How Close Was America
To A Dictatorship?
Just Read The John Yoo Memos
Obama Offered Deal to Russia in Secret Letter
By PETER BAKER
Published: March 2, 2009
WASHINGTON – President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia’s president last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday.The letter to President Dmitri A. Medvedev was hand-delivered in Moscow by top administration officials three weeks ago. It said the United States would not need to proceed with the interceptor system, which has been vehemently opposed by Russia since it was proposed by the Bush administration, if Iran halted any efforts to build nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.
The officials who described the contents of the message requested anonymity because it has not been made public. While they said it did not offer a direct quid pro quo, the letter was intended to give Moscow an incentive to join the United States in a common front against Iran. Russia’s military, diplomatic and commercial ties to Tehran give it some influence there, but it has often resisted Washington’s hard line against Iran.
Sri Lankan cricket team attacked by gunmen
Up to 12 gunmen sprayed team bus with bullets as it was driven to the Gadaffi stadium in Lahore
Saeed Shah in Islamabad
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 3 March 2009 07.52 GMT
Gunmen today carried out a commando-style attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team and their police escort in Lahore, Pakistan, injuring up to six of the visiting players.
In scenes reminiscent of the terrorist attack on Mumbai in November, up to 12 gunmen attacked with heavy weapons, spraying the Sri Lankan team bus with bullets as it drove to the Gadaffi stadium in Lahore, witnesses and cricket officials said.
Several players were reported to have received “superficial” injuries. Other early reports said five policemen were killed and three injured.
Sri Lankan media, quoting the sports minister, said four players – Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavithana – suffered minor injuries in the attack. Other reports said six had been hurt.
In Free-Fall, Stocks Hit Lowest Mark Since ’97
Markets Sink Globally as Government Actions Fail to Reassure Investors
By Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 3, 2009; Page A01
The global financial rout worsened yesterday, driving U.S. stocks to their lowest level since 1997 amid deepening questions about whether governments around the world are being forceful enough in combating the economic crisis.
There was no single cause for yesterday’s sell-off, which sent each of the major indicators down at least 4 percent, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing below 7000 for the first time in 12 years. Investors were shaken by another government rescue of insurance giant American International Group, which said it would take on $30 billion more in public money after reporting the largest quarterly loss in U.S. history. The markets were also absorbing news from the weekend from famed investor Warren E. Buffett, who said the economy will be “in shambles” this year and who reported the worst investment returns in the 44 years he has run Berkshire Hathaway.
US Muslims: young, diverse, striving
A new portrait of Muslim Americans depicts a group that has achieved a great deal, yet struggles for a sense of belonging.
By Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 3, 2009 edition
A “national portrait” of Muslim Americans, released Monday by Gallup, depicts the youngest and most racially diverse religious community in the country as striving for a secure place in American society and an active role in public life.
The report describes a group that has achieved successes and shares much in common with other Americans, yet struggles for a sense of belonging in a country where some citizens harbor post-9/11 suspicions about the Islamic faith.
Drawing on data from three distinct Gallup surveys, the report compares Muslim Americans with other religious groups and the general US population, as well as with Muslims in other countries.
Muslim Americans, for instance, are among the most highly educated religious groups in the US, second to Jews. In a remarkable finding, 43 percent of Muslim-American women hold a college or postgraduate degree, compared with 29 percent of US women overall. They are as likely as Muslim men to hold professional jobs. The group shows strong employment rates, including 30 percent in professional work and 25 percent self-employed.
Taliban rivals unite to fight US troop surge
• Taliban rivals unite to fight US troop surge
• Move by Pakistani militants prompts fears of escalation in Afghan violence
Saeed Shah in Peshawar
The Guardian, Tuesday 3 March 2009
Three rival Pakistani Taliban groups have agreed to form a united front against international forces in Afghanistan in a move likely to intensify the insurgency just as thousands of extra US soldiers begin pouring into the country as part of Barack Obama’s surge plan.
The Guardian has learned that three of the most powerful warlords in the region have settled their differences and come together under a grouping calling itself Shura Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen, or Council of United Holy Warriors.
Nato officers fear that the new extremist partnership in Waziristan, Pakistan’s tribal area, will significantly increase the cross-border influx of fighters and suicide bombers – a move that could undermine the US president’s Afghanistan strategy before it is formulated.
National election dates set as India faces crisis of corruption
From The Times
March 3, 2009
Jeremy Page in Delhi
India has finally set the dates for its national elections, formally kicking off a frantic 40 days of campaigning for the 714 million votes up for grabs in the world’s largest democracy.
Voting is staggered over five phases from April 16 to May 13 to enable the deployment of 2.1 million security personnel and 1.9 million other electoral staff around 800,000 polling stations, according to the Election Commission.
Ballots will be counted on May 16 and results will be announced soon after – setting the political course for 1.1billion Indians in the midst of a tense stand-off with Pakistan and a global economic slump.
Yet with campaigning barely under way, concerns are already being raised that the vote will produce another ungainly coalition government unable, or unwilling, to tackle the gargantuan challenges facing India.
Putin and Medvedev factions locked in Kremlin financial power struggle
• Evaporation of wealth eroding PM’s authority
• Security and economic cliques on collision course
Tom Parfitt in Moscow
The Guardian, Tuesday 3 March 2009
Russia’s financial crisis is beginning to destabilise the delicate Kremlin power balance, with a struggle between rival clans eroding Vladimir Putin’s authority and aggravating his relationship with his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev.
There are growing signs that a powerful group of military and security officials grouped around Putin are locking horns with economic liberals headed by Medvedev as the two groups fight for control of rapidly evaporating state finances.
Medvedev marked the first anniversary of his election victory yesterday, but the triumphalism has long since dissipated.
German car firm ‘used hair from Auschwitz’
Rolls of textiles made by Schaeffler ‘contain hair from 40,000 death camp inmates’
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
One of the pillars of German industry, the giant but debt-crippled Schaeffler car parts supplier, was accused yesterday of using hair shorn from at least 40,000 Auschwitz death camp prisoners to make textiles at its factories in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War.
The highly disturbing allegations were contained in new evidence unearthed by Polish historians at the Auschwitz museum, who said they had found rolls of fabric made from camp inmates’ hair at a former Schaeffler factory in Poland’s southern region of Silesia.
The discovery was the latest in a series of damaging blows for the ailing Schaeffler concern, which employs 200,000 people worldwide. The company is currently saddled with debts totalling €14bn (£12.6bn) and faces the prospect of bankruptcy.
President Joao Bernardo Vieira of Guinea-Bissau assassinated by army
From The Times
March 3, 2009
Tristan McConnell in Nairobi
The President of the tiny West African state of Guinea-Bissau was shot dead, apparently in revenge, yesterday, hours after the army chief was killed. The deaths plunged Africa’s first “narco-state” into crisis.
Joao Bernardo Vieira, the President, and General Tagme Na Waie died only hours apart. General Na Waie was killed by a bomb at army headquarters and hours later Mr Vieira was shot as he tried to flee his home in the capital, Bissau.
“President Vieira was killed by the army as he tried to flee his house, which was being attacked by a group of soldiers loyal to the chief of staff,” said Captain Zamora Induta, a military spokesman.
Darfuris flee on eve of Bashir case
More than 50,000 people have fled government and rebel attacks in Darfur in recent weeks. The International Criminal Court could issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir on Wednesday.
By Rob Crilly | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 3, 2009 edition
OTASH CAMP, SUDAN – Six years after the start of Darfur’s messy conflict and days before Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is expected to be charged with war crimes, the steady stream of people arriving at the region’s aid camps is a reminder of the scale of humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
A United Nations-led military force is on the ground. Government officials are subject to international sanctions and the world is demanding action.
Yet people like Yacoub Suleiman Hari are still staring death in the face, forced to flee their homes after recent attacks by the notorious government-backed Arab janjaweed militia.
He is one of 50,000 people displaced from the town of Muhajiriya in South Darfur after a rebel advance followed up by government and janjaweed reprisals in February.
More than 23,000 have trudged and trucked their way to the capital of North Darfur, filling already overstretched aid camps to the breaking point.
Iran arrests US journalist ‘after she bought wine’
A US journalist has been arrested in Iran apparently after buying a bottle of wine.
03 Mar 2009
Roxana Saberi, 31, has not been heard from since her last call on Feb 10, her father, Reza, said.
“We haven’t heard anything,” he said. The family decided to go public, he said, “because we wanted to get some information.”
Iran said the freelance journalist with Iranian nationality had been gathering news “illegally.
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised Iran for arresting journalists and suppressing freedom of speech. The government has arrested several Iranian-Americans in the past few years, citing alleged attempts to overthrow its Islamic regime.
The most high-profile case came in 2007, when Iran arrested four Iranian-Americans, including the academic Haleh Esfandiari. The four were imprisoned or had their passports confiscated for several months until they were released and allowed to return to the U.S.
For Saudi liberals, a ripple of hope in a sea of tradition
By Robert F. Worth Published: March 3, 2009
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: Ever since King Abdullah announced a sweeping cabinet reshuffle two weeks ago, Saudi liberals have been in a rare holiday mood. Many have hailed the changes – including the replacement of some major conservative figures and the appointment of the first female deputy minister – as a “mini-revolution” and proof that the king is at last willing to tame this country’s hard-line religious establishment.
But there is a larger, more conservative constituency here, and its members tend to dismiss those liberal hopes as fantasies.
“These are merely dreams and wishes for things that will not happen,” said Sheik Sulayman al-Daweesh, a prominent conservative cleric who is a staunch defender of this country’s feared religious police. The reformers, he added, “would like to weaken Saudi Arabia’s Islamic identity, and they will not succeed.”
Cuban shake-up claims key figures
Cuban leader Raul Castro has announced a major cabinet reshuffle that includes the removal of two of the country’s most prominent politicians.
State television said Cabinet Secretary Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque are among 10 officials who are stepping down.
It said the move was in line with the president’s plan to improve efficiency.
It is the first big reshuffle since Mr Castro took over as president from his ailing older brother, Fidel, last year.
Correspondents say Mr Castro is putting his personal stamp on a government that still bears the mark of his brother.
Many of those dismissed were Fidel loyalists – including Mr Lage and Mr Perez Roque, who had both been seen as possible future candidates for the presidency.
It was announced at the end of the midday news bulletin, after the weather and sports, the Associated Press news agency reports.
The changes include:
Gen Jose Amado Ricardo Guerra replaced Mr Lage, 57, as cabinet secretary – although he kept his job as vice-president of the Council of State. Gen Guerra worked under Raul Castro when he was defence minister