Bosnian Serbs And Their
Leaders Have been Taken To
And Tried In The Hague
With America Asking This
Yet Americans Who Tortured
Are Somehow Exempt From
U.S. And International Law
Obama to Order Cabinet to Quickly Cut $100 Million From Department Budgets
By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 20, 2009; 12:08 AM
President Obama plans to convene his Cabinet for the first time today, where he will order members to identify a combined $100 million in budget cuts over the next 90 days, according to a senior administration official.
The budget cuts, while they would account to a minuscule portion of federal spending, are intended to signal the president’s determination to cut spending and reform government, the official said.
Obama’s order comes as he is under increasing pressure to show momentum toward his goal of eventually reducing the federal deficit, even as he goes about increasing spending in the short run to prop up the economy and support his priorities.
Extremist tide rises in Pakistan
After deal in north, Islamists aim to install religious law nationwide
By Pamela Constable
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A potentially troubling era dawned Sunday in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where a top Islamist militant leader, emboldened by a peace agreement with the federal government, laid out an ambitious plan to bring a “complete Islamic system” to the surrounding northwest region and the entire country.
Speaking to thousands of followers in an address aired live from Swat on national news channels, cleric Sufi Mohammed bluntly defied the constitution and federal judiciary, saying he would not allow any appeals to state courts under the system of sharia, or Islamic law, that will prevail there as a result of the peace accord signed by the president Tuesday.
Gates tailors defense plan to win battles with Congress
By David Lightman and William Douglas | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plan to overhaul military spending practices and strategy signals a new Pentagon willingness to play hardball politics with lawmakers in Congress.
Gates presented his changes April 6 as though they were another piece of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.
“I am concerned for the possibility that these decisions will have an impact on individual companies and workers around the country,” Gates said at a media briefing. He proceeded to describe job losses resulting from the proposed end of the F-22 fighter jet program – and noted that they’d be offset by likely gains from expanded production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
As Costs Fall, Companies Push to Raise Internet Price
By SAUL HANSELL
Published: April 19, 2009
Internet service providers want to end the all-you-can-eat plans and get their customers paying à la carte.
But they are having a hard time closing the buffet line.
Faced with rising consumer protest and calls from members of Congress for new regulations, Time Warner Cable backed down last week from a plan to impose new fees on heavy users of its Road Runner Internet service.
The debate over the price of Internet use is far from over. Critics say cable and phone companies are already charging far more than Internet providers in other countries. Some also wonder whether the new price plans are meant to prevent online video sites from cutting into the lucrative revenue from cable TV service.
South Korean blogger cleared of spreading false information
Unemployed Seoul man who called himself Minerva gained reputation as a prophet with economic predictions
guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 April 2009 09.32 BST
A South Korean court today acquitted a blogger charged with spreading false information on the internet under a mysterious pseudonym, in a high-profile case that sparked heated debate over freedom of speech in cyberspace.
Park Dae-sung, 30, an unemployed Seoul resident, was acquitted by the Seoul central district court. Judge Yoo Young-hyeon said he could not see that Park “had the intention to undermine public interest” or that he “realised the contents of the articles in question that he wrote were completely false”.
Park, writing anonymously under the pen name “Minerva” after the Greek goddess of wisdom, caused a sensation and gained a reputation as an economic prophet in South Korea last year by denouncing the government’s handling of the economy and making largely negative predictions.
India’s brisk trade in child slaves
From The Times
April 20, 2009
Rhys Blakely: Analysis
Thousands of children are bought and sold in India every day, far from the gaze of British tabloids – and for a lot less than £200,000.
Take the case of Monisha, 11, whom The Times met last year. When she was 7 her impoverished father sold her for about £150 and she became one of the estimated 15 million child slaves in India.
Monisha works for 12 hours every day in a dark, filthy fabric factory in Salem, an industrial city in the state of Tamil Nadu. She cleans looms that produce the inexpensive yarn often used to produce cheap garments for British high streets. “I have bad headaches all the time,” she said. “The noise never stops.”
Monisha can leave only if she repays a “loan” for £150, which her father borrowed from her employer. The interest charges exceed the wages, so she will never be able to repay it.
Jacob Zuma the chameleon brings South Africans joy and fear
The former Zulu herd boy appalls the middle classes, but embodies the African dream. Will the man poised to be president heal the rifts?
David Smith in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal
The Guardian, Monday 20 April 2009
As young Zulu boys, Maphamule Ndlovu and Jacob Zuma had much in common. They would herd cattle, kill snakes and learn the warrior code by stick fighting. They would listen to stories of their ancestors around the village fire in the pretty but impoverished hills of 1950s KwaZulu-Natal.
But the lives of the two men, now both 67, could not have turned out more differently. Ndlovu lives alone in a ramshackle building with a leaking roof and no water or electricity, on a diet of bread, tea and porridge.
Zuma is poised to become South Africa’s first Zulu president after elections on Wednesday. “He was the person who was good-looking and spoke well,” recalls his former friend. “He was very determined to be educated.”
Egypt, thou knew’st too well: is Cleopatra’s final secret out?
Archaeologists believe they are on brink of discovering queen’s final resting place
By Kunal Dutta
Monday, 20 April 2009
Just as he did fictitiously with Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare immortalised Antony and Cleopatra as a tragic tale of a defeated couple. But unlike Verona’s star-crossed lovers, Marc Antony and Cleopatra’s final resting place has remained a mystery.
Now archaeologists believe they are on the cusp of a conclusive discovery. Three sites buried deep underneath the crumbling limestone of a 2,000-year-old temple are thought to contain a series of complex systems of tunnels which archaeologists believe could lead to the tomb of the two lovers.
And to prove it, Zahi Hawass, director of Egypt’s Superior Council for Antiquities, showcased a range of items yesterday that have been found at the site at Burg El-Arab, nearAlexandria.
Lawsuits on human rights halve despite European act
Experts say latest figures counter arguments that the law should be scrapped
By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
Monday, 20 April 2009
Cases taken to court using the Human Rights Act have more than halved in the last eight years, countering claims that the legislation has turned Britain into the compensation capital of the world.
Figures show that human rights legal actions peaked at 714 in 2002, shortly after the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, but have now fallen to a low of 327 cases last year.
The Conservatives have said they want to abolish the Human Rights Act in favour of a new Bill of Rights because of the harm they say has been done to British society; others have variously described the legislation as a “nutters’ charter” and a “gold mine” for greedy lawyers.
But the new figures compiled by legal publishers Sweet & Maxwell show that the British public are resorting to this law less and less.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty, said: “Any new piece of legislation is bound to attract early litigation interest, but I have always thought it was a lot of spin about it turning Britain into a compensation capital.
Hardliners win Turkish Cypriot election
Turkish Cypriot hardliners secure resounding election victory in northern Cyprus, raising concern about about the future of peace talks with Greek Cypriots and Turkey’s EU membership ambitions.
ELECTIONS | 20.04.2009
The right-wing National Unity Party (UBP) had around 44 percent of the vote, according to provisional results released by the Turkish Cypriot administration on Sunday, April 19.
The UBP advocates an outright two-state settlement on Cyprus, at odds with the federal model now being discussed by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.
Talat’s allies, the center-left Republican Turkish Party (CTP), were in second place with just over 29 percent of the vote.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is only recognized by Ankara.
About 160,000 people were eligible to vote in Sunday’s election. Election officials estimated turnout at 81.3 percent.
The Turkish press said that up to 100,000 voters are settlers from the Turkish mainland with TRNC papers.
Iran’s president makes rare intervention in US reporter’s case
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells Iran’s judiciary to uphold Roxana Saberi’s legal rights.
By Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – In a rare intervention, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday warned the judiciary to ensure that US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi has “all freedoms and legal rights” to defend herself from espionage charges.
Ms. Saberi was sentenced to eight years in prison on Saturday for spying for the United States.
The case comes even as President Barack Obama has made several overtures to Tehran in recent months, in a bid to end 30 years of mutual hostility and begin a dialogue that would include Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
Mr. Obama was “deeply disappointed” at news of Saberi’s sentence, his spokesman said.
The tough verdict stood in contrast to a recent cooling of the heated anti-Western rhetoric from Mr. Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials. There has been a pledge to offer a new diplomatic package that would “guarantee peace and justice in the world,” and indications that Iran is also willing to start a new chapter with the US.
The letter from Ahmadinejad’s office is an unusual intervention in a judicial matter, and suggests a degree of politics at play in Saberi’s case.
Iraq elects parliament speaker after 4-month impasse
The selection of the mild-mannered Iyad Samarrai of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party is seen as a setback for Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
By Liz Sly
April 20, 2009
Reporting from Baghdad — Iraq’s parliament ended four months of legislative paralysis Sunday by electing a new speaker who supporters hope will bring both muscle and discipline to the notoriously disorderly body.
Iyad Samarrai, a leading figure in the Iraqi Islamic Party, was chosen to replace Mahmoud Mashadani, who resigned as speaker in December amid universal complaints about his erratic and abrasive style.
Samarrai, a mild-mannered Sunni Arab engineer who spent nearly a decade in exile in Britain, is likely to bring a more sober approach to running the legislature. But his appointment could also lead to power struggles between parliament and the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. Under an unwritten agreement between the factions, the speaker’s post is filled by a Sunni.
For the last four months Samarrai has been unable to get the required majority in the 275-seat parliament because of concerns by some, including Maliki, that the Iraqi Islamic Party would use the position to challenge the prime minister’s power.
Fidel Castro say U.S. embargo against Cuba must go
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Sunday the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba must go, but he was mum on his brother Raul Castro’s recent offer to talk with Washington about “everything,” including political prisoners and human rights.
Castro’s comments in his latest column in Cuba’s state-run media were his first about the just-completed Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. Latin American leaders there pushed U.S. President Barack Obama to end the Cold War trade ban imposed against Cuba in 1962.
Castro praised Obama for being “very intelligent,” but said he was “abrupt and evasive” when he answered questions about the embargo in a closing news conference on Sunday.
“I want to remind him of a basic ethical principal related to Cuba: any injustice, any crime in whatever time has no excuse to go on. The cruel blockade (embargo) against the Cuban people costs lives, costs suffering,” he said.