Oh The Irony
Of The First Story
Bush chides Beijing over rights
US President George W Bush has expressed “deep concerns” over China’s human rights record in a speech on the eve of the Beijing Olympics.
“The US believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings,” he said in the Thai capital Bangkok.
He praised China’s economy but said only respect for human rights would let it realise its full potential.
Mr Bush has been criticised by some campaigners for going to the Games.
He was due to fly to Beijing following the speech in Bangkok, a stop on his final trip to Asia before he leaves office in January.
Foreign Activists Manage to Pierce China’s Broad Security Apparatus
By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, August 7, 2008; Page A01
BEIJING, Aug. 6 — China’s intense efforts to block any protest that would mar the Olympic Games were challenged Wednesday by foreign activists equally bent on diverting attention to issues as varied as Tibetan independence, the crisis in Darfur and religious freedom. Two American and two British protesters slipped through a smothering Olympic security net, climbed a pair of lampposts and unfurled banners demanding freedom for Tibet near the new stadium where the Beijing Games are to open Friday night. In Tiananmen Square, three American Christian activists spoke out against China’s rights record and protested its population control policies.
500: Deadly U.S. Milestone in Afghan War
By KIRK SEMPLE and ANDREW W. LEHREN
Published: August 6, 2008
Not long after Staff Sgt. Matthew D. Blaskowski was killed by a sniper’s bullet last Sept. 23 in eastern Afghanistan, his mother received an e-mail message with a link to a video on the Internet. A television reporter happened to have been filming a story at Sergeant Blaskowski’s small mountain outpost when it came under fire and the sergeant was shot.
Since then, Sergeant Blaskowski’s parents, Cheryl and Terry Blaskowski of Cheboygan, Mich., have watched their 27-year-old son die over and over. Ms. Blaskowski has taken breaks from work to watch it on her computer, sometimes several times a day, studying her son’s last movements.
Anthrax suspect Bruce Ivins’ emotional state is detailed
The government releases documents indicating that the scientist’s mental illness flared around the time of the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings.
By Tom Hamburger, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
10:32 PM PDT, August 6, 2008
WASHINGTON — Bruce E. Ivins, the bioweapons scientist who apparently killed himself as the government was preparing to indict him in the 2001 anthrax attacks, had a long history of mental illness that flared just before mail contaminated with the fatal spores was received in New York, Florida, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.
Newly released government documents show that in the months before the mailings that led to the deaths of five people and made 17 ill, Ivins — who had worked at the Army’s top biodefense laboratory for 28 years — told a friend that he had “incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times” and feared that he might not be able to control his behavior.
Details of Ivins’ disturbed emotional state, including his possession of firearms and a makeup kit and his obsession with a sorority, were presented Wednesday as the Justice Department explained — first to those directly affected by the anthrax attacks, then to the public at large — the government’s case against him.
The death of a nation
The fate of Belgium should interest all Europeans, since what is happening there now could be repeated on a continental scale
Thursday August 07 2008 09:00 BST
Belgium is in danger of falling apart. For more than six months, the country has been unable to form a government that is able to unite the French-speaking Walloons (32%) and Dutch-speaking Flemish (58%). The Belgian monarch, Albert II, is desperately trying to stop his subjects from breaking up the state.
Apart from the king (who might be out of a job), who cares? First of all, the Walloons do. Although the French-speaking Belgians started the European industrial revolution in the 19th century, they are now living in a deprived rustbelt in need of federal subsidies, a substantial amount of which comes from taxes paid by the more prosperous, hi-tech Flemish. A handful of rightwing Dutch dreamers care, too, for they have visions of uniting Belgian Flanders with the Dutch motherland.
Berlusconi buys Campari villa ‘to save heritage’
By Hilary Clarke in Rome
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Hounded from his normal summer retreat in Sardinia by too many guests and prying journalists, Silvio Berlusconi has bought himself some peace and quiet in the form of a historic mansion on the banks of Lake Maggiore.
Italian newspapers confirmed yesterday that the paperwork was almost completed for the Italian Prime Minister’s purchase of the 30-room neo-classical Villa Correnti in Lesa, on the beautiful northern Italian lake for an undisclosed sum. Known locally as Villa Campari because it was once owned by the Garavoglia family of the pink aperitif fame, the new property has ample potential for landing a helicopter on the lakeside, making it both discreet and easily accessible for politics and diplomacy.
The tragic last moments of Margaret Hassan
When a renowned British aid worker was kidnapped in Iraq, the world was horrified. Herbody was never recovered, but her execution was captured on video and sent to Al Jazeera,the Arab satellite channel. Robert Fisk watched it and reveals why it has never been broadcast
Thursday, 7 August 2008
She stands in the empty room, a deplorable, terrible, pitiful sight. Is it Margaret Hassan? Her family believe so, even though she is blindfolded. I’m not sure if videos like this should ever be seen – or perhaps the word is endured – but they are part of the dark history of Iraq, and staff of the Arab Al Jazeera satellite channel have grown used to watching some truly atrocious acts on their screens.
The “execution” – the cold-blooded, appalling murder of Margaret Hassan, the Care worker who was a friend as well as a contact of mine – is among the least terrible of the scenes that lie in the satellite channel’s archives.
In Iraq, troops balance fighting and lending a hand
Counterinsurgency efforts require US soldiers to shift from fighting to peacekeeping, but many feel ill-prepared to conduct investigations and interact with Iraqis.
By Tom A. Peter | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 7, 2008 edition
Baghdad – A few months ago, Sgt. First Class Robert Rollheiser and his platoon were locked in fierce battle in Sadr City with the Mahdi Army (JAM), a Shiite militia. Today, they’re surrounded by a group of locals just a few miles from the city where a woman has accused some local boys of belonging to JAM.
Upon investigation, it appears she wanted to get the attention of US soldiers to seek their help in mitigating a family dispute that arose when her son refused an unattractive bride. The alleged JAM members were, in fact, the bride’s brothers and had threatened the picky groom-to-be. Having determined this, Sergeant Rollheiser tells the group, “You need to call the police. We don’t handle these types of problems. I am not Dr. Phil.”
When major fighting ended almost overnight in Baghdad in late May, US soldiers had to make a sharp transition from fighters to peacekeepers.
President Musharraf of Pakistan to be impeached
From Times Online
August 7, 2008
Zahid Hussain in Islamabad
Political tension heightened in Pakistan today as it was confirmed that President Musharraf is to be impeached.
The leaders of the two main parties in the coalition, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) reached an agreement to force him to stand down in the early hours of this morning.
Asif Ali Zardari, the head of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party and Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League( N) faction, will formally request that he steps down, and impeach him through parliamentary measures if he refuses to do so.
A senior member of the ruling coalition said a joint charge sheet against the president is being drawn up. It will leave Mr. Musharraf with options to defend himself before parliament or quit before the vote.
China’s leaders are resilient in face of change >
By Jim Yardley
BEIJING: As Beijing was starting construction on its main Olympic stadiums four years ago, China’s vice president and leading political fixer, Zeng Qinghong, warned the 70 million members of the ruling Communist Party that the party itself could use some reconstruction.
Zeng argued that the “painful lessons” from the collapse of other Communist parties in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe could not be ignored. He said China’s cadres needed to “wake up” and realize that “a party’s status as a party in power does not necessarily last as long as the party does.”
In Kenya, two protagonists and the conciliators
In January, one of Africa’s most stable democracies was violently ripping itself apart. How was it saved? In Part 3 of a four-part special report, the key players tell what happened.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Nairobi, Kenya – William Ruto might seem an odd choice as a peace negotiator. He has the burly frame of a boxer, and a political reputation to match.
In the weeks before he sat down at Kenya’s peace table, he was known for his impassioned campaign speeches in his home district in the Rift Valley. Mr. Ruto’s critics, including Human Rights Watch, accuse him of igniting ethnic violence in the region where some of the worst fighting occurred.
White farmer’s ordeal in Zimbabwe
Mike Campbell has fought efforts to seize his farm. Though shaken by a brutal attack on his family by Mugabe’s militiamen, he remains undeterred.
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 7, 2008
CHEGUTU, ZIMBABWE — The ancient chestnut horse, Ginger, stands on the veranda near the farmhouse door, waiting for a treat. But the old farmer and his wife do not come.
The farm dogs leap like dancers, extravagantly pleased to have visitors. The cats bask in the sun. Four red hens peck busily in the flower beds. The garden is alive with bird chatter. But the house stands silent and empty.
No one has lived here since late June, when Mike Campbell, 74, and his wife, Angela, were attacked by militants associated with Zimbabwe’s ruling party, which targeted white farmers as well as opposition supporters in the recent election violence.
The beating was so brutal that Campbell’s friends didn’t recognize photographs taken of him after the nine-hour ordeal. Angela, 67, says her faith sustained her when the men wanted to cut off her fingers because her rings had gotten stuck.
Venezuelans protest Chavez’s new socialist push
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 7
CARACAS, Venezuela – Riot police used tear gas Wednesday as they blocked hundreds of Venezuelans protesting what they call new moves by President Hugo Chavez to concentrate his power. The demonstrators said a blacklist barring key opposition candidates from elections and a series of socialist decrees are destroying what’s left of their democracy.Though the protest of about 1,000 people chanting “freedom!” was small compared to past marches, there is a growing public outcry over the sidelining of key government opponents ahead of state and local elections in November.Chavez opponents also are outraged by 26 laws the president just decreed, some of them mirroring the socialist measures voters rejected in a December referendum.