Jeremy Laurance: A health debate outsiders find hard to understand
Monday, 22 March 2010
Americans’ affection for their deeply flawed health service – with the highest costs and poorest coverage (50 million uninsured) in the industrialised world – can be hard for outsiders to comprehend. How could any civilised country, let alone the planet’s richest, defend such a state of affairs?
In truth, many Americans have long supported reform in principle. Polls have shown a majority back extending insurance cover. But when they are presented with the bill for doing so – increased taxes, curbs on benefits – attitudes harden.
Indian coffee houses battle for custom on frontline of culture war
While some coffee chains bustle with wealthy young consumers, others are falling victim to radical changes in Indian society
Jason Burke in Kolkata
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 21 March 2010 19.44 GMT
Late afternoon in Kolkata and the light slants across the crowded tables of the College Street Coffee House. Waiters in grubby white suits and ornate hats deliver limp omelettes and piles of biryani rice. The manager, Deepak Gupta, is proud of the range of coffee he offers – black, white, cold or hot, all for eight rupees (12p).
“We serve up to 1,500 cups a day. Our prices are very low. Business is good,” he says.
The coffee house is owned by a co-operative society founded in the full flush of 1950s Indian socialism to guarantee cheap food, drink and a meeting place for workers, intellectuals and political activists alike.
Finding in Foreclosure a Beginning, Not an End
By JOHN LELAND
Published: March 21, 2010
BOSTON – Jane Petion lived in her home for 15 years and saw its value rise slowly, rise rapidly and, when the housing bubble burst, plunge at a sickening pace that left her owing $400,000 on a house worth closer to $250,000. Last June, her lender foreclosed on the property. The family received notices of eviction and appeared in housing court.
Then they discovered a surprising paradox within the nation’s housing crisis: Their power to negotiate began after foreclosure, rather than ending there.
In December Ms. Petion signed a new mortgage on her house for $250,000, with monthly payments of less than half the previous level.
In North Dakota, waterlogged life goes on
Flooding is just a part of this region’s landscape, though it can be vexing after a while.
By Ashley Powers
March 22, 2010
Reporting from Harwood, N.D.
As the Red River crested Sunday, Fargo, N.D., residents watched with relief as their man-made clay and sandbag barriers held back the near-bursting waterway and signs of normality — dog-walkers and packed after-church brunches — reappeared in the state’s most populous city.
But not so in Harwood.
That’s not to say the city has been inundated. Most homes sit on high enough ground or were protected by strong enough levees to escape the water.
Miles from the Kremlin, protesters aim fruit and fury at Putin
Shaun Walker witnesses demonstrations in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad
Monday, 22 March 2010
Waving mandarins above their heads, and wearing surgical masks to denote the lack of free speech in Russia, they descended on Kaliningrad’s central square in droves. They came despite the local government’s offer of negotiations, and the driving rain sweeping in from the Baltic Sea.
For an hour on Saturday afternoon, some 5,000 protesters called loudly for the resignations of the local governor Georgy Boos and the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and bemoaned falling standards of living and the lack of democracy in the country.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement thrashed in regional elections
From The Times
March 22, 2010
Charles Bremner, Paris
A chastened Nicolas Sarkozy will attempt this week to relaunch his presidency after voters yesterday vented their unhappiness by thrashing his centre-right party in elections for regional councils.
The Socialist opposition and its Green allies won an estimated 55 per cent of the vote compared with about 37 per cent for the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), according to exit polls. However, they failed to score the clean sweep that they had hoped against Mr Sarkozy’s camp in the voting for the 22 regional councils of mainland France and Corsica.
Two more Palestinian youths shot dead by Israelis in bloody weekend
X-rays show deaths were caused by conventional bullets but military claim only rubber rounds were fired
By Donald Macintyre in Nablus Monday, 22 March 2010
Doctors who treated two Palestinian youths shot dead by Israeli troops in the West Bank have refuted the army’s claim that they had used rubber bullets and said the medical evidence showed that live ammunition had been fired.
The shooting of Mohammed and Osaid Qadus, both teenagers, in the village of Iraq Burin was followed yesterday by the deaths of another two youths shot by Israeli forces. The renewed violence came as it was confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet President Barack Obama in Washington tomorrow amid continued US efforts to relaunch indirect negotiations between the two sides in the conflict.
Netanyahu hits defiant note ahead of visit with Obama
Two days before he meets President Obama in Washington, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday that ‘building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv.’
By Ilene R. Prusher, Staff writer / March 21, 2010
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a somewhat defiant tone on Sunday when he made clear on the eve of an important trip to visit President Obama in Washington that he would not distinguish between building in Jerusalem – a source of strife in the United States-Israel relationship over the past two weeks – and building in the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv.
“Our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by all Israeli governments for the last 42 years, and it has not changed. As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv,” Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet at their weekly meeting Sunday.
Sahil Saeed ordeal exposes growth of homeland kidnap ‘trade’
From The Times
March 22, 2010
Sean O’Neill, Adam Fresco, Russell Jenkins
Apart from the severe haircut given to Sahil Saeed by his kidnappers, there are few remaining outward signs of the little boy’s ordeal in Pakistan. The camera crews have gone from outside his family’s terraced house in Shaw, Oldham. Inside, Sahil, five, is said to have been playing with his sisters as if nothing had happened.
But for Britain’s large Pakistani community, the Punjab kidnapping – despite its happy ending – will have huge repercussions.
More than 400,000 people travel to Pakistan every year – to visit relatives, attend weddings and see their ancestral villages. Many are now coming to the realisation that the country they regard as their homeland has become unsafe to visit.
China’s corrupt Communists in the frame for graft
A Chinese artist has risked the wrath of the Communist Party by preparing to mount exhibition that highlights its burgeoning number of corrupt officials.
By Peter Foster in Beijing
The daring new art work highlights the scale of graft in the world’s largest emerging economy, which wages a constant war on corruption.
The work, entitled “Hall of Fame”, contains the portraits of 680 officials who have been successfully been prosecuted for embezzling, stealing or collecting bribes.
The installation by the Beijing-based contemporary artist, Zhang Bingjian, aims to confront viewers with portraits of the jailed officials all painted in the crimson red of China largest denomination 100 yuan banknote.
In a capitalist twist the works were commissioned from an ‘art factory’ in Shenzhen where artists are paid to paint cheap knock-offs of Western art for sale abroad.
Tanzania, Zambia demand one-off ivory sales
Associated Press March 22, 2010
DOHA, Qatar – Tanzania and Zambia are requesting a U.N. conservation meeting approve one-off sales of their ivory stocks, despite criticism from conservationists that they are not doing enough to crack down on poaching which has intensified in recent years.
A counter proposal presented Monday at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES by Kenya and six other African countries called for halting the limited international trade in African elephant ivory that is currently allowed and a 20-year moratorium on any proposals to relax international trade controls on African elephants.
Haiti races to house post-quake homeless before the rainy season
The Haiti government needs 40,000 dwellings for 200,000 people currently homeless in flood- or mudslide-prone areas or in the most congested tent cities. Can it do that by the time the rainy season starts in early April?
By Kathie Klarreich, Correspondent / March 21, 2010
When Aleksandre Radosavcec landed in Haiti just two weeks after the Jan. 12 earthquake, he immediately headed to ground zero. As a longtime disaster relief specialist with Danish People’s Aid (DPA), he knew the drill for such emergencies. Within days he’d set up a small office, rented a cellar for living space, and begun to assess what needed to be done, especially before Haiti’s rainy season begins in April.
Together with his partner, Erik Norremark, he presented a temporary housing design to the Shelter Cluster, a conglomerate of dozens of aid agencies coordinating efforts to provide housing to more than 1 million Haitians left homeless by the quake.