Docudharma Times Sunday August 2

Sunday’s Headlines:

Prolonged Aid to Unemployed Is Running Out

Snake hunters scour Everglades for Burmese python

Robert Mugabe ‘in bid to wreck unity’

African dream turns sour for orphan army

India pays couples to put off having children

Hidden misery of Mao’s slave teenage brides

Battle for Europe’s last ancient forest

Eta resurgent on 50th anniversary as women come to the fore

Ex-Iran president attacks trial

Police in manhunt for Tel Aviv gay club shooter

Media critics of Nicaragua leader Ortega made to pay

Obama Trims Sails On Health Reform

He Seeks to Rally Support by Promising Less

By Ceci Connolly

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, August 2, 2009

From the start of his presidency, Barack Obama made clear that his plan for enacting comprehensive health-care reform came down to three words: fast, broad and bipartisan.

That was then.

Now, as lawmakers begin to flee Washington for a month-long recess, the White House team is retooling its message and strategy, hoping a more modest approach will reinvigorate Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative and give him a first-year victory for Democrats to carry into the 2010 midterm elections.

Legislative wrangling, a well-coordinated Republican opposition and the sheer complexity of an issue that consumes nearly one-fifth of the nation’s economy have taken a toll on the president and his bold ambitions.

Conspiracy Trial for 100 Dissidents Begins in Iran


Published: August 1, 2009

BEIRUT, Lebanon – The Iranian authorities opened an extraordinary mass trial against more than 100 opposition figures on Saturday, accusing them of conspiring with foreign powers to stage a revolution through terrorism, subversion, and a media campaign to discredit last month’s presidential election.

The trial, coming just days before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to be sworn in for a second term, signaled an intensified government attack on the opposition movement, which maintains that the June 12 election was rigged and continues to muster widespread street protests.

The accusations read out in the courtroom were a broadside against virtually every major figure associated with reform in Iran, going well beyond those actually arrested. State television broadcast images of the defendants, who included a former vice president and a Newsweek reporter, as well as some of the reform movement’s best-known spokesmen, clad in prison uniforms and listening as prosecutors outlined their accusations in a large marble-floored courtroom.


Prolonged Aid to Unemployed Is Running Out


Published: August 1, 2009

Over the coming months, as many as 1.5 million jobless Americans will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits, ending what for some has been a last bulwark against foreclosures and destitution.

Because of emergency extensions already enacted by Congress, laid-off workers in nearly half the states can collect benefits for up to 79 weeks, the longest period since the unemployment insurance program was created in the 1930s. But unemployment in this recession has proved to be especially tenacious, and a wave of job-seekers is using up even this prolonged aid.

Snake hunters scour Everglades for Burmese python

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has licensed seven experts to track and destroy the intruders, who are upsetting the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

By Robert Nolin

August 2, 2009

Reporting from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — Go ahead, stretch out in the soft grass. It’s comfortable. You’re surrounded by a smorgasbord of prey. You may belong half a world away, but here in the Everglades, life is good.

Except you’re a Burmese python, and the state wants to hunt you down and kill you. It hasn’t put a bounty on your head, but it may as well have: If caught, you’re decapitated.

In this moonlit world of marsh, bug and fanged danger, snake hunter Jeff Fobb is top predator.

He’s one of seven snake experts licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to stalk the slithering python, whose intrusion into the Everglades upsets the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

Of the six snakes captured since the three-month trial eradication program began July 17, Fobb and his team have accounted for four: three hatchlings found at once and a 6-footer snared Thursday night.


Robert Mugabe ‘in bid to wreck unity’

Zimbabwe president’s Zanu-PF party is accused of trying to seize parliamentary power by discrediting former opposition MPs

Alex Duval Smith in Harare

The Observer, Sunday 2 August 2009

Zimbabwe is on the verge of a new political crisis, amid growing evidence that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has launched a strategy to wipe out the former opposition’s slim parliamentary majority.

The campaign has in the past few days seen MPs for the Movement for Democratic Change arrested for offences including playing music that “denigrates” Mugabe, and stealing a mobile phone. Fourteen MDC MPs and senators are facing charges ranging from corruption to rape. If convicted, they will lose their seats, forcing by-elections. Less than six months after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister, the strategy again raises questions about the role of the country’s courts and police.

African dream turns sour for orphan army

From The Sunday Times

August 2, 2009

Dan McDougall in Maseru, Lesotho

Nothing grows here in the shadows. There is only desolation in the tired soil at Paballo Marumo’s cracked and filthy feet. Her shoes, the thin plastic sandals worn by children across the townships of southern Africa, are gone. “Stolen!” she tells me in her language, Sesotho. At eight years old she sits hopelessly at the bottom of the rubbish dump hierarchy.

“Gap! Gap! Gap!” comes the sudden cry from the 12-year-old leader of a destitute army of rag pickers patrolling the vast waste dump before us.

Paballo is the quickest off her feet, darting towards a trailer overflowing with the discarded remnants of Lesotho’s garment industry. In the twilight I can make out her tiny frame as she runs between burning pillars of denim and cotton.


India pays couples to put off having children

First cash payouts to families who delay having a child as India’s population threatens to overtake China’s

Gethin Chamberlain

The Observer, Sunday 2 August 2009

Thousands of couples in India who agreed to put off having babies for at least two years after their wedding will collect cash payments this month as health officials attempt to curb the country’s rapidly growing population.

While neighbouring China shows the first signs of relaxing its strict policy of one child per couple in the face of an ageing population, India is searching for a way of restricting the size of families as the battle over scarce resources grows.

The country’s population stands at 1.2 billion and is expected to reach 1.53 billion by 2050. But increasing pressure on resources means that there is barely enough water and food to go round.

A pilot project in the Satara district of Maharashtra has proved a success and other states, including Delhi and Assam, are now considering cash incentives.

Hidden misery of Mao’s slave teenage brides

From The Sunday Times

August 2, 2009

Michael Sheridan

THE film’s title, 8,000 Girls Ascend the Heavenly Mountain, suggests that Chinese audiences will see a tale of joy when it is aired on television this autumn.

It dramatises the lives of thousands of girls aged 13 to 19 who went to China’s remote far west in the 1950s to follow soldiers sent to colonise the turbulent Muslim region.

In real life it was a trip to purgatory. As shooting for the film unfolds in Beijing under the watchful gaze of party censors, an astonishing story of mass deception, forced marriages and suicides has come to light.


Battle for Europe’s last ancient forest

    Climate change, border disputes and the opposition of residents to expansion threaten eastern Poland’s unique woodlands. Gabriela Baczynska reports

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Acontest between competing needs of conservation and economic growth is threatening the future of large parts of Europe’s last ancient forest. The 380,000-acre Bialowieza Primeval Forest, which straddles the border between Poland and Belarus, is one of the largest unpopulated woodlands remaining in Europe. It has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1979, is home to the continent’s largest herd of bison, and resembles – in appearance and the self-contained food chain it supports – the fabled wildwood that covered much of Europe’s plain, and, indeed, England before man intervened.

On the Polish side of the border, residents are opposing plans to extend the protected zone of this unique habitat, which is under threat from rising temperatures and declining rainfall.

Eta resurgent on 50th anniversary as women come to the fore

 Five women have become leaders in the rejuvenated Basque separatist group Eta, which unleashed a bombing campaign in Spain last week, anti-terrorist police believe.

By Nick Meo and Fiona Govan in Palma de Majorca

Published: 8:30AM BST 02 Aug 2009

The woman belong to a new generation of more aggressive hardliners that has come to the fore within Eta since peace talks with the Spanish government collapsed last year.

Some 76,000 wanted posters showing their faces are plastered across town squares in Spain and in the villages of southern France where Eta terrorists often hide.

The five are thought to have been closely involved in the decision to step up violence in a renewed attempt to force Madrid to grant the north-western Basque region full independence from Spain.

This weekend a further two women terrorists and four male accomplices are being hunted by police investigating the murder of two civil guard officers whose car was blown up on Majorca on Thursday – an event witnessed by British holidaymakers. The previous day, terrorists bombed a police barracks in the northern town of Burgos, injuring 60.

Middle East

Ex-Iran president attacks trial

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has criticised the trial of people accused of violence after June’s disputed presidential election.

The BBC  Sunday, 2 August 2009

Mr Khatami’s website said the trial would damage confidence in Iran’s Islamic establishment, AP reports.

More than 100 people went on trial on Saturday, including several leading reformists, on charges including rioting, vandalism, and conspiracy.

The poll was won by incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

But opposition groups alleged widespread vote-rigging. Post-election protests saw the largest mass demonstrations in Iran since the 1979 revolution, which brought about the current Islamic system of government.

Police in manhunt for Tel Aviv gay club shooter

Masked shooter opened fire at youth center, killing 2 and injuring 11

Associated Press

JERUSALEM – Hundreds of police officers were scouring the streets of Tel Aviv on Sunday in a door-to-door manhunt for a gunman who opened fire on a gay youth club.

A masked man entered a club for gay teens late Saturday, pulled out a pistol and shot in all directions, killing two and injuring 11, four seriously, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man then holstered his pistol and fled the scene by foot to the busy streets of Tel Aviv.

Latin America

Media critics of Nicaragua leader Ortega made to pay

President Daniel Ortega, who led the ’70s Sandinista revolution, rewards sympathetic news outlets and punishes critical ones, observers say. One target is a member of the prominent Chamorro family.

By Tracy Wilkinson

August 2, 2009

Reporting from Managua, Nicaragua — When he finally emerged from court this year, criminal charges dropped, Carlos Fernando Chamorro had survived his latest battle with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

Chamorro is almost as emblematic of Nicaragua’s 30-year-old Sandinista revolution as Ortega. During Ortega’s first presidency, in the decade that followed the 1979 revolution, Chamorro edited the official newspaper Barricada, largely a mouthpiece for the Sandinista National Liberation Front, or FSLN.

But today, Chamorro is one of the most outspoken critics of Ortega; in a regular television program and a weekly newsletter, he routinely denounces what he says is widespread government corruption and abuse of authority by an increasingly heavy-handed president.

And Chamorro pays a price. Government security forces raided his offices last fall, confiscating files and equipment as part of a months-long prosecution of Nicaragua’s most famous journalist on money-laundering charges.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


    • dkmich on August 2, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    It is their Katrina.   If I believed in CTs, I’d swear this was one.

    • MO Blue on August 2, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Seems the general consensus is that any legislation on health INSURANCE, no matter how bad, is a win for Obama. Obama chalks up a win and people who need good quality, affordable health CARE lose. Not to mention the fact that there is a good chance that the taxpayers will see billions of their tax dollars going into the insurance industry pockets.

    We no longer have a true two party system. What we have is the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Corporate Whore Party. The Corporate Whore Party consists of politicians who have snookered the public by running as a Democrat or a Republican but whose sole allegiance is to the CWP. Unfortunately, the Corporate Whore Party is the true majority party in both houses of Congress.

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