Abortion Fight Complicates Debate on Health Care
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: September 28, 2009
WASHINGTON – As if it were not complicated enough, the debate over health care in Congress is becoming a battlefield in the fight over abortion.Abortion opponents in both the House and the Senate are seeking to block the millions of middle- and lower-income people who might receive federal insurance subsidies to help them buy health coverage from using the money on plans that cover abortion. And the abortion opponents are getting enough support from moderate Democrats that both sides say the outcome is too close to call. Opponents of abortion cite as precedent a 30-year-old ban on the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions.
Abortion-rights supporters say such a restriction would all but eliminate from the marketplace private plans that cover the procedure, pushing women who have such coverage to give it up. Nearly half of those with employer-sponsored health plans now have policies that cover abortion, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Giant South African diamond worthy of crown jewels
Gem dug up at historic Cullinan mine weighs 507 carats and is believed to be 19th biggest ever discovered
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 29 September 2009 10.50 BST
The white diamond, which weighs in at 507.55 carats (101.5 grams), was dug up at the historic Cullinan mine. Petra Diamonds, the AIM-listed company which announced the find this morning, believes it is comparable with the previous huge diamonds that have come out of Cullinan – some of which form part of Britain’s crown jewels.
Petra said that the diamond, which has not yet been named, was found last Thursday. It is thought to be a type II diamond – indicating that it is of particularly high quality – and is currently being examined by experts.
The Old Secular Cross?
High Court to Consider Issue of Church-State Separation
By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE, Calif. — It would be easy to miss among the yucca and Joshua trees of this vast place — a small plywood box, set back from a gentle curve in a lonesome desert road. It looks like nothing so much as a miniature billboard without a message.
But inside the box is a 6 1/2 -foot white cross, built to honor the war dead of World War I. And because its perch on a prominent outcropping of rock is on federal land, it has been judged to be an unconstitutional display of government favoritism of one religion over another.
Whether the Mojave cross is ever unveiled again — or taken down for good — is up to the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Army to discharge officer who refused to go to Iraq
1st Lt. Ehren Watada’s court-martial ended in a mistrial, and the Army has decided not to attempt another prosecution. Watada had argued he would be participating in war crimes if he fought in Iraq.
By Kim Murphy
September 29, 2009
Reporting from Seattle – Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada will be discharged by the end of the week, concluding the fight over his refusal to deploy to Iraq, an Army spokesman said Monday.
After a court-martial proceeding that ended in a mistrial, the Army has elected not to attempt further prosecution and instead will discharge the first lieutenant, who argued he would be participating in war crimes if he fought in Iraq.
“What was approved was basically his request to resign in lieu of a general court-martial for the good of the service,” said spokesman Joseph Piek at Ft. Lewis, Wash., where Watada has been working at a desk job.
Philippines pleads for international help to cope with flood aftermath
Government calls for humanitarian assistance after hundreds of thousands left homeless and country prepares for more storms
Matthew Weaver and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 29 September 2009 08.27 BST
The government of Philippines has appealed for international help to deal with the aftermath of the devastating floods that have killed 240 and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
The homes of nearly 1.9 million people in the capital, Manila, and surrounding areas were inundated by flood water unleashed by tropical storm Ketsana over the weekend.
With two new storms brewing in the Pacific, the defence secretary, Gilberto Teodoro, pleaded for help on national television. One of the storms could hit the northern Philippines this week and the other early next week.
Shoemakers seek protection as retailers call for change in Brussels
From The Times
September 29, 2009
Carl Mortished, World Business Editor
A trade dispute over tariffs on cheap Chinese shoes is brewing at the European Commission as Italian and Spanish footwear manufacturers prepare to fight for continued European protection against Far Eastern imports.
The Commission is considering an extension of anti-dumping duties put in place in 2006 to protect the European Union’s footwear manufacturers from import surges. The measures – a 16.5 per cent duty on Chinese shoes and a 10 per cent tariff on Vietnamese footwear – are strongly opposed by retailers and most EU member states, including Britain.
Lord Mandelson, in his former role as European Trade Commissioner, extended the tariffs in October last year for a further 12 months, pending a review of the market. The Commission must decide on October 22 whether to maintain the tariffs, which otherwise would be lifted in January.
Germany: Back to party politics
The Guardian, Tuesday 29 September 2009
There have been four general elections in the elite group of the world’s most powerful economies since the global financial crisis first erupted. Two of them, in the US and Japan, have produced decisive moves to the left in favour of change. The two others, in Canada and the weekend federal election in Germany, have produced much less radical outcomes, keeping competent centre-right governments in power.
The most important feature of the German election result is that Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU has been returned to office in a new coalition with the liberal FDP. But the most striking aspect of Sunday’s poll is that the two previously dominant parties have been cut down to size in an unprecedented way. Four years ago, the CDU-CSU took 40.8% of the vote and was forced into a centrist “grand” coalition with the centre-left SPD.
India plans all-out attack on Maoists
By Siddharth Srivastava
NEW DELHI – India is preparing to launch its largest and purportedly best-organized offensive ever against the four-decades-old Naxalite (communist rebel) insurgency that affects hundreds of millions of people across vast swathes of the country.
There are plans to involve more than 100,000 federal paramilitary forces in the campaign, with the troops even being withdrawn from violence-wracked state of Indian-administered Kashmir. India plans to involve its own defense forces and has sought input from American security officials on how to best root out the leftist rebels.
In the past few weeks, New Delhi has held a series of meetings with state governments to organize a coordinated attack on the Maoists. Given the wide dispersal area of the extremists, various security arms, including intelligence units, will need to be involved.
According to local media reports, the offensive is set start this week.
An official assessment this year claimed that the Naxalites were “bent on violence and mayhem against the state and the people” and called for the government to “squarely meet” the threat.
Iran defies Western pressure with missile test-firing
Ahmadinejad warned of harsh sanctions against banks and oil and gas investments
By Katherine Butler, Foreign editor
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
After raising the stakes in its confrontation with the West by test-firing long range missiles yesterday, Iran will be warned this week that its banks as well as its oil and gas industry will be targeted for harsh sanctions unless it complies with international demands on its nuclear programme.
In a “twin-track” approach which European governments are emphasising, Tehran will also be offered a range of incentives including access to new energy technology, closer links with the EU, and the normalisation of trade if it commits to suspending its uranium enrichment activities and coming clean on a newly revealed nuclear site.
Ba’athist rejects Iraq’s bomb claims
By Stephen Starr
DAMASCUS – From a dated cafe in downtown Damascus, Iraqi Ba’ath party member Nizar Samarai is defiant.
“What happened on March 20, 2003, was a major assault on the Ba’ath party, 2003 was a hard year for us, but now, we have started to recover.”
Samarai was general director of the Presidential Office and an advisor to president Saddam Hussein until Baghdad fell to coalition troops that March. He then went into hiding. Asked what he does in Syria, he says, “The government doesn’t allow me to work. If they did, you wouldn’t be getting this bill!” he joked, avoiding the question.
The bombings of government buildings in Baghdad on August 19, in which at least 95 people were killed and hundreds wounded, sparked a major row between Syria and Iraq.
Guinean soldiers ‘lost control’
Some Guinean soldiers lost control at an opposition protest in the capital, Guinea’s military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has admitted.
The BBC Tuesday, 29 September 2009
He said in an interview on French and Senegalese radio that the security forces had been provoked by a stampede.
At least 87 people died when soldiers opened fire to disperse the rally sparked by rumours that Capt Camara wants to run for president next year.
There has been worldwide condemnation of the violence.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Guinean authorities to exercise maximum restraint, while the West African regional body Ecowas is reported to be pursuing sanctions against Conakry.
Three of four opposition leaders arrested after the unrest have been released.
The BBC’s Alhassan Sillah in Conakry says Cellou Diallo remains in hospital.
Could Honduras media crackdown backfire?
Roberto Micheletti’s interim government shut down two media outlets today after it issued a new decree to suspend freedom of speech if it ‘disturbs the peace.’
By Mike Faulk | Contributor
and Sara Miller Llana | Staff writer
TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS; AND MEXICO CITY – Soldiers in Honduras shut down two media stations loyal to ousted President Manuel Zelaya, after the country’s interim government gave itself new powers, by decree, to suspend freedom of speech and ban protests if they “disturb the peace.”
The move comes as Honduran interim president Roberto Micheletti expelled a team of Organization of American States (OAS) members seeking to reignite dialogue between the government and Mr. Zelaya, who returned last week and has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy ever since. Mr. Micheletti on Saturday gave Brazil a 10-day ultimatum to decide whether it will grant Zelaya asylum.
To his foes, Micheletti is increasingly isolating the Central American nation, in the throes of the region’s worst political crisis in decades after Zelaya was arrested and thrown out of the country June 28. And his hard-line measures also risk causing a domestic backlash and damage the tiny nation’s fragile democracy for years to come. But tactically, many observers say that the moves are key to ensuring that the security situation does not deteriorate.