“if Mr. Obama signs into law
a ‘public option,’ government-run insurance program
as part of health-care reform
we won’t be able to undo the damage.”
Karl “Super Genius” Rove Ha Ha Ha
As Iran Votes, Talk of a Sea Change
By ROBERT F. WORTH
Published: June 12, 2009
TEHRAN – Iranians went to the polls Friday to elect a new president after an unusually intense campaign which saw the hard-line incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seemingly thrown onto the defensive. Opposition leaders said they expected a huge turnout, with many reformists who sat out the last vote in 2005 saying they will take part this time.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s main opponent is Mir Hussein Moussavi, a moderate who has mobilized huge crowds of his backers in Tehran and other large cities.
The official IRNA news agency reported long lines outside polling stations before they opened at 8 a.m. local time. State-run television showed Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, casting his vote under the gaze of local and foreign media.
Kim Jong who? Japanese TV station has egg on its moon face
TV Asahi claimed to have an exclusive photo of Kim Jong Il’s youngest son and heir apparent. Turned out to be a construction worker in South Korea.
By John M. Glionna and Ju-min Park
June 12, 2009
Reporting from Seoul — The photograph was considered a journalistic coup, a recent image of the elusive 26-year-old son of North Korean strongman Kim Jong Il, who has reportedly been named the next leader of the secretive state.
The Internet snapshot released by a Tokyo television station purportedly showed an adult Kim Jong Un — whose last known photo was taken at age 12 — as a spitting image of his notorious father, right down to the moon face, coiffed hair and oversize sunglasses.
Trouble was, it wasn’t the younger Kim at all, but a pudgy 40-year-old South Korean construction worker who also operates a website for fortunetellers. He says he is baffled as to how the Japanese got hold of his Internet image.
Obama Bows on Settling Detainees
Administration Gives Up on Bringing Cleared Inmates to U.S., Officials Say
By Peter Finn and Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 12, 2009
The Obama administration has all but abandoned plans to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to live in the United States, administration officials said yesterday, a decision that reflects bipartisan congressional opposition to admitting such prisoners but complicates efforts to persuade European allies to accept them.
Four Uighur detainees, Chinese Muslims who were incarcerated at the U.S. military prison in Cuba for more than seven years, arrived early yesterday in Bermuda, where they will become foreign guest workers.
Taking the pulse of extremist groups
Is domestic terrorism on the rise? Is there a trend in the recent violence? Experts on the subject disagree.
By Bob Drogin
June 12, 2009
Reporting from Silver Spring, Md. — A day after an anti-Semite allegedly shot and killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, experts disagreed about whether it was an isolated event or the latest sign of a growing threat by domestic hate groups.
The danger appeared to come from two directions: far-right fanatics who feed on domestic conspiracy theories and Muslim extremists who oppose U.S. policies abroad. Both have launched deadly attacks in recent weeks.
But the number of incidents and the death toll are lower than during the early 1980s and early 1990s, when white supremacists, armed militias and other extremist groups attacked government offices, law enforcement officers, banks and other targets.
Domestic terrorism peaked in April 1995, when militia movement sympathizer and Gulf War veteran Timothy J. McVeigh set off a truck bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and wounding at least 800.
Innocent grandmother – or suicide bombing mastermind?
Martin Chulov in Baghdad meets the ‘Mother of Believers’ accused of sending 28 women to their deaths
Martin Chulov in Baghdad
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 11 June 2009 21.37 BST
Iraq’s most hated woman drifted into the room in a black abbaya, eased her petite frame into an old plastic chair and quietly introduced herself: “I am Samira al-Jassem,” she said. “I know nothing about these claims against me. I only know how to pray.”
The “Mother of Believers” – the accused matriarch of al-Qaida’s female suicide bombers – seemed smaller and less sinister than when the world last saw her, in a confession video, in February. Four months in prison have stripped at least 10lb from her and her baby face belied that of a 52-year-old grandmother. Leaning forward, with plaintive eyes, she said her captors and the world, which has collectively condemned her as the most sickening face of barbarism in a brutal country, had got it all wrong.
“I am a shopkeeper from Diyyala,” she continued. “That’s all I am. I don’t know how to read or write. How could I possibly be responsible for all of this?”
Ahmadinejad challenger demands access to polls as Iran election gets under way
From Times Online
June 12, 2009
Martin Fletcher in Tehran and Philippe Naughton
The moderate candidate challenging President Ahmadinejad in today’s landmark Iranian election raised doubts about election-rigging when he complained that some of his representatives were being denied access to polling stations.
As voters lined up to cast their ballots at the country’s 45,000 polling stations, Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister who is Mr Ahmadinejad’s closest rival, called on the authorities to allow his supporters full access to the vote.
“Presently they have prevented some of our representatives from being present at polling stations and they do not let us monitor (the vote),” he said. “We expect that officials would solve this problem as soon as possible.”
Mr Ahmadinejad’s opponents in the election, including the liberal cleric Mehdi Karoubi and Mohsen Rezaie, a former Revolutionary Guard leader, appealed yesterday to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, to ensure there is no vote rigging.
Surrendering Tamils were massacred by Sri Lankan army, says rights group
• Government ‘authorised political killings’ as war ended
• Tiger rebels accused of torture and murder of thousands
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 11 June 2009 14.39 BST
A devastating report into the final months of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war claims government forces carried out a politically-motivated massacre of surrendering Tamil Tiger fighters.
The investigation by a leading Sri Lankan human rights group accuses elements of the Sri Lankan army of touching “the most depraved depths of humanity”.
But it also accuses the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] of torture, murder, and the forced conscription of children, and says the rebel group was probably responsible for most of the thousands of civilian casualties in the final days of the war.
The report was issued last night by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) group, which has spent 21 years exposing abuses by both sides in the civil war.
Pyongyang puts the squeeze on its enemy
South Korean firms operating north of the border face huge bills
By Clifford Coonan in Beijing
Friday, 12 June 2009
North Korea stoked tensions with the West over its nuclear programme yesterday by demanding a 3,000 per cent increase in rent and a four-fold pay rise for its workers at a North-South Korean industrial park on the border.
Since it started operating four years ago, Kaesong, the industrial estate, has been held up as an example of how the two once-deadly rivals on each side of the border dividing the Korean peninsula can work together. But now it has been dragged into the maelstrom over North Korea’s test of nuclear weapons last month and its growing defiance in the face of international censure.
While the North was expected to negotiate for higher wages and rent, the scale of the demand still came as a surprise.
Mladic: The most wanted man in Europe
Caught on video: Ratko Mladic, a fugitive from global justice after ordering the worst massacre in modern Europe, enjoying life in Serbia
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Belgrade
Friday, 12 June 2009
He is held responsible for the longest and bloodiest siege since the Second World War and the most pitiless massacre since the defeat of the Nazis, but that has not prevented the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, from enjoying a long and placid retirement.
For years after the Bosnian war ended 14 years ago, Nato peacekeepers sought him. But despite a US reward of $5m (£3m) and €1m (£850,000) offered in 2007 by the Serbian government, no trace of him was found. There were rumours aplenty: he had been seen in Moscow or in Athens, he had had a stroke and died. But there were no hard clues, let alone pictures.
But now the truth is out: as the pictures on this page show, Ratko Mladic has all the while been living a life of exemplary normality: dancing with his wife, cuddling his newborn grand-daughter, singing along to a folk band.
Italian politicians accuse Colonel Gaddafi of human rights abuses
From The Times
June 12, 2009
Richard Owen in Rome
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, was yesterday greeted by protesting left-wing politicians with photos of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing pinned to their chests as he arrived to make a speech at the Italian Senate.
The photos of the wreckage of the Pan Am plane, brought down over Scotland by a terrorist bomb, were a riposte to Colonel Gaddafi’s gesture on his arrival in Rome on Wednesday. He wore a photo on his chest of the capture in 1931 of Omar al-Mukhtar, “The Lion of the Desert”, who was hanged by Italian colonial forces for leading a rebellion against the country’s Fascist rule.
The Lockerbie photos, worn by senators from the left-of-centre Italy of Values party, bore the inscription “270 dead”. The senators also displayed a fake academic award to Colonel Gaddafi “for violating human rights”. Felice Belisario, leader of the group, said that Colonel Gaddafi was responsible for “a series of terrorist acts” including Lockerbie, as well as being guilty of dictatorship and torture.
Foreigners are the real pirates, says former Somali fisherman
From The Times
June 12, 2009
Tristan McConnell in Berbera, Somalia
The first time Farah Ismail Eid set out to hijack a ship off the coast of Somalia his boat was easily outrun. On the second occasion he kept pace but his boarding ladder was too short. On the third attempt he was captured.
Eid, 38, from Eyl on the Somalia coast, is one of an estimated 1,500 fishermen-turned-pirates who have made the seas between the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean the most dangerous shipping route in the world.
“I believe the title of pirates should be given to those who come to our waters illegally,” he told The Times after shuffling into a room at the British colonial-era Mandheera prison, 40 miles south of Berbera, wearing plastic sandals, a T-shirt and a length of printed material wrapped around his skinny waist.
Sudan ‘allows aid agencies back’
Sudan has authorised four aid agencies expelled from the country in March to return to troubled Darfur, says the UN’s humanitarian chief John Holmes.
The BBC Friday, 12 June 2009
The four groups – named as Care International, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, and Padco – were among 13 organisations expelled in March.
However, Sudanese officials have strongly denied the reports.
About 300,000 people have died and two million been displaced in the six-year conflict in Darfur, the UN estimates.
Mr Holmes said Sudan had agreed to allow NGOs to go back to Darfur provided they registered under slightly changed names and logos.
“That possibility is there for all the organisations which were expelled and some of them already have taken advantage of it. They [have] now got very recently new registrations and will be restarting their operations,” he said.