Docudharma Times Sunday December 13




Sunday’s Headlines:

Interest Rates Are Low, but Banks Balk at Refinancing

20 Years Of The Simpsons

Terrorist recruiters leverage the Web

Lost dream restored to Japanese American family

China puts Charter 08 founder Liu Xiaobo on path to 15 years in prison

Insurgent infiltrators terrorise Kabul’s ruling class

Fancy a pissoir? Relics of Paris streets – from urinals to the Eiffel Tower steps – go on sale

‘Ceausescu’s children’ still paying the price of disastrous social policies

Iran Avows Willingness to Swap Some Uranium

WMD not point of Iraq war, Tony Blair says

Mugabe re-elected Zanu-PF party leader for five more years

Mexico’s drug cartels siphon liquid gold

Interest Rates Are Low, but Banks Balk at Refinancing



By DAVID STREITFELD

Published: December 12, 2009


Mortgage rates in the United States have dropped to their lowest levels since the 1940s, thanks to a trillion-dollar intervention by the federal government. Yet the banks that once handed out home loans freely are imposing such stringent requirements that many homeowners who might want to refinance are effectively locked out.

The scarcity of credit not only hurts homeowners but also has broad economic repercussions at a time when consumer spending and employment are showing modest signs of improvement, hinting at a recovery after two years of recession.

20 Years Of The Simpsons

As the cartoon family turns 20, one of the show’s former writers, Patric Verrone, recalls how a series of 60-second shorts turned into a global phenomenon

Sunday, 13 December 2009

When the show started it was provocative and outrageous. The first President Bush said that he wanted to see families “more like the Waltons than the Simpsons”. When the show came on air, comedy was much softer and less self-referential. Every writer wants the opportunity to work on a show as well known as The Simpsons, but at the time we didn’t know how eternal it would be.

When the show started, the writers were guys in their early thirties who saw themselves as Bart and their fathers as Homer; now they are in their late forties and identify with Homer. That’s why we have more stories with Homer now.

USA

Terrorist recruiters leverage the Web

From YouTube to Pakistan: N.Va. men allegedly drafted to fight U.S. troops abroad

By Griff Witte, Jerry Markon and Shaiq Hussain

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Pakistani authorities on Saturday were searching for an insurgent figure believed to have aided five Northern Virginia men who allegedly tried to join al-Qaeda, saying the case could help unravel a growing network of terrorist recruiters who scour the Internet for radicalized young men.

Investigators have identified the man, known as Saifullah, as a recruiter for the Pakistani Taliban and said he contacted one of the American men on YouTube, exchanged coded e-mails with the group, invited them to Pakistan and guided them once they arrived.

Lost dream restored to Japanese American family

The honorary degree UC Berkeley posthumously bestowed on William Fujioka is a precious validation for his family. He left college behind and enlisted to fight in WWII after his family was interned.  

By Teresa Watanabe

December 13, 2009


For a time, the Fujiokas of Los Angeles lived a life of almost unimaginable abundance for a Japanese immigrant family in the early 20th century. There were white mink stoles and a Steinway grand piano, beachfront property and vacations to Catalina, even enough money to sponsor an Indianapolis 500 racer.

Then came Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and suddenly, the family lost nearly everything.

Asia

China puts Charter 08 founder Liu Xiaobo on path to 15 years in prison

Liu Xiaobo to face trial for inciting subversion as international protest fails to sway Beijing regime

Tania Branigan in Beijing

The Observer, Sunday 13 December 2009


One of China’s leading dissidents has been charged with “inciting subversion”, and faces a possible 15-year jail sentence, amid growing international outrage over his detention and forthcoming trial.

Liu Xiaobo was one of 300 democratic activists in China to author a bold call for constitutional reform last December. The manifesto was published under the name Charter 08, and called for greater freedom of expression, multi-party elections and independent courts. Seen as a figurehead for the movement, Liu was taken into detention shortly before the document was published online. Then, in June, he was formally arrested on suspicion of incitement to subvert state power.

 Insurgent infiltrators terrorise Kabul’s ruling class

From The Sunday Times

December 13, 2009


Miles Amoore in Kabul

TALIBAN insurgents who have infiltrated Kabul are nailing “night letters” to the doors of policemen, soldiers and government workers, warning them to leave their jobs or face punishment.

The militants are being welcomed in the Afghan capital’s poorer areas among inhabitants who are disaffected with corruption, and who supply them with food, cash and weapons.

Safe houses and bomb-making workshops have begun to appear in run-down districts close to the city centre as the militants increase their presence and plot attacks on prominent local targets.

Europe

Fancy a pissoir? Relics of Paris streets – from urinals to the Eiffel Tower steps – go on sale

An auction of historical oddities has prompted a flood of nostalgia among Parisians and foreigners alike. John Lichfield reports

 Sunday, 13 December 2009

You can always have Paris. Or, at least, a small part of it. You could install in the garden your very own cast iron pissoir, or 19th-century gentleman’s street toilet (slightly rusted). You could create a new access to the loft with 40 of the original iron spiral steps from the Eiffel Tower.

More modestly, you could have a garden bench engraved with the arms of the city of Paris, or a piece of broken glass.

A piece of broken glass? Yes, but not any glass. It will come with a certificate guaranteeing that it was smashed during the construction of the glass pyramid which was added to the Louvre in 1987.

‘Ceausescu’s children’ still paying the price of disastrous social policies

From The Times

December 12, 2009


Lucy Bannerman in Tirgu Mures

Iza is about 4ft (1.2m) tall and probably weighs no more than 8st (50kg). She cannot speak but she claps her hands and grins, because tomorrow will be her birthday. She will be 19.

Alex is 22 but he still has to use a bottle for feeding. His jaw muscles never developed because he spent much of his childhood lying twisted and neglected in a metal cot. Two other young women, aged 20 and 21, remain incontinent.

These were among “Ceausescu’s children”, orphaned or abandoned by their parents in a nation struggling to cope with the Romanian dictator’s disastrous social policies. Two decades on, they are still paying the price.

Middle East

Iran Avows Willingness to Swap Some Uranium



By ROBERT F. WORTH

Published: December 12, 2009


BEIRUT, Lebanon – Iran’s foreign minister said Saturday that his country was willing to exchange most of its uranium for processed nuclear fuel from abroad – as the United Nations has proposed – but only according to a timetable that Western powers appear to have already rejected.The statement by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki came just days before a scheduled meeting of the United States and its allies to discuss possible new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program – and may be aimed at trying to divide them, analysts said.

Mr. Mottaki said Iran would agree to hand over 400 kilograms, or 882 pounds, of uranium initially – about a third of the amount proposed in a draft agreement reached under United Nations auspices in October – in exchange for an equivalent amount of enriched material to fuel a medical research reactor, according to Iranian news agencies. The remainder of the material would be traded over “several years.”

WMD not point of Iraq war, Tony Blair says

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the staunchest ally of President Bush, says that absent the WMD claims, he still would have found an argument for invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.

By Henry Chu

December 13, 2009


Reporting from London – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he would have found a justification for invading Iraq even without the now-discredited evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to produce weapons of mass destruction.

“I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean, obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat,” Blair told the BBC in an interview to be broadcast this morning.

It was a startling admission from the onetime British leader, who was President Bush’s staunchest ally in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Africa

Mugabe re-elected Zanu-PF party leader for five more years

Zimbabwe president stays in charge, but party is showing the strain of factional infighting

Alex Duval Smith, Africa correspondent

The Observer, Sunday 13 December 2009


President Robert Mugabe was re-elected yesterday as leader of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF at a depleted party congress in the capital Harare, which showed signs of strain after officials struggled to raise funds for the five-yearly traditional jamboree.

On Friday, Mugabe, 85, used his speech to decry factionalism in his party, the Zimbabwe African Union-Patriotic Front. “There are too many leaders now outside the scope of the leaders provided for in our constitution,” he said, adding that the party was “eating itself up”.

Latin America

Mexico’s drug cartels siphon liquid gold

Bold theft of $1 billion in oil, resold in U.S., has dealt a major blow to the treasury

By Steve Fainaru and William Booth

washington post foreign service

Sunday, December 13, 2009


MALTRATA, MEXICO — Drug traffickers employing high-tech drills, miles of rubber hose and a fleet of stolen tanker trucks have siphoned more than $1 billion worth of oil from Mexico’s pipelines over the past two years, in a vast and audacious conspiracy that is bleeding the national treasury, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials and the state-run oil company.

Using sophisticated smuggling networks, the traffickers have transported a portion of the pilfered petroleum across the border to sell to U.S. companies, some of which knew that it was stolen, according to court documents and interviews with American officials involved in an expanding investigation of oil services firms in Texas.

Ignoring Asia A Blog

1 comment

    • RiaD on December 13, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    it’s hard to believe the simpsons have been on for 20 yrs.

    i’ll return to read the rest a bit later….

    your stories look very interesting today

    ♥~

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