Monday Wake Up Call: Fiat Chrysler Replaces CEO, WPP In Talks To Sell China Stake

Story of Note:

Troy Davis files final appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

Death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis on Tuesday will file a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the final court that can consider whether Davis killed a Savannah police officer 20 years ago.

Davis’ attorneys asked the high court to send Davis’ case back to a federal judge for an evidentiary hearing on his innocence claims.


Mother's joy at test case verdict

The mother of a Scots soldier who died of heat stroke in Iraq has spoken of her joy at the verdict in a test case which centred on her son's death.

Judges have decided that the Human Rights Act can apply to British troops, even in the battlefield.

However, in a judgement last April, Mr Justice Collins ruled more widely that the MoD had an obligation to avoid or minimise risks to the lives of its troops, wherever they were serving - even while on patrol or in battle.

Otherwise, he said it risked breaching the "right to life" enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

H/T to diarist Lib Dem FoP.

Report: America's Oil Dependence Threatens National Security

A new report issued by a panel of retired U.S. generals and admirals iswarning that America's dependence on fossil fuels is a grave threat tothe nation's security.

An oil well in the southern U.S. state of TexasIn the report the retired militaryleaders, who make up a group called the Military Advisory Board, sayAmerica needs to immediately begin moving away from reliance on fossilfuels and diversify its energy sources.


Maliki breaks with Shi'ite coalition

There are signs from Iraq that the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the all-Shi'ite coalition that has controlled parliament since 2005, faces difficult times as it prepares for parliamentary elections in December.

The Da'wa Party, headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, appears to have withdrawn from the coalition. According to Hasan al-Sneid, a senior member of Da'wa, "We are working for a broader nationalist consensus, wider than that of the UIA."

Abdul Aziz Hakim, head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Congress (SIIC) and the UIA, offered Maliki the renewal of an alliance created in 2005, which Maliki politely rejected. This came after prolonged meetings between Maliki and Hakim, his son Ammar and Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi, a senior member of the SIIC.

Dispute Over Land Simmering in Iraq

On a sunny day last week, a group of young Arabs from northern Iraq bundled up their colorful kites for an annual festival and headed to Mount Maqloub, where a gentle wind waited to lift their handiwork across a clear sky.

By afternoon, they had reached the town of Bashika, perched on the mountainside and home to the tomb of Saint Matthew, revered here for his healing miracles. But throngs of predominantly Kurdish residents of the town, along a strip of disputed land claimed by Kurds as well as Arabs, awaited them with a detachment of the Kurdish government militia known as the pesh merga. No one would pass, they told the Iraqi Arabs.

Afghanistan & Pakistan

Troops fight pitched battles with Taliban in Swat streets

Pakistan’s offensive against the Taliban entered a decisive phase on Monday with troops

engaging militants in street-to-street

fighting in urban areas of Swat for the first time, as they closed in on the strategic city of Mingora after entering two key towns in a pincer movement.

Troops had begun moving into cities and towns after militant hideouts, training camps and ammunition dumps in mountainous areas had been hit with artillery and air strikes, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said.

With war come refugees, and the UN issues a report:

Swat valley could be worst refugee crisis since Rwanda, UN warns

The human exodus from the war-torn Swat valley in northern Pakistan is turning into the world's most dramatic displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the UN refugee agency warned.

Almost 1.5 million people have registered for assistance since fighting erupted three weeks ago, the UNHCR said, bringing the total number of war displaced in North West Frontier province to more than 2 million, not including 300,000 the provincial government believes have not registered.

German Army Can't Protect Afghan Girls' Schools

One of the most significant and widely-touted successes in the rebuilding of Afghanistan -- schooling for girls, which was banned under the Taliban -- is at risk after six girls' schools were closed in the northern province of Kunduz following threats from Islamic terrorists in recent weeks.

The schools received letters threatening acid and gas attacks, and teachers and pupils responded by staying home. The Afghan authorities finally decided to shut the schools altogether.

The affected district of Chahar Darreh in the province of Kunduz is largely under the Taliban's control -- some of the Pashtun people who live in the area support them.

 I wish the Afghan gov't (such as it is) and the US military and diplomacy corps would figure out what the Taliban's supporters are getting out of the Taliban and find a healthier substitute.  


Given these two stories on Australia:

International Monetary Fund has doubts over speed of economic recovery

THE International Monetary Fund has undercut the Rudd Government's plan for returning the budget to surplus by predicting that the economy will recover far more slowly than Treasury forecasts.

IMF staff estimates suggest the economy will struggle to reach 3per cent growth as it recovers from the recession.

Last week's budget forecast that a vigorous economic recovery of up to 4.5 per cent annual growth would return next year's $57.6 deficit to surplus within six years.

The IMF's more sober outlook backs Malcolm Turnbull's attack on the budget's economic and surplus projections.

And it fits with today's Newspoll result that only 30 per cent of voters believe Wayne Swan's assurance that the budget would return to surplus by 2015-16.


Labor solid but budget backlash trims Kevin Rudd lead

WAYNE Swan's budget attack on middle-class welfare has failed to erode the Labor Party's support among voters, although Kevin Rudd's satisfaction rating has tumbled by six percentage points in the past fortnight.

Voter approval for Malcolm Turnbull is up four percentage points on the back of his response to the budget.

The findings emerged in a Newspoll conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, which also found that despite 45per cent of voters believing the budget was good for the economy, only 30 per cent believed the Treasurer's assurance it would return to surplus within six years. The budget, delivered last Tuesday, included an increase in pension rates and a $22 billion, long-term infrastructure program. The spending will be funded in part by new means tests on private health insurance subsidies, which will save $1.9billion over four years.

The Opposition Leader has vowed he will reject the health insurance measure in the Senate, but proposed a 12.5 per cent increase in tobacco excise to make up the $1.9 billion.

A few questions come to mind:  Is the IMF waving its hands in Australia's political process?  Is it supposed to?  And why is the IMF favoring the more conservative party?  Hasn't the IMF learned anything?  Or are they still Friedmanized (Milton).  

Somali forces rocked by Islamists

Somali extremist rebels last night captured the home town of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in a blow for fledgling government forces scrambling to contain an insurgent onslaught.

The Islamist fighters seized Jowhar, 90km north of the capital, Mogadishu, and took full control in just under two hours of heavy fighting.

The town was taken as militants pounded Mogadishu in one of the worst clashes in recent months.

More than 100 people were killed and at least 30,000 displaced in the clashes in Mogadishu that started on May 7.

Human Rights

Death knell for homelands

THOUSANDS of Aborigines living on their remote Northern Territory homelands will be forced to move to larger communities to receive key government services in a radical shake-up of indigenous policy.

The NT Government is set to announce that 20 communities will be developed into regional economic hubs with a wide range of government services such as housing, schools and clinics.

But about 580 smaller communities will be deprived of many government services, threatening the fruits of what became known in the 1970s as the homelands movement when thousands of Aboriginal people moved back to their ancestral lands.

The decision will anger many homelands elders who say it will threaten their culture and traditional way of life and expose their children to problems such as alcohol and drug abuse and violence endemic in the larger communities.

This article goes with the one above:

Indigenous communities 'a failed state'

Turkish Cabinet Adopts Bill on Establishment of Human Rights Agency

The Turkish cabinet adopted on Monday a bill on establishment of human rights agency.

Turkey's State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said that the Council of Ministers adopted a bill on establishment of Turkish Human Rights Agency.

"We are establishing such an agency to preserve and improve human rights, monitor national and international human rights developments, inform people and institutions about issues concerning human rights, examine human rights complaints, and prevent human rights violations," Cicek, who is also the government spokesman, told reporters after the cabinet meeting in Ankara.


China and US held secret talks on climate change deal

A high-powered group of senior Republicans and Democrats led two missions to China in the final months of the Bush administration for secret backchannel negotiations aimed at securing a deal on joint US-Chinese action on climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The initiative, involving John Holdren, now the White House science adviser, and others who went on to positions in Barack Obama's administration, produced a draft agreement in March, barely two months after the Democrat assumed the presidency.

Politics and Elections

Lithuania set for first female president

Dalia Grybauskaite claimed a landslide victory in Lithuania’s presidential election on Sunday that would make her the Baltic nation’s first woman leader.

‘I would like to congratulate the Lithuanian people on their decision and I think that with their continued belief in me, we can together make it out of hardship as far better, and prosperous, people,’ Grybauskaite said.

The taste of victory carries with it the weight of responsibility,’ the 53-year-old, currently the European Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget, told reporters and cheering supporters.

Near-complete figures from the national electoral commission showed Grybauskaite, who ran as an independent candidate, had won a clear mandate with a resounding 69 per cent of the vote.

Malawi election to give public verdict on political feud

Malawi's presidential elections on Tuesday will give voters their first say on a years-long power struggle that has paralysed the government after a bitter split among the nation's most powerful leaders.

The campaign has unfolded in the shadow of President Bingu wa Mutharika's decision to turn against his one-time mentor, Baklili Muluzi, who has repeatedly tried and failed to find a way to return to power after reaching his two-term limit.

 Don't we know some other politicians who have issues with a two-term limit?  

Chavez promises to combat the "terrorist" press of Venezuela

"Don’t be surprised if the government takes action against a few media which continue to practice terrorism", said Chavez during a press conference in Buenos Aires where he arrived for a brief visit in support of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner administration.

His warnings follow instructions to his officials to begin legal actions against the "terrorist" media of Venezuela.

 I'm not sure the Hugo Chavez story will have a happy ending.  Oh wait, is that a terrorist phrase?

Special Section:  India's Elections Follow-Up

There was a lead-in at the Guardian that summed it up:  700 million voters, 28 days, 250,000 police officers.  

India opts for continuity, stability

Belying the widespread estimation of a "hung" parliament and a possibly wobbly coalition government ensuing, the voters - more than 700 million were eligible to cast a ballot - have dealt a thoughtful, mature verdict in favor of continuance and stability, electing the Indian National Congress and its allies to power for another five-year term. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is set to continue as the head of government, noted, "The people of India have spoken, and spoken with great clarity."

The script goes out the window

It's part of electoral lore that the people of India - that is, its voting public, spread across a landmass geographically, culturally and economically as diverse as chalk is from cheese - never fail to throw up a surprise.

It is, perhaps, because an element of the unexpected is built into the system that these elections generate so much excitement and lend themselves to such ethnic festivity and mystique. Every time, in these five-yearly guessing games, the voters invariably and unfailingly end up embarrassing the political pundits and the know-it-alls.

The Times of India's Lok Sabha Election Special

India’s mandate: a complex jigsaw

Reading an Indian electoral mandate is often like assigning strange reasons for a stock market debacle, in which factors often could range from late arrival of monsoons to the prime minister’s sinus surgery. And yet the 2009 verdict has given Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a mandate to rule, something he did not have in 2004. The Congress was even more shocked than anyone else by its triumph. Its insecurity about the outcome was manifested in its scrupulous refusal to field the prime minister for a seat in the Lok Sabha, of which he has so far never been a member.

Next Indian gov't may look inward to spur economy

India's Congress Party and its United Progressive Alliance that have won a landslide victory in the general elections are facing an uphill battle to spur the slowing economy after the next government is formed, analysts said.

   "The Congress-led coalition's win clearly spells out people's mandate for a government which will be able to steer the country when the whole world is going through an economic turbulence," said Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, a Delhi-based political analyst.

Indian voters back Congress to push through reforms

The National Congress party will form a new, stronger government this week, better able to push through its reforms, after voters gave it an unexpectedly decisive show of support in the month-long general elections.

Senior figures within the party met today to choose which regional parties to invite into government and make up the relatively small number of seats the left-leaning Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) needs for a majority in the 543-member parliament.

India's Hindu Party Reflects on Election Drubbing

Stunned by its dismal showing in the national elections, India's opposition Hindu nationalist party held a series of informal meetings Sunday in which members assessed the causes of their trouncing and asked whether a more moderate tone would have served them better.

The results, announced this weekend, triggered an especially introspective debate among younger members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which won 116 seats compared with 205 for the governing Congress party.


EnergySolutions wins big with stimulus contracts

Utahns rejoiced a few weeks ago when Washington announced stimulus money would be used to speed the removal of a massive pile of uranium-contaminated mill tailings near Moab.

What wasn't publicized at the time is that still more of the $6 billion in Energy Department Recovery Act funds will come to Utah in the form of low-level radioactive waste.

Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions Inc. is specifically named in more than half of the project proposals for the Energy Department stimulus money. And trainloads of waste contaminated with low-level radioactive and hazardous waste will be coming to Utah under the two dozen cleanup projects.

Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Creamer recently told investors that his nuclear waste company campaigned to be included.

 Bad guys win big, part 10,453.  :-(

2010 governor's race may draw broad field

Now that the biggest domino has fallen, the political game is on to select a Utah governor in 2010.

Already, it looks like a mix between checkers and chess.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s "surprising" appointment by President Barack Obama as ambassador to China has political insiders doing mental gymnastics over the prospects to run the statehouse.

Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, who will take over as Utah's 17th governor when Huntsman resigns, is considered the favorite. But Attorney General Mark Shurtleff could be a strong candidate, despite his intent to challenge Bob Bennett for U.S. Senate. His entry into the race would be buoyed by his hefty campaign chest.

LDS Church launches new radio programming

With The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introducing its new 24/7 radio service on Monday, potential listeners who think they can tune in with traditional transistors and car radios are going to need a little more modern thinking in order to find "Mormon Channel."

Billed as originating from "Temple Square" (more specifically, broadcast studios located inside the LDS Conference Center on the church's headquarters campus), the Mormon Channel is accessible via the Internet and eight select HD radio affiliates across the country — radio stations of the

church's Bonneville International, in Salt Lake City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.

 Editor's bold.  How many other churches own media conglomerates?  

Stimulus projects to begin soon

Buoyed by millions in federal stimulus money, contractors across Iowa will soon begin work on more than $330 million in road repair and construction projects.

The stimulus cash has allowed both local governments and the state to fast-track dozens of transportation projects, replacing bridges and filling potholes from the Loess Hills to the Mississippi River.

A Des Moines Register analysis of proposed road projects beginning this summer shows some of the biggest winners so far have been among the state's smallest counties - a fact that illustrates the balance state transportation officials have tried to strike between fixing problem roads and creating jobs.

State records show that 49 percent of the stimulus money dedicated to road projects so far will flow into counties with fewer than 20,000 residents, many of which are considered economically distressed.

A final story from Utah, the most viewed at the Salt Lake Tribune:

Chrysler's decision stings loyal car lot

Jim Hinckley has never owned anything other than Dodges.

That's not too surprising - after all, his great-grandfather Robert H. Hinckley opened Hinckley Dodge in 1915 - making it one of the oldest continuously run Dodge dealerships in the world.

The oldest, that is, until Thursday, when Chrysler LLC terminated its franchise agreements with 789 of its U.S. dealerships. Ten of those stores are in Utah, and one is Hinckley Dodge of Ogden. Until early next month, there are 24 in the state.


Political Cartoons

Ninan's World for the Times of India  This must be about a political party?

Mike Luckovich for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution  This doubles for my missing sports headline.  

Links Additional News Stories

GM plays the China card

China disputes Indian media report of political interference in Nepal  I am shocked!

Links  Light-hearted stuff

Sold-out Chelsea Flower Show delivers a blooming antidote to the recession

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