01
MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan. 5 — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton tried repeatedly to knock Sen. Barack Obama off his footing during a high-stakes debate here on Saturday night — criticizing his health-care proposal and questioning his ability to bring about change and actually serve as president.
“Words are not action,” she said, seeking to draw a distinction between the inspirational rhetoric that catapulted Obama into victory in the Iowa caucuses and what she said was her own long record of being an effective agent of change.
How the U.S. seeks to avert nuclear terror
Scientists scan cities. Response teams are ready. And if there were a lethal device, experts would work on tracing the source.
By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 6, 2008
About every three days, unknown to most Americans, an elite team of federal scientists hits the streets in the fight against nuclear terrorism.
The deployments are part of an effort since 2001 to ratchet up the nation’s defenses. More than two dozen specialized teams have been positioned across the nation to respond to threats of nuclear terrorism, and as many 2,000 scientists and bomb experts participate in the effort. Spending on the program has more than doubled since it was launched.
And an evolving national policy aims to create a system of nuclear forensics, in which scientific analysis could quickly identify the source of a nuclear attack or attempted attack. A key report on nuclear forensics is due next month.
Mass rally call over Georgia poll
Georgia’s opposition is calling for mass street protests after accusing the authorities of trying to rig Saturday’s snap presidential elections.
Exit polls suggested President Mikhail Saakashvili won the elections, possibly by enough votes to avoid a run-off.
But opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze said the exit polls had been “falsified”.
The vote was seen as a democratic test for the ex-Soviet republic after recent opposition protests were suppressed.
France finds its own Anne Frank as young Jewish woman’s war diary hits the shelves
Jason Burke in Paris
Sunday January 6, 2008
It starts like any other young woman’s diary – with a description of hobbies, a first boyfriend, schoolmates and trips to the country – but it ends like few others. The final words are ‘the horror, the horror, the horror’.
This week The Journal of Helene Berr will arrive in French bookshops. The harrowing story of a young Jewish girl in occupied Paris, will be, according to the newspaper Liberation, ‘the publishing sensation of 2008’. Two years ago, an account by another French Jewish writer, Irene Nemirovsky, who died in Auschwitz, sold hundreds of thousands of copies and sparked a fierce debate.
At the heart of Pakistan, life keeps a normal beat
The village of Old Jatoi is divided by a bitter rivalry in this election season. It pits young against old, splits families, sets tribes against one another. Though the postponed polls are six weeks away, there is one burning question: do you patronise Ghulam Razzaq’s teashop or that of Hadyattullah?
Sadly for Hadyattullah, the answer for most villagers is clear. Except on those numerous days when the power fails, the villagers buy their five rupee cups of sweet, milky tea from his rival. Because, much as they like him personally, Hadyattullah has not invested in a television and now that the sugar cane has been cut and the wheat is in the fields, the dramas, musicals and news talk shows fill the long afternoons. ‘I’ve just got married. I can’t afford a television. What can I do? I just watch the customers go next door,’ Hadyattullah says mournfully.
The smog Olympics
Appallingly high levels of pollution in Beijing mean that some of the endurance events in this summer’s games may have to be postponed.
Clifford Coonan reports
Published: 06 January 2008
Beijing’s Olympic organisers are launching last-ditch measures to clean up the city’s air in time for the games in August, amid fears that some endurance events may be postponed if pollution continues to cast its yellow-tinged pall over the city.
While the International Olympic Committee repeatedly says how delighted it is with the efforts the city has made for the games – and indeed, the new facilities for the two-week event are among some of the architectural wonders of the world – there have been warnings that cycling events and marathon running may have to be postponed if the air quality is not up to scratch by the time the games open on 8 August.
The Olympics are seen here as symbolising China’s emergence on to the world stage, and there is huge anticipation growing in this vibrant city of 17 million people. But pollution is a vicious circle – when the capital disappears inside a haze of yellow clouds, a mix of coal smoke, particulate matter and ozone, people leave their bicycles at home and opt for an air-conditioned car instead.
Tribal strife leaves Kenya on the brink of humanitarian disaster
At least 250,000 people have been displaced by the violence that followed the presidential elections, and half a million are in desperate need of aid. Steve Bloomfield reports
A humanitarian crisis is building in Kenya in the aftermath of the violence that followed the country’s elections. Aid agencies said the humanitarian crisis was getting worse, with at least 250,000 people displaced and more than 500,000 in need of emergency assistance. Kenyans, used to taking in refugees from other regional conflicts, are on the move themselves, with thousands fleeing into neighbouring Uganda.
As this worrying situation developed in what has been one of Africa’s most stable states, there came a glimmer of hope. Kenya’s two political leaders, President Mwai Kibaki and the man who also believes he won December’s presidential election, Raila Odinga, yesterday edged closer to compromise following a visit by the top US diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer. After meeting Ms Frazer, Mr Kibaki’s office issued a statement agreeing to the formation of a government of national unity. Mr Odinga said he was willing to discuss it only as part of internationally mediated talks.
Arab League sets out Lebanon plan
Arab League foreign ministers have backed Lebanon’s army chief, Gen Michel Suleiman, as the next president of the politically divided country.
The move was agreed at a consultative meeting in Egypt’s capital, Cairo.
It comes ahead of Sunday’s crisis talks of the 22-member body, called to deal with Lebanon’s political impasse.
The dispute between the Western-backed government and opposition supported by Syria and Iran has left Lebanon without a president since 23 November.
Al-Qaida videos now on cell phones
CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida video messages of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri can now be downloaded to cell phones, the terror network announced as part of its attempts to extend its influence.
The announcement was posted late Friday by al-Qaida’s media wing, al-Sahab, on Web sites commonly used by Islamic militants. As of Saturday, eight previously recorded videos were made available including a recent tribute to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former al-Qaida in Iraq leader killed by U.S. forces in Iraq in June 2006.
“The elite jihadi media group presents the first batch of al-Sahab videos to be downloaded to cell phones,” the announcement said.
Clues from the mists of time
Peru’s ancient ‘cloud warriors’ put their dead in towering walls. The Chachapoya gave way to the Inca and Spanish, but first they flourished.
The broken skeletons were scattered like random pottery shards, rediscovered where they had fallen centuries ago.
Were these ancient people cut down in some long-forgotten battle? Did European-introduced diseases cause their demise? Were they casualties of some apocalyptic reckoning at this great walled citadel?
The “cloud warriors” of ancient Peru are slowly offering up their secrets — and more questions. Recent digs at this majestic site, once a stronghold of the Chachapoya civilization, have turned up scores of skeletons and thousands of artifacts, shedding new light on these myth-shrouded early Americans and one of the most remarkable, if least understood, of Peru’s pre-Columbian cultures.