Another Week And
The Media Just
Plays Along With
The Republican Racists
Bias Case Looms Large for Nominee
Ruling on Firefighters’ Lawsuit Raises Questions About Sotomayor’s Philosophy
By Robert Barnes and Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Judge Sonia Sotomayor has heard thousands of cases and has issued as many rulings in her nearly two decades on the federal bench, but the early debate over her judicial philosophy in her Supreme Court confirmation battle comes down to one paragraph.
It is the 134-word summary order in Ricci v. DeStefano, which upheld the decision of New Haven, Conn., to throw out the promotion test it had given city firefighters when no African Americans and two Hispanics qualified for advancement.
The case is under review by the Supreme Court that Sotomayor would join. If the decision is reversed — which, from the tone of oral arguments in April, seems a distinct possibility — the high court’s ruling will probably come at the end of June, just as the Senate and the nation begin to consider Sotomayor’s qualifications.
Kidnappers swoop on China’s girls
The state’s one-baby policy has led to a shortage of females that gangs are ruthlessly exploiting
Michael Sheridan in Kunming, CHINA From The Sunday Times
May 31, 2009
WHEN Li Xiang Xiang, aged 2½, went out of her family’s home on April 1 to the shop around the corner, as she did every day, her mother expected to see her back in minutes with a big smile and a bag of sweets.
Instead, Xiang Xiang – whose rhyming name means “thoughtful” – vanished and her heartbroken mother and father joined the ranks of Chinese parents who fear they have lost their little girls to child kidnappers.
Small boys have long been abducted for sale in China, but in recent years the country’s strict birth control policy, which has led to abortions of girls in families intent on having a boy, has left the countryside short of female babies.
According to a recent report in the British Medical Journal, 124 boys are born for every 100 girls in the country as a whole, and in one province the figure has risen to 192.
Contractors Vie for Plum Work, Hacking for the United States
By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JOHN MARKOFF
Published: May 30, 2009
MELBOURNE, Fla. – The government’s urgent push into cyberwarfare has set off a rush among the biggest military companies for billions of dollars in new defense contracts.
The exotic nature of the work, coupled with the deep recession, is enabling the companies to attract top young talent that once would have gone to Silicon Valley. And the race to develop weapons that defend against, or initiate, computer attacks has given rise to thousands of “hacker soldiers” within the Pentagon who can blend the new capabilities into the nation’s war planning.
Nearly all of the largest military companies – including Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon – have major cyber contracts with the military and intelligence agencies.
Spitting in the eye of mainstream education
Three no-frills charter schools in Oakland mock liberal orthodoxy, teach strictly to the test — and produce some of the state’s top scores.
By Mitchell Landsberg
May 31, 2009
Reporting from Oakland — Not many schools in California recruit teachers with language like this: “We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multicultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply.”
That, it turns out, is just the beginning of the ways in which American Indian Public Charter and its two sibling schools spit in the eye of mainstream education. These small, no-frills, independent public schools in the hardscrabble flats of Oakland sometimes seem like creations of television’s “Colbert Report.” They mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.
School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming.
‘I’m only 16. They gave me a rifle. It was heavy. They said we had to go forward. If we came back, they would shoot us’
Tamil children as young as 11 were forced at gunpoint to fight for the Tigers in Sri Lanka’s civil war. Survivors talked of their ordeal to Gethin Chamberlain in Ambepusse
The Observer, Sunday 31 May 2009
Darchiga Kuken was sheltering in a bunker in the Mullaitivu area when a group of about 20 Tamil Tiger soldiers arrived and demanded that she went with them.
“I was sick with chicken pox. My mother and father were screaming and crying, saying that I was sick and pleading with them not to take me,” she said. The men went away. And then at 5pm on 14 March they came back. They called me to come out and then they grabbed me and put me in a jeep. I started to cry. I was shouting: ‘Mother, father, help me.’ ”
The 16-year-old is now being held in what the government describes as a “rehabilitation centre”, a jungle camp built on a hillside outside the town of Ambepusse in the south of the country.
In Pakistan, an exodus that is beyond biblical
Locals sell all they have to help millions displaced by battles with the Taliban
By Andrew Buncombe
Sunday, 31 May 2009
The language was already biblical; now the scale of what is happening matches it. The exodus of people forced from their homes in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and elsewhere in the country’s north-west may be as high as 2.4 million, aid officials say. Around the world, only a handful of war-spoiled countries – Sudan, Iraq, Colombia – have larger numbers of internal refugees. The speed of the displacement at its height – up to 85,000 people a day – was matched only during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This is now one of the biggest sudden refugee crises the world has ever seen.
Until now, the worst of the problem has been kept largely out of sight. Of the total displaced by the military’s operations against the Taliban – the army yesterday claimed a crucial breakthrough, taking control of the Swat Valley’s main town, Mingora – just 200,000 people have been forced to live in the makeshift tent camps dotted around the southern fringe of the conflict zone. The vast majority were taken in by relatives, extended family members and local people wanting to help.
Heroes of Pegasus Bridge (who also liberated a bar)
For D-Day to succeed, two bridges had to be taken. As the 65th anniversary approaches, the men who stole into France in six gliders recall the fight that morning. Jonathan Owen reports
Sunday, 31 May 2009
“It was one of the “most outstanding flying achievements of the war”, said Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory after the smoke had cleared and the casualties had been tallied. Codenamed Operation Deadstick, six gliders carrying 139 men from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry formed the sharp point of a spearhead that was to be hurled on to France’s Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944: D-Day.
The plan, audacious and, of course, top secret, was to land a team of British soldiers on a tiny field behind enemy lines deep within German occupied France under cover of darkness.
Russia’s ‘Al Capone’ sneers at his trial
The man said to be the country’s last mafia boss is accused of ordering a rival’s murder
From The Sunday Times
May 31, 2009 Mark Franchetti in Moscow
A ONE-ARMED multi-millionaire, who is alleged to be the last of the Russian crime bosses of the 1990s to stay in business, has gone on trial in Moscow, accused of ordering a botched attempt to murder a rival in his silver Rolls-Royce.
Vladimir Barsukov, 53, who is rumoured to have had links in the past to Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, is also charged with setting up a crime syndicate once seen as the most powerful mafia gang in St Petersburg, the country’s crime capital in the years after the fall of communism.
At the height of his power he had 2,000 foot soldiers under his command, security experts say.
UN team meets Chad child soldiers
The UN is working to release more than 80 child soldiers taken prisoner by the Chad army during fighting with rebels.
By Celeste Hicks
BBC News, N’Djamena
The children were seized from the rebel Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) group, the UN children’s fund (Unicef) says.
The UFR mounted a failed attack in the east of Chad early in May which led to troops capturing many prisoners.
On Wednesday, Unicef staff finally began interviewing the children to establish their age and identity. Some are believed to be as young as 13.
It is hoped they will all be released to a demobilisation centre in N’Djamena as soon as possible.
The issue has highlighted by the British actor Ralph Fiennes, who has just concluded a visit to Chad as a Unicef goodwill ambassador.
More than 200 prisoners were taken at the battle of Am Dam in May, where the UFR rebels suffered a big defeat which forced them to retreat completely.
Shell execs accused of ‘collaboration’ over hanging of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa
Oil giant Shell’s relationship with Nigeria’s former military dictatorship will face scrutiny this week as a New York lawsuit begins, reports Leonard Doyle in Washington
31 May 2009
“If you call off the campaign, maybe we can do something for your brother.” A New York court will claims this week that Brian Anderson, Shell’s former top official in Nigeria, used those words when asked to intercede with the country’s military regime to save activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa from being executed.
After a secret trial, widely viewed as rigged, Mr Saro-Wiwa was convicted of murder and executed in November 1995 along with eight other members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). To international outrage, Mr Saro-Wiwa’s body was burned with acid and thrown in an unmarked grave.
Saudis behead, crucify murder convict
Islamic government sets example by crucifying headless body in public
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi authorities beheaded and crucified a man convicted of brutally slaying an 11-year-old boy and his father, the Interior Ministry announced.
According to the statement issued by the ministry Friday, shop owner Ahmed al-Anzi molested the boy and then strangled him with a length of rope. He then stabbed the boy’s father to death when the man came looking for his son.
He hid both the bodies in his shop, the statement said, adding that al-Anzi threatened police with a knife when they came to arrest him.
Al-Anzi had previously been convicted of sodomy and owning pornographic films, a crime in conservative Saudi Arabia.
Hamas: Abbas gave Obama ‘detailed plan’ on how to overthrow us in Gaza
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH May 31, 2009
Hamas claimed on Saturday that Palestinian Authority President Muhammad Abbas, who visited Washington last week, presented US President Barack Obama with a “detailed plan” to overthrow the Islamic movement’s government in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas also accused Abbas’s security forces of arresting 22 of its supporters in the West Bank over the weekend as part of a US-backed scheme designed to prevent the movement from extending its control beyond the Gaza Strip.
The plan which Abbas presented to Obama calls for eliminating Hamas politically by pressuring the Europeans and Russia to boycott the movement, a Hamas official said, noting that Russian and European officials and diplomats had been holding meetings with Hamas representatives in the past few months
Mexico drug traffickers corrupt politics
The cult-like La Familia Michoacana has contaminated city halls across one state, federal officials say. It sometimes decides who runs and who doesn’t, who lives and who dies.
By Tracy Wilkinson
May 31, 2009
Reporting from Patzcuaro, Mexico — There are few places in Mexico that better illustrate the way traffickers have corrupted the political system from its very foundation than Michoacan, the home state of President Felipe Calderon.
A relatively new and particularly violent group, La Familia Michoacana, is undermining the electoral system and day-to-day governance of this south-central state, pushing an agenda that goes beyond the usual money-only interests of drug cartels.
Whether by intimidation, purchase or direct order, drug gangs can sometimes dictate who is a candidate and who is not, and put some of their own people in races — a perversion, critics say, of democracy itself.