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Burma policy costs lives, says US
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has accused Burma of causing the loss of tens of thousands of lives by hindering international cyclone relief efforts.
Mr Gates said the United States had had ships and aircraft ready to help after Cyclone Nargis hit a month ago.
Unlike Indonesia and Bangladesh after major natural disasters, Burma had denied entry to the country, he said.
An estimated 2.4m people remain homeless and hungry following the cyclone, which struck on 2 May.
Democrats Meet Today To Hash Out Fla., Mich.
By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 31, 2008; Page A01
When Democratic Party leaders voted on Aug. 25, 2007, to sanction Florida Democrats for moving up the date of their presidential primary, no one anticipated that the decision would lead to a tense showdown that will help decide the outcome of the nomination battle between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Today, the 30 members of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will hear challenges to that decision and a later ruling, which together barred delegations from Florida and Michigan from the national convention in Denver because those states violated the party’s rules governing the nomination process.
Presidential primary brings attention, frustration to Puerto Rico
By Susan Milligan
Globe Staff / May 31, 2008
SAN JUAN – Tomorrow’s presidential primary is bringing Puerto Ricans just the attention the struggling island has been clamoring for: visits by the candidates and a former president, and media attention that people hope will help their fellow US citizens on the mainland to understand their plight.
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But Puerto Ricans have too much experience of being taken for granted to believe it will make a difference.
US politicians promise to help Puerto Rico every four years, then seem to forget about the island once the elections are over, residents here complain.
Drug Massacre Leaves a Mexican Town Terrorized
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
Published: May 31, 2008
VILLA AHUMADA, Mexico – A massacre here two weeks ago has turned this once sleepy town into a ghostly emblem of the drug violence that has swept Mexico over the last year and a half, gutting local police forces, terrifying citizens and making it almost impossible for the authorities to assert themselves.
On the night of May 17, dozens of men with assault rifles rolled into town in several trucks and shot up the place. They killed the police chief, two officers and three civilians. Then they carried off about 10 people, witnesses said. Only one has been found, dead and wrapped in a carpet in Ciudad Juárez.
Post-Ponzi scheme, Grenada to reopen for offshore banking
Outlandish fraud bilked investors of $170 million in 2002. Now, the Caribbean nation vows to change its oversight – and its international reputation.
St. George’s, Grenada – It’s one of the world’s quieter capitals: a town of 7,500, modest buildings perched on hillsides surrounding the bright blue anchorage.
But St. George’s was headquarters to one of the most outlandish banking frauds, in which US and Canadian retirees were defrauded of millions while local officials looked the other way.
Now Grenada is preparing to reopen its offshore financial services sector six years after it collapsed in a wave of international criminal investigations, trials, and allegations of government collusion.
The country has replaced its fractured regulatory regime with a single organization to oversee all offshore financial activities, from insurance companies to credit services. The head of the new institution said this week that amended finance laws will allow the attorney general authority to take immediate court action against any offshore entity suspected of fraud.
North Korean film that a hero finds too painful to watch
From The Times
May 31, 2008
Andrew Salmon in Seoul
A wrenching film about the human rights abuses in North Korea had its premiere in Seoul yesterday, but the man whose personal tragedy formed the basis of much of its plot remains so traumatised that he refuses to watch it.
Crossing stars Cha In-pyo, one of Asia’s top actors, as a North Korean miner whose undernourished, pregnant wife contracts tuberculosis.
With no medicine available in the impoverished nation, Cha’s character leaves his wife and 11-year-old son to travel to China to earn money for medicine. While he is away his wife dies.
China says 200,000 evacuated because of flood risk
By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer
MIANYANG, China – Chinese authorities had evacuated nearly 200,000 people by early Saturday and warned more than 1 million others to be ready to leave quickly as a lake formed by a devastating earthquake threatened to breach its dam.
The confirmed death toll from China’s worst quake in three decades was raised Saturday to 68,977, an increase of about 120 people from a day earlier. Another 17,974 people were still missing, the State Council said. The increase was the smallest since the government started issuing a daily death toll shortly after the quake hit.
Nuclear bomb blueprints for sale on world black market, experts fear
· Warning as Swiss destroy documents to prevent leak
· Copies may remain with data smuggling network
Nuclear bomb blueprints and manuals on how to manufacture weapons-grade uranium for warheads are feared to be circulating on the international black market, according to investigators tracking the world’s most infamous nuclear smuggling racket.
Alarm about the sale of nuclear know-how follows the disclosure that the Swiss government, allegedly acting under US pressure, secretly destroyed tens of thousands of documents from a massive nuclear smuggling investigation.
The information was seized from the home and computers of Urs Tinner, a 43-year-old Swiss engineer who has been in custody for almost four years as a key suspect in the nuclear smuggling ring run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani metallurgist who in 2004 admitted leaking nuclear secrets and is under house arrest in Islamabad.
Battle of Mont St Michel erupts – and it’s all about car parks
By John Lichfield in Mont St Michel
Saturday, 31 May 2008
President Nicolas Sarkozy has been asked to adjudicate in a village quarrel that has global implications: the future of the Mont St Michel, the most visited tourist site in provincial France.
The new mayor of the island-abbey-village (population 30; annual visitors 3 million) is campaigning against plans to banish tourist car parks to a new site almost one mile inland.
Eric Vannier, elected mayor in March, claims that, from 2012, visitors may have to pay up to €25 (£19.70) a person to reach one of the most beloved places of religious, and tourist, pilgrimage in Europe. If the plans go ahead, he says, the Mont – both its medieval abbey and its single, winding street of shops and restaurants – will become accessible only to a wealthy “elite”.
For Israelis, Golan is home, not a bargaining chip
The strategic plateau is a linchpin in recently renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks.
Katzrin, Golan Heights – In the world’s eyes, this grassy, barren plateau is no different from the West Bank and Gaza Strip: territories occupied by Israel that should be relinquished in return for normal relations with Arab states. Captured from Syria in 1967, the Golan Heights is the linchpin for recently renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks.
But to Israelis, the Golan is a peaceful part of their country, even a popular vacation spot. A movie at the “Golan Magic” tourist center in this Jewish settlement shows emerald grazing fields rather than the minefields left from war. The audience is sprayed with mist as a preview of waterfall hikes in the Golan’s lush canyons.
Iraq operation gives Basra a reprieve
Long held hostage by militias, criminals and corrupt leaders, residents warily enjoy freedom after the crackdown. But some fear the violence will return.
BASRA, IRAQ — The corniche buzzes at night: drivers honking to friends on the sidewalk, teenagers joy-riding rickety motorboats along the murky Shatt al Arab, families lining up for rides on the yellow-lit Ferris wheel.
Mazen Abdul Kareem gazes at the water, remembering when the gunmen trawled the boardwalk in their tinted-window Toyotas. Even then, he would come, just looking out where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers merge and flow into the Persian Gulf, wondering whether his time was near. There were too many victims. Doctors. Professors. Women. Students. Musicians.
Zimbabwe elections: Tsvangirai defies Mugabe by convening ‘parliament’
Haroon Siddique and agencies
Zimbabwe’s main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), today declared itself the country’s new ruling party and convened what it called a session of parliament, in defiance of President Robert Mugabe.
The MDC won 110 seats in the 210-seat parliament in the March elections, which gave it control of the legislature for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980.
But parliament has yet to sit and a run-off of the presidential election between MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe is not scheduled to take place until June 27.