This is an Open Thread:
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspaper says, says
Say it’s true, it’s true…
And we can break through
Vienna Meeting on Arms Data Reignites Iran Nuclear Debate
Last Monday, the chief United Nations nuclear inspector gathered ambassadors and experts from dozens of nations in a boardroom high above the Danube in Vienna and laid out a trove of evidence that he said raised new questions about whether Iran had tried to design an atom bomb.
For more than two hours, representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency were riveted by documents, sketches and even a video that appeared to have come from Iran’s own military laboratories. The inspector said they showed work “not consistent with any application other than the development of a nuclear weapon,” according to notes taken by diplomats.
For Black Superdelegates, Pressure to Back Obama
CLEVELAND — Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones doesn’t care to be lectured about her choice in the Democratic presidential race.
The 58-year-old congresswoman from Ohio has emerged as one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most outspoken black supporters, the rare African American politician willing to publicly question Sen. Barack Obama’s Russia’s president-elect, Dmitry Medvedev, last night hinted at the formidable power his patron and predecessor, Vladimir Putin, would continue to wield, indicating that the outgoing leader would help to shape a new government and Kremlin line-up, and promising a “direct continuation” of his mentor’s policies.
Tubbs Jones has picked apart his record in campaign conference calls and lambasted the “Harvard arrogance” of Obama backers who have demanded that African American leaders fall in behind the senator from Illinois in his quest to become the nation’s first black president.
Oil exploration sought in Calif. national monument
WASHINGTON _ A subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum has notified the Bureau of Land Management that it would like to explore for oil in a central California national monument.
John Dearing, a BLM spokesman, said the agency can do nothing to stop Vintage Production from testing for oil under the Carrizo Plain National Monument in eastern San Luis Obispo County because the company has owned the mineral rights there since before President Bill Clinton created the monument in 2001.
“Because this is a national monument, there will be environmental concerns that will have to be strongly looked at,” Dearing said. “But they have a right to access.”
The monument’s 250,000 acres are not virgin territory for drilling rigs. The monument is just over a hill from the oil fields of Kern County. There is a small amount of production already occurring in remote canyons of the monument.
Nato fears over Dutch Islam film
Nato’s secretary general says he fears the airing of a Dutch film criticising Islam will have repercussions for troops in Afghanistan.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s comments came after Afghans protested on Sunday against the film being made by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders.
The Dutch government has warned Mr Wilders that the film will damage Dutch political and economic interests.
Mr Wilders says the film is about the Koran but has given few details.
In the past, he has called for the Koran to be banned and likened it to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Red Square concert crowd hails double act that will hold reins of power in Russia
· President-elect Medvedev to continue Putin policies
· Communist leader takes poll grievances to court
Russia’s president-elect, Dmitry Medvedev, last night hinted at the formidable power his patron and predecessor, Vladimir Putin, would continue to wield, indicating that the outgoing leader would help to shape a new government and Kremlin line-up, and promising a “direct continuation” of his mentor’s policies.
Giving the country a glimpse of the double act that will now hold the reins of power, the two men appeared last night at a triumphal Red Square pop concert, milking Medvedev’s easy election victory in front of a crowd of thousands of cheering supporters, and heralding a seamless transition from Putin’s eight years in office.
At 42, Medvedev will become the youngest Kremlin head since Stalin. Last night he looked it, appearing on stage in leather jacket and jeans to thank the voters who gave him the same endorsement that Putin won in 2004 – around 70% of the votes.
Israeli army pulls back from Gaza
Israeli forces today withdrew from Gaza after the heaviest fighting for decades left more than 100 people dead, a day before the arrival of the US secretary of state in the region.
The Israeli government declared it had achieved its objective of deterring Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israeli border towns. A spokesman for the Hamas armed wing declared victory and vowed it would continue the attacks.
At dawn, Gaza residents streamed out of homes after days sheltering from intense fighting. “The enemy has been defeated,” said the Hamas spokesman. A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: “Gaza will always be a graveyard for the occupation forces.”
Four kisses, then the band played: the day former foes became friends
The Times was the only British newspaper to see Iraq roll out the red carpet for President Ahmadinejad of Iran
The young Iraqi girl in a white dress clutched a bouquet of flowers as she waited with a small boy in a smart suit to greet President Ahmadinejad of Iran, who began an historic visit to Iraq yesterday.
Around them the sense of occasion at the Baghdad residence of Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President, was markedly different to any visit to the country by a British or American leader since the invasion.
A red-coated military band held final rehearsals outside the palace, once owned by one of Saddam Hussein’s sons, while a guard of honour stood to attention, rifles poised, and senior ministers assembled along a rarely seen red carpet.
Hugo Chavez moves his tanks to border as regional war looms
President Hugo Chávez yesterday placed Venezuela on a war footing, sending thousands of troops and tanks to the border with Colombia after its neighbour killed a top rebel leader inside Ecuadorean territory.
“Mr. Defense Minister, move me 10 battalions to the border with Colombia immediately – tank battalions,” Mr Chávez boomed on his weekly television programme, Aló Presidente. He also placed the Venezuelan Air Force on standby for action.
“We do not want war”, said Mr Chávez, before adding that the slaying of rebel commander Raúl Reyes and Colombia’s incursion into Ecuadorean territory could not go unanswered. “I am putting Venezuela on alert and we will support Ecuador in any situation,” Mr Chávez said.
Gunmen in uniform kill 8 at pool hall
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Eight people were shot dead at a billiards hall in northern Honduras on Sunday by gunmen disguised as policemen, Honduran police said.
Wearing police uniforms, six assailants fired Kalashnikov rifles and handguns from a truck parked outside a pool hall in San Pedro Sula, a city plagued by violent gangs and drug traffickers, deputy police chief Edgardo Villeda said.
Seven people were killed on the spot and an eighth died on the way to the hospital, Villeda said.
“It was cold blooded murder, the victims had no way out,” he said. “We don’t believe this was perpetrated by police, but by men who had taken our uniform.”
Asian Stocks and Dollar Fall Sharply
TOKYO – Asian stocks fell sharply and the U.S. dollar fell to levels not seen for three years against the Japanese yen on Monday, on speculation the Federal Reserve board may lower rates further to soften a possible recession. At the start of trading in Europe, most stocks were showing moderate losses.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average slumped 610.84, or 4.49 percent to end trade at 12,992.18, the lowest close since Jan. 23. Japanese stocks have fallen approximately 15 percent since the start of the year. The Hang Seng Index was down about 3 percent in late trading; it has also declined 15 percent this year, while the CSI 300 Index has fallen 11 percent.
North Korea winter threatens food supply
SEOUL, South Korea – An abnormally dry and mild winter has hampered the growth of some crops in North Korea, state media reported Monday in a development that could exacerbate the impoverished country’s chronic food shortages.
Temperatures rarely dropped below minus 5 degrees, Kim Mun Uk, an official at the North’s Hydro-Meterological Service told the official Korean Central News Agency.
There was also scant snow or rain in the capital, Pyongyang, or in western and eastern coastal regions between mid-December and Feb. 21, the report said.
“This abnormal climate phenomenon has seriously affected the growth of autumn wheat and barley,” KCNA reported.
In South Africa, a racist video’s fallout
White students’ film degrading black employees has dredged up unresolved postapartheid problems.
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – The video depicts white college students forcing elderly black housekeepers to crawl, drink beer, and eat food that – apparently – had been tainted with urine. Small wonder, then, that the video has caused an uproar in a society that thought it had left the harsher cruelties of racism behind.
As disciplinary hearings and even criminal investigations probe into the video and its makers, students and professors at the University of the Free State and throughout South Africa are struggling for answers on how to rebuild racial relations in an atmosphere that many describe as “poisoned.”