Docudharma Times Thursday May 28

North Korea The

Neighbor You Never


The Friend You Don’t Need  

Thursday’s Headlines:

On Sotomayor, abortion backers show unease

Anti-immigrant and Europhobic – far right parties ride populist wave

Stasi spy ‘fired shot that changed Germany’

The myth of Hindu tolerance

World scrambles to find response to North Korea

Israel rejects US call over settlement work

Abbas pushing pan-Arab peace with Israel

In Somalia, African Union takes the offensive in information war

Mexico’s detention of local officials marks shift in anti-drug efforts

Rigorous Questioning Hasn’t Fazed Nominee

By Alec MacGillis

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Senate Republicans have yet to decide how tough they will be in grilling Judge Sonia Sotomayor in her confirmation hearings, but this is clear: The Supreme Court nominee already has shown an ability to withstand rigorous questioning.

Partisan tensions were high when Sotomayor arrived in Washington in 1997 for her confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. A rumor was making Republican rounds that President Bill Clinton wanted to elevate her from the federal trial bench because he planned to “fast-track” her to the Supreme Court if Justice John Paul Stevens decided to retire during Clinton’s second term. Senate Republican leader  Trent Lott (Miss.) delayed her confirmation by the full Senate, which occurred nearly a year after her hearing. And the rumor of Stevens’s retirement turned out to be false.

Taliban deputy claims responsibility for Pakistan bomb attack

Leader says Lahore blast was revenge for military offensive in Swat

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and agencies, Thursday 28 May 2009 09.23 BST

A senior leader of the Taliban in Pakistan today claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in Lahore that killed at least 24 people and wounded hundreds more, saying it was revenge for the army offensive against militants in Swat valley.

Hakimullah Mehsud, a deputy to the Pakistani Taliban chief, Baitullah Mehsud, told the Associated Press that the attack on the offices of the police chief and Pakistan’s main spy agency, the ISI, was connected to the military operation.

“It was in response to the Swat operation where innocent people have been killed,” Mehsud said. The little-known group Taliban Movement in Punjab has also claimed responsibility for the attack.


FBI planning a bigger role in terrorism fight

Bureau agents will gather evidence to ensure that criminal prosecutions of alleged terrorists are an option. The move is a reversal of the Bush administration’s emphasis on covert CIA actions.

By Josh Meyer

May 28, 2009

Reporting from Washington — The FBI and Justice Department plan to significantly expand their role in global counter-terrorism operations, part of a U.S. policy shift that will replace a CIA-dominated system of clandestine detentions and interrogations with one built around transparent investigations and prosecutions.

Under the “global justice” initiative, which has been in the works for several months, FBI agents will have a central role in overseas counter-terrorism cases. They will expand their questioning of suspects and evidence-gathering to try to ensure that criminal prosecutions are an option, officials familiar with the effort said.

Though the initiative is a work in progress, some senior counter-terrorism officials and administration policy-makers envision it as key to the national security strategy President Obama laid out last week — one that presumes most accused terrorists have the right to contest the charges against them in a “legitimate” setting.

On Sotomayor, abortion backers show unease

May 28, 2009

By Charlie Savage

WASHINGTON – In nearly 11 years as a federal appeals court judge, President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, has never directly ruled on whether the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. But when she has written opinions that touched tangentially on abortion disputes, she has reached outcomes in some cases that were favorable to abortion opponents.

Now, some abortion rights advocates are quietly expressing unease that Judge Sotomayor may not be a reliable vote to uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision. In a letter, Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, urged supporters to press senators to demand that Judge Sotomayor reveal her views on privacy rights before any confirmation vote.


Anti-immigrant and Europhobic – far right parties ride populist wave

Ian Traynor, Wednesday 27 May 2009 23.00 BST

In Europe’s biggest port, where nearly half the population of 600,000 is of immigrant origin, Geert Wilders appears to be knocking on an open door.

The platinum-blond, Islam-baiting populist is soaring in opinion surveys in the Netherlands, hammering the anti-immigration message to double his ratings this year to the point where his Freedom party is challenging to be the strongest in the country, according to a leading weekly tracking poll.

Wilders’ acolytes are also poised to enter the European parliament for the first time after elections for the EU’s sole democratically elected institution, covering 375 million people across 27 countries, take place next week.

Stasi spy ‘fired shot that changed Germany’

Revelations from secret files force radical left to re-examine their past

By Allan Hall in Berlin

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Literature student Benno Ohnesorg became a martyr for West Germany’s radical left when he was shot by a policeman in 1967. For those who looked over the Berlin Wall to East Germany as the epitome of good governance, the killing symbolised everything that was wrong with their country – corruption, self-complacency and an inability to deal with the crimes of the Nazis.

Some called it the “shot that changed the republic” and it would end up being used to justify the violent campaigns waged by leftist radical groups like the Baader-Meinhof.


The myth of Hindu tolerance

By presenting Hinduism as a template for tolerance, Nitin Mehta glosses over its most divisive element: caste

Rahila Gupta, Thursday 28 May 2009 10.35 BST

There is a profoundly disquieting myth about Hinduism which has been put about by its adherents so often and so successfully that it is in danger of crystallising into a truth – that of its essentially pluralistic and tolerant traditions. Recently this viewpoint was repeated in the Face to faith column of this newspaper by Nitin Mehta who argued that “There are thousands of sects within Hinduism, and violence between them is unknown.” This is, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, dishonest. He appears to gloss over the troublesome fact that caste Hindus have been callous towards their own – the Dalits or the “Untouchables” as they were previously known. To argue that they are not a sect would be pure semantics.

Nitin Mehta uses a piece of sophistry to suggest the superiority of Hinduism particularly vis-à-vis Islam without once mentioning Islam by name. He refers to the tolerance of religions that have their roots in India namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism – thereby implicitly damning Islam as a “foreign” imposition and as intolerant. Well here are the facts: Islam in India dates back to at least the 7th century.

World scrambles to find response to North Korea

Pyongyang restarts nuclear plant and warns Seoul of war as Russia makes contingency plans in case of military conflict

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The major powers were last night scrambling to find a credible response to North Korea’s increasingly brazen sabre rattling – one that would punish the renegade Communist regime without triggering a second all-out war on the Korean peninsula in little more than half a century.

A co-ordinated and effective response by the United Nations Security Council became even more urgent after Pyongyang threatened to launch an attack on South Korea, after Seoul announced that it would join an international effort to stop and search vessels leaving North Korean ports, which are suspected of carrying nuclear technology or materials.

Middle East

Israel rejects US call over settlement work

Israel will continue to allow some construction in West Bank settlements despite US calls for a freeze on its work, a government spokesman says.

The BBC  Thursday, 28 May 2009

Mark Regev said the fate of the settlements should be decided in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

His remarks appear to be a rebuff to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said all such activity should cease.

Her comments came hours before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was due to meet US President Barack Obama.

Mrs Clinton said on Wednesday there must be no exceptions to President Obama’s demands for Israel’s settlement work to stop.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with her Egyptian counterpart, Mrs Clinton said that the president was “very clear” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at their recent meeting that there should be a stop to all settlements.

Abbas pushing pan-Arab peace with Israel


WASHINGTON (AP) – The Palestinian president will be pushing President Barack Obama on Thursday to facilitate peace with Israel through a larger solution to the Middle East conflict.

Top Palestinian officials traveling with President Mahmoud Abbas said he was working to repackage a 2002 Saudi Arabian plan that called for exchange of Arab land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war for normalized relations with Arab countries.

Obama’s meeting with Abbas is the third of four key sessions the administration had planned as the president tries to reinvigorate the push for Middle East peace, an accord that has eluded American leaders, the Israelis and their Arab neighbors for more than a half-century.

Obama has made brokering peace in that region a top priority but has found new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a recalcitrant partner. Netanyahu was in Washington last week.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II opened the round of visits by Middle East leaders on April 21. Talks with President Hosni Mubarak, originally scheduled for Tuesday, were postponed after the unexpected death of the Egyptian leader’s grandson.


In Somalia, African Union takes the offensive in information war

AMISOM is rehabilitating Radio Mogadishu and publishing articles to ’empower’ Somalis and push back against Islamist insurgents.

By Heba Aly | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

NAIROBI, KENYA – No sooner do officials from the African Union stabilization force arrive in Somalia’s battlefield of a capital, Mogadishu, than Islamist insurgents send them a warning.

“AMISOM,” reads the text message on their phones, “we’re going to kill you.”

Fighting in Mogadishu has escalated in the past month, and the undermanned and underfunded African peacekeeping force known as AMISOM is increasingly bearing the brunt of the ugly conflict, which pits extremist Islamist insurgents against a new, more moderate, transitional government.

Analysts say the mission has held up well, given the circumstances. But AMISOM officials say they – and the fragile government they aim to protect – are losing on one important front: the information war.

Insurgents loyal to militias known as Al Shabab, or “The Youth,” and Hizb al-Islam, the party of Islam, began this latest round of attacks on May 8. And they have “misled” the international community as to their strength, according to Nicolas Bwakira, the African Union Commission’s special representative for Somalia, and head of the peacekeeping mission.

But AMISOM is now fighting back – with words.

Latin America

Mexico’s detention of local officials marks shift in anti-drug efforts

Calderon had been focused on a military offensive targeting drug figures and corrupt police. Now officials are being questioned to see how far the cartels have penetrated ‘local political elites.’

By Tracy Wilkinson

May 28, 2009

Reporting from Mexico City — The detention this week of more than two dozen local officials in Michoacan on suspicion of aiding a narcotics cartel marks a new tack in Mexico’s bloody drug war, a strategic shift that Wednesday sent nervous politicians running for cover.

Ten mayors and 17 other officials were swept up Tuesday in raids by federal authorities, and were interrogated Wednesday in Mexico City. Ricardo Najera, spokesman for the federal attorney general’s office, said the officials are suspected of having ties to La Familia, one of Mexico’s most violent drug syndicates.

President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug gangs when he took office in December 2006, saying that traffickers had “overwhelmed” a number of local governments.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


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  1. I don’t say that enough.

    Nor can I.

    • RiaD on May 28, 2009 at 14:21

    i particularly enjoyed the asia section today. after i get my second cup of coffee, i’ll read those further.

    thanks for my news each day!


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