Obama Tells Them: I Won
Obama Plans Fast Action to Tighten Financial Rules
By STEPHEN LABATON
Published: January 24, 2009
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration plans to move quickly to tighten the nation’s financial regulatory system.
Officials say they will make wide-ranging changes, including stricter federal rules for hedge funds, credit rating agencies and mortgage brokers, and greater oversight of the complex financial instruments that contributed to the economic crisis.
Broad new outlines of the administration’s agenda have begun to emerge in recent interviews with officials, in confirmation proceedings of senior appointees and in a recent report by an international committee led by Paul A. Volcker, a senior member of President Obama’s economic team.
Third World gold mines spawn a global mercury threat
The toxic metal used at thousands of remote mining sites travels through the atmosphere and contaminates fish worldwide. It harms not only local workers, but people around the globe.
January 25, 2009
KERENGPANGI, INDONESIA — A gold miner stands waist-deep in a polluted pond, dumps a capful of mercury into a bucket of ore and mixes it in with his bare hands.
The darting liquid metal wraps itself around the gold to form a silver pellet the size of a marble.
The use of mercury in gold mining is illegal in Indonesia because the metal is toxic to humans and the environment. But the price of gold has tripled since 2001, and mercury is the easiest way to extract it.
“Of course I’m worried,” said miner Handoko, 23, a grim man in a baseball hat who goes by one name. “But this is the job.”
Tens of thousands of remote mining sites have sprung up mostly in Asia, Latin America and Africa, using as much as 1,000 tons of mercury each year. The mercury ravages the nervous system of miners and their families. It also travels thousands of miles in the atmosphere, settling in oceans and riverbeds in Europe and North America and contaminating fish.
To Combat Obama, Al-Qaeda Hurls Insults
Effort Hints at Group’s Consternation
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 25, 2009; Page A01
Soon after the November election, al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader took stock of America’s new president-elect and dismissed him with an insulting epithet. “A house Negro,” Ayman al-Zawahiri said.
That was just a warm-up. In the weeks since, the terrorist group has unleashed a stream of verbal tirades against Barack Obama, each more venomous than the last. Obama has been called a “hypocrite,” a “killer” of innocents, an “enemy of Muslims.” He was even blamed for the Israeli military assault on Gaza, which began and ended before he took office.
In rural Alaska, villagers suffer in near silence
Bush residents struggle to balance the need for food with the need for fuel — the building blocks of survival in a frigid winter that has months to go. Some call for massive airlifts of aid.
By Kim Murphy
January 25, 2009
Reporting from Tuluksak, Alaska — As the temperature plunged to minus-40 degrees last month, Nastasia Wassilie waited.
The 61-year-old widow had run out of wood and fuel oil, and had no money to buy more. Nor was there much food in the house. But people here in rural Alaska try to take care of themselves. Her sister would come to help. Surely she would.
Nearly three days later, when neighbors learned of Wassilie’s plight, the Tribal Council put out a call on the VHF radio that is the lifeline for most of the far-flung Yupik Eskimo villages along this remote stretch of the Kuskokwim River.
People who had enough gas for their snowmobiles immediately set off across miles of tundra, hauling firewood back to Wassilie’s small house. A few offered helpings of dry fish, which most families keep in the larder for winter.
BBC crisis over refusal to broadcast Gaza appeal
• Archbishop in attack on aid decision
• Isolated Thompson urged to rethink
Caroline Davies, Vanessa Thorpe and Gaby Hinsliff
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 24 January 2009 19.55 GMT
The BBC was in crisis tonight as politicians including government ministers, religious leaders and senior members of its own staff condemned the decision not to broadcast a charity appeal to help the stricken people of Gaza rebuild their homes.
The corporation’s director general, Mark Thompson, was left isolated as rival broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 agreed to put out the plea for aid made jointly by 13 British charities. The BBC has decided the broadcast of the appeal might be seen as evidence of bias on a highly sensitive political issue.
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has accused the broadcaster of “taking sides”. He said yesterday: “This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity.
15 die as storms wreak havoc in France and Spain
Four children killed when sports centre collapses in Barcelona, and a million people left without power
By Sonya Dowsett and Cristina Fuentes-Cantillana in Madrid
Sunday, 25 January 2009
Fifteen people, including four children, died as violent storms swept across Spain and France, wrecking buildings, and knocking out power for more than a million people.
The children were killed when the roof of a sports centre collapsed during high winds in Sant Boi de Llobregat, near Barcelona, yesterday morning. “It was horrific,” said Jose Antonio Godina, a parent at the sports centre. “We heard a loud noise and we thought a tree had fallen on a roof. But when we got here, the roof of the annex had literally flown off and the walls had fallen in on them.” Up to 30 children were inside the building when it collapsed, local authorities said. Catalonian emergency services said four children had died and nine people had been injured.
Hamas fights to rebuild Gaza in new battle for hearts and minds
Islamists say only they can lead the reconstruction, but the west is reluctant to give them aid, reports Peter Beaumont in Gaza
The Observer, Sunday 25 January 2009
A bitter struggle is taking place over the right to oversee the reconstruction of Gaza, even as the leadership of Hamas emerges from the rubble of areas that were devastated by 23 days of Israeli bombardment.
The international community insists that it cannot channel billions of dollars in reconstruction aid to Hamas, and is calling for the involvement of the more moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. But Hamas is insisting on sole control of Gaza’s rebuilding, as well as claiming moral leadership of the Palestinian people.
In the week since Israel and Hamas declared unilateral ceasefires to bring an end to more than three weeks of fighting, in which almost 1,500 Gazans died, the movement has acted rapidly to assert its control over assistance to civilians.
A shameful war: Israel in the dock over assault on Gaza
By the time the shooting stopped, more than 100 Palestinians had been killed for every Israeli who died. Was every death lawful? And, if not, where does the fault lie? Raymond Whitaker and Donald Macintyre report
Sunday, 25 January 2009
Did Israel – or its enemy, Hamas – commit war crimes during 22 days and nights of aerial assault, rocket launches and ground fighting in Gaza? In one sense the question is academic, because Israel will not recognise the conflict as an international one, and has not signed the 1977 Geneva protocol designed to apply to the victims of internal conflicts. But international lawyers say general principles can be drawn from the laws of war, which may have been violated in several ways.
The main issues are these:
Up to 10 times as many Palestinians were killed as Israelis. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says 1,314 Palestinians were killed, of whom 412 were children or teenagers under 18, and 110 were women. On the Israeli side, there were 13 deaths between 27 December and 17 January, of whom three were civilians killed by rockets fired from Gaza. Of the 10 soldiers killed, four were lost to “friendly fire”.
Mugabe’s bitter troops close private schools
From The Sunday Times
January 25, 2009
Sophie Shaw in Harare
PUPILS as young as five years old were being turned away from school gates by President Robert Mugabe’s army last week as Zimbabwe’s education system, once one of the finest in Africa, became the latest victim of his ruinous corruption and economic mismanagement.
A week after the scheduled beginning of the academic year, all state schools remain closed. They are not expected to reopen until at least the end of February. As far as the state is concerned, if its own schools are shut, then the private ones have no right to be open.
Jocelyn, whose 10-year-old son Tafadzwa attends the private St George’s primary school in Harare, described what happened when she arrived for the start of term last Monday.
Rwandan troops start fighting Hutu rebels in DR Congo >
Around 5,000 Rwandan troops are preparing a jungle assault on Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo that might end a decade of brutal violence that has destabilised Central Africa
By Ben Simon in Kampala
As hundreds of soldiers marched towards the town of Rutshuru, international peacekeepers deployed to areas where heavy clashes were expected to protect thousands of terrified civilians.
The largest United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world is stationed in Goma, the capital of Nord Kivu province where a vicious civil war has led to millions of deaths over the past 10 years.
At least nine rebels have already been killed in skirmishes.
In December, Rwanda and DR Congo finally agreed to act together to pursue the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu rebel group whose leaders were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Kim son ‘not interested’ in power
The eldest son of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il says he has “no interest” in succeeding his father, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports
“No one can say for sure and only father will decide,” Kim Jong-nam told reporters in Beijing.
The comments come amid speculation as to who may succeed the elder Kim, who is rumoured to have suffered a stroke.
Kim Jong-nam reportedly added he had no information about reports his youngest brother Kim Jong-un would get the job
“It is not good to assume and imagine before the decision is made,” Kim Jong-nam was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Yonhap, citing an unnamed intelligence source, last week named Kim Jong-un as the most likely successor to “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.
But Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper, quoting an unspecified US intelligence report, named Kim Jong-nam as the most likely candidate.
Radio Spreads Taliban’s Terror in Pakistani Region
By RICHARD A. OPPEL JR. and PIR ZUBAIR SHAH
Published: January 24, 2009
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Every night around 8 o’clock, the terrified residents of Swat, a lush and picturesque valley a hundred miles from three of Pakistan’s most important cities, crowd around their radios. They know that failure to listen and learn might lead to a lashing – or a beheading.
Using a portable radio transmitter, a local Taliban leader, Shah Doran, on most nights outlines newly proscribed “un-Islamic” activities in Swat, like selling DVDs, watching cable television, singing and dancing, criticizing the Taliban, shaving beards and allowing girls to attend school.
Calderon seeks to dispel talk of ‘failing state’
Two recent U.S. reports paint a dire picture of Mexico as its battle against drug crime grows more bloody, but Mexican officials say that though some cities are in trouble, the state itself is strong.
By Ken Ellingwood
January 25, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City — Stark assessments of the threat that drug crime poses to Mexico’s stability have put the government of President Felipe Calderon on the defensive as he tries to forge a relationship with a new U.S. president.
Rising violence, spurred in part by Calderon’s 2-year-old offensive against drug traffickers, has prompted some officials and analysts in the United States to warn that Mexico faces a risk of collapse within several years.
The U.S. Joint Forces Command recommended that Mexico be monitored alongside Pakistan as a “weak and failing” state that could crumble swiftly under relentless assault by violent drug cartels.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, the former U.S. drug agency director, said in a separate analysis on Mexico that the government “is not confronting dangerous criminality — it is fighting for its survival against narco-terrorism” and could lose effective control of large swaths near the U.S. border.