Why Is It That
Report Layoff’s Of
Ten’s Of Thousands
With Such Glee
NYT: The fall of an American giant
GM, once the symbol of U.S. innovation, is filing for bankruptcy
By Micheline Maynard
DETROIT – It is a company that helped lift hundreds of thousands of American workers into the middle class. It transformed Detroit into the Silicon Valley of its day, a symbol of America’s talent for innovation. It built celebrated cars, like Cadillacs, that became synonymous with luxury.
And now it is filing for bankruptcy, something that would have been unfathomable even a few years ago, much less decades ago, when it was a dominant force in the American economy.
Rarely has a company fallen so far and so fast as General Motors . And while its bankruptcy appeared increasingly likely in recent weeks, the arrival of the moment is still a staggering blow, particularly for anyone with ties to the company.
Dying for democracy: Tiananmen Square, remembered
Twenty years ago, a peaceful student protest in China’s capital sparked a massacre that was broadcast across the globe. But did it really change anything? Eyewitness Mary Dejevsky looks back
Monday, 1 June 2009
The Western world had been on “death watch” for weeks, preparing for the demise of Ayatollah Khomeini, inspiration of Iran’s Islamic revolution. But history has a way of frustrating even the best laid plans. And when Iran’s supreme leader eventually breathed his last, the news was utterly, and brutally, eclipsed: the Chinese army had mounted an all-out assault on the ceremonial heart of Beijing, ruthlessly evicting student protesters from Tiananmen Square, and reimposing communist rule in a ferocious exercise of force.
It was the night of 3 June, 1989. It was only an hour after night descended that the first tanks rolled down Chang’an avenue, the first bullets began to fly and the first bloodied casualties were delivered on wooden carts to the city’s hospitals.
Gitmo case highlights challenge facing Obama
War crimes court begins amid uncertainty over facility’s future
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – A session of the Guantanamo war crimes court that began Sunday will likely show the difficulties President Barack Obama faces in changing the system and closing the prison by January.
The case in question, of a Canadian charged with killing an American soldier, is stalled by infighting among lawyers.
Other defendants have even more complex legal issues, and officials say the U.S. may have to choose between delaying Guantanamo’s closure or quickly finding somewhere else to hold the trials.
“I don’t think they’ll get a single trial done by January,” said Michael Berrigan, the deputy chief defense counsel for the Guantanamo tribunals. “I don’t think there’s any way.”
Thousands rally in support of gay marriage ban
The demonstrations in Fresno and San Diego follow a gathering of Prop. 8 opponents, who vow to press ahead.
By Tony Perry and Spencer Weiner
June 1, 2009
Thousands of supporters of California’s ban on same-sex marriage rallied in Fresno and San Diego on Sunday in what organizers described as a celebration of traditional wedlock and a thank-you to the California Supreme Court for upholding their voter-approved measure.
The demonstrations followed Saturday’s gathering of gay rights supporters in Fresno to renew efforts to reverse Proposition 8, which the high court let stand early last week.
The dueling weekend rallies underscored the fact that, despite an election and a Supreme Court decision, the issue of same-sex marriage remains divisive in California.
In San Diego, about 200 Proposition 8 supporters were told to gird for what speakers said will be future political, legal and “culture war” battles.
Brad Dacus of the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute urged the crowd outside the county administration building to be ready for “the next battle, the next battle and the next battle, without surrender.”
Campaigners warn of threat to one of Spain’s last pristine beaches
Change of heart by Spanish politicians raises fears of a rash of development
Giles Tremlett in Almeria
The Guardian, Monday 1 June 2009
It is the eyesore of one of Spain’s last pristine Mediterranean coastlines, a 20-storey hotel built on supposedly protected parkland next to a virgin flower-fringed beach, despite local orders for construction to stop.
Politicians have long promised to bulldoze the Algarrobico hotel, but the 411-room glass and concrete structure still towers over the El Algarrobico beach in Almería, south-east Spain.
Now campaigners say the authorities have changed their tune and are opening the way to more building on this stretch of protected Mediterranean coast.
Campaigners warn that a recent decision to downgrade the degree of environmental protection enjoyed by this beach and other parts of the Cabo de Gata natural park threaten the future of Spain’s last key stretch of protected Mediterranean coastline.
Can the Russian doll survive the recession?
Kremlin injects funds to save the ‘matryoshka’ after sales fall by 90 per cent
By Miriam Elder in Moscow
Monday, 1 June 2009
The Russian nesting doll, the pride of a nation, is in trouble. For more than 200 years, the matryoshka has come to symbolise Russian handicraft at its finest, the brightly-painted dolls within dolls also revealing something of the mystery and complexity of the famed Russian soul. Today, as the country suffers its worst economic crisis in a decade, it appears no industry is immune.
“Without government support, pretty soon those businesses that now make goods with a multi-century history will disappear from the face of the earth,” said Oleg Korotkov, general director of Semyonovskaya Painting, one of Russia’s top handicraft makers.
How ‘the busy one’ ekes out a living from the devastation of Gaza
Jabaliya refugee camp shop sells broken parts to be reinvented and resurrected in war-torn area where unemployment and inflation are high
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 31 May 2009 11.54 BST
Mahmoud Mohammed Imad sits in front of his curtain made of rubbish. The opening to his shop in the Jabaliya refugee camp could be a work of art. A single black army boot hangs threaded through its eyes. It dangles among coils of plastic pipe, skeins of used string, a football boot, the wheel of a child’s scooter. Disconnected electrical fittings are strung like beads. Shoes and more shoes. Fragments of the discarded and the broken.
It is a suspended, frozen waterfall of junk that partially conceals the room that lies behind it, a place piled high with unruly heaps of clothes that threaten to fall through the door and out on to the street.
In front of Imad are wooden sticks, stretchers for the kites the children make to fly or sell for a few shekels.
Robert Fisk: The mysterious case of the Israeli spy ring, Hizbollah and the Lebanese ballot
World Focus: Lebanon
Monday, 1 June 2009
Spying is as familiar in Beirut as it was in post-war Vienna – there’s even a giant “Third Man”-type ferris wheel here – but the events of the last few days are growing more mysterious by the hour. Over the past two weeks, a special unit of Lebanon’s Internal Security Force (ISF) has been arresting a clutch of Lebanese allegedly working as spies for Israel.
There are least 21 men and one woman under interrogation and the ISF has been regaling us all with the highly sophisticated Israeli communications equipment found hidden at their homes.
Those detained include a local journalist in the Bekaa Valley and a senior officer in the Lebanese army, a man who was wounded by Islamist gunmen at the battle of Nahr el-Bared in 2007.
India accused of complicity in deaths of Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers
From The Times
June 1, 2009
Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent
India was accused yesterday of complicity in the killing of an estimated 20,000 civilians in the last stages of Sri Lanka’s 26-year war against the Tamil Tigers.
Major-General Ashok Mehta, a former commander of Indian peacekeeping forces in Sri Lanka, said that India’s role was “distressing and disturbing”. Two international human rights groups said that India had failed to do enough to protect civilian lives.
“We were complicit in this last phase of the offensive when a great number of civilians were killed,” General Mehta, who is now retired, told The Times. “Having taken a decision to go along with the campaign, we went along with it all the way and ignored what was happening on the ground.”
Despite being home to 60 million Tamils, India has provided Sri Lanka with military equipment, training and intelligence over the past three years, diplomatic sources told The Times.
North Korea puts long-range missile on launch pad, reports say
The test firing could come within weeks, possibly when the South Korean president meets with Obama on June 16.
By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
12:57 AM PDT, June 1, 2009
Reporting from Seoul – North Korea has positioned its most sophisticated long-range ballistic missile on a launch pad for a test firing that could come within weeks, a newspaper here reported Monday.
Pyongyang, which last month raised tensions worldwide by conducting a nuclear test, could even fire its missile when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak meets President Obama in Washington on June 16, according to the report.
In recent days, North Korea has ordered all shipping traffic from waters off its west coast, a ban it said was effective through July.
The move comes while the U.N. Security Council contemplates new sanctions against North Korea’s underground nuclear test and launching of five short-range missiles last month.
The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper in Seoul reported that the newest missile set for launch from the Dongchang-ni launch site on North Korea’s west coast may be a version of the Taepodong-2 rocket that Pyongyang fired in April.
Robert Mugabe’s thugs chanted: ‘We will eat your children’
As militants attack his home with burning tyres and drive workers from his land, one of the last white farmers in Zimbabwe feels betrayed by the new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
Ben Freeth From The Times
June 1, 2009
The invaders came at 11pm. Fifteen of them – singing, chanting and crashing metal objects together by our windows. “Out, out,” they shouted as they surrounded our farm – they certainly wanted us out. They broke into the house and dragged burning tyres through the front door. They invaded the hallway and occupied the courtyard. The flames leapt into the thatch as they pulled the tyres under it, but it did not catch alight.
This was last Tuesday. I called the police but then the invaders took the phone away. Their leader, who calls himself “Landmine”, was armed with a rifle. They pushed us around and raised sticks and said that we must leave. They beat my tonga drum so hard that the cowhide skin broke.
One of them went up to the children, who had been woken by the din. “Josh, Josh, there’s a man in our room,” said Anna, 4. Joshua, 9, told my wife Laura afterwards that the man was making hyena noises. My other son, Stephen, is 7.
Refugees fight to stay in one of South Africa’s last, battered camps
Congolese and Somali migrants forced to flee their homes during last year’s brutal anti-foreigner violence say it’s too dangerous for them to leave the Blue Waters camp near Cape Town.
By Ian Evans | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – In this tourist haven, arguably the most cosmopolitan city on the African continent, around 400 men, women, and children live in battered tents reliant on handouts – a legacy of last year’s xenophobic violence that left 62 dead and forced more than 60,000 from their homes across South Africa.
A year ago, angry mobs targeted foreigners living in townships throughout the country with a brutal, two-week barrage of attacks. Most of the victims were immigrants who had fled poverty and calamity in neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique for the relative security and prosperity of South Africa, only to find themselves hated for “stealing” jobs from poor South Africans.
Initially, the government put those forced to flee their homes into temporary camps, which have gradually been closed as victims either go back to the townships or return to their native countries.
Now lawyers for Somali and Congolese refugees are staving off local government efforts to close one of the country’s last remaining camps near Cape Town. It’s still too dangerous to leave the Blue Waters camp and return to the townships, they say. And in the shadow of Table Mountain and the surfing beaches of the Cape Peninsula, residents recount stories of violence, rape, and concern about the future.
Panama Canal expansion is chugging along
The expansion is on target, an official says, addressing rumors of recession-caused delays. A high-profile construction contract may be awarded soon.
By Chris Kraul
June 1, 2009
Reporting from Panama City — The economic downturn has stalled big construction projects across the globe, but here in Panama, smoke-belching steam shovels and dredges work around the clock on what people here call simply la ampliación, or the expansion.
This month, officials will award the principal contract for the $5.25-billion expansion of the landmark Panama Canal, a project that will probably alter global shipping patterns and cement this Central American nation’s place as a center of global logistics.
“This is a financial crisis, and there has been a decline in ship traffic. But we are very much on time and on target,” said Panama Canal Authority head Alberto Aleman, addressing rumors that the global recession could cause the project to miss its 2014 scheduled completion date.
The authority is on the verge of choosing among three international consortia, including one led by San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., to build two sets of locks to accommodate massive container cargo ships.