This is an Open Thread:
I can program a computer, choose the perfect time
If you’ve got the inclination, I have got the crime
Violence Leaves Young Iraqis Doubting Clerics
BAGHDAD – After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.
In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.
“I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us,” said Sara, a high school student in Basra. “Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don’t deserve to be rulers.”
Obama, Clinton In Key Face-Off
Texas, Ohio Results May Determine Campaign’s Future
BEAUMONT, Tex., March 3 — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed to press on in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after critical primary tests in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday, even as advisers to Sen. Barack Obama said the latest round of voting would do little to improve her standing in a race in which she has been dealt setback after setback.
Clinton advisers claimed fresh signs of momentum and continued to attempt to raise doubts about Obama on Monday, questioning his trade policies and ties to a Chicago developer. Clinton (N.Y.) predicted victory and insisted that a comeback is on the horizon. “I’m just getting warmed up,” she said in a news conference in Ohio.
The Cadillac of Mars rovers
The atomic-powered craft, being built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and scheduled for a 2009 launch, aims to settle once and for all whether the planet has ever been suitable for life.
Wider than a Hummer, tall enough to roll over boulders and toting a laser “ray gun” that can zap rocks at 30 feet, NASA’s next-generation Mars rover looks like something you would paint a skull and crossbones on and enter in a demolition derby.
Compared to Sojourner, the dowdy little robot that tooled around on Mars for three months in 1997, the atomic-powered Mars Science Laboratory rover being built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge is an interplanetary beast.
“Nothing like this has ever been sent to Mars before,” said Joy Crisp, 49, deputy project scientist for the new mission.
But then, this new rover has a big job: settling once and for all whether the conditions on ancient Mars were suitable for life
Neighbours cut ties with Colombia
Ecuador has cut diplomatic ties with Colombia in a deepening crisis over a cross-border raid by Colombian troops.
Venezuela also said it was expelling all Colombian diplomats in the wake of the raid, which killed senior Farc rebel Raul Reyes and 16 others.
Venezuela and Ecuador have deployed troops to their borders amid calls for restraint led by the head of the UN.
Ecuador said the raid had scuppered a possible deal to free French-Colombian Farc hostage Ingrid Betancourt.
US plotted to overthrow Hamas after election victory
The Bush administration, caught out by the rise of Hamas, embarked on a secret project for the armed overthrow of the Islamist government in Gaza, it emerged yesterday.
Vanity Fair reports in its April edition that President George Bush and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, signed off on a plan for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to remove the Hamas authorities in Gaza. The plan called for Washington’s allies in the region to funnel arms and salaries to Fatah fighters who would lead a rising against Hamas.
But the project was controversial even within the administration, the magazine reports. “There were severe fissures among neoconservatives over this,” David Wurmser, a former Middle East adviser to the vice-president, Dick Cheney, told the magazine. “We were ripping each other to pieces.”
Israel warns it will be back as Gaza incursion is finally ended
The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, made it clear last night after Israeli ground forces withdrew from Gaza that a 48-hour incursion which claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives was not a “one-time event” and operations against Hamas would continue.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, who has broken off negotiations with Israel in protest at the offensive, yesterday offered to mediate a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. There was no immediate Israeli reaction to the offer.
China to raise military spending
China says it plans to increase military spending by nearly 18% this year, to 417.8bn yuan ($59bn; £30bn).
The figure was revealed ahead of China’s annual parliamentary session, which begins on Wednesday.
Other nations have expressed concern about China’s growing military power, and say Beijing is not open enough about what it is spending its money on.
Washington claims that the real Chinese defence budget is at least double the stated amount.
In an annual Pentagon report released hours before China’s defence spending announcement, the US highlighted particular concern over Chinese activities in both space and cyberspace.
Indian ‘spy’ is reunited with family after 35 years on death row
An Indian man who has spent the past 35 years on death row accused of spying on Pakistan is to be reunited with his family.
Kashmir Singh, 60, a former policeman and businessman, walked free from Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore after being granted clemency. He wept as guards finally led him from his cell, after the intervention of Pakistan’s Minister for Human Rights.
Mr Singh was due to be reunited with his wife and three children today at the main border crossing between India and Pakistan.”I am very excited – it has been a long wait,” his wife, Surjeet Kaur, said as she waited for him at the Indian border post of Attari. “I had never lost hope of seeing him again.”
Mr Singh was arrested in 1973. He wrote to his family during the first few years of captivity but lost contact 24 years ago because he was moved regularly between prisons.
Europe vs the super-rich
By Sean O’Grady, Economics Editor
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
The European Union will declare war today on Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and Switzerland. Weary of losing billions of tax euros, the EU’s 27-strong high command of economics and finance ministers, Ecofin, is meeting in Brussels to agree a strategy aimed at bringing the continent’s tax havens under control.
Their weapon of choice will be a strengthened version of the EU’s 2005 savings tax directive, which has proved pathetically easy for armies of accountants, lawyers and specialist tax planners to outflank.
Russia’s post-Putin era kicks off with demonstrations and a police crackdown
By Mary Dejevsky in St Petersburg
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Dmitry Medvedev spent yesterday savouring his overwhelming victory in Russia’s presidential election, and fielding congratulations – of varying degrees of warmth – from foreign leaders. What should have been a joyous day for Mr Medvedev and his patron, President Putin, however, was soured by allegations of manipulation and vote-rigging. International parliamentary observers also failed to give the election a clean bill of health.
The first complaints came from the Communists – a party not without experience in vote-rigging in its time. The party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, threatened to sue over alleged violations of the electoral rules. “We have evidence of falsification of the elections and we will go to court,” he said.
U.S. missile strike in Somalia kills 6
Officials say terrorists were the target of the attack in a remote southern village. Witnesses say some of the dead appear to be civilians.
NAIROBI, KENYA — A U.S. missile strike Monday against suspected terrorists in a remote village of southern Somalia killed at least six people and wounded 10, witnesses and local leaders said.
A Tomahawk cruise missile was launched from a U.S. submarine off the coast of the African nation, U.S. officials said, but they declined to identify the target or provide other details.
It was the fourth U.S. military strike in Somalia since Ethiopian troops entered the country in the Horn of Africa in December 2006 to help defeat Islamist militants who had seized Mogadishu, the capital, and to restore power to a U.N.-recognized transitional government