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McCain Tries to Define Obama as Out of Touch
By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: July 31, 2008
WASHINGTON – After spending much of the summer searching for an effective line of attack against Senator Barack Obama, Senator John McCain is beginning a newly aggressive campaign to define Mr. Obama as arrogant, out of touch and unprepared for the presidency.
On Wednesday alone, the McCain campaign released a new advertisement suggesting – and not in a good way – that Mr. Obama was a celebrity along the lines of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Republicans tried to portray Mr. Obama as a candidate who believed the race was all about him, relying on what Democrats said was a completely inaccurate quotation.
China to Limit Web Access During Olympic Games
By ANDREW JACOBS
Published: July 31, 2008
BEIJING – The International Olympic Committee failed to press China to allow fully unfettered access to the Internet for the thousands of journalists arriving here to cover the Olympics, despite promising repeatedly that the foreign news media could “report freely” during the Games, Olympic officials acknowledged Wednesday.
Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages – among them those that discuss Tibetan issues, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown on the protests in Tiananmen Square and the Web sites of Amnesty International, the BBC’s Chinese-language news, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.
Bush Orders Revamping Of Intelligence Gathering
DNI’s Authority Boosted, Document Shows
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2008; Page A02
President Bush ordered a major restructuring of the nation’s intelligence-gathering community yesterday, approving new guidelines aimed at bolstering the authority of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) as the leader of the nation’s 16 spy agencies.
The long-awaited overhaul of Executive Order 12333 gives the DNI greater control over spending and priority-setting, and also over contacts with foreign intelligence services — a responsibility that has traditionally fallen to the CIA, according to a Bush administration document describing the changes.
Executive Order 12333, which was originally issued by President Ronald Regan in 1981, established the powers and responsibilities of the major U.S. intelligence services.
Does Bush proposal threaten access to the pill?
White House seeks to protect health-care workers who object to abortion
By Rob Stein
A Bush administration proposal aimed at protecting health-care workers who object to abortion, and to birth-control methods they consider tantamount to abortion, has escalated a bitter debate over the balance between religious freedom and patients’ rights.
The Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing a draft regulation that would deny federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not accommodate employees who want to opt out of participating in care that runs counter to their personal convictions, including providing birth-control pills, IUDs and the Plan B emergency contraceptive.
Kidnappers extract huge ransoms in forgotten part of Africa
By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers
DOSSEYE REFUGEE CAMP, Chad – Bouba Jafoul wore threadbare clothes and beat-up sandals, and his family rarely had enough to eat. But he owned 35 head of cattle, and deep in the central African jungle that made him, if not a wealthy man, then certainly a man of means.
One steamy night last year, a mob of men with guns stormed into Jafoul’s village and snatched his 7-year-old son, Karimou. One of them grabbed Jafoul by the neck and said, “We’re keeping your boy, until you pay,” he recalled.
The kidnappers set the boy’s ransom at 3 million Central African francs, about $7,500 – an almost incomprehensible sum for a villager in one of the poorest countries in the world. But they knew he’d find the money.
As many like him had done before, Jafoul sold his prized cattle and secured his son’s release after 25 days.
Kenya’s students vent frustration by attacking schools
Observers say students are reacting to outbreaks of violence that followed last year’s controversial presidential elections.
By Edmund Sanders | Los Angeles Times
from the July 31, 2008 edition
Nairobi, Kenya – In a country where education is still considered a privilege, Kenyans have been shocked by the latest violence: Students trying to burn down their schools. An unprecedented wave of student strikes and riots has closed about 250 high schools over the last month. There have been arson attacks at about half of them. Many teenagers have been arrested and thousands more sent home. One student died in a dormitory blaze.
Students cite poor facilities, overcrowding, abusive administrators, and the schools’ failure to prepare them for national graduation exams.
But to many adults, the violence seems more likely the result of spoiling young people, whom they say are involved in drug use, promiscuity, and even devil worship. Their solutions include banning cellphones in schools, restricting television, and calling for a reinstatement of corporal punishment.
Iran vows to stay on ‘nuclear path’ as UN deadline looms
Ian Black, Middle East editor
Thursday July 31 2008
Iran will continue its nuclear “path”, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted yesterday, just days before a deadline set by world powers for Tehran to accept a deal that could defuse the dispute over its nuclear programme.
Khamenei, who has the final word on all big issues in Iran, suggested there was no mood for compromise in Tehran, despite the threat of new sanctions or an attack by the US or Israel. EU officials announced new restrictions that would be implemented if Iran did not back down.
“They [the west] know that the Iranian nation is after using nuclear energy to provide electricity but they say because this work gives you capability, we will not allow it,” he was quoted as saying.
Israeli settlers in West Bank defy promise
A permanent settlement in Maskiyot could hinder a faltering peace process as Palestinian and Israeli leaders meet with US secretary of State.
By Joshua Mitnick | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the July 31, 2008 edition
Maskiyot, West Bank – For nearly three decades this outpost in the desert hills of the Jordan Valley functioned as a stillborn settlement, a temporary respite for soldiers and religious students, but never the residential community intended by Israel when it approved Maskiyot in the 1980s.
After Israel’s Defense Ministry recently approved plans to build 20 houses, Palestinians and peace process proponents warn that the settlement is a de facto violation of Israel’s promise not to establish new settlements in the West Bank – and another indication of the gloomy prospects for reaching a peace deal before President Bush leaves office.
“We’ve planted our stake,” says Yosi Hazut, was evacuated fro the Gaza Strip by Israel in 2005 and moved here six months ago. “This is a settlement like any other community in Israel. We’re not waiting for the government.”
China detains teacher for earthquake photos
· Questions about collapsed schools on internet
· Man held in labour camp for ‘re-education’
Tania Branigan in Beijing
Thursday July 31 2008
A teacher who posted photographs on the internet of schools which collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake has been sent to a labour camp for a year, a rights group said yesterday.
Liu Shaokun was ordered to serve a year of “re-education through labour”, according to Human Rights in China. The system does not require a charge or criminal trial and is not subject to court appeals. He is believed to be the third person held after questioning why so many schools were destroyed in the earthquake.
Scores of schools across the southwestern province collapsed following the 7.9 magnitude shock. In many cases, buildings around them remained intact, prompting questions about the quality of their construction.
Politician angers activists with bloody rituals>
From Andrew Buncombe in Delhi
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Many politicians talk from time to time of the need to make sacrifices but few mean it quite so literally as Kishor Samrite.
The Indian legislator has triggered outrage among animal activists after sacrificing hundreds of goats and buffaloes in a series of bloody temple rituals to thank the gods for the government’s recent victory in parliament.
As of last night, Mr Samrite had reportedly overseen the sacrifice of at least 317 animals in a famous temple located in India’s north-eastern state of Assam.
Spain cuts speed limit and turns out lights
By John Lichfield
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Spain has seen the future and it is slow, dim and uncomfortable. A swingeing series of energy-saving measures announced by the Spanish government may be a foretaste of the kind of policies which will be forced upon an energy-hungry industrial world in the coming decades.
To protests from motorists and mockery in parts of the press, the Socialist government plans to cut motorway speed limits to 50mph and town speeds to 25mph. New austerity rules will be imposed on the air conditioning and heating of all public buildings. Street-lighting will be cut by half.
Almost 50 million low-energy light bulbs will be handed out by the government in an attempt to drive high-consumption bulbs out of the market in the next four years. The government will also sponsor a project intended to introduce a million electric or hybrid electric-petrol cars on to Spanish roads by 2014.
Turkey steps back from the brink as AK Party beats court challenge
From The Times
July 31, 2008
Turkey stepped back from the brink of political turmoil yesterday when the ruling party narrowly escaped closure over its alleged Islamist tendencies.
After three days of deliberations, six of the eleven judges in the country’s Constitutional Court voted to ban the Justice and Development (AK) party, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister. Seven votes were needed for a majority verdict.
Instead the court decided to cut the party’s Treasury funding for this year by half – amounting to little more than a slap on the wrist for AK, which stirred controversy by promoting Muslim headscarves.
Pope agrees: Paraguayan leader no longer bishop
From the Associated Press
ASUNCION, PARAGUAY — Paraguay’s president-elect has received unprecedented permission from the pope to resign as bishop, the papal nuncio said today, ending a dispute over Fernando Lugo’s priestly status.
Church officials earlier insisted that Lugo, 57, would always be a bishop under church law.
“This is the first case within the church in which a bishop receives a dispensation,” Nuncio Orlando Antonini said at a news conference. “Yes, there have been many other priests the pope has left in the status of layman, but never a member of the hierarchy until today.”
Lugo also made history with April’s presidential election victory, which ended the 61-year rule of the Colorado Party in Paraguay. The former “bishop of the poor” takes office on Aug. 15.