Prop. 8 trial to include unprecedented testimony
Challengers of the same-sex marriage ban plan to call to the stand homosexual couples, experts on the history of sexual discrimination and marriage, and the architects of the ballot measure.
By Maura Dolan
January 11, 2010
Scholars, gay and lesbian partners and opponents of same-sex marriage are expected to testify about the nature of marriage and homosexuality during an unprecedented federal trial today to determine whether gays and lesbians may marry.
The case, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, is expected to become a landmark that eventually will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Both sides have hired leading legal advocates with lots of experience before the high court.
Can Oliver Stone show us the human side of Hitler?
Director describes subject of his new project as ‘easy scapegoat’
By Stephen Foley in New York Monday, 11 January 2010
Oliver Stone has never been one to spot a historical controversy without steaming towards it, but the latest project from the film-maker behind JFK and W threatens to pitch him into more dangerously hot water than ever before.
The director is battening down the hatches already, saying he fully expects “ignorant attacks” on a new documentary series in which he is promising to “liberalise” Hitler and to finger US corporations for their role in the rise of National Socialism in Germany.
Freeze Threatens Florida’s Tropical Fish
By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: January 10, 2010
LAKELAND, Fla. – Frosted oranges, strawberries encased in ice: the images of Florida’s freezes are familiar, sad and earthy. But just past the crop rows here in the state’s agricultural core, there swims another sizable industry that has suffered more than any other because of this year’s unusually long cold snap – tropical fish.
The little guys are dying by the millions.
A severe guppy shortage has already emerged, according to distributors, while fish farmers statewide expect losses of more than 50 percent as African cichlids, marble mollies, danios and other cheerful-looking varieties sink like pebbles to the bottom of freshwater ponds across Florida.
“It could be devastating,” said Ray Quillen, the owner of Urban Tropical, holding a few angelfish he hoped to save by moving them to indoor tanks. “Not just for me, but for everyone.”
Dingells and GM illustrate limits of congressional conflict-of-interest rules
By Kimberly Kindy and Robert E. O’Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 11, 2010
They met in the first-class cabin on a bumpy flight between Detroit and Washington, a gruff lion of a lawmaker from Michigan and a young lobbyist for General Motors, granddaughter of one of the company’s pioneer executives.
Rep. John D. Dingell Jr. (D), then 55 and one of the most powerful men in the country, usually did not talk to seatmates. He made an exception for Debbie Insley because she was a white-knuckle flier nervous about the turbulence. Despite their 27-year age difference, they hit it off, and in 1981 she became his second wife.
Their union brought together very divergent interests: the lawmaker’s obligation to craft legislation that serves the public and his wife’s financial dependency on an industry whose fortunes were directly affected by Congress.
Iran’s parliament exposes abuse of opposition prisoners at Tehran jail
• Former chief prosecutor blamed in MPs’ report
• Three activists died at detention centre
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 10 January 2010 21.55 GMT
Iranian MPs lifted a blanket of official denial on the country’s post-election upheaval today by blaming a senior regime insider for abuses that led to the deaths of at least three prisoners in a detention centre.
In the first publicly documented admission that abuses occurred in the weeks after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, the majlis, Iran’s parliament, identified Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran’s former chief prosecutor, as the main culprit in the scandal over the Kahrizak facility.
A report read out to MPs said 147 prisoners had been held in a 70-square-metre room for four days without proper ventilation, heating and food on Mortazavi’s orders.
UK troops ‘executed Iraqi grandmother’
Royal Military Police investigate latest allegation of abuse in Basra
By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor Monday, 11 January 2010
Allegations that a 62-year-old Iraqi grandmother was tortured and executed by British soldiers after her family home was raided three years ago are being investigated by the Royal Military Police.
The Army’s involvement in the death and abuse of Sabiha Khudur Talib is one of the most serious charges to be made against Britain during its six-year occupation of southern Iraq.
UK government ministers are to be given previously unseen police reports from a Basra crime unit which conclude that Mrs Talib’s body was dumped on a roadside in a British body bag in November 2006. There was a bullet hole in her abdomen and her face had injuries consistent with torture, police reported.
Rajapaksa woos minority Tamils as Sri Lanka presidential vote nears
From The Times
January 11, 2010
Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent
President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka took his re-election campaign to the Tamil heartland of Jaffna yesterday on his first visit to the region since his army defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May.
Mr Rajapaksa, who is facing a presidential election in two weeks’ time, promised to speed up reconstruction and resettlement efforts for the 300,000 Tamils who fled from the conflict zone and were detained in internment camps until last month. “The President moved about freely and spoke with the civilians,” his spokesman, Chandrapala Liyanage, said.
The visit came just over a week after a similar campaign trip to Jaffna by General Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief who led the campaign against the Tigers but is now the main contender in the election.
North Korea calls for peace treaty
North Korea has said it could return to talks on its nuclear disarmament in exchange for a peace treaty with the US and an end to sanctions.
The BBC Monday, 11 January 2010
The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a ceasefire but not a peace treaty.
The North’s statement came as a US envoy said Pyongyang must improve its “appalling” human rights record if it wants better relations with the US.
Robert King, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights, is on his first official trip to South Korea.
In a statement carried on North Korea’s official news agency, the foreign ministry said: “It is essential to conclude a peace treaty for terminating the state of war, a root cause of the hostile relations” between Pyongyang and the US.
Pope denounces violence between Rosarno townsfolk and immigrants
From The Times
January 11, 2010
Josephine McKenna in Rome
The Pope has denounced the violent clashes between Italians and illegal immigrants that have injured dozens in the southern town of Rosarno in the past few days.
Residents are reported to have beaten immigrants with iron bars, shot at them and run over them. Nine were injured, two seriously, in two nights of racially charged violence.
The Pope denounced the clashes during his weekly blessing at the Vatican as Italian authorities evacuated more than 1,100 immigrants from Rosarno, in southern Calabria, after attacks on African farm workers provoked clashes with residents.
“The immigrant is a human being, different in culture and tradition but one who should be respected all the same,” the Pope said. “And violence should never be used as a way to resolve difficulties.”
Nicolas Sarkozy to create school for spies
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has decided to create a “school for spies”, in the hope that it will help unify the country’s intelligence community.
Published: 7:00AM GMT 11 Jan 2010
The school – to be based in the Ecole Militaire, near the Eiffel Tower – will admit only senior spy chiefs. Rather than teaching aspiring James Bonds how to kill people with an umbrella, it will be an espionage “staff academy”, whose principal role will be to forge a single culture out of competing agencies.
French intelligence and security agencies have often been accused of fighting one another as much as France’s enemies, the Independent reports.The first head of the new “intelligence academy” is likely to be named in the next few days. According to Le Monde, the school’s chief will be a woman with no previous experience of espionage. She is at present a senior figure in one of the grandes écoles, or elite university-level French colleges.
Rwanda’s community courts: a unique experiment in justice
How effective is Rwanda’s solution to the huge backlog of cases in the wake of the 1994 genocide?
The Guardian, Monday 11 January 2010
‘I feel bad I killed the child because he was innocent,” the man says softly. “I wanted to tell the court everything so I can be reconciled with his family.” In the shade of an acacia tree, on benches borrowed from a nearby church, Kalisa Surayimani has just been appealing against a life sentence alongside 10 relatives. One of Rwanda’s final gacaca courts – the community trials set up to try those accused of taking part in the country’s 1994 genocide. Between them Kalisa and his family have been convicted of killing more than 100 people.
Established in 2001, gacaca courts represent a unique experiment in collaborative justice. Based on the traditional system for settling local disputes, the judges are “people of integrity” from the community; the trials take place in the open air (named after the grass on which they are held) with survivors and witnesses raising their hands if they want to interject.
How football put Angola’s war back in the spotlight
Separatists used African Cup of Nations to remind world of their cause
By Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent Monday, 11 January 2010
The Angolan separatist group that carried out the deadly ambush on the Togolese national football team at the African Nations Cup has vowed to strike again. The year in which sporting events will decide Africa’s standing in the world has barely begun, and one of the continent’s almost-forgotten and least understood conflicts is threatening to dash optimists’ hopes.
The strike in the troubled Angolan enclave of Cabinda underlines how a simple surprise attack can embarrass an overconfident or underprepared government, drawing international attention to an obscure struggle.
Tijuana reels amid a surge of violence
After some gains in Mexico’s drug war in 2009, Tijuana has had a bloody turn of events in the new year. More than a dozen people, four of them students, were reported slain in the last week.
By Richard Marosi
January 11, 2010
Reporting from Tijuana – It’s been a bloody new year so far in this violence-racked city, leaving authorities stunned and apparently speechless. Three teenagers in school uniforms were mowed down by automatic-weapons fire Wednesday. Another youth was shot multiple times last week as he sat in his car outside his parents’ upscale home.
Four people were decapitated, at least 10 people were killed in drive-by attacks, and five people were kidnapped, including two security guards and a prominent businessman.