House Minority Leader John “I’m Orange” Boehner (R-OH)
Is Shocked! Shocked!
That Anyone Would
Accuse The C.I.A Of
Yea, They Never Lied
Yellow Cake Anyone
A Single-Minded Focus on Dual Wars
Defense Secretary Is Reorienting the Military to Meet U.S. Troops’ Needs Now
By Greg Jaffe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 15, 2009
On a rainy night in March, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the military’s ritual for welcoming home its war dead.
In a small building next to the tarmac, an officer briefed the defense secretary on the four deceased troops arriving that evening. They had been driving along a rutted road near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, when their Humvee hit a powerful roadside bomb.
Gates flashed with anger, according to people with him that day.
Revealed: the inside story of the Tiananmen massacre
Secret memoir of Communist party leader who opposed crackdown is finally published
By Clifford Coonan in Beijing
Friday, 15 May 2009
The secret memoirs of Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party leader ousted for opposing the military crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, exploded into the open yesterday, four years after his death.
Dictated during his years of house arrest and smuggled out on cassettes disguised as children’s music or Peking opera, the book will be pored over for clues about the workings of the secretive group of men who make up the inner core of China’s Communist Party. The decisions made in Beijing’s Zhongnanhai compound have global impact as China is an emerging superpower, but little is known about how it functions. Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang may change all that.
The publishers, Simon and Schuster, were so worried about news of the Zhao book leaking that they listed it as Untitled by Anonymous in their catalogue. It was not supposed to go on sale until next Tuesday but several stores in Hong Kong broke the embargo and put it on the shelves. And the clamour – just ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 4 June Tiananmen Square massacre, when tensions are high about political dissent in China – was intense.
Obama to renew military tribunals
He had pledged during the presidential campaign to end the controversial trials of terrorism suspects. Human rights groups are outraged.
By Julian E. Barnes
May 15, 2009
Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration will announce plans today to revive the Bush-era military commission system for prosecuting terrorism suspects, current and former officials said, reversing a campaign pledge to rely instead on federal courts and the traditional military justice system.
Word of the decision infuriated human rights groups, which argued that any trials under the system created by President George W. Bush would be widely viewed as tainted. They said President Obama was duplicating Bush’s mistakes.
The announcement would follow other moves by Obama that have disappointed his administration’s liberal allies but heartened Bush supporters, including his decisions to withhold photos depicting alleged abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers and to retain the option of using a limited form of rendition, the practice of turning terrorism suspects over to other countries for questioning.
Treasury rolls out relief for more homeowners facing foreclosure
By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration unveiled new programs Thursday designed to make it easier for homeowners who owe far more than their houses are now worth to sell those homes at a loss and have their remaining debt forgiven.
The programs, announced by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, are the latest additions to Making Home Affordable, an evolving $75 billion plan that tries to break the national housing crisis into separate pieces, attacking the problem on several fronts.
The first two legs of the program sought to help borrowers refinance into today’s low mortgage rates, or if they’re behind on payments, to seek loan modifications to avoid foreclosure.
Caught in the crossfire – the Swat valley’s fleeing families
Declan Walsh seeks out the refugees trapped in a brutal war between Pakistan’s army and the Taliban after an uneasy and short-lived truce
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 14 May 2009 22.55 BST
Army footage shows laser-guided missiles slamming into mountain buildings that explode into a fountain of fragments. Warplanes blast away at Taliban targets in the Swat valley and ground troops push towards the main town, Mingora. When Pakistani forces kill the Taliban, few complain – this is a popular war, for now.
“We are progressing well,” a spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said.
Sometimes, though, they hit the wrong target. Jan Nawab, a slightly-built man with a scraggly beard, stood outside the house where he has taken refuge, and sobbed softly under the weight of the calamity that had befallen him.
Sri Lanka government in ‘final push’ against Tamil Tigers
From Times Online
May 15, 2009
Jeremy Page, South Asia correspondent
Sri Lanka’s government and army vowed this morning to finish off the Tamil Tigers within 48 hours, despite warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe and international calls for a ceasefire to allow thousands of civilians to leave rebel-held territory.
Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman, told The Times that the army was closing in on the 1.5 square mile pocket of northeastern coastline where it has pinned down the Tigers and would free all the remaining civilians there by Sunday morning.
“The people will all be rescued within 48 hours,” he said, estimating that there were less than 15,000 civilians in the area, although the UN still puts the figure at around 50,000.
Don’t surprise me with strike on Iran, Obama warns Netanyahu
Secret envoy brings stern message on eve of Washington meetings
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Friday, 15 May 2009
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flies to the US for talks with President Obama next week, having already been warned not to “surprise” Washington with an Israeli military operation against Iran, according to the liberal daily Haaretz.
On the eve of talks which are seen as crucial to defining the future of the Middle East peace process, the US President was reported to have dispatched an unnamed envoy to warn the Israeli leader of US concern that Israel could act unilaterally against Iran.
The message was said to have been conveyed to Mr Netanyahu after an earlier meeting in Washington at which an envoy representing the Israeli Prime Minister had discussed the US President’s initiative to open dialogue with Tehran.
Tiny Saudi democracy movement sends king blueprint for reform
Signed by 77 activists, a petition sent by express mail Wednesday night calls for an elected parliament and public access to the trials of 991 suspects in Al Qaeda-inspired violence.
By Caryle Murphy | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the May 14, 2009 edition
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi rights activists have sent King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz a petition asking for an elected parliament, term limits on royal princes appointed to official posts, and an end to “secret tribunals” for Saudis charged with terrorism offenses.
The petition, which also requests that the post of prime minister be given to “a commoner,” is another attempt by Saudi Arabia’s tiny but persistent democracy movement to get its voice heard in an absolute monarchy that prohibits political parties.
Sent Wednesday by express mail to the king and 20 other officials, the petition signed by 77 people – mostly self-described “human rights activists” – asks for a constitutional monarchy “like UK, Jordan, and Morocco.”
“Our people have to share in the decisions of our country,” says petitioner Fowzan Mohsin Al Harbi, a mechanical engineer at King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh.
Silvio Berlusconi attacks press for defamation over unanswered questions
From The Times
May 15, 2009
Richard Owen in Naples
Silvio Berlusconi has launched a fierce attack on La Repubblica, accusing the newspaper of defamation and denigration after it challenged him to explain his relationship with Noemi Letizia, the teenager who calls him Papi.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office said that there was a media campaign against Mr Berlusconi, 72, fuelled by “envy and hatred of a Prime Minister who has achieved historic levels of public trust”.
It said this took the form of “low attacks” which were aimed at influencing the European and local elections in June. Because it lacked “concrete political arguments” the opposition was exploiting “exclusively private matters for political ends”.
Europe launches telescopes to study universe
The European Space Agency has launched two powerful new flagship telescopes to study space and time in more detail than in the past and give scientists a better and clearer window on the universe.
SCIENCE | 14.05.2009
An Ariane 5 rocket carrying the two observatories, Herschel and Planck, blasted off from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) launch centre in French Guiana. It was to take them out to a position some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, giving the astronomical instruments an ideal station from which to view the universe.
The Herschel and Planck launch comes during the International Year of Astronomy, a busy year for ESA, and is worth around 1.9 billion euros ($2.6 billion).
In addition to the two observatories, ESA is also set to launch three satellites this year that will acquire key data about ice, gravity and soils on Earth.
“Herschel and Planck are part of the new generation of astronomical observations. We started off close to the Earth and we’ve gradually moved further away; but in the future, most observatories will be in deep space,” David Southwood, director of science at ESA told the BBC last month.
South Africa in Dalai Lama U-turn
South Africa’s government has made a U-turn over its decision in March to deny the Dalai Lama a visa.
New International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Tibet’s spiritual leader could now visit whenever he wanted.
The government caused an international outcry when it said it would not allow him to attend a peace conference, linked to the 2010 Football World Cup.
Critics accused South Africa of caving in to Chinese pressure.
The visa ban prompted Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President FW de Klerk to pull out of the conference for Nobel laureates, forcing organisers to postpone it indefinitely.
Despite the furore at the time, government spokesman Thabo Masebe said no visa would be issued “between now and the World Cup”, which South Africa is hosting. The government said his presence would distract attention from the World Cup – the first to be held in Africa.
Guatemala president faces toughest test yet
Alvaro Colom denies a dead man’s video allegation that he was behind his killing. Some see the death as symbolic of violence and corruption in Guatemala.
By Ken Ellingwood
May 15, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City — Accusations by a dead man have delivered Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom his most serious crisis since taking power a year and a half ago.
Protesters and political foes have urged Colom to step aside while investigators look into murder allegations lodged on video by a lawyer days before he was slain by gunmen Sunday.
In the video, attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg stares into the camera and delivers a chilling declaration: “Sadly, if you are hearing or seeing this message now, it is because I was murdered by President Alvaro Colom, with the help of Gustavo Alejos,” the president’s secretary.
Colom vehemently denies any involvement and has asked a U.N.-sponsored investigative commission and the FBI to help find the killers.
Guatemala has been roiled since the 20-minute video was released Monday by a journalist who helped Rosenberg record it. Hundreds of people, including many who support the president, have participated in peaceful demonstrations in Guatemala City, the capital. Business leaders have made public appeals for calm.