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Iraq Takes Aim at Leaders of U.S.-Tied Sunni Groups
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
Published: August 21, 2008
BAGHDAD – The Shiite-dominated government in Iraq is driving out many leaders of Sunni citizen patrols, the groups of former insurgents who joined the American payroll and have been a major pillar in the decline in violence around the nation.
In restive Diyala Province, United States and Iraqi military officials say there were orders to arrest hundreds of members of what is known as the Awakening movement as part of large security operations by the Iraqi military. At least five senior members have been arrested there in recent weeks, leaders of the groups say.
Edgy Georgians now thinking about resisting invasion
By Tom Lasseter | McClatchy Newspapers
GORI, Georgia – After more than a week of Russian troops occupying his town, Kishvardi Taturashvili said the time for resistance was drawing near.
The Russian armored fighting vehicles that are blocking routes in and out of Gori are slowing the flow of humanitarian aid and stifling trade, he said.
Travel is controlled by Russian soldiers; a McClatchy reporter was turned back at checkpoints, and had to slip in via a footbridge.
US candidates face up to image problem
· Obama seems too anxious and McCain lacks emotion
· Facial and vocal analysis shows poll race weakness
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday August 22 2008
Barack Obama, who is generally regarded as a gifted orator, would do well to find time to unwind before he delivers the speech of his lifetime to the Democratic party’s convention next week.
A new analysis of Obama’s voice patterns and the delivery of his speeches made available to the Guardian yesterday, found the Democratic candidate somewhat restricted in his range of facial expression.
Specifically, Obama’s face is locked in an almost permanent attitude of anxiety, with his forehead muscles contracted.
Independent Lieberman upends political world
Conn. senator wooed, criticized?
By Michael Kranish
Globe Staff / August 21, 2008
WASHINGTON – Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, sits in a position of extraordinary power in the presidential campaign, simultaneously courted and detested by members of both political parties.Democrats court him because he holds the balance of power in the US Senate. A registered Democrat, Lieberman won reelection as an independent and would shift control of the Senate to Republicans if he declared himself a member of the GOP. But many Democrats are appalled that their 2000 vice presidential candidate is now a visible and vocal supporter of Republican John McCain, and that his name is even being bandied about as a possible running mate.
Beyond the bright lights, Japan’s biggest slum is nation’s dark secret
Life in a district with few women, children or jobs but plenty of drink and poverty
Friday August 22 2008
All it takes is a short train ride to be transported from the affluent, neon-lit streets of central Osaka to the grinding poverty of Japan’s biggest slum.
However, you won’t find Kamagasaki on any official maps. Osaka’s bureaucrats would rather the world knew as little as possible about the maze of dingy streets, tarpaulin-covered parks and high-rise dosshouses that symbolise growing social inequality in the world’s second-biggest economy.
When jobs are plentiful, life in Kamagasaki continues largely unnoticed by the rest of Japan.
Army chief: We cannot beat the Taliban without reinforcements
By Terri Judd in Lashkar Gah
Friday, 22 August 2008
Troop numbers in Afghanistan must increase to contain the surge in violence, says the commander of British forces in Helmand.
In an interview with The Independent ahead of Gordon Brown’s visit to the province yesterday, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said: “We are probably still on a growth trajectory before we get to the stage when the UK presence can begin to thin out.” The commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade estimated it would be up to five years before Britain could consider dropping troop numbers.
Senior military officers are reported to have held preliminary talks on increasing British soldiers in Afghanistan from 8,000 to 12,000 – a dramatic difference from the 3,300 initially expected to hold the ground when the UK force took over Helmand in 2006.
Desperate battle to identify charred bodies as relatives demand justice
By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid
Friday, 22 August 2008
Angry relatives demanded justice yesterday as Spanish investigators combed through the wreckage of the plane that crashed in Madrid’s airport on Wednesday, killing 153.
“I’ll kill the bastards who did this” shouted one man outside the convention centre near the airport that has been set up as a temporary mass mortuary. Another bereaved and weeping relative, asked angrily: “If they knew the plane was faulty, why did they let it fly?”
The mass grief was deepened by the painfully slow process of identifying the badly charred bodies of their loved ones.
Comment: Valery Gergiev relishes role on world stage
From Times Online
August 22, 2008
Richard Morrison, Chief Culture Writer
Nobody else was ever going to conduct this concert. Valery Gergiev, the most talked-about maestro in the world today, is not only Ossetian by birth (his wife and children still live there) but also a close friend of Vladimir Putin.
At 55 he is also by far the most influential wheeler-dealer in the arts world of post-communist Russia. From the Russian point of view he is the perfect choice: the living embodiment of the view that Ossetians are far closer to Russians in temperament, politics and culture than to Georgians.
Not that Gergiev is like anybody else. He has a Rasputin-like presence on the concert platform – dark, unsettling and mesmerising – and a tsar-like reputation for dragging the venerable but ailing Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg out of its post-perestroika doldrums.
Yemen confronts plight of child brides
Widespread poverty and deep-rooted tradition keep young girls at risk for early marriage.
By Ginny Hill | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 22, 2008 edition
Sanaa, Yemen – Two months ago, at the start of the school vacation, 12-year-old Reem was forced to marry her 30-year-old cousin.
“While my hair was styled for the ceremony, I thought of ways to set fire to my wedding dress,” she says. “When I protested, my dad gagged me and tied me up. After the wedding, I tried to kill myself twice.”
Reem is the latest child bride to run from her husband’s arms into the media spotlight. But she is not the youngest girl to escape from domestic violence and sexual abuse in recent months. This spring, 9-year-old Arwa and 10-year-old Nujood became the first “tiny voices” to alert the world to Yemen’s widespread practice of child marriage.
The girls’ stories have instigated a campaign against the practice, which is believed to be a consequence of widespread poverty as parents unable to provide for their children give, and in some cases sell, them into matrimony.
Protest boats leave Cyprus for Gaza >
By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS, Associated Press Writer
LARNACA, Cyprus – Two boats carrying members of a U.S.-based activist group left Cyprus for Gaza early Friday to try and break Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory.
The boats – the 70-foot Free Gaza and 60-foot Liberty – left the southern port of Larnaca about 10 a.m. for the estimated 30-hour trip.
Members of the Free Gaza protest group said some 40 activists from 16 countries – including an 81-year-old Catholic nun – will attempt to break the blockade Israel imposed on Gaza last year. They hope other rights groups will follow their example.
Sudanese: ‘What Arab-African rift?’
In Sudan’s Arab north, Arabs marry, go to school, and work side by side with Africans from Darfur. The divide portrayed in the West means little to people here.
By Heba Aly | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 22, 2008 edition
Dongola, Sudan – Ask Abbas Adam Ibrahim whether he is Arab or African, and he does not quite know how to respond. “Both,” the Sudanese man says, after slight hesitation.
Mr. Adam comes from the Fur tribe, of Darfur – commonly understood to be an African tribe, under persecution by Sudan’s Arab-dominated government.
Last month, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, saying “evidence shows that al-Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity.”
But for Sudanese Arabs and Africans coexisting peacefully outside Darfur, these racial distinctions are not so clear.
Adam, for example, believes he has some Arab blood.
Mexico moves to curb drug crime wave
President Calderon proposes new anti-kidnapping squads, special prisons, cellphone tracking and aid for local forces.
By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 22, 2008
MEXICO CITY — Facing wide public indignation over Mexico’s crime epidemic, President Felipe Calderon on Thursday proposed new steps to fight kidnapping and other violent offenses.
He called for anti-abduction squads, special high-security prisons with separate areas for kidnappers, closer tracking of cellphones and more aid for local authorities.
Calderon summoned governors and police officials from across Mexico to chart a way out of a crisis that has dominated the news and put the nation’s leaders on the defensive.
Government officials, representing all three main political parties, and activists filled an ornate hall in the National Palace with resolute-sounding talk that was often long on generalities.
The gathering, formally known as the National Public Safety Council, endorsed Calderon’s proposals, which carried target dates for completion and calls for watchdog panels to monitor progress.