Docudharma Times Thursday January 21

Thursday’s Headlines:

Obama to Propose Limits on Risks Taken by Banks

Swine flu wasn’t overhyped – research meant we had to play it safe

Intelligence chief says FBI was too hasty in handling of attempted bombing

Park City at Midnight is getting special attention

Robert Fisk: The tree-lined bunkers that could change the face of the Middle East

Aid workers ‘being pushed out’ of Palestinian areas

Long prison sentences handed down to Vietnamese dissidents

Taliban leaders ‘offered asylum’ under London peace plan

Body scanners are nothing new in Russia

Why German public schools now teach Islam

Andy Kershaw: Stop treating these people like savages


Obama to Propose Limits on Risks Taken by Banks


Published: January 20, 2010

WASHINGTON – President Obama on Thursday will publicly propose giving bank regulators the power to limit the size of the nation’s largest banks and the scope of their risk-taking activities, an administration official said late Wednesday.

The president, for the first time, will throw his weight behind an approach long championed by Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and an adviser to the Obama administration. The proposal will put limits on bank size and prohibit commercial banks from trading for their own accounts – known as proprietary trading.

The White House intends to work closely with the House and Senate to include these proposals in whatever bill dealing with financial regulation finally emerges from Congress.

Swine flu wasn’t overhyped – research meant we had to play it safe

There was no conspiracy or panic. Scientists were right to prepare us for a major crisis

Tom Sheldon

The Guardian, Thursday 21 January 2010

Simon Jenkins’s distaste for scientists leads him to declare that they deliberately overstate risks, and make panic predictions (Swine flu was as elusive as WMD. The real threat is mad scientist syndrome, 15 January). In reality, scientists worked calmly – not “frantically” as Jenkins asserts – to predict the progress of the disease and to understand risk.

Jenkins says of the initial predictions about the spread of swine flu: “The chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, bandied about any figure that came into his head, settling on ‘65,000 could die’, peaking at 350 corpses a day.”

Worst-case predictions are not figures plucked out the air “to convey plausibility”, but result from well-researched computer simulations.


Intelligence chief says FBI was too hasty in handling of attempted bombing

By Spencer S. Hsu and Jennifer Agiesta

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day should have been interrogated by special terrorism investigators instead of FBI agents, the nation’s intelligence chief said Wednesday, adding that senior national security officials were not consulted before FBI and Justice Department authorities questioned him and pursued criminal charges.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair faulted the decision not to use the “High Value Interrogation Group” (HIG) to question alleged al-Qaeda operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Park City at Midnight is getting special attention

‘Paranormal Activity’s’ box-office success puts focus on the section of the festival that features low-budget horrors and raunch.

By John Horn and Steven Zeitchik

January 21, 2010

Midnight at the Sundance Film Festival is usually when most Hollywood types are just starting to party. But at this year’s 26th annual showcase of independent film, many film buyers will be heading in a different direction: late-night sales screenings.

The festival, beginning today in Park City, Utah, has yielded the art-house breakouts “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Reservoir Dogs.” Over the next 10 days, though, distributors could be less interested in potential award-winners than carnage and comedy.

Middle East

Robert Fisk: The tree-lined bunkers that could change the face of the Middle East

The border looks peaceful, but Hizbollah and Israel are preparing for war

Thursday, 21 January 2010

It looks like a hop, skip and a jump. There’s the first electrified fence, then the dirt strip to identify footprints, then the tarmac road, then one more electrified fence, and then acres and acres of trees. Orchards rather than tanks. Galilee spreads beyond, soft and moist and dark green in the winter afternoon – a peaceful Israel, you might think. And a peaceful Lebanon to the north, tobacco plantations amid the stony hills, just an occasional UN armoured vehicle to keep you on your toes. “Major Pardin says you cannot take pictures,” a Malaysian UN soldier tells me. Then a second one says the same. Then along comes a Lebanese army intelligence officer and stares at our papers. “OK, you have permission,” he declares, and I snap away with my old 36-frame real-film Nikon; the fields, the frontier fence, the high-tech surveillance tower on the horizon. This must be the most photographed border in the world.

Aid workers ‘being pushed out’ of Palestinian areas

From Times Online

January 21, 2010

James Hider in Jerusalem

Israel has stopped issuing work permits to foreign aid workers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, sparking fears about the future of relief operations in the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli Interior Ministry has issued only tourist visas to aid groups such as Oxfam, Médecins sans Frontières and Save the Children since before Christmas. They say that their legal situation is now precarious and that some staff have been denied entry by Israeli border officials who also control all entry to the West Bank.

The move came amid pressure from right-wing Israeli groups to crack down on non-governmental organisations, which are often seen as having a political, anti-Israeli bias.


Long prison sentences handed down to Vietnamese dissidents

From Times Online

January 21, 2010

 Richard Lloyd Parry

Leading Vietnamese dissidents, including a human rights lawyer and an anti-government blogger, received long jail sentences on Wednesday in the latest sign of an ongoing crackdown on its domestic critics by the country’s Communist Government.

Foreign governments and human rights organisations denounced the sentences for alleged attempts to overthrow the Government with non-violent acts of opposition, including membership of an underground opposition party and pressing for a multiparty system and democratic elections.

Prominent among the accused was Le Cong Dinh, a 41-year-old lawyer who has unsuccessfully defended several other dissidents and who received a five-year prison sentence.

Taliban leaders ‘offered asylum’ under London peace plan

Taliban leaders could be offered exile abroad and have their names deleted from a UN sanctions blacklist as part of a peace plan for Afghanistan to be unveiled in London next week.

By Ben Farmer in Kabul

Published: 6:30PM GMT 20 Jan 2010

A briefing paper on the Afghan government’s proposals seen by The Daily Telegraph says any peace deal may include “potential exile in a third country” for insurgent leaders.

The document does not name any country, but Saudi Arabia, which recognised the former Taliban regime, is believed to be a possible candidate to give leaders a new life.

The plan was endorsed by Afghan ministers and the international community in Kabul on Tuesday. It envisages a twin-track strategy aiming separately at foot soldiers and the leadership.

After eight years of intensifying fighting Nato commanders have acknowledged political negotiation is the only solution to the worsening fighting.


Body scanners are nothing new in Russia

A meeting of the EU’s interior and justice ministers takes place this Thursday to discuss the introduction of body scanners. But the scanners, which show passengers naked, have been in use in Russia for three years.

AVIATION | 21.01.2010

All 27 of the European Union’s interior and justice ministers are expected to be present at an informal meeting in Toledo, Spain on Thursday to discuss airport security and the introduction of so-called body scanners. The discussion is the EU’s response to the failed terrorist attack on a Delta Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit at the end of December.

Privacy concerns

The scanners have sparked controversy because they allow security personnel to see nude images of passengers, and many critics condemn them as an unethical intrusion into privacy.

While most EU countries are still agonizing over the pros and cons, the scanners have been part of the daily routine for passengers and security agents for almost three years at Moscow’s Domodevodo Airport, the most modern airport in Russia.

Why German public schools now teach Islam

Public schools in Germany must offer religion classes, and pilot courses in Islam are now being offered in addition to established programs in Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

By Isabelle de Pommereau Correspondent / January 20, 2010

Dinslaken-Lohberg, Germany

When Lamya Kaddor started teaching at the Gluecklauf School in this mining town, where most children are of Turkish origin, she didn’t expect her “Islamic Studies in German” class to focus on everyday life.

But it has, says Ms. Kaddor, a Muslim whose parents are Syrian. Her students ask all sorts of questions: “Is it OK to have boyfriends? Can I wear nail polish? Will I go to hell if I’m gay?”

Germany’s Constitution stipulates that religion be part of school curriculum. The initiative was born out of the atrocities of the Nazi era, and aimed at giving young people an ethical foundation and a sense of identity. Roman Catholics and Protestants have conducted such classes (publicly funded) for decades, and Jews were given similar rights in 2003.

Latin America

Andy Kershaw: Stop treating these people like savages

Haitians have faced their tragedy with dignity and stoicism – not that you would know it from the way the disaster has been reported

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Just a couple of hours before the earthquake hammered poor Haiti, I was reorganising my bookshelves at home. In the Haiti section I came across a lovely old volume I’d bought from a wandering bookseller in Port-au-Prince on one of my many visits to the former “Pearl of the Antilles”, once – incredibly – the richest colony in the world.

The book, Haiti Cherie, published in 1953, was clearly intended for the souvenir stalls – in the days when Haiti had tourists. The full-page photos show a Haiti, and particularly the architectural splendours of Port-au-Prince, during what was known as la belle époque, that period between the Second World War and the arrival, in 1957, of the crazed Duvalier father-and-son dynastical dictatorship in the now-crumpled presidential palace (which was designed and built by British architects and engineers).

Ignoring Asia A Blog


    • Edger on January 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm
    • RiaD on January 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    i’m still not reading much news….

    i’m getting over a cold & not in a very good frame of mind.

    thank you for bringing it here though….

    soon i’ll want to catch up. you make it easy to do so.


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