Docudharma Times Sunday January 31

Sunday’s Headlines:

U.S. steps up arms sales to Persian Gulf allies

The private space race takes off

Tough old soldier battles new enemy: Suicide epidemic

How the aged and frail are exploited in Washington’s adult family homes

Pope Benedict must bang heads together in his riven Scottish church

Kremlin takes its revenge on the oligarchs

Japan’s whalers are at sea again, harvesting meat that few will eat

Hamid Karzai fails Taliban who gave up arms

Iran’s opposition leaders call for big turnout on anniversary of ’79 revolution

Respect has replaced hatred in the country Mandela built

UN chief Ban urges Sudan unity ahead of African summit

Haiti patients ‘will die’ because of US airlift halt

Recruits seek out al-Qaeda’s deadly embrace across a growing arc of jihadist terror

Just two years ago al-Qaeda was believed to be on the back foot. Now the jihadist group is attracting ever more recruits across a growing arc of terror.

Reporting team: Richard Spencer in Riyadh, Adrian Blomfield in Sana’a, Mike Pflanz in Nairobi, Ben Farmer in Kabul, Colin Freeman in London, and Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent

Published: 8:15AM GMT 31 Jan 2010

Bored, depressed and stuck in a dead-end job, Khaled al-Bawardi. spent just a few hours watching jihadi videos to convince himself that he wanted to fight for militant Islam.

It took another six years in Guantanamo Bay, plus a year in religious rehab in Saudi Arabia, to realise there might be better career options.”When I was young, I thought these people were angels and we had to follow them,” said Mr Bawardi, formerly Inmate 68 at Guantanamo and one of hundreds of Saudi al Qaeda suspects arrested after the US invasion of Afghanistan. “Now, though, I can see between right and wrong.”

Quietly-spoken, and dressed in a traditional Arab robe and keffiya, Mr Bawardi is an alumnus of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Counselling and Care outside Riyadh, where for the last two years, batches of former Guantanamo inmates have undergone religious “deprogramming” in exchange for their liberty.


U.S. steps up arms sales to Persian Gulf allies

By Joby Warrick

Sunday, January 31, 2010

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — The Obama administration is quietly working with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to speed up arms sales and rapidly upgrade defenses for oil terminals and other key infrastructure in a bid to thwart future military attacks by Iran, according to former and current U.S. and Middle Eastern government officials.

The initiatives, including a U.S.-backed plan to triple the size of a 10,000-man protection force in Saudi Arabia, are part of a broader push that includes unprecedented coordination of air defenses and expanded joint exercises between the U.S. and Arab militaries, the officials said. All appear to be aimed at increasing pressure on Tehran.

The private space race takes off

Want to be an astronaut? As NASA’s shuttle program winds down, companies hurry to fill the void.

By W.J. Hennigan

January 30, 2010 | 7:55 p.m

Within the next decade, the stereotypical space traveler may no longer be a square-jawed fighter pilot but a wealthy Internet geek with deep pockets.

Or at least that’s what a crop of gutsy space entrepreneurs hope.

For half a century, venturing into space has been the primary domain of governments that can afford to spend billions of dollars to develop and send massive rockets into orbit. But modern-day industrialists believe a privately funded commercial space industry is poised to blast off.


Tough old soldier battles new enemy: Suicide epidemic

Sunday, January 31, 2010

By Halimah Abdullah | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Rhodes keeps pictures of the dead in his pockets.

They’re the faces of young soldiers whose eyes stare out resolutely from photocopied pages worn and creased by the ritual of unfolding them, smoothing them flat and refolding them.

They’re the faces of men who, haunted by problems at home or memories of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the dead children, the fallen comrades and the lingering smell of burnt flesh – pressed guns to their heads and pulled the triggers or tied ropes with military precision and hanged themselves.

How the aged and frail are exploited in Washington’s adult family homes

Adult family homes in the state are seen as a national model, and in King County alone, they’ve become more plentiful than Starbucks stores. But the explosive growth, fueled by profiteers and a lack of careful state regulation, is leaving thousands of people vulnerable to harm.

By Michael J. Berens

Seattle Times staff reporter

The location of the home was secret. Only potential buyers with a $500,000 line of credit could learn its Seattle address. The seller insisted on discretion because the price included three frail seniors who lived inside.

A Bothell real-estate listing last year touted five seniors for $120,000, “sold separately” from the home. Bids for five vulnerable adults in Arlington opened at $90,000 – “cash only.”

These deals aren’t illegal. Washington officials not only know about it, they allow it.

Twenty years ago, the state Department of Social and Health Services began licensing homeowners to provide spare bedrooms and care for the old or frail who might otherwise have to live in nursing homes.


Pope Benedict must bang heads together in his riven Scottish church

The pope should use his visit later this year to bring some much needed order to his flock

Kevin McKenna

The Observer, Sunday 31 January 2010

Last Wednesday morning dawned grey and irritable in Cumbernauld and the sons and grandsons of John Leach stooped slightly to bear his remains to their final resting place. It had been a sombre yet uplifting requiem mass to mark the passing of a good life lived to the brim. Even so, the choice of the final hymn even by the studied irony of west of Scotland standards, did seem a mite on the jaunty side. “Give me joy in my heart,” gives way to a chorus of “sing hosanna to the king of kings”. Had the song been chosen merely owing to the deceased’s commitment to the alternative version where “Henrik Larsson is the king of kings”?

The following day, Scotland would wake to the news that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Glasgow and Edinburgh in September, the first time a pope has been here since John Paul II visited in 1982.

Kremlin takes its revenge on the oligarchs

Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s second trial for fraud has already lasted nearly a year. But his real ‘crime’ is to have crossed Vladimir Putin

By Shaun Walker Sunday, 31 January 2010

On the second floor of a scruffy courtroom in central Moscow, the stairwell reeking of fried potatoes and the floor wet and dirty from the snow melting off boots, Russia’s most famous prisoners undergo yet another day in their seemingly interminable trial.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia’s richest man, and his former business partner Platon Lebedev are taken each day from their holding cells at Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina prison, bundled into a cage in a police van and driven to the courtroom. Already sentenced to eight years in prison, Mr Khodorkovsky is now undergoing a second trial, widely dismissed as even more of a farce than the first, that could see him put behind bars for a further two decades.


Japan’s whalers are at sea again, harvesting meat that few will eat

By April, another 900 whales will have died for little profit. So what drives the Japanese to go on defying world opinion?

By David McNeill in Tokyo  Sunday, 31 January 2010

In an annual ritual as seemingly unstoppable as the tides, Japan’s whaling fleet is again ploughing the Southern Ocean hunting and killing whales. Bitterly criticised, harried by eco-warriors on Sea Shepherd’s ships and tracked by the world’s media, the fleet may be slowed but it won’t be stopped. On its return to port in April, the refrigerated holds are likely to be stuffed with the meat from 850 minkes and 50 fin whales. Next year, 50 endangered humpbacks could be added to the list.

Japan has so far been largely inoculated from debate on the annual cull, but that may be about to change. Next month sees the first public hearing in the trial of Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, accused of trespass and theft in their attempt to expose the embezzlement of whale meat by crew members on board the fleet, who sold it for personal gain. Activists believe the so-called Tokyo Two case could put the entire whaling programme in Japan on trial.

Hamid Karzai fails Taliban who gave up arms

From The Sunday Times

January 31, 2010

Marie Colvin in Pul-i-Alam, Logar province

THE room the Taliban commander Mullah Mohammad now calls home, after bringing his 21 fighters to join the Afghan government’s reintegration programme earlier this month, is barely more comfortable than the mountain redoubt he left.

He sits on a thin mat and leans against the wall, his skin dark and weathered, facing the battered Kalashnikovs and a vintage Russian mortar launcher he surrendered in return for promises of money, jobs and land for him and his men.

Instead, the peace and reconciliation commission (known as PTS, its acronym in Dari), set up by the president, Hamid Karzai, in 2005, handed them letters guaranteeing free passage. And nothing else. Mohammad, 48, is stunned and speaks slowly.

Middle East

Iran’s opposition leaders call for big turnout on anniversary of ’79 revolution

Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi condemn recent executions, seen as an attempt to intimidate the green movement. But a hard-liner warns that protesters would be ‘firmly confronted.’

By Borzou Daragahi

January 31, 2010  

Reporting from Beirut – Leaders of Iran’s opposition movement and the country’s hard-line establishment sharpened their months-long confrontation Saturday, with opponents calling on demonstrators to take to the streets on a highly charged anniversary next week and the judiciary putting 16 alleged protesters on trial.

Opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi voiced deep sorrow over the “hasty” executions of two Iranians hanged last week in a move widely interpreted as an attempt at intimidation ahead of anticipated confrontations Feb. 11, the 31st anniversary of the 1979 founding of the Islamic Republic.


Respect has replaced hatred in the country Mandela built

Don’t believe the worst that you hear about South Africa. Its problems, while rooted in decades of divide, are surmountable

John Carlin

The Observer, Sunday 31 January 2010

FW de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president, stunned the world on 2 February 1990 when he announced the lifting of the ban on the African National Congress, after three decades of illegality, and the imminent release of its leader, Nelson Mandela, after more than 27 years in prison. Black South Africans reacted with joyful stupefaction; white South Africans, programmed to view Mandela as the vengeful terrorist who would thrown them all into the sea, were in shock, none more so than the parliamentary caucus of the far right Conservative party.

The caucus held an emergency meeting at which their leader, Andries Treurnicht, better known as “Dr No”, read a thunderous passage from the Old Testament, preparing his co-religionists for holy war.

UN chief Ban urges Sudan unity ahead of African summit

The UN secretary general has urged African leaders to work for national unity in Sudan to avoid the south of the country seceding from the north.

The BBC Sunday, 31 January 2010

Ban Ki-moon’s appeal comes as the African Union is due to hold its summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Mr Ban said both the UN and AU had a big responsibility “to maintain peace in Sudan and make unity attractive”.

A referendum is due next year on whether the oil-rich south should become independent.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said he will accept the result of the poll even if the south voted for independence.

The theme of the three-day AU summit in Addis Ababa is information and technology.

Latin America

Haiti patients ‘will die’ because of US airlift halt

US doctors in Haiti have voiced concern about the suspension of evacuation flights to America for critically injured Haitian earthquake victims.

The BBC  Sunday, 31 January 2010

A senior US medic told the BBC that scores of patients could die if they did not get treatment in the US soon.

The US military stopped the flights to Florida on Wednesday.

A White House spokesman told the BBC the move was due to “logistical issues”, not over medical costs as had been reported earlier.

In a separate development, Haitian officials have detained at least nine US nationals on suspicion that they tried to take more than 30 children out of the country without authorisation.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme said it had established fixed sites for food distribution in the Haitian capital, Port au Prince, where only women would will be allowed in to collect earthquake relief.

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