Docudharma Times Friday June 27

Making Sure There Are Guns

For Everyone

The U.S. Supreme Court

Who Needs Any Restraint

Friday’s Headlines:

Gun advocates’ other weapon: lawsuits  

Unicef among critics of Italian plan to fingerprint Roma children

Fairy-tale town up in arms over decree on solar panels

Negotiators quit Darfur, saying neither side is ready for peace

Thabo Mbeki mocked for weakness with words

Militant Hamas as reluctant moderator

Israeli threats stiffen Iran’s resolve    

China Says It Opposes Politicizing Olympics  

In Tibet, a worm worth its weight in gold

Mexican police commander killed  

North Korea Destroys Tower at Nuclear Plant


Published: June 28, 2008

SEOUL, South Korea — With international TV networks filming the scene, North Korea blew up the most visible symbol of its nuclear program on Friday in a gesture demonstrating its commitment to stop making plutonium for weapons.

The 60-foot-tall cooling tower at the North’s main nuclear power plant was blasted away shortly after 4 p.m. Friday before an audience of international TV cameras, reported South Korea’s MBC-TV. MBC has a crew at the demolition site in Yongbyon, 60 miles north of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

Tsvangirai: vote Mugabe to stay alive

Militia warns voters of reprisals if they back opposition in sham pol

Chris McGreal in Harare

The Guardian,

Friday June 27, 2008  

Zimbabwe’s opposition has advised its supporters to vote for Robert Mugabe for their own safety when they are herded to the polls today amid threats of violence if there is not a resounding victory for the only ruler the country has known.

In a final push to intimidate voters, the ruling Zanu-PF’s militia forced people to political meetings across large parts of Zimbabwe yesterday.

They were again warned that their “vote is their bullet” if they did not support Mugabe even though the opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has pulled out of the race because a state-orchestrated campaign of murder, abduction, beatings and rape made it too dangerous for his supporters to vote.


U.S. Embassy refuses to pay London’s road tolls

Owes $3.9 million in unpaid congestion levies since Feb. 2003

Associated Press    

LONDON – The U.S. Embassy in London has failed to pay more than $3.9 million in traffic congestion charges, according to figures published Thursday by Britain’s foreign ministry.

British lawmakers condemned U.S. diplomats, after they topped a list of embassies refusing to pay the charge.

The list of fees owed by embassies showed that the United States refused to pay the levy 23,188 times between February 2003 and last month.

Gun advocates’ other weapon: lawsuits

On the heels of the Supreme Court ruling, the NRA and other groups prepare to challenge gun laws in California and other states.

By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

9:05 PM PDT, June 26, 2008

Emboldened by Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of individuals to own handguns, advocates said they would immediately challenge a San Francisco law that prohibits guns in public housing and sue other cities nationwide to overturn gun restrictions.

The California lawsuit, which the National Rifle Assn. said it would file in federal court in San Francisco today, was one of several legal challenges that gun rights groups said they would pursue in the wake of the court decision.

“I expect there will be a significant number of California laws challenged because there have been a significant number of irrational and counterproductive laws passed in the state in recent years,” said Chuck Michel, the NRA’s chief attorney, who also represents other gun rights groups


Unicef among critics of Italian plan to fingerprint Roma Children  

Tom Kington in Rome

The Guardian,

Friday June 27, 2008

The Italian government’s plan to fingerprint Gypsy children was condemned yesterday as a discriminatory “ethnic headcount” that insulted the country’s Roma population.

The interior minister, Roberto Maroni, said the proposal, which would affect all Gypsies living in camps, would make it easier to identify child beggars. He said the government also planned to make it easier to remove children from Roma parents who sent their offspring out to beg on the streets instead of to school.

But a senior opposition member, Rosy Bindi, said the plan presupposed that all Gypsy minors were criminals. “This is a frankly unacceptable ethnic headcount,” she said.

Fairy-tale town up in arms over decree on solar panels

By Tony Paterson in Berlin

Friday, 27 June 2008  

The university town of Marburg is where the Brothers Grimm collected many of their fairy tales, and the cobbled streets and medieval buildings look like they could have come straight out of one of their illustrated children’s books.

Now, following the approval of a new law, the quaint red-tiled roofs may soon have to be adorned with solar panels and the usually genteel residents are up in arms.

From October this year it will be mandatory for solar panels to be installed on new buildings, as well as those being expanded, altered or renovated. Any property owner who fails to comply will face a fine of at least €1,000 (£790).


Negotiators quit Darfur, saying neither side is ready for peace

By Steve Bloomfield, Africa Correspondent

Friday, 27 June 2008  

The UN negotiators attempting to bring peace to Darfur have resigned, admitting that their mission has been a failure.

Jan Eliasson, who has been leading the UN’s peace efforts in Sudan for the past 18 months, announced that he and his African Union counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim, would stand down to make way for a new negotiator.

“It is a very, very sombre situation,” Mr Eliasson told The Independent. “I don’t believe the parties are ready to sit down and make the necessary compromises.”

Since the start of the year the level of violence in Darfur has dramatically increased. Both the government and some of the rebel groups have intensified their military activity. Banditry is also on the rise and aid groups delivering much-needed food and supplies to Darfur’s 2.5 million displaced are facing daily attacks.

Thabo Mbeki mocked for weakness with words

From The Times

June 27, 2008

Jonathan Clayton

With four carefully chosen words the 89-year-old Nelson Mandela showed why he is still the master of political theatre. At a banquet in London on Wednesday the anti-apartheid hero said simply that he regretted the “tragic failure of leadership” in Zimbabwe. It was enough to win plaudits from all sides for breaking a self-imposed silence on current affairs when he retired from public life nine years ago.

His successor as President of South Africa can only look on in awe. Thabo Mbeki, derided widely for his efforts to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis, has tried for years to escape Mr Mandela’s shadow. Time and again he has failed.

Nowhere has that failure been more evident than in his dealings with Zimbabwe. Privately, Mr Mbeki is said to be furious with Robert Mugabe, who is now reportedly refusing to take his calls. However, he still refuses to criticise him publicly for fear that it will jeopardise his influence – an influence he clearly does not have.

Middle East

Militant Hamas as reluctant moderator

Can Gaza’s ruling militants keep other armed groups from spoiling a six-month cease-fire with Israel intended to improve life in the impoverished coastal strip?

By Ilene R. Prusher  | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the June 27, 2008 edition

JERUSALEM –  Hamas, which for more than 20 years has been the Palestinian militant movement that most fervently rejected peace with Israel, today finds itself in the odd position of being the group trying to get its comrades in arms to hold their fire against the Jewish state.

But the week-old truce – agreed upon between Israel and Hamas and contingent on Gaza’s disparate armed factions keeping their guns quiet – looked closer to crumbling Thursday after militants again fired rockets into southern Israel. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade struck Thursday two days after an attack by another group, Islamic Jihad.

In response, Israel has kept its crossings with the Gaza Strip shut, which it had opened to allow in much-needed goods, indicating that both sides were reneging on promises made in the Egyptian-brokered deal.

Israeli threats stiffen Iran’s resolve

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Jun 27, 2008

Although it is manifestly clear that Israel runs major risks for minor gains by planning to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the tendency of Israeli politicians and pundits to underestimate the risks and the likelihood of success is growing by leaps and bounds.

Following the argument that Israel does not want to wait for a new administration in the United States, to paraphrase one of Israel’s voices in the US, CBS consultant Michael Oren, Israel’s increasingly bellicose attitude against Iran actually has the adverse effect: it sets barricades in the path of Iranian politicians who want to reach a compromise with the “Iran Six” over Tehran’s nuclear program. Tehran is considering a package of proposals presented by the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany over its uranium-enrichment activities.


China Says It Opposes Politicizing Olympics


Published: June 27, 2008

SHANGHAI – After months of warning other countries not to politicize the summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China has come under criticism from the International Olympic Committee for doing just that.

In a rare rebuke just weeks before the Games begin, the committee sent a letter to Beijing’s Olympic organizers on Wednesday citing a recent speech by the Communist Party leader in Tibet, Zhang Qingli, in which he proclaimed, “China’s red flag with five stars will forever flutter high above this land.”

Mr. Zhang went on to denounce the Dalai Lama, saying, “We will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama clique.

In Tibet, a worm worth its weight in gold

With demand sky high for caterpillar fungus, a prized ingredient in traditional medicine said to boost energy and immunity, the Tibetan nomads who gather it are enjoying a windfall.

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 27, 2008  

HEITUSHAN, CHINA — Lhamotso never learned to read and write, and she has few marketable skills other than the ability to milk a yak.

Yet she can earn up to $1,000 a week these days, an unimaginable fortune for a Tibetan nomad. With the money, she has bought herself a shiny new Honda motorcycle. She and her husband gave up their tent for a house they built themselves with solar panels, a satellite dish and television.

Latin America

Mexican police commander killed

By Duncan Kennedy

BBC News, Mexico City  

A federal police commander has been shot dead in Mexico City, the latest in a long line of law enforcement personnel murdered in recent weeks.

It is likely that he was targeted by drug cartels who are battling the authorities over a clamp down on their drug smuggling operations.

Igor Labastida was eating lunch in a restaurant when he was killed.

Eyewitnesses say two people got out of a car, went into the restaurant and opened fire on him and his escorts


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  1. The US Embassy not paying toll fees gets into a really interesting (and bizaare, to me) arena of diplomatic law that enables ignoring traffic laws, parking fines, etc …

    On the other hand, here is an easy place for an Obama Administration to make change.  Make a deal with the UK, waive the past fees, we will fully comply going forward as a ‘green deal’, as the United States willll move the embassy cars to non-polluting so that there will be no fees to pay.

    • Mu on June 27, 2008 at 13:59

    Ahem, I’ve been a gun owner since I was about 10.  I’m closin’ in on 45 now.

    Religious freedom is not sacrosanct (one can’t smoke dope, or, say “marry” 12 year old girls as a “sacrament”; Native American Church can do peyote, though); speech is not sacrosanct (“Fire!” in a crowded theater; “commercial speech” has all kinds of strictures); freedom of the press is not sacrosanct (libel is actionable for maliciously false publications); assembly‘s not sacrosanct (parade permits); the Fourth Amendment has all sorts of loopholes and permutations) . . .  

    Oh!  But the Second Amendment!  That’s holy!  That’s sacred!  Don’t TOUCH my gun!!!

    The mind frigging boggles.

    Oh, but the Original Intent!  The Original Intent!  Right.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, unless one has direct evidence that the Framers had access to a time machine which they used to find out about snub-nose and rifle-barreled, mass-produced, Saturday Night Specials (uh, revolvers – a technology that didn’t exist in 1791, by the way), then, o.k. go ahead and argue “Original Intent”.  Otherwise, and with all due respect, such cretins should STFU re  “Original Intent.”

    Well, at the end of the day, I feel like I’m in much better company – Stevens, Breyer, Ginsberg and Souter than are the  gun proliferation absolutists who now embrace the likes of Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and, sadly, Kennedy (who friggin’ knows better).  Oh, and a gloating W. Bush.  Nice friends some of y’all have there.  Nice friends.

    I’ll end with this:

    In a dissent he summarized from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.”

    He said such evidence “is nowhere to be found.”

    Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, “In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas.”


    Mu . . .

    • Mu on June 27, 2008 at 14:05

    Don’t you just love it, the Beijing Regime doesn’t want any “politics” in China during the Olympics, as they say. . .

    “We will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama clique.”


    Mu . . .

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