Docudharma Times Saturday February 16

This is an Open Thread:

This is no terror ground

Or place for the rage

No broken hearts

White wash lies

Just a taste for the truth

Saturday’s Headlines: Democrats Look for Way to Avoid Convention Rift : Evolution Of a U.S. General In Iraq: In praise of … José Ramos-Horta: We can persuade Taliban to be peaceful – expelled UN man: Protests over Beijing games ‘will grow’ :Old questions hang over the new Kosovo: Coroners blame soldiers’ deaths on an acute lack of equipment: Africans unite in calling for immediate moratorium on switch from food to fuel: UN troops ‘trapped’ in Eritrea: Blast kills Islamic Jihad militant in Gaza: Feud leaves Haiti hospital half-built


Democrats’ wiretap stance endangers U.S., Bush says

Their refusal to extend warrantless powers increases the risk of attack on the nation, he says. Lawmakers accuse him of fear-mongering and say he has the tools he needs.

WASHINGTON — President Bush warned Friday that the United States was in “more danger of attack” because Congress failed to extend a domestic wiretapping law, while House Democrats said Bush had manufactured the impasse by threatening to veto a short-term extension.

“American citizens must understand, clearly understand, that there still is a threat on the homeland,” Bush said after meeting with Republican congressional leaders. Noting that the Senate had passed a bill extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s warrantless domestic wiretapping, Bush said House Democrats — protesting protections for phone carriers from privacy lawsuits — had blocked it.

“By blocking this piece of legislation, our country is more in danger of an attack,” he said. “By not giving the professionals the tools they need, it’s going to be a lot harder to do the job we need to be able to defend America.”

USA

Democrats Look for Way to Avoid Convention Rift

Former Vice President Al Gore and a number of other senior Democrats plan to remain neutral for now in the presidential race in part to keep open the option to broker a peaceful resolution to what they fear could be a bitterly divided convention, party officials and aides said Friday.

Democratic Party officials said that in the past week Mr. Gore and other leading Democrats had held private talks as worry mounted that the close race between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton could be decided by a group of 796 party insiders known as superdelegates.

The signs that party elders are weighing whether and how to intervene reflects the extraordinary nature of the contest now and the concern among some Democrats that they not risk an internal battle that could harm the party in the general election.

Evolution Of a U.S. General In Iraq

No. 2 Commander Transformed Tactics

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — When Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno first came to Iraq in 2003, the division he led was quickly accused of overly aggressive tactics that did more to fuel the insurgency than quell it.

But over the past 15 months, Odierno has earned a very different reputation. Even some of his critics now say his tenure as the No. 2 military official in Iraq — a position he handed over this week — reflects a newfound understanding of counterinsurgency doctrine and the necessity of using nonlethal tactics to reduce violence in Iraq.

Asia-Pacific

In praise of … José Ramos-Horta

   * Leader

   * The Guardian,

   * Saturday February 16 2008

East Timor’s president, José Ramos-Horta, underwent a fourth operation yesterday. He remains in an induced coma after being shot and almost killed on Monday by a former ally in the rebel movement that freed his country from Indonesian rule. The story is terribly sad. President Ramos-Horta is an intellectual human-rights lawyer who won a Nobel peace prize in 1996. Last month he walked, unarmed and without guards, to a mountain village to negotiate with Alfredo Reinado, once a major in the Timorese army, who then broke away to fight the new government. The pair reached an agreement that should have brought unity to East Timor, which has suffered awful violence since Indonesia invaded in 1975. Instead Mr Reinado changed his mind about peace this week and led an armed gang down from the hills; the rebels first attacked the presidential palace, where Mr Reinado was shot dead by guards, and then fired on the president as he walked at dawn along a beach. He lay bleeding for 30 minutes before help arrived. Mr Ramos-Horta is a moderate and a democrat, a skilled informal diplomat who spent 30 years trying, successfully, to persuade a world that had never heard of East Timor to consider its plight. Doctors say he should recover, but his situation remains serious. Yesterday Australia’s new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, visited him in hospital. “I know the old José, he’s a fighter,” he said. “He’s got a good fight ahead of him still, but he’s a fighter.” Let us hope he is right. Timor needs him back

Asia

We can persuade Taliban to be peaceful – expelled UN man

Two-thirds of the Taliban-led insurgents in Afghanistan can be persuaded to abandon violence, according to a British aid worker expelled from the country for opening talks with some of those allied to the militant group.

Michael Semple, a UN official arrested by the Afghan government on Christmas Day last year, said he was confident that most Taliban-linked insurgents could be absorbed into Afghanistan’s reconciliation process.

In his first interview with a British news organisation since he was forced to leave Afghanistan by the government of President Hamid Karzai, Semple defended his role in talking to elements linked to the Taliban. Until 2003 he had been a senior political adviser to the British embassy in Kabul.

Protests over Beijing games ‘will grow’

This is just the beginning, activist warns, as China tries to limit damage

For six years, the organisers of the Beijing Olympics have been planning an event that will restore China to the centre of the world stage.

No expense has been spared, no detail overlooked. Beijing has splashed out $440m (£224m) on the spectacular “Bird’s Nest” stadium to underscore its rising economic power and ambition. Organisers have drawn up a guest list of the global great and the good to witness the re-emergence of this ancient civilization. And to entertain them and emphasise the openness of modern China, they hired the biggest name in Hollywood to help choreograph the festivities.

But with less than six months to go, this celebration of Chinese resurgence is threatening to degenerate into an opportunity for critics to land some blows on the communist leadership.

The stadium architect, Ai Weiwei, refuses to attend the opening ceremony because of the “disgusting” political conditions in the one-party state. The VIP list will not include Prince Charles, a friend of the Dalai Lama, who told the Free Tibet movement that he will be absent. And now, in the biggest blow yet, Steven Spielberg has resigned as artistic consultant, saying his conscience will not let him choreograph an event for a country that has done little to use its influence to ease the slaughter in Darfur.

Europe

‘Are we a society of values, or of blood?’ Old questions hang over the new Kosovo

Albanians and Serbs united in uncertainty as province prepares to go it alone

Just before dawn on one of Kosovo’s last mornings as a Serbian province, young military cadets are being put through their paces on a concrete drill field.

The 38 young men and women in matching tracksuits represent Kosovo’s hopes for the future, at least for its Albanian majority. As dense clouds of jackdaws swoop and wheel above them, they run in perfect formation, chanting their determination to defend the new nation about to be born.

“Bullets don’t scare us,” they shout. “A just war makes us even braver.”

These are the seeds of a modern security force that is supposed to be built on democratic values rather than ethnic ties, just like the embryonic state it is pledged to defend. But on the eve of independence, it is far from clear whether either will live up to the ideal.

Coroners blame soldiers’ deaths on an acute lack of equipment

Shortages of equipment were blamed yesterday for the deaths of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as two coroners in separate inquests made withering attacks on the Ministry of Defence.

One coroner attacked the MoD’s “unforgivable” failure to supply basic equipment, and accused it of a breach of trust. Both inquests showed that an acute lack of equipment had played a part in the deaths of a young officer in Afghanistan and two soldiers in Iraq.

Captain James Philippson, 29, of 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, was killed by a gunshot wound to the head on June 11, 2006, when his unit went to the rescue of other British soldiers who had come under fire from the Taleban in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

Africa

Africans unite in calling for immediate moratorium on switch from food to fuel

By Daniel Howden in Massingir, Mozambique

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Scientists and NGOs across Africa are calling for a moratorium on new biofuels projects as millions of acres of prime agricultural land in sub-Saharan Africa are switched from food to fuel.

African governments, encouraged by counterparts in the industrialised world, have bought eagerly into the “green revolution” with promises of exports, energy security and job creation. The reality is the forced removal of small farmers, rising food costs and scant benefits for local populations.

UN troops ‘trapped’ in Eritrea

The United Nations has condemned Eritrea, accusing it of preventing hundreds of peacekeepers from crossing from Eritrea into Ethiopia.

The UN ordered its regional force to withdraw to Ethiopia after the Eritrean government cut off its fuel supplies.

But the UN says only six vehicles have been allowed to leave, some troops have been threatened at gunpoint and now their rations have been stopped.

Eritrea denied blocking their departure saying its supplies had simply run out.

Middle East

FBI warns of possible Hezbollah revenge in U.S.

State and local law enforcement receive an intelligence bulletin to watch for retaliation by the Lebanese militia group, which has vowed to avenge the death of its leader.

WASHINGTON — The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent a bulletin Friday to state and local law enforcement authorities advising them to watch for potential retaliatory strikes by Hezbollah, one day after the Lebanese militia group vowed to avenge the death of a top commander by attacking Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.

“While retaliation in the U.S. homeland is unlikely, Hezbollah has demonstrated a capability to respond outside the Middle East to similar events in the past,” said the intelligence bulletin sent to about 18,000 state and local law enforcement officials late Friday afternoon.

The FBI also said it was intensifying its domestic intelligence-gathering efforts to identify any potential Hezbollah threats in the United States in the aftermath of Tuesday’s car-bomb assassination of Imad Mughniyah in Syria.

Blast kills Islamic Jihad militant in Gaza

JERUSALEM: A senior military commander of the radical Islamic Jihad movement was killed Friday night along with at least five others as a powerful explosion destroyed his house, but the Israeli military denied having anything to do with the blast.

The three-story house of Ayman Atallah Fayed was destroyed and six nearby homes damaged in the crowded Al Bureij refugee camp, Palestinian witnesses said. As many as 40 people were wounded, nine of them critically, according to Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, a Gazan Health Ministry official, and more casualties were being evacuated.

Abu Ahmed, an Islamic Jihad spokesman, accused Israel of a “Zionist massacre” from an airstrike, but an Israeli military spokeswoman flatly denied that Israel was responsible for the explosion. “There was no attack in the Gaza Strip,” said the spokeswoman.

Latin America

Feud leaves Haiti hospital half-built

Accusations fly between a Haitian archbishop and televangelist Jan Crouch.

CARREFOUR, HAITI — A multimillion-dollar building project involving a Haitian pastor and the Trinity Broadcasting Network has collapsed in recriminations, leaving behind a half-built hospital with a giant cross-shaped hole in one wall.

With $2.5 million already spent, work stopped almost two years ago on the first children’s hospital in this slum of half a million people, when the partnership between Archbishop Joel Jeune of Haiti’s Charismatic Church and Jan Crouch, the co-founder of the Costa Mesa-based TBN, turned bitter.

Jeune claims that Crouch erupted in anger when he told her that some Haitian boys who had been hired to guard the construction site reported that a TBN missionary had made homosexual advances.

TBN executives counter that the falling-out occurred when they confronted Jeune with their suspicions that he had siphoned off some of the Christian broadcaster’s donations.

6 comments

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    • Viet71 on February 16, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    The mainstream American media will gloss over Beijing’s environmental and human rights disasters while covering the olympics.

    Money truly will talk.

  1. Two-thirds of the Taliban-led insurgents in Afghanistan can be persuaded to abandon violence, according to a British aid worker expelled from the country for opening talks with some of those allied to the militant group.

    Michael Semple, a UN official arrested by the Afghan government on Christmas Day last year, said he was confident that most Taliban-linked insurgents could be absorbed into Afghanistan’s reconciliation process.

    Yeah we wouldn’t want to persuade people to abandon violence….Arrest That Man!

    • pfiore8 on February 16, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Scientists and NGOs across Africa are calling for a moratorium on new biofuels projects as millions of acres of prime agricultural land in sub-Saharan Africa are switched from food to fuel.

    African governments, encouraged by counterparts in the industrialised world, have bought eagerly into the “green revolution” with promises of exports, energy security and job creation. The reality is the forced removal of small farmers, rising food costs and scant benefits for local populations.

    the removal of small farmers only pushes them to push out other species out in trying to reestablish themselves… i think this is exactly the same problem in the Amazon. but the way we hear the story is farmers felling trees for farmland… and we don’t see the back story.

    this is exactly the kinds of issues we need to be behind. let them know there are millions of people, relatively well off, that AGREE and are willing to live leaner in order to turn away the blood suckers.

    this is one issue we can take up, if we truly want to change the world and start to muck up BushCo and its ilk.

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