Mousavi we will stand beside you – we will die beside you
US urges Iran to end ‘violence’
Iran’s capital is braced for possible fresh protests as the ongoing political struggle sparked by a disputed presidential poll continues.
The BBC Sunday, 21 June 2009
State media said calm had returned to Tehran’s streets, and quoted police as saying they had restored order.
But eyewitness accounts suggest several people were injured on Saturday after demonstrators defied official demands for them to end street protests.
It is unclear whether the protests will continue on Sunday.
Protest leader and defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has been quoted as saying peaceful protests should continue and that people have a constitutional right to demonstrate.
The BBC and other foreign media are subject to heavy restrictions which have prevented reporters from leaving their offices to confirm many reports.
US President Barack Obama has warned Iran to stop all “violence and unjust action against its own people”.
Foreign workers for U.S. are casualties twice over
Contract employees injured in the conflict zones of Iraq and Afghanistan and families of those killed there are covered by American taxpayer-funded insurance, but it often fails to deliver.
By T. Christian Miller :: reporting from san fernando, philippines
June 21, 2009
Rey Torres dreamed of a better life for his wife and five children when he left a neighborhood of wooden shacks and burning trash piles to drive a bus on a U.S. military base near Baghdad.
He hoped to send his children to college and build a new home with the $16,000 a year he earned in Iraq — four times what he could make in the Philippines.
Then, in April 2005, Torres, 31, was killed in an ambush by Iraqi insurgents. His widow and children were supposed to be protected by a war zone insurance system overseen by the U.S. government. They were eligible for about $300,000 in compensation.
But Gorgonia Torres knew nothing about the death benefit and did not apply. When she did learn about the insurance, two years later, it was from a reporter. She has since turned down an insurance company’s $22,000 settlement offer. Her only hope of receiving full compensation is a legal fight that could drag on for years.
“He knew it was dangerous. . . . He had second thoughts all the time,” she said of her husband. “But he’d say, ‘If I don’t go, there’s no way we’ll be able to survive.’ “
At V.A. Hospital, a Rogue Cancer Unit
New York Times
For patients with prostate cancer, it is a common surgical procedure: a doctor implants dozens of radioactive seeds to attack the disease. But when Dr. Gary D. Kao treated one patient at the veterans’ hospital in Philadelphia, his aim was more than a little off.
Most of the seeds, 40 in all, landed in the patient’s healthy bladder, not the prostate.
It was a serious mistake, and under federal rules, regulators investigated. But Dr. Kao, with their consent, made his mistake all but disappear.
He simply rewrote his surgical plan to match the number of seeds in the prostate, investigators said.
Media Stayed Silent on Kidnapping
News Organizations Agreed to Protect Reporter’s Safety
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 21, 2009
There were times during the kidnapping ordeal of New York Times reporter David Rohde when his boss wavered in his determination to suppress the story.
“We agonized over it at the outset and, periodically, over the last seven months,” Executive Editor Bill Keller said yesterday. “Of all the subjects we discussed with the family, that was the one we discussed more intensively than any other: Should we change strategy and go public?”
Keller decided against it, and he was aided by silence from at least 40 major news organizations — including, after a personal appeal, al-Jazeera — that continued until yesterday, when the Times confirmed that Rohde and an assistant had escaped their Taliban captors in Pakistan.
Abused, driven out and poisoned: the scandal of the Kosovo Roma
A shocking new report reveals the desperate conditions in which one of Europe’s most vulnerable populations is forced to live
The Observer, Sunday 21 June 2009
An institutionalised crime against the Roma people is taking place in eastern Europe. A forthcoming report from Human Rights Watch documents an ongoing scandal at Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, which began 10 years ago in the wake of the looting and burning to the ground of the entire settlement known as the Roma Mahalla.
This was once a vibrant home to some 8,000 people, most of them Muslims. But the inhabitants fled, fearing attacks by ethnic Albanians who saw the Roma as “collaborators” with the Serbs, with whom they share a language. Some 6,500 of these Mitrovica Roma have never returned – indeed, only about a tenth of a prewar population of 200,000 Kosovan Roma remain. The Nato-led Kosovo Force did not intervene at the time in the blighting of the Mahalla, but the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was quick to help the newly homeless, organising food and, over some months, places to live until their settlement could be restored.
Sleaze threatens to topple Silvio Berlusconi as friends warn over scandals
He has fought off accusations of corruption and survived a stream of verbal gaffes, but now a perfect storm of sleaze is threatening to topple the formerly unassailable Silvio Berlusconi.
By Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 8:00AM BST 21 Jun 2009
An apparently unstoppable torrent of allegations about the procurement of high-class call girls for private parties at two of the Italian prime minister’s luxury homes has capped two months of claim and counter-claim about his involvement with an 18-year-old underwear model.
Now the patience of Mr Berlusconi’s supporters is being stretched to breaking point – and they have been joined by the Catholic Church in warning that the lurid allegations are gravely, perhaps fatally, damaging to his standing.
Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian Conference of Bishops, Mr Berlusconi must clarify his involvement in recent scandals “as quickly as possible”. It was time, said a strongly worded editorial, for him to come up with “a believable explanation about the most urgent questions, not only those from his political rivals, but also from a section of the public who are not, in principle, opposed to him.”
Guns, children and cattle are the new currency of war in Southern Sudan
Africa’s longest-running civil war is over and a new country is supposed to grow out of it. But there are few schools or roads and the people live in fear of kidnap and death. Soon, Southern Sudan’s humanitarian disaster could dwarf that of its neighbour Darfur
Tracy McVeigh, chief reporter
The Observer, Sunday 21 June 2009
Corline Timon shrugged her AK-47 off her shoulder and held it out in both hands to the commanding officer. Her back straight in ill-fitting fatigues, her face expressionless, the 42-year-old soldier took a step backwards; into civilian life.
The automatic rifle joined a stack of others in a pyre around rags and dried grass in a dusty military compound on the outskirts of Southern Sudan’s capital city, Juba. A jerrycan of accelerant was thrown on and the pile set alight.
With this ceremony 10 days ago, 26 years after the start of Africa’s longest-running civil war, and four years after a peace treaty was signed with the north, the disarming of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, the military wing of the governing Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), finally began.
Ethiopia rejects Somali request
Ethiopia has refused a request by Somalia for military support to fight insurgents, saying such an intervention would need an international mandate.
The BBC Sunday, 21 June 2009
The Somali authorities have been battling Islamist insurgents who control much of the country.
The speaker of Somalia’s parliament had earlier urged neighbouring countries to send troops within 24 hours.
Ethiopian troops helped topple an Islamist movement in Somalia in 2006, but were withdrawn earlier this year.
On Saturday Somali parliamentary Speaker Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nur urged neighbouring Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen to intervene as fierce fighting continued for a second day in the capital Mogadishu.
But Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon said that an international mandate was needed for such an intervention.
Oil rush: Scramble for Iraq’s wealth
Critics said the war was all about the nation’s lucrative fuel industry. Are they now being proved right? Patrick Cockburn reports from Baghdad
Sunday, 21 June 2009
For many Iraqis, the reason the US invaded their country in 2003 was to get control of their oil. I never believed this at the time. I thought that the US overthrew Saddam Hussein and occupied Iraq primarily because it wanted to reassert its power after 9/11 and believed the war in Iraq would be easily won.
It is only now, six years after the American invasion, that the battle for the control of Iraqi oil production is moving to the centre of politics in Baghdad. On 29 and 30 June, the Iraqi government will award contracts under which international oil companies will take a central role in producing crude oil from Iraq’s six super-giant oilfields over the next 20 to 25 years. By coincidence, 30 June is also the date on which the last American troops will be leaving Iraqi cities. On the very day that Iraq regains greater physical authority over its territory, it is ceding a measure of control over the oilfields on which the future of the country entirely depends.
Iran’s dictator gives up pretence of democracy
From The Sunday Times
June 21, 2009
Just before noon on Friday, June 19, the Islamic republic died in Iran. Its death was announced by its “supreme guide”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had come to praise the system but buried it instead. Khamenei was addressing supporters on the campus of Tehran University, transformed into a mosque for the occasion. Many had expected him to speak as a guide, an arbiter of disputes – a voice for national reconciliation. Instead, he spoke as a rabble rouser and a tinpot despot.
At issue was the June 12 presidential election that millions of Iranians, perhaps a majority, believe was rigged to ensure the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a two-thirds majority. Since its inception in 1979, the Islamic republic has organised 31 elections at different levels. All have been carefully scripted, with candidates pre-approved by the regime and no independent mechanism for oversight.
New tanks, new missiles, new guns – but hunger rules
The ‘military first’ policy of the elite who run North Korea means extreme hardship for those outside the martial class
Foreign correspondent in Pyongyang
From The Sunday Times
June 21, 2009
WHILE ragged children foraged for wild grasses and berries on the outskirts of North Korea’s cities last week, its soldiers gloried in their nuclear weapons and readiness for battle.
“Our party and our army have total confidence now that we have nuclear weapons and long-range missiles,” declared a lieutenant-colonel at the demilitarised zone that divides the country from South Korea.
“I hope for war because only war can break the present stalemate and only war can reunite Korea,” he added, accepting a Chinese cigarette.
North Korea has boasted of a triumphant confrontation with the United States and its allies, defying sanctions and advancing nuclear tests. However, its 20m people have paid a severe price for life in an isolated and highly militarised state.
Australian PM and treasurer reject calls to quit
By ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press Writer
CANBERRA, Australia – Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his treasurer are rejecting opposition calls to resign over their relationship with a car dealer which commentators say has created the 19-month-old government’s biggest political crisis.
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said Saturday that Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan repeatedly misled Parliament this month when they denied that Rudd’s friend, car dealer John Grant, had been given special attention when he applied for a government loan to cope with the global credit crunch.
Turnbull said Rudd and Swan had no choice but to resign.
Swan said Sunday he would not.
Rudd maintains that he did not mislead Parliament and said Saturday that Swan had “acted entirely appropriately.”
The accusation that the government does favors for its political friends is damaging for Rudd, who is halfway through his first three-year term. The controversy will likely dominate Parliament when it resumes Monday for a final week before a six-week break.
Café Tacuba, Mexico’s rock ‘n’ roll survivors
Reporting from Los Angeles and Mexico City – Ever since the Fab Four started playing the Cavern Club in Liverpool, certain rock acts have been linked inextricably with certain cities. It practically defies imagination to picture Lou Reed honing his downtown Manhattan hipster-poet’s chops in, say, Yazoo City, Miss.or Kurt Cobain and Nirvana slouching toward grunge-dom while drenched in the sunshine of South Florida, rather than soaking in Seattle’s melancholy drizzle.
For the last 20 years, the definitive Mexico City band Café Tacuba has set a series of high-water marks for progressive Spanish-language rock, collecting critical hosannas along with Grammy awards and other trophies by the truckload.
Constantly innovating while relentlessly assimilating new influences from hip-hop to traditional Mexican regional folk and indigenous music, the quartet — vocalist-guitarist Rubén Albarrán Ortega, keyboardist and guitar player Emmanuel “Meme” del Real Díaz, guitarist José Alfredo “Joselo” Rangel Arroyo and bass player Enrique “Quique” Rangel Arroyo — has shed its musical skin and sprouted new ones as routinely as an iguana.