U.S. would end Afghan combat by 2014 in plan
A phased wind-down framework will be presented at a NATO summit
By Peter Baker and Rod Nordland
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has developed a plan to begin transferring security duties in select areas of Afghanistan to that country’s forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with an eye toward ending the American combat mission there by 2014, officials said Sunday.
The phased four-year plan to wind down American and allied fighting in Afghanistan will be presented at a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon later this week, the officials said. It will reflect the most concrete vision for transition in Afghanistan assembled by civilian and military officials since President Obama took office last year.
Online outrage after judgement of Twitter airport bomb threat joke
November 15, 2010
He missed the plane. Now thousands of annoyed internet users say authorities missed the joke.
When Paul Chambers was arrested and fined for posting a jocular message to micro-blogging site Twitter in which he threatened to blow up northern England’s Robin Hood Airport if it didn’t reopen in time for his flight, it caused a minor stir.
Now that a court has turned down his appeal, the internet has come alive with outrage, with thousands of online fans posting comic threats to the regional airport out of solidarity.
SAIC Motor Corp in talks with General Motors over 1% stake
Potential deal combined with US treasury-backed IPO could place 4% of firm in Asian and Middle Eastern ownership
Edward Helmore in New York The Guardian, Monday 15 November 2010
In a deal certain to inflame existing trade sensitivities, China’s biggest carmaker SAIC Motor Corp is reported to be in negotiations with General Motors for a 1% stake in the US carmaker.
In addition to the $500m deal, a US treasury-backed IPO next week – designed to reduce the government’s 61% stake in the manufacturer – could place 4% of the firm in Asian and Middle Eastern ownership.
The deals are politically sensitive and follow several transactions in which significant stakes in US firms, including Morgan Stanley, Blackstone and IBM, have been transferred to Chinese government-backed ownership.
Junior Democrats in Senate seek to change the way chamber does business
By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Senate Democrats are expected to elect the same party veterans as their leaders when they return to work this week, but a new class of junior lawmakers is exerting its influence by challenging the chamber’s sacred traditions and the partisan, top-down governing style that has marked the past two years.
The young Democrats, many of whom will be on the ballot in 2012, reject the view that the Senate must move at a glacial pace, that only its most senior members get to determine the policy agenda, and that bipartisanship has become the purview of the naive and nostalgic.
Botched cabinet reshuffle gives Sarkozy’s rivals new strength
By John Lichfield in Paris Monday, 15 November 2010
President Nicolas Sarkozy last night announced a new government largely restricted to his own tribe of the centre-right, abandoning his policy of “ouverture” to the left, centre and racial minorities.
After eight months of shilly-shallying over a new French government, Mr Sarkozy shrank from firing the prime minister, Francois(cedilla on c) Fillon, but dismissed several prominent ministers who were plucked – to the anger of his own supporters – from the left and the centre and from immigrant backgrounds three years ago.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to resign from British Parliament to run for seat in Irish Republic
November 15, 2010
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has announced he intends to quit his political posts in Northern Ireland and seek election to parliament in the Republic of Ireland, a surprise gambit timed to capitalise on the economic crisis.
Adams told supporters in the border county of Louth on Sunday he will seek to win one of the area’s seats whenever Prime Minister Brian Cowen calls a general election. Adams said he will resign as the British Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly member for Catholic West Belfast, his lifetime power base.
Mecca Metro: Muslims take new train to Hajj sites
By SARAH EL DEEB
MINA, Saudi Arabia – Some Muslims beginning the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Sunday have a new way to avoid the crowds: an elevated light-rail that will whisk them between holy sites.
The four-day Islamic pilgrimage draws around 2.5 million worshippers each year, and the large numbers present authorities with a challenge in preventing stampedes at holy sites, fires in pilgrim encampments and the spread of disease.
In Jordan, a bookstore devoted to forbidden titles
Banned books – on sex, politics, religion – are a specialty at Sami Abu Hossein’s shop in Amman. ‘We have them,’ he says with a grin, ‘but don’t tell anyone.’
By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times November 15, 2010
Reporting from Amman, Jordan – At Sami Abu Hossein’s cramped bookstore, the hundred or so book titles listed on a wall aren’t bestsellers. They’re banned.
And the cheery Abu Hossein can you get you any of them, sometimes in the few minutes it takes to sit down and drink a cup of thick-brewed Turkish coffee.
“There are three no-nos,” the owner of Al Taliya Books explains with a big smile. “Sex, politics and religion. Unfortunately, that’s all anyone ever wants to read about.”
‘I’m not free until the people are free’ – Suu Kyi
Suu Kyi electrifies her followers – and vows to continue the struggle
By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent Monday, 15 November 2010
As overjoyed crowds celebrated the release of Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday, their leader gave a message that tempered their jubilation with a call to action. For the woman who has made so many personal sacrifices for the sake of her country, the message was unchanged: until democracy comes to Burma, her work is unfinished. “If the people are not free, I am not free,” she simply said.
Despite the continuing risks of taking on the junta, her focus yesterday remained firmly on those whose freedom is still more curtailed than her own has been.
Ultra-small is beautiful for Japanese homeowner
By Kyung Lah, CNN
November 15, 2010
Fuyuhito Moriya is 39 and still lives with his mother, but in circumstances you would call a tad unusual.
Moriya, an unmarried man, and his mother, Yoko, live in a house that’s built on 30 square meters, that’s the same as the size of a parking space for one car.
They live in what’s called an ultra-small house, a genre of single family homes bred of Japan’s economic stagnation and brought to life by architectural ingenuity.
Zim nationals held for bribes: MDC
Alarming reports of members of the SAPS detaining Zimbabweans with and without proper documents were reported, the Movement Democratic Change said
“This is despite clear public announcements by the government of South Africa that Zimbabweans shall be enjoying a dispensation until December 31,” MDC Spokesman, Sibanengi Dube, said.
“Those who are being picked up especially in Yeoville are being driven around for hours waiting for relatives to come up with bribery in exchange for freedom of their dear-ones.” He said huge police trucks that are notorious for ferrying Zimbabweans to Lindela Repatriation Centre were seen hovering around in Yeoville and Turffontein this weekend.
South Sudan begins registration for independence referendum
Voter registration for a January referendum in south Sudan kicks off on Monday across the country and abroad, launching a process which could lead to the partition of Africa’s largest country.
About five million southern Sudanese are called to add their names to the electoral list between November 15 and December 1.
A referendum commission has set up almost 2,800 registration centres, with all but 165 located in the south. Southerners living in the north, estimated to number anywhere between 500,000 and two million, are entitled to vote.
Haiti cholera death toll soars
Death toll jumps to 917 as international organisations appeal for funds to fight epidemic.
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2010
The death toll from Haiti’s cholera outbreak has soared to 917 as officials struggle to contain the growing epidemic threatening the quake-ravaged country.
As concerns rise over massive health challenges in the aftermath of the country’s cataclysmic earthquake almost a year ago, Haiti confronts the hardening prospect of national elections two weeks from now in the midst of a series of disasters.
Amid the crises, Haitians are due to vote for a new president and parliamentarians in late November.
Authorities on Sunday said 14,642 people had been treated in hospitals since the disease took hold in the desperately poor Caribbean nation.