U.S. strategy rests on Kandahar offensive
Success far from certain; deadline for results is very short
The Obama administration’s campaign to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan’s second-largest city is a go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will succeed.
The bet is that the Kandahar operation, backed by thousands of U.S. troops and billions of dollars, will break the mystique and morale of the insurgents, turn the tide of the war and validate the administration’s Afghanistan strategy.
There is no Plan B.
After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all
The great American writer left instructions not to publish his autobiography until 100 years after his death, which is now
By Guy Adams in Los Angeles Sunday, 23 May 2010
Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain’s dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.
The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.
Gulf coast oil slick headed for Grand Isle, Louisiana
By Joel Achenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 23, 2010
GRAND ISLE, LA. — It has become an epic contest between water and oil along the Gulf Coast. Government officials have now opened wide the Mississippi River outlets — what they call the diversions — in a desperate attempt to overwhelm the massive oil slick approaching the ragged shoreline of Louisiana. This hydraulic defense employs snowfall from Montana, floodwater from Tennessee. The mighty river drains half the country, and every creek and stream and seep from the Rockies to the Appalachians has been enlisted in the battle.
Battles brew over Fort Hood shooting suspect’s past
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s attorney and a Senate committee demand documents that might suggest the Army should have known he was a risk.
By Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times
May 22, 2010
Reporting from Washington Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is paralyzed from the chest down. He waits in a small Texas county jail and has not been seen publicly in the six months since he was shot and charged with killing 13 people and wounding nearly three dozen others at the nearby Ft. Hood Army post.
He is about to surface again. Early next month military attorneys will meet for a preliminary hearing on whether the 40-year-old Muslim who became an Army psychiatrist should be court-martialed and perhaps sentenced to die for the Nov. 5 assault.
After 467 years, Copernicus gets a hero’s burial
Somewhat belated Vatican U-turn sees astronomer taken from unmarked grave to a place of honour
By Vanessa Gera in Frombork, Poland Sunday, 23 May 2010
Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose work was later condemned by the Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero yesterday, 467 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave.
His reburial in a tomb in the cathedral where he once served as a church canon and doctor indicates how far the church has come in making peace with the scientist whose revolutionary theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun helped to usher in the modern scientific age.
The European Disunion – will the euro survive?
As the currency crashes and the Continent is swept by protests, even key members such as Germany and France are starting to think the unthinkable about the euro
By Harriet Alexander in Cadiz, Colin Freeman and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
Published: 8:00AM BST 23 May 2010
Like many of Spain’s 4.5 million unemployed, Cinthia Carvajal is on the verge of despair. The 41-year-old marketing executive has jobhunted non-stop for the last six months, but with the country in the grip of its worst recession in 50 years, there are precious few firms needing anything to be marketed.
She will now take whatever job she can find, but with unemployment running at 20 per cent nationally, the few offers come her way are generally less than tempting.
The tragicomedy of Iran sanctions
By Massoud Parsi
In recent days, the debate surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme has taken a number of unexpected and dramatic turns.
On Monday, a joint declaration by Iran, Turkey and Brazil stated that Iran will ship 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher-enriched nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor.
The declaration was the first concrete step toward implementing a proposal presented by Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the IAEA, approximately a year before and supported by the UN security council just six months ago.
Mongolia: Nomadic way of life at risk as harsh winter kills 17% of livestock
As nearly eight million animals are wiped out by the paralysing cold, UN predicts influx of up to 20,000 herders into the cities
The Observer, Sunday 23 May 2010
They call it the zud, a prolonged period of heavy snows and paralysing cold that adds to the challenges of living on a treeless expanse nearly the size of Alaska. Mongolia and its 800,000 herders are reeling from the worst winter that anyone can remember. According to United Nations relief officials, nearly eight million cows, yaks, camels, horses, goats and sheep died, about 17% of the country’s livestock. Even if the spring rains arrive soon, 500,000 more animals are expected to succumb.
“This is not only a catastrophe for the herders but for the entire Mongolian economy,” said Akbar Usmani, of the United Nations Development Programme. “We expect the ripple effects for months and years to come.”
Vengeful redshirts threaten tourism
The Thai protest has spawned an underground militant wing
Michael Sheridan and Nate Thayer in Bangkok From The Sunday Times
May 23, 2010
THE spectre of a violent underground movement that could wreck Thailand’s tourism industry has risen from the ashes of Bangkok’s city centre.
“Redshirt” protesters vanished into a warren of backstreets as their camp was overrun by the army last week on a day that many Thais have called the worst in their country’s modern history.
An armed wing of the movement vowed to carry on the fight and melted back into communities of workers and farmers, some of whom have openly applauded them for taking up the gun.
Crisis as East African states battle over control of Nile
Nine countries bordering world’s longest river in struggle for access to waters
The Observer, Sunday 23 May 2010
East African states are struggling to contain an escalating crisis over control of the waters of the river Nile.
The nine countries through which the world’s longest river flows have long been at loggerheads over access to the vital waters, which the British colonial powers effectively handed wholesale to Egypt in a 1929 agreement.
Egypt has always insisted on jealously guarding its historic rights to the 55.5bn cubic metres of water that it takes from the river each year and has vetoed neighbouring countries’ rights to build dams or irrigation projects downstream which might affect the river’s flow. But last week Kenya became the fifth of the nine nations to sign a new treaty that would give other states greater access.
Ethiopia votes in crunch election
Ethiopians are voting in the first election since a 2005 poll was marred by protests that led to the deaths of 200 people.
The BBC Sunday, 23 May 2010
Long queues of voters had formed at some polling stations in the capital, Addis Ababa, before polls opened at 0600 (0300 GMT).
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a Western ally against militants in Somalia, is seeking re-election.
But the opposition has already cried foul.
A spokesman for the main opposition alliance, Medrek, said its observers were being intimidated and arrested in some parts of the country.
“We think we may not accept the results,” Negasso Gidada told the AP news agency.
Signs of a Cover-Up After Killings in a Haitian Prison
By DEBORAH SONTAG and WALT BOGDANICH
Published: May 22, 2010
LES CAYES, Haiti – When the earth shook violently on Jan. 12, the inmates in this southern city’s squalid prison clamored to be released, screaming: “Help! We’re going to die in here.”
Elsewhere in Haiti, inmates were fleeing largely undeterred. But here, where the prison itself sustained little damage, there was no exit. Instead, conditions worsened for the inmates, three-quarters of them pretrial detainees, arrested on charges as petty as loitering and locked up indefinitely alongside convicted felons.