Should Join The Mainstream
Eric Cantor Needs To
Find The Mainstream
President Obama Is Already There
Afghan Strikes by Taliban Get Pakistan Help, U.S. Aides Say
By MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: March 25, 2009
WASHINGTON – The Taliban’s widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, despite Pakistani government promises to sever ties to militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, according to American government officials.
The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders who are gearing up to confront the international force in Afghanistan that will soon include some 17,000 American reinforcements.
Support for the Taliban, as well as other militant groups, is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the officials said. There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections.
North Korea ‘days away’ from launching missile
Hillary Clinton says firing missile would be ‘provocative’
Tania Branigan in Beijing
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 March 2009 06.36 GMT
North Korea is days away from the launch of a long-range missile, United States officials have said, heightening concerns about the risks to regional stability.
Counter-proliferation and intelligence officials said the country had mounted a rocket onto a launch pad and placed together two stages of what will probably be a three-stage device, Reuters reported today. It could be ready to fire as early as the weekend, sooner than expected.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that firing a long-range rocket would be a “provocative act” that would have consequences, while South Korea said it would be “a serious challenge and provocation” threatening regional stability.
Pyongyang has said it plans to launch a communications satellite between 4 and 8 April.
Geithner to Propose Vast Expansion Of U.S. Oversight of Financial System
By Binyamin Appelbaum and David Cho
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 26, 2009; Page A01
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner plans to propose today a sweeping expansion of federal authority over the financial system, breaking from an era in which the government stood back from financial markets and allowed participants to decide how much risk to take in the pursuit of profit.
The Obama administration’s plan, described by several sources, would extend federal regulation for the first time to all trading in financial derivatives and to companies including large hedge funds and major insurers such as American International Group. The administration also will seek to impose uniform standards on all large financial firms, including banks, an unprecedented step that would place significant limits on the scope and risk of their activities.
Mayor ‘optimistic’ after blast to clear N.D. river
Bismarck, other areas along rising Missouri River also face second ice jam
BISMARCK, N.D. – Demolition crews blasted chunks of ice near a huge ice jam in the Missouri River on Wednesday in a bid to open a channel, like pulling out a giant plug to drain a flood threatening the city. “We are cautiously optimistic,” Bismarck Mayor John Warford said after explosives detonated on about 500 feet of ice just south of the jam. He said officials would have a better assessment Wednesday night but that water appeared to be moving.
Water backing up behind the dam of car-size ice blocks already had forced the evacuation of about 1,700 people from low-lying areas in North Dakota’s capital.
Welcome to France: home of sun, sea, sand, polygamy and the Indian Ocean
Tiny island keen to embrace French rule – 34 years after gaining independence
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
The Guardian, Thursday 26 March 2009
It is closer to Mombasa than Paris, its traditional dish is bata-bata manioc eaten with boiled fish, it is 95% Muslim and known for cultivating the sweet-smelling essence ylang ylang. But Mayotte, a tiny Indian ocean island off the east coast of Africa, will this weekend vote on whether to become the 101st department of France.
If the population overwhelmingly votes yes in Sunday’s referendum – as expected – the tropical island will become as French as the Dordogne or the Somme. It is already awash with tricolour flags and is eagerly awaiting a visit from Nicolas Sarkozy in May.
But the vote comes amid controversy over the far-flung outposts of France’s once great empire. The French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique are still struggling to recover from weeks of strikes over its neo-colonialist economic system which saw violence leave several injured and one person dead.
Fears of unrest in eastern Europe grow as Czech government collapses
Presidency of EU in question as Mirek Topolanek loses confidence vote
By Vanessa Mock in Brussels and Daniel McLaughlin in Budapest
Thursday, 26 March 2009
The collapse of the Czech government sent shivers through financial markets in eastern Europe yesterday fanning fears about the growing political unrest that appears to be sweeping through the EU’s eastern fringes.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek’s government narrowly lost a vote of no-confidence on Tuesday night, four days after the Hungarian leader, Ferenc Gyuarcsany, threw in the towel and five weeks after the Latvian government fell under a barrage of public protests. Most of eastern Europe’s main currencies lost value yesterday as Czechs pondered the impact of Mr Topolanek’s defeat, while Romania turned to the IMF for a €20bn lifeline.
Israel accused of ‘reckless’ use of white phosphorus
Human Rights Watch says military should be held to account for ‘war crimes’
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Israel “deliberately and recklessly” fired white phosphorus shells in densely populated areas of Gaza in an “indiscriminate” way that killed and wounded civilians and is “evidence of war crimes”, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
A detailed report from the agency says the Israeli military knew white phosphorus’s lethal capacity to cause intense burns, and that the firing of it in airburst artillery shells revealed a “pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage.”
And the 71-page report reveals that the 15 January firing of phosphorus shells on or near the UN Relief and Works Agency compound in Gaza City, where 700 civilians were sheltering, continued for at least two hours after UN staff began making repeated telephone calls to the Israeli military asking it to stop. The shells caused an estimated $10m (£6.8m) damage and led to burning for 12 days after the attack.
For a few minutes, Arabs and Jews united by music
Young musicians from a West Bank refugee camp performed on Wednesday for survivors of the Holocaust.
By Joshua Mitnick | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 26, 2009 edition
HOLON, ISRAEL – It was the rarest of encounters: Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs separated by generations and bitter conflict.
Teenage musicians from a Palestinian West Bank refugee camp played the notes, although sometimes flat, of classical Arabic melodies. An audience of elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors tapped their feet and nodded in rhythm.
Lately, Israelis and Palestinians seldom mix in any setting, and this concert Wednesday morning near Tel Aviv by refugee children for concentration camp survivors came with plenty of historic, cultural, and political baggage. But for about an hour the enmity vanished. A dozen performers and about 30 survivors connected through music and, perhaps, gave one another some empathy for lives intertwined by conflict but separated by borders.
“They have a difficult past and we have a difficult past,” says Keren Naiomi, a native of Poland who lost her entire family at the age of 5 and then was sent to a concentration camp. “They’re from a refugee camp and we’re from a concentration camp.”
Pakistani region where the brutal Taleban have taken control
From The Times
March 26, 2009
Stuart Ramsay in Mingora
A man accused of burglary is questioned by a masked gunman who then casually lifts a revolver and pulls the trigger at point-blank range. The man staggers back but is shot again and falls to the ground. The gunman steps forward and fires three more bullets into his body and head. Nobody watching moves.
The Taleban are back in charge, and this time in Pakistan. In Mingora only 110 miles northwest of Islamabad, the capital, these hooded enforcers are the law, patrolling the streets and meting out summary justice.
In front of large crowds they flog people who have broken edicts that the Taleban have set. Drug addicts and dealers are held down in the dust by heavily armed militants and flogged. They cry out in pain shouting for Allah. The punishment is brutal but has popular support.
Ex-Taiwan leader in graft trial
Taiwan’s former President Chen Shui-bian has gone on trial accused of a series of corruption charges in a case that has gripped the island.
Mr Chen, 57, along with his wife and 12 others, is accused of embezzlement, taking bribes and money laundering.
He denies the charges and says he is a victim of a “government purge”.
Since leaving office in 2008, Mr Chen has been a vocal critic of the new government’s support for China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan.
Prosecutors allege Mr Chen and his wife Wu Shu-chen embezzled money from a special presidential fund and laundered it through Swiss banks during his eight years in office.<
Madagascar: island even more isolated after coup
The crisis not only threatens to make the island’s poverty worse, it might also lead to the extinction of rare lemur species.
By Fanja Saholiarisoa | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 26, 2009 edition
ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR – Protests and tumult continue to disrupt this island nation following the forced resignation last week of President Marc Ravalomanana. The crisis has prompted foreign aid groups to freeze their spending and prompted many donors to flee the island, developments that could exacerbate already profound discontent in this impoverished country.
Andry Rajoelina, a youthful former disc jockey and mayor of Antananarivo, was sworn in Saturday as leader of a transitional government. Most diplomats, however, boycotted the event, saying Mr. Rajoelina took office illegally in a coup d’état.
Supporters of deposed president Ravalomanana have filled the streets in recent days, demanding his restoration. Many of the protesters are civil service workers or citizens who come from the country’s tiny middle class.
“We want our father back,” declared Raharinaivo Randrianatoandro, spokesman of the political party founded by Ravalomanana.
Kenya wildlife perishes in nets bought with US aid
By KATHARINE HOURELD, Associated Press Writer
DIANI, Kenya – Plastic fishing nets – some bought for poor fishermen with American aid money – are tangling up whales and turtles off one of Africa’s most popular beaches.
One recent victim was a huge dappled whaleshark that bled to death after its tail was cut off by fishermen unwilling to slash their nets to save it. In another case, divers risked their lives to free a pregnant, thrashing humpback whale entangled in a net last summer.
Both incidents occurred off Diani beach, which is popular with American and European tourists.
The fishermen have traditionally used hooks and hand lines to haul in their catch, which they then sold to hotels full of tourists. But the use of plastic nets has become increasingly common as growing populations have competed to catch shrinking supplies of fish, marine biologist David Obura said.
U.S. shares blame for Mexico drug violence, Clinton says
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on a two-day visit to Mexico, accepts that the U.S. market for narcotics and a cross-border trade in U.S. guns contribute to Mexico’s drug violence.
By Ken Ellingwood
March 26, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City — In candid comments aimed at reassuring a sensitive neighbor, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted Wednesday that the United States shares blame for Mexico’s drug violence, and promised more equipment and support to help the country’s war against traffickers.
Clinton said the U.S. has a duty to help since it is a major consumer of illicit drugs and a key supplier of weapons smuggled to cartel hit men.
“We know very well that the drug traffickers are motivated by the demand for illegal drugs in the United States, that they are armed by the transport of weapons from the United States to Mexico,” Clinton said during a news conference with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa. “We see this as a responsibility to assist the Mexican government and people.”