Docudharma Times Sunday February 24

This is an Open Thread:

Then I’ll fly

Look to the sun

See me in psychic pollution

Walking on the moon

Sunday’s Headlines: Fear of Insurance Trouble Leads Many to Shun or Hide DNA Tests: Exxon Oil Spill Case May Get Closure: Oil giants are poised to move into Basra: One Japanese suicide every 15 minutes: Pakistan Taliban warn new government to keep clear: In Cuba, Hopes for a New Capitalist Season: Sarkozy Jr in bid to capture his father’s old seat: Putin’s Iron Grip on Russia Suffocates His Opponents: Zimbabwe: Over 1200 in Anti Mugabe Protests At Beitbridge: South Africa’s elite crime fighters endangered

Somber Clinton Soldiers On as the Horizon Darkens

To her longtime friends, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton sounds unusually philosophical on the phone these days. She rarely uses phrases like “when I’m president” anymore. Somber at times, determined at others, she talks to aides and confidants about the importance of focusing on a good day’s work. No drapes are being measured in her mind’s eye, they say.

And Mrs. Clinton has begun thanking some of her major supporters for helping her run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“When this is all over, I’m really looking forward to seeing you,” she told one of those supporters by phone the other day.


Fear of Insurance Trouble Leads Many to Shun or Hide DNA Tests

Victoria Grove wanted to find out if she was destined to develop the form of emphysema that ran in her family, but she did not want to ask her doctor for the DNA test that would tell her.

She worried that she might not be able to get health insurance, or even a job, if a genetic predisposition showed up in her medical records, especially since treatment for the condition, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, could cost over $100,000 a year. Instead, Ms. Grove sought out a service that sent a test kit to her home and returned the results directly to her.

Exxon Oil Spill Case May Get Closure

Almost 20 Years After Valdez Wreck, Justices to Weigh In

When a federal jury in Alaska in 1994 ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion to thousands of people who had their lives disrupted by the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, an appeal of the nation’s largest punitive damages award was inevitable.

But almost no one could have predicted the incredible round of legal ping-pong that only this month lands at the Supreme Court.

In the time span of the battle — 14 years after the verdict, nearly two decades since the spill itself — claimants’ lawyers say there is a new statistic to add to the grim legacy of the disaster in Prince William Sound: Nearly 20 percent of the 33,000 fishermen, Native Alaskans, cannery workers and others who triumphed in court that day are dead.

Middle East

Oil giants are poised to move into Basra

Brown’s business envoy says that investment is the next step in bringing stability to the region

Western oil giants are poised to enter southern Iraq to tap the country’s vast reserves, despite the ongoing threat of violence, according to Gordon Brown’s business emissary to the country.

Michael Wareing, who heads the new Basra Development Commission, acknowledged that there would be concerns among Iraqis about multinationals exploiting natural resources.

Basra, where 4,000 British troops are based, has been described as ‘the lung’ of Iraq by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The region accounts for 90 per cent of government revenue and 70 per cent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves. It has access to the Gulf and is potentially one of the richest areas in the Middle East, but continues to be plagued by rival militias.

Turkish onslaught paves way for major assault on Iraq Kurds

Turkish forces used jets and heavy artillery to pound the bases of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq yesterday, as a prelude to a major assault in the coming days. Turkish news agencies reported more troops moving towards the remote border area.

Military spokesmen in Ankara claimed that seven of its troops and 79 rebels from the nationalist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had been killed in fierce fighting yesterday and overnight.

The PKK claimed that Turkish losses outnumber its own. ‘After clashes yesterday … 22 Turkish soldiers were killed. Not more than five PKK soldiers were wounded,’ Ahmed Danees, head of foreign relations for the PKK, said, talking by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

With the fighting taking place in the snowbound Qandil mountains, which straddle the Iraqi-Turkish border, verification of the conflicting estimates was difficult.


One Japanese suicide every 15 minutes

Japan’s grim reputation as one of the world’s suicide nations has been confirmed by statistics that show more than 30,000 people a year have taken their own lives since figures first began to rise in 1998. In 2006, there were 32,115 suicides – 25 per 100,000 people; nearly 100 people a day; one every 15 minutes. The most common hour of death is 5am for men and noon for women, after their families have left for work or school.

Japan has roughly half the population of the US, yet the same number of suicides. There were 5,554 suicides of people aged 15 and over in the UK in 2006; three quarters involved men.

Experts in Japan were puzzled when the suicide rate jumped in 1998 from 24,391 to 32,863 – a 35 per cent rise – and the annual figure has continued to stay above 30,000. Two theories have been put forward by the media: bullying at school and netto shinju – online suicide pacts.

Pakistan Taliban warn new government to keep clear

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan militants linked to al-Qaeda warned any incoming civilian government on Sunday that they would strike even more viciously if President Pervez Musharraf’s war on terror was continued in tribal areas.

Following last week’s inconclusive election, several political parties are in talks to form a coalition big enough for a ruling majority in the National Assembly. How they deal with the militants will be one of their most pressing challenges.

Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location that any new operation against militants in tribal areas would lead to violence.

Latin America

In Cuba, Hopes for a New Capitalist Season

Castro Resignation Could Open a Path For Small Businesses

COJIMAR, Cuba, Feb. 23 — Idalberto Estrada really wanted to make a sale.

He slashed a slender blade through the barklike brown skin of a yuca root, a staple of the meager Cuban diet. A woman with brightly dyed red hair leaned in skeptically, examining the root’s white flesh beneath Estrada’s sidewalk umbrella in this Havana suburb.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Estrada, 37, said, smiling hopefully.

Venezuela crash data boxes found

Searchers have located the two flight data recorders from a Venezuelan passenger plane which crashed in the Andes mountains on Thursday.

Forty-six people died when the plane crashed as it was flying from the city of Merida to the capital, Caracas.

Investigators hope the recorders will help establish why the plane crashed shortly after take-off and why the pilot made no distress call.

Wreckage from the totally destroyed plane was found early on Friday.


Sarkozy Jr in bid to capture his father’s old seat

As if the family of Nicolas Sarkozy was in need of any more public exposure, 21-year-old Jean, the president’s son, launched his own campaign for office last week in the constituency where the French leader began his rise to power three decades ago.

“The rise of the dauphin”, as some were calling this latest episode of the “Sarko show”, came just as France was getting over the excitement of Sarkozy’s marriage to Carla Bruni, the Italian supermodel and singer, who replaced C├ęcilia, the president’s errant second wife, as first lady on February 2.

“He’s a brave boy,” was how Sarkozy described his son last week while on a visit to France’s industrial north. “I’m rather proud of the way he’s coping.”

Putin’s Iron Grip on Russia Suffocates His Opponents

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia – Shortly before parliamentary elections in December, foremen fanned out across the sprawling GAZ vehicle factory here, pulling aside assembly-line workers and giving them an order: vote for President Vladimir V. Putin’s party or else. They were instructed to phone in after they left their polling places. Names would be tallied, defiance punished.

The city’s children, too, were pressed into service. At schools, teachers gave them pamphlets promoting “Putin’s Plan” and told them to lobby their parents. Some were threatened with bad grades if they failed to attend “Children’s Referendums” at polling places, a ploy to ensure that their parents would show up and vote for the ruling party.


Zimbabwe: Over 1200 in Anti Mugabe Protests At Beitbridge

Lance Guma

Over 1200 Zimbabwean protesters based in South Africa swamped the Beitbridge border post Saturday to demonstrate against Robert Mugabe’s birthday celebrations on the other side of the border.

Owing to massive food shortages in the country Mugabe is said to have chosen Beitbridge as the ideal location in order to facilitate the easy purchase and transport of food from neighbouring Musina in South Africa. Various exile groups however came together and organized a protest to counter this birthday bash.

Over 30 police officers were called in to manage trucks and buses that had formed a 2-kilometre queue to cross the border while the protesters positioned themselves just meters from the customs office.

South Africa’s elite crime fighters endangered

The Scorpions, despite a record of success, are targeted for elimination by ANC leaders including party chief Jacob Zuma, whom they have indicted.

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA — As a defense attorney in one of the world’s crime capitals, Sanele Mtshazo said his greatest asset was police bungling: In nearly every case, there was botched evidence or missing fingerprint, ballistics or DNA reports.

Often he ruefully watched someone he had defended walk free, and thought, “That one should have gone to jail.” Once, it was a man he thought had raped a child.

Feeling as though he was fighting on the wrong side, he switched after two years, becoming an investigator in the Scorpions, South Africa’s elite anti-crime task force, trained by the FBI and Scotland Yard.

But the ruling African National Congress, in particular party President Jacob Zuma and his allies, plans to dismantle the unit, which has investigated Zuma on corruption charges. Despite the Scorpions’ success in fighting corruption and organized crime, the ANC voted at its December conference that the unit should be dissolved and replaced with a police task force.


    • on February 24, 2008 at 13:56
    • documel on February 24, 2008 at 15:46

    After America builds a wall separating it from Mexico, it will have the expertise to build similar structures for Turkey, Israel, Kosovo, Korea, Sri Lanka..the list goes on and on.  A new growth industry, one with Halliburton’s expertise, one that exports the new American value, “us against them.”

    We used to be proud of the Statue of Liberty–so foolish–now we are the Great Dividers–led by the Great Decider.  I’m old, I liked the old America.

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