With Karzai, U.S. Faces Weak Partner in Time of War
By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: November 1, 2009
WASHINGTON – With the White House’s reluctant embrace on Sunday of Hamid Karzai as the winner of Afghanistan’s suddenly moot presidential runoff, President Obama now faces a new complication: enabling a badly tarnished partner to regain enough legitimacy to help the United States find the way out of an eight-year-old war.
It will not be easy. As the evidence mounted in late summer that Mr. Karzai’s forces had sought to win re-election through widespread fraud to defeat his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, administration officials made no secret of their disgust. How do you consider sending tens of thousands of additional American troops, they asked in meetings in the White House, to prop up an Afghan government regarded as illegitimate by many of its own people?
Britain Sets Tough Laws for Texting While Driving
DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION
OXFORD, England – Inside the imposing British Crown Court here, Phillipa Curtis, 22, and her parents cried as she was remanded for 21 months to a high-security women’s prison, for killing someone much like herself. The victim was Victoria McBryde, an up-and-coming university-trained fashion designer.
Ms. Curtis had plowed her Peugeot into the rear end of Ms. McBryde’s neon yellow Fiat, which had broken down on the A40 Motorway, killing Ms. McBryde, 24, instantly.
The crash might once have been written off as a tragic accident. Ms. Curtis’s alcohol level was zero. But her phone, which had flown onto the road and was handed to the police by a witness, told a story that – under new British sentencing guidelines – would send its owner to jail.
Climate bill faces hurdles in Senate
DEMOCRATS DEEPLY SPLIT
Deal on nuclear plants offered to court Republicans
By Juliet Eilperin
Monday, November 2, 2009
The climate-change bill that has been moving slowly through the Senate will face a stark political reality when it emerges for committee debate on Tuesday: With Democrats deeply divided on the issue, unless some Republican lawmakers risk the backlash for signing on to the legislation, there is almost no hope for passage.
Like the measure adopted by the House, the legislation favors a cap-and-trade system that would issue permits for greenhouse gas emissions, gradually lower the amount of emissions allowed, and let companies buy and sell permits to meet their needs — all without adding to the federal deficit, according to projections. But key Republicans are making their opposition clear, even as Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) has enlisted Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) as his most visible GOP ally in gathering support for the bill.
Sen. George V. Voinovich (Ohio), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee who was initially seen as one of the few Republicans who might consider backing the majority, is helping lead the opposition.
GOP ex-candidate endorses Democrat in New York
Dede Scozzafava’s decision not to back Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman indicates a widening gap in the GOP. Meanwhile, President Obama campaigns for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.
By James Oliphant
November 2, 2009
Reporting from Washington – The gulf between the moderate and conservative factions of the Republican Party appeared to spread Sunday when the Republican former candidate in a contentious congressional race endorsed the Democrat.
New York State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava’s decision was essentially a rebuke of conservative activists who had mounted a wildcat effort to ensure her defeat. She had ended her campaign a day earlier after it became clear she could not win Tuesday’s special election.
It remained uncertain, however, whether her endorsement could tilt the race toward Democrat Bill Owens. Polls show him running neck and neck with third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, who is on the Conservative Party ticket. Even before Scozzafava’s withdrawal, Hoffman had been endorsed by such Republican luminaries as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes.
Taliban blamed for deadly Rawalpindi bombing
At least 20 people killed in explosion near Pakistani army headquarters
Declan Walsh Islamabad
guardian.co.uk, Monday 2 November 2009 08.32 GMT
An explosion near the Pakistani army headquarters in Rawalpindi has killed at least 20 people, officials said today.
The explosion came as the government announced £3m in rewards for the capture of the Taliban leadership.
It happened close to a bank and a hotel on Mall Road near the entrance to army headquarters, which was subjected to a 22-hour siege by militants last month.
Many of the victims were elderly people who had gathered at a bank to withdraw their pensions, officials said. The windows of a nearby shopping mall were blown out.
All hospitals in Rawalpindi declared an emergency as rescue services rushed to help the dead and injured. Schools across the city were closed.
N Korea urges US nuclear talks
North Korea has said it is ready for direct talks with the US on rolling back its nuclear programme but will “go its own way” if Washington refuses.
The BBC Monday, 2 November 2009
North Korea’s foreign ministry said wider talks including North Korea’s neighbours were possible depending on any direct negotiations with the US.
Pyongyang pulled out of the long-running six-party nuclear disarmament talks earlier this year.
In May, the North conducted an underground nuclear test.
“The conclusion we have reached is that the direct parties, which are the North and the United States, must first sit down and find a rational solution,” the foreign ministry spokesman said in comments reported by the official KCNA news agency.
Lorca’s grave awakens other ghosts
By Alasdair Fotheringham in Viznar, Spain
Monday, 2 November 2009
The excavation of a mass grave on a Granada hillside where the poet Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered during the Spanish Civil War has reinforced calls for the area to be investigated. “Lorca was just one of 4,000 executions on a roadside just a kilometre long,” says Juan Antonio Lopez Diaz, a Granada University professor. “There are so many bodies there that pine trees were planted just to stop them being uncovered by rainfall erosion.”
After years of debate, digging finally began last week at the mass grave where half a dozen men, possibly including Lorca, were killed and buried on 18 August 1936 by hitmen from General Franco’s right-wing Nationalist forces. A huge white tent has been erected, surrounded by a two-metre high metal fence, to ward off the media during the two-month investigation.
Berlusconi ally launches challenge in leadership manifesto
From The Times
November 2, 2009
Richard Owen in Rome
A close ally of Silvio Berlusconi will this week launch his political manifesto, a move seen as a direct challenge to the embattled Italian Prime Minister.
Gianfranco Fini, a former neofascist and now deputy leader of the ruling party, has decided to appeal directly to voters in the same month that Mr Berlusconi faces new trials for corruption. Mr Fini is the leading contender to succeed the Prime Minister – although Mr Berlusconi has said that he will not resign even if convicted. Mr Fini, who is Speaker of the Lower House, has shed his extreme-Right past and adopted a statesmanlike stance, and on Wednesday will publish The Future of Freedom, subtitled Unasked-for Advice to Those Born in 1989.
Palestinian anger as Hillary Clinton praises ‘settlement concessions’
From The Times
November 2, 2009
James Hider in Jerusalem
The Palestinian leadership accused the US of caving in over Israeli settlements after Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, praised Israel for making concessions.
Having failed to force Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, to meet US demands for a total settlement freeze, Mrs Clinton switched tack during a one-day visit to Jerusalem when she called on both sides to resume peace talks.
“What the Prime Minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements . . . is unprecedented,” Mrs Clinton said.
She did not give details of the concessions but even under the Oslo peace talks in the 1990s Israel never halted the expansion of settlements. The first serious reversal came in 2005 when Ariel Sharon forced thousands to leave the Gaza Strip.
Iran police to confront ‘illegal’ Nov. 4 rallies
Warning comes day after Mousavi urges supporters to participate
TEHRAN – Iranian police will confront any “illegal” gatherings on Nov. 4, when the Islamic Republic marks the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, a semi-official news agency reported on Sunday.
Mehr News Agency reported the warning by deputy police chief Ahmadreza Radan a day after opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi appeared to urge supporters to take part in rallies on that day.
In a statement posted on his www.kaleme.com Web site, Mousavi said he would press ahead with his efforts for political change in Iran following a disputed June presidential election, which he says was rigged in favor of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Africa’s urban farmers
The revival of traditional foods is just one benefit of a drive to encourage absentee agriculture by city-dwellers across Africa
guardian.co.uk, Monday 2 November 2009 08.00 GMT
When I met Eunice Wangari at a Nairobi coffee shop recently, I was surprised to hear her on her mobile phone, insistently asking her mother about the progress of a corn field in her home village, hours away from the big city. A nurse, Wangari counts on income from farming to raise money to buy more land – for more farming.
Even though Wangari lives in Kenya’s capital, she is able to reap hundreds of dollars a year in profit from cash crops grown with the help of relatives. Her initial stake – drawn from her nursing wages of about $350 a month – has long since been recovered.
Wangari is one of thousands of urban workers in Kenya – and one of hundreds of thousands, even millions, across Africa – who are increasing their incomes through absentee agriculture. With prices for basic foodstuffs at their highest levels in decades, many urbanites feel well rewarded by farming.
South Sudan leader calls for south to secede
By Mohamed Osman, Associated Press
Monday, 2 November 2009
The leader of southern Sudan called on his people to vote for secession in an upcoming referendum if they do not want to end up as second class citizens, as voter registration began Sunday for elections across the country.
Salva Kiir’s first-ever call for the mostly Christian, oil-rich south to split off from the Muslim north could increase tension with the Arab-led northern government and further strain the fragile 2005 peace agreement that ended the more than two decade long north-south civil war and left more than two million dead.
The north-south war is separate from Sudan’s other ongoing conflict, a rebellion in the arid western region of Darfur.
“When you reach your ballot boxes the choice is yours: you want to vote for unity so that you become a second class in your own country, that is your choice,” Kiir told worshippers on Saturday at the cathedral in the southern capital of Juba.