Docudharma Times Monday December 29

One Bush Accomplishment

Doing Nothing And Liking It

Monday’s Headlines:

Under Bush, OSHA Mired in Inaction

Hundreds of migrants feared drowned in Bay of Bengal

China’s new export: farmers

Protests erupt in the Arab world against airstrikes

For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual

Belgian King Names Parliament Leader to Form Government

Shoes flung at Bush flying from shelves

Child maid trafficking spreads from Africa to US

SAfrica ends block on aid to Zimbabwe: official

Israel considers ground attack as it mobilises more troops

Olmert: fighting in Gaza will be ‘long and painful’

Rory McCarthy Jerusalem

The Guardian, Monday 29 December 2008

Israel’s cabinet yesterday approved the call-up of thousands of reservists as the military deployed tanks close to the border with Gaza while pressing on with air strikes, suggesting a major ground invasion was being considered to follow the biggest single day of conflict in Gaza since the 1967 war.

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, reportedly told a cabinet meeting the fighting in Gaza would be “long, painful and difficult”. After two days of air raids, more than 290 Palestinians have been killed, and more than 600 injured. Gaza’s hospitals, already short of supplies, had corpses lying on their floors as the morgues filled up.

In an attempt to escape the mayhem, hundreds of Gazans broke through the border fence with Egypt at Rafah, where Palestinian gunmen and Egyptian border guards traded gunfire, killing one Egyptian and one Palestinian.

Study: Murders among black youths on rise

The number killed in gun crimes has jumped 40 percent since 2000

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The number of young black men and teenagers who either killed or were killed in shootings has risen at an alarming rate since 2000, a new study shows.

The study, to be released Monday by criminologists at Northeastern University in Boston, comes as FBI data is showing that murders have leveled off nationwide.

Not so for black teens, the youngest of whom saw dramatic increases in shooting deaths, the Northeastern report concluded.

Last year, for example, 426 black males between the ages of 14 and 17 were killed in gun crimes, the study shows. That marked a 40 percent increase from 2000.



Veterans of ’90s Bank Bailout See Opportunity in Current One


Published: December 28, 2008

WASHINGTON – A tight-knit group of former senior government officials who were central players in the savings and loan bailout of the 1990s are seeking to capitalize on the latest economic meltdown, enjoying a surge in new business in their work now as private lawyers, investors and lobbyists.

With $700 billion in bailout money up for grabs, and billions of dollars worth of bad debt or failed bank assets most likely headed for sale or auction, these former officials are helping their clients get a piece of the bailout money or the chance to buy, at fire-sale prices, some of the bank assets taken over by the federal government.


Under Bush, OSHA Mired in Inaction

By R. Jeffrey Smith

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, December 29, 2008; Page A01

In early 2001, an epidemiologist at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to publish a special bulletin warning dental technicians that they could be exposed to dangerous beryllium alloys while grinding fillings. Health studies showed that even a single day’s exposure at the agency’s permitted level could lead to incurable lung disease.

After the bulletin was drafted, political appointees at the agency gave a copy to a lobbying firm hired by the country’s principal beryllium manufacturer, according to internal OSHA documents. The epidemiologist, Peter Infante, incorporated what he considered reasonable changes requested by the company and won approval from key directorates, but he bristled when the private firm complained again.


Hundreds of migrants feared drowned in Bay of Bengal

Maseeh Rahman in Delhi

The Guardian, Monday 29 December 2008

More than 300 people believed to be illegal migrants are feared to have drowned off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal after jumping into the sea and trying to swim ashore.

The Indian coastguard said yesterday it had rescued at least 99 people who had been drifting for days in the ocean.

Preliminary investigations suggest the men – aged 18 to 60 – had left Bangladesh bound for Malaysia, in six motorised boats about 45 days ago.

Coastguard commander SP Sharma said: “On Friday night, the men saw the lights of Hut Bay and over 300 jumped into the sea to swim ashore. We’ve rescued 99 in the last two days, and we’re investigating what happened.”

China’s new export: farmers

China has a shortage of land, Africa a shortage of food. So one entrepreneur had the bright idea of persuading Chinese farmers to emigrate.

 Clifford Coonan reports from Hebei province

Monday, 29 December 2008

Liu Jianjun is wearing a brightly coloured African tunic, the tall hat of a tribal leader, a string of red beads round his neck and carrying a stick with a secret knife in the handle. Beside him sits a portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong. It is a slightly incongruous scene but one that mirrors the ever-closer relationship between Asia’s economic giant China and the world’s poorest continent.

“The African people yell, ‘Mao Zedong is all right’ and they are very warm-hearted when I’m there,” says one of China’s most prominent private sector ambassadors. “The minute Chinese people get off the plane, the Africans are friendly. Chinese do not bring rifles and weapons; they bring seeds and technology.”

Middle East

Protests erupt in the Arab world against airstrikes

From The Times

December 29, 2008

Nicholas Blanford in Beirut

The Lebanese Army and United Nations peacekeepers were on alert yesterday along Lebanon’s volatile southern border with Israel as protests erupted throughout the Arab world.

Israeli jets flew low-level sorties over south Lebanon, an apparent muscle-flexing gesture to deter reprisal rocket attacks into northern Israel by Lebanon-based militants.

Hezbollah, the militant Shia group, has led calls of condemnation in Lebanon, declaring that the Israeli aerial assault on the Gaza Strip, was a “war crime and represents genocide”.

The high casualty toll in Gaza spurred thousands of Arab protesters to take to the streets. In Beirut, hundreds of flag-waving Hezbollah supporters demonstrated near the Egyptian Embassy, protesting at what they saw as a tacit green light given by some Arab countries for the Israeli attack on Hamas. Police used teargas to keep demonstrators from approaching the embassy.

For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual

The Widespread Practice of Female Circumcision in Iraq’s North Highlights The Plight of Women in a Region Often Seen as More Socially Progressive

By Amit R. Paley

Washington Post Foreign Service

Monday, December 29, 2008; Page A09


Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl, bounded into her neighbor’s house with an ear-to-ear smile, looking for the party her mother had promised.

There was no celebration. Instead, a local woman quickly locked a rusty red door behind Sheelan, who looked bewildered when her mother ordered the girl to remove her underpants. Sheelan began to whimper, then tremble, while the women pushed apart her legs and a midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. “I do this in the name of Allah!” she intoned.


Belgian King Names Parliament Leader to Form Government

Belgium’s King Albert II on Sunday appointed the president of the country’s parliament, Dutch-speaking conservative Herman van Rompuy, 61, as prime minister, palace sources confirmed.

The appointment comes a little more than a week after the previous premier resigned.

The king received van Rompuy “in audience at the Royal Palace of Laeken (and) charged him with forming a government. He accepted this mission,” a statement from the palace announced.

Van Rompuy is a lifetime member of the Christian Democratic party (CD&V) in Dutch-speaking Flanders, having served as vice president of

the party’s youth wing in the 1970s before rising through the ranks to serve as budget minister from 1993 to 1999.

A philosophy graduate with a master’s degree in economics, he also served as the party’s chief negotiator in the formation of no fewer than eight governments in the 1980s and 1990s — an experience which is likely to stand him in good stead in his new post.

Shoes flung at Bush flying from shelves>

An Istanbul cobbler capitalizes on the ‘shoe mania’ sparked by the tossing of his work.

By Yigal Schleifer | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the December 29, 2008 edition

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – For the past 10 years, model 271 has been the bestseller of Ramazan Baydan’s Ducati line of shoes. It’s got all the attributes of a workhorse – affordable and durable, chunky, yet presentable. To these winning qualities, now add another one: throwable.

According to Mr. Baydan, it was a black pair of his shoes that Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi threw at President Bush during a Dec. 14 press conference. Mr. Zaidi now stands accused of “aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit,” an offense that carries a prison term of between five and 15 years under Iraqi law. His trial begins Wednesday.

“I have seen this shoe for 10 years. I know it very well,” says Baydan, during an interview in his small shoe factory, located in a scruffy neighborhood on the edge of Istanbul.

“I have a sensitive relationship with this shoe. I designed it myself, so it’s like a father and a child. I was very happy when I saw it on the video,” he adds.


Child maid trafficking spreads from Africa to US

EDITOR’S NOTE – In Africa, children of the poor are commodities, often traded like cows or donkeys by adults who value their labor. This story on child maids is the third in an occasional series on the exploitation of African children. Each story stands on its own.

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI Associated Press Writer

Late at night, the neighbors saw a little girl at the kitchen sink of the house next door.

They watched through their window as the child rinsed plates under the open faucet. She wasn’t much taller than the counter and the soapy water swallowed her slender arms. To put the dishes away, she climbed on a chair.

But she was not the daughter of the couple next door doing chores. She was their maid.

Shyima was 10 when a wealthy Egyptian couple brought her from a poor village in northern Egypt to work in their California home. She awoke before dawn and often worked past midnight to iron their clothes, mop the marble floors and dust the family’s crystal. She earned $45 a month working up to 20 hours a day. She had no breaks during the day and no days off.

SAfrica ends block on aid to Zimbabwe: official


South Africa has reversed a block on aid to Zimbabwe because of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the neighbouring country, a presidential spokesman said Monday.

South Africa had halted aid in a bid to add pressure on President Robert Mugabe and the opposition over the formation of a national unity government.

“We have now reviewed our earlier decision in view of the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in that country. We have now started sending the aid to Zimbabwe” through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), presidential spokesman Thabo Masebe told AFP.

South Africa last month witheld 300 million rand (31 million dollars/23 million euros) of agricultural aid to Zimbabwe until an inclusive government was in place.


  1. … what Olmert thinks will be accomplished in Gaza by military means.

    This story is devastating.  The humanitarian crisis is overwhelming and I don’t see anyone showing real leadership in the region.

  2. about horrible things we’re doing to our children:

    *A 40% increase in the number of black youth killed in gun crimes in the last 8 years

    *Female Circumcision in northern Iraq

    *African child slaves for the wealthy


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