Docudharma Times Saturday February 14

Republicans Vote Against America  

Saturay’s Headlines:

Public Radio Fundraisers Dial It Back

Dubai’s six-year building boom grinds to halt as financial crisis takes hold

Hamas murder campaign in Gaza exposed

British envoy banned in war without witnesses

The anti-Valentine website: find a girlfriend and you’re out

Europe’s Black Friday seized on to defend British policies

Occitania in struggle to reclaim identity

A New Role for Iraqi Militants: Patrons of the Arts

Lebanese campaign for civil weddings

Chávez, Sí, but maybe not forever

Stimulus Plan Tightens Reins on Wall St. Pay


Published: February 13, 2009

WASHINGTON – A provision buried deep inside the $787 billion economic stimulus bill would impose restrictions on executive bonuses at financial institutions that are much tougher than those proposed 10 days ago by the Treasury Department.

The provision, inserted by Senate Democrats over the objections of the Obama administration, is aimed at companies that have received financial bailout funds. It would prohibit cash bonuses and almost all other incentive compensation for the five most senior officers and the 20 highest-paid executives at large companies that receive money under the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

The stimulus package was approved by the House on Friday, then by the Senate in the late evening.

GOP lawmakers tout projects in the stimulus bill they opposed

By David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Rep. John Mica was gushing after the House of Representatives voted Friday to pass the big stimulus plan.

“I applaud President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future,” the Florida Republican beamed in a press release.

Yet Mica had just joined every other GOP House member in voting against the $787.2 billion economic recovery plan.

Republicans echoed their party line over and over during the debate: “This bill is loaded with wasteful deficit spending on the majority’s favorite government programs,” as Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., put it.

But Mica wasn’t alone in touting what he saw as the bill’s virtues. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, also had nice things to say in a press release.



Buffalo crash claimed Sept. 11 widow, Rwanda advocate

Beverly Eckert, whose husband died at the World Trade Center, helped survivors and pushed to create the 9/11 commission. Alison Des Forges fought for justice after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

By Bob Drogin

February 14, 2009

Reporting from Silver Spring, Md. — If tragedy brings people together, the still-unexplained crash of a Continental Airlines commuter jet Thursday night forever links Beverly Eckert and Alison Des Forges, two extraordinary women who led separate crusades, against seemingly impossible odds.

Eckert was a Sept. 11 widow who turned her grief into powerful advocacy. She helped force a reluctant Bush White House to create the 9/11 Commission to investigate the attacks, and then helped push Congress to pass sweeping reforms of America’s secret intelligence agencies. “She really redefined for America how to be an effective activist and a committed citizen,” said Tim Roemer, a member of the 9/11 commission and liaison to the victims’ families. “That’s an extraordinary achievement.”

Des Forges led a tireless, often dangerous campaign to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and other massacres. She appeared as an expert witness at scores of war crimes trials and other judicial proceedings around the world.

Public Radio Fundraisers Dial It Back

As Listeners Pinch Pennies, On-Air Personalities Perfect the Pitch

By Steve Hendrix

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, February 14, 2009; Page B01

Brother, can you spare a dime? Or, if you would like the tote bag, can you spare $35?

For the region’s public radio stations, February is traditionally the time for cajoling dollars out of the listening audience. But at the beginning of what is starting to feel like a modern Depression, this year’s on-air supplicants are struggling to adjust their appeals to tough times.

“People do react to certain words: credit card debt, unemployment,” said Ron Pinchback, general manager of Washington’s WPFW, a community-oriented public affairs and music station.

Middle East

Dubai’s six-year building boom grinds to halt as financial crisis takes hold

• Expatriates flee as work dries up and visas are rescinded

• Indian workers forced to leave with debts following them home

Paul Lewis in Dubai

Arab tycoons wrapped in traditional headscarves sipped fruit juice cocktails as they watched Russian models twirl in silk dresses.

It was the most exclusive ticket in town, a private catwalk show to which the Middle East’s biggest spenders had been personally invited.

But if the smiles at this week’s Dubai fashion event looked more false than usual, it was for a reason. The net worth of the VIPs in attendance today is a fraction of what it was six months ago.

A six-year boom that turned sand dunes into a glittering metropolis, creating the world’s tallest building, its biggest shopping mall and, some say, a shrine to unbridled capitalism, is grinding to a halt.

Dubai, one of seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is in crisis.

Hamas murder campaign in Gaza exposed

Islamist regime has killed dozens and tortured others as ‘collaborators’ with Israel in war’s aftermath, Amnesty and Guardian sources say

Rory McCarthy, Bethlehem

New evidence has emerged revealing the extent of the crackdown by Hamas during and after Israel’s war in Gaza last month.

Amnesty International said Hamas forces and militias were involved in a “campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of ‘collaborating’ with Israel, as well as opponents and critics”. It said at least two dozen men had been shot by Hamas since the end of December and “scores of others” shot in the legs, kneecapped or beaten.Amnesty gave detailed accounts of some of the cases and said there was “incontrovertible evidence” that Hamas security forces and militia were “responsible for grave human rights abuses”. Hamas officials have admitted hunting for suspected collaborators, but they have denied this campaign of attacks.

Hamas apparently fears it lost some of its control in Gaza during Israel’s devastating three-week war and launched a new and violent crackdown to enforce its rule, targeting not only those suspected of giving information to the Israeli military but also escaped prisoners and all perceived internal opponents.


British envoy banned in war without witnesses

 Fears for 200,000 civilians trapped between army and Tamil Tigers as Sri Lankan government rebuffs move by Gordon Brown.

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia correspondent

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Dozens of Sri Lankan civilians are being killed and many more wounded every day even as the government moves to restrict foreign diplomats and journalists from what has been called a “war without witnesses”.

In the latest rebuff to international efforts to try to ease the suffering of up to 200,000 Tamil civilians, the Sri Lankan government yesterday rejected the appointment by Britain of a special envoy tasked with seeking an end to the fighting in the country’s north. A day earlier, Gordon Brown had appointed the former defence minister Des Browne to the role.

The anti-Valentine website: find a girlfriend and you’re out

Himote SNS is an internet forum for the habitually unpopular and the brainchild of a 23-year-old virgin. You’ve got to love it…

Richard Lloyd Parry in Tokyo

From The Times

February 14, 2009

Valentine’s Day is a torment for single people all over the world but few have as much to endure as young Japanese such as Hiroyuki Egami.

The soppy pink cards and boxes of over-priced chocolate start appearing in shops in early January. By the time February 14 finally comes around shops, advertisers and the mass media are united in a sugary hymn to the virtues of romance.

“It’s this idea that you only have value if you’re half of a couple, that you have to be in a relationship,” Mr Egami, a 23-year-old website designer, said. “But I never had a girlfriend. I am still a virgin. I think I am more unpopular than most people. And there are others like me.”

Rather than suffering in silence, a few months ago Mr Egami set up a social networking site, along the lines of Facebook and MySpace.


Europe’s Black Friday seized on to defend British policies

As G7 finance ministers gather, damning report shows scale of Germany’s economic woes

By Ben Russell, Home affairs correspondent

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Ministers have declared victory in their bitter war of words with Berlin over the handling of the global economic downturn after figures showed the German economy recorded one of the biggest slumps in Europe in the final months of last year.

They claimed vindication after European growth figures showed the German economy contracted by 2.1 per cent between October and December. British output fell by 1.5 per cent, in line with the average for eurozone nations.

Relations between Britain and Germany descended into a bitter diplomatic row in December when the German Finance Minister, Peer Steinbrück, accused Gordon Brown of “crass Keynesianism”, warning that measures such as the Treasury’s 2.5 per cent VAT cut would “take a whole generation to work off”.

Occitania in struggle to reclaim identity

From The Times

February 14, 2009

Adam Sage in Paris

The home team may have lost 7-0, but that did not really bother them. What mattered most was their shirts – because they bore the Occitane cross, the symbol of France’s southern provinces where a movement is under way to demand autonomy from the country’s highly centralised State.

The team for L’Occitanie saw their loss to Samiland as a small step forwards in the long struggle to reclaim an identity crushed by centuries of Parisian dominance.

Occitania – which covers the breadth of southern France, from the Atlantic coast to the Alps – wants to use the beautiful game to put itself on the world map. “Our aim is to get L’Occitanie known abroad,” said Pèire Costa, chairman of the Occitane Football Federation.

Middle East

A New Role for Iraqi Militants: Patrons of the Arts


Published: February 13, 2009

BAGHDAD – Two years ago the American authorities arrested Sheik Mazin al-Saedi, a senior aide to the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, accusing him of organizing kidnappings and killings.

This week in Baghdad, the city once terrorized by those killings, Sheik Mazin mingled in a white-walled art gallery as the patron of an exhibition of paintings and sculptures that would not, exactly, be out of place in Chelsea or SoHo: abstract art, expressionist paintings and conceptual works larded with symbols of Iraq’s ancient history and today’s reality.

Lebanese campaign for civil weddings

Couples hold mock ceremonies to protest the inability to have secular marriages. Many couples with different religious backgrounds are forced to wed abroad and have their unions registered.

By Raed Rafei

February 14, 2009

Reporting from Beirut — They said “I do.” But this time, the wedding ceremony was not blessed by an imam or a priest in a mosque or a church.

It was performed in a bar.

To protest laws that do not allow for civil or secular marriages in their country, a group of Lebanese couples decided to tie the knot Thursday evening in mock civil weddings in Gemmayze, a bustling neighborhood of downtown Beirut.

Similar ceremonies will be held this weekend.

Activists have been campaigning for years to make civil marriage an option in Lebanon. Although petitions were signed across the country for the right, religious leaders steadfastly opposed the move.

Many Lebanese couples of different religious affiliations are forced to travel to Cyprus, Turkey or other countries to get married. Their civil union is then recognized by Lebanese authorities.

Latin America

Chávez, Sí, but maybe not forever

Venezuelans are torn ahead of Sunday’s vote on whether to scrap presidential term limits.

By Charlie Devereux | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

CARACAS, VENEZUELA – In recent weeks, students have marched by the thousands urging Venezuelans to vote “No” in Sunday’s referendum, which seeks to abolish presidential term limits and allow President Hugo Chávez to run for reelection indefinitely.

Not to be outdone, supporters of Mr. Chávez stormed an opposition debate at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas last week.

Such fiery battles between those who support Chávez’s “21st century socialism” and those who believe he is squandering the country’s vast oil wealth on populist social projects have broken out in the run up to each of the 14 votes held during Chavez’s 10 years as president.

Yet, despite the media’s focus on Venezuela’s ideological extremes, most Venezuelans find themselves wavering quietly in the middle, and capturing this silent majority will prove crucial to Sunday’s vote.

A survey in November by the polling firm Datanalisis found that 48.5 percent of Venezuelans support neither Chávez nor the opposition. This demographic – dubbed the ni nis or “neither nors” – has shrunk to 32 percent in the run up to the vote, but the group is still large enough to be the deciding factor, says Luis Vicente Leon, director of Datanalisis.