Preparing for Swine Flu’s Return
New Wave Expected After Virus Flourished in Southern Hemisphere
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 10, 2009
As the first influenza pandemic in 41 years has spread during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter over the past few months, the United States and other northern countries have been racing to prepare for a second wave of swine flu virus.
At the same time, international health authorities have become increasingly alarmed about the new virus’s arrival in the poorest, least-prepared parts of the world.
While flu viruses are notoriously capricious, making any firm predictions impossible, a new round could hit the Northern Hemisphere within weeks and lead to major disruptions in schools, workplaces and hospitals, according to U.S. and international health officials.
Film Festival in the Cross Hairs
By DAN LEVIN
Published: August 9, 2009
BEIJING – The Chinese flag that defaced the Melbourne International Film Festival’s hacked Web site on July 25 came with a warning: “We like film but we hate Rebiya Kadeer! We like peace and we hate East Turkistan terrorist! Please apologize to all the Chinese people!”
A week later 400 Internet users, many traced to China, knocked out the ticketing system on the site, melbournefilmfestival.com.au, in a series of attacks that made it appear as if 125 screenings at the Australian festival were sold out. The cyber assaults and other actions were a protest against the appearance of Ms. Kadeer, the Uighur leader, at a screening on Saturday of “The 10 Conditions of Love,” a documentary about her life.
Effort to Rein in Pay on Wall Street Hits New Hurdle
By ERIC DASH
Published: August 9, 2009
A guaranteed bonus might strike many people as a contradiction in terms. But on Wall Street, banks have become so eager to lure and keep top deal makers and traders that they are reviving the practice of offering ironclad, multimillion-dollar payouts – guaranteed, no matter how an employee performs.
The resurrection of the guaranteed bonus is sure to become a hot-button issue for the Obama administration’s pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, who is preparing this week to review how compensation should be structured at seven companies that received two or more federal bailouts.
Obama’s grass-roots network is put to the test
A group that helped elect the president is being reshaped to push healthcare legislation.
By Peter Wallsten
August 10, 2009
Reporting from Washington — To win the White House, Barack Obama and his political team built a vast grass-roots network of supporters and volunteers that came to be considered one of the most valuable assets in American politics. Their ambition after the election was to reshape the network, with its trained organizers and 13 million e-mail addresses, into a ground-level force to push the new president’s policy goals.
But now, entering a crucial congressional recess month in which Obama’s healthcare plan faces stiffened opposition, some members of the network say that the group is still figuring out how to operate. Some also say their work has been slowed by tensions over tactics, disenchantment among some core supporters and an effective GOP resistance.
A new beginning in Zimbabwe?
Six months on from the agreement by Mugabe and Tsvangirai to swallow their differences, the country is at a crossroads
David Smith in Harare
Schools and hospitals returning to life. Food in the supermarkets and queues at the tills. Investors flying in and refugees coming home. Independent newspapers due for launch and international media broadcasting openly. Book fairs, poetry slams and jazz festivals drawing crowds. A president and prime minister laughing together as they call for national healing. This is Zimbabwe in August 2009.
Politically motivated beatings turning families against themselves. Villagers bartering chickens in the absence of a new currency. MPs, lawyers, journalists and students under arrest. Corruption rampant and another cholera outbreak predicted. A president rebuilding his tools of oppression and a prime minister said to be in danger of assassination. This, too, is Zimbabwe in August 2009.
Lord’s Resistance Army targets children of Sudan
The Lord’s Resistance Army, which specialises in abducting and murdering the young, has turned on a new and pitifully vulnerable target: the children of southern Sudan, one of Africa’s most isolated and troubled regions.
By David Blair in Witto, Western Equatoria province
Published: 7:00AM BST 10 Aug 2009
The LRA, which emerged in neighbouring Uganda and has kidnapped tens of thousands of children during two decades of guerrilla war, is now striking across a vast area of bush and plain along Sudan’s south-western frontier.
These raids on defenceless villages, usually mounted by small groups of rebels searching for children to abduct and food to steal, have forced more than 55,000 people to flee their homes. Western Equatoria province has been worst hit, with scores of villages abandoned and new refugee camps springing up.
Local people call LRA fighters the “ton-tong”, meaning “machete”, because this is their chosen weapon for murdering victims.
Mary Anja, who does not know her age but looks about 30, lived in Diko district until the LRA attacked her village. Knowing that the rebels were hunting for children, local people tried to evacuate as many as possible, along with their mothers, on two tractors.
German Jews want ‘Mein Kampf’ reprinted
Country divided by call to republish Hitler’s anti-semitic autobiography
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Monday, 10 August 2009
Germany’s Central Council of Jews has taken the unprecedented step of backing a proposal to republish Adolf Hitler’s infamous autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf, which has been strictly outlawed in the country since the end of the Second World War.
Although many German Jews still oppose reissuing Hitler’s anti-Semitic work, Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the country’s leading Jewish organisation, supports a new scholarly edition of the work designed to inform future generations of the evils of Nazism.
Suspected Eta bomb explodes at La Rigoletta restaurant in Majorca
From The Times
August 10, 2009
Sarah Morris in Málaga
Bombs in the capital of Majorca yesterday heightened fears that the Basque separatist group Eta is waging a summer campaign targeting the tourist industry.
A first device exploded at about 3pm at a restaurant in Palma de Majorca, the capital, opposite Can Pere Antoni beach. Police carried out a controlled explosion on a nearby second bomb about 15 minutes later.
Later, a third bomb in an empty shopping centre in Plaza Mayor went off. A fourth then exploded in a bar. Witnesses said restaurants and the beach area had all been evacuated. No one was injured and the explosions were modest in size.
Kurdish faultline threatens to spark new war
The only thing keeping Arabs and Kurds from fighting is the glue of US occupation
By Patrick Cockburn in Mosul
Monday, 10 August 2009
It is called the “trigger line”, a 300-mile long swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq where Arab and Kurdish soldiers confront each other, and which risks turning into a battlefield. As the world has focused on the US troop withdrawal from Iraq, and the intensifying war in Afghanistan, Arabs and Kurds in Iraq have been getting closer to an all out war over control of the oil-rich lands stretching from the borders of Syria in the west to Iran in the east.
The risk of armed conflict is acute because the zone in dispute is a mosaic of well-armed communities backed by regular forces. Kurdish and Arab soldiers here watch each other’s movements with deepest suspicion in case the other side might attempt to establish new facts on the ground.
Iranian court says ‘confessions’ prove Western plot
From The Times
August 10, 2009
Iran’s conservative newspapers had a field day. “London – The control room for the street riots in Tehran”, proclaimed yesterday’s Kayhan newspaper, the mouthpiece of the regime. “The British Embassy: headquarters for the coup command”, read the front-page headline of the government newspaper Iran. Referring to Hossein Rassam, an Iranian whom the British Embassy employed as its chief political analyst, the Javan newspaper proclaimed: “The accused in the ‘Velvet Revolution’ confesses”.
Mr Rassam, 44, was one of six defendants who stood before a revolutionary court in Tehran at the weekend to “confess” their roles in what a long prosecution indictment portrayed as a vast international conspiracy to topple the regime – a conspiracy devised by the British, US and Israeli intelligence services with help from France, Germany, the BBC, the British Council, Voice of America, Twitter, Facebook and Google’s Persian-language translation service.
Pakistan issues reassurance that Baitullah Mehsud is dead
Pakistan’s top officials have dismissed Taliban claims that the group’s leader survived a missile strike last week and said the government will publish proof of Baitullah Mehsud’s death.
By Our Foreign Staff
Published: 9:33AM BST 10 Aug 2009
Officials claim Mehsud’s death sparked a fierce power struggle among his deputies, officials said, despite claims and counterclaims as to the fate of the country’s most wanted man.
American and Pakistani government and intelligence officials, as well as some Taliban commanders and at least one rival militant, have said Baitullah Mehsud died in Wednesday’s drone strike on his father-in-law’s house in northwestern Pakistan’s rugged, lawless tribal area near the Afghan border.
President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, said America was 90 percent confident Mehsud had been killed.
Neither side has produced any concrete evidence, and the claims were impossible to verify.
Manila’s Hobbit House bar: Full of little people and a big love
Ex-Peace Corps volunteer Jim Turner rescued dwarfs from the Philippine capital’s harsh streets and gave them a place to call home. Now they can’t imagine life without him.
By John M. Glionna
August 10, 2009
Reporting from Manila, Philippines — Every night without fail, Jim Turner is there at the far corner of the bar, chain-smoking his Marlboros and sipping ice-cold San Miguel from the bottle, watching over the Little Ones.
He considers them family, but they’re not his children. They’re the dwarfs and other little people the 70-year-old Iowa native has rescued from the heartless streets of this capital city to offer them friendship and honest work.
For 35 years, the former Peace Corps volunteer has operated the Hobbit House, a bar themed on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, a realm marked by all things miniature.
Under his care, hundreds of dwarfs have adopted new cultural identities. They’re no longer shunned or even feared as supposed evil spirits, but have become popular characters called hobbits — merry figures who serve drinks, crack ribald jokes and even entertain onstage.
At Turner’s bar, on a dingy block of strip clubs and speak-easies in central Manila, the dwarfs draw a loyal crowd. They’re entertainers who get the joke, always ready to use their small size for a few good-natured laughs.
Chavez slams Colombia ‘incursion’
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused Colombia of carrying out a military incursion into Venezuela.
The BBC Monday, 10 August 2009
Mr Chavez said Colombian soldiers had recently been seen crossing the Orinoco river, which forms part of the border, and entering Venezuelan territory.
He said the incursion – which Colombia denies happened – was a “provocation”.
Mr Chavez was speaking ahead of a summit of South American leaders which is set to discuss Colombia’s plans to allow US troops access to its bases.
Mr Chavez has been embroiled in a diplomatic row with his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, ever since news of the plan emerged.’Growing threat’
During his weekly TV show on Sunday, President Chavez ordered his troops on to a war footing along the border with Colombia.