Somali pirates demand $400,000 for release of ship

From the Mail & Guardian:

“I can personally say that $400 000 would be acceptable, a fine offer on both sides,” said the elder, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This is not a ransom but a fine for illegally fishing in Somalia.”

Here.

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Warrantless Wiretaps Possible in U.S.

From the Washington Post:

“I’m not going to rule it out,” US Attorney General Gonzales said.

In the past, Gonzales and other officials refused to say whether they had the legal authority to conduct warrantless eavesdropping on domestic calls, and have stressed that the NSA eavesdropping program is focused only on international communications.

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War Lives on at Museum of the Macabre

From the Washington Post:

More than 200,000 Chinese filed through the remains of Japan’s notorious Unit 731 here last year, visiting the ghosts of World War II. In exhibits mounted throughout the bleak headquarters building, they saw wrenching descriptions of biological warfare experiments carried out on thousands of Chinese prisoners from 1939 to 1945.

The phrase “Do not forget us” has been inscribed on the wall of one room, where visitors can see the names and photos of some of those who received botulism injections, were made to suffer frostbite or had their internal organs removed by Japanese military doctors.

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Hope Builds in Liberia's Ruined Capitol

From the Washington Post:

During the years when he commanded 30 men and killed more enemy soldiers than he can recall, Tyrese Nyekar said he was known as “War Face.” But in the newly democratic and largely peaceful Liberia, he has traded his machine gun for a shovel. And for $2 a day, he is working to rebuild this battered capital on a road repair crew.

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Bush Authorized Secrets' Release, Libby Testified

From the Washington Post:

Bush has been a major critic of leaks of classified information, and his aides have repeatedly said they want to “get to the bottom” of who leaked the name of Wilson’s wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, to the media, which touched off Fitzgerald’s investigation . But in the past 33 months the White House has never disclosed Bush’s apparent involvement in the deliberate disclosure of information meant to undermine Wilson.

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Zuma: 'I would have had my cows ready'

From the Mail & Guardian:

Jacob Zuma would have had his cows ready if his rape accuser had agreed to marry him, the Johannesburg High Court heard on Wednesday.

However, the former deputy president denied having any part in marriage negotiations, saying this was done by the woman’s two “aunts”.

“Yes, if we had reached an agreement with that, I would have had my cows ready,” Zuma told the court.

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Rumsfeld Challenges Rice on 'Tactical Errors' in Iraq

From the Washington Post:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of “tactical errors” in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

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In Transit

From The Moscow Times:

John Malkovich is playing a gruesome NKVD colonel in a new British-Russian film currently being shot by Thema Productions at a glue factory in the St. Petersburg suburb of Pushkin.

Set in 1946, “In Transit” is based on real events that took place in Pushkin. A group of German prisoners of war is by accident sent to and held in a transit camp guarded by women immediately after the end of World War II. The location being used for the shoot is the Krasny Treugolnik, or Red Triangle, factory in the south of the city.

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In Bid to Rebuild Razed Bridge, Recovedry and War Vie in Iraq

From the New York Times:

The shifting priorities illustrate the trade-off between combat and reconstruction that the American military is still grappling with, but especially in remote regions like this one, where the Iraqi government is still almost nonexistent.

The Marines’ effort is also a test of the Bush administration’s declaration that it will focus this year on holding and rebuilding Iraqi towns, rather than departing after military operations and allowing insurgents to return.

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Palestinian Authority Out of Cash

From the Washington Post:

The new Hamas-led government is broke and failed to pay tens of thousands of Palestinian public workers on Saturday, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday.

It was the first time the radical Islamic group had admitted that it would have difficulty running the West Bank and Gaza Strip without massive foreign aid.

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How AIDS in Africa Was Overstated

From the Washington Post:

Researchers said nearly two decades ago that this tiny country was part of an AIDS Belt stretching across the midsection of Africa, a place so infected with a new, incurable disease that, in the hardest-hit places, one in three working-age adults were already doomed to die of it.

But AIDS deaths on the predicted scale never arrived here, government health officials say. A new national study illustrates why: The rate of HIV infection among Rwandans ages 15 to 49 is 3 percent, according to the study, enough to qualify as a major health problem but not nearly the national catastrophe once predicted.

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Climate Researchers Feeling Heat from White House

From the Washington Post:
Two weeks later, Hansen suggested to an audience at the New School University in New York that his counterparts at NOAA were experiencing even more severe censorship. “It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States,” he told the crowd.

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US media too polarized on Iraq news: panel

From Reuters:

That was one of the few points of agreement between journalists, a professional blogger and a U.S. military spokesman gathered in New York to discuss media in Iraq.

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The Desert One Debacle

From the Atlantic, Mark Bowden’s article on the failed hostage rescue attempt in Iran:

He calmly explained to the others what had happened. The men took in the awful news quietly. Then Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who had submitted his resignation earlier that day because he objected to the mission, said, “Mr. President, I’m very, very sorry.” Jordan ducked into the president’s bathroom and vomited.

America’s elite rescue force had lost eight men, seven helicopters, and a C-130, and had not even made contact with the enemy. It was a debacle. It defined the word “debacle.

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Saddam Hussein is cross-examined for the first time

From the New York Times:

Mr. Hussein dodged questions, quoted from the Koran, and again repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the court.

Asked by the prosecutor, Jaafar al-Mousawi, how he could go through the evidence against the 148 in just two days before signing off on their execution orders, Mr. Hussein answered, according to a pool report: “That is the right of the head of state.”

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tummie-design

Very cool artist out of the Netherlands, Chantal Knook.

Heavy videogame influence.

Here.

Banksy Phone Booth

From Wooster Collective:

Banksy and and Pickaxe, Soho Square, London, Today.

Here.

Saskatchewan says 'no thanks' to polygamist group

From the Canadian Press, a poorly researched article about a possible FLDS ‘colony’ in Saskatchewan. For the record, Bruce Wisan is hardly a spokesman for the church. They consider him the enemy. Small point, eh? From CP:

Last week Bruce Wisan, a spokesman for the church, said Jeffs may be creating a new colony in Saskatchewan and that as many as 40 per cent of the church members may be moving to “a very remote, pristine area to start over again.”

Here.

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