Shackles and blindfold for freed detainee on his way home
By Jonathan S. Landay, Hashim Shukoor and Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers
KABUL, Afghanistan – A young Afghan held for six years at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, rejoined his family in southern Kabul late Monday, ending an odyssey that came to symbolize many of the problems of the Bush administration’s war on terror detention policies.
Mohammed Jawad, who may have been as young as 12 when he was arrested in 2002 for allegedly throwing a grenade that wounded two American soldiers, pronounced himself “very happy” but tired after a day in which he arrived in Afghanistan on a U.S. military flight – in shackles and blindfolded, according to his lawyer.<
Diving Deep for a Living Fossil
For 33 years, Peter A. Rona has pursued an ancient, elusive animal, repeatedly plunging down more than two miles to the muddy seabed of the North Atlantic to search out, and if possible, pry loose his quarry.Like Ahab, he has failed time and again. Despite access to the world’s best equipment for deep exploration, he has always come back empty-handed, the creature eluding his grip.
The animal is no white whale. And Dr. Rona is no unhinged Captain Ahab, but rather a distinguished oceanographer at Rutgers University. And he has now succeeded in making an intellectual splash with a new research report, written with a team of a dozen colleagues.
Do to work commitments I will be unable to provide my usual contribution from Wednesday August 26 until Saturday August 29. I regret any inconvenience this may cause.
Two Administrations Drew Different Lessons From 2004 Report
When an internal CIA report concluded in May 2004 that “unauthorized, improvised, inhumane, and undocumented” interrogation methods had been used on suspected al-Qaeda members, the predominant reaction within the Bush administration was not revulsion but frustration that the agency’s efforts inside a network of secret prisons had not been more effective, former senior intelligence and White House officials recall.
Top officials in the Obama administration on Monday made clear that they read the report differently. Despite CIA resistance, they released unflattering portions of it on the same day the attorney general authorized a prosecutor to decide whether CIA employees broke the law while undertaking or overseeing those interrogations.
Swine flu could hospitalize 2 million in U.S. this winter
As many as 300,000 could clog intensive care units in heavily affected regions, a new report says. But the CDC director notes that the H1N1 outbreak also could be much milder.
By Thomas H. Maugh II
August 25, 2009
Reporting from Atlanta – Nearly 2 million Americans could be hospitalized during this winter’s novel H1N1 influenza pandemic, with as many as 300,000 clogging intensive care units in heavily affected regions, according to a report released Monday by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Overall, 20% to 40% of the population could develop symptoms of the strain commonly known as swine flu, and 30,000 to 90,000 could die, according to the report. During a normal flu season, the virus kills about 35,000 Americans.
The difference this year is that pandemic H1N1 is killing middle-aged adults and adolescents, whereas seasonal flu kills primarily the elderly.
Anger at government over Greek wildfires
Helena Smith in Marathon
guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 August 2009 21.14 BST
The Greek government faced a backlash today over its handling of fires that have devoured over 120,000 hectares of countryside and forest, killing wildlife and destroying hundreds of cars, homes and monasteries.
Nearly two years to the day after some of the country’s worst ever wildfires left scores of people dead, many Greeks were asking how a single fire in a suburb on the outskirts of the capital could spread with such seeming ease and leave such a trail of devastation.
“It seems that no one has learned the lessons from the fires of 2007,” said the populist rightwing leader and head of the LAOS party,
Russia accuses Ukraine of allowing its troops to fight alongside Georgia
From The Times
August 25, 2009
Tony Halpin in Moscow
Russia accused Ukraine yesterday of allowing its troops to fight with Georgia in the war over South Ossetia.
In a significant ratcheting-up of tension between Moscow and Kiev, prosecutors alleged that serving soldiers in the Ukrainian Army took part in the “genocide and multiple murders of Russian citizens” in the war over the breakaway Georgian region.
The Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor-General’s Office also claimed to have “irrefutable evidence” that a Ukrainian ultranationalist organisation, the UNA-UNSO, fought alongside Georgian troops in last August’s conflict.
Abdullah’s supporters threaten to take up arms over ‘rigged’ election
In northern Afghanistan, where opposition to Hamid Karzai is strong, the mood is darkening
By Kim Sengupta in Panjshir Valley
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
With the results of Afghanistan’s presidential election expected later today, supporters of the opposition leader, Abdullah Abdullah, delivered a grim message last night, threatening violence if their candidate loses.
Standing by the black marble grave of their fallen leader Ahmed Shah Masoud, two former mujahedin fighters said they still had their guns and warned that they had not forgotten how to use them.
Like most of Afghanistan’s Tajik community, they had voted for Mr Abdullah, a former foreign minister of Tajik and Pashtun ancestry, who fought alongside their beloved Commander Masoud against the Soviet invaders and then the Taliban.
Leading Chinese civil rights lawyer accused of tax evasion
His organisation has been closed down and described as ‘illegal’.
By Emma Hartley
Published: 9:25AM BST 25 Aug 2009
Xu Zhiyong was freed from the detention centre where he had been locked up since July and told that he may escape prosecution if he pays a fine for alleged tax evasion by the group he co-founded.
Last month the Chinese authorities levied a fine of 1.42 million yuan (£127,000) on Gongmeng, Xu’s legal organisation which specialised in non-mainstream causes unpopular with the government. Then they shut it down.
“If Xu pays the fine for tax evasion, it’s likely that he will not face prosecution,” Zhou Ze, Xu’s lawyer said, after Xu walked free from Beijing detention centre on Sunday.
Gongmeng, whose English name is the Open Constitution Initiative, is an association of lawyers and academics who advocate the rule of law.
Nablus: a template for peace, or Netanyahu at his most cynical?
The lifting of checkpoints has transformed a town once synonymous with the Palestinian resistance. But some suspect Israel’s motives, says Ben Lynfield
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
The sHOPkeepers in Nablus, the West Bank’s toughest town, are smiling for a change. But no one knows for how long.
Dubbed “the mountain of fire” by Palestinians for its part in the revolt against the British mandate during the 1930s, Nablus is usually known for its violent uprisings, choking Israeli clampdowns and prowling Palestinian gunmen extorting protection money.
It is difficult to reconcile that reputation with the reality on the streets today. The centre of town is filled with shoppers picking up everything from new trainers and perfumes to armloads of dates for Ramadan, the Muslim festival which began on Saturday.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says time is running out for peace
Salam Fayyad says Palestinian Authority intends to bypass failing peace talks and establish its own state withing two years
James Hider in Ramallah From The Times
August 25, 2009
The Palestinian Authority intends to bypass failing peace talks and establish its own de facto state within two years, Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister, said.
Speaking on the eve of talks in London today between Binyamin Netanyahu and Gordon Brown, his Israeli and British counterparts, Mr Fayyad said that the idea was to “end the occupation, despite the occupation”. He told The Times in an interview: “After 16 years [of failed peace talks] why not change the discourse?
“We have decided to be proactive, to expedite the end of the occupation by working very hard to build positive facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be ignored.
Nigerian amnesty deal with militants unravels
Three weeks into a cease-fire pact, some rebels are turning themselves in. But the main group – MEND – say they’ll attack oil facilities on Sept. 15.
By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers
from the August 24, 2009 edition
ABUJA, NIGERIA – Nigeria’s latest plan to end militant attacks in the volatile Niger River delta that have cut oil production to a 20-year low appears to have collapsed.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed the plan during a visit to Nigeria earlier this month, in hopes of bringing some semblance of peace to a region that is a major US source of foreign oil.
But the delta’s main militant group over the weekend dismissed the three-week-old plan as “a charade” and vowed to resume attacks after a cease-fire expires Sept. 15.
The plan, which offered amnesty to any militant who laid down his arms during a 60-day period, began with fanfare three weeks ago, but it now seems unlikely to achieve anything more than a brief respite from the violence.
Colombian singer Juanes receives death threats over Cuba peace concert
Critics say Havana show endorses official propaganda as it features local acts closely associated with the Castros’ rule
Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent
The Guardian, Tuesday 25 August 2009
It has been billed as a “concert for peace” in Cuba, but political passions have unleashed death threats, protests and insults against the rock star organiser of an event that will bring together some of the biggest names in Latin American music.
Militant Cuban exiles have accused Juanes, a Colombian singer and one of Latin America’s biggest stars, of succouring the island’s communist government with a concert next month in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana.
Protestors in Florida smashed CDs, burned T-shirts and sent angry messages to his Twitter account, including warnings he was hated and “will die”, prompting police to step up vigilance near the singer’s Key Biscayne home in Miami.