Docudharma Times Tuesday May 27

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Tuesday’s Headlines: Burden on Dean to bring harmony  Egypt: bread shortages, hunger and unrest   Fears of new civil war as Sudanese town razed   German snoopers ‘tracked thousands of phone calls’  Health care fees trouble Eastern Europe   The two faces of Burmese aid: a starving village and a state lie   Protests in S Korea over US beef   Sadr Pursues Image to Match His Power  FARC leader’s death: another blow to Colombian rebels

Nuclear Agency Accuses Iran of Willful Lack of Cooperation

PARIS – The International Atomic Energy Agency, in an unusually blunt and detailed report, said Monday that Iran’s suspected research into the development of nuclear weapons remained “a matter of serious concern” and that Iran continued to owe the agency “substantial explanations.”

The nine-page report accused the Iranians of a willful lack of cooperation, particularly in answering allegations that its nuclear program may be intended more for military use than for energy generation.


U.S. Medical Research Gets $600 Million From Institute

Hughes Supplements Gap As Government Funds Lag

One of the world’s largest private philanthropies will announce today a $600 million initiative to fund risky but potentially lifesaving medical research by 56 of America’s top scientists.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is expanding its flagship investigators program to nurture a new class of scientists. By endowing scientists’ research over many years, the institute hopes they will make major discoveries in a variety of fields, including genetics and biology.

Burden on Dean to bring harmony

Set to mediate Fla., Mich. issue

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Howard Dean arrived at this month’s New Hampshire Democratic Party convention with the purposeful brusqueness that has marked his years on the national stage, climbing out of his rental car with hardly a word for anyone before retreating into a holding area.

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The chairman of the Democratic National Committee was there to deliver another of his famous red-meat speeches, exhorting the party faithful to evict the Republicans from the White House. But even amid the applause, there were signs of the Democratic Party’s current discord in the room. Supporters of Hillary Clinton held up signs proclaiming: “Gov. Dean, count all the votes in Florida and Michigan!”


Egypt: bread shortages, hunger and unrest

Over the next five days, Guardian correspondents will report on how spiralling prices of staple foods are hitting people around the world. Today: Chris McGreal in Cairo

Hoda al-Latif and the son she describes as “ill in the head” have long relied on the comfort of friends and neighbours. Sympathisers paid the rent on a cramped flat in the rundown east side of Cairo and picked up extra meat at the butchers for the near destitute widow and 25-year-old Ahmed, who the government classifies as mentally handicapped.

Ahmed sells biscuits from a street stall and his customers often slipped him a little extra cash to help out. It all added up, and the al-Latifs sometimes found themselves with enough to pass on the surplus to others in need.

Fears of new civil war as Sudanese town razed

By Steve Bloomfield in Abyei

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Abyei, in the heart of Sudan, was a town of more than 30,000 people. It had a school and a hospital, a marketplace and a bar.

It doesn’t exist any more. Almost everything has been burnt to the ground. What remains is devastation.

Days after the fighting took place, plumes of smoke rise into the afternoon sky as fires still burn. The charred remains of metal bed frames surrounded by neat squares of black and grey ash indicate where a row of houses once stood. Clay pots lie broken in the dirt. Children’s clothes, some burnt, are scattered outside a still-smouldering mud hut.


German snoopers ‘tracked thousands of phone calls’

By Tony Paterson in Berlin

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Deutsche Telekom is immersed in a deepening espionage scandal following allegations that senior executives ordered the covert monitoring of thousands of phone calls by customers, staff and journalists in an attempt to plug an information leak.

The claims, published in Der Spiegel magazine, allege that the company, part-owned by the government, conducted its spying operations for 18 months in 2005 and 2006. “Hundreds of thousands of calls” were said to have been secretly subjected to surveillance.

Rene Obermann, Deutsche Telekom’s director, who was not in charge at the time, said yesterday he had sent details of the case to state prosecutors, adding that he found the allegations “shattering”. “If they are confirmed, the accusations run contrary to our understanding of data protection,” he said. “The consequences will be tough if misconduct is established.”

Health care fees trouble Eastern Europe

PRAGUE: In the Czech Republic, a patient can now see a doctor for about $1.85. This is not cause for celebration.

For Czechs, who visit their doctors more often than anyone in Europe, it has led to outrage. In fact, the idea of charging anything at all for health care can generate significant controversy, not to mention abrupt about-faces in policy, here and in other Central European countries.

The theory is to cut waste and abuse from the health systems to strengthen and modernize them. But the backlash can be powerful.

In Hungary, health care fees were resoundingly defeated in a nationwide referendum in March, which resulted in the firing of the health minister.


The two faces of Burmese aid: a starving village and a state lie

The junta has tried to present a positive picture of recovery from Cyclone Nargis, but hundreds of people are still subsisting in appalling conditions

It will be years before the Irrawaddy delta recovers from Cyclone Nargis – but the visitor to the Sinkan refugee camp could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. Its 39 blue tents are neat and evenly spaced and their occupants look clean and contented. A team of white-uniformed doctors and nurses tends to their medical needs, white Toyota Land Cruisers of the United Nations stand in attendance and a group of Japanese diplomats inspects the camp, snapping photographs as they go.

This is the version of Cyclone Nargis that the Burmese Government presents to the world – a tragic misfortune, now well on the way to being overcome with discipline, good organisation and a bit of international help.

Protests in S Korea over US beef

At least 29 protesters have been arrested in South Korea after a rally against a US beef import deal ended in clashes.

The scuffles broke out when police moved to break up the 3,000-strong demonstration in the capital, Seoul.

The protesters say that the recent relaxation of a ban on US beef imports fails to protect the country from BSE, or mad cow disease.

Support for President Lee Myung-bak has plummeted amid mounting public concern.

Middle East

Sadr Pursues Image to Match His Power

Unexpected Heir Studies, Strategizes to Become an Icon Like His Father

NAJAF, Iraq — When the revered head of Iraq’s largest Shiite opposition group was assassinated in 1999, the mantle of leadership passed to an unexpected heir: Moqtada al-Sadr, then a 25-year-old video game aficionado who oversaw the movement’s security forces.

Sadr, now 34, has since emerged as an ardent nationalist who commands the support of hundreds of thousands of devotees and the scorn of those who see him as a thuggish militia leader of limited intellect. He has lately sought to reposition himself as a more mainstream figure, even in the face of increasing pressure from Iraq’s Shiite-led government.

Businessman testifies in Israel in Olmert case

JERUSALEM – An American businessman who police suspect gave illegal funds to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in a Jerusalem court to testify about his part in the case.

Police are investigating whether Olmert illicitly took up to $500,000 in cash from Morris Talansky before becoming prime minister in 2006.

Olmert says the funds were legal campaign contributions, but police suspect they were either illegal contributions or bribery.

Latin America

FARC leader’s death: another blow to Colombian rebels

Will the new guerilla leader, Alfonso Cano, free US and other hostages?

Bogotá, Colombia – Colombia’s FARC guerrillas mark their 44th anniversary this week by mourning the death of their leader, Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda, and facing potential power struggles for control of the movement.

After four decades of leading a militia that at its peak had nearly 20,000 fighters, Marulanda died in March of a heart attack, the rebels confirmed Sunday.

The death of Marulanda, who was born Pedro Antonio Marín to a peasant family in about 1930, could not have come at a worse time for the guerrilla force that he forged to challenge what he saw as a corrupt and contemptible ruling class.

In a single month the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) lost three of its seven-member secretariat.


    • on May 27, 2008 at 2:13 pm
    • C Barr on May 27, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    see today’s diary by Lithium Cola

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