Clueless: See America Automotive Executives
Bush set to relax rules protecting species
Interior Department rushed to finish new regulation despite objections
WASHINGTON – Animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct could lose the protection of government experts who make sure that dams, highways and other projects don’t pose a threat, under a regulation the Bush administration is set to put in place before President-elect Obama can reverse them.
The rules must be published Friday to take effect before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20. Otherwise, he can undo them with the stroke of a pen.
The Interior Department rushed to complete the rules in three months over the objections of lawmakers and environmentalists who argued that they would weaken how a landmark conservation law is applied.
Shares Near 6-Year Low, With More Losses Feared
By JACK HEALY
Published: November 19, 2008
As the stock market tumbled to its lowest level in nearly six years on Wednesday, Wall Street traders and many ordinary Americans were asking the same question: Where, oh where is the bottom?
After a yearlong slide in stocks and a giant bank rescue from Washington, even some pessimists had hoped that the worst might be over. But now, after the Dow Jones industrial average fell below 8,000 on Wednesday, the financial crisis and the bear market it spawned seem to be taking a new, painful turn.
Once again, investors’ confidence in the nation’s financial industry is draining away
Robert Fisk: Once more fear stalks the streets of Kandahar
Five years after his last visit, our correspondent finds the Taliban back in charge of their spiritual home – and girls attacked with acid simply for attending school
Thursday, 20 November 2008
There is a little girl in the Meir Wais hospital with livid scars and dead skin across her face, an obscene map of brown and pink tissue. Then there is another girl, a beautiful child, Khorea Horay, grimacing in pain, her leg amputated, her life destroyed after her foot was torn to pieces. In another ward, two girls lie on their backs, a tent above their limbs. One has lost an arm, another – a 16-year-old – a leg.
Then there is the grim young man with the beard, also in the darkest pain, who looks at me with suspicion and puzzlement. He has a bullet wound in the abdomen, a great incision sutured up after the doctors found it infected. Two other young men, also bearded, cowled in brown “patu” shawls, sit beside this suffering warrior. They, too, stare at me as if I am a visitor from Mars. Perhaps that’s what I am in Kandahar. Better to be a Martian than a Westerner in a city which in all but name has fallen to the Taliban.
Auto Execs Fly Corporate Jets to D.C., Tin Cups in Hand
By Dana Milbank
Thursday, November 20, 2008; Page A03
There are 24 daily nonstop flights from Detroit to the Washington area. Richard Wagoner, Alan Mulally and Robert Nardelli probably should have taken one of them.
Instead, the chief executives of the Big Three automakers opted to fly their company jets to the capital for their hearings this week before the Senate and House — an ill-timed display of corporate excess for a trio of executives begging for an additional $25 billion from the public trough this week.
Within minutes of attacking blaze, fire crew was surrounded
The Freeway Complex fire moved so fast that a truck heading to protect homes soon after the blaze started had to be diverted to save colleagues in peril.
By Christopher Goffard
November 20, 2008
When firefighters square off against a blaze, there can come a moment when the enemy gains control, when the combination of wind and flame and tinder overmatches the hoses.
For the Corona Fire Department, that moment came at 9:23 a.m. Saturday, 22 minutes after the first 911 call reported a small brush fire in the vegetation off the 91 Freeway.
It was a distress call from Engine 5, the first truck to attack the blaze. Using a tactical frequency, the captain of the four-person crew — three men and a woman — cried out to battalion chief Mike Samuels, stationed on the freeway above:
“We’re completely surrounded. Send help.”
From his position, Samuels could see the flames tearing through the brush toward homes, pushed by 20 mph gusts of Santa Ana winds, the fire intensifying as it struck what he called “heavy fuels” — 8-foot-tall patches of oak and chaparral.
“I’ve been in the fire service 21 years, and I’ve never seen a fire move out that fast,” Samuels would say later.
Fatal grenade attack on Thai anti-government protestors
guardian.co.uk, Thursday November 20 2008 07.41 GMT
One man was killed and 29 wounded today in a grenade attack on anti-government protestors laying siege to the Thai prime minister’s office in Bangkok.
The explosion – which activist leaders blamed on the government – was the latest attack on demonstrators occupying the grounds of Government House, but it was the first fatality and marked an escalation in the violence.
Leaders of the People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest group held emergency meetings to discuss their response to the blast, heralding the prospect of further trouble amid Thailand’s existing political turmoil.
Japanese Are Irked by U.S. Interest in Pitcher
By ALAN SCHWARZ and BRAD LEFTON
Published: November 19, 2008
As far as Junichi Tazawa is concerned, the most rebellious acts in his 22 years have been ignoring his homework and sneaking home after sunrise. But as the first high-profile Japanese baseball prospect to turn down his nation’s leagues to entertain offers from Major League Baseball teams, he has found himself straining relations between baseball entities on two continents, with accusations of talent raiding and defiance of decades-long understandings.
Many Japanese baseball officials are outraged that United States teams are courting Tazawa, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, because they insist it is long-established practice for amateurs like him to be strictly off limits to major league clubs. Even some American general managers, including the Yankees’ Brian Cashman, agree.
Politkovskaya supporters condemn secret trial
• Judge overturns decision to hold case in public
• Colleagues of murdered journalist ‘appalled’
Luke Harding in Moscow
guardian.co.uk, Thursday November 20 2008 00.01 GMT
Supporters of the murdered investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya bitterly criticised a decision by a judge yesterday to hold the trial of three men accused of involvement in her killing in secret.
The case was supposed to begin yesterday in open court. But after 10 minutes the judge ruled that all proceedings would be closed to the public, citing concerns about the safety of the jury. Journalists were bundled out of the room.
Colleagues of Politkovskaya – who was shot dead two years ago outside her Moscow apartment block – condemned the decision as “shameful”. On Tuesday the judge had unexpectedly ruled that the trial would be open to the public.
Gas plant to overshadow Greek temples
Italy gives go-ahead to storage depot less than a mile from World Heritage Site
By Peter Popham in Rome
Thursday, 20 November 2008
They are among the finest survivors of ancient Greek civilisation in the Mediterranean: a line of imposing Doric temples on the southern coast of Sicily which have been listed as a Unesco World Heritage site since 1997.
But now the Italian government plans to build a huge liquid gas terminal less than a mile away from the famous Agrigento site, to the fury of environmentalists.
The site is protected by environmental laws, but the effect of these has been cancelled by the simple act of stating that the heritage site does not exist, according to Carlo Vulpio, the Corriere della Sera journalist who has been spearheading the environmentalists’ fight back.
Somali pirates seize ninth vessel in 12 days
From The Times
November 20, 2008?
Catherine Philp, Diplomatic Correspondent
The battle with pirates operating off the coast of Somalia grew yesterday when raiders seized two more ships but lost one of their own in an uneven firefight with the Indian Navy. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) described the situation yesterday as “out of control”.
The surge in hijackings came as Saudi Arabia confirmed that a ransom demand had been made for the freeing of the Sirius Star supertanker, seized at the weekend with her crew of 25 and a cargo of oil worth $100 million (£65 million).
Two more vessels – a Thai fishing boat with a crew of 16, and a bulk carrier, believed to be Greek, with an unknown number of people aboard – were seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden yesterday, bringing the total to nine vessels in 12 days.
Late on Tuesday night the Indian frigate Tabar destroyed the raiders’ “mother ship” after coming under attack from pirates firing rocket-propelled grenades, the Indian Navy said.
Talking in secret in Zimbabwe, with a ‘Mugabe man’ who isn’t really>
A senior officer of the CIO, the nation’s intelligence agency, discusses the waning loyalty to Zimbabwe’s president.
By Robyn Dixon
November 20, 2008
Reporting from Harare, Zimbabwe — The man is nervous. He’s from the “President’s Office,” and that doesn’t mean serving tea to Robert Mugabe. It’s Zimbabwe’s version of the KGB: the Central Intelligence Organization.
He says all his phones — cell and land-line — are bugged, so we’re meeting in secret at a house belonging to a go-between in suburban Harare. His voice is barely audible, and he can’t sit still. As loyalty to Mugabe wanes, disillusioned insiders like the CIO man are becoming more willing to speak out. Still, he’s worried that talking to a foreign journalist could land him in serious trouble.
In Zimbabwe, even the spies are watched.
I’m worried too, in case the meeting backfires. Mugabe’s regime routinely denies foreign journalists entry to Zimbabwe, so I have no option but to work here illegally, undercover. There’s always an element of risk.
Two Iraqis face trial over murder of Margaret Hassan, British aid worker
From The Times
November 20, 2008
Deborah Haynes in Baghdad
Two Iraqi men are to stand trial in Baghdad charged with involvement in the kidnap and murder of Margaret Hassan, the British aid worker killed in Iraq four years ago, The Times has learnt.
The net is also closing on a third man suspected of shooting Mrs Hassan, 59, in the back of the head as she stood blindfolded, gagged and helpless. A fourth man, Mustafa Salman al-Jubouri, was given a life sentence in June 2006 for his part in the crime. It was reduced to 18 months on appeal, according to the family of Mrs Hassan, who had British, Irish and Iraqi nationality.
The alleged ringleader, however, remains on the loose. He is believed to be in hiding in Syria. A number of other suspects are also at large.
An Iraqi police captain, who has been working on the case since Mrs Hassan was snatched from her car by eight gunmen in Baghdad on October 19, 2004, is determined to bring everyone to justice.
Al Qaeda No. 2 insults Obama with racial slur in new video
In what terrorism analysts say is an attempt to show that the president-elect may not meet Muslims expectations for change in the Middle East, Ayman al-Zawahiri called Obama ‘dishonorable.’
By Caryle Murphy | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
posted November 20, 2008 at 4:48 p.m. EST
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – Using a racially derogatory term, Al Qaeda’s second-in-command disparaged US President-elect Barack Obama in an apparent effort to deflate high expectations among Muslims that relations between the United States and the Islamic world will improve under an Obama administration, say Al Qaeda experts.
But Ayman al-Zawahiri’s racist demeaning of President-elect Obama as one of America’s “house negroes,” implying that he does the bidding of whites, may backfire. There is also speculation among terrorism analysts that this latest statement may reflect of Mr. Zawahiri’s weakening support base.
“This won’t play well. Zawahiri has over-reached,” writes William McCants in an e-mail. The Washington-based founder of www.jihadica.com, which monitors Al Qaeda activity on the Internet, says that after Obama’s victory racist remarks about him on jihadi websites were not universally welcomed.