Lawyers At The
Justice Department Against
Torture Go Along With It
No Backbone No Conscious
Obama to Forge a Greater Role on Health Care
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
Published: June 6, 2009
WASHINGTON – After months of insisting he would leave the details to Congress, President Obama has concluded that he must exert greater control over the health care debate and is preparing an intense push for legislation that will include speeches, town-hall-style meetings and much deeper engagement with lawmakers, senior White House officials say.
Mindful of the failures of former President Bill Clinton, whose intricate proposal for universal care collapsed on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, Mr. Obama until now had charted a different course, setting forth broad principles and concentrating on bringing disparate factions – doctors, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, labor unions – to the negotiating table.
Tunnel fraud leaves Gazans on verge of financial ruin
For years, a network of underground smugglers’ routes from Egypt to the Gaza Strip has supplied a besieged population with everything from cement to cattle. But now a series of major scams has destroyed the dreams of desperate investors who saw the tunnels as a path out of poverty
Peter Bradshaw in Gaza City
The Observer, Sunday 7 June 2009
Jawad Tawfiq, a 52-year-old Gazan actor and director, was dubious at first, but his nephew insisted. If they could scrape together enough money, the nephew said, large profits could be made from investing in the tunnels that snake beneath the Egyptian border.
“They were liars,” Tawfiq said bitterly last week. “They took my money to put in their own pockets. And we are being offered a fraction of what we gave them.”
At first the tunnels emerged as smuggling routes; then they became the vital lifeline for a Gaza under economic siege by Israel. But many people who invested in the tunnels now see them quite differently – as a source of ruination.
The tunnel schemes were advertised as opportunities for doubling and trebling money by unscrupulous figures linked to powerful businessmen in Gaza and, allegedly, to senior officials in Hamas, but have instead led to huge losses for ordinary residents of the Strip.
A Slow Burn Becomes a Raging Fire
Disdain for U.S. Policies May Have Led to Alleged Spying for Cuba
By Mary Beth Sheridan and Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, June 7, 2009
He was a courtly State Department intelligence analyst from a prominent family who loved to sail and peruse the London Review of Books. Occasionally, he would voice frustration with U.S. policies, but to his liberal neighbors in Northwest D.C. it was nothing out of the ordinary. “We were all appalled by the Bush years,” one said.
What Walter Kendall Myers kept hidden, according to documents unsealed in court Friday, was a deep and long-standing anger toward his country, an anger that allegedly made him willing to spy for Cuba for three decades.”I have become so bitter these past few months. Watching the evening news is a radicalizing experience,” he wrote in his diary in 1978, referring to what he described as greedy U.S. oil companies, inadequate health care and “the utter complacency of the oppressed” in America. On a trip to Cuba, federal law enforcement officials said in legal filings, Myers found a new inspiration: the communist revolution.
Training the Top Guns of drone aircraft
The Pentagon is graduating its first class of drone pilots from the elite Air Force Weapons School in an attempt to keep the best in the air grounded in the fast-growing fighting program.
By Julian E. Barnes
June 7, 2009
Reporting from Washington — The Pentagon is preparing to graduate its first pilots of unmanned drones from the elite U.S. Air Force Weapons School — a version of the Navy’s Top Gun program — in a bid to elevate the skills and status of the officers who fly Predators, one of the military’s fastest growing aircraft programs.
The elite flight schools of the Air Force and Navy are most closely associated with smart, tough fighter jocks. But over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the MQ-1 Predator and more heavily armed MQ-9 Reaper craft have become, to many in the Pentagon, the most important aircraft the U.S. has deployed.
In 2006, the Air Force was able to fly only 12 drones at a time. Today, the service flies 34 regular combat air patrols. As the program has expanded, the job of keeping the best pilots flying drones has proved to be a challenge.
Even football is political as election fever grips Iranians
President Ahmadinejad’s future could be bound up with the fortunes of the national soccer team
Ian Black in Tehran
The Observer, Sunday 7 June 2009
As Iranians prepare for the country’s increasingly unpredictable presidential election, a national football disappointment yesterday provided a paradoxical boost for those hoping to unseat the incumbent hardliner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
President Ahmadinejad faces a serious challenge from Mir Hossein Musavi, who is reviving the hopes of the long-demoralised reformist camp. Musavi, a former prime minister, benefited when Iran drew 0-0 against North Korea – reinforcing worries that the beautiful game has declined along with the Islamic Republic’s economic situation and international standing during Ahmadinejad’s stormy four-year term.
Lebanese vote in key parliamentary election
People in Lebanon have flocked to polling stations to vote in an election that pits the ruling Western-backed coalition against a Hezbollah-led bloc.
The BBC Sunday, 7 June 2009
A tight race is predicted between the US-backed 14 March alliance, which has a small majority in parliament, and its rivals, supported by Syria and Iran.
Lebanon’s Christian community is split between the two camps.
Analysts say the result could depend on which Christian politicians are elected in a few key constituencies.
Polls across Lebanon opened at 0400 GMT and will close at 1600 GMT. Some three million people are eligible to cast ballots.
About 50,000 security personnel have been deployed to prevent violence – although none has been reported so far.
Initial results are expected late on Sunday.
Former US President Jimmy Carter, who heads a team of international observers, said Lebanese parties – and their foreign backers – should accept the result of the vote.
Was British tourist a pawn in deadly intelligence game?
By Andrew Johnson
Sunday, 7 June 2009
A more lonely and horrible death is hard to imagine. Edwin Dyer had only gone to Africa to attend one of the burgeoning music festivals breathing new life into the arid economy of the southern Sahara. But as he returned from a Tuareg festival in Mali in January he was kidnapped along with three other Westerners and held for four months by militants.
Last week the militants, who align themselves with al-Qa’ida, said they had beheaded the 61-year-old Briton.
The murder marked a disturbing shift in the ill-defined battle with al-Qa’ida. He is the first Briton to be killed in the region. His death also exposed the shadows of Western intelligence in the area, some observers say.
Africa up close
Peoria Zoo ‘transports’ its visitors to another continent
By STEPHANIE GOMES
OF THE JOURNAL STAR
After the cutting of tiger-print ribbon, parents, alongside children wearing face paint and animal visors, rushed in. These actions signaled that the Peoria Zoo’s new exhibit “Africa!” officially was open.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Yvonne Strode, director of the zoo. “When you step though this portal, you enter Africa and leave Peoria.”
After about 17 years of planning and 2 1/2 years of construction, the seven-acre expansion is ready for the public. About 10,000 visitors were expected on opening day.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was kicked off by Garry Moore and the Summer Drummers and the Natalie Young Dancers from the Preparatory School for the Arts.
Ryanair drops royal ad campaign
Faster than it turns around its flights, the low-cost airline pulls promotion featuring Queen Sofia of Spain after a threat of legal action
By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Ryanair, the low-cost, “people’s” airline, has had to tug its corporate forelock to the Queen of Spain after featuring her in one of its cheeky celebrity exploitation ads that seem to specialise in upsetting VIPs.
Queen Sofia may fly bucket-shop, but when it comes to having her name and image misused, she can become awfully haughty. Days after Her Majesty’s £13 flight to London to visit her sick brother, Ryanair sought to exploit her high profile. The airline launched a brash advertising campaign in which the elegantly coiffed, smiling Queen Sofia appeared over the slogan “Fly like a monarch”. The half-page advert published in the Spanish press last week included a quote torn from a popular freesheet: “Queen Sofia flies low cost”.
Litvinenko suspect given key security role
From The Sunday Times
June 7, 2009
Mark Franchetti in Moscow
THE Russian businessman accused of killing Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB agent poisoned in London in November 2006, has been given a key role in shaping his country’s security policy.
Andrei Lugovoi, who is wanted by Scotland Yard on suspicion of lacing Litvinenko’s tea with radioactive polonium 210, has been appointed to the security committee of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
The committee, which oversees antiterrorist legislation and border security, has regular contact with the Federal Security Service (FSB) – the former KGB – and the interior ministry. Most members are former intelligence officers.
Britain formally demanded Lugovoi’s extradition two years ago but Russia refused to hand him over, citing a constitutional bar on extraditing its own citizens.
The Taliban will ‘never be defeated’
‘Colonel Imam’, the Pakistani agent who trained Mullah Omar and the warlords to fight the Soviets, says the US must negotiate with its enemies
Christina Lamb in Rawalpindi From The Sunday Times
June 7, 2009
THE Pakistani intelligence agent who trained Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, to fight has warned that Nato forces will never overpower their enemies in Afghanistan and should talk to them rather than sacrifice more lives.
“You can never win the war in Afghanistan,” said so-called “Colonel Imam”, who ran a training programme for the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Union’s occupation from 1979 to 1989, then helped to form the Taliban.
“I have worked with these people since the 1970s and I tell you they will never be defeated. Anyone who has come here has got stuck. The more you kill, the more they will expand.”
A tall, bearded figure, whose real name is Amir Sultan Tarar, he trained at Fort Bragg, the US army base where America’s special forces are stationed.
Anna Chi: A film career that came by special order
Anna Chi hadn’t imagined herself as a filmmaker. Now the China expatriate is a director in the U.S.
By Gary Goldstein
June 7, 2009
The story behind how “Dim Sum Funeral” director Anna Chi ended up becoming a filmmaker is, alone, the stuff of great screenplays. After all, how many successful, L.A.-based filmmakers can say that, in effect, Chairman Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party got them into the movie business? Chi can, and, though it was a long, often difficult journey, she still looks back at her early life as a child of China’s Cultural Revolution with a mix of wonder and resignation.
“If you asked me today, I don’t know that I’d say I hate or love [the Communist Party] because all my experience is from that very manipulated and in a sense innocent kind of child’s point of view,” said Chi, who at 9 became immersed in the start of the Cultural Revolution after a letter she wrote to her party-resistant father praising Chairman Mao inadvertently turned into a touchstone for communist ideology.
Peru army imposes Amazon curfews
Peru’s army has set up checkpoints and imposed curfews in the jungle state of Amazonas after clashes between police and indigenous protesters.
The BBC Sunday, 7 June 2009
At least 22 police and nine protesters have died, officials say. Protesters say 30 indigenous Indians are dead.
The trouble began on Friday near Bagua with protesters angry at plans to drill for oil and gas on ancestral land.
They took 38 police officers hostage – at least nine were killed on Saturday as the army moved in to free them.
This is the worst violence in Peru since the end of the Shining Path insurgency in the 1990s and the biggest internal challenge faced by President Alan Garcia since he came to power in 2006, the BBC’s Americas editor Emilio San Pedro says.
The curfew – from 1500 to 0600 (2000-1100 GMT) – took effect immediately, as the authorities announced they had made 72 arrests.
In a statement, President Garcia said Peru was suffering from “an aggression against democracy”, and vowed to respond “with composure and firmness”.