Docudharma Times Sunday May 24

Memorial Day  

Sunrday’s Headlines:

For Baucus, Health Care Is the Issue Of a Lifetime

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tries to silence rivals in the run-up to elections in Iran

Israelis may emigrate over nuclear threat

Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and the Palme d’Or

Al Qaeda recruits back in Europe, but why?

Battle for a Taliban town of terror

Mongolians vote for new president

Now at last it’s time for Shell to atone for my father’s death

‘Cuba’ by Julia E. Sweig

U.S. Relies More on Aid of Allies in Terror Cases


Published: May 23, 2009

WASHINGTON – The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to current and former American government officials.

The change represents a significant loosening of the reins for the United States, which has worked closely with allies to combat violent extremism since the 9/11 attacks but is now pushing that cooperation to new limits.

In the past 10 months, for example, about a half-dozen midlevel financiers and logistics experts working with Al Qaeda have been captured and are being held by intelligence services in four Middle Eastern countries after the United States provided information that led to their arrests by local security services, a former American counterterrorism official said.

UN chief flies into Sri Lanka as Tamils’ tales of terror emerge

250,000 Tamil civilians are held behind the wire of one refugee camp. Many have stories of a desperate escape. Most go unheard – but 10-year-old Sopika’s account is a testimony to brutality

Gethin Chamberlain in Colombo

The Observer, Sunday 24 May 2009

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday visited a mass displacement camp packed with Tamil civilians as he appealed to Sri Lanka’s triumphant government to “heal the wounds” after three decades of civil war. As he surveyed the beleaguered and shell-shocked refugees held there and as the army searched for Tamil Tiger fighters among them, he would not have found time to talk to Sopika, aged 10.

Sopika is one of at least 250,000 Tamil civilians being held in Menik Farm in the north of the country. Barbed-wire fences encircle the endless rows of white tents, preventing civilians from getting out and journalists from getting in, as the government continues to prevent the stories of Sopika and thousands like her from being told.


Dust storms speed snowmelt in the West

An unusually high number of the storms has left a film of dust on the Rocky Mountain snowpack, causing it to melt earlier and forcing farmers to adjust. This could be the new normal, scientists say.

By Nicholas Riccardi

May 24, 2009

Reporting from Denver — A series of unusual spring dust storms has left the snowcapped mountains of western Colorado stained brown and red, even a bit pink. The dust is speeding up the runoff to rivers that supply millions of people with water and raising fears of an increasingly arid West.

Twelve dust storms barreled into the southern Rockies from the deserts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico so far this year. In contrast, four storms hit the mountains all year long in 2003. Eight occurred in each of the last three years.

“This year’s been really, really strong,” said Jason Neff, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “Something’s been going on, and I don’t think we’re exactly sure what.”

The storms leave a dark film on snow that melts it faster by hastening its absorption of the sun’s energy. That, coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures, has sped up the runoff here, swelling rivers to near flood stage, threatening to make reservoirs overflow and fueling fears that there will not be enough water left for late-summer crops.

For Baucus, Health Care Is the Issue Of a Lifetime

Legislation Could Define His Career, His Party

By Shailagh Murray and Ceci Connolly

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, may be President Obama’s most critical ally on health-care reform. But which version of the independent-minded Montanan will preside as the debate intensifies this summer?

Republicans hope it’s the cautious loner with a history of betraying his party on politically sensitive bills. Democrats are rooting for the iconoclast who emerged this year as a newly reliable champion of the administration’s ambitious agenda.

Now 67, Baucus remains a Senate original in a chamber that has become increasingly homogeneous. He once confessed to viewing politics as “dirty, corrupted and tainted,” but he hasn’t lost a race in his conservative state since 1972.

Middle East

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tries to silence rivals in the run-up to elections in Iran

Peter Beaumont

The Observer, Sunday 24 May 2009

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran fired a shot yesterday across the bows of reformist candidates opposing him in the country’s presidential elections – saying that he would rebut their increasingly strident criticisms of his style of government.

During a visit to the city of Khorramshahr, Ahmadinejad returned to the theme that has dominated his increasingly bellicose campaign for re-election since it was launched officially last week – Iranian military power.

On Wednesday, Ahmadinejad used the launch of a new missile capable of hitting Israel and Europe as an election backdrop, while yesterday he invoked the dead from the Iran-Iraq war in a port city that became a symbol of that conflict.

Israelis may emigrate over nuclear threat

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Almost a quarter of Israel’s seven million citizens would consider leaving the country if Iran becomes a nuclear military power, according to a new poll.

The poll also shows that over 40 per cent of Israelis believe that their military forces should strike Iran’s nuclear installations without waiting to see whether US President Barack Obama’s plans for diplomatic engagement with Tehran work or not.

The findings, in a study by the Centre for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, uncover deep pessimism among Israelis on the issue, with 85 per cent of respondents expressing concern that Iran will acquire a nuclear weapon.

If the findings accurately reflect public feeling, they suggest that an unprecedented demographic catastrophe could unfold in Israel should Iran obtain a warhead.

The head of the Tel Aviv centre, David Menashri, blamed the heightened rhetoric of both sides for the findings. He said: “It seems that the violent language used by President Ahmadinejad and his assertions about wiping Israel from the page of history, in addition to Iranian advancement of its nuclear and ballistic programmes, created a real concern among Israelis.”


Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and the Palme d’Or

As Cannes prepares to announce its winners, Jonathan Romney looks at the highs and lows

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Now that all the competition films have been seen, the verdict is clear on this year’s festival, which closes tonight. It has been a superior vintage, consistently good despite few out-and-out dazzlers. It was a more director-driven, less showbizzy festival than in recent years, although the paparazzi had plenty of celebs to collect. Among the visitors: Penélope Cruz, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Martin Scorsese and two French legends, football titan Eric Cantona and venerable rockeur Johnny Hallyday. Also visible on the Croisette were the inevitable Paris Hilton, Doctor Who-in-waiting Matt Smith and, bizarrely, Spandau Ballet. Singer Mariah Carey made a surprise impression as an actor, unrecognisably dowdy as a social worker in the US drama Precious. And Jim Carrey presented the comedy I Love You Philip Morris, in which he plays a gay con man. Greeting an audience gathered in a severe sub-basement cinema, he quipped, “It’s great to be here in this bunker built by the Resistance.”

Al Qaeda recruits back in Europe, but why?

Four men say their training experience in Pakistan wasn’t what they hoped for. Anti-terrorism officials wonder if they’re just biding their time, ready to strike in Europe.

By Sebastian Rotella

May 24, 2009

Reporting from Brussels — Determined to die as martyrs, the French and Belgian militants bought hiking boots and thermal underwear and journeyed to the wilds of Waziristan.

After getting ripped off in Turkey and staggering through waist-deep snow in Iran, the little band arrived in Al Qaeda’s lair in Pakistan last year, ready for a triumphant reception.

“We were expecting at least a welcome for ‘our brothers from Europe’ and a warm atmosphere of hospitality,” Walid Othmani, a 25-year-old Frenchman from Lyon, recalled during an overnight interrogation in January.

Instead, the Europeans — and at least one American — learned that life in the shadow of the Predator is nasty, brutish and short.


Battle for a Taliban town of terror

Initially welcomed, the mullahs controlled Mingora with burnings and beheadings. Now the Pakistani army is attempting to expel them

From The Sunday Times

May 24, 2009 Christina Lamb

IN a darkened room in Peshawar, far from prying eyes, a medical student from the Swat valley opens his laptop and begins a slideshow of terror. Over the past three years, the 22-year-old has secretly catalogued the horrors of life in Swat under the Taliban.

The burning down of schools, bodies hanging upside down, public lashings and decapitated heads with dollars stuffed in their nostrils and notes reading, “This is what happens to spies,” were all captured on his mobile phone at great personal risk.

“I’m training to be a doctor; our mission is to prolong life and in front of me are these people who care nothing for human life,” he explained as, with each click of the mouse, he revealed more bodies in pools of blood. All the images were too gruesome to publish.

Mongolians vote for new president

Voters in Mongolia are electing a new president, a year after vote-rigging claims in parliamentary polls triggered deadly riots in the country.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Current President Nambaryn Enkhbayar of the former Communist party is being challenged by Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of the main opposition Democratic Party.

Polls opened at 2300 GMT on Saturday are due to close at 1400 GMT on Sunday.

One of the main election issues has been the distribution of income from Mongolia’s vast mineral resources.

Last year, five people died and hundreds were hurt in protests over alleged fraud in the general elections.

In 1990, Mongolia abandoned its 70-year-old Soviet-style one-party state and embraced political and economic reforms.


Now at last it’s time for Shell to atone for my father’s death

The son of the executed activist faces the oil giant in a human rights trial this week. He seeks understanding rather than retribution

Ken Saro-Wiwa Jnr

The Observer, Sunday 24 May 2009

This week, a US court will hear a case that I and nine other plaintiffs filed against Royal Dutch Shell for its part in human rights violations committed against some Ogoni families and individuals in Nigeria in 1995. For some, the case is already being cast as a bookmark in the struggle for corporate accountability, but to me and the other nine plaintiffs it is all that and more.

Fourteen years ago, Ken Saro-Wiwa predicted that Shell would one day have to account for its actions in Nigeria. “I repeat,” he wrote in what would have been his final statement to the military tribunal that was to order his execution, “that I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial… the company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come … there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.”

Latin America

‘Cuba’ by Julia E. Sweig

What everyone needs to know about Cuba.

By Marjorie Miller

May 24, 2009

Despite decades of heated rhetoric from Washington and Miami, most of the time Americans don’t give a lot of thought to Cuba. Then, once or twice a decade, some great drama erupts on the island 90 miles off Florida, sending great waves of fear, shock or refugees across the straits to remind Americans of its existence — until the ruckus dies down and Cuba again fades from U.S. consciousness.

Not so in the reverse, however. For most of Cuba’s history, and certainly since the revolution that brought Fidel Castro’s Communist government to power, U.S. policy has penetrated nearly every facet of life in Cuba, making it virtually impossible for average Cubans to forget about the superpower next door.

This is driven home in “Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know,” Julia E. Sweig’s forthcoming portrait of the country,where even chapters on domestic issues are as much about Cuba’s relationship with the United States as they are about Cuba itself. Beginning with the Cuban war of independence from Spain through the end of Castro’s rule in 2006, the long arm of the United States has reached across to the island.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


    • RiaD on May 24, 2009 at 13:54

    have i ever told you how much i like your morning news format?

    you give me enough of each story that i can decide whether i want to read farther…or not!

    i love having news bits from all around the globe. before i started reading your morning news i only read local (USA) news.

    you’ve broadened my horizon….

    thank you



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