Docudharma Times Saturday October 24




Saturday’s Headlines:

Prognosis improves for public insurance

CSI: Landon School

Arizona May Put State Prisons in Private Hands

Subpoenas issued over Countrywide VIP loan program

The Kirkuk conundrum

Iran ignores deadline and takes nuclear talks to brink

Russia cracks down on fake Kalashnikovs

Curves and home-cooked family meals are favoured by French teenagers

Korean summit not such a sick idea

Afghanistan election: Karzai rival suggests terms for fair election runoff

Ravaged by drought, Madagascar feels the full effect of climate change

Falling fish stocks raise tension on disputed Lake Victoria island

Prognosis improves for public insurance

MOMENTUM SHIFT IS DRAMATIC Top Democrats push option in health-care legislation

By Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Democratic leaders in the Senate and House have concluded that a government-run insurance plan is the cheapest way to expand health coverage, and they sought Friday to rally support for the idea, prospects for which have gone in a few short weeks from bleak to bright.The shift in momentum is so dramatic that many lawmakers now predict that President Obama will sign a final bill that includes some form of government-sponsored insurance for people who do not receive coverage through the workplace. Even Democrats with strong reservations about expanding government’s role in the health-care system say they are reconsidering the approach in hopes of making low-cost plans broadly available.

CSI: Landon School

Forensic science class turns to ‘crime’ to see textbook theories in action

By Michael Birnbaum

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The body was lying facedown against the wall of Landon School’s rifle range, on an otherwise peaceful campus in Bethesda. A red-ringed bullet hole was on the victim’s back, and yellow crime-scene tape cordoned off everyone but the investigators.

Evan Harris flipped the body over. Its front was clean: no exit wound. He reached into the victim’s right pants pocket.

“Got something!” he said, pulling out a folded paper note.

“You just stepped on his head,” said Brian Martin.

USA

Arizona May Put State Prisons in Private Hands



By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

Published: October 23, 2009


FLORENCE, Ariz. – One of the newest residents on Arizona’s death row, a convicted serial killer named Dale Hausner, poked his head up from his television to look at several visitors strolling by, each of whom wore face masks and vests to protect against the sharp homemade objects that often are propelled from the cells of the condemned.

It is a dangerous place to patrol, and Arizona spends $4.7 million each year to house inmates like Mr. Hausner in a super-maximum-security prison. But in a first in the criminal justice world, the state’s death row inmates could become the responsibility of a private company.

State officials will soon seek bids from private companies for 9 of the state’s 10 prison complexes that house roughly 40,000 inmates, including the 127 here on death row. It is the first effort by a state to put its entire prison system under private control.

Subpoenas issued over Countrywide VIP loan program

The House Oversight committee is investigating the role of the nation’s largest mortgage companies in the financial crisis.

By Jim Puzzanghera

October 24, 2009


Reporting from Washington – Under pressure from Republicans, a House committee has subpoenaed documents related to Countrywide Financial Corp.’s VIP program, which offered preferential treatment to well-connected or powerful mortgage customers.

The subpoenas were issued Friday as part of a broad investigation into the role of the nation’s largest mortgage companies in the financial crisis, said Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The probe — which involves demands for information from Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. (which now owns Countrywide), JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., U.S Bancorp and GMAC’s Residential Capital — will try to determine whether the companies “employed deceptive and predatory lending practices, or improper tactics to thwart regulation,” Towns said in a statement.

Middle East

The Kirkuk conundrum

Iraqi democracy is stuck in a constitutional hiatus over the Kurdish-dominated region that threatens to derail elections



Ranj Alaaldin

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 24 October 2009 08.00 BST


Iraq has once again met what very low expectations remain of it. Despite a 15 October deadline, the Iraqi parliament is yet to agree on a new election law for the national elections due to be held in January, and this may, as a result, throw its political, legal and constitutional framework into disarray.

Disagreement among parliamentarians centres on whether to use an open- or closed-list voting system. Under the former, voters elect their own preferred candidates into parliament, while under the latter system, the electorate votes for a political entity, as opposed to an individual, and that entity then awards parliamentary seats to its own fixed list of candidates, submitted to the electoral commission prior to the elections.

Under the closed-list system, parliamentary seats are generally awarded on the basis of party loyalty above all else. It is therefore the established politician, or party favourite, who would worry most about an open-list system – out of fear of being deselected by the electorate.

Iran ignores deadline and takes nuclear talks to brink

Tehran resists signing up to deal that would see enriched uranium sent abroad

By Kim Sengupta, Diplomatic Correspondent

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Iran has ignored a deadline to respond to a proposed deal from the UN nuclear watchdog, saying it would give its verdict next week. Tehran’s playing for time, coupled with reports of a counter-proposal that would keep its enriched uranium in-country, cast fresh doubts on the success of the diplomatic channel and raised the prospect of further sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) had given Tehran until yesterday to sign up to an agreement under which it would send its uranium to Russia and France for enrichment. As the deadline loomed, state television quoted a member of Iran’s negotiating team who attended this week’s talks in Vienna as saying that Tehran preferred to buy in nuclear fuel from abroad. This would fail to reduce Iran’s domestic stockpile from worrying the international community, which fears it could be used for weapons.

Europe

Russia cracks down on fake Kalashnikovs

State says only half of 100 million AK-47 rifles are Russian-made models

By Vladimir Isachenkov in Klimovsk

 Saturday, 24 October 2009

Russia has been a major market for counterfeit music, movies and computer programs from around the world, but at least one Russian product has been pirated worldwide: the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle.

But Anatoly Isaikin, the chief of the nation’s state arms-trading monopoly, aims to change that. He says Russia will step up action to defend the copyright of the Kalashnikov, which is made without licence by dozens of manufacturers around the world.

Curves and home-cooked family meals are favoured by French teenagers

From The Times

October 24, 2009


Adam Sage in Paris

They had been depicted as a lost generation prone to British-style teenage contradictions – dreaming of a Kate Moss waistline while eating burgers, pizzas and chocolate bars. Instead, they want traditional home-cooked food – and the curves that go with it.

Whatever their social background, French teenagers like traditional dishes such as bouillabaisse, the fish stew from Provence, choucroute, the Alsatian sauerkraut, veal sauté and strong cheeses.

Asia

Korean summit not such a sick idea



By Donald Kirk  

SEOUL – Here’s one way to upstage the rush to two-way dialogue between the United States and North Korea: how about a third inter-Korean summit – this one between South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il?

Unlikely though such a scenario might seem, the South Korean media, led by the state-owned Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), suggest the question is not entirely absurd. KBS reports that Kim Yang-gon, an influential North Korean figure on dealings with the South, has been in Singapore seeing an unnamed but “ranking” South Korean.

While South Korean sources have been saying the idea of a rendezvous between the conservative Lee and the North’s Dear Leader is preposterous, the Blue House, the center of presidential power in the South, refrained from the usual denial. Instead, while Lee was in Vietnam and Cambodia, a spokesman cryptically refused to “confirm” such a meeting had happened.

Afghanistan election: Karzai rival suggests terms for fair election runoff

In an interview, Abdullah Abdullah, the underdog presidential candidate, talks about preventing ‘ghost polling’ and sidesteps question about a possible concession ahead of the Nov. 7 Afghanistan election runoff.

By Ben Arnoldy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the October 23, 2009 edition


KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The chief opposition candidate in Afghanistan’s presidential campaign says that in the next one to three days, he will put forth some conditions for the conduct of the Nov. 7 runoff election.

Abdullah Abdullah says these will include: making changes to the Independent Election Commission that runs the elections, preventing President Hamid Karzai from using the levers of government to campaign, and ensuring there are no “ghost polling stations” – voting centers in areas so insecure that they exist only on paper.

He refused to say what he would do if these conditions are not met. At this point, the obvious card he has left to play is to withdraw from the race.

In some ways, such an exit could be a welcome outcome for all sides. Dr. Abdullah would avoid losing a head-to-head contest where he is the decided underdog. Mr. Karzai retains the presidency. And the international community avoids losing money, soldiers, and – with the policy debate paralyzed by election uncertainty – time.

Yet a withdrawal by Abdullah, depending on how he handled it, also runs risks of stigmatizing Karzai’s reelection and disengaging Abdullah’s voters from the political process.

Africa

Ravaged by drought, Madagascar feels the full effect of climate change

A 10% increase in temperature and a 10% decrease in rainfall sees Indian Ocean island struggle to feed its children

David Smith

guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 October 2009 19.09 BST


Remanonjona Feroce founded the village of Anjamahavelo – meaning At the Lucky Baobab – in Madagascar a generation ago. With memories of a flood still fresh, he chose a spot far from the nearest river. He cleared the wild forest and sacrificed a sheep in the hope that it would make the owls, lemurs and snakes go away.

“Animals can’t live together with little children and young girls,” explained Feroce, an 85-year-old great-grandfather. “They don’t want snakes to be here because they have bad spirits. They strangle children by curling around the neck. Owls are bad birds. If one hoots, it means somebody will die.”

The animals did go away, but so did the luck of Anjamahavelo, a cluster of wooden houses. Southern Madagascar has had three years of crop failure in five years, resulting in chronic hunger for tens of thousands of families and soaring rates of malnutrition, stunted growth and death among children.

Falling fish stocks raise tension on disputed Lake Victoria island

From The Times

October 24, 2009


Tristan McConnell in Migingo Island, Lake Victoria

George Ochieng is hungover. On the slick black rocks down by the water’s edge he stands by a long wooden fishing canoe and allows the morning breeze to clear his head. “This is our place,” he says resolutely. “We are fighting for our place, and for the water that has fish within.”

Migingo Island, a tiny mound of tin-roofed slums rising out of Africa’s largest lake, hardly seems worth fighting for. But the real prize is not the rock; it is the fish in the surrounding waters.

With Kenya and Uganda both claiming Migingo, the dispute has driven a wedge between the East African neighbours, threatening to erupt into open conflict when both countries deployed security forces to the crowded island.

2 comments

    • RiaD on October 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    re:prisons

    i think it’s a horrid idea to have ANY prison in the hands of a private company…. that’s a human rights violation waiting to happen, imo.

    this would make it a for-profit system, detrimental to the real humans involved.

    i DO think we need prison reform.

    only having tv’s in communal areas, having prison gardens & farms, so they feed not only themselves but send excess to nursing homes, homeless shelters. this will teach prisoners a viable skill (many different ones are needed to successfully grow & preserve food) that they can take with them when they are released.

    thanks for news this morning mishima.

    • RiaD on October 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    at Gulf facility in Puerto Rico

    Fri Oct 23, 5:57 am ET

    CATANO, Puerto Rico – An explosion at a Gulf gasoline facility Friday rocked a neighborhood outside Puerto Rico’s capital, causing minor injuries and forcing evacuations as firefighters raced to prevent additional blasts.

    Several columns of black smoke and flames were rising from the Caribbean Petroleum Corp., a gasoline warehouse and distribution center on San Juan’s bay that owns the Gulf brand in this U.S. Caribbean territory.

    FBI agents on the scene were among those investigating what caused the blast, which struck around 12:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), according to police chief Jose Figueroa Sancha.

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