4 Separate Boston Women Were Assaulted in 1 Week While Using Ride-Sharing Services


FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINE DATED: DECEMBER 18 2014 BY JESSICA ROY


 

Over the weekend, three different Boston women reported that they were assaulted by their drivers while using unnamed ride-sharing services. In each incident, the driver touched the women inappropriately before they struggled to get him to let them out of the car. Now CBS Boston is reporting that another woman has come forward alleging that an Uber driver raped and strangled her.

Forty-six-year-old Alejandro Done was -Read more

Obama moves to normalize relations with Cuba as American is released by Havana


FROM WASHINGTON POST DATED: DECEMBER 17 2014 BY KAREN deYOUNG


The United States and Cuba ended more than a half-century of enmity Wednesday, announcing that they would reestablish diplomatic relations and begin dismantling the last pillar of the Cold War.

The historic move, following 18 months of secret negotiations and finally made possible by Cuba’s release of detained U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, fulfilled one of President Obama’s key second-term goals.

The decision is likely to reverberate across many political frontiers where the standoff between Washington and Havana has played a role — including across much of Latin America, where U.S. policy on Cuba has long been a source of friction.

“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Obama said in a televised, midday address. “It’s time for a new approach.”

Saying that he was “under no illusion about the continued barriers to – Read more

Turkey’s Erdogan battles ‘parallel state’

Supporters of the Hizmet movement take part in a demonstration after Turkish police began an operation targeting sympathetic media in Istanbul

Supporters of the Hizmet movement take part in a demonstration after Turkish police began an operation targeting sympathetic media in Istanbul / Picture from BBC NEWS


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM BBC NEWS DATED: DECEMBER 17 2014 BY  Mark Lowen


The voices sound crackly.

“Are you at home, son?”

“Yes.”

“They carried out an operation. Their homes are being searched now… take everything in the house out.”

“There is your money in the safe.”

“That’s what I’m saying.”

It was a recording that changed the course, no less, of modern Turkey.

Those who posted it a year ago say it revealed the then Prime Minister, now President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructing his son to hide stashes of cash after police raided other ministers’ homes.

It formed part of the biggest corruption scandal in this country’s recent -Read more

Martin Place cafe siege: Overreaction from fear is a measure of a terrorist’s success

Crowds told to move on from Martin Place on Monday morning.

Crowds told to move on from Martin Place on Monday morning. / Picture from Sydney Morning Herald


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM SYDNEY MORNING HERALD DATED: DECEMBER 15 2014 BY PETER HARTCHER


 

It was only when I turned on the TV an hour or so later that I realised the magnitude of our dimwittedness. We were supposed to be terrified.

The Prime Minister led in shaping our responses. He called a press conference but had no information to offer on the incident except that he had held a meeting to discuss it. He took only one question, to explain that he had no details but that the NSW police did.

“We don’t yet know the motivation of the perpetrator,” he said, then freely speculated that he was politically motivated. It was “very disturbing”. -Read more

Sheikha Mozah: the (un)acceptable face of Qatar’s global expansion

Sheikha Mozah and the Queen

Sheikha Mozah and the Queen / Picture from The Guardian, UK


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE GUARDIAN, UK DATED: DECEMBER 14 2014 BY ANDREW ANTHONY


The new owner of the UK’s most expensive home bestrides the western stage as the oil state’s glamorous ambassador. In fact, she represents one of the world’s most repressive families

Overlooking Regent’s Park, a short walk from the London Central Mosque, is Cornwall Terrace, a grade-one listed, postcard-perfect example of the Regency-era, high Greco-Roman style. Laid out by John Nash and designed by Decimus Burton, the houses are so grand that they tend to be subdivided or occupied by corporations.

But last year Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, perhaps the most publicity-friendly member of the Qatar royal family, bought three of the buildings for a reported £120m. Last week it was announced that she was having them turned into one 33,000 sq ft mansion, with games rooms, twin lifts, gymnasium and a swimming pool set in Portland stone. The result is likely to be the UK’s most expensive private home.

An elegant woman with an eye-catching knack for combining modern western style with a traditional Arabic sensibility, Sheikha Mozah’s little venture into the London property market cannot really be described as home building. Because, in keeping with many of her new neighbours, her -Read more

Incentivise domestic savings to boost economy: Raghuram Rajan

An exports-push strategy for growth would be ineffective, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said.

An exports-push strategy for growth would be ineffective, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said. /Picture from The Hindu


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE HINDU DATED: DECEMBER 13 2014 BY PUJA MEHRA


Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan on Friday cautioned the government on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ mantra, suggesting that India would have to look for regional and domestic demand for growth — to make in India primarily for India.

Dr. Rajan said that at this stage, an exports-push strategy for growth would be ineffective; as the industrial world stagnated, many emerging markets were rethinking their export-led growth model, he said. He was delivering the Bharat Ram Memorial Lecture here.

“There is a danger when we discuss ‘Make in India’ of assuming it means a focus on manufacturing, an attempt to follow the export-led growth path that China followed … But the -Read more

Putin and Modi Reaffirm Bond Between Russia and India

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in New Delhi on Thursday. Credit Manish Swarup/Associated Press

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in New Delhi on Thursday. Credit Manish Swarup/Associated Press /Picture from New York Times


FROM NEW YORK TIMES DATED: DECEMBER 11 2014


NEW DELHI — As expected, the longtime allies Russia and India signed a raft of agreements here at their leaders’ annual summit meeting on Thursday, expanding their usual set of projects to an ambitious agenda that includes joint manufacture of military helicopters and production of nuclear reactors.

But the most intriguing event of the day occurred across town in a private dining room at a luxury hotel, where Sergei Aksyonov, the barrel-chested prime minister of Crimea, the Ukrainian territory annexed this year by Russia, signed a memorandum of understanding with a group of Indian businessmen who have named themselves the “Indo-Crimean Partnership.” -Read more

President George W Bush ‘knew everything’ about CIA interrogation

US President George W Bush speaks to Vice President Dick Cheney by phone aboard Air Force One in 2001

US President George W Bush speaks to Vice President Dick Cheney by phone aboard Air Force One in 2001 /Picture from BBC


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM BBC DATED: DECEMBER 11 2014


 

Former US President George W Bush was “fully informed” about CIA interrogation techniques condemned in a Senate report, his vice-president says.

Dick Cheney said Mr Bush “knew everything he needed to know” about the programme, and the report was “full of crap”.

The CIA has defended its use of methods such as waterboarding on terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

The Senate report said the agency misled politicians about the programme.

But the former Republican vice-president dismissed this, saying: “The notion that the committee is trying to peddle that somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis and that we weren’t being told – that the president wasn’t being told – is a flat-out lie.”

In the interview on Thursday, Mr Cheney said the report was “deeply flawed” and a “terrible piece of work”, although he admitted he had not read the whole document.

President Bush “knew everything he needed to know, and wanted to know” about CIA interrogation, he said. “He knew the techniques… there -Read more

 

For Afghans, Name and Birthdate Census Questions Are Not So Simple

Mohammad Akhtar told census takers he had no surname. After reflection, he chose “Naibkhil.” Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Mohammad Akhtar told census takers he had no surname. After reflection, he chose “Naibkhil.” Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times /Picture from New York Times


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM NEW YORK TIMES DATED: DECEMBER 10 2014 BY JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN


KABUL, Afghanistan — Khaliddudin, who like many Afghans goes by a single name, has already picked out a second name to go alongside the first. He has decided on “Mayroj,” which, he proudly explained, means the “highest.”

But as a census worker for the Afghan government, Khaliddudin has more than just his own name to consider. He is at the vanguard of the government’s effort to encourage everyone across the country to adopt a surname.

This is an ambitious effort, one that seeks to change — and to an extent standardize — Afghan naming conventions, which are so flexible that the new president recently issued a directive -Read more

Torture Report Puts Presidential Hopefuls in Quiet Mode


TEXT FROM NEW YORK TIMES DATED: DECEMBER 10 2014 


In 2002, not long after President George W. Bush named him the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey, Chris Christie emphatically and unexpectedly denounced torture as a means of gathering evidence.

“I cannot believe, given the history of this country, that no matter what the threat to our country that we would forsake our protection of liberties to the extent that we would advocate torture as a way of getting evidence,” he said then, adding, “You have to be coolheaded in times of crisis to be able to not go too far.”

But on Wednesday, Mr. Christie, the New Jersey governor and potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, was hardly eager to revisit the torture issue. Among presumptive candidates in both parties —Read more