Is this the value of our existence
Should we proclaim with such persistence
Our destiny relies on conscience
Red or blue what’s the difference
Supplier Under Scrutiny on Aging Arms for Afghans
This article was reported by C. J. Chivers, Eric Schmitt and Nicholas Wood and written by Mr. Chivers.
Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur.
With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces.
U.S. to Stop Green Card Denials for Dissidents
The U.S. immigration service said yesterday that it will temporarily stop denying green cards to refugees and other legal immigrants tied to groups that sought to topple foreign dictatorships, placing their cases on hold while it determines more “logical, common-sense” rules for judging them.
The decision will potentially affect thousands of pending applications for permanent U.S. residence. The cases of hundreds of others who have been denied green cards since December will also be reexamined, said Jonathan “Jock” Scharfen, deputy director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
U.S. Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan
Officials Fear Support From Islamabad Will Wane
The United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that Pakistan’s new leaders will insist on scaling back military operations in that country, according to U.S. officials.
Washington is worried that pro-Western President Pervez Musharraf, who has generally supported the U.S. strikes, will almost certainly have reduced powers in the months ahead, and so it wants to inflict as much damage as it can to al-Qaeda’s network now, the officials said.
Iraq leader gives Shiite militias in Basra three days to surrender
Toll reaches 80 as gunmen resist an Iraq government crackdown in the southern city of Basra. Cleric Muqtada Sadr is said to urge followers to abide by truce.
BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri Maliki gave Shiite Muslim militiamen in Basra three days to surrender as fighting raged Wednesday in the southern Shiite heartland and parts of Baghdad, leaving more than 80 people dead in two days.
Basra residents trapped in their homes by raging gun battles worried that food was running out with no end in sight to the clashes between Iraqi security forces and followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr and other armed factions.
Powerful lessons: Ultra-orthodox awkward squad
Rabbi Obadia Yosef’s hardline Shas party is an implacable opponent of the two-state solution. And its influence over a generation of young Israelis is growing. By Donald Macintyre
In a schoolroom in the heart of the growing immigrant town of Beit Shemesh – its Jewish origins dating back to biblical times – Rabbi Pinchas Mazuz is conducting a boisterous class of teenage boys who attend this yeshiva with a difference. This afternoon’s lesson seeks answers to the question of what you would tell a visitor from abroad about how to conduct the Seder, the ritual family meal on the first night of Passover, and the students, preparing for a test on just this subject eagerly shout back their answers: clearing the house of chametz, or leavened bread, the reading of the Haggadah, the account of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery, the drinking of four glasses of wine.
Monks disrupt Tibet media visit
Tibetan monks have disrupted a tour by the first foreign journalists invited by China to visit Lhasa since protests erupted two weeks ago, witnesses say.
About 30 monks shouted pro-Tibetan slogans and defended the Dalai Lama as journalists toured the Jokhang Temple, an Associated Press reporter said.
China has accused the Dalai Lama of masterminding the protests.
But US President George W Bush has urged Beijing to begin dialogue with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.
In a telephone conversation with counterpart Hu Jintao, Mr Bush raised concerns over the situation in Tibet and urged Beijing to ease access to the region for journalists and diplomats.
Burma, land were people wear the tattered shreds of the Saffron Revolution
He wore the traditional Burmese man’s skirt, spoke with an out-of-town accent and, right up until the moment of horror, there was no suggestion that the young man was anything out of the ordinary. It was Friday evening and thousands of people were praying at the Shwedagon Pagoda, the golden monument that towers above Rangoon. Before the plain-clothes police could react, the young man whipped out a placard denouncing the junta and placed it round his neck. Then he produced a bottle of petrol, shook it over his clothes and set himself alight.
“He was still standing and he was trying to shout something but I couldn’t hear it,” a young Buddhist monk who witnessed the immolation said. “He was trying to speak but the flames were round his face. And then the police jumped on him.”
German supermarket chain Lidl accused of snooping on staff
The German discount supermarket chain Lidl has been accused of spying on its employees, including recording how many times they went to the toilet as well as details about their love lives, personal finances and menstrual cycles.
An investigation by the German news magazine Stern uncovered an extensive espionage system in its shops across Germany. It obtained hundreds of pages of documents gathered by detectives allegedly employed by the chain to find out about its staff. The surveillance took place via mini-video cameras installed by detectives. The official reason given to store managers was to reduce shoplifting.
‘Inhumane and oppressive’: the final verdict on Britain’s asylum policy
By Emily Dugan
Thursday, 27 March 2008
The most comprehensive examination of the UK’s asylum system ever conducted has found it “marred by inhumanity” and “not yet fit for purpose”.
The report, published by the Independent Asylum Commission, is a damning indictment of the Home Office’s failure to deal fairly with those applying for sanctuary in this country.
The commission found that Britain’s treatment of asylum-seekers “falls seriously below the standards to be expected of a humane and civilised society”. Its interim report will be delivered to the Home Office today by a delegation of asylum-seekers.
Robert Mugabe mocked as climate of fear dissolves in laughter
The voice uncannily resembles President Mugabe’s. “I gave you maize for my election campaign and you made popcorn out of it,” it drones. “I gave you fertiliser and you made kachasu [bootleg] out of it. I gave you cattle and you sold them to the butcher. My people are a terrible disappointment.”
The listeners, crouched over a mobile telephone, convulse with laughter. The voice belongs to a mimic who satirises the speeches of the 84-year-old leader.
Then there is the new ringtone being sold at markets around the country. To the tune of a well-known “revolutionary” song of the ruling Zanu (PF) party of Robert Mugabe, the singers chant derisively: “And for how long are you going to vote for Zanu(PF)?”
Angola to host landmine pageant
Landmine victims are to take part in a beauty contest in Angola, where tens of thousands have been injured by mines.
The pageant has been organised by Angola’s de-mining commission, and aims to restore the confidence of victims and raise awareness of their plight.
Millions of mines were planted in Angola during a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.
The “Miss Landmine Survivor” contest will be held on 2 April in a luxury hotel in the Angolan capital, Luanda.
Oil exploration issue splits Mexico
Leftist party decries Calderon’s proposal to enlist foreign firms in deep-water drilling.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s oil has long been a source of national pride. Now, with reserves dwindling away, President Felipe Calderon has floated a controversial initiative to rescue the government oil giant, Pemex: allow foreigners to help the company drill for oil.
The debate over “energy reform” has split Mexico’s political class, with the left threatening national civil disobedience to stop Congress from considering it and a key centrist ally of Calderon withdrawing its support.
Pemex, short for Petroleos Mexicanos, says that it needs outside technological help to bring up oil from deep-water fields. But such a proposal raises the hot-button question of whether foreign companies should be allowed to invest and profit from any of Mexico’s oil riches.