And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun don’-go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
USA 2008: The Great Depression
Food stamps are the symbol of poverty in the US. In the era of the credit crunch, a record 28 million Americans are now relying on them to survive – a sure sign the world’s richest country faces economic crisis
By David Usborne in New York
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
We knew things were bad on Wall Street, but on Main Street it may be worse. Startling official statistics show that as a new economic recession stalks the United States, a record number of Americans will shortly be depending on food stamps just to feed themselves and their families.
Dismal projections by the Congressional Budget Office in Washington suggest that in the fiscal year starting in October, 28 million people in the US will be using government food stamps to buy essential groceries, the highest level since the food assistance programme was introduced in the 1960s.
Insurers Faulted as Overloading Social Security
The Social Security system is choking on paperwork and spending millions of dollars a year screening dubious applications for disability benefits, according to lawsuits filed by whistle-blowers.
Insurance companies are the source of the problem, the lawsuits say. The insurers are forcing many people who file disability claims with them to also apply to Social Security – even people who clearly do not qualify for the government program.
The Social Security Administration defines “disabled” much more stringently than the insurers generally do, so it rejects most of the applications, at least initially. Often, the insurers then tell their claimants to appeal, the lawsuits say, raising the cost.
GAO Blasts Weapons Budget
Cost Overruns Hit $295 Billion
Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon’s biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.
Secret Mugabe meeting ponders military move or fixed result – but not an admission of defeat
· Zimbabwe president persuaded not to declare victory
· Trickle of results raises fears of rigged election
A crisis meeting of Robert Mugabe’s security cabinet decided to block the opposition from taking power after what appears to have been a comprehensive victory in Zimbabwe’s elections but was divided between using a military takeover to annul the vote and falsifying the results.
Diplomatic and Zimbabwean sources who heard first-hand accounts of the Joint Operations Command meeting of senior military and intelligence officers and top party officials on Sunday night said Mugabe favoured immediately declaring himself president again but was persuaded to use the country’s electoral commission to keep the opposition from power.
Chad president pardons French charity workers
· Six serving eight years for attempt to kidnap children
· Leader of aid group faces further charges in France
Six French voluntary workers sentenced to eight years’ hard labour for attempting to fly children out of Chad illegally and hand them to European families were free last night after being pardoned by Chad’s president, Idriss Déby.
Five members of the Zoe’s Ark charity walked free from prisons in France to which they had been transferred after being caught last October preparing to take 103 children to France. The group’s leader Eric Breteau, who was said to be weak from a hunger strike, was one of the last released, and slipped out of a jail south of Paris by a side door to avoid reporters. A sixth member, Nadia Merimi, is in a hospital near Paris, also no longer in detention.
Turkey’s ruling party to stand trial for being ‘too religious’
By Nicholas Birch in Istanbul
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Turkey’s highest court has voted to hear a case to close down the country’s ruling party, in a move that looks set to open the bitterest bout yet in a 50-year war pitting popularly-elected governments against the secular establishment.
The Constitutional Court’s unanimous decision comes a fortnight after a prosecutor charged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with trying to turn Turkey into a country that “takes religion as its reference” and demanded political bans on the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the president Abdullah Gül.
Pro-Russia enemies of Nato give Bush a mixed reception in Ukraine
As workmen painted fresh lines on the road from the airport to the centre of Kiev to welcome President Bush to Ukraine yesterday, diehard opponents of Nato were staging their own reception party.
About 3,000 Communist and Socialist party supporters rallied in Independence Square, the scene of the pro-Western Orange Revolution in the capital, carrying Soviet-era flags and banners that read “Ukraine against Nato” and “Nato is worse than the Gestapo”, while an effigy of Mr Bush was set on fire.
Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia refuses to carry Olympic torch
The captain of India’s national football team has refused to carry the Olympic torch during its planned procession through Delhi this month in protest over China’s handling of recent unrest in Tibet.
Bhaichung Bhutia, a Buddhist from the northeastern state of Sikkim, which borders Tibet, was one of 17 top Indian athletes asked to carry the torch by the Indian Olympic Association.
Opponents of Musharraf Assume Posts in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A stern-faced President Pervez Musharraf swore in a new cabinet on Monday that was filled with political opponents from the main opposition parties, including several who served time in prison under his military government.
Six weeks after national parliamentary elections dealt a crushing blow to Mr. Musharraf’s supporters, the president has had to welcome his opponents into the government and watch as they prepare to roll back some of his most controversial measures.
The swearing-in took place here in the capital as the former chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, made his first trip outside the capital since his release from five months of house arrest to a tumultuous welcome.
Ballet amid the bullets in Iraq
<An arts school is an oasis for children who keep culture alive despite war and threats from extremists.
BAGHDAD — In an airy studio lined with mirrors, little girls in pink leotards and boys in black shorts and white T-shirts pull themselves up as straight as they can and push their toes out into first position.
Their teacher, Ghada Taiyi, walks between them, straightening a pair of knobby knees and adjusting the curve of an arm. She switches on a cassette player, and the strains of a grand piano fill the room.
“You wouldn’t think we are in Iraq,” she says with a smile.
In a city full of bloodshed, the Baghdad School of Music and Ballet is an oasis, instilling in its young charges a love of music and dance in the midst of war.
The day the US declared war on Iran
March 20 is destined to be another day of infamy. On this date this year, the US officially declared war on Iran. But it’s not going to be the kind of war many have been expecting.
No, there was no dramatic televised announcement by President George W Bush from the White House. In fact, on this day, reports the Washington Post, Bush spent some time communicating directly with Iranians, telling them via Radio Farda (the US-financed broadcaster that transmits to Iran in Farsi, Iran’s native language) that their government has “declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people”. But not to worry, he told his listeners in Farsi-translated Bushspeak: Tehran would not get the bomb because the US would be ‘firm’.”
FARC: Raid harms Betancourt release bid
BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia’s largest rebel group says a cross-border raid on a rebel camp in Ecuador last month “gravely” harmed efforts to win the release of ailing hostage Ingrid Betancourt.
Ivan Marquez, one of seven leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, says that after the raid by Colombian forces it was clear “there would be no meeting with the French delegation to explore the release of Ingrid.”
Marquez’s letter was published Monday by Venezuela’s Bolivarian Press Agency, which has carried statements from the rebels in the past.