Docudharma Times Saturday July 18

Saturday’s Headlines:

Democrats Grow Wary as Health Bill Advances

U.S. judge ends federal oversight of the LAPD

Iran: Words to heed

Rafsanjani calls on Iran to release protesters

Chechen President hits back over claim he ordered activist’s murder

US firm averts French explosion

Jakarta bombers may have been guests at Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, police say

Q&A: What is Jemaah Islamiyah?

World celebrates as South Africa’s Mandela turns 91

Post-coup Mauritania election begins

America’s Iconic TV News Anchor Shaped the Medium and the Nation


By Bart Barnes and Joe Holley

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, July 18, 2009  

Walter Cronkite, America’s preeminent television journalist of the 1960s and 1970s who as anchor and managing editor of “CBS Evening News” played a primary role in establishing television as the dominant national news medium of that era, died last night at age 92.

CBS Vice President Linda Mason said Cronkite died at 7:42 p.m. with his family by his side at his home in New York after a long illness. He had been suffering from cerebrovascular disease, his family said recently.

In Pakistan, Skardu is suffering backlash of Taliban violence

Residents of the beautiful town of Skardu say the violence roiling other parts of Pakistan is keeping foreigners away. Climbing expeditions are down by half in the area that’s home to K2.

By Mark Magnier

July 18, 2009

Reporting from Skardu, Pakistan — Psst — don’t tell anyone, but there’s still another part of Pakistan, an oasis of striking beauty all but free of the turmoil, Taliban militancy, suicide bombers and security fears that have gripped much of the rest of the country.

Clocks here in Skardu in northern Pakistan, an hour’s flight from Islamabad, may display the same time as their counterparts in the capital, or in Lahore and Karachi. But the slow pace, tranquillity and welcoming of outsiders are more befitting of a long-gone age when traders on horseback plied the nearby Karakoram Highway.

“Someday maybe all of Pakistan will be as peaceful as this,” said Abdul Munim, 29, a businessman from Islamabad who has spent much of the last year building cellphone towers in the isolated region more than 7,000 feet above sea level. “There’s no fear, no danger of going outside, nothing but quiet.”


Democrats Grow Wary as Health Bill Advances

News Analysis


Published: July 17, 2009

WASHINGTON – Three of the five Congressional committees working on legislation to reinvent the nation’s health care system delivered bills this week along the lines proposed by President Obama. But instead of celebrating their success, many Democrats were apprehensive, nervous and defensive.

Even as Democratic leaders and the White House insisted that the nation was closer than ever to landmark changes in the health care system, they faced basic questions about whether some of their proposals might do more harm than good.

And while senior Democrats vowed to press ahead to meet Mr. Obama’s deadline of having both chambers pass bills before the summer recess, some in their ranks, nervous about the prospect of raising taxes or proceeding without any Republican support, were pleading to slow down.

U.S. judge ends federal oversight of the LAPD

Saying that the department has reformed itself significantly, the judge ends the consent decree that had been imposed in the wake of the 2001 Rampart corruption scandal.

By Joel Rubin

July 18, 2009

Declaring that the Los Angeles Police Department has reformed itself significantly after decades of corruption and brutality complaints, a U.S. judge on Friday ended a long-running period of federal oversight.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary A. Feess terminated the consent decree federal officials had imposed on the LAPD in 2001, after the Rampart corruption scandal. The decree required the department to undertake dozens of wide-ranging reforms meant to tighten internal checks on officers’ conduct and subjected the department to rigorous audits by a monitor who reported to Feess.

In freeing the LAPD, Feess and his monitor, Michael Cherkasky, acknowledged improvements.

“When the decree was entered, LAPD was a troubled department whose reputation had been severely damaged by a series of crises,” Feess wrote in his ruling released early Friday evening. “In 2008, as noted by the monitor, ‘LAPD has become the national and international policing standard for activities that range from audits to handling of the mentally ill to many aspects of training to risk assessment of police officers and more.’ “

Middle East

Iran: Words to heed

The Guardian, Saturday 18 July 2009  

Friday prayers at Tehran University normally serve as a showcase for the regime. It was from this pulpit that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the hundreds of thousands protesting about the stolen election a month ago to stay off the streets. Mass protest and more bloodshed ensued. Yesterday’s prayers were anything but a platform for either the supreme leader or his doomed president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who stayed well away.

One of the ayatollah’s bitterest rivals, the influential cleric and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, was in the pulpit. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the candidate who claimed to have beaten Mr Ahmadinejad, was in the front row. Mehdi Karroubi, the reformist cleric, was also there. Mr Rafsanjani’s words may not have been carried live on state TV, but they got out soon enough on radio, the blogosphere and Twitter in Persian and English. Together, the three men now form a public and formidable opposition bloc.

Rafsanjani calls on Iran to release protesters

Influential cleric’s sermon issues challenge to Supreme Leader and President

By Patrick Cockburn

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The political crisis over Iran’s disputed election has flared up once again as the powerful cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani delivered a sermon criticising the repression of protesters claiming the poll was rigged.

Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of government opponents chanted “Freedom, freedom” and “Ahmadinejad, resign, resign” while they listened to the sermon in the prayer hall of Tehran University.

Sitting in the front row was Mirhossein Mousavi, the defeated opposition presidential candidate, in his first official public appearance since the June vote.


Chechen President hits back over claim he ordered activist’s murder

Kadyrov plans to sue Natalaya Estemirova’s human rights group

By Shaun Walker in Moscow

Saturday, 18 July 2009

First Russia’s small and beleaguered human rights community received the news that the activist Natalya Estemirova had been abducted and murdered. Yesterday, the strongman President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who many believe was linked to the killing, added insult to that injury when he said that he planned to sue the campaigning organisation of which she was a member in order to “defend his dignity”.

It was another blow for Memorial, the organisation that supported Ms Estemirova in her work exposing human rights abuses in Chechnya. It came after Oleg Orlov, the group’s head, said on Thursday: “I know who is guilty of Natalya’s murder. His name is Ramzan Kadyrov.”

US firm averts French explosion

US firm averts French explosion

Gas bottles have been placed around the New Fabris site

A threat to blow up another French factory has not been defused

A US construction equipment firm has agreed to pay extra compensation to French workers who had threatened to explode gas canisters at their plant.

The BBC  

Staff at JLG Industries in Tonneins, south-western France, made the threat in order to get better redundancy terms for 53 workers.

It is the third such incident in which workers have threatened violence against employers.

Elsewhere, French workers have taken managers hostage in “boss-nappings”.

The French Employment Minister, Laurent Wauquiez, described the tactics as “blackmail”.

In the JLG deal, the 53 affected workers were each guaranteed 30,000 euros (£26,000; $42,000) in severance pay.

JLG Industries is a subsidiary of the US company Oshkosh, which makes cranes and work platforms.


Jakarta bombers may have been guests at Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, police say

From The Times

July 18, 2009  

Michel Maas in Jakarta and Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor

Suicide bombers posing as hotel guests are believed to have been responsible for the explosions in two hotels that killed at least eight people in Jakarta yesterday and wounded more than 50, in the first such attack in Indonesia for almost four years. Bleeding victims, some of them foreign businessmen who, moments earlier, had been engaged in breakfast meetings, limped or crawled out of the JW Marriott hotel and the neighbouring Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta’s Mega Kuningan business district after the explosions, which came two minutes apart, shortly before 8am.

Footage from a security camera at the Ritz-Carlton showed a suited man wearing a baseball cap and carrying a backpack and a wheeled suitcase entering the hotel’s first-floor restaurant just before the explosion, which killed two people.

Q&A: What is Jemaah Islamiyah?

Friday’s terror attack in Jakarta puts the Al Qaeda-linked Indonesian militant group back in spotlight.

By Dan Murphy  | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the July 18, 2009 edition

It will probably be some days before any kind of official confirmation is available on who was behind the coordinated attacks on the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta on Friday.

But the only group to carry out high profile attacks on Western targets in Indonesia’s capital in the past has been the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), and most analysts expect the attackers will be found to be part of the group’s network. The JI had attacked the Jakarta Marriott once before, killing 20 people there with a suicide car bomb in 2003.

Counter-terrorism efforts in Indonesia and in neighboring countries where the groups members have operated – Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines have all arrested JI members on their own soil – had proven successful until now. Friday’s attack was the first terrorist incident in the country in four years.

Is it possible that another wave of JI attacks are in the offing?


World celebrates as South Africa’s Mandela turns 91

By Sibongile Khumalo (AFP)

JOHANNESBURG – Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, turns 91 on Saturday with a call for community service and celebrations from New York’s Madison Square Garden to downtown Johannesburg.

The increasingly frail former statesman who is affectionately called Madiba, his clan name, has been inundated by messages of goodwill, from multinational companies to ordinary South Africans.

But the Nobel peace laureate will spend the day at home with his family and close friends.

This year’s birthday marks the inaugural Mandela Day, initiated by his charitable foundation in honour of the much-loved icon who became president in 1994.

People around the world are being urged to dedicate 67 minutes of their day to volunteer for community service.

The number reflects the number of years since Mandela dedicated his life to the struggle for equality in South Africa, as he joined the ruling African National Congress in 1942.

Post-coup Mauritania election begins

By TODD PITMAN, Associated Press Writer

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania – A former military general who ousted this Islamic nation’s first freely elected president is vying to become its legitimate ruler in elections Saturday to return power to civilian rule.

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who toppled former President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi in August, is a front-runner among nine candidates on the ballot. Voting opened Saturday morning and were due to close 12 hours later.

Aziz resigned from the army post and the junta he led in April so he could run as a civilian. But Abdallahi’s overthrow made clear the military wields real power, no matter who is president.

The vote epitomizes a half-century-old struggle still being waged across Africa against the ever-strong reign of autocratic strongmen. At stake is whether Mauritania can really turn its back on an era of military rule, while at the same time taking a hard line against an encroaching al-Qaida presence in the region.

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