Docudharma Times Sunday November 23

More Drama Than A

Soap Opera A Clinton Nomination    

Sunday’s Headlines:

Gay-rights activists protest Prop. 8 at Capitol

Gurkhas brave hail of fire for comrade’s body

India shocked by discovery of first Hindu terror cell

Somalia sinks deeper into a state of total disintegration

World’s ships held to ransom by pirates’ growing greed

Socialists fear civil war after Royal defeat

Iceland protest ends in clashes

Israel fears US will dither while Iran goes nuclear

Iraq needs security pact for order, officials say

Obama Vows Swift Action on Vast Economic Stimulus Plan


Published: November 22, 2008

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama signaled on Saturday that he would pursue a far more ambitious plan of spending and tax cuts than anything he outlined on the campaign trail, setting the tone for a recovery effort that could absorb and define much of his term.

In the Democrats’ weekly radio address, Mr. Obama said he would direct his economic team to craft a two-year stimulus plan with the goal of saving or creating 2.5 million jobs. He said it would be “a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face.”

Mr. Obama said he hoped to sign the stimulus package into law soon after taking office on Jan. 20. He is already coordinating efforts with Democratic leaders in Congress, who have said they will begin work next month.

Militants and military brace for a winter of war in Afghanistan

Normally the fighting slows when the harsh weather sets in, but this year it is likely to be different.

By Laura King

November 23, 2008

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — In recent years, the first snow falling on the jagged mountain peaks of Afghanistan has ushered in a seasonal slowdown in fighting between insurgents and the Western forces that overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

This winter looks to be different. Snow and icy terrain aside, both sides have made it clear that they plan to keep fighting, each contending that the harsh conditions favor them more than their enemy.

“We’ll be pursuing them, and pursuing them aggressively, whatever the conditions, and they know this,” said Canadian Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, chief spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, a vow amplified by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, in a speech in Washington on Tuesday.



Banking Regulator Played Advocate Over Enforcer

Agency Let Lenders Grow Out of Control, Then Fail

By Binyamin Appelbaum and Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, November 23, 2008; Page A01

When Countrywide Financial felt pressured by federal agencies charged with overseeing it, executives at the giant mortgage lender simply switched regulators in the spring of 2007.

The benefits were clear: Countrywide’s new regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision, promised more flexible oversight of issues related to the bank’s mortgage lending. For OTS, which depends on fees paid by banks it regulates and competes with other regulators to land the largest financial firms, Countrywide was a lucrative catch.


Gay-rights activists protest Prop. 8 at Capitol

 John Wildermuth, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Opponents of Proposition 8 might have to go back to the ballot to reverse the ban on same-sex marriage, speakers told a crowd of about 5,000 at a loud and enthusiastic gay-rights rally in front of the state Capitol on Saturday.

Although the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to Prop. 8 early next year, preparations already are being made to fight the battle for marriage rights all over again if the court doesn’t overturn the constitutional amendment passed by voters in November, said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.


Gurkhas brave hail of fire for comrade’s body

Troops in Helmand carry a fallen rifleman over 100m of open ground amid a Taliban barrage

Mark Townsend, Sunday November 23 2008 00.01 GMT

Gurkha soldiers refused to leave a dead comrade behind enemy lines even though they knew they would face ‘extreme fire’ from Taliban forces.

The first accounts of the courageous recovery of the body of the first Gurkha killed in Afghanistan can be revealed today as British troops continue to defend the strategic former Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala in Helmand province.

Braving withering fire from fortified Taliban positions, men from the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Gurkha Rifles, located the body of Rifleman Yubraj Rai and then carried it more than 100m across open ground.

India shocked by discovery of first Hindu terror cell

At least 10 people, including monk and army officer, held over bombings initially blamed on Islamists

By Andrew Buncombe in Delhi

Sunday, 23 November 2008

India is in something of a state of shock after learning from official sources that its first Hindu terror cell may have carried out a series of deadly bombings that were initially blamed on militant Muslims. The revelation is forcing the country to consider some difficult questions.

At least 10 people have been arrested in connection with several bomb blasts in the Muslim-dominated town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra in September, which left six people dead. But reports suggest that police believe the cell may also have carried out a number of previous attacks, including last year’s notorious bombing of a cross-border train en route to Pakistan, which killed 68 people. Among the alleged members of the cell are a serving army officer and a Hindu monk.


Somalia sinks deeper into a state of total disintegration

Millions have fled their homes in terror; a raped 13-year-old has been stoned to death for ‘adultery’; aid workers have been murdered by Islamist militias. While the world’s attention is on the pirates off its coast, the failed African state is being ripped apart by violence.

Peter Beaumont, Sunday November 23 2008 00.01 GMT

Zam Zam Abdi fled Mogadishu after being threatened with death by the hardline Islamist militia – the Shabab. The message from the armed group once allied to the Union of Islamic Courts, the coalition that briefly seized power in 2006, was simple: if she continued working for her women’s rights organisation in the Somali capital, she would be killed. The warning was posted on her office gates. But it is what happened to a friend and colleague, working for another organisation, that persuaded her to escape. He was shot dead and the same note left on his body.

‘Most of us had to leave,’ she said. ‘We had emails and phone calls telling us to stop working. They used an expression famous in Somalia: Falka aad ku jirtid maka baxeeysa. May ama haa? It means – “Stop what you are doing or we will act. Yes or no?” Then someone spoke on the radio – a local leader called Sheikh Mahmoud – delivering the same warning.’

World’s ships held to ransom by pirates’ growing greed

The 1,000 or so Somalis creating chaos in the Indian Ocean are living like kings, and there’s little anyone can do to stop them

By David Randall

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Even by the outlaw standards of Somalia, the mayhem being created by its pirates is extraordinary. This weekend, as negotiations reportedly continue over a $25m ransom demand for the return of a Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying two million barrels of oil, the impact of the country’s buccaneers is scarcely credible. There are 14 ships and 268 crew still in captivity, including one that has on board 33 Russian battle tanks; no fewer than eight of the vessels have been seized in the past 14 days alone; urgent talks are going on between nations and international bodies over how best to defeat the hijackings; navies are on standby to put more vessels into the area; some of the world’s leading carriers are having to reroute ships thousands of miles out of the pirates’ way, and wartime-style convoys, the latest one of nine ships escorted by a Russian frigate, are now being formed. A quarter of the entire Indian Ocean has swiftly been turned into a marine badlands, and the law of the seas is, at present, powerless to stop it.


Socialists fear civil war after Royal defeat

From The Sunday Times

November 23, 2008

Matthew Campbell in Paris

Civil war loomed among France’s feuding Socialists after a party leadership ballot ended yesterday in a virtual dead heat between the two female contenders amid accusations of cheating and calls for a rerun.

Martine Aubry, the 58-year-old mayor of Lille, declared victory by a margin of only 42 votes that was immediately contested by Ségolène Royal, her bitter rival, who demanded another ballot.

The official results gave Aubry, a former minister, 50.02% of the 134,784 votes cast by party members, compared with 49.98% for the 55-year-old Royal, the party’s presidential candidate last year.

Iceland protest ends in clashes>

 Protesters in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik have clashed with police during a demonstration over the handling of the financial crisis.


Several hundred protesters gathered outside the city’s main police station to demand the release of a man jailed in a previous demonstration.

Five people were injured when police used pepper spray to disperse the group after some tried to storm the building.

Iceland faces a sharply contracting economy over the financial collapse.

The group outside the police station broke away from a much larger group of several thousand people who had gathered outside parliament to demand the government’s resignation.

Middle East

Israel fears US will dither while Iran goes nuclear

From The Sunday Times

November 23, 2008

Uzi Mahnnaimi, Tel Aviv

Mounting fears that the United States will do nothing to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power will be outlined by Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, when he meets President George W Bush in Washington tomorrow.

Israel is concerned that Bush will pass the Iranian hot potato to Barack Obama, the president-elect, while the last chance of destroying Tehran’s nuclear bomb-making programme may be passing.

A Pentagon source told The Sunday Times earlier this year that Bush had given Israel an “amber light” to carry on with military preparations to attack Iranian nuclear sites

Iraq needs security pact for order, officials say

By Campbell Robertson and Katherine Zoepf Published: November 22, 2008

BAGHDAD: Raising the specters of a reborn insurgency, foreign attack and even piracy if a security agreement with the United States is not finalized, Iraq’s top security officials at a news conference on Saturday urged Parliament to ratify the accord that took nine months to negotiate.

The United States has said its troops will have to pull back to bases unless the agreement, which would govern the presence of American forces, is ratified by the end of this year.

At the news conference on Saturday, Abdul Qadir al-Obaidi, the minister of defense, and Jawad Kadem al-Bolani, the minister of the interior, made grim forecasts of a near future without American support and batted down conspiracy theories about the agreement, which would cover the forces through the end of 2011.