Congress Is Split on Effort to Tax Costly Health Plans
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and ROBERT PEAR
Published: October 12, 2009
WASHINGTON – A proposed tax on high-cost, or “Cadillac,” health insurance plans has touched off a fierce clash between the Senate and the House as they wrestle over how to pay for legislation that would provide health benefits to millions of uninsured Americans.
Supporters, including many senators, say that the tax is essential to tamping down medical spending and that over 10 years it would generate more than $200 billion, nearly a fourth of what is needed to pay for the legislation.
Critics, including House members and labor unions, say the tax would quickly spiral out of control and hit middle-class workers, people more closely associated with minivans than Cadillacs.
Decline of a tribe: and then there were five
The last surviving members of an ancient Amazonian tribe are a tragic testament to greed and genocide
By Guy Adams
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
They are the last survivors: all that’s left of a once-vibrant civilisation which created its own religion and language, and gave special names to everything from the creatures of the rainforest to the stars of the night sky.
Just five people represent the entire remaining population of the Akuntsu, an ancient Amazonian tribe which a generation ago boasted several hundred members, but has been destroyed by a tragic mixture of hostility and neglect.
The indigenous community, which spent thousands of years in uncontacted seclusion, recently took an unwelcome step closer to extinction, with the death of its sixth last member, an elderly woman called Ururú.
Support Troops Swelling U.S. Force in Afghanistan
Additional Deployments Not Announced and Rarely Noted
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials.
The additional troops are primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police. Their deployment has received little mention by officials at the Pentagon and the White House, who have spoken more publicly about the combat troops who have been sent to Afghanistan.
Memoir of a former abortion addict
In ‘Impossible Motherhood,’ Irene Vilar, now a mother of two, writes of what led her to have 15 pregnancies ended.
By Robin Abcarian
October 13, 2009
Reporting from Denver – Irene Vilar’s house, a charming old place on a leafy block outside Denver, is a monument to her mothering. Half the downstairs has been transformed into a preschool, with picture books, educational toys and art supplies in organized disarray.
Outside, her little girls, 3-year-old Lolita and 5-year-old Loretta, are decorating the walkway with brown-eyed susans plucked from the garden. It is a scene of almost magical domesticity.
Inside, their mother, a striking 40-year-old literary agent with big, brown eyes, long, straight hair and a Spanish-inflected lilt that gives away her Puerto Rican roots, is describing how, from the age of 16 to 33, she could neither stop herself from conceiving, nor from terminating her pregnancies. Fifteen of them.
Srebrenica: the search for a terrible truth goes on
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is due to go on trial for war crimes next week. But the truth about the infamous 1995 Srebrenica massacre is still being sought by victims’ families, who say the world has forgotten this terrible crime
The Guardian, Tuesday 13 October 2009
Hasan Nuhanovic has the eyes of a man who has seen too much. His day job is helping to pursue international sex traffickers. In the evenings and at weekends, he hunts for the remains of his murdered family. “There is no closure – closure only comes when we die,” he says. “But I need to bury them.”
Hasan’s father Ibro, mother Nasiha and 18-year-old brother Muhamed were all killed in the Srebrenica massacre, Europe’s largest act of genocide since the second world war. It is at the heart of the prosecution case against the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, whose trial in the Hague is due to start next week.
British orphans adopted by Italian aristocracy fight for £1bn inheritance
From Times Online
October 13, 2009
Lucy Bannerman in Rome
The blue blood in the long, illustrious line of the Doria Pamphilj family ran out a generation ago, leaving the Italian courts to decide who is the rightful heir to the Renaissance palaces, the magnificent art collection, and the £1 billion fortune. Should it be the four daughters of the staunchly Catholic sister? Or the two children conceived by her gay brother with the help of a surrogate mother?
At the centre of the saga are Princess Gesine and Prince Jonathan, two British-born orphans who were plucked from a London orphanage in the 1960s and adopted by a descendant of one of Italy’s most noble families.
Pakistani army facing threat from Punjabi, al-Qaida and Taliban militants
• Frank admission comes as suicide bomb kills over 40
• Attackers increasingly plan terror raids together
Declan Walsh in Islamabad
guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 October 2009 19.58 BST
Pakistan’s army made a stark admission today of the scale of the threat it faces from a nexus of Punjabi, al-Qaida and Taliban militants whose attacks are increasingly coordinated, include soldiers in their ranks and span the country.
The unusually frank assessment, made after the audacious assault on the military’s headquarters this weekend, came as a Taliban suicide bomber struck an army convoy as it passed through a crowded marketplace in a small mountain town near the Swat valley, killing 41 people and wounding 45.
It was the fourth militant atrocity to hit Pakistan in eight days of bloodshed that have killed more than 120 people. One television channel reported that the bomber in Shangla district in North West Frontier province was a 13-year-old boy.
China court sentences six Uighurs to death
By Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
A court in China’s far western Xinjiang region sentenced six men to death yesterday for murder and other crimes committed during ethnic riots that killed nearly 200 people.
A seventh man was given life imprisonment. The sentences were the first for any of the scores of suspects arrested in the July rioting between Muslim Uighurs and members of the Han Chinese majority in the regional capital of Urumqi.
It was China’s worst communal violence in decades. The verdicts appeared to be aimed at placating Han Chinese who have rallied in Urumqi calling for swift justice. Xinjiang has been under heavy security since the unrest, and state TV showed paramilitary troops in riot gear surrounding the courthouse yesterday.
Britain steps up pressure on Iran with trading ban on big companies
From The Times
October 13, 2009
Catherine Philp, Diplomatic Correspondent
Britain has increased pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme by announcing a trading ban with two Iranian companies that violated UN sanctions.
The move turns up the heat on Iran before a second round of negotiations over its nuclear programme, which is due by the end of the month.
Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the Treasury Minister, said that British companies would no longer be allowed to do business with the Iranian state-owned maritime carrier because of its role in helping to supply Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons programme. The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines had “transported goods for both Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes,” she told Parliament.
Iraqis arrest former top aide in Saddam’s regime
By Sahar Issa | McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces seized a top aide to the most wanted man in Iraq, capturing him Sunday in a helicopter raid in Diyala province, an Iraqi security official who participated in the raid said Monday.
Ayad Jalal Abdulwahab has been working closely with Izzat al Douri, the vice president under the regime of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, the security official said. Douri is still at large and is viewed by U.S. officials as Saddam’s successor in the resistance movement. The Iraqi force that captured Abdulwahab turned him over to U.S. forces, which brought him to Baghdad, where he’s undergoing interrogation, Iraqi officials said.
China tightens grip on Africa with $4.4bn lifeline for Guinea junta
From The Times
October 13, 2009
Jonathan Clayton, Africa Correspondent
While the rest of the world recoiled in horror at recent events in Guinea, where at least 150 pro-democracy supporters were killed and dozens of women publicly raped by government soldiers, China has sensed an opportunity to steal another march on Western competitors in Africa.
China is preparing to throw the junta in Guinea a lifeline in the form of a multibillion-pound oil and mineral deal, financed largely by soft loans. Such policies have already served China well with rogue and discredited regimes from Angola to Sudan. The move comes as the European Union, spurred on by France, the former colonial power, and the African Union are considering sanctions against Guinea if its young military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, continues to renege on a deal to stand down in favour of free elections.
In Egypt and Saudi Arabia, succession looms
Egypt President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Arabia King Abdullah, both in their 80s, have long played leading Mideast roles. Some worry that successors will complicate relationships.
By Jeffrey Fleishman
October 13, 2009
Reporting from Cairo – They are a desert king and a military officer-turned-president. Drive through their capitals and their images glow from billboards and painted walls, old men with their eyes fixed everywhere, even as whispers grow about who will rise to replace them.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are in their 80s, durable U.S. allies whose governments have crushed political dissent at home while playing leading roles across the Middle East. But these days, talk of succession reverberates as Washington, as well as Riyadh and Cairo, plans to navigate an era without two of the region’s dominant personalities.