Marjah residents skeptical of NATO promises
Some in the Taliban town just want troops to clear out bombs and leave
MARJAH, Afghanistan – The Taliban’s white flag no longer flies over villages across this militant stronghold. Afghan and NATO troops have replaced it with Afghanistan’s official green-and-red banner, which they promise heralds new schools and clinics and good governance.
But residents have heard that before, and for many, Taliban rule hasn’t been all that bad. Plenty of Afghans have made a living off the opium trade, which also funds the insurgency. While some residents greet NATO forces with tea, others just want the troops to clear their streets of explosives and leave.
The Chagos archipelago – where conservation meets colonialism
Islanders expelled from their homes in the 1960s won’t be welcome back under plans to convert the idyllic archipelago into a ‘nature reserve’
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 February 2010 07.00 GMT
How do you greenwash a large airforce base? A base that is responsible for bombing nearby countries, and which was built on an island you confiscated from residents who are now living in exile on the other side of the world?
Easy. You announce the creation of a giant nature reserve which will be off-limits to its former inhabitants. Not to the military, of course. That might create complications. But the people-free zone will cover the islands and oceans all around. Then, if you’re really clever, you get the world’s premier network of conservation scientists to endorse your plan.
That’s what happened last week.
White House crafts jobs bill, a year into stimulus effort
By Neil Irwin, Lori Montgomery and Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The giant economic stimulus package enacted a year ago has helped stabilize the economy but has not made much of a dent in the nation’s vast unemployment.
The Obama administration is acknowledging that its program of spending cuts and tax breaks has yet to ease joblessness, and White House officials are increasingly engaged in shaping the details of new legislation to boost job creation.
“You can argue, rightly, that we haven’t made as much progress as we need to make when it comes to spurring job creation,” President Obama said Wednesday in marking the program’s anniversary.
California, other states face problem of growing pension liabilities
State governments can help ease a $1-trillion shortfall by reducing future benefits, requiring greater employee contributions and raising retirement ages, a Pew report says.
By Marc Lifsher
February 17, 2010 | 9:00 p.m.
eporting from Sacramento – California has plenty of company when it comes to not being able to pay its growing public pension costs, a Washington think tank says in a report to be released Thursday.
Coming up with the money to pay for future obligations is expected to burden state and local governments and school districts with huge retirement costs that could translate into higher taxes and fewer basic services for the next generation of taxpayers.
Red Army soldier who helped raise Russian flag over Hitler’s Reichstag dies
From The Times
February 18, 2010
Tony Halpin, Moscow
A Red Army soldier who appeared in an iconic photograph of a Soviet flag flying from the ruins of Hitler’s Reichstag has died, aged 93.
Abdulkhakim Ismailov had fought all the way to Berlin from the Battle of Stalingrad three years earlier, where the destruction of the German Sixth Army turned the tide against the Nazi regime in the Second World War.
But he was only recognised half a century later as one of three soldiers raising the Hammer and Sickle flag in a picture that was staged by the Tass photographer Yevgeny Khaldei in May 1945, three days after Berlin fell to the Soviet Army.
World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst lost out in £2m Spanish property swindle
Sir Geoff Hurst, England’s 1966 World Cup Hero, lost hundreds of thousands of pounds after being conned by his “trusted friend” into a fraudulent Spanish property deal, a court heard yesterday.
By Heidi Blake
Published: 7:30AM GMT 18 Feb 2010
Sir Geoff, 68, and five others accuse Mark Cordner, their former friend and financial adviser, of “misrepresenting” the terms of a £2 million deal to buy several “off-plan” villas in the popular southern resort of Marbella in late 2003 and early 2004.
The former England striker – the only player ever to score a hat trick in a World Cup final – claims he and his fellow investors each spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on the plots of land, only to discover that the villas could not be built because their construction licences had been issued illegally by the city’s mayor, who was later jailed for accepting bribes.
Israel reels from backlash at killing of Hamas militant
Both the audacity and the competence of Mossad are being questioned after the latest episode in the agency’s colourful history
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem Thursday, 18 February 2010
After the excitement at a story worthy of Hollywood, the political fallout. Sharp questions are starting to be asked in Israel about an operation which left the physical appearance of the assassins exposed, appeared to have usurped the identities of, and perhaps even endangered, uninvolved Israeli citizens, and risked a serious diplomatic backlash because of the operatives’ use of European passports to enter Dubai.
If the assassination, as seems probable despite the plea of “no evidence” by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman yesterday, involved the country’s overseas intelligence agency, Mossad, it will not of course be the first time it has hit trouble over its use of foreign passports.
Iranians Protest Bill on Rights of Women
By NAZILA FATHI
Published: February 17, 2010
In what appeared to be the first burst of activism in months not related to the disputed presidential election, about 1,200 Iranians signed a statement against a bill that would further curb women’s rights, the feminist Web site Change for Gender Equality reported.
The statement, issued Wednesday, calls for other groups to protest the bill, which would give men the right to take additional wives without having to tell the current wives under certain conditions and would impose restrictions on alimony for women. The bill was approved last month by Parliament’s legal committee.
In Iran, men can have several wives, but they are generally supposed to get permission from their current ones.
Malaysia women caned for extramarital sex
From Times Online
February 18, 2010
Luke Hunt in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia has caned three women for having extramarital sex, winning it comparisons that are closer to Pakistan as opposed to the moderate Islamic nation that the government wants the world to believe in.
It was the first time that women have been caned in modern Malaysia but in announcing the sentence, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declined to say who was caned, where the whipping took place and on what part of the body.
One woman was released from prison last week after spending a month behind bars.
Malaysia has increasingly applied Shariah laws to its Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the country’s 28 million people, raising concerns that a more militant brand of Islam is taking hold on a country that takes pride in its image as a multi-racial, multi-religious creed.
New Karachi literary festival hopes to turn page on bombs
Global success of Pakistani authors helps put sprawling metropolis on literary circuit
By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent Thursday, 18 February 2010
Amid a booming interest in Pakistani writing, the sprawling and often chaotic city of Karachi is poised to host its first literary festival.
Just months after the city held its first fashion show – an event at which the organisers spoke of their desire to cock a thumb to the fundamentalists who more often dominate Pakistan’s headlines – Mohammed Hanif, the author of the critically acclaimed A Case of Exploding Mangoes, will headline an international festival showcasing Urdu and English writers.
Scientists find great genetic differences among southern Africans
The genomes of four Bushmen and one Bantu were sequenced or partially sequenced. ‘If we really want to understand human diversity, we need . . . to study those people,’ the study’s lead author says.
By Thomas H. Maugh II
February 18, 2010
Scientists have long known that natives of southern Africa are genetically quite distinct from people in the rest of the world, but a new study in which the genomes of four African Bushmen and one Bantu were sequenced or partially sequenced indicates that there is a much greater diversity among the populations there than had previously been suspected.
Two Bushmen from different tribes living within walking distance of each other can have greater genetic differences than a European and an Asian, according to the study published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature.
Haiti’s quake survivors don’t wait for gov’t plan
By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s government and aid groups have been wrangling for five weeks over a plan for housing earthquake survivors, but the people haven’t waited.
Rows of makeshift tents sprouted in open fields around the wrecked capital, and Haitians soon began strengthening the shelters. The camps have grown into shanty towns – with bakeries and even lottery stands – that show no sign of moving soon.
While the camps blossomed, officials debated what to do with the 1.2 million people left homeless by the disaster. Should they be given ready-made tents or plastic tarps? What land should be made available? The government may announce a plan Thursday.
good for the quake survivors!
if you wait for the gov’t to rescue you, you’ll starve or die of exposure to the elements. the only way to get help is to help yourself & your neighbors.
sorry. i’ve been might busy this week& not had much time to stop by.
… where the government didn’t want the homeless setting up tents because they “took up too much room” so they’re distributing plastic tarps.
They can’t wait years under a damned tarp. wtf.