Leader of The World
His Own Wrong Little World
China Outlines Ambitious Plan for Stimulus
By MICHAEL WINES
Published: March 4, 2009
BEIJING – Warning that China faces “unprecedented difficulties and challenges,” Prime Minister Wen Jiabao outlined a barrage of construction, increased subsidies and economic measures on Thursday aimed at continuing his nation’s modernization despite a world financial crisis.He also indicated that China’s leaders would seek to begin a fundamental shift in their economic strategy by encouraging citizens to spend and consume more goods, as in most Western economies. China’s startling growth has been driven so far by exports and abundant spending on roads, dams and other infrastructure projects, a trend that experts say cannot be sustained in the long term.
But in a long speech to the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, he did not explicitly announce any new spending to combat the financial crisis beyond the $585 billion China committed to spend in November.
After the attack, west’s nuclear ally fears implosion
Militant assault on cricket tourists puts sharp focus on fragile democracy at risk of disintegration and international isolation
Saeed Shah in Lahore
The Guardian, Thursday 5 March 2009
Whole provinces beyond the writ of the state, Islamist insurgents uniting for a broader fight, terror attacks conceived, plotted and exported: Pakistan was in serious danger of implosion before the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on Tuesday brought the parlous security situation in the country to a wider international audience.
But security is not the only problem of a country which the United States now considers a greater threat than neighbouring Afghanistan. With the economy teetering, political tumult building and social conditions ripe for extremists, nuclear-armed Pakistan faces six critical threats to the rule of law and governance of the state.
The current violence started in summer 2007, when security forces routed armed militants at the Red Mosque in Islamabad. That event turned militant groups which were focused on India or Afghanistan inwards, to Pakistan itself.
U.S. Launches Wide-Ranging Plan to Steady Housing Market
$75 Billion Plan Would Help Borrowers Avoid Foreclosure
By Renae Merle and Dina ElBoghdady
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 5, 2009; Page A01
The Obama administration yesterday sketched in the details of its most ambitious attempt to reduce foreclosures and stabilize the beleaguered housing market at the root of the economic meltdown.
The program has two key elements: a refinancing program for borrowers with little equity in their homes but current on their loans, and a $75 billion program to help reduce mortgage payments for struggling borrowers.
Several large lenders praised the program, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo. There were also converts among those outside the industry. “I was skeptical at first, but I think these guidelines are helpful in a lot of ways,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit group that has been critical of industry efforts to modify mortgages.
Hispanic enrollment in schools, colleges rising
Ethnic shifts in student enrollment most evident in Western states
WASHINGTON – Roughly one-fourth of the nation’s kindergartners are Hispanic, evidence of an accelerating trend that now will see minority children become the majority by 2023.
Census data to be released Thursday also shows that Hispanics make up about one-fifth of all K-12 students. Hispanics’ growth and changes in the youth population are certain to influence political debate, from jobs and immigration to the No Child Left Behind education, for years.
The ethnic shifts in school enrollment are most evident in the West. States such as Arizona, California and Nevada are seeing an influx of Hispanics due to immigration and higher birth rates.
Sudanese president Bashir charged with Darfur war crimes
International criminal court issues warrant alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity
Xan Rice in Nairobi
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 March 2009 13.42 GMT
The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, has been charged with war crimes over the conflict in Darfur, becoming the first sitting head of state issued with an arrest warrant by the international criminal court (ICC).
The court, based in The Hague, upheld the request of the chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, to charge Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity. More than 200,000 people have died since 2003 in the country’s western Darfur region.
Judges dismissed the prosecution’s most contentious charge of genocide. Prosecutors had alleged Bashir tried to wipe out three non-Arab ethnic groups.
Within minutes of the announcement, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.
The author and the coup he didn’t have to invent
When Guinea-Bissau’s President was assassinated, guess which novelist happened to be in the country
By Todd Pitman in Bissau
Thursday, 5 March 2009
It could have been a scene out of one of his own thrillers. And when his next novel is published, it may very well be.
The British author Frederick Forsyth flew to Guinea-Bissau this week to research his latest novel, and found real life trumping fiction.
Hours before he touched down in the west African nation, a bomb hidden under a staircase blew apart the armed forces chief. Hours later, the President was shot dead and according to Forsyth, hacked to pieces.
The double assassination of President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira and his military rival, General Batiste Tagme na Waie, shocked the country and clouded this sweaty equatorial capital in the kind of mystery and intrigue often detailed in Forsyth’s own fiction about assassins, spies and coups.
Jewish resistance film sparks Polish anger
Kate Connolly in Berlin
The Guardian, Thursday 5 March 2009
A film starring Daniel Craig about a Jewish underground resistance movement that took on the Nazis has prompted a storm of protest in Poland. Defiance, directed by Edward Zwick, which recently opened in Poland under the title Opor (resistance), has been booed at cinemas across the country and banned from others because of a local perception that it is a rewriting of history and anti-Polish.
Opponents say in its telling of the true story of the four Bielski brothers who fled the Nazis and set up a kibbutz-style secret village with hundreds of followers in a forest in what was then part of Poland, the filmmakers have, in true Hollywood style, simplified the facts, mythologised the group and omitted to address accusations that they ill-treated Polish locals and the underground home army.
Matthew Norman: Turn us into the 51st state? Why not?
The upsides of the UK becoming part of the US would more than dwarf the regrets
Thursday, 5 March 2009
A friend emailed the other day to report that she and her family are coming home in the summer after a few years in DC. She didn’t seem overjoyed. “I love America,” she wistfully wrote. “Wish I was a US citizen.”.
There was a time when I’d have snorted and emailed something waspish straight back. No longer. All I could think to reply was, “Wish I was too,” and comparing the transatlantic coverage of Gordon Brown’s visit yesterday did nothing to dampen the desire.
Here the media fixated on this crucial trip, albeit the reporting dwelt on the refusal to grant the PM the open-air, double-podium press conference that significant leaders generally enjoy.
China ‘ready to talk’ to Taiwan
From Times Online
March 5, 2009
Jane Macartney in Beijing
The spectre of war between China and the island of Taiwan, which it claims as a renegade province, receded a step further today when the Chinese Premier underscored Beijing’s readiness to reach a peace agreement to end six decades of hostility.
In his annual address to the National People’s Congress, the rubber-stamp parliament, Wen Jiabao built on a six-point proposal unveiled at the end of last year by President Hu Jintao to try to bring the island back into Beijing’s fold. The mild language and the pointed omission of a threat to recover the island by use of force were further evidence of Beijing’s eagerness to improve relations since Taiwan’s installation last May of a president eager to foster closer ties.
Is Pakistan becoming the next Somalia? India says yes
By Ben Arnoldy | Christian Science Monitor
New Delhi – India’s ruling party reacted to the attacks on Sri Lanka’s cricket team by suggesting Pakistan was on its way to becoming “the Somalia of South Asia.”
The comparison to the failed state is hyperbole at this point. But the comments reflect rising concern here over the combustible political standoff and entrenched Taliban insurgency gripping Pakistan.
The dilemma for Indian policymakers is whether to continue to pressure Pakistan as an untrustworthy adversary, or to approach its historic rival as a failing state in need of more delicate handling.
Jerusalem’s sidewalk display of solidarity with Gilad Shalit
At an open-air tent in the city, volunteers call for government action to win the soldier’s release from his Hamas captors. But not all Israelis agree with the trade-off that would entail.
By Richard Boudreaux
March 5, 2009
Reporting from Jerusalem — One of Jerusalem’s most conspicuous new landmarks is a big white tent erected for an Israeli soldier. Children’s drawings line its walls, but the most poignant display is a three-digit number, visible to motorists on busy Azza Street, that changes daily.
Wednesday was Day 983 since Gilad Shalit was seized along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. The sidewalk tent is the headquarters of a flourishing citizens lobby that wants Israel to meet the demands of Shalit’s Hamas captors and bring the 22-year-old staff sergeant home.
Shalit’s fate is a gripping cause celebre in a country where 18-year-olds are drafted and the military prides itself on never abandoning its own. But the tent is stirring controversy as the government ponders the Palestinian militant group’s insistence that hundreds of its imprisoned members, including dozens convicted of killing Israelis, be freed in exchange for Shalit.
Iranian Leaders Fault Obama, Warn Israel Again
By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, March 5, 2009; Page A11
TEHRAN, March 4 — Iranian leaders said Wednesday that President Obama follows the “crooked ways” of his predecessor, repeated earlier warnings that Iranian missiles could reach Israel and reiterated that the Holocaust was “a lie.”
Iran’s president and other officials have at times appeared to welcome Obama’s proposal for greater dialogue, but the remarks Wednesday suggested that Iranian positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other issues would pose obstacles. The comments were also a reminder that Iran’s complex leadership structure brings together clerics and political leaders with views that sometimes differ sharply.
At least 20 dead in Mexican prison riot
Massacre in border city the latest of a series of bloodbaths in jails that have killed 83 prisoners in six months
Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 March 2009 01.23 GMT
At least 20 inmates died inside the high security area of a prison in the border city of Ciudad Juarez yesterday in what looks to have been a massacre carried out by members of one gang against rivals.
This is the latest of a series of bloodbaths in Mexican jails that have killed 83 prisoners in six months. They are associated with the drug wars outside which killed over 6,000 in 2008 and well over 1,000 so far this year.
The different cartels are fighting each other for supremacy in strategic cities and states around the country, as well as fighting an unprecedented military-led crackdown launched by president Felipe Calderón two years ago. Juarez, just over the border from El Paso, Texas, is currently the most violent front in the wider war