Docudharma Times Sunday February 1

Will Renditions Ever End?

Will Peoples Human Rights Ever Be Respected?

Sunday’s Headlines:

Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool

Iraqis turn out in record numbers for crucial elections

Gaza counts the cost – and assigns blame

Georgians who can never go home

Vladimir Putin faces signs of mutiny in own government as protests break out in east

Parched: Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in

Tamil refugees shelled as army closes in

Robert Mugabe has whip hand in coalition of convenience

Scores killed in Kenya oil fire

Guillermina Quiroga’s tango of body and soul

The Nativists Are Restless


Published: January 31, 2009

The relentlessly harsh Republican campaign against immigrants has always hidden a streak of racialist extremism. Now after several high-water years, the Republican tide has gone out, leaving exposed the nativism of fringe right-wingers clinging to what they hope will be a wedge issue.Last week at the National Press Club in Washington, a group seeking to speak for the future of the Republican Party declared that its November defeats in Congressional races stemmed not from having been too hard on foreigners, but too soft.

The group, the American Cause, released a report arguing that anti-immigration absolutism was still the solution for the party’s deep electoral woes, actual voting results notwithstanding.

Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland

Officials warn of ‘destruction of all means of life’ after the three-week conflict leaves agriculture in the region in ruins

Peter Beaumont in Gaza

The Observer, Sunday 1 February 2009

Gaza’s 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion.

According to the World Food Programme, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.

Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, the World Food Programme’s country director, said: “We are hearing that 60% of the land in the north – where the farming was most intensive – may not be exploitable again. It looks to me like a disaster. It is not just farmland, but poultry as well.



Daschle Delayed Revealing Tax Glitch

Report Details Payments From Health Sector

By Ceci Connolly, Joe Stephens and R. Jeffrey Smith

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, February 1, 2009; Page A01

Thomas A. Daschle waited nearly a month after being nominated to be secretary of health and human services before informing Barack Obama that he had not paid years of back taxes for the use of a car and driver provided by a wealthy New York investor.

Daschle, one of Obama’s earliest and most ardent campaign supporters, paid $140,000 to the U.S. Treasury on Jan. 2 and about two days later informed the White House and the Senate Finance Committee, according to an account provided by his spokeswoman and confirmed by the Obama administration.

Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool

The role of the CIA’s controversial prisoner-transfer program may expand, intelligence experts say.

By Greg Miller

February 1, 2009

Reporting from Washington — The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these programs, President Obama left intact an equally controversial counter-terrorism tool.

Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism — aside from Predator missile strikes — for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

Middle East

Iraqis turn out in record numbers for crucial elections

Martin Chulov in Karbala

The Observer, Sunday 1 February 2009

Iraqis voted in record numbers yesterday in pivotal elections hailed as a key test of the sectarian landscape and a battle for power between central government and the disaffected regions.

Voter turnout was beyond expectations across the 14 provinces that took part, according to election monitors, who also reported little violence or overt signs of interference in the ballot.

The poll lead-up had been dogged by warnings that militias linked to the main political blocs would use the elections to mount a resurgence. Attacks were lower, however, than at any time during the past fortnight, with only three mortars reported falling in Tikrit, the former hometown of Saddam Hussein.

Gaza counts the cost – and assigns blame

Donald Macintyre, reporting from a devastated village, finds Palestinians divided over how their lives can be rebuilt, and who is going to pay for it

 Sunday, 1 February 2009

Two weeks after an uneasy ceasefire ended Israel’s 22-day offensive, Gaza is still struggling to come to terms with the cost of more than 1,300 Palestinian lives, more than 5,000 injuries and the total or partial destruction of some 20,000 homes. Last night Chris Gunness, chief spokesman for the UN Relief and Works agency, which has budgeted more than $300m (£205m) for an emergency food, health and repair package, said there was an “overwhelming” need for “industrial-scale building materials to be brought into Gaza to begin the task of rehabilitation, and that is before reconstruction in earnest even begins”.

The loss and devastation faced by Gazan civilians is as apparent in this rural village, a mere 1.5 kilometres from the Israeli border, as anywhere. Juhr al Dik is agricultural land, notably green by Gaza standards, but a month ago Israeli forces arrived here early in their ground offensive, establishing bases in some of the homes. Tank tracks are still visible where they swept west towards the sea, cutting the Gaza Strip in half.


Georgians who can never go home

Six months after the war with Russia, Jonathan Steele finds thousands of refugees from South Ossetia still forced to live in temporary housing

Jonathan Steele

The Observer, Sunday 1 February 2009

Stepping warily, Zaza Dudjeashvili and his wife made their way past the shattered roof beams, broken glass and snow-covered lumps of masonry that litter the garden around their ruined home. Two Russian helicopter gunships lifted into the sky a mile away to sweep along the border with South Ossetia that runs just behind the couple’s property.

Nine out of every 10 houses in Ergneti are uninhabitable. Some have shell-holes in the walls, but most have black soot stains around the windows, a telltale sign they were torched by people moving through the village on foot.

The Dudjeashvilis now live in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, with their five children and Zaza’s elderly parents, crammed into one room in a kindergarten set aside for victims of last summer’s five-day war.

Vladimir Putin faces signs of mutiny in own government as protests break out in east

Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, faces signs of an unprecedented mutiny within his own government that threatens to undermine his once unassailable authority, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal

By Adrian Blomfield in Vladivostok

Subordinates have begun openly to defy Mr Putin, a man whose diktat has inspired fear and awe in the echelons of power for nine years, according to government sources. Meanwhile a rift is emerging between Mr Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, the figurehead whom he groomed as his supposedly pliant successor.

As Russia’s economy begins to implode after years of energy-driven growth, Mr Putin is facing the germs of an unexpected power struggle which could hamper his ambition to project Russian might abroad.

Mounting job losses and a collapse in the price of commodities have triggered social unrest on a scale not seen for at least four years, prompting panic among Kremlin officials more accustomed to the political apathy of the Russian people.


Parched: Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in

Geoffrey Lean and Kathy Marks report on the worst heatwave in the country’s history

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Leaves are falling off trees in the height of summer, railway tracks are buckling, and people are retiring to their beds with deep-frozen hot-water bottles, as much of Australia swelters in its worst-ever heatwave.

On Friday, Melbourne thermometers topped 43C (109.4F) on a third successive day for the first time on record, while even normally mild Tasmania suffered its second-hottest day in a row, as temperatures reached 42.2C. Two days before, Adelaide hit a staggering 45.6C. After a weekend respite, more records are expected to be broken this week.

Tamil refugees shelled as army closes in

Sri Lanka’s civil war is nearing its endgame, says the reporter blinded in one eye by an army grenade on the island in 2001

From The Sunday Times

February 1, 2009 Marie Colvin

MORE than 250,000 terrified Tamil men, women and children were trapped between rebel Tamil forces and the army in no man’s land in northern Sri Lanka last night as the 25-year civil war appeared to be nearing a violent conclusion.

A 48-hour ceasefire was due to end after the government promised to eliminate terrorism once and for all. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, vowed that there would be no let-up in the army’s offensive.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said a humanitarian crisis was unfolding and described horrific conditions in the conflict zone, sealed off by the government to aid agencies, diplomats and journalists. It said medical supplies, food and shelter were almost nonexistent and families were living in makeshift tents and ditches in the jungle.


Robert Mugabe has whip hand in coalition of convenience

From The Sunday Times

February 1, 2009

Jon Swain and Sophie Shaw, Harare

ROBERT MUGABE, the Zimbabwean president, will have the power to dismiss his arch-opponent from a government of national unity even though the two men have agreed to join forces in an effort to rescue the country’s ruined economy.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who will become prime minister, could be sacked for incompetence under the terms of a deal that leaves the 84-year-old president firmly in control.

There were mixed reactions to the deal in Zimbabwe. Some feared Mugabe would use Tsvangirai, 56, to extend his power. Others felt that the opposition leader would neutralise the president. One opposition sympathiser said she was “hop-ing for the best but preparing for the worst”.

Scores killed in Kenya oil fire

At least 94 people have died in Kenya after an overturned petrol tanker caught fire on a highway and exploded.


Reports say the fire broke out after hundreds of people gathered to collect spilled fuel.

About 200 people have also been injured in the blaze, in the town of Molo. Officials say the death toll may rise.

The cause of the fire is not clear. Some reports said it was caused by a lit cigarette, but others said it had been started deliberately.

One woman at the scene said her two sons were among the several hundred people who had run to collect petrol after the tanker crashed and she had not been able to find them.

“I tried to stop them but they did not listen, they told me everyone is going there for the free fuel,” she told Reuters.

A survivor of the fire said he had rushed to the scene to collect fuel when he had heard of the accident.

Latin America

Guillermina Quiroga’s tango of body and soul

The Argentine seeks to take the passionate dance to an ethereal realm.

By Susan Josephs

February 1, 2009

In a way, Guillermina Quiroga has Ronald Reagan to thank for transforming her into an internationally acclaimed tango dancer. If she hadn’t been in front of a television as a young woman in Argentina watching the 1985 U.S. presidential inauguration, she would have missed “the couple performing tango for the president. When I saw these people dancing, I got crazy,” she says. “I wanted to do this dance so badly, but I didn’t have the courage then.”

Since taking her first tango class in 1988, however, Quiroga has dedicated most of her waking hours to mastering the intricate and elegant South American dance form so often associated with slinky dresses, come-hither glances and dark alleys where men and women succumb to their inner demons.