Details Still Lacking On Obama Proposal
White House Unclear on How Some Far-Reaching Goals Would Be Met
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 2009
One day after President Obama pitched his plan for comprehensive health-care reform to a joint session of Congress, administration officials struggled Thursday to detail how he would achieve his goal of extending coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans without increasing the deficit.
In two public appearances and private meetings with a dozen lawmakers, Obama promised a “full-court press,” saying, “We have talked this issue to death.” He also argued that new Census Bureau figures showing a slight uptick in the number of uninsured Americans only underscores the urgency of enacting major legislation this year.
Al-Qaida: Tales from Bin Laden’s volunteers
Eight years after the attack on New York, intelligence reports from captured western recruits suggest the terror network is weakening
Jason Burke and Ian Black
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 10 September 2009 20.04 BST
The meeting was tense. The six recruits, from immigrant communities in France and Belgium, had decided to confront their al-Qaida handler. Before leaving their homes, they had watched al-Qaida videos on the internet and seen massed battalions of mujahideen training on assault courses, exciting ambushes and inspiring speeches by Osama bin Laden.
Now they had spent months in Pakistan’s rugged frontier zones and had done nothing more than basic small arms training, some physical exercise and religious instruction.
They had been deceived, they complained to the Syrian militant looking after them. The videos had lied.
Abortion foes aren’t buying Obama’s assurances
They continue to campaign against healthcare reform, contending that federal money will go toward abortions if the president has his way.
By Robin Abcarian
September 11, 2009
President Obama, a supporter of reproductive rights, forcefully reiterated in his speech to Congress this week that his healthcare plan would not lead to government funding of abortion.
The trouble is, abortion foes don’t believe him. They are working hard to persuade Americans that Obama is wrong — and have even created ads that evoke “Harry and Louise,” the fictional couple that helped tank the Clinton-era attempt at healthcare reform:
“They won’t pay for my surgery,” says an elderly man sitting at a kitchen table. “What are we going to do?
For Muslims, backlash fear builds each 9/11
Many in U.S. of Islamic faith still struggle through anniversary of attacks
NEW YORK – There is the dread of leaving the house that morning. People might stare, or worse, yell insults.
Prayers are more intense, visits with family longer. Mosques become a refuge.
Eight years after 9/11, many U.S. Muslims still struggle through the anniversary of the attacks. Yes, the sting has lessened. For the younger generation of Muslims, the tragedy can even seem like a distant memory. “Time marches on,” said Souha Azmeh Al-Samkari, a 22-year-old student at the University of Dayton in Ohio.<
Sri Lanka’s top envoy hits out at EU as cut in £1bn trade concession looms
Damning review accuses the country of failing to honour human rights pledges after end of the war against Tamil rebels
Randeep Ramesh in Colombo
Sri Lanka’s top diplomat today hit out at the European Union for “punishing” the country, after EU investigators recommended cancelling a £1bn trade concession over the country’s failure to honour human rights commitments.
Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the UN, said the country would “handle the loss” of the export privilege, which allows businesses on the island to export 7,200 items to Europe duty free.
The trade concession, known as GSP Plus, depends on compliance with human rights standards – and a damning 130-page review handed to the Sri Lankan government last month makes it clear that the EU should withdraw preferential treatment for the Indian Ocean nation.
Afghan warlord General Atta Mohammad Nur warning raises fear of election violence
From The Times
September 11, 2009
Jerome Starkey and James Hider Kabul
One of Afghanistan’s most powerful warlords has defended the popular right to protest against the presidential election results, raising fears that the country could be engulfed by violence if supporters of the losing candidates reject the poll as being rigged.
General Atta Mohammad Nur, who broke ranks with the Government to support President Karzai’s main election rival, insisted: “It is the right of our people to defend their votes. Demonstrations, gatherings, strikes and protests against fraud being carried out by the current system are the absolute right of the people.”
Speaking on national television, he accused the country’s Interior Minister, Hanif Atmar, of “forcing people to keep silent”.
Robert Fisk: Saddam revisited as Iraq accuses Syria of sheltering Baathist bombers
World Focus: In the Saddam-Hafez era, they hanged each other’s bombers
Friday, 11 September 2009
In Damascus and Baghdad, it almost feels like the old days. Mutual abuse and recriminations, the recalling of ambassadors – and only a matter of time, perhaps, before Syria and Iraq break diplomatic relations.
Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, demands an international tribunal because Syria won’t hand over a couple of Iraqi Baathists whom he blames for the suicide bombing deaths of at least 100 civilians in Baghdad. Syria snaps back that it’s always been a refuge for those facing “injustice”.
Twenty years ago, Saddam Hussein and Hafez el-Assad sent bombers to Damascus and Baghdad to blow up each other’s cities.
Welcome awaits Iraq shoe thrower
The Iraqi journalist jailed for hurling his shoes at former US President George W Bush is to be freed on Monday – to an uncertain future.
Muntadar al-Zaidi’s release after nine months in prison will be celebrated by many across the Arab world to whom he has become a hero.
He is reported to have been offered money, lucrative jobs, marriages and even a career in politics.
His brother says an official boycott may stop Zaidi’s return to journalism.
Zaidi, a reporter for al-Baghdadiya TV, shot to fame on 14 December 2008 when he hurled his footwear at Mr Bush during a televised news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
He called Mr Bush “a dog” and threw his shoes as a “farewell kiss” from Iraqis killed, orphaned or widowed since the US-led invasion.
Zaidi was jailed for three years for assault, but the sentence was reduced on appeal.
Can he fix it? Sarkozy’s carbon-tax plan derided by environmentalists
‘Green’ law balancing levies with tax breaks proves more whimper than bang
By John Lichfield in Paris
Friday, 11 September 2009
A “carbon” tax on transport, homes and factories, intended to make France a “green” model for other large economies, was unveiled yesterday by President Nicolas Sarkozy.
But the convoluted proposals, including mechanisms to refund most of the new energy levies through tax breaks and “green cheques”, were condemned by critics as half-hearted and a bureaucratic nightmare.
President Sarkozy insisted, however, that the carbon tax or “climate contribution” would put France on track to fulfill its promise to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to a quarter of their present levels in the next 40 years.
Thatcher told Gorbachev Britain did not want German reunification
From The Times
September 11, 2009
Two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Margaret Thatcher told President Gorbachev that neither Britain nor Western Europe wanted the reunification of Germany and made clear that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it.
In an extraordinary frank meeting with Mr Gorbachev in Moscow in 1989 – never before fully reported – Mrs Thatcher said the destabilisation of Eastern Europe and the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact were also not in the West’s interests. She noted the huge changes happening across Eastern Europe, but she insisted that the West would not push for its decommunisation. Nor would it do anything to risk the security of the Soviet Union.
Homing pigeon faster than Internet? In S. Africa, the answer’s yes.
Frustrated by Africa’s unreliable service, a business needing to send 4GB of data 50 miles put Winston the pigeon up against the Web – and Winston won.
By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Sometimes 12th-century technology wins.
This week, a South African call-center business, frustrated by persistently slow Internet speeds, decided to use a carrier pigeon named Winston to transfer 4 gigabytes of data between two of its offices, just 50 miles apart. At the same time, a computer geek pushed a button on his computer to send data the old-fashioned way, through the Internet.
Winston the pigeon won. It wasn’t even close.
“Winston arrived after two hours, six minutes, and 57 seconds,” says Kevin Rolfe, head of the information technology department at Unlimited Group, a call-center business based in Durban. As for the Internet data transfer, he says, “when we finally stopped the computer, about 100 megs had transferred, which is about 4 percent of the total.”
Officially, the Unlimited Group has not given up on the Internet, nor has it any plans to embrace the use of homing pigeons that was pioneered on the battlefield by Genghis Khan.
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez recognizes breakaway Georgia republics
At a meeting in Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Hugo Chavez grants recognition to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Medvedev pledges weapon sales and a joint bank.
By Megan K. Stack
September 11, 2009
Reporting from Moscow – In a showy display of cash-slicked camaraderie and like-minded politics, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recognized the independence of the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Thursday during a state visit to Russia.
Venezuela becomes the third country, after Russia and Nicaragua, to acknowledge the national aspirations of the two small regions inside Georgia’s internationally recognized borders.
Impoverished South Ossetia was at the heart of last summer’s war between Russia and Georgia, and Moscow has been accused of carrying out a de facto annexation of the two republics.