Docudharma Times Friday March 20

Republican Hypocrisy

They Were Against It Before?

They Were For It


Friday’s Headlines:

In New Dilemma, Banks Cite Two Paths to Disaster

Call to prosecute officials after Iranian blogger dies in prison

Collapse in Iraqi oil price shatters hope of recovery

Gordon Brown’s plan for recovery rejected by Germany

The march of Mussolini into Italy’s mainstream

China ends naval stand-off and credits Barack Obama

Suicide case highlights stresses in Japan’s Self-Defense Forces

In Cameroon, Pope Deplores Violence

Rio hopes small fixes will yield big drop in crime rate

Barack Obama issues surprise video offering ‘new beginning’ to Iran

From Times Online

March 20, 2009

Anne Barrowclough

President Barack Obama issued an unprecedented video appeal to Iran today offering a ‘new beginning’ of diplomatic engagement to reverse decades of distrust and animosity between the two nations.

In an extraordinary videotape, which was aired early today on selected networks in the Middle East, Mr Obama said Washington was committed to pursuing “constructive ties” with Iran. He promised that Tehran could take its ‘rightful place’ in the world if it renounced terror and embraced peace.

“My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community,” Mr Obama said in the message marking the start of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, which is planned to appeal direct to the Iranian people.

Israeli soldiers report abuses in Gaza

Some rights groups have claimed Israel violated the rules of war in its recent killing of Palestinians. Now accounts from Israel’s own ranks seem to support the claims. An investigation is ordered.

By Richard Boudreaux

March 20, 2009

Reporting from Jerusalem — Two months after ending its assault on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army was confronted Thursday by the first public allegations from within its ranks of unwarranted killings and other abuses of Palestinian civilians.

The reports in a military institute’s newsletter resembled accounts given by many Palestinians during and after the winter offensive. In gripping language cited by two Israeli newspapers, they appeared to support contentions by some human rights groups that Israel had violated the laws of war.

One squad leader said he argued with his commander over rules of engagement that allowed the army to clear out houses by shooting the residents without warning.

“When we entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up story by story,” he was quoted as saying. “Each story, if we identify a person, we shoot them. I asked myself: ‘How is this reasonable?’ “

Bag a polar bear for $35,000: the new threat to the species

The latest challenge for fans of extreme hunting is an expedition to the Arctic Circle. Jerome Taylor reports

Friday, 20 March 2009

Boyd Warner treasures the memory of killing his first polar bear. It was 2003. For days he had stalked his prey on the frozen wastelands north of Pond Inlet, one of Canada’s most isolated Inuit communities deep inside the Arctic Circle. His dog team picked up the scent of an eight-foot adult male and they hurtled over the ice: the hunt was on.

“It was one of those beautiful Arctic days,” recalled Mr Warner. “We’d had about 14 hours of sunlight and were completely surrounded by nature. The moment of death comes quickly for the bear. You might track one for days through the ice but a single shot to the heart kills it instantly.”

For wealthy modern-day trophy hunters, bagging a polar bear is the ultimate kill. Fourteen days in harsh conditions, requiring dog-sleds, Inuit guides and a heated tent camp, does not come cheap: the minimum bill comes to $35,000 (£24,000).


Scorn Trails A.I.G. Executives, Even in Their Driveways


Published: March 19, 2009

The A.I.G. executive who was nicknamed “Jackpot Jimmy” by a New York tabloid walked up the driveway toward his bay-windowed house in Fairfield, Conn., on Thursday afternoon. “How do I feel?” said the executive, James Haas, repeating the question he had just been asked. “I feel horrible. This has been a complete invasion of privacy.”

Mr. Haas walked on, his pink shirt a burst of color on a slate-gray afternoon. The words came haltingly. “You have to understand,” he said, “there are kids involved, there have been death threats. …” His voice trailed off. It looked as if he was fighting back tears.

“I didn’t have anything to do with those credit problems,” said Mr. Haas, 47. “I told Mr. Liddy” – Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G., the insurance giant – “I would rescind my retention contract.”

He ended the conversation with a request: “Leave my neighbors alone.”

In New Dilemma, Banks Cite Two Paths to Disaster


By Binyamin Appelbaum and Tomoeh Murakami Tse

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, March 20, 2009; Page A01

Some bank executives warned yesterday that the government is forcing them toward a disastrous choice between accepting restrictions on compensation that could cripple their ability to compete with rivals, or returning billions in federal aid, which could retard lending and damage the economy.

The possibility of a newly weakened banking industry also raised concerns among businesses in the wider economy that already are struggling to find financial firms willing to lend them needed money.

“We’re all going to lose on this thing,” said an executive at a large bank that took federal aid. He and other bankers expressed shock at the rapid progress of legislation that could impose large pay cuts on thousands of workers, and dismay that the industry is at the mercy of an angry Congress.

Middle East

Call to prosecute officials after Iranian blogger dies in prison

Robert Tait

The Guardian, Friday 20 March 2009

An Iranian blogger convicted of insulting the country’s religious leaders has died in jail after taking a drug overdose.

Omidreza Mirsayafi, 29, died in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on Wednesday, just over a month after a judge gave him a two-and-a-half year sentence for posting comments on his blog about figures including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini .

Human rights campaigners called for prison officials to be prosecuted after Mirsayafi took extra doses of tranquilisers prescribed by prison doctors. He was suffering from depression and had previously attempted to commit suicide, according to a fellow inmate.

Collapse in Iraqi oil price shatters hope of recovery

Government relents and allows foreign-owned companies a majority stake in projects to boost production

By Patrick Cockburn

 Friday, 20 March 2009

Six years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the collapse in the price of oil is devastating Iraqi hopes of reconstructing an economy shattered by 30 years of war and sanctions. A year ago, as the price of oil approached $150 a barrel, Iraqi leaders were optimistic they would have enough money to rebuild the country.

Since then the price of a barrel of oil has slid to just $50 a barrel, leaving Iraq, on the sixth anniversary of the US-led invasion and the overthrow of Saddam, facing what one official in Baghdad called a “catastrophe”.

The oil shock also presents the US President, Barack Obama, with a fresh headache, threatening to complicate his plans to restore stability to the country and withdraw US troops.


Gordon Brown’s plan for recovery rejected by Germany

Ian Traynor and David Gow in Brussels

The Guardian, Friday 20 March 2009

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, yesterday opened up a new rift with Britain and the United States ahead of the G20 summit in London when she delivered a blunt rejection of extra fiscal stimulus packages as advocated by Gordon Brown and the Obama administration.

As European leaders prepared to meet in Brussels to hammer out a common position on the financial and economic crisis before the summit in a fortnight, Merkel insisted the focus of any global recovery plan should be on reining in the markets. “It is not time to look at more growth measures. I disagree with this idea completely. The existing measures must work, they must be allowed to develop,” she said in a speech to the Bundestag.

“A competition to outdo each other with promises will not calm the situation,” she added, describing transatlantic contradictions in response to the crisis as “very dangerous”.

The march of Mussolini into Italy’s mainstream

After carrying the dictator’s torch for 60 years, the far-right National Alliance is to merge with Silvio Berlusconi’s party. So is this the end of fascism in Italy? Quite the reverse. Peter Popham reports

Friday, 20 March 2009

The flames are going out all over Italy. Tomorrow, the flame which for more than 60 years has been the symbol of neo-Fascist continuity with Mussolini, will disappear from mainstream politics. The National Alliance, the last important home of that inheritance, is “fusing” with Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party to give the governing bloc a single identity and a single unchallenged leader.

The change has been a long time coming – 15 years and more. Mr Berlusconi broke the great taboo of Italian post-war politics after he won his first general election victory in 1994 and incorporating four members of the National Alliance into his coalition.

Embracing the Fascists and neo-Fascists was taboo for good reason


China ends naval stand-off and credits Barack Obama

From Times Online

March 20, 2009

Jane Macartney in Beijing

China effectively ended a stand-off with the United States that began when its naval vessels harassed a U.S. surveillance ship and attributed the reduction in tension directly to President Barack Obama.

Just a day earlier, Beijing said it would boost patrols in the South China Sea, converting decommissioned naval ships and possibly drafting in fishing boats to protect its interests in the disputed area.

However, a front-page article today in the China Daily headlined “Sino-US sea standoff appears to have ended” signalled a change of tone. Top commanders had no plans to increase the People’s Liberation Army military presence in the South China Sea, it said.

Li Jie, a senior researcher at he Chinese Navy’s Military Academy, offered remarks that demonstrated Beijing’s apparent eagerness to move forward without an embarrassing climbdown by indicating it believed the US military may have acted without Washington’s approval.

Suicide case highlights stresses in Japan’s Self-Defense Forces

Parents of a soldier say they pressed charges to prevent future abuses. The suicide rate has risen as the forces’ role has expanded.

By Takehiko Kambayashi | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the March 20, 2009 edition

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – Idealistic and interested in promoting humanitarian assistance abroad, Tomohisa Irino joined Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in 2004. But just one year later, the 21-year-old petty officer committed suicide.

In the notebook he left behind, along with his expressions of appreciation for his family and friends, Irino scribbled “I will never forgive you,” and cursed Osamu Sato, his superior at the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF).

According to the lawyers of his parents, who filed suit in 2006 against the government and Mr. Sato, Sato would shoot at him and other young officers with a BB gun on their destroyer. He is also said to have extorted money from Irino. But the SDF denied that the bullying was linked to the suicide, although they were aware that Sato was convicted of extortion and assault against other officers in 2005.

“The SDF was well aware of the reality of bullying, but they neglected the problem irresponsibly,” says Hisashi Okada, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, whose case was heard in February. “What we are doing is to shed light on a structural defect in the SDF.”


In Cameroon, Pope Deplores Violence

By Victor L. Simpson

Associated Press

Friday, March 20, 2009; Page A15

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, March 19 — Religion must reject violence, Pope Benedict XVI told Muslim leaders Thursday before celebrating an open-air Mass in front of thousands and delivering a message of hope for Africa’s expanding, vibrant Catholic flock.

In Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, a crowd of 40,000 welcomed Benedict to a sports stadium — his first occasion as pope to be among a great crowd of faithful on the continent that is witnessing the church’s biggest growth.

In his homily, he expressed compassion for children being kidnapped and forced to fight by rebel groups trying to carve up parts of Africa.

Latin America

Rio hopes small fixes will yield big drop in crime rate

The new mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has begun a zero-tolerance policy aimed at resuscitating one of the world’s most crime-ridden cities.

By Andrew Downie | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the March 20, 2009 edition

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Checking car registrations in Rio de Janeiro is a thankless task.

So far this morning, transit official Roberto Barbosa has been verbally abused by drivers and chewed out by pedestrians. An entire busload of commuters screamed invectives as they rode past.

Mr. Barbosa, his colleagues, and hundreds of other city and state officials are the sharp ends of a new push to transform a city famous for its “anything goes” outlook into a metropolis where laws have meaning again.

“We Cariocas are famous and proud of our informality, but it had become illegality, too,” Zuenir Ventura, a popular columnist and author, says of Rio’s decline into one of the world’s most crime-ridden cities. “There was no respect for public places, no respect for noise levels, no respect for traffic laws, no respect for rules of any kind.”

“It’s going to be difficult to change because you have to change the whole culture. It takes time but you have to start somewhere and we’re starting now.”

The new crackdown is orchestrated by Eduardo Paes, Rio’s new mayor. Mr. Paes, who took office on Jan. 1, is embracing the task of resuscitating a city that has been falling into disrepair ever since it was stripped of its capital status in 1960.

Ignoring Asia A Blog


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    • RiaD on March 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm


  1. Holder Memo Encourages Discretionary Releases, Accountability of FOIA Programs; DOJ Will Only Defend if Harm from Release is Reasonably Foreseeable

    Washington, D.C., March 19, 2009 – Attorney General Eric Holder today released new guidelines for federal agencies on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that reinforce the presumption of disclosure articulated by President Obama in his day one Memorandum on FOIA, issued January 21, 2009.

    Attorney General Holder’s memorandum provides practical guidance for implementing the presumption of disclosure, including by encouraging discretionary releases of records and releasing portions of records even when other portions are being withheld. It states that the Department of Justice will only defend withholdings in court when there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to an interest protected by one of the FOIA exemptions or the law requires the information to be withheld. It states that this policy will be applied to pending litigation “if practicable” and “where there is a substantial likelihood that application of the guidance would result in a material disclosure of additional information.”      

    “We are delighted,” remarked the Archive’s General Counsel, Meredith Fuchs. “The new Attorney General guidelines read as if there is a new show in town and for the first time in eight years everyone is welcome to come see it.”>>>>>>more

  2. In Iraq, a boy named ‘War’ turns 6

    BAGHDAD – Iman Kadhim felt the contractions at 2 a.m. on March 20, 2003. The streets of Baghdad were deserted; people cowered in their homes awaiting the threatened U.S. invasion. But the baby wasn’t going to wait.

    A neighbor with a car gave Iman and her husband a ride to the hospital from their southern Baghdad neighborhood.

    Nothing was easy that night. Kadhim heard the baby’s first cry before dawn and held him in her arms. Then they heard the first explosions that heralded the arrival of the U.S. military.

    She named him Harb, Arabic for war. His full name, Harb Zaid, translates as Zaid’s War.

    Neighbors joked that the child named War would only bring damar, or destruction. She worried about him, the boy with a difficult name and an uncertain future.

    “I was scared. We didn’t know how our life would go forward,” she said in her small home in New Baghdad. “We didn’t know the future.”

    War’s six years have been scarred by violence – bombings in marketplaces, a foreign occupation, roadside bombs, sectarian killings, massive displacement and flight and a new – and often broken – political system.

  3. It’s not that our economy is collapsing,

    our culture of greed is collapsing.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day.



    YOU have got to stop killing people in

    poor countries for the cause of greed.

    Only the American people can stop this


    Because, our government won’t.

    If the American people don’t hit the streets,

    our government will not stop being the global

    hitman on the streets of Third World countries.

    Otherwise America,

    YOU will get away with nothing.

    Mike Hastie

    U.S. Army Medic

    Vietnam 1970-71

    March 19, 2009

    6th Anniversary of the U.S.

    terrorist attack on Iraq.

  4. And started Two long running Occupations!!

    Army post to get new hospital


    $621 million in stimulus for first phase, expected to start in 2010.

    The current facility at the Killeen post, the Darnall Army Medical Center, opened in 1965 and was expanded in 1984, but has a shortage of operating rooms and is so crowded that the undersized pharmacy is in the basement, according to a statement from U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.About 30,000 children of military personnel are served in a temporary building without enough exam rooms.


  5. Obama’s teleprompter launches a website and Twitter accounts

    But if the blog entries are too 2008 for you, you can also follow the teleprompter on Twitter. Although he appears to have two accounts – Here and Here.

    On the Teleprompter One account, we learn some family history on the machine:

       “The current room temperature is 68 degrees – My father was a Swiss army knife so I have plenty of Options”

    And on BOTeleprompter (which is sadly far less active), we find out that the president will use his trusty machine tonight:

       “Waiting for my boss’s jokes to get loaded for Leno!”

    Hey, we’re not as cool as the president’s teleprompter but why don’t you follow us on Twitter anyway?

  6. “Packing Inferno”

    For nearly a decade, both wars have largely been reported by the media and explained to the public by lawmakers in statistical terms; thousands of U.S. soldiers killed in combat, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead, and three-quarters of a million veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.

    Until recently, the press has been prohibited from photographing veterans returning from combat in flag-draped coffins, and funerals for the fallen were likewise off-limits.

    But by relying heavily on numbers and press releases as a way of covering both conflicts, the public has been rendered incapable of experiencing or feeling any dramatic element associated with the devastation. It’s a sad truth that the  average person is unable to accurately say how many U.S. soldiers have been killed and wounded since the wars began (4,257 dead, more than 31,000 wounded, 320,000 diagnosed with brain injuries).

    Tyler E. Boudreau’s book: “Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine”

  7. Karzai: Additional U.S. Troops ‘Seven Years Too Late’

    In an interview with Margaret Warner, Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed additional U.S. troops, but said they were “seven years too late.” He also endorsed reaching out to members of the Taliban who embraced the Afghan constitution.

    Streaming Video Link, which you can also find, along with audio and transcript at top site link.

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