Docudharma Times Monday August 17

‘Public Option’ in Health Plan May Be Dropped  


Published: August 16, 2009

PHOENIX – The White House, facing increasing skepticism over President Obama’s call for a public insurance plan to compete with the private sector, signaled Sunday that it was willing to compromise and would consider a proposal for a nonprofit health cooperative being developed in the Senate.

The “public option,” a new government insurance program akin to Medicare, has been a central component of Mr. Obama’s agenda for overhauling the health care system, but it has also emerged as a flashpoint for anger and opposition. Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, said the public option was “not the essential element” for reform and raised the idea of the co-op during an interview on CNN.

Ripples of Dispute Surround Tiny Island in East Africa


Published: August 16, 2009

MIGINGO ISLAND, Lake Victoria – This little island doesn’t look like much.

It’s a slab of rock, not even an acre big, packed with rusty metal shacks, heaps of garbage, glassy-eyed fishermen and squads of prostitutes, essentially a microslum bathing in the middle of Africa’s greatest lake.

But baby Migingo is creating a huge fuss. The island happens to lie right along the disputed watery border between Kenya and Uganda, and politicians have even threatened to go to war over it.

The reason?

Fish. Lots of them, but maybe not enough. The island is an angler’s paradise, surrounded by schools of tasty – and exportable – Nile perch.

How Malia and Sasha Obama spent their summer vacation  

Paris, Moscow, London, Ghana — and now the public gets a glimpse of the president’s daughters at Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

 By Maeve Reston

August 17, 2009

Reporting from Phoenix – In the elite circles of private schools in Washington, D.C., globe-trotting vacations are common, but it is hard to imagine that many schoolmates of Malia and Sasha Obama will be able to rival their summer adventures.

Although the White House zealously guards many of the details of the Obamas’ private family time, the public caught a glimpse Sunday of the girls’ sightseeing tour of the Grand Canyon, and a day earlier, of their visit to Yellowstone National Park.

Earlier this summer, photographers captured visits by the first daughters to the Eiffel Tower and the Pompidou Center in Paris, a slave dungeon in Ghana, and the Kremlin in Moscow.


Kim Sengupta: No quick fix when it comes to training the Afghan army

Monday, 17 August 2009

The training of the Afghan security forces is a key element in the West’s exit strategy from Afghanistan and there is considerable focus on whether this is actually being achieved.

What is being described as a “definitive report” into the strategy of the conflict, to be presented by General Stanley A McChrystal, the American commander of Nato forces in the country, will recommend increasing the size of the national army from the present 88,000 to 134,000. Police numbers are to rise from 82,000 to 120,000.

India welcomes more baby girls for first time

  From Times Online

August 17, 2009

Rhys Blakely in Mumbai  

More girls were born in Delhi than boys last year for the first time, according to official figures, after parents were given cash bonuses of £125 for each new daughter as part of a drive to stamp out female infanticide.

Government officials cited the statistics as evidence that India is finally winning its war against the killing of unborn and baby girls, a practice estimated to account for as many as 50 million Indian women having gone “missing”, according to Unicef.

However, experts said that the improvement in Delhi was too sudden to be credible, and was likely to be the result of more families registering daughters to claim the cash benefits, rather than a genuine rise in the numbers of girls being born.

Middle East

The families of Gaza profit from bunny business

Cuddly, clean and nutritious, cottontails are solving the Palestinian food crisis. Donald Macintyre reports

Monday, 17 August 2009

The shrapnel holes in the wall behind her underline why Subheya Motawe, her husband and their 15 children were forced to escape from their four-room home in this central Gaza village last January. With no time to grab most of their possessions, Mrs Motawe, 52, had the presence of mind to at least take the most valuable one before fleeing: a pregnant female rabbit. After the family returned home at the end of the Israeli military’s assault on Gaza, the doe gave birth to a healthy litter. Which was just as well since most of the family’s other 24 rabbits were casualties of Operation Cast Lead – either directly because of bombardment or indirectly because Mrs Motawe hadn’t been able to leave the house to get feed or clean water for them. With the new offspring, Mrs Motawe had the nucleus she needed to make a fresh start.

Iran releases Clotilde Reiss after six weeks in jail on spy charges  

From The Times

August 17, 2009  

Martin Fletcher

Iran released on bail yesterday a French student who was accused of spying. She had spent six weeks in Tehran’s notorious Evin jail.

Clotilde Reiss, who turned 24 while in prison, was arrested in Tehran after taking part in protests against the re-election of President Ahmadinejad. One of more than 100 defendants at a televised mass trial earlier this month, she will now have to stay at the French Embassy in Tehran while awaiting the verdict in her trial.

Ms Reiss, who was working as a university teaching assistant in Iran’s third-largest city, Isfahan, was accused of spying and abetting revolt because she attended demonstrations, e-mailed friends and sent a report to a French institute for Iranian studies during the protests against the June presidential elections.  


Purges strike fear in new Chechnya

 When the police killed Svetlana Bazhayeva’s nephew, her life was torn apart – and in a lawless state, she joined the growing ranks of the bereaved. Shaun Walker reports from Grozny

Monday, 17 August 2009

A decade ago central Grozny looked like post-war Stalingrad; now it looks like somewhere in Belgium. Here, in the middle of the troubled North Caucasus region, is a city lined with new, brightly coloured buildings, and freshly-paved, tree-lined walkways. At pedestrian crossings, a digital timer ticks down the seconds until it’s safe to cross; locals sip espressos in cafes with names like Da Rizzi and Rafaello, while Jennifer Lopez gyrates on MTV in the background.

But this sense of prosperous provincial idyll is a facade. It’s in one of these pleasant cafes that I meet two women with a horrifying story to tell, just one of many that I hear during my time in the region.

Britain knew about extermination of Jews, Vatican claims  

  The Vatican’s official newspaper has accused Britain and the United States of having detailed knowledge of Hitler’s plans to exterminate the Jews but of failing to do anything to halt the Final Solution.

  By Simon Caldwell and Nick Squires in Rome

Published: 7:30AM BST 17 Aug 2009

 L’Osservatore Romano said the British and American governments ignored, downplayed or even suppressed intelligence reports about the Nazis’ extermination plans.

They could have bombed Nazi concentration camps and the railways that supplied them but instead chose not to, the newspaper claimed. It quoted from the diary of Henry Morgenthau Jr., the wartime US secretary of the treasury, who described London’s alleged indifference to the plight of the Jews as “a Satanic combination of British chill and diplomatic double talk, cold and correct and adding up to a sentence of death”.

Latin America

Mexico purges customs officers


Agencies in Mexico, Sunday 16 August 2009 23.57 BST

More than 700 customs officers at airports and land crossings have been replaced in Mexico in a crackdown on corrupt agents who allow drugs and weapons to flow across the country’s borders, a spokesman for the customs service said yesterday..

Reforma newspaper had reported earlier that the contracts of 1,100 agents were allowed to expire on Saturday as part of a plan to modernise the customs service, according to tax and customs sources.

A new force of 1,470 agents is being sworn in to replace the former workers. Soldiers took control of at least one border crossing at Ciudad Juárez, across from Texas, to assist with the transition, the paper reported.

Pedro Canabal, a spokesman for the tax administration service, said the agency had decided not to rehire the officers when their contracts expired.

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