Docudharma Times Tuesday February 3

Scorn? Why Shouldn’t We

Heap Scorn Upon Wall Street?

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Despite Federal Aid, Many Banks Fail to Revive Lending

A foreigner hopes to revive Japan’s flagging spirits

Hospital hit as Sri Lanka conflict nears climax

Spy film set in London is big hit in France

Thief in a headscarf runs rings round top jewellers

Jailed – the judge who refused to say sorry

Nothing to lose: how Mugabe’s banker turned Z$1,000,000,000,000 into Z$1

Gazans say Israeli troops forced them into battle zones br>

Iran launches its first satellite

Colombian rebels’ new strategy: release hostages

Maliki Supporters Post Election Gains

Preliminary Results Show Iraq Leaning Toward a Strong Central Government

By Sudarsan Raghavan, Anthony Shadid and Ernesto Londoño

Washington Post Foreign Service

Tuesday, February 3, 2009; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Feb. 2 — Iraq appears headed toward a reapportionment of power that favors the emergence of a strong central government, with supporters of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki showing strong returns in Saturday’s elections, according to early tallies seen by election and party officials.

Preliminary results from provincial elections, the first national balloting in four years, are not expected for several days, but election and party officials across Iraq said that politicians allied with Maliki have posted large gains in the capital, Baghdad, and in southern Iraq, the country’s Shiite heartland. Such results would strengthen Maliki’s standing and that of his Dawa party ahead of parliamentary elections set for this year.

Qaddafi will seek single state as African Union head

By Lydia Polgreen Published: February 3, 2009

DAKAR, Senegal: President Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya was named chairman of the African Union on Monday, wresting control of a body he helped found and has long wanted to remake in his pan-African image.

His installation as the new head of the 53-member body resembled more of a coronation than a democratic transfer of power. Qaddafi was dressed in flowing gold robes and surrounded by traditional African leaders who hailed him as the “king of kings.”

The choice of Qaddafi was not a surprise – he was the leading candidate – but the prospect of his election to lead the African Union caused some unease among some of the group’s member nations, who were meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as well as among diplomats and analysts. Qaddafi, who has ruled Libya with an iron hand for decades, is a stark change from the succession of recent leaders from democratic countries like Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria.



Obama’s Ethics Reform Promise Faces Early Test


Published: February 2, 2009

WASHINGTON – During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a “new era of responsibility.” What he did not talk much about were the asterisks.

The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists.

Despite Federal Aid, Many Banks Fail to Revive Lending

By Binyamin Appelbaum

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 3, 2009; Page A01

The federal government has invested almost $200 billion in U.S. banks over the last three months to spark new lending to consumers and businesses.

So far, it hasn’t worked. Lending has declined, and banks that got government money on average have reduced lending more sharply than banks that didn’t.

Consider the case of Bethesda’s EagleBank, which received $38.2 million from the Treasury Department in early December.


A foreigner hopes to revive Japan’s flagging spirits

An unlikely master brewer is hoping to revive the centuries-old drink’s flagging popularity — an auburn haired Briton, Philip Harper, who fell in love with the drink and the culture that produced it.

By John M. Glionna

February 3, 2009

Reporting from Kumihama, Japan — As master brewers have done for 13 centuries before him, the sake factory boss is everywhere at once in his rustic timbered building along Japan’s rugged northern coastline: helping to drag sacks of rice, gently issuing instructions to his four brewing assistants, consulting with his own boss, a fifth-generation owner.

Like those who came before him, he runs his factory floor with the fussy fastidiousness of a French chef, changing from shoes to slippers a hundred times a day as he rushes between production areas and brewing rooms, stripping off his shirt to dash into a 104-degree rice-drying room.

But unlike them, this sake master has curly auburn hair, a degree from Oxford and speaks Japanese as a second language.

They call him “the sake savant,” but that doesn’t bother Philip Harper, a 42-year-old native of another rugged coastline, thousands of miles away: Cornwall, in southwest England.

Hospital hit as Sri Lanka conflict nears climax

• Agencies say nine died in shelling of children’s ward

• President claims Tamil Tigers are close to defeat

Randeep Rameshm, South Asia correspondent

The Guardian, Tuesday 3 February 2009

Sri Lanka’s president said yesterday that the army was on the brink of crushing the Tamil Tiger movement – hours after five artillery shells struck the children’s ward of a hospital in rebel-held territory leaving at least nine people dead and 20 injured, according to aid agencies.

Caught in a shrinking war zone are more than 250,000 civilians as the two sides edge towards the final battle after 25 years of civil war. The military claims the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is down to its last 600 fighters.

“The strongholds of terror once believed to be invincible … have fallen in rapid succession, bringing the final elimination of terror from our motherland,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a message to mark the country’s 61st independence day, which will be celebrated tomorrow.


Spy film set in London is big hit in France

New wave of thrillers inspired by 2005 bomb attacks wows the critics

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

The Guardian, Tuesday 3 February 2009

A group of shadowy Syrians with diplomatic immunity are plotting to bomb London. But fear not, the French secret services have forcibly recruited a young baggage-handler from Charles de Gaulle airport and loaned him to MI5 to foil the plot. Weaving his way through Chelsea shops by day, and groups of punks with immaculate pink mohicans by night, the young French novice spy warms to London life. His first task is to seduce the French wife of a corrupt English millionaire. Helpfully, she teaches him that whether someone pours the milk before or after the tea is the key indicator of class in Britain.

These aren’t the antics of a new Inspector Clouseau, but the deadly serious, French art-house spy thriller, Espion(s), which has wowed film critics and shot to number two in the French box office charts since opening last week. Set in Paris and London, Espion(s) – Spies – is the latest hit in a new cinema phenomenon:

Thief in a headscarf runs rings round top jewellers

From The Times

February 3, 2009

Adam Sage in Paris

With her headscarf, long black coat and gold-rimmed glasses, she looks like a wealthy Middle Eastern woman with a taste for diamonds.

Jewellers across Europe are discovering that the mysterious middle-aged “Qatari” is, in fact, a cool-headed, quick-fingered thief who can steal valuables worth hundreds of thousands of euros without guards realising that anything is wrong.

A jewellery industry source told The Times that the woman had exposed holes in the security of some of Europe’s most prestigious boutiques.

After she stole a €635,000 (£574,000) ring from Cartier, the luxury jeweller, in Paris, police are trying to establish her identity and whereabouts before she strikes again. Internationaler Juwelier Warndienst, a crime prevention network for the German jewellery trade, has placed her on a list of its most wanted suspects.


Jailed – the judge who refused to say sorry

Since being feted by Tony Blair, Ethiopia’s government has grown increasingly intolerant of dissent – and the leader of its main opposition party is paying the price.

By Daniel Howden  Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Birtukan Mideksa has been sentenced to life in prison. She spends her days and nights in solitary confinement in a two-metre by two-metre cell. She cannot leave it to see daylight or even to receive visitors. Previous inmates say the prison is often unbearably hot.

Her crime: refusing to say sorry. The judge, aged 34, is the head of Ethiopia’s most popular political party, the only female leader of a main opposition party in Africa.

The government in Addis Ababa had her arrested on 28 December, claiming she had violated the terms of an earlier pardon.

Nothing to lose: how Mugabe’s banker turned Z$1,000,000,000,000 into Z$1

From The Times

February 3, 2009

Martin Fletcher in Harare

Gideon Gono, widely regarded as the world’s most disastrous central banker, knocked another 12 zeros off the Zimbabwean dollar yesterday in an attempt to bring the national currency back from the realms of the fantastical.

In a stroke, the governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank slashed the street value of the Zimbabwean dollar from $250 trillion to one US dollar to 250, because the computers, calculators and people could no longer cope with all the zeros.

Middle East

Gazans say Israeli troops forced them into battle zones

By Dion Nissenbaum | McClatchy Newspapers

EZBT ABED RABBO, Gaza Strip – The Israeli soldiers outside Majdi Abed Rabbo’s home were after the three Hamas fighters holed up next door, and they wanted Abed Rabbo to be their point man.

For the next 24 hours, Abed Rabbo said, the soldiers repeatedly forced him to walk through the battle zone to see whether the militants were dead or alive.

Abed Rabbo wasn’t alone. Eight other residents in this northern Gaza Strip neighborhood told McClatchy in separate interviews that Israeli soldiers had conscripted them to check homes for booby traps, to smash holes in the walls of houses so that soldiers could use them as escape routes or to try to pull dead Palestinian militants from the rubble.

Iran launches its first satellite

Iran has launched its first domestically made satellite into orbit, state media reports.


TV commentary said Monday’s night-time launch from a Safir-2 rocket was “another achievement for Iranian scientists under sanctions”.

The satellite was designed for research and telecommunications purposes, the television report said.

Iran is subject to UN sanctions as some Western powers think it is trying to build a nuclear bomb, which it denies.

Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are limited to the production of energy.

The launch of the Omid (Hope) satellite had been expected and was clearly timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, says the BBC’s Jon Leyne in Tehran.

Space centre

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the satellite was launched to spread “monotheism, peace and justice” in the world.

But the launch could cause alarm in the West because of fears the technology could be used to make a long-range missile, possibly with a nuclear warhead, our correspondent says.

Latin America

Colombian rebels’ new strategy: release hostages

The release of four hostages Sunday marks an attempt by FARC to regain public credibility after a devastating year, say analysts.

By Sibylla Brodzinsky | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the February 3, 2009 edition

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA – Colombian leftist guerrillas freed four hostages on Sunday in the first of three hand-overs planned for this week. The release is a unilateral goodwill gesture that marks an attempt by the rebels to regain public credibility after a devastating year, say analysts.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) freed three policemen and a soldier who had been kidnapped in 2007 and were among the newest of what the FARC had considered its bargaining chips to force concessions from the country’s conservative government.

It is the first unilateral release of hostages by the FARC after suffering the worst year ever in their four-decade-old insurgency. Camilo González, an analyst with the Indepaz peace studies group, said the rebels’ decision to do this is part of a FARC effort to regain political relevance. “It is the FARC’s way of trying to recover some political initiative after a disastrous year,” he said.


    • mishima on February 3, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve realized how much time it takes to put this together each day until today. When I took note of the start and completion times.

    • RUKind on February 4, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Palin knew what she was talking about. Imagine that.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

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