This is an Open Thread:
Hey there mighty brontosaurus
Don’t you have a message for us.
You thought your rule would always last
There were no lessons in your past.
In Search for Peace, a Shrinking White House Role
When Palestinians broke through the barrier dividing the Gaza Strip and Egypt in January and streamed across the border by the tens of thousands, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faced a moment of crisis. His phone soon rang, but the world leader offering help on the other end was not President Bush — it was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mubarak took the call, resulting in the first such contact between leaders of the two nations since relations were severed nearly three decades ago.
The conversation signaled a growing rapprochement between Egypt, which receives nearly $2 billion in annual aid from Washington, and Iran, a country that the Bush administration has tried to isolate as a possible threat to U.S. interests in the region.
The Myth of Objectivity
Is the mainstream press unbiased? No, but we aren’t ideological. What we really thrive on is conflict.
She tried to make a joke of it. At the debate in Cleveland last week, Hillary Clinton brought up a “Saturday Night Live” skit about journalists fawning over Barack Obama at a mock debate. “Maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow,” said Clinton. Humor is often a substitute for anger, and if Clinton wasn’t all that funny, maybe it is because she is sore at the press for seeming to go easier on her opponent. She has a point, but the truth about the media and the campaign cannot be caricatured simply as the deification of Obama and the hounding of Clinton.
The pols and the people invest the press with great power. Conspiracies abound. Right-wing talk-show hosts love to go on about the liberal media establishment. Lefty commentators accuse the press of rolling over for George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq.
Clinton battles Obama’s momentum
Analysts agree the New York senator must win the Texas and Ohio primaries Tuesday to continue her campaign.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Hillary Rodham Clinton, once seen as a lock for the Democratic nomination, battled Saturday into possibly the last weekend of her presidential campaign, struggling to reverse a tide of money and momentum that has turned dramatically toward Barack Obama.
The New York senator stormed across Texas, questioning Obama’s readiness to lead, particularly on national security issues.
“You are, in effect, hiring the next president,” Clinton told supporters at a rally at a San Antonio high school. “What you’ve got to decide is: Who do you want to hire?”
The Illinois senator touched down in Rhode Island — his first campaign visit to the tiny state — as well as Ohio.
British island ‘used by US for rendition’
Indian Ocean atoll Diego Garcia was used to hold US suspects, human rights investigator claims
Britain’s denials that its territories have been used for ‘extraordinary rendition’ were dramatically undermined last night after the United Nations claimed that Diego Garcia has been used as a detention centre to hold US suspects.
Manfred Novak, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, who is charged with investigating human rights abuses, said he had received credible evidence from well-placed sources familiar with the situation on the island that detainees were held on Diego Garcia between 2002 and 2003.
Novak pledged he would consider a request by the UK government to share his information. ‘I spoke to my sources on condition of anonymity and it would take time to trace them; I couldn’t do it [brief the UK government] without the explicit authorisation of these people,’ Novak said. ‘But under this caveat, I could share more information.’
Iran leader in landmark Iraq trip
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Baghdad on the first ever visit to Iraq by an Iranian president.
The visit marks the culmination of a process of normalisation between the two countries after the long war they fought in the 1980s.
Correspondents say the two-day visit is also a strong show of support for the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad.
Mr Ahmadinejad is meeting the Iraqi PM and president – both of whom have visited Iran.
The US is not involved in security for the visit and did not provide helicopters to transport Mr Ahmadinejad into central Baghdad.
Scores killed in raids on Gaza
· More than 50 die in clashes with Israelis
· Observer uncovers block on seriously ill patients being treated abroad
Israel’s military killed at least 60 Palestinians yesterday – almost half of them civilians, including four children – in its most violent assault on the Gaza Strip since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power last June.
The latest deaths bring the number of Palestinians killed since a rocket fired from inside Gaza killed a 44-year-old Israeli in the town of Sderot last week to 80. Two Israeli soldiers also died in the fighting. Late last night, the office of the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, was attacked by an Israeli aircraft, which hit the building with three missiles. Although no casualties were reported, witnesses said the building was destroyed.
The latest bloodshed comes as an Observer investigation revealed how Israel is again deliberately obstructing the transfer of urgent medical cases for treatment outside Gaza, in the latest extension of its policy of collective punishment of Palestinians.
Medvedev steps out from Putin’s shadow as Russia goes to polls
With the election result not in doubt, former president has already been usurped by his anointed successor
By Mary Dejevsky in St Petersburg
Sunday, 2 March 2008
There’s a new doll on the block. The familiar frowning face of Vladimir Putin is no longer the “outside” shell of the matryoshka sets on St Petersburg’s souvenir stalls. His usurper is a dark-haired, less well-defined character named Dmitry Medvedev.
The likeness is not perfect – the painters have not yet got the measure of the country’s next president. But as Russians go to the polls today, Mr Putin’s relegation to second doll is a sign that power is in transition. By this evening, election results will confirm what the painters already know: Mr Medvedev, only 42, a native son of St Petersburg and previously one of two first deputy prime ministers, will be Mr Putin’s successor.
Alistair Darling chases rich in tax-free haven of Monaco
Chancellor tightens screw on wealthy Britons and their Riviera refuge
THE chancellor is to step up hostilities against Britain’s super-rich by pressing for sanctions against Monaco, the Mediterranean tax haven.
Under one proposal, to be discussed by Alistair Darling with European finance ministers on Tuesday, there will be a levy on any money transferred to a Monaco account from anywhere in Europe. Precise policies will be discussed the following week at a meeting of Europe’s tax authorities in Berlin.
The threat of sanctions marks an escalation in the battle between European governments and the continent’s three remaining tax havens: Liechtenstein, Andorra and Monaco.
Planeloads of cash prop up Mugabe
MONEY that is being used to prop up President Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime, keep his military onside and win over voters in the run-up to Zimbabwe’s elections this month is being printed by a German company.
With inflation topping 100,000% and the highest value 10m Zimbabwe dollar note worth just 20p, heavily guarded planeloads of banknotes are flying into Harare almost every day to keep up with the demand.
Documents obtained by The Sunday Times show the Munich company Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) is receiving more than €500,000 (£382,000) a week for delivering bank notes at the astonishing rate of Z$170 trillion a week.
Ghosts of apartheid haunt South Africa
The antics of a group of white university students in South Africa have been condemned after they humiliated black campus staff on video.
The incident has highlighted that racism still thrives in South African society.
But now South Africa’s Human Rights Commission is looking to Australia for inspiration in dealing with the ghosts of apartheid.
As an undergraduate prank, it was in typically bad taste: a group of university students film campus staff sculling beer, eating foul food and attempting difficult physical feats.
Emperor’s son rebuked over princess visits
Discord at the heart of Japan’s imperial family has been exposed amid reports of escalating conflict and ill health inside one of the world’s oldest monarchies.
Worrying signs came in a rare public rebuke from the head of the imperial household to Emperor Akihito’s eldest son, Naruhito. He said the prince should take his daughter to see her grandparents more often.
Grand Steward Shingo Haketa urged Prince Naruhito to fulfil a promise he made a year ago to let his parents spend more time with six-year-old Princess Aiko.
It comes after the emperor’s doctors last week said Akihito, 74, would relinquish some of his duties to prevent the onset of the bone disease osteoporosis. His early symptoms are thought to be linked to cancer treatments he has had.
China’s subversive art of Manhua comes to Britain
The first Manhua comic appeared on the Chinese market in 1928. The genre was used as a political tool during the Second World War and by Mao’s regime, before being adopted by today’s underground artists, intent on challenging the state.
Now Britain’s first exhibition of the Manhua tradition – which traces its roots back to Chinese drawings from 11th century BC – is being staged in London.
Colombian rebel leader killed in battle
Troops chase guerrillas into Ecuador. Death of FARC’s chief diplomat could shake up the group, analysts say.
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — The second-highest-ranking leader in Colombia’s largest leftist guerrilla group was killed in a predawn firefight near the Ecuadorean border, the Colombian government announced Saturday morning.
Luis Edgar Devia Silva, better known by his alias Raul Reyes, was found dead early Saturday in a jungle camp in Ecuador after a battle erupted between rebels and Colombian armed forces in southern Putumayo state and continued on the Ecuadorean side of the border.