Docudharma Times Sunday January 18

Just Two More Days

And Bush Is Gone

Sunday’s Headlines:

US Airways pilot knew ‘we’re gonna be in the Hudson’

North Korea issues nuclear threat

Taliban’s deadly ‘justice’ cows Pakistan

Tsvangirai back in Zimbabwe for fresh talks

Somalia: Islamist Insurgents Attack Ethiopian Military Bases in Southern Somalia

Germany threatened in ‘al-Queda’ video

Russia and Ukraine reach gas deal

Israel hopes Iran and Hezbollah get message of Gaza offensive

U.N.: Hundreds of migrants feared drowned

Israel calls a halt to its assault on Gaza

• Hamas ‘to fight on’ after ceasefire

• Olmert says war aims ‘fully attained’

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem

The Observer, Sunday 18 January 2009

Israel called a halt to its bombardment of Gaza last night after winning American and European pledges of support to shut down the Hamas weapons supply pipeline.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, in effect declared Hamas was broken, saying that its power is diminishing. “The conditions have been created that our aims, as declared, were attained fully, and beyond,” he said in a televised address. “The campaign has proven Israel’s power and strengthened its deterrence.”

But Hamas said it would keep fighting for as long as Israeli troops remained in Gaza. “A unilateral ceasefire does not mean ending the aggression and ending the siege,” a spokesman said. “These constitute acts of war, so this will not mean an end to resistance.”

Rupert Cornwell: Obama: In the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln

Out of America: Barack Obama prepares to swear on Tuesday to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the constitution of the US, but so much more rests on his shoulders. Can he fulfil the huge expectations?

Sunday, 18 January 2009

America is living a strange and magical moment. In a fickle universe, US presidential inaugurations are a quadrennial rock of predictability, like leap years and the football World Cup. But never has there been one quite like the inauguration this week of Barack Obama.

The event is always a republican version of a coronation, quasi-ecclesiastical even as it flaunts its populist trappings. But when Obama takes the oath of office at noon on Tuesday from John Roberts, the Chief Justice, the occasion will be far more, a beacon of hope in a tempest of fear. The closest in modern times was in 1961, when John F Kennedy brought hope and renewal. But back then the country was not terrified, merely jaded, in an era when the fundamentals of American civilisation seemed immutable.



Poll Finds Faith in Obama, Mixed With Patience


Published: January 17, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama is riding a powerful wave of optimism into the White House, with Americans confident he can turn the economy around but prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the poll found, expectations for what Mr. Obama will actually be able to accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s problems at home and abroad.


US Airways pilot knew ‘we’re gonna be in the Hudson’

Investigators interview the captain, Chesley B. Sullenberger III, and his co-pilot, and release new details about the emergency landing in New York. The plane is hoisted out of the water.

Associated Press

January 18, 2009

New York — The pilot of a crippled US Airways jetliner made a split-second decision to put down in the Hudson River because trying to return to the airport after birds knocked out both engines could have led to a “catastrophic” crash in a populated neighborhood, he told investigators Saturday.

Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III said that in the few minutes he had to decide where to set down the powerless plane Thursday afternoon, he felt it was “too low, too slow” and near too many buildings to go anywhere else, according to the National Transportation Safety Board account of his testimony.

Flight 1549, saw the birds coming in perfect formation, and made note of it. Sullenberger looked up, and in an instant his windscreen was filled with big, dark-brown birds.

“His instinct was to duck,” said NTSB board member Kitty Higgins, recounting their interview. Then there was a thump, the smell of burning birds, and silence as both aircraft engines cut out.


North Korea issues nuclear threat

Tania Branigan in Beijing

The Observer, Sunday 18 January 2009

North Korean officials say they have “weaponised” around 30kg of plutonium – enough to make four or five warheads – a US expert reported yesterday as he returned from talks in Pyongyang.

Selig Harrison said senior officials warned that North Korea was now a nuclear weapons state and would not commit itself on when it would give them up. The claims came as the North Korean military announced an “all-out confrontational posture” against the South on TV yesterday.

Relations have been increasingly hostile since the South Korea president, Lee Myung-bak, took office last year, pledging to get tough on Pyongyang.

Taliban’s deadly ‘justice’ cows Pakistan

Sharia judges are ordering beatings and executions as punishment for cases of ‘immoral activity’

From The Sunday Times

January 18, 2009 Daud Khattak, Peshawar

FORCED face first into the dust and pinned down by three men in black hoods, a young offender faced the merciless force of Taliban justice in Pakistan last week as he was beaten 30 times with a hard rod fashioned from old car tyres.

The punishment – for smoking cannabis – was inflicted in front of a silent crowd of approving bearded men and curious young boys in the North West Frontier Province village of Ser Talergram, a few miles from the once-popular ski resort of Malam Jabba.

In the nearby village of Dherai, three men in their thirties, Amjad Ali, Sarar Ali and one named only as Manai, were publicly lashed by armed, hooded Taliban policemen for drug dealing. Scarred by the beating, one of the men was so humiliated that he would no longer leave his home.


Tsvangirai back in Zimbabwe for fresh talks

By Nelson Banya in Harare

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwe opposition leader, arrived back in the country yesterday, the first time he has returned since November last year. He said that he would not be “bulldozed” into joining a lopsided government of national unity.

Mr Tsvangirai, who has spent much of the time since then in neighbouring Botswana, arrived on a flight from South Africa. Tomorrow, Zimbabwe’s political parties will hold meetings with the presidents of South Africa and Mozambique and with Thabo Mbeki, the Southern Africa Development Community- appointed mediator, in a new regional push to break a deadlock in power-sharing talks.

Somalia: Islamist Insurgents Attack Ethiopian Military Bases in Southern Somalia

Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Bardhere – Somali Islamist forces have attacked military bases of the Allied Ethiopian and Somali government soldiers in around the airport of Bardhere town in Gedo region last night (Friday), witnesses told Shabelle radio on Saturday.

Residents say the clashes started around 10:00 local time near ADC centre in Bardhere town after the Islamist insurgent forces attacked the bases of the Ethiopian and Somali troops around there and both soldiers have exchanged heavy weapons during the fighting which could be heard in all directions of the town but no casualties have been reported yet

Ali Barre Abdi, one of the government administration of Bardhere town has told Shabelle radio that Al-shabab Islamist fighters were behind the attack and said they have resisted the forces who attacked them.


Germany threatened in ‘al-Queda’ video

From Times Online

January 18, 2009

Times Online

Germany has been threatened with attacks for its presence in Afghanistan in a video released yesterday by the US centre for surveillance of Islamist sites (SITE).

In the 30 minute Video message, a man calling himself Abu Talha Al-Alamani and presumed to be a member of al Queda says the Germans are “gullible and naive” if they thought they could “escape unscathed when they are the third occupation force in Afghanistan.”

The man, whose face is hidden by a black turban in the video, adds: “Letting me blow myself up in the name of Allah has been my wish since 1993.

“Time is running out for the Germans. I say to the German people ‘arise and become just again’.”

Russia and Ukraine reach gas deal>

European supply has been crippled during period of winter cold

Associated Press

MOSCOW – The prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine announced a deal early Sunday to settle the gas dispute that has drastically reduced supplies of Russian gas to Europe for nearly two weeks.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Ukraine will pay 20 percent less than the European price for the gas this year. This means a substantial increase for Ukraine in the first quarter but the price could fall significantly later in the year as gas prices are expected to drop.

Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said natural gas supplies would resume once the two countries’ gas companies sign a contract.

Middle East

Israel hopes Iran and Hezbollah get message of Gaza offensive

The pounding of Hamas, Israeli security officials say, is a blow to Iran, which backs both the militant group and Shiite militia Hezbollah. But they also brace for possible retaliatory attacks.

By Sebastian Rotella

January 18, 2009

Reporting from Jerusalem — In declaring a cease-fire Saturday in Gaza, Israel asserted that it had achieved its goals: hurting Hamas’ military wing, discouraging rocket fire into Israel and cutting the flow of smuggled arms into Gaza. But Israel had a broader goal: sending a tough message to its arch-enemies Iran and Hezbollah.

Israeli leaders say the pounding of Hamas dealt a blow to Iran, which Israel accuses of backing the Palestinian group, and to Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon that fought Israel to a stalemate in 2006.

“The operation proved again the power of Israel and improved its deterrence against those who threaten it,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

Nonetheless, as Gaza quiets down, Israeli security officials acknowledge that the wider conflict could escalate, as it plays out in secret skirmishes in the Middle East and beyond.

U.N.: Hundreds of migrants feared drowned

A dozen bodies wash ashore after boats capsize off Yemen

Associated Press  

SAN’A, Yemen – Hundreds of people are missing and feared dead after boats carrying about 400 African migrants capsized Saturday near Yemen, a U.N. official said.

At least a dozen bodies have washed ashore in Yemen, said Laila Nassif, who heads the United Nations High Commission for Refugees office in the coastal city of Aden.

Nassif said two boats carrying some 300 migrants capsized in the Red Sea. Only 30 people have been rescued so far, and rescue efforts were complicated by bad weather in the area, Nassif said.