And There Was No Singing
Oil consumers ask for boost in output
AOMORI, Japan – Leading energy-consuming nations urged oil producers Saturday to boost their output to counter soaring prices threatening the world economy, while they pledged to develop clean energy technologies and improve efficiency.
The five nations – the United States, China, Japan, India and South Korea – differed, however, on how urgently oil subsidies should be phased out, with Washington backing bold movement while India and China warned of political and economic instability.
Each Party Is Set to Hunt The Other’s Usual Ground
By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 8, 2008; Page A01
The 2008 general election will pit the best-organized nomination campaign in the history of modern Democratic politics against the battle-tested machinery of the Republican Party, with both Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) determined to shake up an electoral map that has been virtually static over the past two elections.
Democrats enjoy a highly favorable electoral climate at this start of the general election, created by gloomy attitudes about the state of the country and economy, President Bush’s low approval ratings and negative perceptions of the GOP.
Oglala Sioux could regain Badlands national parkland
By Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 8, 2008
BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, S.D. — The southern half of this swath of grasslands and chiseled pink spires looks untouched from a distance. Closer up, the scars of history are easy to see.
Unexploded bombs lie in ravines, a reminder of when the military confiscated the land from the Oglala Sioux tribe during World War II and turned it into an artillery range. Poachers who have stolen thousands of fossils over the years have left gouges in the landscape. On a plateau, a solitary makeshift hut sits ringed by empty Coke cans and shaving cream canisters. It is the only remnant of a three-year occupation by militant tribal activists who had demanded that the land be returned.
Now the National Park Service is contemplating doing just that: giving the 133,000-acre southern half of Badlands National Park back to the tribe. The northern half, which has a paved road and a visitor center, would remain with the park system.
Tokyo man goes on stabbing spree
A man armed with a knife has killed five people and injured 12 others in central Tokyo, Japanese media say.
The incident occurred in the Akihabara district, a shopping area known as Electric Town that is popular with young people and tourists.
A suspect, said to be 25-year-old Tomohiro Kato, has been arrested near the scene.
The stabbing falls on the anniversary of a brutal knife attack at a primary school in 2001.
Jiro Akagi, a police spokesman, confirmed Mr Kato’s arrest and identity, but gave no further details. Earlier reports suggested he could have been a gangster.
For Studies in English, Koreans Say Goodbye to Dad
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: June 8, 2008
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – On a sunny afternoon recently, half a dozen South Korean mothers came to pick up their children at the Remuera Primary School here, greeting one another warmly in a schoolyard filled with New Zealanders.
The mothers, members of the largest group of foreigners at the public school, were part of what are known in South Korea as “wild geese,” families living separately, sometimes for years, to school their children in English-speaking countries like New Zealand and the United States. The mothers and children live overseas while the fathers live and work in South Korea, flying over to visit a couple of times a year.
Kremlin leaves BP shaken, but it won’t stir
Amid Bond-style scheming, Russia is muscling in on oil company TNK
Sunday June 8 2008
Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel From Russia With Love follows a series of plots and counter-plots between British and Russian intelligence agencies, the shady machinations of Smersh, the Soviet assassination agency, and a predicable plan to trap Bond by setting him up with an attractive Russian blonde.
The battle for the future of oil firm TNK-BP has many of those ingredients (though not the femme fatale) and involves the reputations of some of the most powerful men in business and politics. Among the cast of characters are Russia’s new President, Dmitri Medvedev, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin; BP’s boss, Tony Hayward; and a triumvirate of billionaires who are BP’s Russian partners: Viktor Vekselberg, Mikhail Fridman and Len Blavatnik.
Peter Millar meets Vaclav Havel
From The Sunday Times
June 8, 2008
Under a cloudless sky, by the banks of the Vltava beneath Prague Castle, a young man in jeans is knocking out REM’s Losing My Religion for smiling beer drinkers at waterfront terraces and tourists in their pedalos.
Prague in spring 2008 could be a mirror image of that blindly optimistic season 40 years ago – except that there are no clouds on the horizon in the form of thousands of Warsaw Pact tanks massing on the borders.
The man chiefly responsible for the Czech Republic’s resurgence, a small, shy, fragile figure who has survived the ravages of cancer, sits in his private office a few streets away, anxiously reading the reviews of his first play in 20 years.
Voters feel bite of Robert Mugabe’s Crocodile
From The Sunday Times
June 8, 2008
Jon Swain and John Follain in Rome
As Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace flaunted their presence in Rome last week – he as a controversial guest at a United Nations food summit defending the brutal rule that has left Zimbabwe bleeding and impoverished, she closeted in a luxury hotel – a powerful group of military and security chiefs masterminding the president’s election battle was leaving nothing to chance.
Led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a sinister former spymaster known as “the Crocodile” who recently took control of the ruthless Joint Operations Command that now effectively runs the country, a violent crackdown was stepped up against the opposition and the voters who had the temerity to support it
Lawyers flee Zimbabwe as Mugabe regime cracks down: activists
Activists say Zimbabwe may be facing an exodus of human rights lawyers like Makoni because of a crackdown by President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Rights lawyer Andrew Makoni hopes he is safe now as he sits in his new office here, but he remains shaken after packing up and leaving Zimbabwe recently out of fears he would be killed for his work.
“My departure was so sudden I had to leave my family behind,” said Makoni, who has represented Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. “They will be joining me once their visas are sorted.”
The last couple months have been especially perilous, the activists said, with Mugabe’s 28-year reign over the country in jeopardy ahead of a June 27 presidential run-off.
Lawyers have been routinely threatened or arrested, testing even the most hardened among them, they said.
New forces fraying U.S.-Saudi oil ties
By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 8, 2008
WASHINGTON — For decades, Saudi Arabia worked with its dominant customer, the United States, to keep world oil markets stable and advance common political goals.
But the surging price of oil, which soared more than $10 a barrel Friday to a record-high $138.54, has made it plain that those days are over. New forces, including a weak dollar and an oil-thirsty Asia, have blunted the United States’ leverage and helped sour the two countries’ relationship.As gasoline prices have risen, the White House has unsuccessfully exhorted the Saudis to step up production, and Congress has threatened retaliation. But the situation now is a far cry from the days when the U.S. economy dominated the direction of the petroleum market.
“That gave us leverage,” said Greg Priddy, an oil analyst at the Eurasia Group, a New York-based risk assessment firm. “There’s certainly a perception that the power equation has changed.”
US military arrests 2 suspected militiamen in Iraq
By LAUREN FRAYER, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD – U.S. soldiers in Baghdad captured an Iraqi arms dealer and “assassination squad” leader responsible for trafficking Shiite extremists in and out of neighboring Iran for training, the military said Sunday.
The arrest reinforced long-standing U.S. allegations that Iran arms, trains and funds Shiite Muslim militiamen inside Iraq – charges that Tehran denies. The arrest also coincided with a two-day visit to Iran by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his second such trip in a year.
Chávez suffers military and policy setbacks
Published: June 8, 2008
On the same day Colombia said it had captured a Venezuelan national guard officer carrying 40,000 AK-47 assault rifle cartridges believed to be intended for leftist guerrillas, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said Saturday he would withdraw a decree overhauling intelligence policies that he had made earlier that week.
The rare reversal by Chávez came amid intensifying criticism in Venezuela from human rights groups.
The capture of the Venezuelan officer in eastern Colombia could reignite tensions between the neighboring countries over Venezuela’s support for the rebel group FARC.
Colombia’s attorney general, Mario Iguarán, said Saturday that security forces had captured the national guard officer carrying cartridges that the Colombian authorities believe were intended for the FARC.
Sculptor Jorge Pardo: Is it art or furniture?
By Anne-Marie O’Connor, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 8, 2008
PERHAPS IT is the polymorphic exuberance of Los Angeles sculptor Jorge Pardo that made him seem such a natural to reinvent L.A. County Museum of Art’s display of pre-Columbian art.
Pardo has spent his career so restlessly straddling the borders of sculpture, design and furniture that he has drawn humorous comparisons to IKEA and Martha Stewart. If you can’t afford his luminous, geometric outdoor installations in massive concrete, you can always hope for a lamp. His lush colors and dancing forms make their way into houses, interiors, chairs, even clocks.