Docudharma Times Monday June 16

Just What’s Needed

More Monopolies

Bring Back The Robber Barons

Monday’s Headlines:

Congress Pushes to Keep Land Untamed

Afghanistan leader threatens to send troops into Pakistan

Nepal puts Hitler’s Mercedes gift on show

Israel pressed to reveal why army killed cameraman

Assaf family returns to uncertain life in Iraq’s Triangle of Death

Zimbabwe’s pro-Mugabe war vets draw hard line

In a rare interview, militia leader threatens to take over more white-owned farms and businesses.

After 15 Years, Hints of Peace in Burundi

Spanish police arrest Russian mafia suspects

Tension mounts as Kosovo Constitution takes effect

Human cost of Brazil’s biofuels boom

Saudi King: ‘We will pump more oil’

 By Anne Penketh in Jeddah

Monday, 16 June 2008

Saudi Arabia will raise oil production to record levels within weeks in an attempt to avert an escalation of social and political unrest around the world. King Abdullah signalled the commitment to the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, at the weekend after the impact of skyrocketing oil prices on food sparked protests and riots from Spain to South Korea.

Next month, the Saudis will be pumping an extra half-a-million barrels of oil a day compared to last month, bringing total Saudi production to 9.7 million barrels a day, their highest ever level. But the world’s biggest oil exporters are coupling the increase with an appeal to western Europe to cut fuel taxes to lower the price of petrol to consumers.

Abuse plagued Afghan camps, too

By Tom Lasseter

McClatchy Newspapers

Second of five parts

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. soldiers herded the detainees into holding pens of razor-sharp concertina wire, used to corral livestock.

The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. U.S. troops shackled and dragged other detainees to small isolation rooms and hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.

Former guards and detainees McClatchy interviewed said Bagram Air Base was a center of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.


In Midwest Floods, a Broad Threat to Crops


Published: June 16, 2008  

NEWHALL, Iowa – Here, in some of the best soil in the world, the stunted stalks of Dave Timmerman’s newly planted corn are wilting in what sometimes look more like rice paddies than the plains, the sunshine glinting off of pools of collected water. Although time is running out, he has yet to plant all of his soybean crop because the waterlogged soil cannot support his footsteps, much less heavy machinery.

Mr. Timmerman’s small farm has been flooded four times in the past month by the Wildcat Creek, a tributary of the Cedar River which overflowed its banks at a record 31 feet last week, causing catastrophic damage in nearby Cedar Rapids and other eastern Iowa towns and farmsteads

FCC Chair To Support XM-Sirius Merger

By Cecilia Kang

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, June 16, 2008; Page A01

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin said yesterday that he will support a merger between the nation’s sole satellite radio operators, XM and Sirius, a decision that could remove the last regulatory hurdle in the lengthy and heavily criticized move to make the companies one.

Martin came to the decision after the companies agreed last week to several commitments intended to prevent the monopoly from raising programming prices and from stifling competition among radio makers, aides to the chairman said in an interview yesterday. Critics have argued that a merger of District-based XM and Sirius of New York would hurt consumers, who would have fewer choices of programming and radio transmitters and who would be charged higher prices because of a lack of rivals.

Congress Pushes to Keep Land Untamed

Bills Could Add Millions of Acres Of Wilderness

By Juliet Eilperin

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, June 16, 2008; Page A01

INDEX, Wash. — With little fanfare, Congress has embarked on a push to protect as many as a dozen pristine areas this year in places ranging from the glacier-fed streams of the Wild Sky Wilderness here to West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. By the end of the year, conservation experts predict, this drive could place as much as 2 million acres of unspoiled land under federal control, a total that rivals the wilderness acreage set aside by Congress over the previous five years.

A confluence of factors is driving this wilderness renaissance: the shift in Congress from Republican to Democratic control; environmentalists’ decision to take a more pragmatic approach in which they enlist local support for their proposals by making concessions to opposing interests; and some communities’ recognition that intact ecosystems can often offer a greater economic payoff than extractive industries.


Afghanistan leader threatens to send troops into Pakistan

By Saeed Shah | McClatchy Newspapers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai Sunday inflamed relations with Islamabad by threatening to send troops into Pakistan to hunt down Taliban fighters who find sanctuary across the border.

Karzai alleged that Pakistan was secretly supporting the Taliban, including providing a refuge for the group’s leader, Mullah Omar. The United States, struggling militarily in Afghanistan, has also accused Pakistan, supposedly a key ally in the anti-terror fight, of providing shelter for militants. Pakistan has angrily rejected the charge.

“Afghanistan has the right to destroy terrorist nests on the other side of the border in self-defense,” Karzai said, speaking to reporters in Kabul.

Nepal puts Hitler’s Mercedes gift on show

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent

Monday, 16 June 2008  

A now-rusting car given to the King of Nepal by Adolf Hitler is among the more unlikely items that will fill a museum being established in the palace once occupied by the Hindu Kingdom’s former royal family.

The 1939 model Mercedes-Benz was donated by the Nazi leader to King Tribhuvan, the grandfather of former king Gyanendra, the last of Nepal’s monarchs who left the palace last week after a newly elected parliament voted to end the 239-year-old monarchy and formally declare the country a republic.

Middle East

Israel pressed to reveal why army killed cameraman

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Monday, 16 June 2008

The Israeli military has come under renewed pressure to explain why its tank shells killed a Reuters cameraman and eight other Palestinians on a road in Gaza two months ago.

Reuters is pressing for immediate release of the military’s internal inquiry findings after an independent report for the London-based news agency found that there had been was no militant activity in that area.

Fadel Shana, 24, was killed on 16 April by flechette darts that burst from a tank shell as he was filming about a mile away from the tanks and in clear view of them. Eight bystanders aged between 12 and 20 were also killed, involving two tank shells.  

Assaf family returns to uncertain life in Iraq’s Triangle of Death

From The Times

June 16, 2008

James Hider in Jabala

 When the Assaf family came home a year after fleeing the isolated village where they had lived for decades, they were justifiably nervous: at the height of Iraq’s violence, the two sons had been threatened with murder and Mohammed, the father, had seen a fellow Sunni shot dead in the street in front of him.

With security finally improving they decided, like an increasing number of Iraq’s 2.7million internally displaced people, to risk it. The decision was not an easy one. Jabala is in an area known as the Triangle of Death, for years a battleground between al- Qaeda’s Sunni extremist gangs and al-Mahdi Army’s Shia death squads.

Driving into the village, an act that in itself would have been a suicide mission for Western journalists even a year ago, all seems well at first sight. The Assafs are a Sunni family – although the mother, Balkees, is Shia – and get on well with their Shia neighbours across the road, the Issa family. The Issas had stayed through the worst of the violence in this pretty, palm-shaded community, an hour’s drive south of Baghdad.


Zimbabwe’s pro-Mugabe war vets draw hard line

In a rare interview, militia leader threatens to take over more white-owned farms and businesses.

By Scott Baldauf  | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

and Two Contributors

from the June 16, 2008 edition

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa; and BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE –  – The man behind Zimbabwe’s most feared militia, the War Veterans, has all the credentials of a dedicated fighter except one: He’s never fought in combat.

Graduating from boot camp in Angola just after Zimbabwe’s “war of liberation” against white-minority rule ended in 1980, Jabulani Sibanda soldiered on as an organizer for President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party, the ZANU-PF.

It was Mr. Sibanda who led so-called war veterans to take white-owned farms by force, starting in 2000. Today, Sibanda – one of the hardest hard-liners in the ruling ZANU-PF – is blamed for orchestrating attacks on opposition supporters in the lead-up to a runoff election on June 27.

After 15 Years, Hints of Peace in Burundi


Published: June 16, 2008

BUJUMBURA, Burundi – The hills around town do not ring with gunfire anymore. Terrified civilians have stopped trudging down muddy paths seeking shelter. Areas that had been cut off for years because of fighting are finally opening up. And a cautious optimism seems to be spreading across the land.

After 15 years of off-again-on-again civil war, the last of Burundi’s rebel groups has finally come to the negotiating table. A cease-fire signed in late May is still holding, and for the first time all the decision makers – including top rebel leaders who until recently had been demonized as terrorists and commanded troops from exile – are in the same place, here in the capital, Bujumbura.


Spanish police arrest Russian mafia suspects

Graham Keeley in Barcelona

The Guardian,

Monday June 16 2008

A gaudy neo-classical mansion, Ferraris and Bentleys in the drive, a painting by Salvador Dalí on the wall and royalty for neighbours. Welcome to the world of Gennadios Petrov, the alleged Mr Big of the Russian mafia in Spain.

Petrov is said to head the Tambovskaya-Malyshevkaya gang from the sunny climes of Calvi, one of the most exclusive villages in Majorca. He counted among his neighbours Pilar de Borbón, the sister of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

Accustomed to handing out tips of €500 (£393) and not looking at the price tag when buying designer jackets, Petrov lived surrounded by tight security. But the peace at his €20m mansion was rudely interrupted when the Spanish police came knocking on Friday.

Tension mounts as Kosovo Constitution takes effect

By Dan Bilefsky

PRISTINA, Kosovo: Kosovo’s new Constitution went into force Sunday, an important milestone on its path toward full-fledged statehood. But a simmering dispute over who has authority over this land threatens to destabilize the newborn country and plunge the Balkans into crisis.

The Constitution envisions handing over executive power to the majority ethnic Albanian government from the United Nations, which has administered the province for the past nine years after NATO intervened in 1999 to halt Slobodan Milosevic’s repression of ethnic Albanians. It comes four months after Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, the culmination of a long and bloody struggle for national self-determination.

Latin America

Human cost of Brazil’s biofuels boom

By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 16, 2008

BOCAINA, BRAZIL — For as far as the eye can see, stalks of sugar cane march across the hillsides here like giant praying mantises. This is ground zero for ethanol production in Brazil — “the Saudi Arabia of biofuels,” as some have already labeled this vast South American country.

But even as Brazil’s booming economy is powered by fuel processed from the cane, labor officials are confronting what some call the country’s dirty little ethanol secret: the mostly primitive conditions endured by the multitudes of workers who cut the cane.

Biofuels may help reduce humanity’s carbon footprint, but the social footprint is substantial.

“These workers should have a break, a place to eat and access to a proper restroom,” Marcus Vinicius Goncalves, a government labor cop in suit and tie, declared in the midst of a snarl of felled stalks and bedraggled cane cutters here. “This is degrading treatment.”


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    • Mu on June 16, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Keeps us in touch with the rest of the world.  Might want

    to double-check your apostrophe use.

    Mu . . .

    • Mu on June 16, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    From the City of Sendai’s website.  Note the cute cartoon character.  One of the reasons I so love Japan:  even in the face of sadness and disaster a cute cartoon character can be found.  This would simply never happen, never in a million years, in the U.S.

    Mu . . .

  1. but, from The Sanctuary:

    SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY authorities may press criminal charges against Merced Farm Labor. Merced Farm Labor was issued not one, not two, but THREE citations in 2006 for failing to protect its workers from heat stroke, and for failing to train them in heat stress prevention. Forget the fact for the moment that Merced did not even provide toilets for these employees who worked so hard in the heat for them and to bring you and I fruit for our tables and refrigerators. I don’t even ask you to think of these ill-treated workers every time you enjoy the taste of sweet, ripe, grapes.

    But do not forget Maria Isabel Vasques Jimenez or her unborn child. Now both dead from heat exhaustion. Now both dead when they could have easily been alive.

    If only this 17 year old girl had been seen as a human being, working hard for a future, and in need of certain care and protection. Like water. And shade.

    Instead, she, like so many still are, was seen and treated like a modern-day slave, with no feelings or purpose beyond production.

    Modern-day slavery…indeed.  

    • Robyn on June 16, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Column in the LATimes by George Skelton.  Today is the day same-sex marriages begin in California.


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