Docudharma Times Saturday December 12

Saturday’s Headlines:

New Cases Test Optimism on Extremism by U.S. Muslims

Copenhagen comes down to a numbers game

House votes to reform financial regulations

Arizona sheriff ups the ante against his foes

Resilient Iranians still dream of a new revolution

Rush for Iraq’s oil in defiance of bombers

Turkey bans main Kurdish party over alleged terror links

Body of Tassos Papadopoulos, former Cypriot President, stolen by grave robbers

US and Japan agree on open skies deal

After the Taliban: Afghanistan’s kids ready for education, but schools not

Mugabe says his fractured party is ‘eating itself up’

Honduras backs out of safe passage offer for Zelaya

New Cases Test Optimism on Extremism by U.S. Muslims



Published: December 11, 2009

WASHINGTON – As the years passed after Sept. 11, 2001, without another major attack on American soil and with no sign of hidden terrorist cells, many counterterrorism specialists reached a comforting conclusion: Muslims in the United States were not very vulnerable to radicalization.American Muslims, the reasoning went, were well assimilated in diverse communities with room for advancement. They showed little of the alienation often on display among their European counterparts, let alone attraction to extremist violence.

Copenhagen comes down to a numbers game

Michael McCarthy on the battle over emissions cuts that is dividing the world

Saturday, 12 December 2009

They call them square brackets – the pieces of text about which negotiators have not yet agreed, and so are bracketed off. And yesterday at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, the most important square brackets in history were revealed.

They showed the upper and lower limits of the world’s ambitions to cut the emissions of carbon dioxide which are causing climate change. They are vastly different, and imply enormous differences in the scale of effort involved, yet beginning today, ministers from more than 190 countries have less than a week to choose between them.


House votes to reform financial regulations


Crisis-inspired overhaul faces an uncertain future in Senate

By Brady Dennis

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More than a year after the near-collapse of Wall Street plunged the economy into crisis, a divided House on Friday approved the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system since the Great Depression.

“We are sending a clear message to Wall Street: The party is over,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the 223 to 202 tally, which failed to attract a single Republican vote.

The bill’s passage marks a milestone in the Obama administration’s efforts to rein in the abuses that contributed to the crisis and to prevent similar failures in the future. President Obama has called financial reform one of his top priorities, alongside health care and climate change.

Arizona sheriff ups the ante against his foes

Joe Arpaio has escalated his tactics, not only defying the federal government on immigration but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him.

By Nicholas Riccardi

December 12, 2009

Reporting from Phoenix – The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected illegal immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.

He launched one of his notorious “sweeps,” in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.

“I wanted to show everybody it didn’t make a difference,” Arpaio said of the Obama administration’s order.

Middle East

Resilient Iranians still dream of a new revolution

‘Stolen’ election fuels dissent amid fears of new flashpoint at Shia festival

Ian Black, Middle East editor, Friday 11 December 2009 19.58 GMT

Tehran University students have been filing into their classes past giant posters of Ayatollah Khomeini and the stern slogans of the Islamic revolution for the last 30 years. But the angry scenes on the university’s sprawling campus this week seemed like a throwback to another age.

“Marg bar diktatur” (Death to dictatorship), they chanted in their thousands, waving green banners and posters behind high canvas screens tied to the railings as basij miltiamen and revolutionary guards prowled the streets outside.

Some held up Iranian flags with the symbol of the Islamic republic cut out of the middle. Others, masked against teargas, burned pictures of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini’s heir as the once inviolate supreme leader, made V-signs or taunted basiji with banknotes – a contemptuous dig at the regime’s hired thugs. “Liar basiji, where is your student card?” went another slogan – meant to scare off militiamen using fake IDs.

Rush for Iraq’s oil in defiance of bombers

Baghdad drives a hard bargain as drilling companies battle for access to reserves

By Patrick Cockburn Saturday, 12 December 2009

Iraq is on course to become one of the world largest exporters of oil after international companies caved in yesterday by accepting low fees to develop the country’s vast unexploited crude reserves. Representatives of 44 oil companies ignored the recent devastating bomb attacks in Baghdad to cram into a hall in the Oil Ministry to bid for contracts to increase production in Iraq’s biggest oilfields.

The companies are so eager to get a foothold in the Iraqi oil sector that they are largely accepting tough Iraqi government terms, which many of them rejected at a previous auction in Baghdad six months ago.


Turkey bans main Kurdish party over alleged terror links

Disturbances rock south-eastern cities after court closure ruling

 Robert Tait in Istanbul

The Guardian, Saturday 12 December 2009

Turkey was propelled into fresh political uncertainty yesterday after the country’s highest court closed the main Kurdish party over alleged terrorist links.

Disturbances broke out in the mainly Kurdish south-east, jeopardising moves by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to resolve the bloody 25-year conflict with the Kurds through political means.

After four days of deliberations, the constitutional court in Ankara ruled the Democratic Society party (DTP) “a focal point for terrorism against the indivisible integrity of the state”. The party, which has 21 MPs in Turkey’s 544-member parliament, is accused of cooperation with the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which Turkey, the US and the European Union designate a terrorist organisation. The DTP chairman, Ahmet Turk, and 36 members were banned from politics for five years.

Body of Tassos Papadopoulos, former Cypriot President, stolen by grave robbers

From The Times

December 12, 2009

Michael Theodoulou in Nicosia

Thieves have dug up the coffin of the former President of Cyprus and made off with his corpse – leaving no indication of the motive behind the macabre crime.

Tassos Papadopoulos, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer a year ago, aged 74. Police said that nobody had yet claimed responsibilityfor the theft. A memorial service marking the anniversary of his death will proceed today as planned.

Papadopoulos was a controversial figure during his long career but leaders across the political spectrum were united in condemning the crime. His successor,Dimitris Christofias, said at an EU summit in Brussels: “This is a sacrilege. It is a blight on our culture.”


US and Japan agree on open skies deal

The United States and Japan have agreed to a new “open skies” deal cutting restrictions on flights between the two countries.

The BBC Saturday, 12 December 2009

The agreement will allow airlines from both countries to have a wider range of destinations and routes to choose from.

The agreement, which has yet to be formalised, includes both passenger planes and cargo services.

However the Japanese government said the US would first need to consider waiving certain antitrust rules.

‘Competitive pricing’

This would mean airlines which are in alliance with each other would be able to share scheduling, pricing and other information.

In a statement, US Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood said: “Once this agreement takes effect, American and Japanese consumers, airlines and economies will enjoy the benefits of competitive pricing and more convenient service.”

After the Taliban: Afghanistan’s kids ready for education, but schools not

In Afghanistan, the number of kids in school has grown more than six times since the Taliban were in power. But millions of children still wait, and classrooms and qualified teachers are lacking.

By Shaun McCanna Contributor / December 11, 2009

Kabul, Afghanistan

Qala-e-Zaman Khan High School is bordered by dirt roads at the base of a small hill in one of Kabul’s many districts. The school’s mud brick buildings have been recently painted, and its bright blue walls, nestled against the drab hillside, stand out from a distance. “All the faculty pooled money to buy the paint,” says principal Abdullah Amin, “and our families helped with the work.”

But the paint is just one step along a very long road, he notes. “Our biggest problem,” he says, “is that we don’t have adequate classroom space for the high number of students.”

Under the Taliban, Afghanistan had only 900,000 students, all boys. The curriculum revolved around religious instruction. Today, some 6 million students, boys and girls, attend schools – though some 5.3 million children wait in the wings, held back by cultural or security reasons.


Mugabe says his fractured party is ‘eating itself up’

From The Times

December 12, 2009

 Jan Raath in Harare

They were supposed to be celebrating on a grand scale – 10,000 of President Mugabe’s closest supporters coming together to affirm his continued hold on power. But at the Zanu (PF) congress yesterday delegates sat stunned to hear their leader berate his party for infighting, saying that Zanu was “eating itself up”.

Normally defiant, Mr Mugabe admitted to the party’s five-yearly meeting that it had “lost” presidential elections last March – a first-round defeat that was followed by a bloody campaign of repression. “The reason why we lost in March last year was because of factions,” he said. “When it comes to elections, the party strangles itself. It is eating itself up and the MDC says, ‘Do much more’. The more intense the internal fights we have, the greater opportunity we grant to the opposition to thrive.”

Latin America

Honduras backs out of safe passage offer for Zelaya

De facto rulers had agreed to let Mexico send a plane to pick up the deposed president, but then added a caveat saying Zelaya could travel only as a private citizen seeking asylum. He refused.  

By Tracy Wilkinson

December 11, 2009

Reporting from Mexico City – The de facto government of Honduras withdrew its offer Thursday to deposed President Manuel Zelaya of safe passage out of the country, asserting he could leave only if he renounced his claim to the office.

The actions by Honduras’ coup-installed rulers threw cold water on efforts to free Zelaya from the Brazilian Embassy, where he took refuge 2 1/2 months ago.

“I could be here 10 years,” Zelaya told a radio station from inside the embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. He said he was being required to sign a letter of resignation in exchange for being allowed to leave, terms he branded “blackmail.”

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