Sunday, May 31, 2009

Amnesty Internation Human Rights Roundup

Economic, Food Crises Worsen Human Rights Abuses

Voice of America News — Amnesty International has released its annual report on the state of the world's human rights and it warns the global economic and food crises are contributing to billions of people suffering from insecurity, injustice and indignity.
Erwin van der Borght, director of amnesty's Africa Program, says when the food crisis began last year it set the stage for rights abuses.
click to read complete article
Amnesty raps Medvedev on Russia rights violations

Washington Post — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has failed to deliver on promises to improve human rights and some violations have worsened since he took office last year, Amnesty International said Thursday.
Medvedev, a 43-year-old former lawyer, has scolded officials for breaching human rights, vowed to battle corruption and end what he terms legal nihilism in the court system.
click to read complete article
Britain has mixed human rights record, says Amnesty

The Hindu — Amnesty International has criticised Britain for its "mixed record" on human rights and called for an inquiry into the UK government's alleged inaction in stopping the torture of a Guantanamo detainee who returned here recently.
The government had a "mixed record" on human rights, said Kate Allen, British director of Amnesty.
click to read complete article

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nuclear North Korea

Gates draws the line on North Korea's nuclear program: No proliferation

L.A. Times — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates promised today to hold North Korea accountable for selling or transferring nuclear material outside its borders, providing the first clear expression of the Obama administration's thinking on a vexing foreign policy challenge.
A succession of U.S. presidents have tried to persuade the reclusive government to give up its nuclear arms, and Gates made it clear that President Obama was open to using diplomacy to end the threat.
click to read complete article
Gates: China, U.S. need to cooperate wherever possible

Xinhua — It is essential for the United States and China to find opportunities to cooperate in every possible area, including maintaining a defense relationship, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said here on Saturday.
Speaking at the 2009 Asian security summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, Gates said that the United States is working with China on common challenges, from economic matters to security issues such as regional areas of tension, counter terrorism, non-proliferation, energy security, piracy and disaster relief.
click to read complete article
Are British expats in Korea anxious?

BBC — North Korea's decision to stage a nuclear test in direct contravention of an international ban has been widely condemned and led to fears of conflict in south-east Asia. But are Britons living in the region fearful?
If the Scottish government was to begin assembling a nuclear arsenal and make threatening noises towards its neighbours, you might expect mass panic across the rest of the UK.
click to read complete article

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Green Glowing Monkeys!

Monkeys' genes altered for study of diseases

Los Angeles Times — Scientists have created the first genetically modified monkeys that can pass their new genetic attributes to their offspring, a development designed to give researchers new tools for studying human disease, but one that raises a host of thorny ethical questions.
In this case, the Japanese researchers added genes that caused the animals to glow green under a fluorescent light and beget offspring with the same spooky ability. They hope to use the technique to produce animals with Parkinson's, Huntington's and other diseases.
click to read complete article
Green-glowing monkeys have green-glowing babies

Reuters — Japanese researchers have genetically engineered monkeys whose hair roots, skin and blood glow green under a special light, and who have passed on their traits to their offspring, the first time this has been achieved in a primate.
They spliced a jellyfish gene into common marmosets, and said on Wednesday they hope to use their colony of glowing animals to study human Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.
click to read complete article
Glowing monkeys spark genetic engineering debate

London Daily Mail — The creation of monkeys that 'glow in the dark' has sparked an ethical storm.
The designer marmosets carry a gene that causes their skin, hair roots and blood to glow green under ultraviolet light.
What makes this a world first is that scientists were able to show that the monkeys can pass on the gene to other generations.
click to read complete article

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

California Supreme Court Upholds Prop. 8

California high court upholds Prop. 8

L.A. Times — The California Supreme Court's decision Tuesday to uphold Proposition 8 and existing same-sex marriages left in place all rights for California's gays and lesbians except access to the label "marriage," but it provided little protection from future ballot measures that could cost gays and other minorities more rights, lawyers and scholars said Tuesday.
In a 6-1 ruling, the court said the November ballot measure that restored a ban on same-sex marriage was a limited constitutional amendment, not a wholesale revision that would have required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to be placed before voters.
click to read complete article
Protests in S. California Over Gay Marriage Ban

Fox News — More than 1,500 protesters are gathered at a rally in West Hollywood, expressing their opposition to the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold the state's gay marriage ban.
Police said Tuesday that the rally has been peaceful, with no arrests reported. Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore estimated the crowd could be up to 2,000 people.
click to read complete article
California voters likely to revisit same-sex marriage next year

San Francisco Chronicle — The next same-sex marriage battle in California will be fought over a referendum aimed at the November 2010 ballot that is likely to include door-to-door campaigning in Bible-belt areas of the state that backed Proposition 8.
The battlegrounds will not be in San Francisco or West Hollywood but in places like Fresno, the geographic center of California where proponents of same-sex marriage will hold their first high-profile event Saturday.
click to read complete article

Obama Picks Sotomayer for Supreme Court

Supreme Court nominee's path looks clear

San Francisco Chronicle — Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, appears headed for a relatively smooth confirmation, to the dismay of conservatives who see her selection as a bold move to shift the court to the left, especially on business issues.
Democrats hold an overwhelming 57-vote Senate majority and Republicans denounced filibusters to block former President George W. Bush's judicial nominations. Republicans were adamant about upholding the tradition of straight up-or-down votes on Supreme Court nominees.
click to read complete article
Sotomayor’s Rulings Are Exhaustive but Often Narrow

New York Times — Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial opinions are marked by diligence, depth and unflashy competence. If they are not always a pleasure to read, they are usually models of modern judicial craftsmanship, which prizes careful attention to the facts in the record and a methodical application of layers of legal principles.
Judge Sotomayor, whom President Obama announced Tuesday as his choice for the Supreme Court, has issued no major decisions concerning abortion, the death penalty, gay rights or national security. In cases involving criminal defendants, employment discrimination and free speech, her rulings are more liberal than not.
click to read complete article
Sotomayor Nomination Renews Roe V. Wade Debate

CBS News — For over three decades, the topic that matters the most during a Senate confirmation hearing for an aspiring member of the U.S. Supreme Court has remained the same: abortion.
Until the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, abortion had been a matter of state law, with some states broadly permitting abortions, and others imposing strict limits on the procedure. A challenge to a Texas law, originally enacted in 1854, led to the Supreme Court's famous 7-2 ruling that described a constitutional "right of privacy" that encompassed a woman's right to "an abortion free of interference by the state."
click to read complete article

Monday, May 25, 2009

North Korea Tests Nuclear Weapon

North Korea conducts nuclear test

BBC — North Korea says it has staged a "successful" underground nuclear test, prompting international condemnation.
The state says it was more powerful than the previous one in October 2006.
click to read complete article
Asian Stocks Decline After North Korea Conducts Nuclear Test

Bloomberg — Most Asian stocks rose as gains in metal prices boosted mining companies and health-care stocks rallied. South Korean shares fell after North Korea conducted a nuclear test.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, added 1.2 percent in Sydney after a measure of metals traded in London climbed the most in two weeks on May 22. Shionogi & Co. jumped 5.7 percent, pacing advances by health-care stocks, after the Nikkei newspaper reported the company aims to sell a new drug for influenza as early as 2010. LG Electronics Inc., the world’s third-largest maker of mobile phones, sank as much as 6.3 percent in Seoul after what North Korea described as a “successful” underground nuclear test today.
click to read complete article
Yen, Dollar Strengthen on Report North Korea Held Nuclear Test

Bloomberg — The yen and the dollar rose against the euro after Yonhap News reported that North Korea held a nuclear test today, spurring demand for the relative safety of the Japanese and U.S. currencies.
The yen advanced to 132.09 per euro as of 11:51 a.m. in Tokyo from 132.67 in New York last week. The dollar climbed to $1.3979 versus the euro from $1.3998. The yen traded at 94.50 per dollar, from 94.78.
click to read complete article

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cheney, Obama, Torture

Obama vs. Cheney on terror

Seattle Times — After listening to both Barack Obama and Dick Cheney, it's a slam dunk knowing who has the right idea for protecting America ["President, Cheney duel over how to fight terror," page one, May 22].
We had a team of seasoned national-security professionals who knew although it would be ugly, we needed to do whatever was necessary to protect America from al-Qaida. This includes waterboarding if necessary. We are in a war, not a game of powder-puff football as the ACLU and leftists believe.
click to read complete article
Obama, Cheney Lay Out Views On Post-9/11 Policies

U.S. News and World Report — Most national media outlets are combining their coverage of yesterday's speeches by President Obama and Dick Cheney into a single story, casting the speeches as a showdown of sorts between Obama and the former vice president. All three network broadcasts led with the story, devoting a combined total of 28 minutes and 35 seconds to the speeches. NBC Nightly News called the dueling speeches "political theater" and "a virtual debate," while ABC World News referred to an "extraordinary and important debate." The CBS Evening News, meanwhile, reported, "We have never seen anything quite like this." Similarly, the Washington Post headlines its front-page story "In Dueling Speeches, A National Security Debate," and calls the speeches "the national security debate" the country "never had during last year's campaign. ... Presidential scholars could not recall another moment when consecutive administrations intersected so early and in such a public way." Fox News' Special Report called the dueling speeches "unprecedented at this or any other time of war."
click to read complete article
Obama and Cheney in a duel for hearts and minds

LA Times — It was an unusual showdown pitting present and former leaders, live on national television, with President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney dueling in back-to-back speeches Thursday over how to best protect the nation against terrorism.
Obama pressed his case for closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and for discarding interrogation techniques he described as brutal, while Cheney warned that doing so would endanger the country.
click to read complete article

Saturday, May 23, 2009

South Korea's Roh Commits Suicide

Former S. Korean President Roh Dies in Apparent Suicide

Washington Post — Former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, a suspect in a corruption scandal that implicated his wife and family, apparently committed suicide Saturday by leaping from a mountain cliff near his rural home.
Roh, 62, died of head injuries while hiking in the early morning with a bodyguard. "He appears to have jumped from a mountain rock," said Moon Jae-in, a lawyer who was Roh's presidential chief of staff.
click to read complete article
S Korean president expresses regret over former president's death

Xinhua — S. Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Saturday his predecessor Roh Moo-hyun's death is a national tragedy and expressed deep regrets, his spokesman said.
Lee Dong-kwan, spokesman for the presidential office, said that the news was hard to believe and that the president and his office were in complete shock.
click to read complete article
Ex-president Roh's life ends amid scandaldan

United Press International — Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun took his own his life Saturday, a year after leaving office ensnared in a bribery scandal, authorities said.
Roh, 62, president from 2003 to 2008, threw himself off a mountainside near his home. In his last public statements, weeks before his death, he spoke of the shame he felt, The New York Times reported.
click to read complete article

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

California Voters

Can Schwarzenegger recover from voters' ballot-box blow?

Christian Science Monitor — With bigger-than-life muscles and Austrian accent, Arnold Schwarzenegger sold himself to voters as the populist outsider who would fix California government by giving it back to the people. Six years later, it appears the people are dispatching the former actor with one of his most famous Hollywood rejoinders: “Hasta la vista, baby.”
After besting a wide field in the state’s first gubernatorial recall election in 2003, to replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, Mr. Schwarzenegger has had a tenure filled with bold successes and bold failures – most notably the rejection of four ballot initiatives in late 2004. Now, with voters soundly rejecting Schwarzenegger’s second round of reforms, experts here are beginning to write his political obituary.
click to read complete article
California voters exercise their power -- and that's the problem

L. A. Times — Californians are well known for periodic voter revolts, but on Tuesday they did more than just lash out at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature over the state's fiscal debacle.
By rejecting five budget measures, Californians also brought into stark relief the fact that they, too, share blame for the political dysfunction that has brought California to the brink of insolvency.
click to read complete article
Legislators jump back into budget mess

San Francisco Chronicle — California's next budget battle begins this morning as state officials scramble to close a deficit that instantly swelled to $21.3 billion with Tuesday's overwhelming defeat of a package of fiscal ballot measures.
"We'll wake up, dust ourselves off and get back to work," said state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, one of the authors of the ballot measures.
click to read complete article

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coral Reefs in Danger

Global Warming Threatens Pacific's Bountiful Coral Triangle

Voice of America — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea have set new plans to protect the Coral Triangle - a 5.5 million square kilometer area that holds the largest biodiversity in the oceans. Scientists consider it to be the marine equivalent of the Amazon rain forest, and say it is crucial for preserving life in the world's oceans. The agreement was reached in Manado, Indonesia.
In the area of the sea area wedged between Indonesia and the Solomon Islands lies an extraordinarily rich sample of biodiversity: three quarters of all coral species live here, a third of the world's fish, half of its mangroves - all precious ecosystems.
click to read complete article
Climate change threatens millions who live off sea

Associated Press — Around 100 million people risk losing their homes and livelihoods unless drastic steps are taken to protect Southeast Asia's coral reefs, which could be wiped out in coming decades because of climate change, a report said Wednesday.
The Coral Triangle — which spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and East Timor — accounts for a third of the world's coral reefs and 35 percent of coral reef fish species
click to read complete article
Asian summit plans to save coral

BBC — Advertisement Six Asia-Pacific countries have signed a plan to save the most important area of coral reef in the world.
The Coral Triangle Initiative is holding its first summit in the Indonesian city of Manado on Friday.
The reef is shared between Indonesia and five other South East Asian nations and is thought to contain 75% of the world's coral species.
click to read complete article

Indian Election Brings Changes

Indian voters back Congress to push through reforms

Guardian UK — The National Congress party will form a new, stronger government this week, better able to push through its reforms, after voters gave it an unexpectedly decisive show of support in the month-long general elections.
Senior figures within the party met today to choose which regional parties to invite into government and make up the relatively small number of seats the left-leaning Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) needs for a majority in the 543-member parliament.
click to read complete article
Vote in India Reshapes Landscape

N.Y. Times — Eleven years ago, when she took over as president of India’s oldest political party, Sonia Gandhi was seen as India’s most improbable politician: a foreigner with a shaky command of Hindi, reclusive to the point of seeming aloof, a wife who had fought to keep her husband from joining politics and who lost him to an assassination.
Today, Mrs. Gandhi, 62, is credited with having scored a stunning political coup. Her Indian National Congress party made its best performance in 25 years in the parliamentary elections completed last week, picking up 205 of 543 seats on its own, and with its coalition partners coming only 12 seats shy of an outright majority. All it needs to do now to form a government is stitch up alliances with a handful of independents and small parties.
click to read complete article
Singh’s ‘Game Changer’ Win May Unlock Indian Economy

Bloomberg — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s electoral victory, the biggest any Indian politician has scored in two decades, may loosen political shackles that have restrained the country’s economic growth as it struggles to free half a billion people from poverty.
India’s benchmark stock index soared more than 17 percent, breaching the daily limit and triggering a second trading halt. The rupee surged as much as 3.3 percent, the most in more than two decades, to 47.78 a dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
click to read complete article

Sunday, May 17, 2009

UK Parliament Expenses Scandal

Voters to punish big UK parties over expenses-polls

Reuters India — Britain's main political parties are likely to cede ground to marginal groups at next month's European elections because of public anger over a far-reaching expenses scandal, opinion polls showed on Sunday.
Newspapers reported Queen Elizabeth had expressed concern to Prime Minister Gordon Brown over the disclosures, which have stained parliament's reputation and angered Britons at a time when many are losing their homes and unemployment is soaring.
click to read complete article
Brown promises expenses sanctions

BBC — Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he "does not rule out any sanction", as he pledges to restore trust after the expenses revelations.
Writing in the News of the World newspaper, Mr Brown said he was "under no illusions that repayment will not necessarily be sufficient sanction".
click to read complete article
Police to look at MP allegations

BBC — Allegations about MPs' allowances are to be examined by a panel of police officers and lawyers amid growing calls for action over the expenses scandal.
They will decide whether individual complaints merit a criminal inquiry.
click to read complete article

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Guantanamo Solutions Hard to Come By

Human Rights Watch blasts Obama

UPI — Human Rights Watch called President Barack Obama's plan to use military commissions to try some U.S. detainees a step back from his campaign promises.
"The military commissions system is flawed beyond repair," said Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director. "By resurrecting this failed Bush administration idea, President Obama is backtracking dangerously on his reform agenda."
click to read complete article
Military tribunals still seen as flawed

L.A. Times — Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles -- President Obama's decision Friday to revive military tribunals to try suspected terrorists will likely fail to erase the taint of illegitimacy over the courts despite efforts at reform, civilian and military legal experts said.
Obama outlined five rule changes aimed at bolstering defendants' rights, including strict limits on the use of coerced evidence, tougher restrictions on the use of hearsay evidence and more latitude for defendants to choose their own lawyers.
click to read complete article
Obama war court decision backed by key GOP senator

Miami Herald — South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham praised President Barack Obama's decision to maintain a system of military tribunals for some detainees, saying it reflects the standards he originally advocated.
Graham, a military lawyer who's served on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he's had three conversations with Obama since December about detainee issues, along with more frequent contacts with senior administration and military officials.
click to read complete article

Friday, May 15, 2009

the Pope in the Middle East

Citing Auschwitz, Pope Assails Hatred

NY Times — Recalling a visit to the Auschwitz death camp, Pope Benedict XVI wound up a sometimes fraught and often politically charged trip to Israel and the West Bank on Friday with a call for peace and a plea that the Holocaust — “that appalling chapter in history” — must “never be forgotten or denied.”
But, as he has since he arrived from Jordan on Monday on his first trip to the Holy Land as pope, he avoided evoking his German nationality and his personal history in Nazi Germany as some Israelis had demanded. Rather, he blamed the Holocaust on “a godless regime.”
click to read complete article
Pope’s Wartime Activities Resurface on Israeli Trip

NY Times — The Vatican sought on Tuesday to defend Pope Benedict XVI against criticism of his speech at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial the day before.
But as has become familiar in Benedict’s four years as pope, the attempt at media relations stumbled, in a particularly awkward way for a trip to Israel: the German pope’s spokesman first said that Benedict “never, never, never” had belonged to the Hitler Youth but later had to issue a retraction.
click to read complete article
Pope, leaving Israel, slams Holocaust denial

Reuters — Pope Benedict said on Friday as he left Israel that the Holocaust "must never be denied", using language that may go some way to addressing Jewish disappointment over his remarks earlier in his tour.
He recalled as "one of the most solemn moments of my stay in Israel" his visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where some Israelis had said his speech lacked the personal note they wanted to hear from a German of his generation.
click to read complete article

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two State Solution for Mideast Peace

U.S. official: Two-state solution reduces Iran threat

JTA — Working toward a two-state solution can reduce the existential threat of Iran, an Obama administration official said.
"We understand Israel's preoccupation with Iran as an existential threat. We agree with that," National Security Adviser James Jones said Sunday morning on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "And by the same token, there are a lot of things that you can do to diminish that existential threat by working hard towards achieving a two-state solution. This is a very strategic issue."
click to read complete article
King Abdullah of Jordan's ultimatum: peace now or it’s war next year

Times Online — America is putting the final touches to a hugely ambitious peace plan for the Middle East, aimed at ending more than 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Arabs, according to Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is helping to bring the parties together.
The Obama Administration is pushing for a comprehensive peace agreement that would include settling Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and its territorial disputes with Syria and Lebanon, King Abdullah II told The Times. Failure to reach agreement at this critical juncture would draw the world into a new Middle East war next year. “If we delay our peace negotiations, then there is going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12-18 months,” the King said.
click to read complete article
Russia plays up its international role – especially in Mideast peace

Christian Science Monitor — Russia is moving to reassert its role in the Middle East – and in particular in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – as President Obama prepares to receive principal leaders in the conflict at the White House in the coming weeks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chaired a special meeting Monday of the United Nations Security Council that endorsed the idea of holding a Middle East peace conference in Moscow this year. In a presidential statement, the Security Council also called on all parties to honor past international accords – a clear nudge to a wavering Israeli government to embrace the concept of a two-state solution, in which a new Palestine would exist next to Israel.
click to read complete article

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Obama's Healthcare Plan Faces Backlash

Why healthcare providers joined forces with Obama

Christian Science Monitor — In 1993, they were a major factor in defeating President Clinton's proposals. But this time around, industry leaders sense change is inevitable, and they want a voice.
There has been a sea change in the long struggle over healthcare reform in Washington.
The last time a Democratic president took office promising major health reform, 16 years ago, the effort crashed amid fervent opposition by key groups in the healthcare industry.
click to read complete article
Obama’s Push for Health Care Cuts Faces Daunting Odds

New York Times — President Obama engineered a political coup on Monday by bringing leaders of the health care industry to the White House to build momentum for his ambitious health care agenda.
Mr. Obama pronounced it “a historic day, a watershed event,” because doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies voluntarily offered $2 trillion in cost reductions over 10 years. The savings, he said, “will help us take the next and most important step — comprehensive health care reform.”
click to read complete article
Obama’s dangerous budget leaves GOP at loss for words

Washington Examiner — Republican strategists have a problem. The scale of what President Barack Obama proposes to do to the American economy is so enormous, so far-reaching and so potentially disastrous that the opposition party is having a hard time describing it.
“How do you translate the numbers into something that people can grasp to represent the broader problem?” a Republican pollster asked in a recent conversation. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders would love to hear an answer, but the pollster didn’t have one.
click to read complete article

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pope in Mid East

Pope bears a message of Catholic-Jewish cooperation

L.A. Times — When Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Israel today for his first visit to the Holy Land, he will bear a message of religious cooperation aimed in part at strengthening often shaky Catholic-Jewish relations.
Benedict's Middle East pilgrimage began in Jordan and will also take him to the West Bank, where he'll visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and Jerusalem's Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site.
click to read complete article
Pope's Israel visit raises tensions

Aljazeera — Pope Benedict XVI has begun the most sensitive leg of his first Middle East tour, visiting Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Catholic leader, who arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday, risks controversy both over his planned visit to occupied territories and a row over the Vatican's move to beatify Pope Pius XII.
click to read complete article
Why Mideast Christians are Wary of Pope Benedict's Visit

Time Magazine — Ever since the year 1204 A.D., when the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade sacked the Christian city of Constantinople instead of "liberating" Jerusalem from Muslim rule, Christians in the Middle East have been understandably wary of emissaries of Rome. Today, as Christians in the Middle East welcome Pope Benedict XVI on his first trip to the Holy Land, many are worried that the unpredictable Pontiff might stir up passions at a time of religious strife and political cold war. "The thing that worries me most is the speech that the Pope will deliver here," said Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Wednesday. "One word for the Muslims and I'm in trouble; one word for the Jews and I'm in trouble. At the end of the visit the Pope goes back to Rome and I stay here with the consequences."
click to read complete article

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Netanyahu: Dove or Hawk?

AL chief slams Netanyahu's peace proposal

Xinhua — Arab League (AL) Secretary General Amr Moussa on Thursday slammed the latest peace proposal made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the Jewish state's settlement activity defies the principle of an independent Palestinian state.
Moussa made the remarks at a press conference after an emergency meeting of the AL foreign ministers, which focused on the issue of Jerusalem.
click to read complete article
Netanyahu can be a peacemaker, says Quartet emissary Blair

Jerusalem Post — Quartet emissary Tony Blair on Thursday offered a strong endorsement of Binyamin Netanyahu's capacity to achieve peace, backing the prime minister's focus on fostering West Bank economic growth and bolstering the Palestinians' security capacity.
Netanyahu "most certainly can play the role of peacemaker," Blair told The Jerusalem Post in an interview, adding that there was now "a moment of opportunity" that required both negotiation from the "top down" and improving the economy and security realities from the "bottom up."
click to read complete article
Leaning on Israel won’t bring Middle East peace

The Oklahoman — IT’S understandable a new U.S. president coming into office, frustrated by the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, might figure the key to breaking the impasse is getting tougher with Israel. That’s where President Barack Obama and his administration seem to be heading.
Vice President Joe Biden talked tough this week at a Washington meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the big pro-Israel lobbying group. "Israel has to work toward a two-state solution,” Biden said, suggesting Israel hasn’t been doing so.
click to read complete article

Saturday, May 9, 2009

U.S. Airstrike in Afghanistan Causes Controversy

Legislator: death toll of air strikes in W Afghanistan reaches 147

Xinhua — A member of Provincial Council Hajji Abdul Basir Khairkhah on Friday put the number of casualties at 147 for the international troops' air strikes in western Afghan province of Farah early this week.
"The list prepared of those killed in air strikes on Garani village of Balablok district contains the names of 147 people, mostly women and children," Hajji Abdul Basir Khairkhah told Xinhua.
click to read complete article
Air strike end would harm Afghan troops

Associated France Presse — An end to air strikes in Afghanistan, demanded by President Hamid Karzai after scores of civilians were allegedly killed this week, would deprive Afghan troops of vital protection, a US official said Friday.
"Airstrikes are not acceptable," Karzai told CNN on Friday during a visit to Washington, adding that his government's information was that nearly 125 to 130 civilians were killed, including women and children, in this week's strikes.
click to read complete article
U.S. Disputes Afghan Count Of Fatalities

Washington Post — The U.S. military called "extremely over-exaggerated" a report that as many as 147 civilians had died in an incident in western Afghanistan this week involving American forces and the Taliban.
Afghans blame aerial bombing Monday and Tuesday for the deaths and destruction, and President Hamid Karzai, in Washington to meet with U.S. politicians, said in a Friday interview with CNN that his government estimated the number of civilian deaths to be 125 to 130. He called the airstrikes "not acceptable."
click to read complete article

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is the Right Dead?

Should the GOP Forget Reagan?

Wall Street Journal — The Republican Party's unending tale of woe sounds like a friend's account of sitting through the New York Yankees' 22-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians at the new Yankee Stadium April 18.
In the 14-run second inning, three Indians hit home runs into the right-field seats, including a grand-slam. One ball hit a woman in the head because the fans had stopped watching the game. A nasty fight broke out in the stands. After the fourth inning (16-2), the subway trains taking Yankee faithful back to Manhattan were packed. Republicans know the feeling.
click to read complete article
GOP disaster: First Specter and now Joe the Plumber?

Christian Science Monitor — Specter. Who cares?
Small potato (e) s. This is much larger than that.
Think if Bob Dole left the Republican party after losing his presidential bid in 1996. Or if John Kerry jumped ship and abandoned the Democrats in 2004.
That’s the magnitude of today’s announcement. A member of the actual Republican 2008 presidential ticket is giving up. Quitting. Leaving. Skipping town.
click to read complete article
Republicans in the Wilderness: Is the Party Over?

Time — These days, Republicans have the desperate aura of an endangered species. They lost Congress, then the White House; more recently, they lost a slam-dunk House election in a conservative New York district, then Senator Arlen Specter. Polls suggest that only one-fourth of the electorate considers itself Republican, that independents are trending Democratic and that as few as five states have solid Republican pluralities. And the electorate is getting less white, less rural, less Christian — in short, less demographically Republican. GOP officials who completely controlled Washington three years ago are vowing to "regain our status as a national party" and creating woe-is-us groups to resuscitate their brand, while Democrats are publishing books like The Strange Death of Republican America and 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation. John McCain's campaign manager recently described his party as basically extinct on the West Coast, nearly extinct in the Northeast and endangered in the Mountain West and Southwest.
click to read complete article

China's Quake Dead

China says 5,335 children dead, missing from '08 quake

Washington Post — A massive earthquake toppled Huang Liangju's house a year ago, and she still winces when the hills shudder above her makeshift shelter of planks and plastic sheets.
But after one recent aftershock, one of the many that keep rattling China's southwest Sichuan province, Huang said she and other survivors could not dwell on the past as the anniversary of the May 12 calamity neared. Their uncertain future was enough to worry about.
click to read complete article
Report: Families of Chinese Quake Victims Harassed by Police

Fox News — Parents of children killed in last year's Sichuan earthquake have been harassed by police and some imprisoned after trying to speak out about a possible scandal, according to an Amnesty International report.
Chinese authorities intimidated and detained parents and relatives for trying to seek answers from officials about why their children died.
click to read complete article
Tourism begins to revive in SW China's quake zones

Xinhua — Tourists from other parts of China swarmed to quake zones in southwest China's Sichuan Province and during the May 1 holiday weekend.
In Anchang town, about a 30-minute bus ride from Beichuan old county seat which was razed by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake a year ago, the sudden increased inflow of tourists forced local officials to put up a sign at a bridge to Anchang, persuading tourists to stop and turn back.
click to read complete article

Obama on National Prayer Day

Non-Christians feel left out on Day of Prayer

The Tennessean — Growing up in South Korea, the Rev. David Choi learned at an early age that prayer was serious business. As a child, he used to get up before dawn for a 4 a.m. prayer service.
Choi and other believers will join elected officials — including Mayor Karl Dean and Gov. Phil Bredesen — for an hourlong prayer service today at the plaza outside of Sommet Center to celebrate the National Day of Prayer. The 11:30 a.m. event is one of dozens statewide and thousands nationwide.
click to read complete article
Obama breaks from Bush on prayer day

Boston Globe— President Obama's latest break from his predecessor is drawing some ire among some Christian groups.
While former President Bush held formal events in the White House each year to mark the National Day of Prayer, Obama is opting today for a private observance and issuing an official proclamation.
click to read complete article
Obama did not outlaw religion - he just changed Natl Prayer Day routine

Christian Science Monitor — As we mentioned yesterday, President Obama is commemorating the National Day of Prayer. But he’s not doing it like his predecessor did.
Today is the 57th annual National Day of Prayer. This is an event that began under President Truman and really didn’t morph into something new until eight years ago when President George W. Bush began holding public ceremonies to mark the day.
click to read complete article

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UN Report Blasts Israel on Gaza War

U.N. Inquiry Finds Israel Purposely Fired on School in Gaza

Washington Post — A United Nations inquiry into the Gaza conflict earlier this year concluded that Israel intentionally struck a U.N.-run elementary school, killing three young men seeking shelter from the fighting, according to a summary released Tuesday.
The incident was one of eight in which the Israel Defense Forces fired on U.N. personnel or facilities that drew scrutiny from a three-member U.N. board of inquiry. The board found that Israel had repeatedly breached the inviolability of U.N. premises and that, in attacking another elementary school, it exhibited "reckless disregard for the lives and safety" of civilians. Two children were killed and 13 others injured in that attack.
click to read complete article
Israeli President Calls UN Gaza Report 'Outrageous'

Voice of America News — Israel's President on Wednesday rejected as "outrageous" a U.N. inquiry that blamed Israel for six serious attacks on U.N. premises during its recent Gaza offensive.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said his government does not accept "one word" of the report, calling it "one-sided" and "unfair."
click to read complete article
UN to examine Israel's torture record

Jerusalem Post — There has been a 15 percent rise in the number of Palestinian patients whom Israel has interrogated and forced to provide information on Hamas or to serve as spies as a precondition to leaving Gaza for medical care, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel plans to tell the UN in Geneva on Monday.
According to the NGO, the proportions of applicants interrogated at the Erez crossing to northern Gaza rose from 1.45% in January 2008 to 17% in January 2009.
click to read complete article

U.S. Isreal Relations

Biden urges Israel to work for a Palestinian state

LA Times — Vice President Joe Biden called on Israeli officials Tuesday to work harder for creation of a Palestinian state and to halt growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Biden, speaking at a conference sponsored by an influential pro-Israel lobby, said the Obama administration was committed to a new direction in Middle East peace efforts because "the status quo of the last decade has not served the interests of the United States, or Israel, very well."
click to read complete article
Peres after meeting Obama: We're 100% on same page

Jerusalem Post — US President Barack Obama called protecting Israel's security a "top priority" for the US when welcoming the first Israeli leader to visit his White House on Tuesday.
Obama met with President Shimon Peres, after which Peres told reporters that "there is no space between us and the United States."
click to read complete article
Poll: Most Israelis would support Iran strike

Jerusalem Post — A vast majority (66%) of Israelis said they would support military action if diplomatic and economic efforts failed to get Iran to stop uranium enrichment, and of that number, 75% would support this action even if the Obama administration were opposed, according to a survey jointly commissioned by Bar-Ilan University's BESA center and the ADL, published on Sunday.
Regarding the US president, most respondents have an overall favorable opinion of Barack Obama, but are skeptical about his Middle East policies; while 60 percent said they had either a "somewhat favorable" or "very favorable" opinion of Obama, and 14% said their attitude toward him was unfavorable, only 32% of the respondents said they approved of Obama's policies toward Israel, and 21% said they disapproved.
click to read complete article

Afghan-Pakistan summit begins in US

U.S. Presses Visiting Pakistani Leader on Taliban Threat

NY Times — The Obama administration sought Wednesday to ratchet up pressure on the Pakistani government to crack down on the Taliban in the western part of the country, as congressional leaders and administration officials expressed increased concern over the deteriorating situation in Pakistan, where insurgents have taken over territory just 60 miles from the capital.
Mr. Obama will meet with both President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan on Wednesday afternoon at the White House. The focus was to be ways that Afghanistan and Pakistan, both unstable, could work together, and with the United States.
click to read complete article
Clinton Expresses Regret for Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

Washington Post — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today expressed deep regret for civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan, telling the visiting Afghan and Pakistani presidents that the United States will work hard to "avoid the loss of innocent civilian life" even as it presses both governments to step up efforts to defeat Islamist extremists of the Taliban and al-Qaeda networks.
Appearing before reporters at the State Department with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Clinton pledged that the United States would make "an all-government effort" to promote peace and stability in both countries.
click to read complete article
Hillary Clinton told Pakistan, Afghanistan, US facing common enemy

A Pakistan News — “We have a common threat, we have a common target and we have a common challenge,
Hillary Clinton US Secretary of State said that the leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan realize that the three countries have a common enemy.
click to read complete article

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Obama Moves on Tax Havens

Obama aims at offshore tax havens

Houston Chronicle — President Barack Obama presented a far-reaching set of proposals on Monday that are aimed at the tax benefits enjoyed by companies and wealthy individuals harboring cash in offshore accounts.
These steps, he said, would be the first in a much broader effort to fix a “broken tax system.”
click to read complete article
Obama’s Bid to End Offshore Tax Havens Faces Hurdle in Congress

Bloomberg — President Barack Obama’s plan to end tax breaks for U.S.-based multinational companies drew a skeptical response from fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill, indicating that his proposal may face obstacles in Congress.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, called for “further study” of Obama’s proposals within minutes of the president’s announcement yesterday. Joseph Crowley, a Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he doesn’t want any tax changes to “harm” Citigroup Inc., his New York district’s largest private-sector employer.
click to read complete article
Obama Plan Leaves One Path to Lower Taxes Wide Open

NY Times — The Obama administration’s plan to restrict or shut down several widely used tax loopholes takes away many — but not all — of the sophisticated tax moves commonly used in corporate America.
The most widely used tactic not covered by the plan is known as transfer pricing, which multinational corporations employ routinely to reduce the taxes they owe to the United States by keeping their profits offshore in low-tax or no-tax havens.
click to read complete article

Karzai up for Reelection

Karzai to run for re-election

Aljazeera — Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has formally announced he will stand for re-election in the country's August 20 presidential race.
Announcing the move on Monday, Karzai acknowledged "some mistakes'' were made during his five-year term as president.
click to read complete article
Karzai Enlists Former Warlord as Running Mate

NY Times — President Hamid Karzai named a powerful former warlord as one of his two vice-presidential running mates on Monday, a day of scattered insurgent attacks that left as many as 26 people dead.
The vice-presidential candidate, Muhammad Qasim Fahim, was Mr. Karzai’s vice president in his early administration, but was pushed aside in 2004 as Mr. Karzai tried to move away from traditional power blocs and bring more technocrats into the government. The government in Kabul, however, remains weak and troubled, and Mr. Fahim’s return appears to be a sign that Mr. Karzai is reaching for strong partners with broad support among former mujahedeen parties.
click to read complete article
Hamid Karzai gets clear road to re-election as challengers fall by wayside

Times UK — President Karzai's re-election campaign in Afghanistan appears almost unassailable amid opposition disarray and with less than a week to go for candidates to register for the battle.
The Afghan President's likely re-election in the August poll follows increasing Western criticism of the corruption and incompetence of his government and despite polling data seen by The Times suggesting that he enjoyed only 15 per cent of popular support at the start of the year
click to read complete article

Monday, May 4, 2009

Israel : Iran

Israeli president: Iran threatens US, Europe

AP — Israel's president charged Monday that Iran's nuclear program threatens the United States, Europe and Arab nations, as well as Israel.
"The fanatic rulers of Iran are on the wrong side of history," Shimon Peres told a convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
click to read complete article
Iran says sanction, threat against it ineffective

Xinhua — Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said on Monday that the "policy of threat and sanctions" against the Islamic Republic has become ineffective, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"The sanctions have no effect on the national will of Iranians in pursuing their legal rights including access to nuclear energy," Qashqavi told reporters in his weekly press conference.
click to read complete article
Israeli Air Force sharpening Arrows for Iran

Iran press TV — Israeli Air Force is exercising with rockets capable of reaching Iran preparing for a variety of 'scenarios' in the event of a war with the country.
The IAF has deployed its Arrow and Patriot missile interceptors pitting the apparatuses against different projectiles, The Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday.
click to read complete article

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Warren Buffet on the economy

Buffett Praises U.S. Decisions on Economy

Washington Post — Billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett spent Saturday praising the decisions U.S. officials made to try to right the economy in the midst of a "financial hurricane" and defending the ones he made to help his company navigate the storm.
The state of the economy and his company Berkshire Hathaway's recent performance were among the first things addressed at Berkshire's annual shareholders' meeting. About 35,000 people packed an arena to listen to Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charles T. Munger answer questions for five hours.
click to read complete article
Buffett sees some housing market stabilization

Wall Street Journal Market Watch — Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett said Saturday that he sees some signs of stabilization in housing markets.
"In the last few months you've seen a real pickup in activity although at much lower prices," Buffett said, citing data from Berkshire's real estate brokerage business, which is one of the largest in the U.S.
click to read complete article
Warren Buffett: Inflation on the horizon

CNN Money — Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett defended the government's handling of the economic crisis, but warned that the purchasing power of the dollar may fall as policymakers stretch to finance expensive rescue plans.
Reflecting on the near implosion of the financial system last fall, Buffett said officials should be judged more leniently when facing "as close to a total meltdown as you can imagine."
click to read complete article

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Torture Policy

Critics Say Obama's Torture Ban Undermines Vow to Protect America

Fox News — President Obama's vow to keep Americans safe is in conflict with his decision to limit interrogation techniques to the Army Field Manual, opponents of his anti-terror policies say.
The Army Field Manual, which includes interrogation methods intended for captured soldiers rather than hardened terrorists, is "not useful at all," David Rivkin, a former official in the Bush Justice Department, told FOX News. "In fact, the Army Field Manual is, let's say, so anemic, that it goes below the level of coercion associated with police station level of interrogation."
click to read complete article
Obama gives nuanced defense of his stance on torture

LA Times — In a strikingly defensive explanation of his stance on Bush-era anti-terrorism tactics, President Obama on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time that the harsh interrogation techniques he has banned might have yielded useful information, but that he was nonetheless willing to rule them out on moral grounds.
It was a nuanced performance as Obama walked viewers of his prime-time news conference through a policy that has led him to declare tactics such as waterboarding torture but to stop short of advocating prosecution of the architects of the practices.
click to read complete article
100 Days In, A Hard Look At Torture

CBS News — At his news conference Wednesday night, President Obama said once again that waterboarding is torture and that there are other ways, more consistent with American values, to get information from terror suspects.
But intelligence experts remain divided on this issue, reports CBS News correspondent David Martin.
click to read complete article

Friday, May 1, 2009

Twitter News

Nielsen finds majority quit Twitter after only a month

Baltimore Sun — Media folk are tripping over each other these days to tell their audiences how cool they think Twitter is and how deeply they are into Twitter culture.
Maybe so. But here's a fascinating fact from a new Nielsen survey: Three out of every five users who sign up for Twitter drop out by the second month. That is only a 40 percent retention rate -- much lower than that for Facebook and MySpace.
click to read complete article
Twitter Quitters Just Don't Get It

ABC News — A Nielsen report this week revealed that Twitter has an uncanny knack for hemorrhaging users.
In fact, some 60 percent of new users bail on the service within a month. For those of us who've been tweeting for a couple of years, this isn't exactly a shocker. Many longtime users have gone through that initial period of wondering what, if any, use Twitter might be. And maybe it's better for everyone if those who don't get it refrain from tweeting until they do.
click to read complete article
Sarah Palin begins to Twitter

CNET News — Oh, it was merely a bit of fun while such media hogs as Ashton Kutcher and CNN were doing it.
But once Oprah became a participant, you knew that Twitter had reached the upper echelons of politics and society.
click to read complete article

Souter to Step Down

Souter known as low-key, fierce defender of individual rights

CNN — David who? was the initial reaction of Americans to a little-known judge from New Hampshire named in 1990 to sit on the nation's highest court. Even the nominee didn't know what to think when President George H.W. Bush called him with the news, telling supporters, "I was in a state of virtual shock."
David Hackett Souter had only been on a federal appeals court bench for a few months when he was tapped to replace liberal lion William Brennan, a choice many Republicans hoped would move the high court rightward and reshape American law.
click to read complete article
List of Obama's Possible Picks for Supreme Court

Fox News — President Obama is believed to have had a short list to replace Supreme Court Justices David Souter.
One possibility is the current U.S. Solicitor General, Elena Kagan. She's a former law professor at Obama's alma mater, Harvard University.
click to read complete article
Souter's Votes May Ease Conservative Anxieties

Washington Post — Editor's Note: This article first appeared in The Post on May 28, 1991. We republish it as part of our RePosted feature, where we dig through the Post archives to find pieces that shed light on current events.
Justice David H. Souter's moderate-sounding testimony at his confirmation hearings last September left some conservatives nervous about whether they were getting the judicial hard-liner they had been promised.
click to read complete article