Docudharma Times Sunday May 3

Ben Nelson Has Gold

Standard Health Care

But Doesn’t Want

Anyone Else To Have It    

Sunday’s Headlines:

As a Professor, a Pragmatist About the Supreme Court

China quake survivors have bittersweet baby boom

Burma worst for blogger bans

The rise and rise of Russian nationalism

Silvio Berlusconi: Yes, yes, yes, prime minister

Iraq bloodshed rises as US allies defect

2 U.S. troops killed by Iraqi soldiers

‘Father’ opposes Madonna adoption

BOOK REVIEW: Africa’s first elected female president pens story

 Swine flu quarantine hurts Mexican economy

It’s all on Obama now

Political observers say that with the events of the last week, accountability for the nation and its current problems has clearly shifted from Bush.

By Peter Nicholas

May 3, 2009

Reporting from Washington — In the span of a single week — from the day Arlen Specter turned Democratic to the moment Congress passed the White House’s budget blueprint and on through the opening of a spot on the Supreme Court — President Obama crossed a fateful line: From now on, it’s his country.

Every president inherits a tangle of problems from his predecessor. War and recession, natural disaster and foreign crises. And for some undefined interval, new presidents argue that they should not be accountable for the troubles that arose on another’s watch.

But inevitably, responsibility shifts. And for Obama, that time came last week, bringing both greater opportunities and greater risks.

On the economy, Obama won approval Wednesday of a $3.5-trillion budget plan that aims to help pull the country out of the worst recession in decades. It also smooths the way for one of the president’s signature domestic priorities — overhauling the nation’s healthcare system.

Tiananmen: The flame burns on

Twenty years ago tanks rolled into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to crush the biggest pro-democracy movement in history. Hundreds were killed, thousands jailed and many fled to escape persecution. Here exiled leaders of the student revolution tell their remarkable stories and reveal how, after being forced to build new lives, they remain haunted by its bloody legacy

Isabel Hilton

The Observer, Sunday 3 May 2009

Over seven tumultuous weeks of nationwide demonstrations and protests, beginning with the death of the sacked reformer, Hu Yaobang, on 15 April 1989 and ending with the movement’s violent suppression on 4 June, an estimated 100 million people across China demonstrated in support of political reform. The movement was inchoate, contradictory and politically confused but it remains the biggest peaceful pro-democracy movement in human history. For the millions who took part, life would never be the same again.

Last week I listened to a man in his 40s unburden himself of a secret he had carried for two decades. He was a student leader in a major provincial city, and although he was arrested in mid-June 1989, he was released after a month of enforced confessions. He moved to another city and eventually made a successful career. But for 20 years the burden of the hopes that were shattered on 4 June, and the apprehension that he could be targeted at any time by a regime that never forgets and rarely forgives, has weighed on his spirit. It is part fear, part depression, part rage.


U.S. Workers’ Wages Stagnate As Firms Rush to Slash Costs

By Annys Shin

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, May 3, 2009

In December, Timothy Owner, a trombone player with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, called his landlord to tell her he might have trouble paying rent around May. He and the orchestra’s 53 other full-time members, many of whom are paid less than $30,000 a year, had agreed to a month-long furlough.

The furlough, which ended yesterday, was rough, Owner said. But he and other musicians acknowledged that the alternative could have been worse. “We’re less unhappy if this means the orchestra will survive,” he said.

Across the country, workers’ earnings are stagnating or, in some cases, declining.

As a Professor, a Pragmatist About the Supreme Court


Published: May 2, 2009

Many American presidents have been lawyers, but almost none have come to office with Barack Obama’s knowledge of the Supreme Court. Before he was 30, he was editing articles by eminent legal scholars on the court’s decisions. Later, as a law professor, he led students through landmark cases from Plessy v. Ferguson to Bush v. Gore. (He sometimes shared his own copies, marked with emphatic underlines and notes in bold, all-caps script.)

Now Mr. Obama is preparing to select his first Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter. In interviews, former colleagues and students say they have a fairly strong sense of the kind of justice he will favor: not a larger-than-life liberal to counter the conservative pyrotechnics of Justice Antonin Scalia, but a careful pragmatist with a limited view of the role of courts.


China quake survivors have bittersweet baby boom

A year after the tragedy in Sichuan, couples who lost an only child are rebuilding their families for emotional and economic reasons.

By Barbara Demick

May 3, 2009

Reporting from Mianzhu, China — Ten months and 25 days after he buried his only child, Luo Gang became a father again at a makeshift hospital cobbled out of aluminum trailers.

For weeks after his 11-year-old daughter was killed in last May’s massive earthquake here in Sichuan province, his wife cried so uncontrollably that her family feared she might be having a breakdown.

“If you don’t have another baby, my sister will be grieving her whole life,” Luo said his brother-in-law advised him.

Luo said he was shocked by the tactlessness of the suggestion.

“We were in a bad way after the earthquake. My wife couldn’t stop crying,” recalled Luo, a 35-year-old welder, his eyes sunken deep with fatigue after a long night waiting for his wife to give birth to their son.

Burma worst for blogger bans


Tracy McVeigh

The Observer, Sunday 3 May 2009

Burma has been judged the worst country in the world for online restrictions in a report looking at the repression faced by bloggers.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which has compiled a list of the 10 worst countries to be a blogger, says it wants to shame those governments which are most aggressively attempting to curtail and censor web activity.

Bloggers inside Burma proved invaluable in passing out information during the September 2007 uprisings, leading to the ruling military junta blocking the internet completely for a period.

Iran, where a young blogger died in prison last month, was named as the second-worst country.


The rise and rise of Russian nationalism

Long tolerated by the authorities, right-wing groups are now being seen as a serious threat to national security. Shaun Walker reports from Moscow

Sunday, 3 May 2009

There have been a number of threats to Russia’s security in recent years, from Chechen terrorism to the country’s worrying demographic decline. But according to sources close to the Russian security services, what the authorities fear most in these times of economic crisis is the very thing that many Russians see as the country’s saviour – nationalism.

Amid a dizzying array of May Day marches, featuring various groups from across the political spectrum, all eyes were on the nationalists. They gathered around a metro station in north Moscow, as well as in other cities across the country, calling for all immigrants to be deported and a “Russia for the Russians”.

Silvio Berlusconi: Yes, yes, yes, prime minister

Silvio Berlusconi is playing a risky game with his signorinas

From The Sunday Times

May 3, 2009  John Follain

As Silvio Berlusconi’s private jet flew him back to Rome at 11pm after a hard day’s campaigning, two beautiful and perfectly groomed women in their twenties sashayed up to him and asked seductively: “Prime minister, what’s happening this evening?”

The permatanned Berlusconi had been up since 6am, but he grinned broadly and, turning to his exhausted aides, replied: “Everyone at my place, get some pizzas and we’ll watch a debate on TV.”

The two women – one blonde, one brunette – who were part of a chorus of young supporters who sang his campaign song at rallies last spring, gave little shrieks of delight. The billionaire known as “the Great Seducer” had worked his magic yet again.

Middle East

Iraq bloodshed rises as US allies defect

Obama’s withdrawal pledge is at risk as militias paid by the US begin to rejoin the insurgency

From The Sunday Times

May 3, 2009

Ali Rifat, Hala Jaber and Sarah Baxter in Washington

IRAQ is threatened by a new wave of sectarian violence as members of the “Sons of Iraq” – the Sunni Awakening militias that were paid by the US to fight Al-Qaeda – begin to rejoin the insurgency.

If the spike in violence continues, it could affect President Barack Obama’s pledge to withdraw all combat troops from Iraqi cities by the end of June. All US troops are due to leave the country by 2012.

A leading member of the Political Council of Iraqi Resistance, which represents six Sunni militant groups, said: “The resistance has now returned to the field and is intensifying its attacks against the enemy. The number of coalition forces killed is on the rise.”

2 U.S. troops killed by Iraqi soldiers

Three soldiers are injured in the attack near Mosul amid deepening concern about insurgent infiltration of the Iraqi security forces.

By Saif Hameed and Liz Sly

May 3, 2009

Reporting from Baghdad — Two Iraqi soldiers shot and killed two U.S. servicemen and wounded three Saturday near the northern city of Mosul, the latest in a series of incidents involving security forces firing on Americans in the troubled area.

The attack on a combat outpost in Hammam Alil, about 12 miles south of Mosul, came amid deepening concern about insurgent infiltration of the Iraqi security forces.

U.S. soldiers at the post returned fire and killed one of the gunmen, who was identified as an Iraqi soldier, said Maj. Derrick Cheng, spokesman for U.S. forces in northern Iraq. The second gunman, whose identity was not clear to U.S. forces, opened fire from a different direction and managed to escape, Cheng said.

The Iraqi police identified the second gunman as Hassan Dulaimi, also an Iraqi soldier, and launched a search for him in the surrounding countryside.


‘Father’ opposes Madonna adoption

The man believed to be the father of the Malawian child who pop star Madonna wants to adopt has said that he opposes the move.

James Kambewa told a US TV station that he would be able to look after four year-old Chifundo “Mercy” James, even though he had never met her.

He said that he wanted the little girl to be raised “as a Malawian”.

Madonna’s appeal against a court ruling that denied her request to adopt the child is to be heard on Monday.

She has already adopted a boy, David, from Malawi.


Mr Kambewa told CBS television’s “The Early Show” that he wore a necklace bearing his daughter’s name around his neck, even though he had never seen her in person.

“I want to take care of her, and I’m capable to take care of my baby,” he said. “Mercy, she is a Malawian – so [I] need her to grow as a Malawian as well with our culture.”

 BOOK REVIEW: Africa’s first elected female president pens story




Jailed, threatened with rape, torture and murder, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf refused to take a seat in the Senate of Liberia.

That was because her election was fraudulent, she told Master Sgt. Samuel Doe, who had seized power in a bloody coup. He staged the vote that named himself president and her as a senator.

Her ordeal seems to have been due to his anger at a speech she made before the rigged election.

“I look at the many idiots in whose hands our nation’s fate and progress have been placed,” she had said, “and I simply shake at the unnecessary and tremendous cost which we pay under the disguise of righting the wrongs of the past.”

Latin America

Swine flu quarantine hurts Mexican economy

Rory Carroll and Jo Tuckman in Mexico City

The Observer, Sunday 3 May 2009

For a nation in quarantine, it is a haunting question: what if the real danger is not the virus but fear of the virus?

Mexico was told last week to brace for battle between infection and the body’s immune system. But yesterday the health minister, José Angel Córdova, revised down the suspected death toll from swine flu from 176 to 101, indicating that the outbreak may not be as bad as was initially feared.

“The numbers are getting better every day,” said Mexico City’s mayor, Marcelo Ebrard. “I’m not saying we should let our guard down. I am telling you so you know where we stand.”

As the feared epidemic so far fails to materialise, fear about health is being overtaken by anxiety over economic meltdown and the cost of containing the crisis. Bertha Hilda Torres, a psychotherapist in Mexico City, said her clients had started worrying more about losing their livelihoods than falling ill – and that they were rebelling.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


  1. Global Press Freedom Declines-Freedom House

    Journalists are facing an increasingly dismal working environment, with a decline in global press freedom in every region of the world.  Those are among the findings of a report released Friday by Freedom House, a Washington-based organization that supports freedom around the world.

    In the nearly 30 years Freedom House has been rating global press freedom, 2008 is the first year it has reported declines in every region across the world.

    The executive director of Freedom House, Jennifer Windsor, says the journalism profession is fighting to stay alive, which she warns has enormous implications for democracy. “Declines have been registered in established democracies, as well as partly free countries, and the most repressive regimes have continued to tighten their grip in order to control the information flows that have become increasingly globalized and out of their control,” she said. >>>>>Rest Here-VOA News

    Freedom of the Press 2009 Survey Release

    • RiaD on May 3, 2009 at 13:45

    i enjoyed the last one especially.

    fear is always the major problem, imo….

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