Newt And Dick Race
To The Past 2012
Yea! Pass The Champagne
Definitive Account Of Briefings Still Elusive
Lawmakers Divided After Reviewing CIA’s Notes on Pelosi Session
By Paul Kane and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Sequestered in rooms buried deep within the Capitol and requiring top-secret clearances to enter, members of the House and Senate intelligence committees have spent the past week leafing through documents at the heart of Washington’s latest who-knew-what-and-when saga.
But rather than emerging with clear agreement on what the memos reveal about the CIA briefing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received in 2002, and whether she was aware that aggressive interrogation methods were being used on terrorism suspects, lawmakers remain as divided as ever about the story they tell.
In Germany, widespread spying is back, this time by corporations
Hundreds of thousands of employees have had their cellphone, e-mail and computer records secretly searched. Companies say they did it to expose misconduct.
By Henry Chu
May 23, 2009
Reporting from Berlin — Growing up in West Germany, Lothar Schroeder never knew that terrible sense of violation suffered by people in the communist East at the hands of the secret police who tailed them, bugged their homes and recruited neighbors and even family members to snitch on them.
Now he knows.
But it’s not a totalitarian state doing the snooping this time; it’s some of the country’s largest corporations — big names in telecommunications, transportation and retail.
Last year, authorities informed Schroeder that Deutsche Telekom had secretly combed through his cellphone records, apparently to root out the source of leaks to the news media. Schroeder, a union representative on the company’s board of supervisors, was stunned.
“I never could believe that Deutsche Telekom would use their data in this way, never,” he said, adding ruefully, “Perhaps I’m a little bit naive.”
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany is being rocked by a string of spying scandals that have staggered residents with their scale and brought back painful memories of the prying eyes of Big Brother during the Cold War.
President’s Detention Plan Tests American Legal Tradition
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
Published: May 22, 2009
President Obama’s proposal for a new legal system in which terrorism suspects could be held in “prolonged detention” inside the United States without trial would be a departure from the way this country sees itself, as a place where people in the grip of the government either face criminal charges or walk free.
There are, to be sure, already some legal tools that allow for the detention of those who pose danger: quarantine laws as well as court precedents permitting the confinement of sexual predators and the dangerous mentally ill. Every day in America, people are denied bail and locked up because they are found to be a hazard to their communities, though they have yet to be convicted of anything.
Obama works with Graham on new detainee policy
By James Rosen | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham, an Air Force Reserve JAG, wasn’t among the military lawyers summoned to hear President Barack Obama’s address on closing the Guantanamo prison and reforming U.S. detainee policies.
Obama, though, made sure that his audience remembered the South Carolina senator who has served active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Four months after his executive order pledging to shutter the U.S. military prison in Cuba within a year, Obama used Graham’s authority to help make his case for doing so.
Obama responded to congressional Republicans who have pushed a frightful-sounding bill — the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act — to stir alarm over the prospect of Guantanamo’s 250 detainees being moved to the United States.
Pakistani army claims Taliban’s elimination in Swat valley imminent
• UN $543m appeal to help 2 million displaced people
• Intense fighting looms as strongholds are encircled
Declan Walsh in Khwazakhela, Swat valley
guardian.co.uk, Friday 22 May 2009 19.26 BST
The Pakistani army has encircled the Taliban in a number of strongholds across the Swat valley, a senior army officer said yesterday as the UN launched a $543m appeal for 2 million people displaced by the conflict.
“The noose is very tight around them. They are taking casualties every day,” said Major General Sajjid Ghani, who leads the fight in the northern half of the valley. “We are closing in on them and we will eliminate them.”
To prove the point, the army flew reporters to a mountain peak with a commanding view over the valley it had captured two days earlier after a 12-hour battle. Ghani pointed out several recently captured villages including Matta, a former Taliban stronghold. But the general refused to estimate how long the operation would take, and the sound of explosions and machine gun fire in the near distance suggested more tough fighting lay ahead.
Mahinda Rajapaksa wins Sri Lanka but peace may prove elusive
From The Times
May 23, 2009
Robert Bosleigh in Colombo
The monsoon rains that rolled into Colombo this week could not dampen the street celebrations that erupted when news broke of the Government’s defeat of the Tamil Tigers.
The hard-won result would have been savoured by one family above all: that of the President, Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa, who carved out victory with the help of his brothers – Gotabaya, the Defence Secretary, and Basil, who masterminded the political and diplomatic strategies that accompanied the war effort.
The brothers Rajapaksa, members of a prominent political family of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Sinhalese majority, won through utter ruthlessness, cunning and a fierce refusal to brook dissent, admirers as well as critics say.
In contrast to previous Oxbridgeeducated leaders, they had no links to the English-speaking elite of Colombo and showed little reluctance to sever Sri Lanka’s ties with the West in favour of strengthening relations with China and Russia – countries that supplied sophisticated military hardware and diplomatic muscle.
Revealed: how Italy tried to cut a deal with the Mafia
Supergrass says politicians negotiated with gangs even as judges were bombed
By Michael Day in Milan
Saturday, 23 May 2009
The murders of two courageous Sicilian judges in 1992 shocked Italy to the core, scandalised Europe, and forced the Italian state to take the Mafia threat seriously for the first time.
But this week Giovanni Brusca, the man who killed the first of those judges, Giovanni Falcone, by detonating a huge bomb under the Palermo airport motorway, told a heavily-guarded “bunker court” inside Rome’s Rebbibia jail that the Italian authorities were secretly trying to cut a deal with Salvatore “Toto” Riina, the capo di capi of Cosa Nostra at the time and the architect of the atrocities. Their efforts went on to the last minute.
Until he turned pentito, or super-grass, Giovanni Brusca was one of Sicily’s most ruthless mobsters, held responsible for between 100 and 200 murders.
Holocaust toll will rise even higher, says priest on trail of Nazi mass-killers
From The Times
May 23, 2009
One bullet, one Jew.
When Father Patrick Desbois heard that chilling Nazi maxim, he knew that he had to make a journey into one of the darkest corners of the Holocaust.
After a five-year investigation he had received a shocking insight into the mechanics of genocide – and strong indications that historians may have to raise their estimate of how many Jews were killed.
Working with a ballistics expert, the 53-year-old French priest dug up the mass graves of Ukraine.
“Every village was a crime scene,” he says, “and each case was different because the heads of the killing squads had to take in all the different factors – the geography, the transport available, the proximity of partisans – before organising the most efficient massacre.”
As his work in the Nazi killing fields continues, he is convinced that the figure for the number of Jewish dead will have to be revised upwards.
Iran’s Ahmadinejad rallies supporters
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has begun the campaign for June’s presidential election with a defiant speech against Iran’s enemies.
By Jon Leyne
BBC News, Tehran
Addressing a rally in the south of the capital, Tehran, President Ahmadinejad appealed to Iranian patriotism.
He compared Iran’s enemies to “dogs”, saying: “If you retreat, they attack; if you attack they retreat.”
Mr Ahmadinejad’s main opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has attacked the president’s handling of the economy.
Already, on the first day of campaigning, the battle lines have been clearly drawn.
In contrast to President Ahmadinejad’s defiant speech, Mr Mousavi used a television appearance to criticise the government for producing high inflation and high unemployment.
Later on Saturday Mr Mousavi is due to speak at a major rally in Tehran’s main football stadium in an attempt to inspire a revival of the fervour that swept reformists to power in 1997.
Somalia: East African bloc calls for a UN blockade and no-fly zone
The group wants to prevent Islamist militias from getting arms. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s apparent renewed involvement in support of the government carries risks.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the May 22, 2009 edition
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Somalia’s fragile government began to push back against its armed Islamist opponents Friday in Mogadishu in heavy street fighting. It’s the first sign that the transitional government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s efforts to reach out to unaligned warlords and Islamist militias is beginning to pay off, and that his enemies, the radical Al Shabab, may have stretched themselves too thin with their ambitious assault.
In Mogadishu, government spokesman Farhan Mahdi Mohamed told Agence France-Presse news agency that the government had begun to take away key parts of Mogadishu from the militias of Al Shabab and Hizb Islamiya.
“This is a large military offensive against violent people,” Mr. Mohamed said. “The government will sweep them out of the capital and the fighting will continue until that happens.”
The intense fighting in Mogadishu comes at a time when Somalia’s neighbors – and in particular Ethiopia – are increasingly being drawn into the Somali conflict, both diplomatically and militarily.
Africa hunger crisis seen still tied to politics
By Christine Stebbins
ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Agricultural experts looking at Africa’s enduring problems with food shortages and famine say hunger is unlikely to be solved there unless political stability returns to allow investment to flourish.
“Investment is not going to flow into unstable areas. It is not going to flow into poorly governed areas no matter what the natural resource space is — it’s just not going to happen,” J.B. Penn, chief economist with equipment maker John Deere and former USDA economist, told a round-table at the World Agricultural Forum here this week.
“First and foremost, we’ve got to get the political system right. Then investment will follow. With the investment comes the technology,” Penn said.
Colombian Farmers Get Broad Incentives To Forgo Coca Crops
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
VISTA HERMOSA, Colombia — Colombia, with $8 billion in U.S. backing since the late 1990s, has tried everything to eradicate the crop used to make cocaine.
Planes have sprayed the country with coca-killing herbicides, and authorities have deployed soldiers and paid laborers to yank the stringy green bushes out of the ground. Record amounts of coca have been eliminated — only to sprout up anew as coca farmers move on and plant again.
Now, Colombia’s government may have found a remedy palatable to a Democratic-led U.S. Congress not only interested in emphasizing social development over military aid for this country but also looking for solutions to consider in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is entrenched and drug crops are flourishing.