Docudharma Times Saturday June 20

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Saturday’s Headlines:

he 5 Year Old Space Age

A sea of tears: the flooded people of South Bangladesh

Pakistan army closes in on Taleban leader Baitullah Mehsud

France split over plan to outlaw burqa

Submarine hunts for Tsarist gold ‘worth billions’ in Lake Baikal

Arab neighbors watch Iran’s troubles

Iran rooftop chorus swells in the night

Come home, Tsvangirai tells expats

In Venezuela, Land ‘Rescue’ Hopes Unmet

The Ayatollah speaks – and the protesters are warned

Opposition will be held responsible for bloodshed, says Supreme Leader

By Peter Popham

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The delivery was mild, but the words were incandescent: now Iran’s protesters know exactly where they stand. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei finally spoke on the crisis gripping his nation yesterday, and while he had emollient words for presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, his threats were explicit.

He demanded an end to the protests that have brought millions on to the nation’s streets this week, insisted that their cause was wrong, that his ally Ahmadinejad was the election’s rightful winner, denied there was any possibility that the election had been rigged, and warned of fearful consequences if the people come out in force again today. “The result of the election comes from the ballot box, not from the street,” he said. “If there is any bloodshed, leaders of the protests will be held directly responsible.”

Greece to unveil Acropolis museum

The long-awaited Acropolis Museum in Athens is to be unveiled later.


The modern glass and concrete building, at the foot of the ancient Acropolis, houses sculptures from the golden age of Athenian democracy.

The £110m ($182m; 130m euros) structure also offers panoramic views of the stone citadel where they came from.

Culture minister Antonis Samaras said he hoped it would be the “catalyst” for the return of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum.

Some of the sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, originally decorated the Parthenon temple and have been in London since they were sold to the museum in 1817.

The museum has long argued that Greece has no proper place to put them – an argument the Greek government hopes the Acropolis Museum addresses.

Mr Samaras said: “After several adventures, obstructions and criticism, the new Acropolis Museum is ready: a symbol of modern Greece that pays homage to its ancestors, the duty of a nation to its cultural heritage.”

The building, set out over three levels, holds about 350 artefacts and sculptures that were previously held in a small museum on top of the Acropolis.


Primary-Care Doctor Shortage May Undermine Reform Efforts

No Quick Fix as Demand Already Exceeds Supply

By Ashley Halsey III

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

As the debate on overhauling the nation’s health-care system exploded into partisan squabbling this week, virtually everyone still agreed on one point: There are not enough primary-care doctors to meet current needs, and providing health insurance to 46 million more people would threaten to overwhelm the system.

Fixing the problem will require fundamental changes in medical education and compensation to lure more doctors into primary-care offices, which already receive 215 million visits each year.

The American Academy of Family Physicians predicts that, if current trends continue, the shortage of family doctors will reach 40,000 in a little more than 10 years, as medical schools send about half the needed number of graduates into primary medicine.

The 5 Year Old Space Age

Five years after the private-sector space age began, rocketeers are taking circuitous routes to turn their spaceship dreams into reality. And the pioneers of the age say that’s just as it should be.

The Space Age, with capital letters, dates back more than 50 years to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957. That marked the first time an artificial satellite was put into orbit. The 5-year-old space age I’m talking about dates back to June 21, 2004, when the SpaceShipOne rocket plane became the first privately developed craft to carry a civilian astronaut into outer space.

When SpaceShipOne flew, some observers thought regular folks would be going on day trips to outer space within just a year or two. Indian-American millionaire Chirinjeev Kathuria, who helped extend the life of Russia’s Mir space station in 2000 and now serves as chairman of the PlanetSpace rocket venture, certainly thought so.


A sea of tears: the flooded people of South Bangladesh

With ocean levels rising, and shrimp farms proliferating, villages in south Bangladesh are being flooded by the sea. There is no water to drink, so people must search for it daily, writes Tahmima Anam.

Tahmima Anam

The Guardian, Saturday 20 June 2009

If you look at a map of Bangladesh, you will see that the southern coast has a meandering, indistinct border. This is the home of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, with its strange, submerged trees, its Royal Bengal tigers, and its mythical figures such as Bon-Bibi, goddess and protector of the forest. It is where the delta ends and the sea begins.

Water has been the making and unmaking of Bangladesh. It is the reason the rice grows thick and fast, why the rivers ripple with fish, why the land is carpeted with green. But the water is also cruel. Every year, torrential rains flood villages and farms; rivers break their banks, swallowing great chunks of land, destroying the homes, and the dreams, that are built upon it.

Now, through disasters both man-made and natural, water is wreaking a new kind of havoc.

Pakistan army closes in on Taleban leader Baitullah Mehsud

From The Times

June 20, 2009

Jeremy Page and Rehmat Mehsud, in Islamabad

Pakistan has launched the first ground attacks of a new offensive against Baitullah Mehsud, the Taleban leader, in his mountain stronghold of South Waziristan – also considered to be the possible hiding place of Osama bin Laden.

A local intelligence official told The Times that there was heavy fighting yesterday between government forces and Mr Mehsud’s men around the villages of Madijan and Tanai following several days of artillery raids and airstrikes.

The militants had taken up defensive positions on hilltops and the government troops were attacking them, backed by F16 fighter jets, the official said. All telecommunications and roads in the area had been blocked. “The troops have started advancing towards Baitullah Mehsud’s territory,” he said. He said that the troops were trying to pin down Mr Mehsud and his men before the army launched an all-out offensive, called Operation Rah-eNijat (Path to Salvation).


France split over plan to outlaw burqa

Racial unrest feared over new law, which goes further than ban on headscarves

By John Lichfield in Paris

Saturday, 20 June 2009

A suggestion that the full-length veil, or burqa, might be outlawed in France split the French government down the middle yesterday.

The government’s official spokesman, Luc Chatel, said that legislation might be introduced to ban full-length veils if it was proved that they were being “imposed” on Muslim women against their will.

However, the Immigration Minister, Eric Besson, said legal action would “create unnecessary and unwelcome tensions” and re-open the anguished dispute which surrounded the decision in 2004 to ban Islamic headscarves, and other religious symbols, from state schools in France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking after the EU summit in Brussels, said he would address the subject in public on Monday but warned against surrendering to “emotional” arguments.

Submarine hunts for Tsarist gold ‘worth billions’ in Lake Baikal

From The Times

June 20, 2009

Tony Halpin in Moscow

Explorers have returned to Lake Baikal equipped with two minisubmarines to continue a hunt for a fortune in Tsarist gold that, legend has it, was carried by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak’s White Army as it fled the advancing Bolsheviks during Russia’s civil war.

Tales abound about the fate of Kolchak’s gold – a haul estimated at 1,600 tonnes and worth billions of pounds today. One version has it that troops retreating on foot and horsecarriage across Baikal’s icy surface froze to death as temperatures hit minus 60C (minus 76F) in the winter of 1919-20. When the spring thaw arrived, they and the sacks of Imperial gold sank to the bottom of the massive lake, which contains 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water.

Others say that the treasure was lost when railway carriages plunged into the lake from a branch of the Trans-Siberian line at Cape Polovinny. Intriguingly, one of the mini-submarines spent five hours yesterday more than 1,000 metres below the surface searching for railway carriages, after wheels dating from the civil war were found nearby.

Middle East

Arab neighbors watch Iran’s troubles


“Millions voted for President Ahmadinejad and that makes the elections definitive,” declared Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Akbar Khamenei during his Friday sermon.

With these simple words addressing Muslim worshippers, he ended speculations about his position following a week of pro-opposition demonstrations claiming vote-rigging and denouncing their candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi’s defeat.

Iran’s Supreme Leader delivered his much-anticipated speech from Tehran University. It was at that same university in 1979 that the Shah’s Savak, the most despised and feared security police at the time, opened fire on a student demonstration sparking the Islamic revolution which led to the overthrow of the Iranian monarchy.

Tehran University was also the scene where more than 1,000 Iranian students clashed with police and religious hard-liners in 1999.

Iran rooftop chorus swells in the night

Calls of ‘God is great!’ from losing opposition presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s backers ricochet around a city block despite warnings against further protest.

By Borzou Daragahi

June 20, 2009

It starts with two young female voices, quietly at first, almost gently piercing the quiet of the night.

“Allahu akbar!” they cry out a few minutes after 10 p.m. “God is great!”Then another voice joins in from the other side of the block. This one belongs to an older woman. “God is great!” she responds in a rasp that suggests decades of hardship and swallowed rage. “Allahu akbar!”

After a minute or two, a male voice joins in. It’s as if he needed a little time to put on his slippers and clamber to the rooftop.

“Allaaaaahu akbar,” he moans.

Within a few minutes a choir of voices erupts.

“Ya, Hossein!” a man with a sturdy baritone announces across the lush trees. “O Hossein!”

“Mir-Hossein!” a group of women shrieks back, every ounce of energy straining through petite voices.

“Marg bar dictator!” a voice erupts. “Death to the dictator!” And then more voices, a cacophony of anonymous anger. “Marg bar dictator. Marg bar dictator.”


Come home, Tsvangirai tells expats

Prime Minister comes to London with a message for the Zimbabwean diaspora

By Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent

Saturday, 20 June 2009  

On the eve of a major speech by the Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, in London today, a leading human rights activist has appealed to Britain not to increase aid to the country’s unity government.

Jenni Williams, whose Women of Zimbabwe Arise movement (Woza) has been at the forefront of protests against Robert Mugabe’s regime, denounced the power-sharing coalition as a “failure” and warned expatriate Zimbabweans not to return home.

Mr Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, is expected to make an emotional appeal at Southwark Cathedral to the Zimbabwean diaspora living in Britain to return to the impoverished southern African nation. But Ms Williams condemned the initiative.

Latin America

In Venezuela, Land ‘Rescue’ Hopes Unmet

Farmers Struggle on Expropriated Plots

By Juan Forero

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, June 20, 2009

LAS VEGAS, Venezuela — Dreaming of a new life, Ramón Barrera came to El Charcote, a vast farm here in northwestern Venezuela, several years after President Hugo Chávez’s populist government had expropriated the property from its longtime owners and begun distributing parcels to small farmers like him to work.

Six months after he arrived, Barrera’s dream is still just a dream — his 37 acres are fallow, so he spends his time feeding grain to nine scrawny pigs. He and other farmers trying to earn a living on the farm’s sunbaked expanse said the technical help they had been promised never materialized.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


    • RiaD on June 20, 2009 at 14:08

    the rooftop chorus article gave me chills.

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