Analysis: Next Obama test is Afghanistan
President campaigned on pledge to focus on the war there
By STEVEN R. HURST
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – Fresh from a bruising victory on health care and a nuclear arms deal with Russia, President Barack Obama turned to a third campaign promise – victory and an honorable exit from Afghanistan. That could prove tougher than any challenge overcome so far, and the president appears to know it.
Seldom does a U.S. leader devote more than 24 hours flying to and from a war zone to spend only 6 hours on the ground. But the stakes are enormous.
Jeff Jarvis: Google is defending citizens of the net
Someone has to act as ambassador for the internet – and so far, there’s one major company stepping up
The Guardian, Monday 29 March 2010
This year at Davos, Google’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, told an audience of journalists that his company is not a country, does not set laws, and does not have a police force. Yet in its showdown with China, Google is acting as the ambassador for the internet. Well, somebody has to.
Next to no one has been willing to stand up to China’s suppression of speech online. Other companies – Yahoo, Cisco – have handed over information that led to the imprisonment of dissidents, or have helped China build its Great Firewall. Many more, from News Corp to the New York Times Company, have coveted the Chinese market and overlooked the regime’s tyranny to do business there. Governments have hardly been better, doing between little and nothing to pressure China over human and digital rights.
Ships in U.S., Canadian waters to face stricter pollution controls
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 29, 2010
To curb air pollution, large tankers, container ships and cruise boats will have to use low-sulfur fuels when passing through U.S. and Canadian coastal waters, under a proposal adopted by a United Nations rulemaking body Friday.
Vessels traveling within 200 nautical miles of most of the two nations’ coasts will have to cut their fuel sulfur content by 98 percent. The rules approved by the International Maritime Organization will be phased in from 2012, and new ships will have to use advanced pollution-control technology beginning in 2016.
In Berkeley, Yoo feels at home as a stranger in a strange land
The Bush administration lawyer who gave legal cover to enhanced interrogation methods says he’s happy teaching at Boalt Hall School of Law, despite calls for his ouster and protests by liberal groups.
By Carol J. Williams
March 29, 2010
Reporting from Berkeley – In his slate-blue suit and Republican-red tie, John Yoo stands out as discordantly formal among the denim- and turtleneck-clad faculty at Boalt Hall School of Law. Never mind how his politics play in what he derides as “the People’s Republic of Berkeley.”
The former Bush administration lawyer who drafted what his critics call the “torture memos” is reviled by many in this liberal East Bay academic enclave, a feeling that is mutual though not, Yoo insists, wholly unpleasant.
Moscow metro blasts: timeline of attacks in Russia
At least two blasts ripped through packed Moscow metro stations on Monday during rush hour. The following is a timeline of big attacks on Russian soil over recent years:
Published: 8:30AM BST 29 Mar 2010
1994-1996 – Tens of thousands of people are killed in the first Chechen war.
June 1995 – Chechen rebels seize hundreds of hostages in a hospital in the southern Russian town of Budennovsk. More than 100 people are killed during the rebel assault and a botched Russian commando raid.
Jan 1996 – Chechen fighters take hundreds hostage in a hospital at Kizlyar in Dagestan, then move them by bus to Pervomaiskoye on the Chechen border. Most rebels escape but many hostages are killed when Russian forces attempt a rescue.
Sept 1999 – Bombs destroy apartment blocks in Moscow, Buynaksk and Volgodonsk. More than 200 people are killed. Moscow blames Chechens who in turn blame Russian secret services.
Merkel visits Turkey in effort to settle growing differences
Germany resistance to full Turkish membership of the EU is one thorny issue to be addressed as Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Ankara. Discussions are planned on a series of issues, including integration of immigrants.
TURKEY | 29.03.2010
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are meeting on Monday to discuss a range of issues, including some on which the leaders do not appear to see eye to eye.
Turkish efforts to secure membership of the EU, proposed sanctions against Iran, the Middle East peace process and the integration of Turkish immigrants into German society are all possible points of disagreement.
Merkel is meeting Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara before going on to visit Turkey’s largest city Istanbul.
Iraq election results in doubt as winners face disqualification
From The Times
March 29, 2010
Alice Fordham, Baghdad
Iraq’s election results could be called into question today, as a committee that seeks out members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime is set to call for the disqualification of some candidates who won parliamentary seats on March 7.
The Justice and Accountability Commission, which recommended that hundreds of candidates be barred before the polls, did not specify yesterday how many elected candidates it would now try to dismiss. Ayad Allawi, leader of the winning bloc, warned over the weekend that it might seek to disqualify more candidates from his Iraqia grouping.
The plague of darkness has struck modern Israelites
By Akiva Eldar
One of the harshest of the 10 plagues has smitten the children of Israel this Passover, and they are stumbling about in pitch darkness, bumping blindly into anyone in their way as they head toward the edge of the precipice. Warm friends, cool friends, icy enemies: Jordan and Turkey, Brazil and Britain, Germany and Australia – it’s all the same.
And if that’s not enough, the myopic Jewish state also has gone and collided head-on with the ally that offers existential support. Israel has become an environmental hazard and its own greatest threat. For 43 years, Israel has been ruled by people who have refused to see reality. They speak of “united Jerusalem,” knowing that no other country has recognized the annexation of the eastern part of the city. They sent 300,000 people to settle land they know does not belong to them. As early as September 1967, Theodor Meron, then the legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, said there was a categorical prohibition against civilian settlement in occupied territories, under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Rio Tinto executive sentenced to 12 years in China
From Times Online
March 29, 2010
Jane Macartney, Beijing
A Chinese court has sentenced an Australian executive of mining giant Rio Tinto to 12 years in jail on charges of bribery and commercial espionage.
Stern Hu was sentenced to seven years for taking bribes and to five years for stealing business secrets, the Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court ruled this afternoon. The court said that Mr Hu, who headed Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations in China, would serve ten years.
Sunken section of South Korean naval vessel found
The South Korean military says it has located the stern of its warship that sank in mysterious circumstances on Friday following an explosion.
The BBC Monday, 29 March 2010
The authorities are hoping that some of the 46 crew members still missing may be alive but trapped in underwater air pockets in the wreckage.
Military diving teams were due to begin a search for survivors.
The vessel sank close to the sea border with North Korea; the South says it is open-minded on the cause of the blast.
Rescue officials said at the weekend that the explosion had broken the ship into two parts. Fifty-eight crewmen were saved soon after the ship went down.
Navy divers have been hampered by strong currents and murky waters, but have now located the stern on the sea bed.
It is the part of ship that contains the sleeping compartments and so is thought to be the most likely location in which survivors might be found.
FARC rebels release a Colombian soldier, promise another soon
FARC rebels released a Colombian soldier on Sunday after nearly a year in captivity. The group is planning to release another Colombian in the coming week.
By Sibylla Brodzinsky, Correspondent / March 28, 2010
A Colombian soldier regained his freedom Sunday after spending nearly a year as a hostage of leftist FARC rebels, in the first of two unilateral releases planned for this week.
Private Josué Calvo, who was kidnapped April 20 2009 after being wounded in combat, arrived in a Brazilian helicopter on loan for the release operations. Limping visibly and using a long stick as a cane, Mr. Calvo, 23, was greeted by his family on the tarmac of the airport in the city of Villavicencio in the central plains.