Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports 5 Hostages Die as Mumbai Siege Persists.

    As the crisis in Mumbai approached its third day, Indian commandos fought running battles with militants on Friday, still struggling to end the murderous assault on India’s financial capital that has shaken the nation and raised perilous regional tensions with neighboring Pakistan.

    Two Americans were confirmed killed, among a total of at least eight foreigners who the Indian authorities said had died during the attacks. In addition, five bodies of Israeli citizens were removed from a Jewish center, Chabad House, after Indian commando units stormed the attackers inside the building, Israeli officials said. The terrorists had executed the hostages during the commando raid, the Indian military said.

    Shortly before night settled over the stricken city, the police said the death toll had reached 143 with the discovery of 24 bodies in the luxury Oberoi hotel, where the police had finally taken control and many guests were set free on Friday.

    Spiegel contributes with Struggling for control in the Mumbai war zone. Mumbai is India’s most progressive city. “Just days ago, Colaba, [a part of the city,] was still a relaxed café and restaurant quarter, a favorite in Mumbai, India’s most progressive city. Now, it is a war zone.” The “ongoing violence has the population wary and afraid. And nobody knows how it will end.”

    A few people in my circles are asking what if this happened in the United States?

Below the fold is a smorgasbord of five more Four at Four stories.

  1. The LA Times reports Cyber-attack on Defense Department computers raises concerns.

    Senior military leaders took the exceptional step of briefing President Bush this week on a severe and widespread electronic attack on Defense Department computers that may have originated in Russia — an incursion that posed unusual concern among commanders and raised potential implications for national security.

    Defense officials would not describe the extent of damage inflicted on military networks. But they said that the attack struck hard at networks within U.S. Central Command, the headquarters that oversees U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and affected computers in combat zones. The attack also penetrated at least one highly protected classified network.

  2. The NY Times reports Thai protesters vow to keep blockades.

    Antigovernment protesters in Bangkok girded themselves Friday for clashes with police as the government vowed to end their siege of the capital’s two commercial airports.

    Some 30 police vehicles lined a road leading to Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand’s main gateway and more than a dozen ambulances were parked beside the terminal.

    “If the police come to crack down, let them do it,” Chamlong Srimuang, a 73-year-old former army general and protest leader, told cheering supporters.

    Protesters carried a large yellow banner that read “Final Battle!!!” and stood behind razor wire and other obstacles placed in front of the main entrance to the airport.

  3. The Washington Post reports in the Obama administration, the EPA and Interior Department chiefs will be busy erasing bush’s mark. President-elect Barack Obama has said “that he would not hesitate to reverse many of the environmental policies Bush has enacted by executive order… Global warming policies are expected to mark one of the sharpest breaks between the Obama and the Bush administrations.”

    With escalating responsibilities, both agencies will need more resources after years when their budgets shrank, relatively speaking. The EPA received $7.5 billion from Congress in 2008, down from $7.8 billion in 2001. Interior has fared slightly better, getting $11.1 billion compared with $10.4 billion in 2001, but that represents more than a 10 percent cut in inflation-adjusted dollars…

    There is a long list of Democrats vying to take the helm of both agencies. The two leading contenders for EPA administrator are Mary Nichols, a favorite of Boxer’s who chairs the California Air Resources Board, and Lisa Jackson, who is in the midst of switching from heading New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection to serving as chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine…

    Regardless of who takes over at the agencies, the new leaders will face impatient scrutiny from green groups eager to change the government’s trajectory on the environment.

    Meanwhile, Spiegel reports Germany reaches Kyoto emissions commitments. “A new study shows that Germany has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions to the level pledged in the Kyoto Protocol. But a greater reliance on coal-fired power plants may soon reverse the trend.”

  4. The LA Times reports West Coast ports face struggle to maintain relevance. Problems at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, “along with smaller West Coast harbors, extend beyond the nation’s economic woes, maritime experts say, and changes on the horizon could leave the seaports struggling to keep customers.. West Coast ports will see increased competition from the Panama Canal, which is undergoing a bigger-than-expected expansion due to be completed in 2014… In addition, rising Chinese labor costs will push some manufacturing back to Mexico and South America.”

  5. Lastly, The Guardian reports Japan workers told to go home and procreate. “Japan’s workers are being urged to switch off their laptops, go home early and use what little energy they have left on procreation, in the country’s latest attempt to avert demographic disaster… Japan’s birth rate, at 1.34 – the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime – is among the lowest in the world and falls well short of the 2.07 children needed to keep the population stable.”

    A recent survey of married couples under 50 found that more than a third had not had sex in the previous month. Many couples said they didn’t have the energy for sex, while others said they found it boring.


  1. Bush says, “go out & shop”, while Japan says, “stay home & make babies”.

    I`m staying home.

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