Volcanic ash: Europe flights grounded for third day
Virtually all of Europe’s major airports remain closed as a huge plume of volcanic ash drifts south across the continent from Iceland.
The BBC Saturday, 17 April 2010
Millions of air travellers are stranded across Europe after some 16,000 flights were cancelled on Friday.
Britain and Ireland have re-imposed flight bans, warning of “worsening” conditions throughout Saturday.
Airlines are losing some £130m ($200m) a day in the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II.
“Current forecasts show that the situation is worsening throughout Saturday,” said the UK’s National Air Traffic Service (Nats).
Aaron Mokoena: ‘Mum dressed me as a girl to save me from killers’
• Portsmouth’s midfielder reveals how he escaped a massacre
• South Africa’s captain grew up in apartheid-era township
The Guardian, Saturday 17 April 2010
It is not a typical footballer’s tale of youthful hardship. Aaron Mokoena will play for Portsmouth at Wembley in the FA Cup final against Chelsea and then captain South Africa at the continent’s first World Cup but he might have failed to see his 12th birthday if his mother had not dressed him as a girl to hide him from an atrocity in the grim days of apartheid.
Mokoena’s township of Boipatong near Vanderbijlpark was the site of a massacre in June 1992, when Inkatha party members, aided by the police, swept in by night to kill more than 40 people, including pregnant women and children. In the aftermath, it was rumoured that the murderers wanted to purge the township of its next generation of men.
Obama, Republicans square off on financial-regulation bill
By David Cho and Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 17, 2010
President Obama accused Republicans on Friday of trying to carve out “special loopholes” for the financial sector in regulatory reform legislation and warned they would soon face a choice: whether to side with an unpopular industry or with ordinary Americans.
His pointed comments came as all 41 Senate Republicans signed a letter criticizing a bill before the chamber to overhaul financial oversight. They said the measure would stifle the economy by giving the government “unlimited regulatory powers” and called on the administration to start a new round of negotiations. Republicans added that they have the votes to prevent Democrats from bringing the bill to the floor.
Arizona’s crackdown on illegal migrants feels familiar
A generation ago, the mood in California was similar. But the outcome has been different for a number of reasons.
By Teresa Watanabe, Anna Gorman and and Nicholas Riccardi
April 16, 2010 | 5:58 p.m.
As a Latino activist in California for decades, Salvador Reza witnessed a rise in illegal immigration in the 1980s and protested a plethora of harsh measures to control it in the ’90s.
Now, as a transplanted Arizonan, he is experiencing a deep sense of deja vu.
Passage this week of a stringent Arizona bill that would require people to carry proof of legal status and mandate that police check for it is a replay of California’s own turbulent history with illegal immigration. Gov. Jan Brewer must still sign the bill before it becomes law and is widely expected to do so.
Pope ventures out of Rome – but victims of church abuse lie in wait
If Benedict XVI thought Malta would provide a gentle reintroduction to touring, he’s wrong, says Michael Day
Saturday, 17 April 2010
In ordinary times, Malta would seem like home from home for a visiting Pope. But when a beleaguered and visibly weary Benedict XVI touches down on the island this afternoon at 5pm, he faces a tense and potentially perilous 24 hours, in what is seen as a crucial test of this popularity as he ventures overseas for the first time since the paedophilia scandal began to engulf his church.
The tiny Mediterranean state, the last place in Europe where divorce is not possible, is among the most devout in the Catholic world.
Russia moves to stamp authority on Roza Otunbayeva in Kyrgyzstan
From The Times
April 17, 2010
Russia moved to stamp its authority in Kyrgyzstan yesterday after the ousted President fled into exile.
President Medvedev put the new Government on notice that relations with Moscow depended on its ability “to maintain order and deal with social and economic tasks”.
He told reporters during a visit to Brazil: “We will see. The current leaders have yet to agree among themselves.”
The deposed President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, faxed a resignation letter to the new rulers of the former Soviet republic after he was flown to neighbouring Kazakhstan late on Thursday. It stated: “I tender my resignation in these tragic days as I understand the full scale of my responsibility for the future of the Kyrgyz people.”
Syria smarts over Israeli accusations
By Sami Moubayed
DAMASCUS – On April 12, the United States celebrated the 65th anniversary of the passing of its war-time president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Memorable quotes of the leader were published in mainstream media, reminding the world of a man who tried – at all costs – to shake off the Great Depression and prevent his country from venturing into World War II.
At the same time, talk of war began to surface in the Middle East when Israeli President Shimon Peres accused Syria of supplying missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Syrian Embassy in Washington came out with a strong statement categorically denying the “spurious allegations”, claiming that they were part of a “disinformation campaign aimed at misleading the world’s public opinion”.
‘Haystack’ gives Iranian opposition hope for evading Internet censorship
Haystack, an encryption software custom made to help the Iranian opposition evade official attempts to censor the Internet, is giving some regime opponents hope of organizing and making progress online.
By Scott Peterson, Staff writer / April 16, 2010
Opposition activists in Iran are beginning to deploy a new weapon in the cyber war against the regime that they hope will defeat extensive government efforts to block popular mobilization on the Internet inside Iran.
Called “Haystack” – and carrying the motto “Good luck finding that needle” – an encryption software custom-made for Iran in San Francisco is the first anti-censorship technology to be licensed by the US government for export to Iran.
“There has never been a tool built from the ground up specifically to address the way in which the regime does its Internet filtering,” says Austin Heap, co-creator of the software.
Earthquake survivors in Tibet mourn loss of treasured heritage
As Tibetans come to terms with the loss of loved ones, its culture also lies in ruins
Tania Branigan, Yushu
guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 April 2010 20.17 BST
As the wall shook around him, Sonam Dandron snatched up his grandson and fled their home. Without a thought for his son, daughter and other relatives, he ran to check on a revered Buddhist lama living nearby on the hillside.
“I cried out when I saw he was trapped in the rubble and his leg was covered in blood. But he said ‘go back and save your children’,” the stonecutter recalled.
Three of his young grandchildren died when the quake struck Yushu Tibetan prefecture on Tuesday morning, wiping out Taklung monastery and its surrounding community.
Police fear protesters are too strong after red-shirt leader’s escape act
Thai authorities braced for coup after opposition supporters thwart arrest
By Clifford Coonan in Bangkok Saturday, 17 April 2010
In another humiliating setback for the Thai government the portly opposition leader, Arisman Pongruengrong, escaped on the end of a rope into the arms of cheering supporters after security forces raided his hotel yesterday.
Mr Pongruengrong, his symbolic opposition red shirt straining with the effort, was winched showly from a third-floor balcony of the SC Park hotel in Bangkok into the welcoming arms of his supporters.
Egyptians show sense of humour as stand-up comedy gets an Arab twist
From The Times
April 16, 2010
Ashraf Khalil, Cairo
The room was badly ventilated and swelteringly hot. But, despite the stuffy conditions, raucous laughter filled the room as more than a dozen comedians took to the stage to give an Egyptian twist to a decidedly Western art form.
The scene – the largest stand-up showcase in Cairo to feature local comics – marked a radical social and comedic experiment. Tamer Farag, a 35-year-old tour guide, riffed on the bizarre linguistic games that Egyptians play, incorporating English words into Arabic then randomly applying Arabic grammar rules to them.
Zimbabwe at 30: strains remain with ex colonial master
Britain’s refusal to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe or to channel aid through its government remain sources of tension between Harare and its ex-colonial master, 30 years after independence.
By Alice Ritchie, in London for AFP
A disinvestment campaign also has led to long-standing hostility between London and President Robert Mugabe, even if tensions have eased since the opposition won a share of power last year.
Britain has promised to support the unity government Mugabe formed with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), but continues to back European Union sanctions against the president’s associates.
Although this has infuriated Mugabe, who wants them lifted as a requirement for wrapping up power-sharing talks, Britain says more progress must be made.
Judge allows start of bids on controversial Brazil dam
A Brazilian court has overturned a ruling that could have delayed building a massive dam on an Amazon tributary.
The BBC Saturday, 17 April 2010
A judge ruled bidding can go ahead next week for contracts to build the Belo Monte dam on the River Xingu. It would be the third largest dam in the world.
The dam is opposed by indigenous groups and environmentalists.
They say thousands of indigenous people will be displaced and a sensitive ecosystem damaged. The government says it is crucial for economic development.
In a statement, campaign group Amazon Watch said “the battle is not over”.”We are committed to supporting Brazilian indigenous peoples who have vowed to fight to stop the Belo Monte dam.