Docudharma Times Saturday March 14

Gov. Mark Sanford (Scrooge) South Carolina

Decides That Helping The People

Of South Carolina Is Wrong  

Then Compares U.S. To Zimbabwe

Saturday’s Headlines:

Tired of Looking for Work, Some Create Their Own

Scramble for Pakistan political settlement

Maldives aims to become first carbon-neutral country

Read all about it: the Kenyan crime blockbuster you can’t buy in Kenya

Doctors Without Borders exit Darfur

How to protest at work the French way – take the boss hostage

German boy seized after threatening to blow up school on Hitler’s birthday

Israeli town copes with return of near daily rockets

Evangelicals key to El Salvador elections

Obama’s New Tack: Blaming Bush

President Points to ‘Inherited’ Economy

By Scott Wilson

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, March 14, 2009; Page A0

In his inaugural address, President Obama proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

It hasn’t taken long for the recriminations to return — or for the Obama administration to begin talking about the unwelcome “inheritance” of its predecessor.

Over the past month, Obama has reminded the public at every turn that he is facing problems “inherited” from the Bush administration, using increasingly bracing language to describe the challenges his administration is up against. The “deepening economic crisis” that the president described six days after taking office became “a big mess” in remarks this month to graduating police cadets in Columbus, Ohio.

Robert Fisk’s World: The West should feel shame over its collusion with torturers

I want to know why those complicit in Almalki’s ordeal are not tried in court

Saturday, 14 March 2009

I invited Abdullah Almalki to breakfast in Ottawa but he only took coffee. And while I wolfed down my all-English breakfast in the Chateau Laurier Hotel (beloved of Churchill and Karsh of Ottawa fame), he sipped gingerly at his cup with much on his mind. Snooped on by the Canadian secret service and then tortured in Syria while the Canadian authorities did nothing for him – save supplying his perverted torturers with questions – he had much to think about. A carbon copy of Binyam Mohamed, the British resident who had his penis cut up while the Brits sent questions to his perverted Moroccan torturers.

In Abdullah Almalki’s case, he wasn’t renditioned. He simply flew into Damascus to see his Syrian family, got banged up in the city’s secret police headquarters and was then beaten into submission, not much different from an even more famous case – that of Maher Arar, who was a Canadian citizen and got renditioned to Damascus by the Americans while the US authorities sent questions to his perverted Syrian torturers. Arar has received apologies from US senators – though not from the war hero George Bush (battle honours: the skies over Texas during the Vietnam conflict) — and compensation from the Canadian government.



Plan to cut mortgage interest deduction stirs opposition

Obama’s proposed budget would reduce the tax break for households earning more than $250,000. Some see the plan as targeting real-estate rich states like California and New York.

By Peter Y. Hong

March 14, 2009

The Obama administration’s budget threatens to cut a benefit many Americans view as practically a right — the mortgage interest tax deduction — and powerful real estate interests are fighting back.

The move would affect only households earning $250,000 or more, but opponents say it could prolong the housing crisis by slowing already torpid home sales and deal another blow to home values ravaged by the market crash.

“Even though the intended impact is on the top 2% of households, the unintended consequence will be a reduction in home values for homeowners across the country,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Assn. of Realtors.

The Realtors group contends that the loss of the tax break will lead high-income home-buyers to spend less on homes, which would eventually drive down prices at the high end. And if mansions cost less, modest bungalows will ultimately see their values fall as well, Yun contends.

Tired of Looking for Work, Some Create Their Own


Published: March 13, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – Alex Andon, 24, a graduate of Duke University in biology, was laid off from a biotech company last May. For months he sought new work. Then, frustrated with the hunt, he turned to jellyfish.

In an apartment he shares here with six roommates, Mr. Andon started a business in September building jellyfish aquariums, capitalizing on new technology that helps the fragile creatures survive in captivity. He has sold three tanks, one for $25,000 to a restaurant, and is starting a Web site to sell desktop versions for $350.

“I keep getting stung,” he said. And his crowded home office is filled with beakers and test tubes of jellyfish food. “But it beats looking for work. I hate looking for work.”


Scramble for Pakistan political settlement

British foreign secretary joins US and country’s military in pushing for peace deal between Sharif and Zardari

Saeed Shah in Lahore, Friday 13 March 2009 18.45 GMT

Pakistan’s warring government and opposition are moving towards to a reconciliation deal partly brokered by the UK that could pull the country away from political collapse.

Sources in Asif Zardari’s presidential administration and the biggest opposition party, led by Nawaz Sharif, said detailed discussions were under way. A deal would address the issue of the judges that Sharif and a movement of lawyers want restored to office, and a way of reinstating the provincial government in Punjab, which had been run by Sharif’s party until Islamabad dismissed it last month. Lifting a legal bar to Sharif and his brother Shahbaz standing for parliament would be part of the package.

The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, called Sharif today to discuss the terms of an agreement, urging him to reach a compromise. US diplomats are also deeply involved, and Pakistan’s powerful military looks to be pressing for a political settlement, with the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, today meeting Zardari and the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, in Islamabad

Maldives aims to become first carbon-neutral country

 By Jerome Taylor and Andrew Buncombe

 Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Maldives – the island nation threatened by rising sea level as a result of global warming – is attempting to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country.

The Independent has learnt that tomorrow President Mohammed Nasheed will reveal details of a plan to achieve full carbon neutrality within 10 years. In doing so, his country of islands in the Indian Ocean, will join a small group of nations racing to be first in what environmentalists have described as “the Carbon World Cup”.

Five other countries – Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and Monaco – have signed up to a UN-backed plan to become zero net emitters but none intend to achieve carbon neutrality as quickly as the Maldives, a nation of island atolls which is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels.


Read all about it: the Kenyan crime blockbuster you can’t buy in Kenya


Xan Rice in Nairobi

The Guardian, Saturday 14 March 2009

It is the most talked about book in Kenya – an explosive account exposing the greed and tribalism at the heart of President Mwai Kibaki’s government. It is also one of the least read.

Fearful of being sued by politicians under draconian libel laws, booksellers are refusing to sell It’s Our Turn to Eat by British author Michela Wrong, which tells the story of John Githongo, the former anti-corruption chief. Instead, Kenyans must queue up to borrow copies of the book sent by friends living abroad, or read illegally scanned versions on the internet.

The booksellers’ caution has attracted criticism from Kenyan writers who say it threatens freedom of expression. They say the government has not banned the book, which was published last month, and there has been no court challenge.

Doctors Without Borders exit Darfur

Three aid workers were kidnapped this week, while others express concern about the health of the 1.1 million Darfuris left without assistance.

By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers

from the March 14, 2009 edition

NAIROBI, KENYA – On her last day in the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan, Gemma Davies, a British staffer with Doctors Without Borders, helped arrange for a gunshot victim to be transferred from the charity group’s remote mountain clinic to a faraway state hospital. She watched as doctors discharged a young mother a day after a difficult delivery.

Then she and about a dozen colleagues lifted off in a helicopter, leaving behind a small local staff, a few weeks’ worth of supplies, and a promise to make radio contact twice a day. Their departure, three days before the International Criminal Court was due to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir in connection with atrocities in Darfur, was a security precaution. Ms. Davies figured she’d return to the clinic in a couple of weeks.

Now, however, Davies and her team, part of the Dutch arm of Doctors Without Borders, are banned from Darfur after Sudan expelled 13 international humanitarian agencies and three domestic groups last week who were working in the troubled region. Soon after the warrant was announced, Mr. Bashir accused the foreign agencies of collaborating with the court – which they deny – and Sudanese authorities began freezing their bank accounts and confiscating computers, telephones and radios.


How to protest at work the French way – take the boss hostage

Head of Sony France released after night locked in factory by sacked workers

By John Lichfield in Paris

Saturday, 14 March 2009

In industrial disputes in other countries, the bosses lock the workers out. In France, disgruntled workers lock their bosses in.

The head of the Sony corporation in France was held overnight in an electronics plant in south-west France yesterday by workers protesting against their redundancy terms.

The workers blocked exits from the factory with the trunks and branches of trees and forced the chief executive of Sony France, Serge Foucher, and the company’s head of human resources, Roland Bentz, to spend the night in a conference room. Hostage taking? Industrial terrorism? Not in France. The “sequestration” of bosses has been a common tactic by French workers for several years. It is unusual, however, for the “prisoner” to be someone as senior as the national chief of a company as large as Sony.

German boy seized after threatening to blow up school on Hitler’s birthday

From The Times

March 14, 2009

Fran Yeoman in Winnenden

Police may have averted another massacre as a series of hoax threats closed schools and spread fear across Germany yesterday.

Investigators in the town of Ennepetal, near Düsseldorf, discovered gunpowder, swords, knives and imitation weapons and airguns when they raided a teenager’s home.

The police, on alert after Wednesday’s school shootings, also discovered bomb-making instructions in the teenager’s bedroom in nearby Schwelm. There were reports that he had used school computers to download them.

Middle East

Israeli town copes with return of near daily rockets

In Sderot, Purim holiday fun masks stresses of rocket attacks from Gaza militants.

By Ilene R. Prusher | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the March 14, 2009 edition

SDEROT, ISRAEL – The very hour Chana Melul returned to Sderot with her three young boys, whom she’d taken on vacation up north to escape the front lines, the rockets were back.

Minutes after they set down their suitcases, a Qassam rocket launched from nearby Gaza landed about 50 yards from their apartment building. It crashed into a storage shed and blew apart the sidewalk that leads to the community center around the corner. The center includes a rocket-resistant theater, recently built to give kids and grownups living here a little stress-free entertainment.

But for Ms. Melul, a single mother, the disquiet never really goes away.

“It’s always right here,” she says, pointing to her head.

Melul could move elsewhere in the country, but to do so, she says, would defeat the purpose of why she moved back here just over six years ago: the support of family and the community in which she grew up. She moved away as an adult, studied special education, and then moved back when she was pregnant with the twins.

Latin America

Evangelicals key to El Salvador elections

he group, which has begun to shift to the left, could determine the outcome of Sunday’s presidential election.

By Sara Miller Llana | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the March 13, 2009 edition

SAN SALVADOR – When Carlos Rivas became an evangelical pastor 10 years ago, he attempted to create a television show uncovering corruption within El Salvador’s conservative ruling party. But he was quickly informed that his church prohibited open criticism of the government.

So he founded the Tabernáculo de Avivamiento Internacional (TAI), a church in the impoverished outskirts of San Salvador. And today, his blogs, editorials, and weekly television programs make an art of denouncing injustice and inequality. He has, in other words, adopted the lexicon of the left.

“Pastors once taught us that poverty was natural,” Pastor Rivas says. “But it’s because of bad distribution of resources.”

Evangelicals in El Salvador, who are mostly Pentecostals, have long been a coveted group among politicians: they make up one-third of the population. But most have been apolitical, and those who did engage politically tended to align with the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party.