Docudharma Times Thursday November 27



Thursday’s Headlines:

Charities can’t keep up with deepening poverty

Iraqi parliament delays troop pact vote over unrelated issues

Mbeki Aids policy ‘led to 330,000 deaths’

The arms dealer who could bring down Zuma

France finally agrees to pay damages to nuclear test victims

The Big Question: Is Greenland ready for independence, and what would it mean for its people?

Thai protests shut second airport

China’s virtual vigilantes: Civic action or cyber mobs?

At Least 100 Dead in India Terror Attacks


Published: November 26, 2008

MUMBAI, India – Coordinated terrorist attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, on Wednesday night, killing dozens in machine-gun and grenade assaults on at least two five-star hotels, the city’s largest train station, a Jewish center, a movie theater and a hospital.

Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale and execution. The attackers used boats to reach the urban peninsula where they hit, and their targets were sites popular with tourists.

Robert Fisk: ‘Nobody supports the Taliban, but people hate the government’

As he leaves Afghanistan, our correspondent reflects on a failed state cursed by brutal fundamentalism and rampant corruption

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The collapse of Afghanistan is closer than the world believes. Kandahar is in Taliban hands – all but a square mile at the centre of the city – and the first Taliban checkpoints are scarcely 15 miles from Kabul. Hamid Karzai’s deeply corrupted government is almost as powerless as the Iraqi cabinet in Baghdad’s “Green Zone”; lorry drivers in the country now carry business permits issued by the Taliban which operate their own courts in remote areas of the country.

The Red Cross has already warned that humanitarian operations are being drastically curtailed in ever larger areas of Afghanistan; more than 4,000 people, at least a third of them civilians, have been killed in the past 11 months, along with scores of Nato troops and about 30 aid workers.



As Loan Rates Fall, Borrowers Seek ‘Taste of the Bailout Pie’

Consumers Flock to Cheaper Mortgages After Federal Action

By Dina ElBoghdady

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, November 27, 2008; Page A01

Would-be mortgage borrowers have rushed to refinance their loans and even weighed plans to buy homes following the government’s move this week to loosen consumer lending.

With interest rates suddenly plummeting, “the phone is ringing, the e-mails keep coming,” said Jennifer Du Plessis, a mortgage adviser at Prosperity Mortgage, the lending arm of Long & Foster. “Real estate agents are hovering outside our office saying: ‘I’ve got another client who wants to refinance.’ ”

“Our loan officers were here well past midnight,” Bob Walters of Internet lender Quicken Loans said regarding Tuesday, when the government announced its plan. Quicken received $400 million worth of mortgage applications that day, more than quadrupling the number of loans from the day before, he said. It was on track to meet that number yesterday, too.


Charities can’t keep up with deepening poverty

Need is being felt in the white-collar workforce, with the souring economy upending professionals who were once considered reliable donors to charities.

By Duke Helfand

November 27, 2008

Catholic Charities of Orange County assembled Thanksgiving dinners for 500 families this week, filling plastic bags with frozen turkeys, cranberry sauce and other fixings. But word of the free food attracted 920 families, many of whom left empty-handed when the Santa Ana agency doled out the goods.

“There were tears in our eyes as we had to turn people away,” said executive director Terrie Montminy, who referred families elsewhere for food or invited them back the next day for smaller packages.

Charities across the country are facing the same stress this year as their busiest season approaches. Aid organizations are hobbled by dwindling resources and soaring demands for food, clothing, money and other necessities.

And it’s not only the desperately poor who are banging on their doors.

The web of poverty is expanding into the white-collar workforce, with the souring economy upending professionals who were once considered reliable contributors. The director of one Phoenix charity, for instance, says that some of his donors have become his clients.

Middle East

Iraqi parliament delays troop pact vote over unrelated issues

By Adam Ashton | McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s parliament postponed a pivotal vote on a U.S.-Iraq security agreement on Wednesday while key lawmakers sought compromises that would appease an alliance of Sunni parties.

The conditions in the pact, which would end the U.S. presence here by 2012, aren’t up for debate.

Instead, members of parliament are trying to craft a companion measure that would persuade more political blocs to back the security agreement.

Sticking points include requests to review Iraq’s de-Baathification policies that prevent members of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein’s party from working in the government, and assurances that detainees held in U.S. custody without charges will be released unconditionally.

Israel Prepares to Indict Its Premier in Double-Billing


Published: November 26, 2008

JERUSALEM – Israel’s attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, announced Wednesday that he was preparing to charge the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, with crimes including fraud and breach of trust over accusations of double-billing for plane tickets.

Mr. Mazuz will grant Mr. Olmert a judicial hearing before making a final decision on an indictment, a Justice Ministry statement released Wednesday said.

Mr. Olmert, who became prime minister in 2006, has been dogged by various corruption investigations throughout his term, but he has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.


Mbeki Aids policy ‘led to 330,000 deaths’

Sarah Boseley, health editor, Thursday November 27 2008 00.01 GMT

The Aids policies of former president Thabo Mbeki’s government were directly responsible for the avoidable deaths of a third of a million people in South Africa, according to research from Harvard University.

South Africa has one of the most severe HIV/Aids epidemics in the world. About 5.5 million people, or 18.8% of the adult population, have HIV, according to the UN. In 2005 there were 900 deaths a day.

But from the late 90s Mbeki turned his back on the scientific consensus that Aids was caused by a viral infection which could be combated, though not cured, by sophisticated and expensive drugs. He came under the influence of maverick scientists known as Aids-denialists, most prominent among whom was Peter Duesberg from Berkeley, California.

The arms dealer who could bring down Zuma

Police raid addresses owned by tycoon implicated in controversial sale of aircraft to South Africa

By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A dramatic raid on addresses in South Africa linked to a controversial international arms dealer yesterday cast fresh doubt on would-be president Jacob Zuma’s political future.

South Africa’s renowned financial crimes unit, the Scorpions, swooped on properties owned by John Bredenkamp, a businessman, erstwhile political ally of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and a man involved in a controversial arms deal that has already seen Mr Zuma’s financial adviser imprisoned.

Mr Bredenkamp is accused of improperly profiting from a deal to sell fighter aircraft to South Africa. Mr Zuma is due to face his country’s Supreme Court in the next 48 hours in connection with the same case, the outcome of which could decide the South African presidency.


France finally agrees to pay damages to nuclear test victims

• Radiation illnesses must be recognised – minister

• Veterans’ relief at end to 40-year wall of silence

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, Thursday November 27 2008 00.01 GMT

They often wore only army-regulation shorts and T-shirts to protect them from atomic explosions, and were stationed dangerously close to mushroom clouds or hosed-down contaminated equipment wearing just swimming trunks. The soldiers and civilians who worked on France’s notorious nuclear tests in the Sahara desert and south Pacific have long fought for compensation for the cancer and long-term health effects they blame on the state’s failure to protect them.

But for years France resisted, fighting veterans in the courts and building a wall of silence around the dangers of the controlled explosions.

Yesterday the French defence minister finally broke the taboo, saying a law would be introduced in January to compensate those suffering illnesses among the 150,000 army and civilians who worked on the tests in Algeria and French-owned Polynesian atolls.

The Big Question: Is Greenland ready for independence, and what would it mean for its people?>

 Why are we asking this now?

By Andy McSmith

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The people of Greenland went to the polls this week and voted 3-1 in favour of a plan for greater self-government. The rules under which oil revenues are split between Greenland and Denmark are to be revised in Greenland’s favour, with the first 75 million kroner (£8.5m) going to Greenland, and the rest split half and half. In return the island will take over responsibility for its own police force, courts and coastguard. Eventually, the annual subsidy from Denmark – currently around 3.5 billion kroner (£400 million) – will be phased out. Danish will also be replaced by Greenlandic as the island’s official language. The vote is seen as a major step towards independence for Greenland.


Thai protests shut second airport

Anti-government protesters in Thailand have forced the closure of the second airport in Bangkok, Don Mueang.


The airport was closed after opposition supporters blocked the terminal, in an apparent attempt to stop officials flying to meet PM Somchai Wongsawat.

Mr Somchai is in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, because he was unable to land in Bangkok after a trip to Peru.

Protesters have been occupying the international airport amid an escalating political crisis.

On Wednesday Mr Somchai rejected a call by army leader Gen Anupong Paochinda for new elections to end the political deadlock.

See layout of Bangkok’s airport

The prime minister says his government is legitimate and that he will continue to work for the country.

China’s virtual vigilantes: Civic action or cyber mobs?

Concerned citizens are targeting anyone from accused pedophiles to activists with ‘human flesh search engines’ that post people’s personal information online.

By Peter Ford | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the November 28, 2008 edition

BEIJING – Some call it a weapon in the hands of a righteous army, forged so that wrongdoers might be smitten. Others say it simply allows a mob of vigilantes to publicly vilify and humiliate anyone they choose to pick on through grotesque invasions of privacy.

Either way, the peculiarly Chinese Internet phenomenon known as the “human flesh search engine,” a citizen-driven, blog-based hunt for alleged undesirables, claimed a fresh victim this month when a mid-ranking government official lost his job.

Accused of accosting a young girl, Lin Jiaxiang found his name, address, phone number, and workplace plastered all over Chinese cyberspace for 250 million Internet users to see, and his alleged crime the subject of hundreds of insulting blog postings.

Mr. Lin might be thought to have gotten his just deserts, especially since the police refused to prosecute him because he’d been drunk. Grace Wang, however, a Chinese student at Duke University, was outraged when netizens back home, offended by her efforts to mediate a campus dispute between pro-Tibetan and Chinese students last March, tracked down her parents’ address and emptied a bucket of feces by their front door.

Once the actions of Ms. Wang and Lin had attracted attention in Internet chat rooms, both were quickly identified by people who recognized the photos of them posted on the Web.

1 comment

  1. The news of the day, with multiple ongoing crises in multiple locations around the world weigh heavily on many people world wide.  May all who celebrate this day in relative peace, with family and friends, be truly thankful, while at the same time remembering and doing all we can to help those less fortunate.  

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