Docudharma Times Thursday January 3

This is an Open Thread: You can caucus here pain free

Headlines For Thursday January 3: Justice Dept. Sets Criminal Inquiry Into C.I.A. Tapes: Last Pitches Before the First Vote: Iran’s Ayatollah: No smear campaigning: Malaysia’s health minister quits over sex video scandal

Kenya Topples Into Post-Election Chaos

KIAMBAA, Kenya – Daniel Kibigo said he was there, hiding in the burned cornfields nearby, as the mob gleefully stuffed mattresses in front of the church’s doors and set them on fire.

He watched women try to claw their way out of the church windows as if they were drowning as the building burned all the way down, with up to 50 people inside.

“We couldn’t do anything; there were too many,” he said of the crowd that descended on the church in the paroxysm of ethnic violence that has gripped Kenya since its deeply flawed elections last week.


Justice Dept. Sets Criminal Inquiry Into C.I.A. Tapes

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said Wednesday that the Justice Department had elevated its inquiry into the destruction of Central Intelligence Agency interrogation videotapes to a formal criminal investigation headed by a career federal prosecutor.

The announcement is the first indication that investigators have concluded on a preliminary basis that C.I.A. officers, possibly along with other government officials, may have committed criminal acts in their handling of the tapes, which recorded the interrogations in 2002 of two operatives with Al Qaeda and were destroyed in 2005.

Last Pitches Before the First Vote

Candidates Await Iowa’s Judgment

DES MOINES, Jan. 2 — The presidential candidates made their final appeals to voters Wednesday in the earliest-starting and most expensive campaign in Iowa history, fanning out across the state in search of a victory and crucial momentum headed into a front-loaded primary season.

With the competitions in both parties still too close to call, the leading candidates raced between colleges and small towns to make their last pitches, well aware that the contests would be decided by the lavish turnout operations they spent millions of dollars and much of the past year building.

In Iowa, it doesn’t pay to spend big

Candidates have set records in hopes of winning the first presidential contest, but those with the most money don’t necessarily win the state caucuses.

DES MOINES — Money can’t buy love — and it might not necessarily decide the Iowa caucuses.

White House hopefuls have poured tens of millions of dollars into the contest here, setting new spending records in hopes of launching their candidacies with a breakthrough victory tonight. But history shows that the candidate who spends the most in Iowa doesn’t always walk away the winner.

The exact amount that candidates have spent this year in Iowa — and years past — is not known. The Federal Election Commission doesn’t require state breakdowns, and most campaigns treat such details as secret. Still, some conclusions can be drawn by reviewing advertising budgets and overall campaign spending leading up to the Iowa caucuses, the nation’s first presidential nominating contests.

Middle East

Israeli anger over Gaza crossing

Israel has criticised Egypt’s decision to allow 2,150 Palestinian pilgrims who had been stranded in the country to cross back into the Gaza Strip.

The pilgrims, including senior Hamas members, were returning from Mecca.

Egypt originally denied them permission to travel through its main border crossing with Gaza at Rafah, insisting they use an Israeli-run post instead.

Israeli officials expressed concern that some of the group could be trying to smuggle money to Hamas.

The pilgrims had been stuck in Egypt for five days before it was decided to allow them directly into Gaza through Rafah, bypassing Israel.

Iran’s Ayatollah: No smear campaigning

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Wednesday for clean campaigning during March parliament elections, urging candidates and their supporters to abstain from smearing rivals’ reputations.

“Discrediting and damaging the reputation of individuals in the press, Internet web sites and other means is not correct at all, and is not advisable,” Khamenei said on state television. “I strongly request and insist that the sympathizers only propagate and support their favorite candidates and seriously avoid such damaging methods.”


‘Flashman’ author Fraser dies

LONDON (AFP) – George MacDonald Fraser, who wrote the best-selling Flashman series of adventure stories about a colonial-era British Army officer, has died aged 82, British media said Wednesday.

The novelist, a former newspaper journalist who fought during World War II in Burma (now Myanmar) and India, had been suffering from cancer, they added, quoting his publisher.

Fraser, who despite his Scottish name was born in Carlisle, on the English side of the border, was once described by the author Kingsley Amis as a “marvellous reporter and a first-rate historical novelist”

Italy denies being Spain’s poor relation

John Hooper in Rome

Thursday January 3, 2008

The Guardian

One paper has called it the “Mediterranean derby”. But no one can agree on the scoreline. And both sides claim the other is cheating.

It began last month when the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat, spread mingled delight and dismay through southern Europe with figures suggesting Spaniards were now wealthier than Italians. The Brussels statisticians concluded that in 2006, allowing for price differences, Italy’s gross domestic product per head had slipped behind that of Spain.

Spaniards hailed Eurostat’s figures as marking a fundamental shift in the balance of power and influence in Mediterranean Europe. Italians, who have traditionally viewed their Latin cousins as poor relations, were stunned by the news.

Latin America

Hopes of Colombian hostage release fade amid row over child

· Boy of kidnapped woman may be in care, says Uribe

· Credibility of government and Farc hang on DNA test

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Medellín

Thursday January 3, 2008

The Guardian

Hopes of Colombian hostage release fade amid row over child Colombia’s protracted hostage crisis took a new twist yesterday when it emerged that the youngest captive held by leftwing rebels – a three-year-old boy born to a female hostage and an unknown guerrilla – could have been secretly spirited away to foster care in Bogotá.

Colombians gripped by the tale of Emmanuel, whose mother was a vice-presidential candidate when she was kidnapped in 2002, were on tenterhooks yesterday as they awaited the results of a DNA test on a boy in the capital who, the government said, might be the hostage-child.


Malaysia’s health minister quits over sex video scandal

an MacKinnon, South-east Asia correspondent

Thursday January 3, 2008

The Guardian

Malaysia’s health minister quit his post yesterday after a sex scandal in which he featured in two pornographic videos where he was shown with a woman he described as a “personal friend”.

Chua Soi Lek, 61, stepped down a day after conceding that he was the man shown indulging in various sexual acts in the DVDs which were widely circulated in the minister’s home state of Johor.

Chua, a former doctor who is married with three children, had initially refused to resign after saying he had apologised to the Malaysian prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, and his family who had accepted his remorse.

Scotland Yard’s history of assisting Pakistan in times of national crisis

By Omar Waraich in Islamabad

Published: 03 January 2008

The dispatch of Scotland Yard investigators to Pakistan marks the third occasion that British policing expertise has been sought to investigate a high-profile assassination in the country.

The first such inquiry was conducted in the wake of the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first prime minister, in 1951.

A second British team arrived in Karachi a decade ago to investigate the murder of the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s estranged younger brother and political rival, Murtaza. Ms Bhutto’s administration enlisted the services of former Scotland Yard detectives and Home Office forensic experts.

In September 1996, Murtaza Bhutto and seven others were gunned down by policemen outside the family mansion. The killing triggered riots in parts of Sindh province, and led to the imprisonment of Benazir’s husband Asif Zardari – now co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party.


A chilling tour of the Kenyan church that became the scene of mass murder

By Steve Bloomfield in Eldoret

Published: 03 January 2008

Tears streamed down the cheeks of 18-year-old Sheila Kai as she described the moment before the Kenya Assemblies of God Pentecostal church in Kiambaa was burnt to the ground.

“They told us to get inside the church or they would kill us,” she whispered, describing a gang of more than 200 men. “Then they closed the door.”

All possible escape routes were then locked shut with metal chains. Mattresses were placed around the outside of the building, then doused with paraffin and set alight. “People were praying, calling for God, screaming,” Ms Kai said.

She was one of the lucky ones, dragged to safety through a window as the church collapsed. But dozens were killed; the youngest just three days old.


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  1. What happened in Japan today?

  2. Misaki, Kawajiri, Ishida, Aoki and Sakauraba all won their various matches.

    The Misaki match was great, and his kick to KO his opponent was magnificent, and the celebration afterwards was great, with Takada giving him an Inoki slap!

    All of that, plus we got to see Fedor fight again!

    BTW: Mishima, good job, as always.  Who won the Red & White showcase?

    • kj on January 4, 2008 at 3:51 am

    and… Huckabee?   LOL

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