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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Baithak World Apr 23: Clinton Survives, Canada, India Stands Firm, Gates Spin, RTI, Infinity Pool, US Economy, Spying for Israel, Al Qaeda Delusion...

PHILADELPHIA -- Hillary Rodham Clinton took the Pennsylvania primary tonight, staving off elimination and ensuring the Democrat's fierce nominating battle would last at least another two weeks. In a state racked by economic anxiety, Clinton rolled to victory with strong support from women, seniors and blue-collar voters -- the coalition that carried the New York senator to wins elsewhere including, most notably, her back-to-the-wall victory last month in Ohio. With 96% of precincts reporting, Clinton was ahead 55% to 45% in Pennsylvania. "Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people don't quit, and they deserve a president who doesn't quit either," she said at a victory rally in Philadelphia.Hillary Clinton stays alive with Pennsylvania win

The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it. Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election. If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead. The Low Road to Victory

OTTAWA–Canadians patting themselves on the back for going green on Earth Day got a splash of cold water today: a new report shows Canada is one of the world's highest per capita greenhouse-gas emitters. A study from Statistics Canada says Canada trails only the United States and Australia when it comes to the amount of greenhouse gases each of its citizens emits on average annually. Each Canadian was responsible for just over 23 tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2005, the agency says, compared with an annual average of 24.4 tonnes in the States and 27.7 tonnes in Australia. That's markedly higher than countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Japan, whose per capita emissions were roughly half Canada's. Canada among worst offenders on emissions

A day after the Bush administration urged India to step up pressure on Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on his coming visit to New Delhi, India tartly said it did not need “any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations,” making it plain that no saber rattling from its friends in Washington would impair its relationship with a vital energy supplier. “India and Iran are ancient civilizations whose relations span centuries,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “Both nations are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention.” India: U.S. Advice on Iran Is Rejected

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he believes Iran is "hell bent" on acquiring nuclear weapons, but he warned in strong terms of the consequences of going to war over that. "Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need and, in fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels," he said in a speech he was delivering Monday evening at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. A copy of his prepared remarks was provided in advance by the Pentagon. He said he favors keeping the military option against Iran on the table, "given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat _ either directly or through proliferation." Defense Secretary Gates: Another Mideast War Would Be "Disastrous"

Last week, this newspaper reported that an RTI application asking whether Supreme Court judges were making a periodic declaration of their assets to the Chief Justice of India - a practice that was adopted in the late 1990s - was returned by the court saying it had no information on this matter. A few days later, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said that his office was not bound by RTI since he was a constitutional authority. Now Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has waded into the debate by saying that RTI should apply to all public servants. The Speaker is right. There is no reason why judges should be exempt from RTI. If all government offices as well as the country's elected representatives are subject to RTI, why should the judiciary be an exception? The Chief Justice's assertion about his post being a constitutional one is problematic since RTI makes an exception only on information that affects national security. Besides, the RTI application with regard to Supreme Court judges did not ask them to reveal their assets. It merely wanted to know whether the judges were declaring their assets. The reaction of the Chief Justice did nothing to clear the air on questions regarding transparency of the courts. RTI Should Apply to Judiciary Also

If you are looking for a taste of life on the edge, this just has to be the place. Only a slippery, submerged lip of rock stands between these bathers and a 100m drop over the world's largest waterfall. The Devil's Swimming Pool is certainly aptly named. It is created each year at the fringes of Victoria Falls, when the dry season reduces water levels to create what has been likened to the ultimate infinity pool. Hundreds of thrill-seekers descend on the falls, on Zambia's border with Zimbabwe, clambering across rocks and wading through shallows across the precipice to reach the pool. Is this the ultimate (and most dangerous) infinity pool in the world? The natural water hole perched on the edge of the Victoria Falls

By 2007 total indebtedness was three times the size of the gross domestic product, a ratio that surpassed the record set in the years of the Great Depression. From 2001 to 2007 alone, domestic financial debt grew to $14.5 trillion from $8.5 trillion, and home mortgage debt ballooned to almost $10 trillion from $4.9 trillion, an increase of 102 percent. A crisis in the mortgage market in August 2007 brought the party to an end. The second component of the perfect storm is the upheaval in the oil industry. Domestic production peaked in 1971, and there are signs that production worldwide is also peaking. (Mr. Phillips cites experts who believe it already has.) And with the emergence of new economic powers like China and India, demand has risen dramatically and prices have been climbing steadily; by 2004 a rapidly growing China had become the second largest oil consumer, after the United States. Finally, Mr. Phillips turns to what he terms America’s “calcified” political system. We may need new regulations to deal with the debt mess, along with an energy policy to address the changing world of oil, but Washington, he says, has become dedicated to “the politics of evasion,” reluctant to pass dramatic reforms or to call for sacrifice from the public. Democrats and Republicans alike are so entrenched, so dependent on campaign money and special interests, that “the notion of a breath of fresh air has become almost a contradiction in terms.” Instead of a “vital center” in Washington, we now have a “venal center.” What Ails the American Economy? Everything, and There’s Worse to Come

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities arrested an American engineer on Tuesday on suspicion of giving secrets on nuclear weapons, fighter jets and air defense missiles to Israel during the 1980s, the Justice Department said. Ben-Ami Kadish, 84, acknowledged his spying in FBI interviews and said he acted out of a belief that he was helping Israel, court papers said. He was accused of reporting to an Israeli government handler who also dealt with Jonathan Jay Pollard, an American citizen serving a life term on a 1985 charge of spying for Israel. American arrested as nuclear spy for Israel

In an audio tape posted on the internet, Zawahiri insisted al-Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the US. He accused Iran, and its Hezbollah allies, of trying to discredit Osama Bin Laden's network. Correspondents say the comments underline al-Qaeda's increasing public hostility towards Iran. In a two-hour audiotape posted on an Islamist website, Osama Bin Laden's chief deputy responded to questions posted by al-Qaeda sympathisers. In response to a question about persistent rumours in the Middle East that Israel was involved in the 9/11 attacks, Zawahiri said the rumour had begun on the Hezbollah television station, Al-Manar. "The purpose of this lie is clear - [to suggest] that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no-one else did in history, he said. "Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it." Why should Anyone be Proud of It?

Officially, Ramadan, 45, is a professor of Islamic studies in Geneva. But now he has just come from Oxford, where he teaches at St. Antony’s College as a visiting fellow. In effect, Ramadan is something of a modern-day itinerant preacher. His mission is to boost the self-confidence of Europe’s Muslims and to explain his vision of a “European Islam” to Europe’s Christian elite. The new brand of faith which, according to Ramadan, “is currently taking shape among European Muslims with Islamic-European culture” aims to reconcile Western values with the teachings of Islam. This “Euro-Islam” has allowed Ramadan to win friends among immigrant children and proponents of interreligious dialogue -- and make enemies among right-wing nationalists and hardline Islamists. Ramadan has given thousands of presentations over the past few years, speaking to a wide range of audiences, including Muslims and Christians, atheists and Jews, church representatives and politicians, industrialists, students and anti-globalization activists. Over the weekend, he made four appearances in France where he spoke to over 2,500 people, mostly young Muslims. Tonight he will speak in Birmingham at a police convention, tomorrow morning his schedule takes him to Blackpool; he can't remember off the top of his head who he's talking to there. The Theologians Working Towards a Euro-Islam By Dieter Bednarz and Daniel Steinvorth

Many of the bigger challenges we will be forced to address in the 21st century have major environmental implications. On many of these issues, there are opportunities to choose more sustainable and ecologically friendly ways of life. For example, if, as experts warn, that oil demand will soon outstrip our available, dwindling supply, then our petro-dependent society will change along with it. It's a chance to pursue cleaner and more efficient methods of using energy -- switching from cars to public transport, and going from oil to solar and wind. AlterNet picked eight topics -- water, global warming, food, health, energy, pollution, consumption and corporations -- that pose real dangers to the future of human life and selected a series of recent essays that illustrate these problems, along with links to organizations and further resources that address these issues. (Please use the comment section to share other articles and resources on these issues. ) Eight Reasons Our Changing World Will Turn You Into an Environmentalist, Like It or Not

Of all the resources needed to build an economy that will sustain economic progress, none is more scarce than time. That is one of the key messages of PLAN-B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, the newest book by Lester Brown -- available as a free download at
Plan A -- the western fossil-fuel-based, auto-centered, throwaway economic model -- is not going to work for China, India, or the 3 billion other people in developing countries, and it will not continue to work for the industrial countries either. It's time for Plan B -- an all-out response at wartime speed proportionate to the magnitude of threats facing civilization. The four overriding goals of PLAN B 3.0 are to stabilize climate and population, eradicate poverty, and restore the earth's damaged ecosystems. Failure to reach any one of these goals will likely mean failure to reach the others as well. How Many Earth Days Do We Have Left? By Terrence McNally,

Paul Jay presents RealNews

Will Sadr declare open war?
Behind Sadr's warning to the US lies an unavoidable fact: He holds critical cards in Iraq view

Democrats fight in Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar on the punches Dems are dealing, mostly to themselves view

South Philadelphia: Obama land?
Pepe Escobar speaks with residents of South Philly, an area expected to vote heavily for Barack Obama view

Refining Oil in the Doura District
Alive in Baghdad: Refinery workers face constant threat of violence from local militias view


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