U.S. Commanders Told to Shift Focus to More Populated Areas
By Greg Jaffe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top military officer in Afghanistan, has told his commanders to pull forces out of sparsely populated areas where U.S. troops have fought bloody battles with the Taliban for several years and focus them on protecting major Afghan population centers.
But the changes, which amount to a retreat from some areas, have already begun to draw resistance from senior Afghan officials who worry that any pullback from Taliban-held territory will make the weak Afghan government appear even more powerless in the eyes of its people.
Senior U.S. officials said the moves were driven by the realization that some remote regions of Afghanistan, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountains that range through the northeast, were not going to be brought under government control anytime soon.
MOROCCO: Ramadan ‘protest picnickers’ face prosecution
OBSERVATIONS FROM IRAQ, IRAN,
ISRAEL, THE ARAB WORLD AND BEYOND
September 21, 2009 | 10:36 am
Moroccan authorities are expected to prosecute a group arrested for organizing a forest picnic to protest a law that forbids Muslims from eating publicly during Ramadan fasting hours, media reports say.
Members of the Moroccan Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms (MALI) had planned to hold the picnic on Sept. 13 in the woods near the town of Mohammedia, between the Moroccan capital Rabat and Casablanca. Word of the picnic was spread through a page on the social networking site Facebook.
But as would-be picnickers arrived at the train station in Mohammedia, they were met by a large police squad that searched them and took the names and phone numbers of some of them, according to a statement issued by Human Rights Watch.
Filmmaking incentives losing glamour in cash-strapped states
More than 40 states offer tax breaks for movie and TV production, drawing business away from Southern California. But in the face of budget crises, several states are having second thoughts.
By P.J. Huffstutter and Richard Verrier
September 22, 2009
Reporting from Los Angeles and Troy, Mich. – In a Troy office building where advertising executives once courted Motor City automakers, film production workers discuss which stretch of downtown Detroit would offer the best sense of urban decay. Down the hall, in a warehouse that has been converted to a makeshift studio, dozens of prop builders are fashioning blocks of foam and stacks of plywood to build a set for a rocky mine shaft.
For the next 11 weeks, the cast and crew of “Red Dawn,” a remake of the 1980s action thriller that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is scheduled to release next year, will be working in Michigan. The film, starring Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, is one of dozens of Hollywood productions drawn in part by the state’s generous film tax-credit program, which could shave as much as $14 million off the movie’s estimated $54-million budget.
Students told to prove Texas residency or leave
Despite law, hundreds of students living in Mexico attend U.S. schools
DEL RIO, Texas – Students living in northern Mexico have skirted residency requirements to attend U.S. public schools for generations, but when the superintendent in one Texas border town got word that about 400 school-age children were crossing the international bridge each day with backpacks but no student visas, he figured he had to do something.
The community is connected by a bridge to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, and like most border cities, the towns operate in tandem, with U.S. citizens and legal residents living, working and shopping on both sides.
French police descend on ‘jungle’ immigrant camp in Calais
Protesters shout ‘shame on France’ as French police attempt to close Calais immigrant camp and drag camp dwellers away into buses
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, Haroon Siddique and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 22 September 2009 07.46 BST
Hundreds of French riot police moved early this morning to dismantle a Calais squatters’ camp known as “the jungle”, where hundreds of migrants have been sleeping rough hoping to stow away on lorries to Britain.
Just after dawn, police stormed the makeshift and fetid tent-city spread across sand dunes near Calais port. As officers moved in, around 150 migrants were standing quietly behind banners marked “we need shelter and protection, we want peace”.
Some camp dwellers were dragged away and put into waiting buses. Police officers also clashed with protesters from the “No Border” movement, some of whom had come from England to gather at the camp entrance in protest against its destruction.
Chess grandmasters Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov to meet again
The most bitter rivalry in world chess will resume in Spain on Tuesday when Garry Kasparov plays Anatoly Karpov in a match imbued with nostalgia.
By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
Setting aside formerly icy personality differences, the two Russian grandmasters will play 12 rapid and semi-rapid games over four days in Valencia.
The match will be shown live on the internet and comes 25 years after the duo first competed against one another for the world title. That contest, in Moscow, lasted five months before it was halted, ostensibly to protect the players’ health. Mr Karpov was in the lead when it was cut short but lost the world title to Mr Kasparov the next year, 1985.
Their hard-fought and always close matches in later years shook up the dusty world of chess, won the game many new fans, and came, for some, to mirror the changing fortunes of the Soviet Union.
Now China lays down challenge to Obama on climate
UN hopeful that Beijing initiative will kick-start talks on deal to curb emissions
By David Usborne, US Editor, in New York
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Beijing will raise the stakes in the race to agree a global climate change treaty by using a summit of world leaders in New York today to announce that China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is ready to take new measures to cut pollution.
Although more than 100 leaders will attend today’s conference, the focus will be on China’s premier, Hu Jintao, and US President Barack Obama, who together may hold the fate of the treaty in their hands.
S Korea ‘grand bargain’ for North
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has offered North Korea a “grand bargain” – giving up its nuclear plans for aid and security guarantees.
The BBC Tuesday, 22 September 2009
“This is the only way for North Korea to ensure its own survival,” Mr Lee said.
Separate meetings between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and foreign ministers from South Korea and Japan stressed the need for caution.
Last week China reported that North Korea was ready for a new dialogue.
“We must have a comprehensive and integrated approach to fundamentally resolve the North Korea nuclear issue,” Mr Lee said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
President ‘wanted to annoy West’
By Nasser Karimi, Associated Press, in Tehran
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday he was proud his denial of the Holocaust had enraged the West.
Even as the controversial leader geared up for a UN trip to stress what he said would be a message of “peace and friendship, the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying: “The anger of the world’s professional killers is [a source of] pride for us.”
He was responding to a question about criticism from the EU after he expressed doubts that the Holocaust was a “real event”. The “killers” reference appeared to be directed primarily at Israel and the US.
President Ahmadinejad’s weekend comment about the killing of millions of Jews during the Second World War comes as Iran is locked in a bitter dispute with the US and other Western nations over its nuclear programme.
Sierra Leone facing ‘human rights emergency’, says Amnesty International
• Child mortality rates are one of the highest in the world
• One in eight women risk dying during pregnancy or childbirth
The Guardian, Tuesday 22 September 2009
Amnesty International is warning of a “human rights emergency” in Sierra Leone, which has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world. One in eight women in the west African country risk dying during pregnancy or childbirth, compared with one in 4,500 in the developed world, an Amnesty report says.
Many women and girls are too poor to pay for lifesaving treatment, the report adds. Thousands bleed to death after giving birth. Most die in their homes. Some die on the way to hospital – in taxis, on motorbikes or on foot. Less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant and fewer than one in five are carried out in health facilities.
Libyans pose as Dutch diplomats to get Gaddafi a room in New York
From The Times
September 22, 2009
James Bone in New York
Libyan officials posed as Dutch diplomats to try to find Colonel Gaddafi a place to stay this week on his first visit to the US.
The envoys, including one calling himself Ronald, approached a property agent on the Upper East Side of New York to inquire about renting the Barclay Mansion, a six-storey townhouse on East 78th Street.
Jason Haber, who has a master’s degree from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, realised the ruse and the deal did not go through.
“When someone says they are representing the Dutch, you accept that at face value,” Mr Haber told The Times. “After a few conversations, the accents did not match.
Zelaya’s back in Honduras. Now what?
Some say President Manuel Zelaya’s surprise return increases the prospects for violence. The interim government has imposed a 15-hour curfew.
By Sara Miller Llana | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the September 21, 2009 edition
MEXICO CITY – Global condemnation. Millions of dollars of aid cut off. Revoked visas and calls of illegitimacy. None of this has made the interim government of Honduras, led by Roberto Micheletti, budge while the world has pleaded for the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
But today – three months after being deposed by the Honduran military – Mr. Zelaya sneaked into the country in a surprise dramatic return, and the stakes have never been higher for Mr. Micheletti.
Zelaya is now inside the Brazilian embassy calling for national dialogue to put an end to the worst political crisis in Central America in decades. It is still unclear what his intentions are, but his presence puts new pressure on Micheletti as presidential elections scheduled for Nov. 29 near.
Some say Zelaya’s return increases the prospects for violence, as it gives his supporters a physical place to rally and, consequently, butt heads with authorities and Zelaya foes.</blockquote>