Docudharma Times Friday February 27

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Friday’s Headlines:

Senate to investigate CIA’s actions under Bush

Mutineers forced to surrender after massacre in Bangladeshi capital

Slumdog children return to heroes’ welcome

Tangled justice for Kosovo

Engines stalled before Turkish Boeing plunged into Schiphol field

Ariel Sharon, comatose former Israeli Prime Minister, turns 81

After Gaza war, a harder coexistence for Jews and Arabs

Sierra Leone verdict warns world’s warlords

Mugabe Refuses to Dismiss Two Officials

Betancourt vilified by fellow hostages

Obama Plans Major Shifts in Spending


Published: February 26, 2009

WASHINGTON – Proclaiming a “once in a generation” opportunity, President Obama proposed a 10-year budget on Thursday that reflects his determination in the face of recession to invest trillions of dollars and his own political capital in reshaping the nation’s priorities.Mr. Obama would overhaul health care, begin to arrest global warming, expand the federal role in education and shift more costs to some corporations and the wealthiest taxpayers.

In a veiled gibe at the Bush years, Mr. Obama said his budget broke “from a troubled past” and attributed the current economic maelstrom to “an era of profound irresponsibility that engulfed both private and public institutions from some of our largest companies’ executive suites to the seats of power in Washington, D.C.”

Genital mutilation: Women fight Africa’s taboo

They broke the silence from tribal elders and politicians – but paid a high personal price for trying to protect millions of young girls from the knife

By Katrina Manson in Sierra Leone

Friday, 27 February 2009

The female journalist was snatched by members of a secret society, forcibly stripped and made to parade naked through the streets. It might sound like an atrocity from the time when Sierra Leone was ripped apart by a bloody civil war, but in fact the public humiliation was exacted in the diamond-rich eastern town of Kenema just this month. The woman’s alleged crime was reporting on female genital mutilation.

While the attack was condemned by media watchdogs as “disgraceful behaviour worthy of a bygone age”, one woman who was not surprised was Rugiatu Turay. When she was 12 Ms Turay was stolen away by family members and underwent what some politely refer to as “circumcision”. She calls it “torture”. For the past six years, she has been waging a war against the practice, which many in Sierra Leone, including senior politicians, see as an initiation rite.



‘Combatant’ Case to Move From Tribunal To U.S. Court

By Carrie Johnson and Julie Tate

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, February 27, 2009; Page A01

The Justice Department is preparing to announce criminal charges against Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri for allegedly providing material support to al-Qaeda terrorists, sources said, a groundbreaking step that would place the alleged sleeper agent in the purview of the U.S. courts rather than before a military tribunal.

Marri is the last remaining “enemy combatant” in the United States, and he has spent 5 1/2 years in a military brig in South Carolina. Indicting him in a federal district court in central Illinois could avert a Supreme Court ruling that would tie the Obama administration’s hands in dealing with future terrorism suspects.

Lawyers for Marri said yesterday that they will press ahead for a Supreme Court hearing in April, hoping to use his case as a vehicle to formally repudiate the Bush administration’s position that enemy combatants can be held indefinitely by U.S. authorities.

Senate to investigate CIA’s actions under Bush

The ‘fact-finding’ effort will seek details on secret prisons and interrogation methods — but will not aim to determine if CIA officials broke laws, legislative sources say.

By Greg Miller

February 27, 2009

Reporting from Washington — The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to launch an investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs under President George W. Bush, setting the stage for a sweeping examination of some of most secretive and controversial operations in recent agency history.

The inquiry is aimed at uncovering new information on the origins of the programs as well as scrutinizing how they were executed — including the conditions at clandestine CIA prison sites and the interrogation regimens used to break Al Qaeda suspects, according to Senate aides familiar with the investigation plans.

Officials said the inquiry was not designed to determine whether CIA officials broke laws. “The purpose here is to do fact-finding in order to learn lessons from the programs and see if there are recommendations to be made for detention and interrogations in the future,” said a senior Senate aide, who like others described the plan on condition of anonymity because it had not been made public.


Mutineers forced to surrender after massacre in Bangladeshi capital

Randeep Ramesh in Delhi and Fariha Karim in Dhaka

The Guardian, Friday 27 February 2009

Details of a bloodbath in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, emerged yesterday in the wake of an uprising by paramilitaries who were finally forced to surrender by columns of advancing tanks.

One government source said 50 people had been killed, though the official toll was 11 last night and had reached at least 22 by today, including an army major general and his wife murdered in cold blood by members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the border security force.

The onslaught began when the army officer corps dismissed appeals by the paramilitaries for more pay, subsidised food and holidays and refused to send them on lucrative UN peacekeeping missions.

Slumdog children return to heroes’ welcome

 By Andrew Buncombe in Delhi

Friday, 27 February 2009

The child stars of Slumdog Millionaire returned to India today to be mobbed by crowds of media, relatives and supporters.

“It was amazing, America was amazing,” said a very excited Rubina Ali, eight, who played Latika, the film’s heroine, as a young girl. “I loved the pizza there. People are so beautiful. I’m happy to be back but I want to go to America again.” Rubina was among six Indian children flown to Los Angeles for the Oscars extravaganza where their film bagged eight awards. There, they had mingled with the biggest names in Hollywood, soaked up the red-carpet treatment and taken a trip to Disneyland. They returned to Mumbai to be met with sweets, flower garlands and hordes of paparazzi. As the journalists pressed to reach the actors, the youngsters were hoisted on their relatives’ shoulders or placed on top of cars. Some wore bright marigold garlands andothers were bearing gifts for their friends. Police escorted them home.


Tangled justice for Kosovo

 Former Serbian president cleared of ethnic cleansing as three officials sentenced to 22 years for war crimes

By Peter Popham and Vesna Peric Zimonjic in belgrade

Friday, 27 February 2009  

The first successfully completed trial of Serbs accused of war crimes during the Kosovo conflict ended in The Hague yesterday with 22-year sentences for the three officials most closely involved in the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, but a shock acquittal for the highest profile defendant, former Serbian president Milan Milutinovic.

Like the other five Serbs on trial, Mr Milutinovic, 66, had been accused of what prosecutor Thomas Hannis said was “a joint criminal enterprise” in the first half of 1999, which resulted in the killing and persecution of thousands of Kosovo Albanians (Kosovars) and the deportation of about 800,000 to neighbouring Albania. “They burned or destroyed villages so there was nothing left to return to,” Mr Hannis said.

Engines stalled before Turkish Boeing plunged into Schiphol field

From The Times

February 27, 2009

David Charter, Europe Correspondent

Stalled engines were identified yesterday as the likely cause of the crash that killed nine people when a Turkish Airlines flight plummeted into a field on its approach to Schiphol airport.

The chief investigator, Pieter van Vollenhoven, said that the Boeing 737-800 had fallen suddenly from the sky, suggesting that both engines had stalled as the aircraft slowed on its descent to the runway south of Amsterdam.

No reason for the stalling had been established, Mr van Vollenhoven told Dutch television as investigators continued their analysis of the crash scene in a muddy field.

Turkish Airlines defended the maintenance record of the aircraft after reports that it had undergone recent repairs and suffered a dangerous malfunction two days before the crash.

Middle East?

Ariel Sharon, comatose former Israeli Prime Minister, turns 81

From The Times

February 27, 2009

James Hider

West Bank The Israeli politician Ariel Sharon turned 81 in a Tel Aviv hospital where he has lain comatose since a stroke three years ago. Staff at Tel HaShomer hospital said Mr Sharon’s condition was stable.

Kadima, the centre-right party which he created, has just lost an election and his disengagement from Gaza has led to an Islamist state on Israel’s doorstep. Yet Mr Sharon’s most enduring legacy, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, are flourishing. In his autobiography Mr Sharon said he had encouraged civilians to settle in the conquered territories after the 1967 war because if there were only military installations, a government could easily order their removal. However, in his final years as Prime Minister, he came to support the idea of a Palestinian state. He was feted as a hero in the 1973 Yom Kippur War but later judged to be indirectly responsible for the massacres of hundreds of Palestinian refugees by Lebanese Christian paramilitaries in 1982.

After Gaza war, a harder coexistence for Jews and Arabs

Israeli groups that focus on Jewish and Arab coexistence are just beginning to wrestle with the fallout from the Gaza war.

By Joshua Mitnick | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the February 27, 2009 edition

BEERSHEVA, ISRAEL – The Hagar bilingual kindergarten was founded as a rare cocoon from ethnic alienation for children and parents in Israel. But even this place of innocence and coexistence isn’t immune to the deeper divisions between Jews and Arabs here that has followed the Gaza war.

“When Assin came back from her first day [after the war] she said, ‘Mommy, today we played war between Israel and Gaza,’ ” says Suha Farhat, about her 5-year-old daughter.

The school intended to meet Tuesday, in part to address students’ and parents’ feelings following the battle between Israel and Hamas, but discussing it may have proved too painful. Few parents came.

Groups that focus on Jewish and Arab coexistence are just beginning to wrestle with the fallout from the war but despite an ideological commitment to living together in peace, the search for political common ground has been largely seen as too controversial.


Sierra Leone verdict warns world’s warlords

Rebel leaders Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao were found guilty Wednesday on more than a dozen counts each of crimes against humanity.

 By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the February 27, 2009 edition

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Found guilty of crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone’s civil war, three rebel commanders will soon begin serving time for ordering the systematic mutilation of civilians, forced marriage of captured women, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

But the ripples of the international tribunal’s decision on Wednesday in Freetown, Sierra Leone – finding rebel leaders Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao guilty on more than a dozen counts each of crimes against humanity – are already reaching around the continent and the world. Coming just a week before the expected arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, and in the middle of the ongoing trial of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, this trial sets a very tough tone about the consequences of cruelty in wartime.

Mugabe Refuses to Dismiss Two Officials

Associated Press

Friday, February 27, 2009; Page A11

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 26 — President Robert Mugabe in a published interview rejected demands that he dismiss two discredited officials, while the Zimbabwean government asked its neighbors Thursday for a $2 billion loan package to aid its collapsed economy.

In the interview with the state Herald newspaper to mark his 85th birthday, Mugabe said he would not dismiss the central bank governor, Gideon Gono, and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, as the Movement for Democratic Change has urged him to do.

“I don’t see any reason why those people should go, and they will not go,” Mugabe said. Gono is widely blamed for Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown and hyperinflation of 231 million percent, and Tomana is accused of blocking the release of political prisoners.

Latin America

Betancourt vilified by fellow hostages

New book by two US military contractors describes former Farc captive as controlling and manipulative

Ed Pilkington in New York

There was celebrating all around the world when Ingrid Betancourt was rescued last July from the Colombian jungle, where she had been held hostage for six years by leftist guerrillas. Newspapers dubbed her the new Joan of Arc, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy greeted her with a hero’s welcome in Paris and a special service in her honour was held at Lourdes.

But reverence for great people never seems to last long these days. And so it comes to pass that Betancourt, a Colombian-French politician who once stood for president in Colombia, has been partially toppled from her pedestal.

The attack on her exalted reputation comes from two of the three US military contractors who were among the 14 other hostages rescued alongside Betancourt. In a new book published in the US yesterday in which they describe five years of jungle captivity at the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, they present Betancourt as a domineering presence who suffered from arrogance and egotism.