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Stimulus Aid Being Doled Out, Slowly
Meeting Guidelines Is Taking Time
By Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 10, 2009; Page A01
Building repairs are underway on public housing in Imboden, Ark., and Cumberland, Ill., states across the country are receiving money to weatherize the homes of low-income residents, and the Silver Star Construction Co. is about to start work on two road-resurfacing projects in south-central Oklahoma with a total cost of $12 million.
“We were thrilled to get some work,” said Steve Shawn, president of the company. “Some of the work had started slowing down from the economy. The new work came in just around the right time.”
Slowly but surely, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — better known as the economic stimulus package — is beginning to percolate nationwide, six weeks after President Obama signed the legislation.
Mugabe Aides Are Said to Use Violence to Gain Amnesty
By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: April 9, 2009
HARARE, Zimbabwe – President Robert Mugabe’s top lieutenants are trying to force the political opposition into granting them amnesty for their past crimes by abducting, detaining and torturing opposition officials and activists, according to senior members of Mr. Mugabe’s party.Mr. Mugabe’s generals and politicians have organized campaigns of terror for decades to keep him and his party in power. But now that the opposition has a place in the nation’s new government, these strongmen worry that they are suddenly vulnerable to prosecution, especially for crimes committed during last year’s election campaign as the world watched.
“Their faces were immediately pasted on the wall for everyone to see that they were behind the killing, the violence, the torture and intimidation,” said a senior official in Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, who, like others in the party, spoke anonymously because he was describing its criminal history.
CIA to close secret overseas prisons, end security contracts
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – The CIA is decommissioning the secret overseas prisons where top al Qaida suspects were subjected to interrogation methods, including simulated drowning, that Attorney General Eric Holder, allied governments, the Red Cross and numerous other experts consider torture, the agency said Thursday.
In an e-mail to the agency’s work force outlining current interrogation and detention policies, CIA Director Leon Panetta also announced that agreements with the private security firms guarding the so-called black sites will be “promptly terminated,” and contractors no longer will be used to conduct interrogations.
Job market is especially cruel for older workers
More Americans 55 and older are working longer, and those who are looking for jobs face a technologically transformed market where potential employers may deem them overqualified.
By Tiffany Hsu
April 10, 2009
Their savings in shambles from the economic downturn, jobless seniors are dusting off their briefcases and trying to head back to work. Many, like Jim Mitchell, a 63-year-old former sales executive, are finding a merciless job market where decades of experience aren’t necessarily an asset.
The Long Beach resident rises daily before dawn and dresses neatly in business attire to keep himself motivated. He pops in brilliant blue contacts to brighten his eyes and combs back his graying hair to look more youthful.
Not that it matters. He’s not getting much face time.
Many recruiters these days want only e-mail applications and refuse to take phone calls. Mitchell is at sea when it comes to using online sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook for networking. He leaves his college graduation date off his resume. But in two years of full-time job hunting, he hasn’t gotten a single callback.
Somali pirates vow to take on US military might if attacked
Four gunmen holding American hostage in Indian Ocean remain defiant as US navy sends more warships to end stand-off
Xan Rice in Nairobi and Matthew Weaver
guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 April 2009 09.57 BST
Stranded Somali pirates holding a American hostage in the Indian Ocean under the gaze of a US destroyer today vowed to fight if they are attacked.
The US navy last night called in a team of FBI negotiators and moved the USS Bainbridge into position to try to secure the release of Richard Phillips, who was being held by four Somali gunmen in a lifeboat some 300 miles off the Horn of Africa. But despite an apparently hopeless position, the pirates showed no signs of giving in.
“We are safe and we are not afraid of the Americans,” one of the pirates told Reuters by satellite phone. “We will defend ourselves if attacked,” he added.
The statement intensifies the confrontation between the pirates and the world’s greatest military power as more American warships make their way to the stand-off.
A texting entrepreneur embodies spirit of a new Rwanda
Jeff Gasana’s goal is to make his award-winning company the leading cellphone-banking service in East Africa.
By Matthew Clark | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the April 9, 2009 edition
KIGALI, RWANDA – Jeff Gasana is a man on a texting mission.
The soft-spoken 20-something tycoon thumbs his sleek cellphone, firing off SMS messages to associates, his deadpan calm belying the ferocity of his drive for success.
His goal is to make SMS Media, the text-messaging firm he co-founded six years ago, the leading cellphone banking service in East Africa, where cellphone-to-cellphone finance is emerging as an enormous business opportunity.
In Rwanda, SMS Media is already an award-winning industry leader in allowing customers to purchase and activate prepaid amounts of electricity via cellphone. A full 40 percent of Rwandans now buy electricity using the company’s services.
Italy earthquake: Mass funeral for 200 victims held in L’Aquila
Italy observes national day of mourning for 287 killed in earthquake
David Batty and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 April 2009 10.30 BST
A mass funeral for nearly 200 victims of Italy’s worst earthquake in 30 years was being held today as the country observes a national day of mourning for the 287 killed in the disaster.
Nearly 200 wooden coffins, many of them covered by bouquets of flowers and photos of the dead, were laid out in four rows on the parade ground of a police academy in the mountain city of L’Aquila, which bore the brunt of Monday’s 6.3 magnitude quake.
“We thank the people of Abruzzo for their seriousness, civility, dignity and composure,” said the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who travelled to L’Aquila for the funeral. “Today we pay homage to their dead, who are our dead.”
Georgia’s Rose Revolution wilts
Protesters take to the streets as President is blamed for economic woe
By Shaun Walker in Moscow
Friday, 10 April 2009
Tens of thousands of Georgians rallied on the streets of the capital Tbilisi yesterday, demanding the resignation of the President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Leaders from Georgia’s fractured opposition, including people once close to Mr Saakashvili when he led the socalled Rose Revolution which brought him to power, united to address the crowds and promised to rally every day until the Georgian leader stepped down.
Unlike a similar protest in 2007 which was dispersed by riot police, the atmosphere appeared peaceful as the authorities and opposition leaders promised not to let things get out of control.
Gangster boss who turned to God
One of Japan’s most feared yakuza has renounced violence and found Buddhism. A genuine conversion? Or a desperate attempt to avoid assassination at the hands of his enemies? David McNeill reports
Friday, 10 April 2009
Picture the scene: a fleet of black limousines crunches up the driveway of a Buddhist temple nestled in lush pine-carpeted mountains an hour west of Tokyo. The precious cargo of limousine one – a violent but ageing mob boss – steps out into the sun, surrounded by four sumo-sized bodyguards and is welcomed by a priest. As cherry blossom petals blow gently in the wind, the gangster enters the shrine and proceeds to be solemnly ordained into the Buddhist priesthood.
It sounds like the opening of a terrible yakuza movie, but this is what took place in this picture-perfect setting when Tadamasa Goto, one of Japan’s most feared mob bosses, stepped out of the shadows this week and into the path of God.
Unsurprisingly, he was watched – at a safe distance – by a 40-strong media scrum. It was as if the infamous mafia don John Gotti, a man with whom Goto is sometimes compared, had ditched his dapper suits for priests’ robes at the local Catholic church.
New fears for Fiji as President Ratu Josefa Iloilo abolishes constitution
From Times Online
April 10, 2009
Anne Barrowclough in Sydney
Fiji’s president today abolished the country’s constitution and appointed himself the head of state in a move that has raised fears for the stability of the South Pacific nation.
In a televised address, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo announced that he had sacked the entire judiciary and established a “new legal order” after Fiji’s second highest court ruled the military regime that has run the country since a 2006 coup was illegal.
Iran touts nuclear technology gains
On a day marking its first enrichment of uranium, Iran announces two new types of centrifuges and a nuclear fuel production plant.
By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
April 10, 2009
Reporting from Beirut and Esfahan, Iran — Iran announced fresh advances Thursday in its steady drive to master nuclear technology, trumpeting two new devices to enrich uranium and inaugurating a plant to produce fuel pellets for a heavy-water reactor.
State television broadcast a patriotic three-minute music video called “Fruits of Science” heralding technological achievements during the annual National Day of Nuclear Technology celebrations marking the date in 2006 when Iran produced its first batch of enriched uranium.”We are witness to very important nuclear achievements,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Iranian officials and foreign guests in Esfahan for the launch of the nuclear fuel production plant, which was broadcast on state television.
Iran’s nuclear authorities “have announced that the various cycles of nuclear fuel management are in our grasp in a comprehensive and domestically produced way,” Ahmadinejad said.
Water cut off in Mexican capital
Mexico City officials have shut down a main pipeline providing fresh water to millions of residents because reserves have fallen to record low levels
The closure, due to last 36 hours, will affect five million people, or a quarter of the city’s population.
Unusually low rainfall last year and major leakage are blamed for leaving reservoirs less than half full.
Hundreds of water trucks have been deployed in the areas worst affected by the cuts.
The local government says it will carry out emergency repairs to the water supply network.
More than 50% of the water carried by the pipeline leaks out before it reaches its destination.
This is the third time the capital has faced such a drastic form of water rationing this year, the BBC’s Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City reports.