Docudharma Times Tuesday September 8

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Schools Aided by Stimulus Money Still Facing Cuts

Obama’s back-to-school speech is made public

China must tackle human rights, Mandelson says

Clerics and hardliners vent their fury at Pervez release

Supporters of Venice’s planned new port put their faith in flood barrier

UK court convicts three in plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jets

Ahmadinejad says nuclear issue ‘over’

Mohamed ElBaradei left out evidence of Iran bomb, France claims

Laser gun to be used against Somali pirates

Sudanese journalist jailed after refusing to pay fine for wearing trousers

Colombia’s rebels step up a brutal tactic

Deeply Divided House Democrats Return to Work — and the Same Set of Problems

By Paul Kane, Ben Pershing and Perry Bacon Jr.

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

After a nearly 40-day recess that was anything but restful, House Democrats are returning to work Tuesday still unsettled over pending health-care legislation and sure only that the people have had their say.

They are in almost the exact position they were in when they left the Capitol in late July. Conservatives are still leery of supporting a government-funded, or public, insurance option. Freshman lawmakers from suburban districts remain fearful of increasing taxes for their wealthy constituents to pay for the new measure and await alternatives from moderate Senate Democrats. And progressives, who are demanding the most far-reaching reform since the Great Depression, are still threatening to bring down the legislation if it does not contain a robust version of the public option.

Dominic Lawson: Seventy years on, we are still appeasing dictators

In dealing with Libya the Foreign Office has been guilty of institutional cringe

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

In this, the week of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, British newspapers have published entire supplements, setting out once again how the policy of appeasing dictators showed a complete failure to understand the gangster psychology of totalitarian regimes.

Yet the unravelling tale of our current government’s negotiations with the regime of Col Gaddafi is a more enthrallingly contemporary illustration of the unchanging institutional cringe known as the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. We have learned – chiefly through the medium of government memos leaked to the Sunday Times – how the Foreign Office saw the release from Scottish custody of the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, as a way of earning us good favour in the court of Megrahi’s patron and distant relative, Muammar Gaddafi.


Schools Aided by Stimulus Money Still Facing Cuts


Published: September 7, 2009

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Children are returning to classrooms across the nation during one of the most tumultuous periods in American education, in which many thousands of teachers and other school workers – no one yet knows how many – were laid off in dozens of states because of plummeting state and local revenue. Many were hired back, thanks in part to $100 billion in federal stimulus money.

How much the federal money has succeeded in stabilizing schools depends on the state. In those where budget deficits have been manageable, stimulus money largely replaced plunging taxpayer revenues for schools. But in Arizona, California, Georgia and a dozen other states with overwhelming deficits, the federal money has failed to prevent the most extensive school layoffs in several decades, experts said.

Obama’s back-to-school speech is made public

The White House releases a transcript of the president’s talk to schoolchildren scheduled for Tuesday. Some critics were wary. But the text exhorts students to work hard and follow their dreams.

By Tom Hamburger

September 8, 2009

Reporting from Washington – Conservative activists blasted it as socialist. Worried parents called for boycotts. School administrators struggled over whether to let students hear it.

But in the “back to school” speech Barack Obama plans to give today, he will do what American presidents have done before — urge students to work hard, stay in school and follow their dreams.

“If you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country,” Obama will say in the speech, which is loaded with similar exhortations.


China must tackle human rights, Mandelson says

Move would help China’s economy and lead to the lifting of EU arms embargo, business secretary tells officials

Tania Branigan in Beijing, Tuesday 8 September 2009 07.35 BST

China should address human rights concerns if it wants the 20-year EU arms embargo to be lifted, Lord Mandelson told young officials in Beijing today.

The business secretary also told an audience at the Central Party school – which trains middle and higher ranking Communist cadres – that promoting human rights such as freedom of expression would help China’s economy to continue growing in the long run.

The arms embargo was imposed following the bloody military crackdown on supporters of pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in which hundreds, possibly thousands, died.

Clerics and hardliners vent their fury at Pervez release

Conservatives threaten backlash over student who promoted women’s rights

By Kim Sengupta in Kabul

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Conservative and religious groups in Afghanistan reacted with fury yesterday to the news that Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, who was sentenced to death for promoting women’s rights, has been freed.

After President Hamid Karzai secretly pardoned the 24-year-old student, hardliners called for an urgent ulama, a meeting of Islamic scholars, to organise protests against the decision.

Mr Kambaksh’s brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, said he was “very glad, very happy” at what had happened, and human rights organisations and a number of liberal parliamentarians welcomed the news.


Supporters of Venice’s planned new port put their faith in flood barrier

• Dredging scheme puts city in peril, say campaigners

• Backers rely on biblically named flood barrier  

Sam Jones and Fiona Winward in Rome, Monday 7 September 2009 19.23 BST

Twenty-first century Venice would probably confound the famous figures from Byron to Henry James who have visited the watery streets in pursuit of carnal or aesthetic gratification.

John Ruskin would find his “golden clasp on the girdle of the Earth” more than a little tarnished by the advertising billboards that cling to crumbling palazzi while Canaletto himself might struggle to capture the light bouncing off the bright, white sides of the vast cruise ships that traverse the lagoon in which Venice sits.

UK court convicts three in plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jets

A jury in London has convicted three British men of plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic commercial flights with liquid explosives in 2006.

TERRORISM | 07.09.2009

The jury at the Woolwich Crown Court in London found the three men, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain, guilty of planning to kill passengers in mid-flight using liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks. The three will be sentenced next week.

The prosecution said the attacks would have “exceeded the carnage” of the September 11 attacks in the US in 2001 and would have “inflicted heavy casualties in the name of Islam.”

British police said on Monday that they believed the group was within days of carrying out the attacks when they were arrested.

“We believe that they were contemplating some sort of dummy run,” a British police representative said.

Middle East

Ahmadinejad says nuclear issue ‘over’

 By Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press, in Tehran

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights, but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over “global challenges”.

His statements came as the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned of a “stalemate” over Iran. Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency began meetings in Vienna that could set the stage for a toughening of sanctions against Iran. Mr Ahmadinejad said that “from our point of view, Iran’s nuclear issue is over”. He added: “We will never negotiate over obvious rights of the Iranian nation.”

He said the only two aspects of the nuclear file he was willing to discuss were “creating peaceful nuclear energy for all countries” and a mechanism to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Mohamed ElBaradei left out evidence of Iran bomb, France claims

From The Times

September 8, 2009

Catherine Philp: Behind the Story

This is Mohamed ElBaradei’s last year addressing the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He will not be universally missed. Long chided for being soft on Iran, he goes into this year’s conference amid a diplomatic storm over whether he has deliberately hidden evidence of Iran’s work on a nuclear bomb.

France and Israel have led the charge against Dr ElBaradei, saying that his latest report on Iran’s nuclear programme omitted evidence that the agency had been given about an alleged covert weaponisation plan.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the report did not reflect all that the agency knew about Iran’s “efforts to continue to pursue its military programme”.


Laser gun to be used against Somali pirates

A laser gun that can be used to dazzle pirates, leaving them incapacitated, is just one of the hi-tech sea security gadgets being unveiled at a defence exhibition in London.  

Published: 8:04AM BST 08 Sep 2009

The device is powerful enough to incapacitate pirates up to 1,000 yards away, while leaving them physically unscathed.

The Laser Dazzle System has been created to help ship owners fend off the pirate gangs that have seized a number of vessels off the coast of East Africa.

Military boats have been armed with similar gadgets for years, but the defence manufacturer BAE Systems is now making them available for use on cruise ships and tankers.

Other anti-piracy tools being unveiled at the Defence Systems & Equipment International exhibition at the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands this week include a radar that can detect a dinghy from 15 miles away, and another device that can close down a vessel’s engine remotely.

Sudanese journalist jailed after refusing to pay fine for wearing trousers

From The Times

September 8, 2009

Tristan McConnell in Nairobi

The Sudanese woman put on trial for wearing trousers was spared the lash yesterday but was sent to jail after refusing to pay a £130 fine imposed for indecency.

Lubna Hussein, 34, a widow whose trial exposed draconian Islamic laws in Sudan, was taken to prison in the same trousers that she wore when she was arrested with 12 other women at a Khartoum restaurant in July.

“I will not pay a penny, I’d rather go to prison,” she declared after hearing the verdict. She will serve a one-month sentence in Omdurman.

Latin America

Colombia’s rebels step up a brutal tactic

FARC fighters seed country with mines made from common materials that are hard to police.

By Sibylla Brodzinsky | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

BOQUERÓN, COLOMBIA – The three-room schoolhouse in this tiny rural community in Colombia’s Antioquia Province has been abandoned for more than four years. The families of the 40 children who used to study in Boquerón fled after 15 neighbors fell victim to land mines planted by leftist rebels along the only trail that connects them to the nearest town, San Francisco.

Today, government demining teams are advancing inch by inch along the trail, clearing the area of land mines and booby traps left behind by rebels. But even as Colombia undertakes the cumbersome and dangerous task of trying to rid its countryside of land mines, leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have given the order to plant more as the Colombian Army advances in its campaign to beat back the rebel army of about 9,000 fighters.

In an e-mail from new FARC leader Alfonso Cano that was intercepted last year, he ordered all fronts to halt the advance of the troops with minefields “since we know it’s the only factor that stops and intimidates them.”

Ignoring Asia A Blog