One Always Loves The Rules
Until They Work Against You
Burma ‘to let in all aid workers’
Burma’s top leader has agreed to let all foreign aid workers into the country for relief work in cyclone-hit areas, UN head Ban Ki-moon has said.
Mr Ban announced the news after talks in Burma’s remote capital, Naypyidaw, with Gen Than Shwe.
Burma’s military leaders had previously refused to allow a full-scale relief effort by foreign aid workers, and claimed everything was under control.
About 78,000 people died and 56,000 are missing after the 2 May cyclone.
Mr Ban said he thought Gen Than’s decision was a breakthrough.
Here’re the savings from Arctic drilling – 75 cents a barrel
WASHINGTON – If Congress were to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, crude oil prices would probably drop by an average of only 75 cents a barrel, according to Department of Energy projections issued Thursday.
The report, which was requested in December by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, found that oil production in the refuge “is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices.”
But the report also finds that opening ANWR could have other benefits, particularly in Alaska, where tapping the resources in the Arctic refuge could extend the lifespan of the trans-Alaska pipeline. It estimates that if Congress agreed to open ANWR this year, Alaskan oil could hit the market in about 10 years.
“I’m coming away from it saying that this is yet another an indicator that opening ANWR is important to this country and to our energy future,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Texas had no right to seize sect children, appellate court says
Officials never proved they were in imminent danger, ruling asserts. Some polygamist families could be reunited within weeks.
HOUSTON — Texas authorities had no right to take more than 400 children from a secluded polygamist compound last month because officials never proved that the children were in imminent danger, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The ruling by the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin did not specifically call for the state to return the children to their mothers. But it laid waste to the state’s arguments for taking the children, opening the door for at least some of the polygamist families to be reunited within weeks.
The decision was triggered by a lawsuit brought by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, a nonprofit group that represents 38 mothers in the ongoing child custody battle, one of the largest in U.S. history.
“The way that the courts have ignored the legal rights of these mothers is ridiculous,” said Julie Balovich, an attorney for the legal aid group, in a statement. “It was about time a court stood up and said that whathas been happening to these families is wrong.”
Afghan anti-US protest leaves three dead
Two Afghans and a Nato soldier were killed yesterday during a violent protest in western Afghanistan against a US soldier who used the Qur’an for target practice.
A 1,000-strong crowd gathered outside a military base in remote Ghor province, throwing rocks and setting tents on fire, a Nato spokesman said.
The protesters were enraged by reports that a US sniper used the Islamic holy book for target practice on a shooting range outside Baghdad earlier this month. Afghan police opened fire on the crowd, killing two and wounding at least seven. A soldier from Lithuania was also killed, although it remains unclear who fired the shot.
The Ghor police chief, Shah Jahan Noori, said Taliban militants mingled among the protesters. “Among these people were rebels, who opened fire,” he said, adding that 10 officers were also wounded.
Human cost of cut-price concrete in China revealed in the rubble
Leo Lewis in Deyang
When the Deyang Lisen factory opened on the edge of town two years ago its mighty silos and chimneys stood ready to transform the region.
Primed to provide 1.5 million tonnes of high-grade cement each year, the ultra-modern plant was to have paved roads, built schools, raised factories, strengthened dams and given tens of thousands of farmers reliable irrigation trenches for their rice paddies.
10,000 Iraqi troops bring calm to Sadr City
Crouching in the shade under the back of a tank, four Iraqi soldiers stir sugar into small glasses of tea as they take a break from guard duty near a row of battered shops in the heart of Sadr City.
Passers-by throw wary glances at the troops as they come to terms with the new order in Baghdad’s Shia slum, a stronghold of al-Mahdi Army militia until only three days ago when thousands of Iraqi forces took control.
The unprecedented attempt to stamp government authority on one of the last remaining no-go areas in Iraq followed seven weeks of fighting between US and Iraqi forces and militiamen that left more than 1,250 people dead and 2,500 wounded. Of the injured, about 600 people have lost at least one limb.
Why Qatar is emerging as Middle East peacemaker
It was uniquely positioned to broker a deal this week between warring factions in Lebanon.
Doha, Qatar – This tiny Gulf state emerged this week at the forefront of regional diplomacy, successfully shepherding the negotiations between feuding Lebanese factions to end months of political turmoil and violence.
With regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, aligned behind rival players in Lebanon, Qatar is uniquely suited to help mediate Lebanon’s crisis. It’s seen as charting an unashamedly independent path in the maze of Arab politics,
“Just a year ago, Saudi Arabia was trying to do this [mediation], but Saudi Arabia is considered an interested party. But Qatar is somewhat in between,” says Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Center in Beirut. “Qatar, on the Lebanon issue, is the only country with good relations on both sides and has the money to back it up.”
Strikes over pension reforms grip France
· Workers march against raising of retirement age
· Feared transport gridlock fails to materialise
Hundreds of thousands of French workers took to the streets yesterday in a one-day strike over pension reform, just as the government moved to contain port and oil depot blockades by fishermen angry at rising fuel prices.
France’s five main labour unions led protests against plans to make private and state employees work for 41 rather than 40 years before they are entitled to draw a full pension.
The strike, which had been billed as “Black Thursday”, did not gridlock public transport – the unions themselves were split and Nicolas Sarkozy stood firm on his promise to reform a pensions system that France can no longer afford. He has argued that rising life expectancy and scant public finances made change inevitable.
Abramovich, Lugovoy and Putin – the background
Vladimir Putin may have shunned the glamour of the Champions League final in Moscow but two men watching it had reason to be grateful to him.
Roman Abramovich and Andrei Lugovoy, the former KGB major wanted in Britain for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, had more in common than the shared agony of watching Chelsea lose.
President Putin spared Mr Lugovoy from extradition when Britain sought to try him for the Litvinenko murder. Mr Abramovich prospered under Mr Putin’s rule at a time when other oligarchs were jailed or exiled. Both have links to Boris Berezovsky. Mr Lugovoy worked for a time as head of security at ORT television station, then controlled by Mr Berezovsky, where he also got to know Mr Litvinenko.
Foreigners attacked in Cape Town
Violence against foreigners in South Africa spread to Cape Town overnight with people assaulted and shops looted.
“Groups within the crowd started to loot shops owned by Zimbabweans and other foreigners,” police spokesman Billy Jones told AFP news agency.
He said hundreds of African migrants had fled Cape Town’s Du Noon squatter camp and 12 arrests had been made.
Officials are to meet to discuss how the wave of violence has hit South Africa’s crucial mining industry.
More than 40 people have died and some 15,000 people have sought shelter since the violence initially flared up in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra.
UN says arms illegally going to Somalia
UNITED NATIONS – U.N. experts investigating violations of an arms embargo against Somalia report that countries and private traders are supplying weapons to warlords and militants, South Africa’s U.N. ambassador said Thursday.
Dumisani Kumalo, who chairs the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions, said the experts concluded that “Somalia is affected by a war economy with great profits made by military commanders who therefore have little incentive to change the status quo.”
Somalia has not had a functioning government since clan-based warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The warlords then turned on each other, sinking the poverty-stricken nation of 7 million people into chaos.
Panama tribe exiles its king over power plant deal
An indigenous Panamanian tribe has driven its king into exile over his approval of a £25m hydro-electric project in its jungle realm.
The Naso tribe, whose millennia-old royal inheritance system is recognised by the state, banished King Tito Santana for opening the kingdom to developers.
“Many of us are opposed to a king who, for us, is selling our society without any thought for tomorrow,” Eduardo Santana, a nephew of Tito, told Reuters. The project risked cultural and environmental harm, he said. “We are part of nature and if we do not look after it, who will?”
Accused of putting his own interests ahead of the 2,500-strong tribe, the king and several hundred followers fled the capital, Seiyik, a village of palm-thatched huts on stilts accessible only by canoe, to a settlement near the village of El Silencio.
The general assembly installed Tito’s uncle, Valentin Santana, as king. Police were deployed to prevent violence.