Docudharma Times Friday May 1

I Bet You Miss

Those May Day Parades

In Moscow’s Red Square    

Friday’s Headlines:

Chrysler will feel unfulfilled in its Italian romance

Marriage of Saudi Arabian girl, eight, annulled

After six years, one month and 11 days, Britain ends its military mission in Iraq

Kabul’s new elite live high on West’s largesse

Leaked UN satellite images ‘show haven for Sri Lanka refugees was bombed’

Nato and Moscow in war of words after Russian envoys expelled

Spanish judge opens Guantánamo investigation

Charges against Madagascar ‘PM’

Egypt’s call to kill pigs amid flu scare ridiculed

WHO warns of impact on poor countries of large-scale swine flu outbreak

Chris McGreal in Washington and Xan Rice in Nairobi

The Guardian, Friday 1 May 2009

The World Health Organisation is distributing part of its stockpile of 3.5m anti-viral drugs to southern Africa and other vulnerable regions after warning about the risk of a health infrastructure ill-equipped to deal with a large-scale outbreak of swine flu, coupled with the onset of winter.

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director-general for health security, yesterday said the organisation had begun “distributing anti-flu drugs to countries most in need, as well as to Mexico”.

The WHO declined to say which countries were receiving the medicines but Fukuda said people in the southern hemisphere, where winter was on its way, were of particular concern. Previously the WHO said richer countries should act immediately to help the developing world prepare for a flu pandemic.

An edgy quiet descends over Mexico City

Fear of swine flu stills the noisy megalopolis, with parks and roads empty of children and traffic. But unlike the lull over a holiday weekend, this one is filled with dread.

By Ken Ellingwood

May 1, 2009

Reporting from Mexico City — Stroll around this city for long and a gnawing sensation grows. The children are missing. This is a place where, normally, children are noisy, abundant, doted upon.

In an instant, they seem to have disappeared.

The swine flu outbreak in Mexico City has achieved the seemingly impossible: It has stilled this clamorous megalopolis of 20 million people. The streets are suddenly emptier, safer to cross, but lonelier. The parks seem bigger without the children. Fear of infection and government restrictions on public gatherings have combined to produce something like a city in hiding.

A week after officials announced the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, Mexico City — a teeming, polluted, noisy, thrilling behemoth — feels more like Phoenix than it does the largest city in the Western Hemisphere.


Souter Reportedly Planning to Retire From High Court

Justice Might Stay Until Nominee Confirmed

By Robert Barnes

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, May 1, 2009

Justice David H. Souter, the Republican-appointed New England jurist who has become a reliable member of the liberal bloc on the Supreme Court, has told friends that he plans to retire, according to a government official.

Court spokeswoman Kathleen L. Arberg said last night that Souter had no comment following reports that he plans to step down at the end of the court’s term in June. Souter would be likely to stay on until a replacement could be confirmed. The court’s next term starts in October.

Souter’s colleagues on the bench have been trying to talk him out of retiring, according to a source close to the court.

Chrysler will feel unfulfilled in its Italian romance

Fiat figures to benefit more from its marriage with the struggling U.S. automaker.

Dan Neil

May 1, 2009

After an abusive affair with Germany’s Daimler ending in 2007 and a dysfunctional relationship with former owner Cerberus Capital Management that ended with the company in bankruptcy Thursday, can Chrysler learn to love again?

The alliance between Chrysler and Italy’s Fiat — in which the Turin automaker takes a 20% stake in Chrysler and Chrysler gains access to Fiat’s small-vehicle and fuel-efficient technology — is plainly a terrific deal for Fiat and maintains Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne’s reputation as super-fixer and corporate Midas.

Fiat pays next to nothing and now has instant access to U.S. markets through Chrysler’s dealers. For at least a year, Marchionne had been casting about for a partner to help bring Fiat to America, approaching GM, Ford, BMW and Nissan along the way. A plan to reintroduce Alfa Romeo was abandoned suddenly last year after the economy softened.

Middle East

Marriage of Saudi Arabian girl, eight, annulled

Ian Black, Middle East editor

The Guardian, Friday 1 May 2009

An eight-year old Saudi Arabian girl who was married off by her father to a man in his 50s has had the union annulled, it was reported yesterday. The case, which had generated local and international outrage, ended with an out-of-court settlement.

The child, who has not been named, had been told by a court last December that she would not be allowed to divorce her husband until she reached puberty.

The settlement, brokered by a new judge in Unaizah, Qassim province, was reached only after lengthy negotiations between the girl’s lawyer and the husband.

The previous judge had ruled for the second time earlier this month that the marriage was legal. The father is said to have married the child to a friend to pay a financial debt. It had been stipulated, however, that the groom could not have sex with her until she reached puberty.

After six years, one month and 11 days, Britain ends its military mission in Iraq

 Troops mark their withdrawal from Basra with ceremony to remember fallen comrades

By Kim Sengupta

Friday, 1 May 2009

The names were read out one by one as a piper played laments. The final goodbye to Iraq was marked by remembering those who will not make it home.

In London, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, declared an official end to combat operations in a conflict which had lasted longer than either of the World Wars. In Basra, it was a sombre and reflective farewell to arms for British troops as they went on their last patrols along streets where they had fought battles and lost comrades.

British involvement in Iraq had started with Tony Blair joining George W Bush’s invasion and yesterday it ended with the same American connection. Military authority in Basra was handed over to a US force of 5,000 which will replace the 3,800 from the UK.


Kabul’s new elite live high on West’s largesse

‘Gilded cage’ lifestyle reveals the ugly truth about foreign aid in Afghanistan

By Patrick Cockburn in Kabul

Friday, 1 May 2009

Vast sums of money are being lavished by Western aid agencies on their own officials in Afghanistan at a time when extreme poverty is driving young Afghans to fight for the Taliban. The going rate paid by the Taliban for an attack on a police checkpoint in the west of the country is $4, but foreign consultants in Kabul, who are paid out of overseas aids budgets, can command salaries of $250,000 to $500,000 a year.

The high expenditure on paying, protecting and accommodating Western aid officials in palatial style helps to explain why Afghanistan ranks 174th out of 178th on a UN ranking of countries’ wealth. This is despite a vigorous international aid effort with the US alone spending $31bn since 2002 up to the end of last year.

Leaked UN satellite images ‘show haven for Sri Lanka refugees was bombed’

From The Times

May 1, 2009

Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent  

Confidential UN satellite images leaked yesterday appear to show that the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed a safe haven for up to 150,000 civilians fleeing fighting against the Tamil Tigers.

The images contained in an internal UN report may constitute the strongest evidence yet of violations of international humanitarian law or war crimes, according to human rights activists. The report by Unosat, dated April 26, provides detailed images of the tiny strip of beach and coconut grove – now covering only 3.8sq miles (10sq km) – where the army has pinned down the Tigers along with thousands of civilians.

The Government declared the area a safe haven or “no-fire zone” on February 12, urging civilians to seek shelter there, and has repeatedly denied using heavy artillery or aerial bombs to attack it.

The Unosat report, based on images between February 5 and April 19, appears to back up the persistent verbal testimony to the contrary from doctors, aid workers and civilians fleeing the area.


Nato and Moscow in war of words after Russian envoys expelled

From The Times

May 1, 2009

Tony Halpin in Moscow

Nato and Russia traded accusations yesterday after the alliance accused Moscow of breaking the peace agreement that ended the war with Georgia, a day after it expelled two Russian diplomats in a spying row.

At a ceremony in the Kremlin yesterday Russia assumed formal control of the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in agreements signed by President Medvedev with the leaders of Georgia’s two breakaway regions. The signing elicited a sharp response from Nato, which said that the treaties were in “clear contravention” of the ceasefire brokered by President Sarkozy of France to end the war between Russia and Georgia last August.

Spanish judge opens Guantánamo investigation

Baltasar Garzón is bringing the case based on ‘universal jurisdiction,’ in which serious crimes can be tried outside national borders.

By Robert Marquand | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BERLIN – Spanish investigative judge Baltasar Garzón, known in international legal circles for his efforts to extradite Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, said Tuesday that he will open a preliminary investigation into the creation of the Guantánamo camp.

If followed through, the investigation could bring out in a European court many of the materials already uncovered in the United States – through congressional committee hearings, recently declassified CIA memos, and media outlets – on the sanctioning of extreme methods of interrogation that have widely been called “torture.”

Judge Garzón, known as “the superjudge” in Spain for his high-profile indictments, appears to be focused less on those in the US who carried out extreme measures, and more on the conceptual legal “framers” of then-secret memos that enabled the interrogations.

The scope of Garzón’s filing includes “any of those that executed and/or designed a systematic plan of torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of the prisoners [at Guantánamo] that were under their custody.”

Sources familiar with the case say that pressures by the Spanish government to slow or stop Garzón are intense, and that Spanish justice officials and even Garzón himself would prefer that the US administration carry out a serious investigation in line with the requirements of the 1984 Convention on Torture (of which the US is a signatory), which demands such an inquiry.


 Charges against Madagascar ‘PM’

The man appointed as prime minister by Madagascar’s ousted President Marc Ravalomanana has been charged with threatening the security of the state.


Manandafy Rakotonirina, 70, was seized by heavily-armed soldiers and police from a five-star hotel in the capital, Antananarivo, on Wednesday.

He was named PM by Mr Ravalomanana this week, even though he was ousted from power in March by Andry Rajoelina.

The army-backed takeover has been widely condemned as a coup d’etat.

Mr Rakotonirina was also charged with illegitimately declaring himself prime minister, instigating the destruction of property and illegal possession of firearms.

Mr Rakotonirina is expected to appear in court along with eight others in the coming days, says the BBC’s Jonny Hogg in Antananarivo.

Violent protests

Mr Ravalomanana is now in exile in Swaziland, but Mr Rajoelina’s administration accuses him and his supporters of being behind recent violent protests in the capital, in which at least two people died.

 Egypt’s call to kill pigs amid flu scare ridiculed


By TAREK EL-TABLAWY, AP Business Writer

CAIRO – Egypt’s government was hoping to look strong and proactive in the swine flu scare with its decision to slaughter all the country’s pigs, after taking heavy criticism at home for poor planning and corruption in past crises.

But instead, some Egyptians called the move a knee-jerk overreaction that even the World Health Organization said was unnecessary.

Egypt, which has no swine flu cases, is the only country in the world to order a mass pig slaughter in response to the disease. The move mirrored Egypt’s battle with bird flu, in which the government killed 25 million birds within weeks in 2006.

But international health officials said the swine flu virus that has caused worldwide fear is not transmitted by pigs, and that pig slaughters do nothing to stop its spread. The WHO on Thursday stopped using the term “swine flu” to avoid confusion.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


  1. This flu by my count has been reported as being manufactured twice by even mainstream media outlets.  HLN, that tabloid child of CNN actually did not come out and say it but rather it was “a combination of four viruses” thus indicating engineered ideal bioweapon.  This is after all “a post 911 world” and if you endorse that crap you may get the chance to take that to your grave.

    Swine flu actually fits as a name.  Pigs feeding off the misery of millions for profit have decided there are just too many people in the world.

    Is this Benjamin Fulford in reverse.

    • RiaD on May 1, 2009 at 19:43

    those poor people in sri-lanka


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