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Docudharma Times Thursday Dec. 6 This is an Open Thread: Please Come Inside

Headlines for Thursday December 7:As N.H. Primary Nears, Clinton Clings to Narrow : Details in Military Notes Led to Shift on Iran, U.S. Says: U.S. military brass in Iraq resist quick drawdown : Japan’s Bloggers: Humble Giants of the Web


Top U.S. military brass in Iraq resist quick drawdown

Commanders fear recent gains would be lost. The Pentagon, meanwhile, turns up pressure to bring more troops home.

By Peter Spiegel and Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

December 6, 2007

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military’s internal debate over how fast to reduce its force in Iraq has intensified in recent weeks as commanders in Baghdad resist suggestions from Pentagon officials for a quicker drawdown.

Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day military commander in Iraq, said he was worried that significant improvements in security conditions would sway policymakers to move too quickly to pull out troops next year.

“The most important thing to me is we cannot lose what we have gained,” Odierno said in an interview last week with The Times after he toured Nahrawan, a predominantly Shiite city of about 100,000 northeast of Baghdad with a market that is now showing signs of life. “We won’t do that.”

Details in Military Notes Led to Shift on Iran, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 – American intelligence agencies reversed their view about the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program after they obtained notes last summer from the deliberations of Iranian military officials involved in the weapons development program, senior intelligence and government officials said on Wednesday.

The notes included conversations and deliberations in which some of the military officials complained bitterly about what they termed a decision by their superiors in late 2003 to shut down a complex engineering effort to design nuclear weapons, including a warhead that could fit atop Iranian missiles.

As N.H. Primary Nears, Clinton Clings to Narrow Lead

By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, December 6, 2007; Page A01

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a narrow lead over Sen. Barack Obama among Democratic presidential candidates in New Hampshire, a state whose primary her campaign has viewed as a potential firewall should she stumble in the Iowa caucuses, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Clinton is widely seen as the party’s best experienced and most electable presidential candidate, but with most Democratic voters in the state looking for a fresh approach to governing, the first-in-the-nation primary has become fiercely competitive.


Japan’s Bloggers: Humble Giants of the Web

By Blaine Harden

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, December 6, 2007; Page A01

TOKYO — Compared to the English-speaking world, the Japanese have gone blog wild. They write Web logs at per capita rates that are off the global charts.

Although English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers by more than 5-1, slightly more blog postings are written in Japanese than in English, according to Technorati, the Internet search engine that monitors the blogosphere.

By some estimates, as much as 40 percent of Japanese blogging is done on mobile phones, often by commuters staring cross-eyed at tiny screens for hours as they ride the world’s most extensive network of subways and commuter trains.

India tests interceptor missile: officials

BHUBANESWAR, India (AFP) – India staged a successful missile intercept test over the Bay of Bengal Thursday after thousands of people were evacuated ahead of the exercise, a defence official said.

The Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile intercepted a modified version of the surface-to-surface Prithvi-1 (earth-1) missile, said a defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The test was successful,” said another defence official associated with the test.

The weapons were fired from the Chandipur-on-Sea and Wheeler Island testing sites in eastern Orissa state.

Middle East

Iraq food ration system could get cut

BAGHDAD – Food rations might have to be cut due to a lack of budget funds, the trade minister said, warning such a move would pose hardship for the majority of Iraqis who depend heavily on the Saddam Hussein-era program.

The comments by Trade Minister Abed Falah al-Sudani came as critics have called for the costly system to be revised or eliminated. Two-thirds of the some 26 million Iraqis rely on the rations, al-Sudani said.

“Any change in the ration items will create new problems that will add new burdens on families,” al-Sudani said in a statement Wednesday.

Report on Iran fuels Arab fears

Some analysts say Tehran may feel free to interfere in the Mideast, but a few are relieved that chances of a U.S. attack have dimmed.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

December 6, 2007

CAIRO — The dwindling possibility of a U.S. attack on Iran is changing the dynamics of Middle East politics and raising Arab concern that Tehran may now feel emboldened to strengthen its military, increase its support for Islamic radicals and exert more influence in the region’s troubled countries.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations opposed military action against Iran’s nuclear program. But, analysts said, those governments were privately relieved that U.S. threats helped to further preoccupy Tehran, which had irritated much of the Arab world with its deep involvement in the politics of Iraq and Lebanon and support for the radical Palestinian group Hamas.


‘Eta attack’ kills second officer

A second Spanish policeman has died after being shot during a surveillance operation on suspected members of the Basque separatist group, Eta.

Fernando Trapero, 23, had been in a coma since he was shot on Saturday in the French resort town of Capbreton.

His colleague, Raul Centeno, died immediately in the same attack. Thousands of Spaniards marched in Madrid on Tuesday to denounce Eta.

A Dead Man Has Some Explaining to Do

LONDON, Dec. 5 – John Darwin was declared dead some four and a half years ago, so it was a surprise when he walked into a police station here on Saturday, claiming to have no idea what he had been doing all this time.

It seemed heartwarming, if peculiar. Mr. Darwin’s children said they were delighted. His wife, Anne, who, oddly enough, moved to Panama City six weeks ago, said, “It was the moment I’ve always prayed for,” and speculated that perhaps her husband had lost his memory from hitting his head in the supposed canoeing accident in 2002 in which he supposedly drowned. Latin America

In Mexico’s drug trade, no glitter for grunts

Héctor Tobar / Los Angeles Times

SIBLING REMEMBERED: Arely Montoya of Guamuchil, Mexico, holds her brother’s ID card from his job as a hospital security guard. Jose Alan Montoya was later recruited to work for drug traffickers and was kiled by army troops.

Despite being portrayed as hip gunslingers, the unskilled workers who toil for traffickers are an expendable lot who often die in obscurity.

By Héctor Tobar and Cecilia Sánchez, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

December 6, 2007

GUAMUCHIL, MEXICO — Jose alan montoya died far from the beloved roosters he raised on his patio, far from the tortilla shop his mother ran, far from the people who still weep for a man gunned down on a marijuana plantation in the mountains of Michoacan.

Chávez Turns Bitter Over His Defeat in Referendum

Foes of Amending Charter Have ‘Nothing to Celebrate’

By Juan Forero

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, December 6, 2007; Page A20

BOGOTA, Colombia, Dec. 5 — Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Wednesday used a four-letter expletive to dismiss the opposition victory in Sunday’s referendum and pledged to press forward with plans to approve constitutional changes that would expand his power in one of the world’s leading oil producing-countries.

Chávez’s remarks, made on television programs broadcast in Venezuela, represent a sharp turn from his magnanimous comments Monday after voters narrowly blocked 69 constitutional changes in a national vote. It was the opposition’s first electoral victory since Chávez first won office in a landslide election in 1998.


South Africa ANC member wants conference stopped: paper

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A member of South Africa’s ruling ANC has launched a legal bid to postpone the party’s conference this month, citing divisions over its leadership and breaches of the bill of rights, local media said on Thursday.

Infighting between supporters of President Thabo Mbeki and his party deputy Jacob Zuma ahead of the Dec 16-20 ANC conference has opened the worst splits in the history of a party whose strength was long based on discipline and unity.

The Star newspaper said lawyer and ANC member Votani Majola would seek an interdict at the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday to stop the Dec 16-20 conference because “the playing fields are not level.”


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    • Edger on December 6, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Scientists today announced the discovery of an extraordinarily preserved “dinosaur mummy” with much of its tissues and bones still encased in an uncollapsed envelope of skin.

    Preliminary studies of the 67-million-year-old hadrosaur, named Dakota, are already altering theories of what the ancient creatures’ skin looked like and how quickly they moved, project researchers say. (See pictures of the mummy dino and its preserved skin.)

    Further investigations may reveal detailed information about soft tissues, which could help unlock secrets about the evolution of dinosaurs and their descendents, the scientists added.

    For now, the team continues to examine the rare specimen, which included preserved tendons and ligaments, and to prepare scientific articles on the find for publication.

    “This specimen exceeds the jackpot,” said excavation leader Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at Britain’s University of Manchester and a National Geographic Expeditions Council grantee.

    Most dinosaurs are known only from their bones, which are seldom found joined together as they would be in real life.

    But “we’re looking at a three-dimensional skin envelope,” Manning said. “In many places it’s complete and intact-around the tail, arms, and legs and part of the body.”

    • pfiore8 on December 6, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    hey… how’s OND going? don’t get over to Orange as much as i used to…

  1. The first item illustrates, lest there was any doubt, that those military commanders on the ground — the ones the Bush administration always says it relies on for decision-making — will never think it’s a good time to pull our troops out.

    This has to be a political decision, not a military one, or we’ll be in Iraq forever.

    All the more reason to keep the pressure on and turn up the heat.

    • Edger on December 6, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    that I found on an old archive site: Adequacy – News for Grown-ups, but it was rather prophetic, and goes a long way towards explaining much of the past 6 years, I think…

    Of course the World Trade Center bombings are a uniquely tragic event, and it is vital that we never lose sight of the human tragedy involved. However, we must also consider if this is not also a lesson to us all; a lesson that my political views are correct. Although what is done can never be undone, the fact remains that if the world were organised according to my political views, this tragedy would never have happened.

    Many people will use this terrible tragedy as an excuse to put through a political agenda other than my own. This tawdry abuse of human suffering for political gain sickens me to the core of my being. Those people who have different political views from me ought to be ashamed of themselves for thinking of cheap partisan point-scoring at a time like this. In any case, what this tragedy really shows us is that, so far from putting into practice political views other than my own, it is precisely my political agenda which ought to be advanced.

    Not only are my political views vindicated by this terrible tragedy, but also the status of my profession. Furthermore, it is only in the context of a national and international tragedy like this that we are reminded of the very special status of my hobby, and its particular claim to legislative protection. My religious and spiritual views also have much to teach us about the appropriate reaction to these truly terrible events.

    Countries which I like seem to never suffer such tragedies, while countries which, for one reason or another, I dislike, suffer them all the time. The one common factor which seems to explain this has to do with my political views, and it suggests that my political views should be implemented as a matter of urgency, even though they are, as a matter of fact, not implemented in the countries which I like.

    Of course the World Trade Center attacks are a uniquely tragic event, and it is vital that we never lose sight of the human tragedy involved. But we must also not lose sight of the fact that I am right on every significant moral and political issue, and everybody ought to agree with me. Please, I ask you as fellow human beings, vote for the political party which I support, and ask your legislators to support policies endorsed by me, as a matter of urgency.

    It would be a fitting memorial.


    Whom must we never forget?

    Me 20%

    Me 12%

    Me 19%

    Me 30%

    Me 18%

    • nocatz on December 6, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Well, I feel better now.  Gots to get me some of that Lourdes mojo.  Outta the way Protestants…

    • Edger on December 6, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    C.I.A. Admits It Destroyed Tapes of Harsh Interrogations

    NYT, December 6, 2007

    The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

    The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects – including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody – to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said. The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,”

    Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.

    If tapes were destroyed, he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal,” because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.

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