Docudharma Times Tuesday December 22

Tuesday’s Headlines:

US forces mounted secret Pakistan raids in hunt for al-Qaida


Efforts Lag at Making Highway Work Zones Safer

States’ jobless funds are being drained in recession

Help end Gaza blockade, aid groups urge EU

Cleric’s funeral breathes life into Iran’s protest movement

Auschwitz sign was ‘stolen for trophy hunters’

Cryptic signatures that ‘prove Shakespeare was a secret Catholic’

China rejects UK claims it hindered Copenhagen talks

Weapons seizure hits North Korea hard

Somalia’s chaos spreading far beyond its frontier and coastline

UN: Guinea military junta leader Camara responsible for massacre

US forces mounted secret Pakistan raids in hunt for al-Qaida

Former Nato officer reveals secret night operations in border region which America kept quiet

Declan Walsh in Islamabad, Monday 21 December 2009 21.18 GMT

American special forces have conducted multiple clandestine raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas as part of a secret war in the border region where Washington is pressing to expand its drone assassination programme.

A former Nato officer said the incursions, only one of which has been previously reported, occurred between 2003 and 2008, involved helicopter-borne elite soldiers stealing across the border at night, and were never declared to the Pakistani government.

“The Pakistanis were kept entirely in the dark about it. It was one of those things we wouldn’t confirm officially with them,” said the source, who had detailed knowledge of the operations.


by Alan Boyle

The highest highlight of 2009 was clearly the revival of the Hubble Space Telescope, a mission that blended moments of beauty and brute force 350 miles above the earth.

Or was it?

Maybe the top story was the reassessment of NASA’s plans for human spaceflight. After all, tens of billions of dollars could be at stake. Or maybe it was the series of victories in NASA-backed competitions that had gone unwon for years.

For scientific significance, it’s hard to beat this year’s confirmation that the moon holds significant reserves of water.


Efforts Lag at Making Highway Work Zones Safer


Published: December 21, 2009

By the time Bryan Lee headed to work along Highway 51 in Texas on Sept. 15, 2005, the road-building industry and its government overseers were painfully aware of a deadly, though easily corrected, construction hazard: pavement-edge drop-offs.

Accidents involving dangerous drop-offs kill about 160 people and injure 11,000 each year. Numerous studies have shown that the steeper the drop-off, the greater the danger.

In Texas in 2002, seven people were killed when a car slipped off a sharp edge of roadway and onto the shoulder, causing the driver to overcorrect into the path of a minivan.

States’ jobless funds are being drained in recession


By Peter Whoriskey

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The recession’s jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks.

The shortfalls are putting pressure on governments to either raise taxes or shrink the aid payments.

Debates over the state benefit programs have erupted in South Carolina, Nevada, Kansas, Vermont and Indiana. And the budget gaps are expected to spread and become more acute in the coming year, compelling legislators in many states to reconsider their operations.

Middle East

Help end Gaza blockade, aid groups urge EU

Ian Black, Middle East editor

The Guardian, Tuesday 22 December 2009

The EU should commit itself to ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip and put its relations with Israel on hold pending tangible progress, 16 humanitarian and human rights organisations say today in a report marking the first anniversary of the war.

Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Cafod, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians and 11 other agencies criticise Israel for banning the import of materials urgently needed for reconstruction but also lambast world powers for not doing enough to help after last year’s three-week Cast Lead offensive, in which some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

Cleric’s funeral breathes life into Iran’s protest movement

Clashes with security forces as huge crowds turn out to mourn religious leader who supported reform

By Kim Sengupta Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the eminent cleric and champion of reform, turned into a mass protest in Iran yesterday as the vast crowd chanted slogans against the government and clashed on the streets with security forces.

The mourners, who reportedly numbered up to a million, had come out to observe a “national day of sorrow”. They were on the streets of Qom at the urging of defeated presidential candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in highly contentious elections earlier this year.

Despite the authorities’ efforts to limit attendance, reformist website Jaras reported mourners beating their chests and shouting: “Innocent Montazeri, your path will be continued even if the dictator should rain bullets on our heads.” Reuters reported that tear gas had been released and shots fired near the city’s main shrine.


Auschwitz sign was ‘stolen for trophy hunters’

Arrested men were professional criminals ‘without links to extremists’

By Tony Paterson in Berlin Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Police and Holocaust experts have said that Nazi memorabilia collectors were behind the theft of the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign that has been recovered three days after it was stolen from the entrance of the former Auschwitz death camp.

Five men, aged between 20 and 39, were arrested late on Sunday after the sign, with the cynical inscription that means “Work sets you free”, was torn from its mountings at the camp early on Friday prompting international outrage, a major police investigation and the tightening of controls at Poland’s borders.

Cryptic signatures that ‘prove Shakespeare was a secret Catholic’

From The Times

December 22, 2009

Richard Owen in Rome

Three mysterious signatures on pages of parchment bound in leather and kept under lock and key may prove the theory that William Shakespeare was a secret Catholic who spent his “lost years” in Italy.

An exhibition at the Venerable English College, the seminary in Rome for English Catholic priests, has revealed cryptic names in its guest books for visiting pilgrims, suggesting that the playwright sought refuge there.

“Arthurus Stratfordus Wigomniensis” signed the book in 1585, while “Gulielmus Clerkue Stratfordiensis” arrived in 1589.


China rejects UK claims it hindered Copenhagen talks

China has dismissed allegations made by a British minister that it was responsible for the near collapse of climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband had singled out China for vetoing an agreement on limiting emissions.

Beijing said his comments were part of a political scheme to “provoke discord among developing countries”.

The Copenhagen summit ended without the 192 countries present reaching a firm agreement on climate change.

The delegates simply committed to “taking note” of a deal recognising the need to limit temperature rises to 2C.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu did not mention Mr Miliband by name, but in comments reported by the Xinhua state news agency, she said statements from “certain British politicians” were “plainly a political scheme”.

The aim, she said, was “to shirk responsibilities that should be assumed towards developing countries, and to provoke discord among developing countries”.

Weapons seizure hits North Korea hard

Southeast Asia

By Brian McCartan

BANGKOK – The detention in Thailand of a cargo plane transporting weapons and the arrest of its crew remain shrouded in mystery. The destination of the weapons and identity of their buyers is uncertain. American officials and analysts believe, however, that the intervention dealt a blow to North Korea’s arms sales.

The Air West flight’s outbound journey was normal enough. After leaving Ukraine, the aircraft stopped to refuel in Azerbaijan, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bangkok before landing in Pyongyang. After picking up the cargo in North Korea, the crew told authorities, the flight was scheduled to stop in Bangkok, Sri Lanka, the UAE and finally Ukraine. What they haven’t told investigators is where they planned to offload the weapons.

Thai authorities are baffled about why the plane stopped in Bangkok on the return trip since Thailand is known for close ties to the United States.


Somalia’s chaos spreading far beyond its frontier and coastline

From The Times

December 22, 2009

Tristan McConnell in Nairobi

On the first Thursday in December a young Danish-Somali man in women’s clothes blew himself up in a suicide attack in Mogadishu. Four days earlier, Somali pirates had hijacked a 300,000-tonne supertanker 800 miles out to sea. Somalia’s abject failure does not end at its own borders: the chaos is spreading far across its frontiers and beyond its coastline.

Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents denied responsibility for that suicide bombing. No one believed them. Civilians braved the streets of Mogadishu to protest against the attack that killed dozens of medical students and marked a new low in the country’s violent history.

“It was unprecedented even by Somalia’s bloody standards,” said Rashid Abdi, a Somalia analyst at the International Crisis Group. “They knew the civilian casualties would be massive and they didn’t care.”

UN: Guinea military junta leader Camara responsible for massacre

A leaked UN report finds Guinea military junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara directly responsible for the massacre of more than 150 pro-democracy demonstrators in September.

By Louis Charbonneau Reuters / December 21, 2009

United Nations

Guinea’s junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara bears direct responsibility for the Sept. 28 killings by security forces of more than 150 pro-democracy marchers, according to leaked UN findings on Monday.

Guinea, the world’s top exporter of bauxite and a pivotal country for the security of West Africa, has been on the brink of chaos since the massacre and a botched assassination attempt against Camara on Dec. 3 by his former aide de camp.

Camara, who has not been seen in public since he was rushed to Morocco for medical treatment after the attempt on his life, could face international prosecution for crimes against humanity if the report’s findings are followed up.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


    • RiaD on December 22, 2009 at 14:05

    article on shakespeare…. but i wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s proof that shakespeare was a secret catholic.

    thank you for my news each day mishima!

    i really appreciate it…


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