It’s Nice To See That
Pakistan Clearly Understands
More Nuclear Weapons
At Geithner’s Treasury, Key Decisions on Hold
Many Advisers’ Roles Are Undefined And Others Still Awaiting Confirmation
By David Cho
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 18, 2009
Seven weeks after the Treasury Department announced that it was ousting General Motors chief G. Richard Wagoner Jr. in the federal bailout of the company, he is still technically on GM’s payroll.
Wagoner’s removal has been held up because senior Treasury officials have yet to decide whether he should get the $20 million severance package that the company had promised him.
The delay is one of many hitches that have slowed a host of important policy actions in the four months since Timothy F. Geithner became Treasury secretary. While Geithner has taken dramatic steps to address flashpoints in the economy, the work of carrying out those policies has bogged down because critical decisions about how to do so aren’t being made, interviews with a broad range of federal officials show.
Pakistan Is Rapidly Adding Nuclear Arms, U.S. Says
By THOM SHANKER and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: May 17, 2009
WASHINGTON – Members of Congress have been told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal even while racked by insurgency, raising questions on Capitol Hill about whether billions of dollars in proposed military aid might be diverted to Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the assessment of the expanded arsenal in a one-word answer to a question on Thursday in the midst of lengthy Senate testimony. Sitting beside Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, he was asked whether he had seen evidence of an increase in the size of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
Prosecutors Block Access to DNA Testing for Inmates
By SHAILA DEWAN
Published: May 17, 2009
In an age of advanced forensic science, the first step toward ending Kenneth Reed’s prolonged series of legal appeals should be simple and quick: a DNA test, for which he has offered to pay, on evidence from the 1991 rape of which he was convicted.
Louisiana, where Mr. Reed is in prison, is one of 46 states that have passed laws to enable inmates like him to get such a test. But in many jurisdictions, prosecutors are using new arguments to get around the intent of those laws, particularly in cases with multiple defendants, when it is not clear how many DNA profiles will be found in a sample.
The laws were enacted after DNA evidence exonerated a first wave of prisoners in the early 1990s, when law enforcement authorities strongly resisted reopening old cases. Continued resistance by prosecutors is causing years of delay and, in some cases, eliminating the chance to try other suspects because the statute of limitations has passed by the time the test is granted.
At Notre Dame, Obama tackles abortion debate
The president’s commencement speech calls for greater understanding and for each side to stop dehumanizing the other. On and off campus, antiabortion protests are staged.
By John McCormick and Manya A. Brachear
May 18, 2009
Reporting from South Bend, Ind. — Confronting the nation’s deep schism over abortion, President Obama on Sunday called for greater understanding on all sides and “open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words” on the issue as he spoke to graduates at one of America’s premier Catholic universities.
Obama emphasized the importance of common ground as opponents of abortion rights protested his appearance and the honorary degree he received from the University of Notre Dame.
“I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away,” he said. “At some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.”
Speaking before about 12,000 people inside the university’s basketball arena, Obama borrowed a page from former President Clinton, who supported abortion rights but spoke often of the need to reduce unwanted pregnancies and encourage adoptions — language that both sides can generally agree with.
Sri Lanka declares end to war with Tamil Tigers
• Rebel leader shot dead while fleeing war zone
• LTTE defeat prompts anti-British protest in Colombo
Matthew Weaver and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Monday 18 May 2009 09.55 BST
The Sri Lankan government today formally declared an end to the 25-year civil war after the army took control of the entire island and killed the leader of the Tamil Tigers.
The chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed while trying to flee the war zone in an ambulance, state TV reported.
Special forces troops also killed the rebels’ intelligence chief Pottu Amman, and Soosai, the head of the group’s “Sea Tiger” naval wing, the broadcaster said, according to Reuters.
Security tight at Suu Kyi trial in Burma
Monday, 18 May 2009
Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi went on trial today in a notorious prison ringed by riot police and barbed wire as activists vowed to stage protests across the country until she is freed.
She faces up to five years’ imprisonment on charges that she violated conditions of her yearslong detention by sheltering an American man who swam to her lakeside home earlier this month.
More than 100 Suu Kyi supporters were able to pass through the outer circle of barricades around Insein prison in Yangon but not the inner one which was closely guarded by armed police and pro-regime supporters. One young protester was seen being taken away by police.
The ambassadors of Britain, France, Germany and Italy as well as an Australian diplomat were barred from entering the prison, but the U.S. consul was allowed into the prison compound since a US citizen, John William Yettaw, also was on trial along with Suu Kyi.
Anger over expenses could push voters into arms of BNP and UKIP
From The Times
May 18, 2009
His hands still dirty from a week’s hard graft, the heating engineer who answered the door was in the mood to punish any politician who dared to come asking for his vote.
He told Alex Williams, a Conservative candidate in the European elections, that normally he voted Tory but was so sickened by revelations of MPs’ greed that this time he was thinking of supporting a fringe party, possibly the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
“I play by the rules,” he said. “I pay my taxes and the taxman will be down on you like a tonne of bricks if you try to get away with anything. It turns out the politicians have made up their own rules. They are on the fiddle.”
Lithuanians vote in female president
Voters in Lithuania have elected the country’s first female president in a landslide. The result indicated citizens are ready for change in the recession-hit Baltic state.
ELECTIONS | 18.05.2009
European Union budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite, who ran as an independent candidate, won 69 percent of the vote. She came in well ahead of her nearest rival, Social Democrat Algirdas Butkevicius, who obtained just 11.87 percent. The five other candidates lagged even farther behind.
Official results showed just over 51 percent of the country’s 2.7 million registered voters turned out, which according to Lithuanian law, was just enough for Grybauskaite to avoid a runoff ballot.
“I congratulate the Lithuanian people for their choice,” the 53-year-old told a cheering crowd at her election quarters, before adding: “The taste of victory is the burden of responsibility.”
Grybauskaite takes office at a time when Lithuania is struggling to cope with the global economic downturn. Unemployment stands at 15.5 percent, which is the European Union’s third highest, while overall salaries are predicted to fall by 12.3 percent this year.
Somali anti-pirate coastguard bid
Somalia has asked the international community to help it set up a national coastguard to help tackle piracy.
The BBC Monday, 18 May 2009
Nur Mohamed Mohamoud, of Somalia’s National Security Agency, told an anti-piracy summit in Malaysia the government was eager to tackle pirates.
He said an effective coastguard was also needed to protect fishermen from illegal foreign fishing boats and to prevent dumping of toxic materials.
Somalia wants equipment and training, not a foreign anti-piracy force.
However, Somalia’s internationally recognised government only controls small parts of the country, while Islamist insurgents hold much of the south.
Meanwhile, five suspected pirates are due to go on trial in Holland after being caught allegedly trying to attack a Dutch-flagged freighter in January.
Darfurian Rebel Commander to Face War Crimes Charges
By MARLISE SIMONS
Published: May 17, 2009
PARIS – A Darfurian rebel leader accused of participating in the killing of African peacekeepers in 2007 arrived in The Hague on Sunday to face war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court, a court statement said.
The commander, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, was charged by the court’s prosecutor last year and recently received a court summons, though he was not facing an arrest warrant.
He is the leader of the United Resistance Front, which is fighting the Sudanese government in the western Darfur region. It is one of several groups accused of involvement in an attack in September 2007 in which Darfurian rebels raided an African Union base, killing 12 peacekeepers and seriously wounding eight.
Mideast leaders defend free market at economic forum
Despite capitalism’s recently damaged reputation, participants at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East this weekend agreed that minimal regulation was key to growth.
By Nicholas Seeley | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the May 17, 2009 edition
DEAD SEA, JORDAN – With US policymakers focusing on bailouts, stimulus measures, and expanding social welfare programs, it can be easy to believe that the whole world’s economic agenda has changed. But in Jordan and other countries in the broader Middle East, the drive for economic liberalization is alive and well.
At the World Economic Forum on the Middle East this weekend, the economic crisis and reforming institutions dominated much of the agenda – but for many of the participants, reform meant pushing for freer trade, more foreign investment, and minimal regulation.
“I hope governments do not take what has been happening in the last eight months as an excuse to interfere more in business,” said Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, chairman of the Ithmaar bank in Bahrain, in a panel discussion at the Forum. “If we allow governments to come in again, that is going to be the biggest damage that we’re going to have [from the crisis].”
Iraq’s once-envied health care system lost to war, corruption
By Corinne Reilly | McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD – Dr. Zinah Jawad leaned over her patient and peered into his glazed eyes. It doesn’t look good, she said, shaking her head.
The man had arrived at Baghdad Teaching Hospital’s emergency department a few hours earlier with a high fever and dizziness. Now he lies shaking, sweat soaking his dirty clothes.
The Teaching Hospital’s emergency room is cleaner than most in Baghdad. In fact, it’s widely considered the best in the Iraqi capital. Still, flies buzz overhead, and on busy days there aren’t enough beds or oxygen tanks. Across the room, a crude sign made with binder paper and tape marks the department’s two-bed cardiac unit, which lacks a reliable defibrillator.
Mexico sees inside job in prison break
The prison warden and two top guards are arrested in Zacatecas after suspected drug cartel men in a 17-car convoy, backed by a helicopter, entered the facility and freed 53 inmates.
By Tracy Wilkinson
May 18, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City — It took just minutes. Not a shot was fired. And by Sunday, authorities were sure it was an inside job.
Suspected drug traffickers swept into the prison in Zacatecas state Saturday and freed 53 inmates. Many of the escapees were cartel gunmen.State Gov. Amalia Garcia said the prison warden and two top guards had been arrested. An additional 40 guards were being questioned.
“It is clear to us that this was perfectly planned” and that guards were bought off, Garcia said.
Officials reached that conclusion after reviewing tapes from security cameras. The footage shows the ease with which a convoy of 17 vehicles, backed by a helicopter, approached Cieneguillas prison. About 30 men, some in police uniforms, entered, rounded up the prisoners, loaded them into the cars and sped away.