Torture, terror and table tennis: Iraq hostage Peter Moore tells of ordeal
From The Times
March 12, 2010
Deborah Haynes, Defence Editor
The survivor of Britain’s longest hostage crisis in 20 years revealed yesterday how he endured months of torture during his ordeal in Iraq.
Peter Moore told The Times that he was hung by his arms from a door as a punishment and doused in water by his captors. Speaking in detail for the first time since his release, he also told of a series of mock executions.
At one point, guards put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, simultaneously firing a real round from another weapon. “I remember thinking: I’m dead. It’s not that bad. It’s not that painful. And then, reality check, hold on I’m handcuffed and still blindfolded. I can hear people laughing.”
Ground Zero workers win $657m settlement for health problems
Thousands of workers who suffered health problems after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 have reached a settlement worth up to $657.5 million (£437m) with an insurer representing the city of New York.
Published: 7:00AM GMT 12 Mar 2010
Thousands of firefighters, police, contractors and others who worked at “Ground Zero” in the ruins of the World Trade Center sued the city and its contractors for claims of injuries associated with their rescue and clean-up work.
The settlement will be drawn from a federally financed insurance fund – the WTC Captive Insurance Company – created in 2004 with a $1 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The resolution of the World Trade Center litigation will allow the first responders and workers to be compensated for injuries suffered following their work at Ground Zero,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
The parties will appear before US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Friday to request his preliminary approval of the settlement.
Report Details How Lehman Hid Its Woes as It Collapsed
By MICHAEL J. de la MERCED and ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
Published: March 11, 2010
It is the Wall Street equivalent of a coroner’s report – a 2,200-page document that lays out, in new and startling detail, how Lehman Brothers used accounting sleight of hand to conceal the bad investments that led to its undoing.
The report, compiled by an examiner for the bank, now bankrupt, hit Wall Street with a thud late Thursday. The 158-year-old company, it concluded, died from multiple causes. Among them were bad mortgage holdings and, less directly, demands by rivals like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, that the foundering bank post collateral against loans it desperately needed.
New round of foreclosures threatens housing market
By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 12, 2010
The housing market is facing swelling ranks of homeowners who are seriously delinquent but have yet to lose their homes, and this is threatening a new wave of foreclosures that could hit just as the real estate market has begun to stabilize.
About 5 million to 7 million properties are potentially eligible for foreclosure but have not yet been repossessed and put up for sale. Some economists project it could take nearly three years before all these homes have been put on the market and purchased by new owners. And the number of pending foreclosures could grow much bigger over the coming year as more distressed borrowers become delinquent and then, if they can’t obtain mortgage relief, wade through the foreclosure process, which often takes more than a year to complete.
Scientologists try to ban critical German feature film
The Church of Scientology is trying to block the broadcast of a German feature film that depicts the organisation as dangerous and unethical.
Published: 7:00AM GMT 12 Mar 2010
The 90-minute film Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt (Until Nothing Remains) tells the story of a family torn about by its dealings with Scientology. In the dramatisation of the true story of Heiner von Rönns, a young man who decided to leave the organisation and subsequently lost all contact with his daughter.
Scientology leaders have claimed the film is a piece of propaganda by Germany’s state broadcaster and have demanded to see it before it is aired, the Guardian reports.
Scientology officials have said the film is incorrect and are investigating legal means to prevent the programme from being broadcast Jürg Stettler, a spokesman for Scientology in Germany said: “The truth is precisely the opposite of that which the ARD is showing.” Mr Stettler said the organisation was planning its own film to “spread our own side of the story”.
Anti-austerity protests in Greece turn violent
Demonstrators clashed with police in Athens on Thursday, as they protested against government austerity measures designed to lower the budget deficit. At least a million Greeks took part in a general strike.
GREECE | 12.03.2010
A general strike in Greece, called to protest against a series of unpopular government austerity measures, descended into violence on Thursday.
In one central square hundreds of protesters threw stones and firebombs at riot police, who used baton-charges and tear gas in a bid to restrain the crowd. Police said two protesters and 13 police officers were injured, 16 demonstrators were also detained, nine of whom were later arrested.
Police say that over 20,000 people lined the streets of Athens for the demonstrations against severe government cost-cutting measures designed to help reduce Greece’s runaway budget deficit.
Johann Hari: Palestinians should now declare their independence
Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to the US request with a big concrete slap
Friday, 12 March 2010
Could the Israeli government make it any more obvious they have no intention of sharing the Over-Promised Land with its other inhabitants?
This week the Obama administration – who give Israel $3bn a year, more than they dole out to any other nation on earth – made a meek and craven request for Israelis to simply have a pause in seizing even more land, and to sit down with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a big concrete slap: the announcement of 1,600 more homes to be built on occupied Palestinian land from which Arabs will be forcibly kept out.
Iraq election: Nuri al-Maliki in close fight with rival as fraud allegations fly
Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, was locked in a tight contest with rival Iyad Allawi, as results from Iraq’s elections were expected to come in.
Published: 7:00AM GMT 12 Mar 2010
Five days after the election, Mr Maliki and Mr Allawi, both Shias, have emerged nationally as the main candidates for the post of prime minister, with initial results from four of Iraq’s 18 provinces putting their two blocs in the lead.
Preliminary figures released on for Najaf, Babil, Diyala and Salaheddin put Mr Maliki’s State of Law Alliance ahead in the first two provinces, while ex-premier Mr Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc was in front in the latter pair.
Early results from other provinces, including the Sunni province of Anbar in Iraq’s west, were expected later today.
In Najaf and Babil, two predominantly Shia provinces in south Iraq, State of Law held leads of 7,000 votes and 14,000 votes respectively, with the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition led by Shia religious groups, in second place after 30 per cent of votes had been counted.
Burmese dictator lives like a king, laments the nation’s last royal
General inhabits palace while heir to throne grows old in bungalow
By Phoebe Kennedy in Maymyo, Burma Friday, 12 March 2010
Sitting in the living room of his modest bungalow in the cool hills above Mandalay, the sole surviving grandson of Burma’s last king laughs off the notion that he has political aspirations. Don’t you know, he says mischievously, Burma has a new royal family now?
Eighty-five-year-old Taw Paya is heir to the Konbaung throne, and could be king, had British colonisers not exiled his grandparents, King Thibaw and Queen Supayalat, to India in 1885. Instead, Taw Paya lives a quiet life with his daughters and grandchildren in the former British hill station of Maymyo.
“I count my beads, I say my prayers, and I’m very fond of Reader’s Digest,” Taw Paya said. “My life is very simple.”
Thai protest march starts with Buddhist chants
From Times Online
March 12, 2010
Sian Powell in Bangkok
The mass protest intended to paralyse Bangkok and topple the thai government began at exactly 12.12 pm today with a huge round of applause followed by the sound of gongs and Buddhist chanting.
Anti-government protesters from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship gathered in their thousands at strategic locations around Thailand ready to start streaming toward central Bangkok.
Ex-wife criticizes Nelson Mandela – and many South Africans agree
Nelson Mandela ‘let us down,’ the London Evening Standard reported ex-wife Winnie Mandela as saying. Many black South Africans expected more economic progress by now.
By Scott Baldauf Staff Writer / March 11, 2010
Johannesburg, South Africa
Just days after honoring her former husband, Nelson Mandela, for his courage during the anti-apartheid struggle on the 20th anniversary of his release from prison, Winnie Mandela was quoted this week in an interview in the London Evening Standard, saying the former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner had “agreed to a bad deal for the blacks.””Mandela did go to prison and he went in there as a burning revolutionary,” she told journalist Nadira Naipaul, wife of acclaimed writer V.S. Naipaul, in the Evening Standard interview. “But look what came out. Mandela let us down.”
The African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party to which both Nelson Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie Mandela belong, refused to comment, saying that they wished to speak with Mrs. Mandela first to ascertain whether the comments in the newspaper were actually hers. Mrs. Mandela was said to be unreachable by phone, while traveling in the United States.
Mexico City hosts nation’s first gay marriages
Several couples wed at the Municipal Palace in Mexico City, which legalized same-sex marriage in December. The law has been challenged by the federal government.
By Tracy Wilkinson
March 12, 2010
Reporting from Mexico City – The mayor was there. So were the protesters. Judith Vazquez wore an ivory wedding dress. So did her bride.
Vazquez and Lol Kin Castaneda on Thursday became the first gay couple to marry in Mexico under a new law that allows same-sex couples to wed and to adopt children.
The law was passed by the Mexico City legislature in December and applies only to the capital. It is the most far-reaching gay-rights law in Latin America and one of several measures that have put the city and its leaders at odds with the more conservative country.