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Archive for April, 2009

Lawyers Meet With Sudanese Guantanamo Detainees

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Lawyers from the Pentagon’s legal office will meet with families of Sudanese Guantanamo detainees to discuss how they might be released, a Sudanese foreign ministry official said Friday.

The U.S. delegation arrived in the Sudanese capital on Thursday as the diplomatic detente between Khartoum and the new administration in Washington is showing further signs of a thaw. U.S. Senator John Kerry and U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration have both visited Sudan this month… ... Read Full Story

Captain Held Hostage Says ‘I’m Not A Hero, The Military Is’

Reported by The AP Associated Press

UNDERHILL, Vt. – The unassuming ship captain who escaped the clutches of Somali pirates said upon his triumphant arrival home Friday that he was just an ordinary seaman doing his job, not a hero, and he praised the Navy for its daring rescue mission.

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“They’re the superheroes,” Richard Phillips said. “They’re the titans. They’re impossible men doing an impossible job, and they did the impossible with me. … They’re at the point of the sword every day, doing an impossible job every day.”… ... Read Full Story

U.S. Journalist Receives 8-Year Prison Term for Spying

Reorted by AP Associated Press

Roxana Saberi

TEHRAN, Iran – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday she is “deeply disappointed” by Iran’s sentencing of an American journalist in closed-door trial.

A lawyer for journalist Roxana Saberi said the 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen was convicted of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Clinton said in a statement the U.S. is working with Swiss diplomats in Iran to get details about the court’s decision and to ensure Saberi’s well-being. Clinton said the U.S. will “vigorously raise our concerns” with Tehran. She said Saberi was in Iran to learn more about her cultural heritage.

Saberi, a dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled a far more serious allegation, charging her with spying for the United States… ... Read Full Story

Israel Is Ready to Bomb Iran’s Nuclear Sites

Source Timesonline: Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem

The Israeli military is preparing itself  to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.

Among the steps taken to ready Israeli forces for what would be a risky raid requiring pinpoint aerial strikes are the acquisition of three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack.

Two nationwide civil defence drills will help to prepare the public for the retaliation that Israel could face.

“Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words,” one senior defence official told The Times.

Officials believe that Israel could be required to hit more than a dozen targets, including moving convoys. The sites include Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges produce enriched uranium; Esfahan, where 250 tonnes of gas is stored in tunnels; and Arak, where a heavy water reactor produces plutonium.

“We would not make the threat [against Iran] without the force to back it. There has been a recent move, a number of on-the-ground preparations, that indicate Israel’s willingness to act,” said another official from Israel’s intelligence community.

He added that it was unlikely that Israel would carry out the attack without receiving at least tacit approval from America, which has struck a more reconciliatory tone in dealing with Iran under its new administration.

Obama and Chavez Shake Hands – All Smiles

Port of  Spain,  April 17, 2009 –  President Obama shook hands with Venezuelan Presiden Hugo Chavez  during an impromptu meeting with the anti-U.S. leader at the Summit of the Americas.

“I greeted Bush with this hand eight years ago; I want to be your friend,” Chavez told Obama, according to a Venezuelan presidential press office statement.

Chavez, a staunch ally of Cuba, had became one of the Bush’s administrations most strident critics. In March, he called Obama at best an “ignoramus” after the U.S. leader said Chavez obstructed progress in Latin America.

 Ties between Washington and Caracas have frayed under Chavez, who often accuses U.S. officials of trying to topple him. Chavez expelled the U.S. envoy to Caracas in September in a dispute over U.S. activities in Venezuelan ally Bolivia.

 Former soldier Chavez says socialist revolution can counter U.S. free-market policies in South America and he has become a standard-bearer for anti-U.S. sentiment in the region. But Washington has branded him a threat to regional stability. (Reporting by Patrick Markey; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Foreclosures Are Back Stronger Than Ever

Foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 341,180 properties in March, 46% more than a year ago and 17% more than February’s total, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac Inc., a foreclosure listing firm. (RealtyTrac is a partner of MSN Real Estate.) Read more about  Foreclosures surge back with a vengeance

Former Top Bush Aide Says Releasing CIA Memos Has Done Grave Damage

A former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush called the publication of the memos “unbelievable.”

“It’s damaging because these are techniques that work, and by Obama’s action today, we are telling the terrorists what they are,” the official said. “We have laid it all out for our enemies. This is totally unnecessary. … Publicizing the techniques does grave damage to our national security by ensuring they can never be used again — even in a ticking-time- bomb scenario where thousands or even millions of American lives are at stake.”  Read More

Lawyer Loses Job After Survivng Hudson River Crash

In a one-in-a-million event, Scudere and his fellow passengers survived the plane’s river ditching on Jan. 15, and he walked away with nothing worse than wet clothes. But he could not escape an everyday event that has claimed millions of other victims: He lost his job and found himself questioning his self worth.

Now he’s a 48-year-old unemployed attorney. Like the Biblical Job, who lost and gained everything, Scudere searches for an elusive meaning in suffering and redemption. He’s grateful, a bit angry and reflective. “I don’t feel sorry for myself,” he said. “It just shows the randomness of life, and the inevitability of loss. You can lose, and yet you can still be preserved. I lost my job, and yet I have my life.”

Frank Scudere, seen with his wife, Johannah, wasn’t injured in the flight that went into the Hudson River but was then laid off from the giant law firm Skadden, Arps. “I feel displaced. Who am I? My identity as an attorney — that’s gone.”

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Glendale Mall Owner General Growth Files Historic Real Estate Bankruptcy

General Growth Properties Inc., owner of some of the nation’s most prominent malls, including the Glendale Galleria, filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors Thursday, marking the biggest real estate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The filing, anticipated for months, comes as cash-strapped consumers turn away from shopping as a favorite pastime and the role of the mall in American culture is losing its charm.

No One Wants To File For Bankruptcy But It May Be The Smartest Choice… ... Read Full Story

Cleric States Afghan Law Does Not Allow Rape

According to Reuters a new Afghan law that has drawn Western condemnation for restricting women’s rights does not allow marital rape as its critics claim, but lets men refuse to feed wives who deny them sex, the cleric behind it says. Read more