Obama Gets Blamed
For Not Fulling A
McCain Campaign Promise
Even Though Republicans Added
More Than 300 Items Of Pork
Financial Fraud Is Focus of Attack by Prosecutors
By DAVID SEGAL
Published: March 11, 2009
Spurred by rising public anger, federal and state investigators are preparing for a surge of prosecutions of financial fraud.
Across the country, attorneys general have already begun indicting dozens of loan processors, mortgage brokers and bank officers. Last week alone, there were guilty pleas in Minnesota, Delaware, North Carolina and Connecticut and sentences in Florida and Vermont – all stemming from home loan scams.
With the Obama administration focused on stabilizing the banks and restoring confidence in the stock market, it has said little about federal civil or criminal charges. But its proposed budget contains hints that it will add to this weight of litigation, including money for more F.B.I. agents to investigate mortgage fraud and white-collar crime, and a 13 percent raise for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Native American death rates soar as most people are living longer
Babies die at a rate 44% higher than decade ago
By VANESSA HO
On the Okanogan plains in northeast Washington, the Colville tribes recently buried a man who died after facing a bleak decision: spend his money on trips into town for dialysis, or buy food for his family.It was a variant of a fate that has doomed many people on the stark, remote reservation, causing the timber-dependent tribes to increasingly spend their money on burials.
“It’s a choice between feeding your family and living,” said Andy Joseph Jr., a Colville Confederated Tribes council member. “Our people can’t afford to pay for their funeral services.”
From isolated reservations across the state to urban pockets around Seattle, Native Americans are dying at higher rates than a decade ago, at a time when most people in Washington are living longer, healthier lives.
A recent state Department of Health report showed that the march against cancer, heart disease and infant mortality has largely bypassed Native Americans.
Intelligence Pick Blames ‘Israel Lobby’ For Withdrawal
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 12, 2009; Page A01
The withdrawal of a senior intelligence adviser after an online campaign to prevent him from taking office has ignited a debate over whether powerful pro-Israel lobbying interests are exercising outsize influence over who serves in the Obama administration.
When Charles W. Freeman Jr. stepped away Tuesday from an appointment to chair the National Intelligence Council — which oversees the production of reports that represent the view of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies — he decried in an e-mail “the barrage of libelous distortions of my record [that] would not cease upon my entry into office,” and he was blunt about whom he considers responsible.
They’re well-versed in hard times
The federal bailouts in the current recession are fodder for cowboy poets, who can’t recall any such rescue in the farm crisis of the 1980s.
By Ashley Powers
March 12, 2009
Reporting from Elko, Nev. — The rancher’s wife takes the stage in a white cowboy hat, a brown fringed shawl and an oversized silver belt buckle. A spotlight illuminates her hazel eyes and sly grin. Yvonne Hollenbeck, who has spent 63 years on the plains of Nebraska and South Dakota, clutches a microphone at the Elko Convention Center and shares her poem’s title with hundreds of ranchers and their kids:
“The Bail-Out Plan.”
The audience titters.
A “Bail Out” plan in Ag-Land is to feed the livestock hay,
and not the type of bail-out plan we hear about today.
When country folks lose money, which happens most the time,
they don’t receive a handout. . . . not even one thin dime.
Folks nod. A few mouth “yes.”
Cowboy poetry is a genre long on cattle roundups, prairie sunsets and falling in love. Now, the bards of the range are working the recession into their rhymes, and not always in a sentimental spirit. Resentment over federal bank bailouts in particular has lent an edge of class warfare to some verse.
Nawaz Sharif fears assassination as party begins protest
Pakistan opposition leader accuses president of running dictatorship
Saeed Shah in Lahore
The Guardian, Thursday 12 March 2009
Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani opposition leader, has accused the government of running an “elected dictatorship” that is plotting to kill him.
As a countrywide crackdown was launched against political activists, Sharif, a former prime minister, told the Guardian in an interview that Asif Ali Zardari, the president, was ruling under a cloak of democracy but his policies would only benefit extremist elements.
Pakistan is struggling with an onslaught by homegrown Islamist militants that has left hundreds dead, and the government is fighting to shore up a collapsing economy. But these battles appear to have been sidelined by a confrontation between the two big political parties, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N and Zardari’s Pakistan People’s party.
Student facing twenty years in hell
Afghan court secretly sentences student whose cause was taken up by The Independent. His crime? To download article on women’s rights
By Jerome Starkey in Kabul
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country’s highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.
The 23-year-old, brought to worldwide attention after an Independent campaign, was praying that Afghanistan’s top judges would quash his conviction for lack of evidence, or because he was tried in secret and convicted without a defence lawyer. Instead, almost 18 months after he was arrested for allegedly circulating an article about women’s rights, any hope of justice and due process evaporated amid gross irregularities, allegations of corruption and coercion at the Supreme Court. Justices issued their decision in secret, without letting Mr Kambaksh’s lawyer submit so much as a word in his defence.
Afzal Nooristani, the legal campaigner representing Mr Kambaksh, accused the judges of behaving “no better than the Taliban”. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into Afghanistan’s legal system and 149 British soldiers have died there since 2001, but experts admit that state justice is still beyond the reach of most ordinary Afghans.
Sarkozy to end France’s 40-year Nato feud
President says country will return to alliance’s military command
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Nicolas Sarkozy has made the most symbolic foreign policy gesture of his presidency by announcing France’s return to Nato’s military command, and reversing Charles de Gaulle’s decision to walk out in protest at US domination more than 40 years ago.
In an impassioned speech at Paris’s military academy, Sarkozy said France’s return to Nato’s inner sanctum was long overdue. He dismissed as “lies” his political opponents’ fears that French independence would now be sacrificed to America.
“A nation alone is a nation with no influence,” he said of France’s self-imposed exile from Nato’s military command at the height of the cold war. He said it was logical that France, which is the fourth-biggest provider of troops to Nato and has led missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan, should cement years of growing influence in Nato by retaking its place at the table of the integrated military command structure that plans and conducts operations.
Could Churchill have stopped ‘bestial policy’?
From The Times
March 12, 2009
The new evidence suggesting that Britain was aware of Witold Pilecki’s plans to liberate Auschwitz will reignite the long-running debate over how much Winston Churchill knew about the death camp and whether he did enough to prevent the genocide taking place there.
There is little doubt that Churchill, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, was a staunch defender of the Jews and one of the few statesmen to grasp the enormity of the Holocaust.
As early as 1941 the code-breakers at Bletchley Park had furnished Churchill with ample evidence of the systematic mass murder of Jews. By 1942 he was condemning what he called “a bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination”. More specifically, he knew that a train containing 4,000 Jewish children had left Lyon for “somewhere in Poland”
Witch hunt: Africa’s hidden war on women
In villages across Africa, old women suspected of witchcraft are hacked to death, while young girls are mutilated to preserve their virginity. But attitudes are changing – and thousands of lives are being saved. Johann Hari reports from Kenya and Tanzania
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Across Africa, a war is being waged on women – but we are refusing to hear the screams. Over the past fortnight, I have travelled into the secretive shadow world that mutilates millions of African women at the beginning of their lives, and at the end. As girls, they face having their genitalia sliced out with razors, to destroy their “filthy” sexuality and keep them “pure”. As old women, they face being hacked to death as “witches”, blamed for every virus and sickness blowing across the savannah.
For decades, we have not wanted to know, because it sounded too much like the old colonialist claims of African “primitivism”, used as an excuse by our ancestors to pillage the continent’s resources. Our bad memories stop us hearing their bad experiences.
Ejected from Darfur, aid workers fear for people there
By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers
NAIROBI, Kenya – On her last day in the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan, Gemma Davies, a 29-year-old 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, and Davies figured she’d return to the clinic in a couple of weeks.
Tariq Aziz, Saddam’s frontman, jailed for 15 years for crimes against humanity
From The Times
March 11, 2009
Michael Evans, Defence Editor
Tariq Aziz, formerly the urbane, Westernised frontman for Saddam Hussein and the only Christian in the Iraqi dictator’s inner circle, was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday for crimes against humanity.
Aziz, who was the face of Saddam’s regime for years, looked shocked when the sentence was given out at his trial in Baghdad and asked to sit down. He has been suffering ill health for some time.
He was found guilty on four counts of crimes against humanity, including complicity in murder and torture in connection with the execution of 42 Iraqi merchants who had been accused by Saddam of being involved in increasing food prices at a time when the country was struggling under international sanctions. They were rounded up in July 1992 and executed soon after a quick trial.
Why Syria and Saudi Arabia are talking again
It’s about Iran, Iraq, and Israel. The two foes planned to meet in Riyadh Wednesday to solidify Arab unity amid regional volatility.
By Nicholas Blanford | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 12, 2009 edition
BEIRUT, LEBANON – Saudi Arabia’s steps to end its bitter dispute with Syria appear to be aimed at unifying Arabs against a trio of growing concerns: Iran’s spreading influence in the region, the uncertainties of a US drawdown in Iraq, and the prospect of a right-wing government in Israel.
Saudi outreach follows Washington’s tentative reengagement with Damascus, a move that diplomats hope will have more success in weaning Syria away from its Iranian ally than the Bush administration’s policy of isolation.
“The Saudis want to get Syria away from Iran,” says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Washington’s style is to try engagement as well, so the Arabs are trying their best to get Syria on board.”
After a month of shuttle diplomacy, Saudi King Abdullah, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah will meet for a fence-mending summit in Riyadh Wednesday.
The rift between Syria and Saudi Arabia followed the assassination in 2005 of Rafik Hariri, a Lebanese former prime minister who was close to the kingdom’s ruling family. The Syrian regime remains a leading suspect in the assassination, although it denies involvement.
Presidency within reach of El Salvador’s ex-rebels
By ALEXANDRA OLSON, Associated Press Write
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – A former television journalist who has compared himself to President Barack Obama has given El Salvador’s former guerrillas their best chance to win the presidency since a bloody civil war ended in 1992.
If Mauricio Funes wins Sunday’s election, he would extend a string of leftist victories in Latin America and uproot two decades of conservative Salvadoran governments that have been steadfast U.S. allies. He would also be the first leftist Latin American leader elected since Obama took office, giving him a unique opportunity to build relations on a fresh note.
Funes, of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, faces Rodrigo Avila, an FBI-trained former national police chief running for the conservative ruling party, Arena. Most polls show Funes ahead of Avila, though many voters remain undecided.