Docudharma Times Friday January 2

Reflecting On The Bush Legacy?

Here’s Some Reflections: Incompetent: Abusive: Destroyers Of The Constitution And The Bill Of Rights

Reflect On That  

Friday’s Headlines:

Two Advisers Reflect on Eight Years With Bush

Iraq plans to close Iranian dissidents’ border camp

Gazans face ‘humanitarian crisis’ as Israeli raids intensify

Russia cuts off the gas supply to Ukraine

Vatican divorces from Italian law

Sri Lankan troops enter Tamil Tigers stronghold of Kilinochchi

Town Asks Kung Fu Monks for Tourism Blessings

Ghana presidential revote due in sole district

U.N. Tackles Rising Threat of Urban Hunger in Africa

No stamp of approval for Mexico bureaucrats

War and peace: Israel’s military and political options

Six days after launching Operation Cast Lead, Tel Aviv ponders whether to send the tanks in or seek a settlement with Hamas

Ian Black, Middle East editor

The Guardian, Friday 2 January 2009

Six days into Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip Israeli leaders are considering a range of military and political options that depend on what happens in a fast-moving situation with many variables they do not control. Developments on the ground, international diplomatic activity and Arab reactions will determine what happens next. Echoing the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, there is Israeli confusion and disagreement over tactics, strategy and what will constitute a victory. But Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, said yesterday he did not want a long war. The main scenarios are these:

Continuing air attacks

After more than 500 bombing missions by aircraft and helicopters with a claimed 95% success rate, high-value Palestinian targets are running out. Israeli claims of “surgical strikes” will be measured against credible reports of civilian casualties.

Climate scientists: it’s time for ‘Plan B’

Poll of international experts by The Independent reveals consensus that CO2 cuts have failed – and their growing support for technological intervention

By Steve Connor, Science Editor and Chris Green

Friday, 2 January 2009

An emergency “Plan B” using the latest technology is needed to save the world from dangerous climate change, according to a poll of leading scientists carried out by The Independent. The collective international failure to curb the growing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has meant that an alternative to merely curbing emissions may become necessary.

The plan would involve highly controversial proposals to lower global temperatures artificially through daringly ambitious schemes that either reduce sunlight levels by man-made means or take CO2 out of the air. This “geoengineering” approach – including schemes such as fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms – would have been dismissed as a distraction a few years ago but is now being seen by the majority of scientists we surveyed as a viable emergency backup plan that could save the planet from the worst effects of climate change, at least until deep cuts are made in CO2 emissions.



Steel Industry, in Slump, Looks to U.S. Stimulus


Published: January 1, 2009

The steel industry, having entered the recession in the best of health, is emerging as a leading indicator of what lies ahead. As steel production goes – and it is now in collapse – so will go the national economy.

That maxim once applied to Detroit’s Big Three car companies, when they dominated American manufacturing. Now they are losing ground in good times and bad, and steel has replaced autos as the industry to watch for an early sign that a severe recession is beginning to lift.

The industry itself is turning to government for orders that, until the September collapse, had come from manufacturers and builders.


Two Advisers Reflect on Eight Years With Bush

Bolten and Hadley Decry ‘Mythologies’

By Michael Abramowitz

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, January 2, 2009; Page A01

White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley remember conferring with President Bush during the darkest days of the Iraq war, in 2005 and 2006, when violence was out of control. In daily 7 a.m. meetings in the Oval Office, Bush reviewed “blue sheets” detailing incidents involving U.S. soldiers; he would circle the casualty figures and press his top aides for details about the deaths.

“It was pretty grim news,” Hadley recalled last week. For him, however, the sessions underscored the president’s focus. “This notion that somehow the president didn’t know what was going on, information was withheld from him in some way, he didn’t have a picture of what was going on: He got that picture” — Hadley smacked his palms together for emphasis — “at 7 o’clock every morning.”

Middle East

Iraq plans to close Iranian dissidents’ border camp

• Base was used in sabotage and assassination sorties

• US fostered sect as tool for regime change in Tehran

Jonathan Steele

The Guardian, Friday 2 January 2009

Iraq plans to close a camp for Iranian dissidents who used to cross into Iran to mount assassinations and sabotage – a decision that has sharpened political differences between Baghdad and Washington.

Camp Ashraf, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, came under Iraqi control yesterday in a broad security handover that forms part of the US withdrawal agreement concluded late last year.

Iraq’s national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, led a delegation of defence and interior ministry officials to the camp last weekend, warning its 2,500 male and 1,000 female inmates that “staying in Iraq is not an option”. The Iraqi government said it “is keen to execute its plans to close the camp and send its inhabitants to their country or other countries in a non-forcible manner”.

Gazans face ‘humanitarian crisis’ as Israeli raids intensify

Aid agencies warn of looming disaster with supply shortage inflicting more suffering on families

By Kim Sengupta in Jerusalem

Friday, 2 January 2009

After six days of Israeli bombardment, aid agencies say that Gazans are facing a humanitarian crisis with air strikes causing severe problems in getting food, medicine and fuel supplies to the besiegedcivilian population.

The assessment, by several international relief organisations, contradicts the statement by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, during a visit to Paris yesterday that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce”. While relief shipments were allowed into Gaza by the Israeli authorities in the days before the start of the offensive, they came after weeks of virtually no supplies getting through, the agencies point out.


Russia cuts off the gas supply to Ukraine

From The Times

January 2, 2009

Helen Womack in Moscow

Ukrainians woke up with new year hangovers to the news that Russia had cut their gas supplies over unpaid bills and their refusal to sign a contract.

Moscow was quick to lay the blame on Kiev for the breakdown of talks on a new contract for 2009, accusing Ukraine of blackmail for suggesting that it might siphon off gas intended for Western Europe. Ukraine assured Europeans that they would continue to receive gas.

Gas was flowing to Western Europe as Gazprom, the Russian state-owned monopoly, had stipulated, said a spokesman for Naftogaz, of Ukraine. The Ukrainian gas company secures gas transit to Europe in compliance with Gazprom orders.

Vatican divorces from Italian law

The Vatican City State, the world’s smallest sovereign state, has decided to divorce itself from Italian law

By David Willey

BBC News, Rome

Vatican legal experts say there are too many laws in Italian civil and criminal codes, and that they frequently conflict with Church principles.

With effect from New Year’s Day, the Pope has decided that the Vatican will no longer automatically adopt laws passed by the Italian parliament.

All Italian laws will be examined one by one before they are adopted.

Under the Lateran treaties signed exactly 80 years ago between Italy and the Pope, and the Italian Parliamentary system, Italian laws were applied automatically.


Sri Lankan troops enter Tamil Tigers stronghold of Kilinochchi

From Times Online

January 2, 2009

Rhys Blakely in Mumbai

Sri Lankan Government forces fought their way into the Tamil Tigers’ main stronghold on Friday for the first time in a decade. The assault on the rebel base could bring the country’s brutal 25-year civil war to its endgame.

Government troops entered the northern town of Kilinochchi from three directions, the army said. The move follows an escalation in fighting in the area in recent weeks that has left hundreds of people dead and injured.

A defence ministry spokesman said: “The fall of Kilinochchi is imminent as the security forces have already entered into the Kilinochchi town perimeter from the northern, southern and western edges of Kilinochchi town”.

Town Asks Kung Fu Monks for Tourism Blessings>



Published: January 1, 2009

GUANDU, China – The cluster of temples at the heart of this dusty, traffic-clogged town are picturesque reminders of China’s faded Buddhist past. On a recent day, dogs warmed themselves in the winter sun as a few toothless devotees bowed before smiling Buddhas. The only sounds were the occasional clanging of wind chimes and the splash of coins tossed into a mucky pond.

While soothing to some, the tranquillity is galling to Guandu’s city fathers, who recently spent $3 million to rebuild the four temples. They had become schools and warehouses during an earlier era, when the Communist Party sought to suppress nearly all religious activity, including that by Buddhists.


Ghana presidential revote due in sole district

By AKWASI APPRATWUM-MENSAH, Associated Press Writer

TAIN, Ghana – Residents of a single district that could decide the outcome of Ghana’s presidential election cast their ballots on Friday, despite attempts by the ruling party to stop the vote.

Voters in the tiny western district of Tain were unable to vote in Sunday’s tight nationwide runoff because not enough ballots were distributed to polling stations there.

After a near-complete tally of more than 9 million ballots from all the other districts of the West African nation, opposition leader John Atta Mills is ahead of his ruling party rival Nana Akufo-Addo by only around 23,000 votes.

Some 53,000 people are registered to vote in Tain, so ballots there could now sway the election either way.

During the Dec. 7 first round, Atta Mills narrowly won Tain, by 16,211 votes to Akufo-Addo’s 14,935.

U.N. Tackles Rising Threat of Urban Hunger in Africa

High Food Prices Spur World Food Program, Usually Employed in Rural Crises, to Find Tactics That Work in Crowded Cities


MONROVIA, Liberia — Escalating hunger in African cities is forcing aid agencies accustomed to tackling food shortages in rural areas to scramble for strategies to address the more complex hunger problems in sprawling slums.

The United Nations World Food Program, the world’s largest food-aid group, has plenty of experience trucking food into rural Africa, responding to shortages sparked by drought, famine and war. But in urban areas — where, despite widespread poverty, hunger wasn’t a significant issue until recently — the hurdles are different.

In the vast and crowded slums, with many unnamed streets and dwellings without running water or electricity, it is difficult to identify who’s most in need of help.

Latin America

No stamp of approval for Mexico bureaucrats

Mexico is in a league of its own when it comes to red tape. It’s gotten so bad that the government is even rewarding citizens for choosing the paperwork best fit for the dustbin.

By Ken Ellingwood

January 2, 2009

Reporting from Mexico City — Arturo Sandria visited government agencies not once, not twice, not three times. (Hint: Try an even dozen.) He stood in mind-numbing lines, filled out forms, took another number, filled out more forms and, he says, paid $250 in bribes.

But after six months, he was still in pursuit of his prize: a permit to paint his house.

“Tedious,” Sandria declared of his paper chase. “They ask for a lot of things that aren’t really necessary.”

On a recent day, Sandria, a 50-year-old electronics technician, waited in (yet another) line at (one more) overcrowded government agency. He clutched a dogeared manila folder stuffed with documents outside a hulking downtown branch of Mexico City’s government, his 13th such visit.


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  1. The renewed reporting of the Hamas activity and the Israeli response has me concerned for Obama.  Bush’s administration gave the definite impression that we would save the Israelis from having to make a first nuclear strike. Our economic crisis requires Obama’s attention.  I am a fan of his new Secretary of State, and I think she is capable of getting the factions to the table.  But I fear there will be terrible pressure put on Obama, possibly with lasting repercussions, to issue a statement about his committment to Israel’s well-being and continued existence that will have some rider proclaiming a willingness to “go all the way”.  This issue could easily override the issue of his Senate replacement as a talking point in the media.  Nothing to do but watch and listen.  I’m hopeful that this year things will go as they should.

  2. The following two poems were sent to a friend, a ‘Nam brother, who has a now long running newsletter similar to the G.I. Anti-War movement newsletters of the ‘Nam era found on bases, and In-Country ,around the world back than.  

    Gaza Has Become A Warsaw Ghetto

    Palestinian child demonstrates against

    the slaughter of her people.

    Generation after generation after generation.

    Like the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto,

    three generations ago.

    If the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust

    could see what is now happening in Palestine,

    they would stand in front of the Palestinians.


    Because there is solidarity in the persecuted.

    Gaza has become a Warsaw Ghetto.

    Mike Hastie

    Vietnam Veteran

    December 31, 2008

    This one comes from JM and She writes:

    Something very different: a poem.

    Have you heard of Erich Fried who is often referred to as the greatest modern, Jewish, poet?

    He was born in Vienna in 1921 and escaped to England, with his mother, after his father was tortured to death by the Gestapo, in 1938.

    Because of his experiences with racism and Fascism he became involved in the Palestinian cause.

    He was a leader in the fight against both Fascism and Zionism.

    I’m sending a copy of his best poem, in my opinion. It was first published in 1988 just before he died.

    Please take the time to read it. I think it’s wonderful.

    A Jew to Zionist Fighters, 1988

    What do you actually want?

    Do you really want to outdo

    those who trod you down

    a generation ago

    into your own blood

    and into your own excrement

    Do you want to pass on the old torture

    to others now

    in all its bloody and dirty detail

    with all the brutal delight of torturers

    as suffered by your fathers?

    Do you really want to be the new Gestapo

    the new Wehrmacht

    the new SA and SS

    and turn the Palestinians

    into the new Jews?

    Well then I too want,

    having fifty years ago

    myself been tormented for being a Jewboy

    by your tormentors,

    to be a new Jew with these new Jews

    you are making of the Palestinians

    And I want to help lead them as a free people

    into their own land of Palestine

    from whence you have driven them or in which you plague them

    you apprentices of the Swastika

    you fools and changelings of history

    whose Star of David on your flags

    turns ever quicker

    into that damned symbol with its four feet

    that you just do not want to see

    but whose path you are following today


  3. The 10 most overlooked stories of 2008.

    What a year of huge stories: the Dow descended, Obama ascended and the world had the pleasure of getting to know a family of Palins, a country called Georgia, a pregnant man (remember that?) and the opportunity to say buh-bye to scores of commercial banks. But amid all the economic crises and political campaigns, much was happening beyond the front pages of America’s newspapers: attacks in Africa and Afghanistan, important health legislation, even a few Pentagon snafus that largely escaped the public’s attention. What follows is NEWSWEEK’s list of 10 stories that deserved more ink and airtime in 2008. And tell us which events and people you think were undercovered during the year, in our comments section below. The best responses will be featured on Readback, our feedback blog. In the meantime, our picks:

    1. Already at War in Afghanistan

    2. Chaos in Congo  

    3. U.S. Nuclear Fuses Arrive in Taiwan  

    4. Insurance Coverage for Mental Health  

    5. Iraq Goes Ignored

    Though studies vary, 2008 was likely the year when casualties hit the 1 million mark in Iraq. So why are news outlets pulling their correspondents from Baghdad bureaus, and where did all those Iraq headlines go? Ironic, considering that Obama was elected partly on a get-out-of-Iraq platform.

    6. Solar Energy? Not So Hot.    

    7. Our New Missile-Defense Program …in India

    8. A Kick in the Knee to Venezuelan Relations  

    9. Fairly Fighting AIDS … Finally  

    10. Church Refuses Protection From Pedophiles

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