Docudharma Times Saturday January 10

Bush The Liberator

The Liberator Who Liberated Nothing  

Saturday’s Headlines:

More Americans obese than merely overweight

On the trail of Pakistan’s Taliban

China’s reluctance to reform

Big chill: Bulgarians battle to keep warm

The hospital hit: patient’s honest answer costs drug baron his life

Gaza: international plan hatched to bring back Fatah

Iraq’s novice political candidates embrace campaigning

$3m ransom drops in for Somali pirates

Gaza Strikes Reverberate in Egypt

Oil giant comes in from the cold

Exxon funded global warming denial for years. Yesterday, in an astonishing U-turn, it called for the imposition of green taxes.

By Stephen Foley in New York

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The boss of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, has called for a carbon tax to tackle global warming, marking a volte-face by the firm once described by Greenpeace as Climate Criminal No 1. Assailed from all sides by scientists and a new cadre of US politicians, led by the President-elect, Barack Obama, the landmark concession by Rex Tillerson represents a nod to realpolitik after years when the company denied the existence of man-made global warming.

Exxon had already dropped its funding of lobby groups which deny the science of climate change and begun to take a softer public line, but even Mr Tillerson admitted that propounding a carbon tax had stuck in the craw until recently. However, with European-style “cap and trade” rules governing carbon emissions moving up the agenda in the US, a carbon tax may be the least worst option, he said. Environmental groups gave a sceptical response to Exxon’s U-turn, calling it a deliberate attempt to torpedo the movement for outright carbon caps and any early switch to alternative energy.

Plan to Jump-Start Economy With No Manual


Published: January 9, 2009

WASHINGTON – The fresh evidence on Friday of the economy’s downward spiral focused even more attention on two questions: Is the stimulus package being pushed by President-elect Barack Obama big enough? And will the component parts being assembled by Congress provide the most bang for the buck?

With the Federal Reserve having just about reached the limit of how much it can help the economy with cuts in the interest rate, Washington’s ability to end or at least limit the recession depends in large part on the effectiveness of the big package of additional spending and tax cuts that Mr. Obama has made the centerpiece of his agenda



Obama Under Pressure On Interrogation Policy

Some See Harsh Methods as Essential

By Michael Abramowitz, Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, January 10, 2009; Page A01

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his nominees to head his national security team on Friday. But now Obama begins a perilous balancing act to fulfill his pledge to make a clean break with the detention and interrogation policies of the Bush administration while still effectively ensuring the nation’s security.

Obama named retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair director of national intelligence and former congressman and White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta as his CIA director.


More Americans obese than merely overweight

Latest statistics show numbers have flipped and now 34 percent are obese


WASHINGTON – The number of obese American adults outweighs the number of those who are merely overweight, according to the latest statistics from the federal government.

Numbers posted by the National Center for Health Statistics show that more than 34 percent of Americans are obese, compared to 32.7 percent who are overweight. It said just under 6 percent are “extremely” obese.

“More than one-third of adults, or over 72 million people, were obese in 2005-2006, the NCHS said in its report.

The numbers are based on a survey of 4,356 adults over the age of 20 who take part in a regular government survey of health, said the NCHS, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The figures come from the 2005-2006 survey and are the most current available.


On the trail of Pakistan’s Taliban

The authorities in Pakistan have often seemed in cahoots with home-grown terrorists. Not any more. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark report from Islamabad and the border badlands as a new intelligence unit gets serious about tackling the bombers.

Adrian Levy

The Guardian, Saturday 10 January 2009

As the first reports of explosions at the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai reached Islamabad just after 9pm on November 26, Pakistan’s counter-terrorism investigators twitched. Later that night, CCTV cameras inside Mumbai’s Victoria railway station relayed footage of a blood-spattered concourse and the faces of some of the gunmen. The guests fleeing from the hotels told TV reporters that their assailants were speaking Urdu and were hunting down British and American passport holders. Almost immediately, over the border, the Pakistani investigators began pulling out files and photographs that accompanied the “Red Book” – their most-wanted list.

Pakistan’s foreign minister condemned the attacks and expressed his sympathy to the families of the 173 killed

China’s reluctance to reform

By Willy Lam

While expectations for policy changes are not high as Beijing marks the 30th anniversary of the reform era, a clutch of forward-looking cadres and intellectuals are taking advantage of the occasion to press for bolder measures, particularly in political liberalization.

This is despite the fact that the leadership under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao seems totally preoccupied with economic woes such as slackening exports and fast-rising unemployment. Moreover, conservative elements within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hierarchy have decried perceived Western support for the Dalai Lama as signs of a larger “conspiracy” against the Chinese socialist system.

Hu is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Great Hall of the People later this month to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CCP Central Committee, when Deng Xiaoping kicked off the reform and open-door era. Yet the mainstream thinking is that Hu would focus on upbeat and “patriotic” elements such as China’s economic and technological achievements, which will be cited to justify the “ruling-party” for life status of the party.


Big chill: Bulgarians battle to keep warm

• No heating for thousands as temperature plummets

• Government criticised for its dependency on Russia

Kate Connolly in Sofia

The Guardian, Saturday 10 January 2009

Huddled around an electric heater with his wife and baby daughter, Krasimir Ivanov admitted he never thought much about politics. “But that was before it entered my own living room.” He checks the radiator for signs of life. To no avail. The tiny 7th floor two-room flat remains as frigid as it has been since the central heating suddenly went cold on Wednesday, shortly after gas supplies from Ukraine were shut off. With temperatures outside plummeting to 16C, and thousands of apartments heatless, the Ivanovs have spent the past few days trying to keep their daughter Anjela warm.

“Medical advice is to keep the temperature at 20 degrees,” said Krasimir. “We can barely afford the electricity bill we’ll receive at the end of this. But it’s simple – if we don’t pay for electricity, we’ll be paying for medicine for our child.”

The hospital hit: patient’s honest answer costs drug baron his life

Assassin quizzes room-mate before opening fire on Colombian kingpin

By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid

Saturday, 10 January 2009

A leading Colombian drug baron linked to the country’s main smuggling cartels was asleep in a Madrid hospital when a man entered his room, took out a silenced pistol and fired four bullets into him, killing him instantly.

The gunman, wearing an overcoat and a scarf, reached his victim’s bedside unhindered to commit what police suspect was a settling of accounts between rival drug-trafficking gangs.

Leonidas Vargas, 59, alias El Viejo (The Old Man), was linked to two of Colombia’s most powerful drug cartels, based in Medellin and Cali. He was admitted to hospital last week with heart and lung problems, and shared a private room with one other patient.

Middle East

Gaza: international plan hatched to bring back Fatah

From The Times

January 10, 2009

James Bone in New York and Martin Fletcher in Sderot

A plan to create a new foothold in Gaza for the Palestinian Authority and to bring in international monitors was being drawn up by diplomats yesterday as a UN ceasefire call was dismissed by both sides.

The plan would allow a return of the authority, led by the secular Fatah faction, to the territory 18 months after it was expelled by the Islamist Hamas. Diplomats are considering taking a triangle at the southern end of Gaza, including the Rafah crossing to Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing to Israel, to be policed by Turkish and French military monitors to stop arms smuggling into Gaza.

The zone would nominally be controlled by the authority, the internationally recognised Government. Such a plan would allow the crossings to reopen for the first time since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007.

Iraq’s novice political candidates embrace campaigning >

In Jan. 31 provincial elections, 14,400 hopefuls are vying for 440 seats. Many are running like pros, undeterred by the threat of violence or other candidates’ questionable tactics.

By Kimi Yoshino and Raheem Salman

January 10, 2009

Reporting from Baghdad — Provincial council candidate Fareeq Khazaali moves through the crowds of shoppers on Mutanabi Street with the confidence and ease of a veteran politician, shaking hands and smiling, as his children, wearing homemade campaign T-shirts, distribute leaflets.

When he’s not pressing the flesh, he’s sending frequent text messages (“Greetings. Please elect your candidate Fareeq Khazaali.”) and making friends on Facebook — surprising political sophistication for a novice candidate in a country taking baby steps toward democracy.

As Iraq nears its provincial elections day, Jan. 31, residents are faced with ballots that could make even a seasoned voter’s head spin. In total across the country, 14,400 candidates representing 407 political entities are vying for 440 seats.

Fourteen of Iraq’s 18 provinces are holding elections, and the crowded field in some of them — in Baghdad alone, there are more than 2,400 candidates — is only one of the challenges facing those seeking office. They also must deal with security concerns and questionable campaign tactics of some contenders who are giving away cooking oil, blankets and cash.


$3m ransom drops in for Somali pirates

From The Times

January 10, 2009

Robin Pagnamenta and Steve Bird

The seizure by Somali pirates of the largest ship ever hijacked was dramatically ended yesterday when a ransom of $3 million (£2 million) was dropped by parachute from a low-flying aircraft on to its deck.

After days of tense negotiations, the aircraft swooped over the stern of the supertankerSirius Star and released its valuable cargo.

As US Navy observers watched, the pirates seized the container of cash before disembarking from the 330m-long (1,080ft) Saudi Arabian vessel.

Speaking by telephone from the pirate lair in the port of Harardhere, Farah Osman, a member of the gang, revealed that they had escaped, adding: “The pirates are now arguing about division of the money.”

Gaza Strikes Reverberate in Egypt

Mubarak Resists Calls at Home, in Region to Admit Palestinians Fleeing Violence

By Sudarsan Raghavan

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, January 10, 2009; Page A01  

CAIRO, Jan. 9 — Rarely has an Arab leader been so widely perceived as backing Israel and the United States against the Palestinians, whose struggle has been a fundamental rallying point for Arabs and Muslims for more than six decades.

But Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has rejected popular and regional pressure to open the Gaza-Egypt border and toughen his stance against Israel. In recent days, his government has voiced support for Palestinians in an effort to defuse mounting criticism, but officials continue to suppress anti-Israeli demonstrations.

1 comment

    • mishima on January 10, 2009 at 2:33 pm

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