Docudharma Times Monday November 17

Phil Gramm Cares Not

About What His Polices Have Wrought  

Monday’s Headlines:

Winds relent, but fires persist

Government near to collapse, says Somalia leader

Rebel leader tells UN envoy of ceasefire but fighting rages in Congo

New taps? Or Iraqi security? East Europeans answer the call (cheaply)

War, death and animation: Cartoon film stirs Israel’s conscience

Suspected ETA military chief arrested in France

For Europe, Obama revives positive image of America’s unique identity

Karzai Makes Offer to Taliban

Tibetan exiles discussing new path to autonomy

Latin jitters over Obama’s free-trade policies

Facing Deficits, States Get Out Sharper Knives


Published: November 16, 2008

LOS ANGELES – Two short months ago lawmakers in California struggled to close a $15 billion hole in the state budget. It was among the biggest deficits in state history. Now the state faces an additional $11 billion shortfall and may be unable to pay its bills this spring.

The astonishing decline in revenues is without modern precedent here, but California is hardly alone. A majority of states – many with budgets already full of deep cuts and dependent on raiding rainy-day funds or tax increases – are scrambling to find ways to get through the rest of the year without hacking apart vital services or raising taxes.

Murder At the Drum Tower

Beijing is pumping more than half a trillion dollars into the Chinese economy in order to stave off unrest. It has good reason to worry.

By Melinda Liu | NEWSWEEK

People who knew Tang Yongming say they never imagined he could do such a horrible, senseless thing. A few minutes after noon on Aug. 9, just 12 hours after the start of the 2008 Olympics, Tang, 47, savagely knifed a visiting American couple inside Beijing’s 13th-century Drum Tower. Then he jumped 130 feet to his death from the ancient landmark’s western balcony. Minneapolis businessman Todd Bachman-father-in-law of U.S. men’s indoor-volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon-died of stab wounds. Bachman’s wife, Barbara, survived, despite life-threatening injuries. Their guide, a young Chinese woman, was also hurt, although less seriously. Tang remains an enigma. “There was nothing abnormal about him, absolutely nothing,” says Wang Yongxian, a prim, businesslike community worker who tried to help Tang find a new job five years ago, after his previous employer let him go. Wang’s colleague Xu Guofang agrees: “He wasn’t just ‘relatively’ ordinary. He was simply ordinary. Period.”



Obama Wrote Federal Staffers About His Goals

Workers at Seven Agencies Got Detailed Letters Before Election

By Carol D. Leonnig

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, November 17, 2008; Page A01

In wooing federal employee votes on the eve of the election, Barack Obama wrote a series of letters to workers that offer detailed descriptions of how he intends to add muscle to specific government programs, give new power to bureaucrats and roll back some Bush administration policies.The letters, sent to employees at seven agencies, describe Obama’s intention to scale back on contracts to private firms doing government work, to remove censorship from scientific research, and to champion tougher industry regulation to protect workers and the environment.


Winds relent, but fires persist

Santa Anas subside and humidity rises at three major blazes in Southern California. Agencies line up aid for displaced families, and most schools plan to open Monday.

By Tami Abdollah Gale Holland and Phil Willon

November 17, 2008

A lull in the fierce, desert-born Santa Ana winds that pushed three devastating wildfires through Southern California delivered the first major break in days to fire crews from Anaheim Hills to Santa Barbara on Sunday, although authorities warned that shifting winds could splinter off erratic blazes and threaten homes for at least another day.

The gravest threat late Sunday was along the border of Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, as the fire charged toward the canyons and hillsides of Diamond Bar, Chino Hills and Brea.

The so-called Freeway Complex fire caused authorities to order more than 26,000 residents to evacuate and destroyed at least 179 homes, most of them in Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills. Firefighters spent day and night Sunday beating back the fire’s northern march along the 57 Freeway and its stubborn hold on Tonner Canyon north of Brea.

Forecasters predicted more hot, dry weather for today, but without the type of wind that whipped up flames through the weekend. Authorities warned of poor air quality throughout the region today, and classes have been canceled at some schools near fire zones in Orange County.


Government near to collapse, says Somalia leader

• Islamists control most of country, president admits

• MPs urged to return as insurgents near capital

Xan Rice in Nairobi, Monday November 17 2008 00.01 GMT

President Abdullahi Yusuf of Somalia has admitted that his government is on the verge of collapse and that Islamist groups now control most of the country.

In a speech to Somali MPs gathered in the Kenyan capital Nairobi at the weekend, Yusuf said that the government only had a presence in the capital Mogadishu and in Baidoa, “and people are being killed there every day. Islamists have taken over everywhere else.”

His frank admission confirms what is known but seldom publicly acknowledged by those with a stake in Somalia’s future, from Ethiopia, whose continued occupation unites the different Islamist groups against a common enemy, to the UN and western countries, which have backed the warlord-heavy government for years.

Rebel leader tells UN envoy of ceasefire but fighting rages in Congo

From The Times

November 17, 2008

Rob Crilly in Jomba

His rebel fighters have helped to force a quarter of a million Congolese villagers from their homes in the past three months and kept a region in turmoil. Yesterday, however, General Laurent Nkunda emerged from the bush in a smart suit and fine Italian shoes to do what he does best.

For three hours he entertained visiting dignitaries with promises of a ceasefire.

He talked, kissed babies and wooed the international media, even as his followers engaged government troops in heavy fighting.

Middle East

New taps? Or Iraqi security? East Europeans answer the call (cheaply)

David Batty, Monday November 17 2008 00.01 GMT

First came the Polish plumbers, overturning the natural order by tackling U-bends in a more reliable and affordable way than their established British rivals. Now there is another field in which east Europeans are driving well-paid Brits out of work – on the frontline in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The market in which ex-military can earn six-figure sums as private security guards overseas is drying up, with salaries in sharp decline and contracts increasingly being offered to cheaper foreign soldiers, the Guardian has learned.

The National Association of Security Professionals (Nasp), an organisation for those working in the private security industry, said former British soldiers are being laid off by companies in Iraq who are turning to east Europeans instead. The number of Britons providing security in Iraq has fallen from a peak of about 5,000 in 2004-05 to nearer 2,000 this year.

War, death and animation: Cartoon film stirs Israel’s conscience

An acclaimed new cartoon film has stirred Israel’s conscience about its responsibility for the notorious 1982 massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Ben Lynfield reports from Jerusalem

Monday, 17 November 2008

Until a matter of months ago, very few Israelis realised that their army fired flares to light up Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps while Lebanese Christian militiamen committed the notorious massacre of Palestinian civilians there in 1982.

But Ari Folman, who as a 19-year-old soldier fired some of the flares, makes their descent through the sky over Beirut’s beachfront one of the recurring images of Waltz With Bashir, his “animated documentary” that premiers in Britain this week.

In Israel, the film has rekindled discussion about the divisive invasion of Lebanon that was initially billed by Ariel Sharon, who was defence minister at the time, as a limited push to halt PLO rocket attacks, and the extent of Israeli responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre where the estimated number of victims ranged from 700 to more than 3,000. Folman has said he had no idea the massacre was being committed when he shot the flares.


Suspected ETA military chief arrested in France


Monday, 17 November 2008

The suspected military leader of Basque separatist rebel group ETA has been arrested in south western France, the French interior ministry said today, the biggest blow to the organisation in months.

Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, known by his alias “Txeroki” or “Cherokee”, was arrested in France’s mountainous Pyrenean region, near the Spanish border, said the interior ministry statement, which misspelled his surname as Asiazu.

For Europe, Obama revives positive image of America’s unique identity>

 US exceptionalism had largely been seen here as a messianic rationale for use of power by a nation assuming special prerogatives.

By Robert Marquand | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the November 17, 2008 edition

PARIS – “What then is this American? This new man?”

The question came in 1782 from J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, a French writer/farmer in New York. A lot of smart French folk, like Mr. Crevecoeur, have been “onto” America from the start. Alexis de Tocqueville, visiting in the 1830s, said American democracy, while imperfect, was the wave of the planet’s future.

Europe’s early observations prefigured a concept now known as American exceptionalism: Did the New World, with claims for equality, the end of kings, a refuge of possibility, embody a special destiny for humanity?

In Europe, Barack Obama’s election has revived the concept. US exceptionalism has largely been seen negatively here in recent decades, a messianic rationale for use of power, in Vietnam and Iraq, by a nation assuming special prerogatives.

“The idea of exceptionalism is viewed as a smoke screen for American imperialism,” says French writer Dominique Moisi


Karzai Makes Offer to Taliban

 Afghan Promises To Protect Leader If He Negotiates

By Candace Rondeaux

Washington Post Foreign Service

Monday, November 17, 2008; Page A14

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 16 — As international pressure mounts for negotiations with insurgents, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that he would guarantee the security of Taliban chief Mohammad Omar if he decides to enter into talks.

Striking a defiant tone, Karzai said during a news conference in the Afghan capital that if the Taliban leader agreed to negotiate a peace settlement with Karzai’s government, he would resist demands from the international community to hand over Omar to U.S. authorities.

Tibetan exiles discussing new path to autonomy

By ASHOK SHARMA, Associated Press Writer

DHARMSALA, India – Tibetan exile leaders opened weeklong discussions Monday over the direction of their movement to win autonomy from China, after the Dalai Lama, the region’s exiled spiritual leader, expressed frustration over years of fruitless talks with Beijing.

The meeting in northern India, called by the Dalai Lama, follows the exiled Buddhist leader’s comments last month bemoaning the lack of any progress by his envoys in talks with the Chinese government since 2002.

Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile, called for an “open and frank discussion” and new ideas.

He said in an opening speech to the hundreds of delegates that the meeting may not necessarily lead to a new approach with China and that any new path needs to have “the clear mandate of the people.”

Latin America

Latin jitters over Obama’s free-trade policies

Business elites and conservative governments worry about his opposition to free-trade deals.

By Sibylla Brodzinsky | Correspondent

and Sara Miller Llana | Staff writer

from the November 17, 2008 edition

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA; AND MEXICO CITY – As a “citizen of the world,” Munir Rodriguez says he was thrilled to see Barack Obama win the US presidency. But as a consultant for Colombia’s fresh-cut-flower industry, which has been counting on the approval of a free-trade deal between the two counties, the election outcome means uncertainty for the future of his clients.

“With Obama, everything is up in the air,” says Mr. Rodriguez.

Throughout his campaign – which received significant support from US organized labor – Mr. Obama said he would oppose a free-trade deal with Colombia negotiated by the Bush administration, and suggested he may seek to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

His campaign statements have raised concerns among Latin America’s business elites and conservative governments of a more closed, protectionist America under Obama. But many hold out hope that, as president, Obama will take a different view from candidate Obama.

1 comment

    • RiaD on November 17, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    i’m late to your news today…..

    thank you for collecting news for me!

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