John McCain Parties Like Its
September 10, 2001
With A Mind To Match
Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
Published: June 19, 2008
BAGHDAD – Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.
Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP – the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company – along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.
Retired teacher detained in China after decrying shoddy construction
Chinese authorities have detained a retired teacher who criticized the shoddy school construction that led to the deaths of thousands of…
By Ching-Ching Ni
Los Angeles Times
BEIJING – Chinese authorities have detained a retired teacher who criticized the shoddy school construction that led to the deaths of thousands of children in May’s devastating earthquake, a Hong Kong human-rights group said Wednesday.
The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said Zeng Hongling, who wrote about official corruption in school construction and post-quake relief efforts, was detained June 9 in Chengdu on charges of “inciting state subversion.”
One of the essays Zeng wrote for the U.S.-based Chinese-language Web site www.observechina.com was titled “Earthquake relief efforts fully reveal the true face of party officials.”
Paulson To Urge New Fed Powers
Bank Would Help Police Wall Street
By Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 19, 2008; Page D01
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. plans to call today for the Federal Reserve to be given new, explicit powers to intervene in the workings of Wall Street firms to protect the financial system, adapting his vision of how the financial world should be regulated to reflect the lessons of the collapse of Bear Stearns.
“Our nation has come to expect the Federal Reserve to step in to avert events that pose unacceptable systemic risk,” Paulson plans to say in a speech today, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Washington Post. But the central bank “has neither the clear statutory authority nor the mandate to anticipate and deal with risks across our entire financial system.”
Iowa flooding could be man’s fault, experts say
Where some blame days of rain, others point to an altered landscape
By Joel Achenbach
As the Cedar River rose higher and higher, and as he stacked sandbags along the levee protecting downtown Cedar Falls, Kamyar Enshayan, a college professor and City Council member, kept asking himself the same question: “What is going on?”
The river would eventually rise six feet higher than any flood on record. Farther downstream, in Cedar Rapids, the river would break the record by more than 11 feet.
Four charged over killing of Politkovskaya
Luke Harding in Moscow
Thursday June 19 2008
Russian investigators yesterday charged four men in connection with the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, adding that the preliminary inquiry into her death was now over.
They said they had charged three men with involvement in the killing of Politkovskaya, who was shot dead outside her Moscow apartment in October 2006, and an officer from the Federal Security Service (FSB) – Russia’s post-KGB spy agency – with extortion and abuse of office. All four have been in prison since August.
The investigators have apparently been unable to identify who ordered Politkovskaya’s killing. Officials have publicly accused a Chechen, Rustam Makhmudov, 34, as being the hit man
Transsexual singer faces jail after questioning Turkey’s military
By Nicholas Birch in Istanbul
Thursday, 19 June 2008
With her bee-stung lips and long permed black hair, Bulent Ersoy, a transsexual and one of Turkey’s most popular singers, is no stranger to controversy. Now she finds herself on trial for trying to turn the public against the country’s military.
The charges stem from remarks Ms Ersoy made earlier this year on the hugely popular television show Popstar Alaturka that called into question Turkey’s deeply ingrained militarism. She suggested that it was not worth sacrificing soldiers’ lives in Turkey’s conflict with the Kurdish separatist PKK group. “I am not a mother, nor ever will be, but I would not bury my child for someone else’s war,” Ms Ersoy said.
President Mugabe’s mobs target opposition families
From The Times
June 19, 2008
Jan Raath in Harare
The families of Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders are being targeted for brutal execution in the latest twist to the brutal electoral violence gripping the country.
With Robert Mugabe seeking to stifle the challenge to his power before a presidential run-off vote on June 27 the most recent victim of the his supporters was the wife of the unofficial mayor of Harare.
Abigail Chitoro was so badly beaten by the mob that dragged her and her four-year-old son from their home that even her brother-in-law struggled to identify the body.
The clothes she was wearing, her distinctive haircut and the blindfold that Zanu (PF) supporters forced her to wear as they firebombed her home gave the only clue to her identity.
Simon Mann names Sir Mark Thatcher as coup plotter
From The Times
June 19, 2008
Martin Fletcher in Malabo
Simon Mann, the Old Etonian mercenary, has placed Sir Mark Thatcher right at the heart of the plot to overthrow the President of the oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in 2004.
In electrifying testimony before a court in the tiny West African state yesterday, Mann flatly contradicted Sir Mark’s insistence that he knew nothing about the attempted coup d’état and gave money unwittingly.
Burma (Myanmar) boots medics, citing no need
Authorities have ordered Asian doctors in the cyclone-hit south home. The urgent need is for volunteers who bring basic care to far-flung villages, some aid workers say.
By Simon Montlake | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the June 19, 2008 edition
Bangkok, Thailand – Having led Thailand’s first medical mission last month to cyclone-ravaged Burma (Myanmar), Pichit Siriwan, a doctor, was on standby for another two-week tour. But last week he got word that Burmese authorities no longer needed the services of his 30-person team.
The notice came as part of a broad drawdown of Asian medics in the disaster zone – another entry, perhaps, in the ledger of international outrage against a junta whose deep suspicion of foreign influence has slowed aid efforts since a May 2-3 cyclone killed tens of thousands of people.
For weeks, aid agencies have warned of the threat of disease to survivors and called for greater international assistance in affected areas, which are under tight military control
Taleban ‘cleared from Kandahar’
A senior Afghan official says Nato and Afghan forces have cleared out Taleban militants from the outskirts of the southern city of Kandahar.
Kandahar governor Assadullah Khalid told reporters that Taleban fighters had fled Arghandab district.
He said the Taleban had suffered heavy casualties in the fighting. Nato has not confirmed the report.
Hundreds of people fled their homes in Arghandab district ahead of fighting between troops and militants
Nato spokesman Mark Laity told the Associated Press news agency that the military operation in Kandahar was progressing “methodically and successfully” and meeting very little resistance.
Israel seeks Lebanon talks after Gaza pact
· Approach may foreshadow deal on missing soldiers
· Officials warn that Hamas ceasefire is fragile
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
Thursday June 19 2008
Israel said yesterday it wanted to open direct, bilateral peace talks with Lebanon, as officials confirmed they have agreed a ceasefire with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to begin in the Gaza Strip from dawn today.
The talks with Lebanon would include discussions over the Shebaa Farms, an area of land held by Israel and claimed by the Lebanese.
The overture appears to have been encouraged by the US administration and comes after indirect talks between Israel and Syria were recently restarted for the first time in eight years. The approach to Lebanon may indicate that an agreement is close at hand with the Lebanese group Hizbullah over the return of two Israeli soldiers captured at the start of the 2006 Lebanon war and who are now feared dead.
Gaza truce takes hold, skepticism abounds
By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Guns went quiet as a six-month truce between Israel and Gaza Strip militants took effect early Thursday, but there was widespread skepticism about its ability to hold.
The cease-fire, which Egypt labored for months to conclude, also obliges Israel to ease a punishing blockade that has driven ordinary Gazans even deeper into poverty and confined them to their tiny seaside territory.
A day of intense Palestinian rocket and mortar fire and Israeli air reprisals on Wednesday underscored just how fragile the agreement would be. Shortly before the truce took hold, a Hamas militant was killed in an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza that the military said targeted a rocket squad.
Colombia’s coca crop booms despite US-backed crackdown
Thursday June 19 2008
Colombia’s coca crop increased by 27% last year, a surge which has shocked the United Nations and raised fresh questions about Bogotá’s US-backed “war” on drugs. Cultivation unexpectedly boomed in the country that is the world’s leading supplier of cocaine, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual report, published yesterday.
“The increase in coca cultivation in Colombia is a surprise and shock: a surprise because it comes at a time when the Colombian government is trying so hard to eradicate coca; a shock because of the magnitude of cultivation,” the organisation’s executive director, Antonio Maria Costa, said in a statement.
Some 99,000 hectares, or 382 square miles, of coca crops were found in Colombia last year, up from 78,000 hectares in 2006. Coca cultivation increased by 4% in Peru and 5% in Bolivia, the survey reported, revealing an Andean-wide surge in the production of the raw ingredient for cocaine.