There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.
American warplanes join Iraqi troops in taking the fight to Shia militia
· Sadr stronghold in capital comes under attack
· British army holds fire as battles intensify·
US aircraft attacked Shia militia in Basra for the first time in the current round of fighting as intense battles continued between supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr and tens of thousands of Iraqi forces in a crackdown personally supervised by Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
British troops, based at the city’s airport, were kept away from the operation described by George Bush as “a defining moment in the history of Iraq”.
American fighter jets dropped bombs on a mortar team and a militia stronghold in Basra, said Major Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman. The number of casualties was unknown.
As protests spread across Iraq, US aircraft also attacked Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, killing at least five civilians, according to Iraqi police and hospitals.
Endorsement of Obama Points Up Clinton’s Obstacles
This article was reported by Adam Nagourney, Patrick Healy and Jeff Zeleny and written by Mr. Nagourney.
The surprise endorsement of Senator Barack Obama by a popular senator in a battleground state on Friday underlined the ferment in the Democratic nominating race and the serious obstacles facing Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as she tries to rescue her candidacy.
Compounding the challenge, one of Mr. Obama’s most prominent supporters, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, said Mrs. Clinton should quit the race because she hurt Mr. Obama “more than anything John McCain has said.”
Treasury Wants to Reshape Regulation
Overhaul Would Include New Agencies, Powers
The Treasury Department on Monday will propose a far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory structure that would reshape the relationship between Wall Street and Washington and redefine the responsibilities of some of the federal government’s most powerful agencies, according to administration officials.
The initiative calls for some long-standing government agencies to combine and others to disappear. Major players at the core of the nation’s financial system, including banks, securities firms, insurance companies, commodity investors, and mortgage firms and brokers, may have to submit to increased oversight.
Politkovskaya’s killer identified by prosecutors
The killer of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been identified and is being tracked down, Russian prosecutors said yesterday.
“The direct murderer of Politkovskaya has been identified. Every measure to search for and apprehend this person is being taken,” prosecutor Vyacheslav Smirnov told a military court, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. The killer was not named in public.
Politkovskaya, who angered officials with her reports on human rights abuses for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was gunned down in the stairwell of her apartment block on October 7 2006.
Merkel says she will not attend opening of Beijing Olympics
· German leader’s decision at odds with Brown’s view
· Pressure grows for united EU stance on Tibet crisis
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, yesterday became the first world leader to decide not to attend the Olympics in Beijing.
As pressure built for concerted western protests to China over the crackdown in Tibet, EU leaders prepared to discuss the crisis for the first time today, amid a rift over whether to boycott the Olympics.
The disclosure that Germany is to stay away from the games’ opening ceremonies in August could encourage President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to join in a gesture of defiance and complicate Gordon Brown’s determination to attend the Olympics.
President invokes a final struggle against imperialism but opponents see poll as a fight for the very survival of the nation
To Robert Mugabe, today’s presidential election in Zimbabwe is not so much a vote as war. From his campaign slogan – Get Behind the Fist, over a picture of Mugabe waving a firmly clenched fist – to speeches invoking the liberation war against white rule, the president of Zimbabwe has defined his campaign to extend his 28-year rule as the final struggle against British imperialism and its fifth columnists in the opposition.
“We must deliver the final blow against the British on March 29,” he told one of his final election rallies. “We are in a war situation. This is a time to fight, not pleasure.”
Fear keeps South African exiles away
Munyaradzi Matuku knows the stakes are high and every vote will have to count if Robert Mugabe is to be dislodged from power this weekend.
But Mr Matuku will not go home to vote even though he wants to see an immediate end to Mr Mugabe’s long, traumatic reign.
“Mugabe is not about to abandon his habit of stealing elections. So why waste my time going back?” asked the electrical engineer who migrated to South Africa last year.
Mr Matuku, 30, is just one of thousands of Zimbabweans who will remain in Johannesburg this weekend despite their votes being much needed by the opposition.
Castro opens new era by lifting mobile phones ban
Cubans are to be allowed mobile phones in the latest step by the new President, Raul Castro, to improve access to consumer goods. Cuba has the lowest rate of mobile use in Latin America, and the service had been restricted to foreigners or government officials and employees.
The Cuban telecommunications monopoly Etecsa, a joint venture with Telecom Italia, said it would start sales within days in hard currency.
Many Cubans have for long wanted access to mobiles and hoped it would be among the first steps taken by Mr Castro, who succeeded his ailing brother Fidel as Cuba’s first new leader in almost half a century on 24 February.
No end in sight to Andean conflict
QUITO, Ecuador – President Rafael Correa’s outrage over Colombia’s cross-border raid on a rebel camp in Ecuador has improved his popularity, strengthening his chances of gaining approval for constitutional reforms later this year.
Correa declared the incident over after rightist Colombian President Alvaro Uribe apologized and promised not to repeat such an attack at a summit of Latin American leaders.
But that detente has proven to be short-lived, and with the discovery that an Ecuadorean man was killed in the raid along with Colombian rebels and several Mexican leftist students, Correa is now threatening a new diplomatic offensive against Colombia.
US rapper Jerome White Junior aka Jero finds enka stardom in Japan
They have invaded sumo wrestling, they have mastered the art of drawing manga and they have even become the presidents of beloved national symbols such as Nissan and Sony.
However, there has always been one corner of Japanese culture that has been kept off-limits to foreigners: the melodrama of enka. This was the music, belted out with remorseless passion in bars and rough theatres, that saw Japan through its desolate postwar years. This was the music that made both a tuneful and tearful virtue of unrequited desire, of marriage gone sour and of lovelorn suicide.
Plague of rats brings threat of famine to millions in Mizoram
Millions of people in India face starvation after a chilling local prophecy, which predicts that a plague of rats will overrun a region of the country every half century, appears to have come true. Thousands of tribal families in the state of Mizoram on the Burmese and Bangladesh borders are struggling to feed themselves after being overrun by hundreds of millions of rats – a deadly natural phenomenon known as mautam.
The rodent population boom follows the heavy flowering of a local species of bamboo, an event that occurs every 48 years and provides the region’s rats with a feast of high protein foliage. Once the animals have ravaged the bamboo, they turn on local crops. “People do not have food for tomorrow.
19 Tense Hours in Sadr City Alongside the Mahdi Army
After Calm Year, Fighting Engulfs Shiite Enclave
BAGHDAD, March 28 — The gunfire struck like thunderclaps, building to a steady rhythm. American soldiers in a Stryker armored vehicle fired away from one end of the block. At the other end, two groups of Shiite militiamen pounded back with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. American helicopters circled above in the blue afternoon sky.