Thursday, 7 February 2008

Wednesday, 6th February, 2008


The body brigage had its work cut out for it. Most of the civilian dead from three days of fighting between government troops and rebels aimed at toppling Chad's president had been carried off, mourned and buried by their families. But for days the dead rebels had been lying in the streets, abandoned by their fleeing compatriots, bloating amid black clouds of flies. Even the soldiers held their noses.
"We are just cleaning up the garbage of the streets of Ndjamena," said Hassan Abdoulaye, the provincial governor, his round cheeks puffed into a smile as he watched a crew of fireman heave the corpses into a bright yellow front loader, which then tippen them into a dump truck headed for a mass grave. Just a few smears of dried blood remained.
"Everything is back to normal," Abdoulaye said.

At one checkpoint, a boy whose voice had not yet broken sat atop a pickup truck, his gun barely taller than he was. his red beret a loose fit on his small head.
"He is 9," one of the other soldiers said with a laugh. "No, he is 14."
Asked if the boy had seen combat, his older compatriot grabbed his automatic weapon and smiled, saying, "He can handle this and heavy weapons, too."

Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner responsible for the Union's expansion, made little attempt to concel his anger. "I deeply regret the obstructiion by certain politicians in Belgrade in blocking the signature," he said. He accused Kostunica of ignoring the will of Serbian people , as expressed in the election of Tadic, who made EU membership the centrepiece of his campaign.

Obama said Wednesday that he had earned a moral victory by battling Clinton to a draw.
"I thin the Clinton camp's basic attitude was that the whole calendar was set up to deliver the knockout blow on Feb. 5th," Obama said. "Not only did we play them to a draw, we won more delegates and we won more states. What that means is that we are in a fierce competition and we've got many more rounds to fight. What e've shown is, you know, we can take a punch and we're still standing."

Bush administration officials have been on the defensive about Afghanistan since a critical report was released last week bya group whose c0-chairman was General James Jones, a former NATO supreme commander. The report concluded: "The U.S. and the international community have tried to win the struggle in Afghanistan with too few military forces and insufficient economic aid, and without a clear strategy to fill the power vacuum outside Kabul and to counter the combined challenges of reconstituted Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan."

The White House on Wednesday defended the use of the interrogation technique known as waterboarding, saying it is legal and has saved American lives...
Waterboarding involves strapping a suspect down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning. It has been traced back hundreds of years, and is condemned by nations around the world.

Los Angeles is a company town and, in the entertainment business, anyone on their way up is using the Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Document Marker, $350, with refills available in orange or green.
"The first time I had money for luxuries, the first luxury item I bought was a Montblanc rollerball," said Marla Ginsburg, senior vice president of Blueprint Entertainment. "I signed every important document in my life with it, still have it, and their new highlighter is the next thing I have to have.
"In fact, as soon as the writers strike is over, and I have something to highlight, I'm going to buy one."

A hard-line Iranian monitoring body has banned a grandson of the country's revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khommeni from running for Pariliament next month, Reutuers reported, based on a newspaper account...
[Ali Eshraghi, a 390year old civil engineer] said in an an interview with the newspaper Kargozaran that he had not been told why he had been rejected.
"My neighbors told me they were questioned about my private life," he said, adding that the questions reported to him included "whether I shaved, whether I pray or fast or smoke."

A senior Russian diplomat voiced concern Wednesday about Iran's launching of a rocket, Russian news reports said, as Moscow appeared it indicate that it increasingly shares Western concerns about Tehran's nuclear course."It adds to the general suspicions of Iran regarding its potential desire to build nuclear weapons," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov was quoted as saying. "Long-range missiles are one of the components of such weapons. That causes concerns."

Hundreds of taxis blocked streets accross France on Wednesday in the second protest in a week over a proposal to open up their business to competition.

LAFETTE, Tenessee
Crews searched Wednesday for more victims of tonadoes that killed at least 48 people and injured hundreds more as they tore accross four states, ripping off a shopping mall roof, demolishing mobile homes and blowing apart warehouses.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee
The late-afternoon sky has turned bright blue, with puffy white clouds, and the view of lush, rolling hillsides had a certain glow. Crow recognised it: "Tornadoes," she said. After rehearsal, she was driving a vistor and her two yellow Labradors, Rex and Flossy, to one of her farmhouses, where dinner was awaiting the band and crew. "I grew up in the flattest part of America, and it's just Tornado Central," said Crow..."When the sky looks bright, and it's been dark all day, and it's almost nighttime, I just get the creeps."
She checked the emergency radio as she gave an interview and shared a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Nearby , her 9-month-old son, Wyatt Steven, plinked a toy piano under the eye of a nanny and band members.

"If we're going to win, it was always going to be slowly," Samantha Power, a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama, told me.

VIEWS: SPACE FOR EUROPE (Giovanni F. Bignami)
PAVIA, Italy
When the aging Shuttle brings the European Space Agency's Columbus module up to the International Space Station on Thursday and its crew screws it all together, participating nations will finally be close to using its relatively short exploitation period.
Scientists from around the world will only have about 10 years to use the facility - for it is also aging, having taken a good two decades to build. Now is the time, especially for Europe, to start planning the post-space station future of manned space travel.
The Shuttle will be abandoned in two years. Access to the space station will then only be possible with that old workhorse, the Soyuz, based on essentially the same technology that shot Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961. Now that the Cold War is over, Soyuz is open to Americans and Europeans alike, but the cost of a ticket is likely to go up.
Moreover, however glorious its history, Soyuz has a limited cargo capacity.

MEANWHILE: 'WHERE ARE YOU FROM?' (Ranjani Iyer Mohanty)
In Portugal, they have a name for us: estrangeiros. Describing expats (including himself) in his book "Imaginary Homelands," Salman Rushdie wrote: "Sometimes we feel that we straddle two cultures; at other times, that we fall between two stools."
Physical movement can lead to an intellectual movement as well. Edward Said, in a lecture titled "Intellectual Exile," called us "marginals." But he also listed three positive aspects of the condition:
We never see things in isolation, always through a double perspective, "in terms of what has been left behind and what is actual here and now," and therefore we derive our own interpretations of them.
We "look at situations as contingent, not as inevitable," as the result of choices we've made.
We have the opportunity to begin afresh in each new situation, and perhaps even to do things that we would not or could not have done in our earlier locale...
As movement becomes more the norm, our countries - whether they be those of our parents, of our birth, of our upbringing, or of our current residence - may no longer define us.
Maybe then the question will not be "where are you from?" but rather "where are you going?" Quo vadis?

At a Christmas dinner, a relative was wearing a spiffy striped polo shirt. I liked the shirt so much that I asked about it, expecting it to be a golf item from Brooks Brothers with the iconic Golden Fleece logo. But he quickly corrected me - the polo was from a skate and snowboard apparel company. And the logo was a faceted stone, not a sheep."It's Volcom," said the relative, Aaron Behle, who is the chief executive and general manager of Dragon Alliance, an eyewear company that specializes in sunglasses and action sports goggles. "And, get this," he added. "Volcom makes suits."

In mild doses, feeling like a fraud also tempers the natural instinct to define one's own competence in self-serving ways.
Researchers have shown in careful studies that people tend to be poor judges of their own performance and often to overrate their abilities. Their opinions about how well they've done on a test, or at a job, or in a class are often way off others' evaluations. They're confident that they can detect liars (they can't) and forecast grades (not so well).
This native confidence is likely to be functional: in a world of profound uncertainty, self-serving delusion probably helps people to get out of bed and chase their pet projects.
But it can be poison when the job calls for expertise and accountability, and the expertise is wanting.

Privacy groups have long sounded a whistle of warning that mobile phone companies store too much information about their clients.
Wang Jianshou, the chief executive of China Mobile, the world's largest mobile phone company by the number of subscribers, stoked those fears last month when he told a room full of politicians and business leaders what everybody knows, but generally do not say in a sort of code of silence by the phone companies: "We know who you are, but also where you are," Wang was quoted as saying about location based advertising...
"In 10 years, phone companies, the government or anybody else can look into a database and know about this conversation," Calamari said. "I don't think people have realized how devastating it is that all this data is being saved. This type of back-dated investigations where they can see where you were and what you were doing 10 years ago doesn't even exist in the worst police states."...
"Privacy just might be 'old school' " Mendler said. "I'm not sure the concept of privacy will survive with the new generations. These are people who go on to MySpace and Facebook and give out all that information anyway."

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