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Jan 12 2014

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Ariel Sharon: Peacemaker, hero… and butcher

 He was respected in his eight years of near-death, with no sacrilegious cartoons to damage his reputation; and he will, be assured, receive the funeral of a hero and a peacemaker. Thus do we remake history

ROBERT FISK Sunday 12 January 2014

Any other Middle Eastern leader who survived eight years in a coma would have been the butt of every cartoonist in the world. Hafez el-Assad would have appeared in his death bed, ordering his son to commit massacres; Khomeini would have been pictured demanding more executions as his life was endlessly prolonged. But of Sharon – the butcher of Sabra and Shatila for almost every Palestinian – there has been an almost sacred silence.

Cursed in life as a killer by quite a few Israeli soldiers as well as by the Arab world – which has proved pretty efficient at slaughtering its own people these past few years – Sharon was respected in his eight years of near-death, no sacrilegious cartoons to damage his reputation; and he will, be assured, receive the funeral of a hero and a peacemaker.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Al-Qaida’s brutal effort to build a caliphate prompts growing fury

After 12 years, £390bn, and countless dead, we leave poverty, fraud – and the Taliban in Afghanistan

Out of the Abyss: Looking for Lessons in Iceland’s Recovery

Black rhino hunt permit auctioned in US

Deja vu in Nicaragua? President Ortega and first lady wield ‘dynastic’ power

Al-Qaida’s brutal effort to build a caliphate prompts growing fury

Falluja, the Iraqi city that endured two brutal assaults by US forces, is now held by jihadi fighters. But the ruthlessness of the Isis group, now engaged in action in three neighbouring states, may lead to its ultimate downfall

Peter Beaumont

The Observer


The details were barely reported at the time by the world’s media: the killing on 21 December in the west of Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province of 24 Iraqi army personnel, including the commander of the 7th Division.

According to one account, the men were killed by a massive roadside bomb while chasing al-Qaida fighters. A second version said the soldiers were in the town of Rutba when three men detonated suicide belts among them.

It is what happened next that is crucial. Twenty-four hours later, Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, announced a new operation against the mounting threat posed by jihadi militants.

After 12 years, £390bn, and countless dead, we leave poverty, fraud – and the Taliban in Afghanistan

The country is in such a bad way as western troops depart that leaders can only spin, almost to the point of lying

 PATRICK COCKBURN Sunday 12 January 2014

A few years ago in Kabul, I was listening to a spokesman for an Afghan government organisation who was giving me a long, upbeat and not very convincing account of the achievements of the institution for which he worked. To relieve the tedium, and without much expectation of getting an interesting reply, I asked him – with a guarantee of non-attribution – what benefits the Afghan government had brought to its people. Without hesitation the spokesman replied that these benefits were likely to be very limited “so long as our country is run by gangsters and warlords”.

It was at about this time that I decided that the main problem in Afghanistan was not the strength of the Taliban but the weakness of the government. It does not matter how many Nato troops are in the country because they are there in support of a government detested by much of the population.

 Out of the Abyss: Looking for Lessons in Iceland’s Recovery

In 2008, Iceland experienced one of the most dramatic crashes any country had ever seen. Since then, its recovery has been just as impressive. Are there lessons to be learned? SPIEGEL went to the island nation to find out.

 By Guido Mingels

What should one expect from a country in which the sentence, “What an asshole!” is a compliment? Icelanders say “asshole,” or “rassgat,” when they tousle a child’s hair or greet friends, and they mean it to be friendly.

While trudging through a lava field within view of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, the guide says: “Iceland is the asshole of the world.” That, too, is a positive statement. It’s also a geological metaphor. In Iceland, which lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and thus on the dividing line of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, the earth has a tendency to relieve itself through various geysers, volcanoes and hot springs.

Black rhino hunt permit auctioned in US



12 January 2014 Last updated at 07:45 GMT

A permit to hunt and kill an endangered Black Rhino in Namibia has been sold at a US auction for $350,000 (£212,000).

The Dallas Safari Club in Texas says the hunt will help protect the species by removing an old aggressive rhino, and funding future conservation.

However, the auction has been fiercely criticised by conservationists, and has even drawn death threats.

Namibia is home to about a third of the world’s 5,000 black rhinos, and issues just three hunting permits a year.

It is the first time a permit has been auctioned outside the southern African nation.

Deja vu in Nicaragua? President Ortega and first lady wield ‘dynastic’ power

 President Ortega and first lady Rosario Murillo have forged a level of control that political observers say holds echoes of the sort of family dynasty the Sandinista Front once took up arms to topple.

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy

MANAGUA, NICARAGUA

Nearly everywhere that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega goes, first lady Rosario Murillo hovers at his side, bedecked in strands of necklaces, each finger bearing a ring or two, sometimes sporting multiple bangles and watches on her wrists.

Ms. Murillo, a poet who seems lifted from the flower child era, is the colorful public face of her husband’s administration. She presides over Cabinet meetings and makes most of the government’s public pronouncements.

Nearly every weekday, she speaks soothingly on state television, explaining public projects, discussing weather, touting the achievements of her husband’s political party, the Sandinista Front, and even showing her esoteric side, encouraging Nicaraguans to embrace “Mother Earth” and to act kindly to one another.