Saturday, October 13, 2007

saturday reads

Burma after the riots

With the killing of an unknowable number of peaceful protesters and the imprisonment of thousands more during the pro-democracy demonstrations last month, many people fear reprisals by the military. At the Shwedagon pagoda, the nucleus of the protests, the military is still in force. Wearing steel helmets, flak jackets and carrying extra ammunition, the number of troops far exceeds the few old monks who potter among the golden spires of what is the spiritual centre of Burmese life.

Oh, the irony
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Russian human rights activists on Saturday she wanted to help them build institutions to protect people from the 'arbitrary power of the state'.

"I think that there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin," she later told reporters.

Her remarks and the meeting with eight human rights leaders could irk the Kremlin, which is sensitive to Western accusations it is rolling back democratic freedoms and suspects foreign governments of trying to influence next year's presidential election.

"Continued manipulations and adjustments to our military strategy will not achieve victory..."
The White House insisted that progress was being made in Iraq after a former top US commander there assailed its strategy and lamented that the war was "a nightmare with no end in sight."

Retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez delivered a scathing assessment of the management of the war as he denounced US political leaders as "incompetent," "inept" and "derelict in the performance of their duty."

"There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight," said Sanchez on Friday, addressing a meeting of military correspondents and editors in Arlington, a Virginia suburb of Washington.

WaPo: Former Qwest executive, appealing conviction for insider trading, alleges contract was withdrawn after refusal to participate in spy program.
A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.

Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio's lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records.

In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwest's refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution. He is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper.

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