Docudharma Times Saturday March 28

  Michelle “We Need A Revolution” Bachmann(M)Mars

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Enemy Lines


Saturday’s Headlines:

Doctor acquitted by Kansas jury in late-term abortion trial

Silvio Berlusconi realises dream with new rightwing party

The forgotten people: Plight of the asylum-seekers marooned in France

The new front: Britain’s fight for hearts and minds

New holiday celebrates freedom for serfs and lets China show itself in a good light

Israeli officers defend troops against abuse charges in Gaza

Iraq serves Turkey a rare treat

Southern Africa hit by worst floods in years

Dispatch from Columbia’s newest village

White House Debate Led to Plan to Widen Afghan Effort


Published: March 27, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s plan to widen United States involvement in Afghanistan came after an internal debate in which Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned against getting into a political and military quagmire, while military advisers argued that the Afghanistan war effort could be imperiled without even more troops.

All of the president’s advisers agreed that the primary goal in the region should be narrow – taking aim at Al Qaeda, as opposed to the vast attempt at nation-building the Bush administration had sought in Iraq. The question was how to get there.

The commanders in the field wanted a firmer and long-term commitment of more combat troops beyond the 17,000 that Mr. Obama had already promised to send, and a pledge that billions of dollars would be found to significantly expand the number of Afghan security forces.

Grieving Parents Gain Clout In China

 Party Steps Lightly In Wake of Disasters

?By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, March 28, 2009; Page A01

BEIJING — When Zhao Lianhai created a Web site for parents of children hurt or killed by contaminated milk, he did not set out to challenge the Communist Party. He did it because his son was sick. The 3-year-old had been diagnosed with kidney stones and Zhao was scared. He needed advice.

Within days, more than 4,000 families signed up, and soon the discussion evolved from technical questions and answers about medical care to demands for punishment and compensation. It wasn’t long before the 37-year-old former advertising salesman became the de facto spokesman, organizer and lobbyist for thousands of parents across the country whose children had suffered after drinking infant formula or milk that had been illegally doctored with the industrial chemical melamine.


Thousands flee Fargo as floodwaters threaten

Says one resident: ‘The only thing now is divine intervention’

NBC News and news services

FARGO, N.D. – Thousands of shivering, tired residents got out while they could and others prayed that miles of sandbagged levees would hold Friday as the surging Red River threatened to unleash the biggest flood North Dakota’s largest city has ever seen.

The agonizing decision to stay or go came as the final hours ticked down before an expected crest Sunday, when the ice-laden river could climb as high as 43 feet, nearly 3 feet higher than the record set 112 years ago.

The city got a one-day reprieve Friday night when the National Weather Service pushed its crest projection back from Saturday to Sunday afternoon, saying frigid temperatures had slowed the river’s rise.

Doctor acquitted by Kansas jury in late-term abortion trial

Prosecutors had argued that the second opinions in 19 of his procedures weren’t given by an independent physician. Next up is an administrative challenge from a state health board.

By Robin Abcarian

March 28, 2009

Reporting from Wichita, Kan. — In a trial watched closely by activists on both sides of the abortion debate, Dr. George Tiller, the Kansas physician accused of performing illegal late-term abortions, was found not guilty Friday. The jury of three men and three women deliberated for less than an hour.

Tiller has been targeted by antiabortion politicians, legal officials and activists for years, but this was the first time he faced a jury. When the court clerk announced the first of the 19 verdicts, Tiller, 67, squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. It was the only reaction he showed.

Spectators in the courtroom were silent when the first not-guilty verdict was read. Most of them were affiliated with the antiabortion group Operation Rescue. Some bowed their heads in disappointment. Some wept.


Silvio Berlusconi realises dream with new rightwing party

• Freedom People includes Mussolini’s spiritual heirs

• Coalition brings Italy closer to two-party state

John Hooper in Rome

The Guardian, Saturday 28 March 2009

A unified party of the Italian right, bringing together followers of Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, and the spiritual heirs of Mussolini’s fascist blackshirts will formally be created tomorrow by delegates at a congress convened to inaugurate the movement.

Speaking from a giant platform in an immense exhibition hall, Berlusconi last night declared the gathering open and moved closer to realising his most cherished dream – leading a single power-bloc of the right.

As soon as a 50ft high screen above the platform showed the prime minister was entering the hall, 6,000 delegates sprang to their feet to give him an ovation. A beaming Berlusconi strode to his place while loudspeakers blared out his party’s election campaign song, whose title roughly translates as: “Thank goodness for Silvio”.

The forgotten people: Plight of the asylum-seekers marooned in France

 The revelation that Britain could open its own immigration camp in Calais has caused outrage in some quarters. But as Jerome Taylor discovers, the plight of the asylum-seekers marooned in France cannot be ignored

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Nick Mohammed scrambles through a thicket of razor sharp thorn bushes and goes around a growing mound of human waste to reach his home, a cramped, squalid hut cobbled together from wooden crates, plastic tarpaulin and waterlogged, rotting duvets.

Under a steady drizzle of icy rain he pauses, breathes air into his hands in a futile attempt to feel warm, before breaking into an enormous and friendly smile. “Welcome to my home,” he laughs. “I admit it’s not a palace. Ten of us live in this tent. We only have a few blankets each so we have to make sure there are many of us to keep warm.”

Mr Mohammed and his friends are among the thousands of Afghan asylum-seekers who leave their war-torn homeland every year seeking a better life in the West.

The 23-year-old’s current residence is not some Third World refugee camp in Pakistan, but a sprawling and fetid tent city, spread across a field of thorny scrubland on the outskirts of the French port of Calais.

Known to locals and its inhabitants as “The Jungle”, it is a place of poverty and grinding desperation. It is also a damning indictment of France’s treatment of its clandestins, the illegal immigrants who are forced to sleep rough.


The new front: Britain’s fight for hearts and minds

Will more soldiers and a fresh strategy be enough to win over the Afghan people against a resurgent Taliban? Kim Sengupta reports from Nanyuki, Kenya

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The barren and unforgiving killing fields of Helmand are a world away from the green highlands of Africa. But it is here, on the foothills of Mount Kenya, that Britain’s new military strategy in Afghanistan, the blueprint for a long war, is being put together. As President Barack Obama unveils his fundamental review of American policy in Afghanistan to combat an “increasingly perilous” situation, the UK, too, is seeking to define its role in a rapidly shifting political and military landscape.

The man carrying out the dry run is Brigadier James Cowan, who first came to prominence when leading his regiment, the Black Watch, in Iraq’s “Triangle of Death” four years ago. In a few months’ time, he will be involved in a new chapter in the “war on terror” as British commander in Helmand in what is expected to be a particularly turbulent time.

New holiday celebrates freedom for serfs and lets China show itself in a good light

From The Times

March 28, 2009

Jane Macartney in Beijing

Pelma Yunden was only 8 when he began to herd sheep and yaks on the Tibetan plateau. Like his parents, he was owned by the estate of a nobleman. Today Tibetans, dressed in fur hats and colourful brocade robes, will dance in officially organised celebrations of a new holiday in the Himalayan region – Serf Emancipation Day – or the day when Mr Pelma was set free.

China decided earlier this year to introduce the festival, which is the latest step in a campaign to try to win over increasingly restive Tibetans who are nostalgic about the old days and the Dalai Lama.

It is an unsubtle message that Beijing rule has brought a prosperity and freedom unknown previously.

State-run newspapers have been filled with accounts of the horrors before the flight of the Dalai Lama during a failed uprising against Beijing in 1959.

Middle East

Israeli officers defend troops against abuse charges in Gaza

By Ethan Bronner Published: March 27, 2009

JERUSALEM: Israel is pushing back against accusations its soldiers abused civilians during the assault on Gaza, asserting that the overwhelming majority of its soldiers acted honorably and that the account of a killing of a woman and her two children appeared to be an urban myth spread by troops who did not witness it.

Officers are stepping forward, some at the urging of the top command, others on their own, offering numerous accounts of having held their fire out of concern for civilians, helping Palestinians in need and punishing improper soldier behavior.

“I’m not saying that nothing bad happened,” Bentzi Gruber, a colonel in the reserves and deputy commander of the armored division, said in an interview. “I heard about cases where people shot where they shouldn’t have shot and destroyed houses where they shouldn’t have destroyed houses. But the proportion and effort and directions we gave to our soldiers were entirely in the opposite direction.”

Iraq serves Turkey a rare treat

By Sami Moubayed  

DAMASCUS – A historical run-through of non-state players in the Middle East concludes that they were never intended to win, just achieve the short- and long-term objectives of their patrons.

In 1974, former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger encouraged Iraqi Kurds to rebel, for example, to drain the energy of the Iraqi army and divert Baghdad’s attention from supporting Syria’s “steadfastness front” against Israel.

Kissinger fanned the flames of conflict in Iraq and was generous with the Kurds, prompting Kurdish leader Mustapha Barazni to send him expensive rugs as a token of appreciation, and a gold necklace for his bride on the occasion of Kissinger’s marriage in March 1974.

This incident, among Kissinger’s numerous endeavors, was revealed during the Watergate investigations in 1976, in what became known as the Pike Report.


Southern Africa hit by worst floods in years


Southern African countries have been hit by the worst floods in years, killing more than 100 people and displacing thousands, as a tropical storm threatened to bring more pain on Saturday.

As Mozambique braced for the arrival of a strengthening tropical storm Izilda, record river levels across the region threatened to exacerbate floods which have already affected hundreds of thousands of people.

Namibia’s government declared a state of emergency last week in areas where floods have affected over 350,000 people, 13,000 of whom were displaced, according to numbers released by the United Nations on Friday.

Another 160,000 people have been affected in Angola.

The Zambezi river, along Namibia’s northeastern Caprivi Region, rose to 7.82 metres (25 feet) this week, its highest level in 40 years, before slightly dropping, Caprivi Governor Leonard Mwilima said.

Latin America

Dispatch from Columbia’s newest village

In war-torn Columbia, new villages mark a rare win for both natives and the environment

By Sibylla Brodzinsky | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the March 28, 2009 edition

KANKAWARWA, COLOMBIA – Tucked into a lush river basin, 18 thatched huts form the core of this Indian village – and an unlikely bastion of a unique and fragile culture.

This newly inaugurated village in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains on Colombia’s northern coast marks the latest advance in the fight to recuperate sacred and traditional lands lost to farmers, loggers, and drug-running militias.

Indeed, Kankawarwa (pronounced kan-ka-WAHR-wuh) is the result of an unusual – and sometimes uneasy – marriage of convenience.

This village on the northwestern slope of the Sierra is the sixth of 10 “barrier” villages being built by the Colombian government in a pact between President Alvaro Uribe and the joint governing council of the four different indigenous tribes that share these mountains: the Arhuaco, Kogi, Wiwa, and Kankuamo.

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