The 42% Tax Cut Stimulus
How Lucky for The Rich
Senators Reach Accord on Stimulus Plan as Jobs Vanish
By CARL HULSE and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
Published: February 6, 2009
WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats reached an agreement with Republican moderates on Friday to pare a huge economic recovery measure, clearing the way for approval of a package that President Obama said was urgently needed in light of mounting job losses.
The deal, announced on the Senate floor, was a result of two days of tense negotiations and political theater. Mr. Obama dispatched his chief of staff to Capitol Hill to help conclude the talks and reassure senators in his own party, and he called three key Republicans to applaud them for their patriotism.
Earlier, when it looked as if a vote might take place Friday night, officials said, a government plane was dispatched to Florida to bring back Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who has brain cancer.
A Lebanese Political Satirist With Hezbollah Among His Targets
THE SATURDAY PROFILE
By ROBERT F. WORTH
Published: February 6, 2009
EVERY weekday, Lebanon’s large and fractious cast of politicians appears on television in news conferences and speeches. And every night at 7:45 they appear all over again – only this time as rubber puppets who sing, dance and babble their way through the day’s news.
The wizard behind this nightly transformation is Charbel Khalil, a small, round-faced and very brave man of 41. His new show, “Democracy,” which first went on the air in September, is the latest in a career-long series of comedic broadsides aimed at the vanities of Lebanese politics and society.
It is not an easy profession. Mr. Khalil has been threatened more times than he can count, briefly driven into exile and forced to sit waiting for hours in the offices of offended Syrian commanders.
Ginsburg’s Illness Puts Focus on Choices Ahead for Obama
By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 7, 2009; Page A02
The announcement this week that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer served as an early reminder of the weighty judicial choices ahead for President Obama, who must fill urgent vacancies on appeals courts and federal trial courts as well as potential seats on the nation’s highest court.
Ginsburg, 75, had surgery Thursday at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York to remove a small cancerous tumor from the center of her pancreas. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said yesterday that Ginsburg intends to come back to the court in time for three days of oral arguments beginning Feb. 23
Jobless numbers soared in January at worst rate since ’74
By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – Worse-than-expected January job losses announced by the government Friday put pressure on the Obama administration and Congress to pass economic stimulus legislation quickly and move on to tackle the banking and housing crises, which are fueling the rapidly worsening contraction of the nation’s economy.
Employers shed 598,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department said, the worst monthly showing since 1974. The unemployment rate in January rose four-tenths of a percentage point from December to 7.6 percent as businesses sent workers packing in virtually all sectors of the economy. Roughly 1.6 million Americans are now officially unemployed.
Far-right Israel politician gains momentum
Avigdor Lieberman’s proposal for a loyalty oath has connected with voters suspicious of Israeli Arabs. He is unlikely to win the prime minister’s post, but could push the new government to the right.
By Richard Boudreaux
February 7, 2009
Reporting from Kiryat Motzkin, Israel — Portraits of two Israeli Arab politicians, defaced by red Hebrew letters reading “Shame and Disgrace!” flashed on a giant video screen. Jeering erupted in the hall, packed for the tough-talking candidate whose bid to lead Israel is propelled by unease about its Arab minority.
Avigdor Lieberman’s attacks on Arabs have shaken up the race for parliament and prime minister. He is drawing large, boisterous crowds that delight in chanting his slogan — “Without loyalty, there is no citizenship” — and back his proposal for a mandatory loyalty oath to the Jewish state.
Fueled by the political fallout from Israel’s recent offensive in the Gaza Strip, Lieberman has scored the biggest gains in the final week of the campaign. Polls published Friday show that his party, Israel Is Our Home, has climbed into third place. That means Lieberman, once a marginal provocateur on the extreme right, could well be the pivotal player as Israel forms a multiparty governing coalition after Tuesday’s election.
Iranian Revolution revisited 30 years after it changed the world
From The Times
February 7, 2009
Tim Reid in Washington
On the morning of Sunday, November 4, 1979, John Limbert, a Farsi-speaking political officer at the US Embassy in Tehran, was planning to slip out for for a quick haircut. He looked out of a window towards the front gate of the embassy to see a large crowd of young protesters, chanting antiAmerican slogans, but thought little of it. It had been a daily occurrence, especially since President Carter’s fateful decision a month earlier to allow the deposed Shah of Iran entry into the United States.
What Mr Limbert could not know then was that he was about to find himself a central character in a 444-day ordeal that has become a watershed moment in modern American history.
Revealed: Burma’s human exports
It echoes the slave trade – in the hotels of Rangoon a smart woman is busy selling people for work abroad, reports Phoebe Kennedy
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Her glasses were Gucci and her bag YSL. The smart Burmese businesswoman was perched neatly on a sofa in the lobby of a Rangoon hotel, delivering her sales patter to a small group of businessmen. Her product? Human beings. “We supply only strong bodies,” she says crisply. “That is our guarantee.”
I am sitting at the next table using the hotel wi-fi, and, as she speaks in clear English, I am drawn into a world of desperation and exploitation. The woman is a supplier of workers for deep-sea trawlers, and her stock of men come from Burma’s beautiful but impoverished Inle Lake area, where fishing the tranquil waters no longer makes enough to feed a family. “These are just simple fishermen; they are not educated, but what we promise you is strong bodies,” she says, using a phrase she repeats again and again.
US dismay as ‘father’ of Pakistan A-bomb freed
• Britain joins demand for promises after court ruling
• Scientist released as part of deal with government
Saeed Shah in Islamabad and Aidan Jones
The Guardian, Saturday 7 February 2009
The US and Britain have reacted angrily after AQ Khan, the Pakistani scientist accused of selling nuclear secrets, was freed from five years of house arrest in a court ruling in Islamabad.
Khan, lionised as the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He was immediately pardoned by Pakistan but confined to his home under heavy guard. His freedom appears to have been won through a secret deal with the government, which was sanctified by the court.
Speaking to the Guardian after yesterday’s judgement, the metallurgist said he had no plans to travel abroad or take part in politics.
In Zimbabwe the coffin is a wardrobe and the hearse is a trolley
From The Times
February 7, 2009
Martin Fletcher in Harare
Winfilda Potoroya’s family could not begin to afford two or three hundred dollars for a proper funeral when the 36-year-old mother died of Aids last week.
So they improvised: they paid the police a Z$40 bribe to avoid the costs of transporting her body to the mortuary, having a postmortem examination and obtaining a death certificate. They cut a wardrobe in half for a coffin and put a mattress beneath her decomposing corpse when it began leaking fluids. They rented a street vendor’s trolley for another Z$10 and wheeled the makeshift coffin eight miles (12km) to a patch of common land that has become an unofficial cemetery for Zimbabwe’s poorest. There they paid Z$1 for a plot and laid their mother to rest – mattress and all – in a hole they dug themselves.
Priest’s mission in Kenya went beyond church
John Kaiser was warned by other priests that his style in confronting the Moi government was too reckless. Kaiser knew he was in danger but kept speaking out — until he could no longer do so.
By Christopher Goffard, First Of Three Parts
February 8, 2009
Reporting from Lolgorien, Kenya — Wherever he went, the man of God carried his shotgun. Like its owner, the double-barreled 12-gauge was old and broken in places, dusty from miles of hard African road. He kept the splintered stock bound together with a length of black rubber, and he believed it might be his only protection, save for the good Lord and his American name, in a country that had never felt more dangerous.
By day he ventured deep into the savanna to visit the scattered churches of his vast parish. The shotgun rested on the seat of his Toyota pickup, beside his rosary beads and Mass kit. His faithful arrived from the hills, bright in their tribal wrappings, to hear him speak in Swahili of the risen Savior, to receive a wafer on the tongue.
EU’s Barroso Demands Russian ‘Reliability’ in Relations
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has called on Russia to offer more “reliability” in international relations, after talks in Moscow with the prime minister and president on Friday, Feb. 6.
The top-level talks were the first between the European Union and Russia since the crisis in January which saw Moscow cut gas supplies to Ukraine. Russia must do everything to restore Europe’s confidence, Barroso said.
But the talks on energy security were also overshadowed by a row over Moscow’s record on human rights. Barroso pressed Russia to respect human rights and the constitution, after the murders on a Moscow street of a journalist and human rights lawyer last month.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin bristled visibly after criticism of Russia’s human rights record, accusing Brussels of having its own shortcomings in this field, citing problems with migration, the state of some European prisons and the plight of Russian minorities in the Balkans.
“We don’t act as if we’re perfect,” Barroso said.
Friday’s talks, with a delegation of nine EU commissioners, had been originally scheduled for last August but postponed after the conflict between Russia and Georgia.
The EU and Russia are attempting to agree a long-delayed Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
Italian right-to-die move blocked
Italy’s government has issued an emergency decree to prevent a woman who has been in a coma for 17 years from having her feeding tubes disconnected.
Last year the father of Eluana Englaro won a court battle allowing the hospital to let her die. The centre-right government opposed the move.
The new decree says food and water cannot be denied to a patient.
It was approved despite objections from Italy’s president. The case has provoked fierce debate in the country.
Ms Englaro, 38, has been in a persistent vegetative state since a car crash in 1992.
Her father has been battling with the courts in Italy to let her die since 1999, insisting it was her wish.
The Mystifying Life and Many Deaths of Cuba’s Talisman
By William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 7, 2009; Page A08
On the front page of Cuba’s state newspaper Granma last week, the lone star on the Cuban flag had mysteriously faded away in an old black-and-white photograph announcing a celebration of patriot José Martí. Copies quickly sold out as rumors flew across the island. What did it mean? Was it a portent? Had the inevitable finally happened?
As it turned out, Fidel Castro was not dead. Just as he has not been dead for more than 50 years, ever since the United Press reported that he had been killed by government soldiers on Dec. 2, 1956, hours after returning to Cuba to wage guerrilla war.