BP’s containment problem is unprecedented
The company must stop a relentless gush of oil nearly a mile below the surface, in a situation that hasn’t been dealt with before.
By Jill Leovy
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico presents BP Exploration and Production with a problem of unprecedented severity – a limitless gush in very deep waters – forcing the London-based company to grasp for fixes that have never been tried before.
The problem with the April 20 spill is that it isn’t really a spill: It’s a gush, like an underwater oil volcano. A hot column of oil and gas is spurting into freezing, black waters nearly a mile down, where the pressure nears a ton per inch, impossible for divers to endure. Experts call it a continuous, round-the-clock calamity, unlike a leaking tanker, which might empty in hours or days.
Tourism firm to offer space rides for $102,000
Space Adventures and Armadillo would undercut SpaceShipOne price tag
An American space tourism company that arranges multimillion-dollar treks to the International Space Station for the ultra-wealthy has struck a new deal to offer suborbital spaceflights for nearly half the going cost. The price is still steep, though: $102,000 for the works.
Virginia-based firm Space Adventures has signed an exclusive deal with Armadillo Aerospace, a Texas-based company founded by computer game entrepreneur John Carmack, to sell space tourist seats on new suborbital rocket ships that are currently in development at Armadillo.
Environmental catastrophe looms on Louisiana’s coast
As the oil begins to wash ashore, reports David Usborne reports from Venice, Louisiana, on a community powerless to save itself
By David Usborne in Venice, Louisiana Saturday, 1 May 2010
Despair and resignation reigned among fishermen and other seafaring residents of the southern Louisiana shoreline yesterday as the vast Gulf of Mexico oil slick began to slide silently into fragile marshlands and ecologically precious inlets fed by a deep-water leak that no one seems able to plug.
“They can’t turn it off, they don’t know how to,” lamented Captain Sean Lanier, who makes his livelihood taking tourists fishing for redfish and speckled trout through the grassy waterways and inlets at the mouth of Mississippi here. “What we need now is a James Bond to go down there and close that thing down.”
Ariz. gov signs bill revising new immigration law
By PAUL DAVENPORT
The Associated Press
Saturday, May 1, 2010; 2:38 AM
PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed a follow-on bill approved by Arizona legislators that make revisions to the state’s sweeping law against illegal immigration – changes she says should quell concerns that the measure will lead to racial profiling.
The law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.
Amazon’s Luxembourg base means improved consumer rights
Amazon is covered by Luxembourg consumer laws – which means its goods are protected for two years, not one. But will it pay up? Miles Brignall investigates
The Guardian, Saturday 1 May 2010
First, the good news: anyone who has bought an item from Amazon, the web’s biggest retailer, has a right to demand a refund or repair if the goods fail within two years.
Guardian Money can reveal that consumers buying from Amazon.co.uk are covered by consumer rights law in Luxembourg, as that is where the retailer has based its operations.
Belgium passes Europe’s first ban on wearing burka in public
Parliament hails bill as victory for women, but Amnesty condemns attack on freedom
By Vanessa Mock in Brussels and John Lichfield in Paris Saturday, 1 May 2010
The first European ban on the wearing of the Islamic burka in public is poised to come into force in Belgium. A parliamentary vote on a Bill which bans face coverings has raised fears among Muslim groups and human rights campaigners that other countries could follow suit. France is already considering similar legislation.
“We are the first country to break through the chain that has kept countless women enslaved,” said Denis Ducarme, a Belgian Liberal party MP. He said that he hoped other European countries would follow Belgium’s example.
Arab ‘middlemen’ help Jewish settlers buy homes in East Jerusalem
From Times Online
May 1, 2010
Arye King answers his mobile phone with a traditional Arab greeting before switching into Hebrew to inquire about his most recent property deal.
Mr King, one of the best-known settler activists moving Jews into east Jerusalem, which is still predominantly Arab, spends a good deal of his time on the telephone. The surprising part is that many of his business partners are Arabs who are helping him to get settlers into the contested eastern half of the city.
Why Iran’s Ahmadinejad is pushing to cut popular government subsidies
President Ahmadinejad is seeking to cut $40 billion in government subsidies to create, in effect, a slush fund that critics say will be used as a political tool to keep voters and his political allies happy.
By Roshanak Taghavi, Correspondent / April 30, 2010
On the eve of his visit to the US next week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been pushing parliament to cut $40 billion in government subsidies. As Iran braces for fresh United Nations sanctions over its controversial nuclear program as well as a possible rise in inflation rates, the president seeks to convert the subsidy money into a slush fund with little government oversight.
The subsidies, which Mr. Ahmadinejad says benefit Iran’s wealthy more than the poor, are slated to be replaced with monthly cash handouts to the mainly lower-income sectors of the population, with compensation currently estimated to be worth roughly 200,000 rials ($20) a person, according to local analysts. Critics say the president would use the funds as a political tool to bolster his position.
The enemy within: why coalition forces fear attack by Afghan comrades
From Times Online
May 1, 2010
The battle was brief – a sudden stab of tracer fire into the remote police post from the surrounding mountains that left a US staff sergeant bleeding from his face, hit by a ricochet or fragment of flying rock. “It’s like shooting at ghosts,” the soldier beside him complained, staring into the silent darkness after the shooting had stopped.
At least the two soldiers knew which way to face – outwards from their gun position on the roof of Police SubStation 7, on the western outskirts of Kandahar. In the sleeping quarters below, a pair of Canadian police officers, sent there to help to mentor the Afghan National Police (ANP), had trained their guns inwards, on the door of their own accommodation.
Mumbai attack masterminds ‘will never be brought to justice’
The suspected masterminds behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attack will never face justice as they are being shielded by Pakistan’s military, Indian officials and intelligence analysts believe.
By Dean Nelson in New Delhi and Rob Crilly in Lahore
Published: 7:11PM BST 30 Apr 2010
Their comments came a few days ahead of the expected verdict in the trial of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist gunman in the attack, on Monday.
Kasab achieved worldwide notoriety after he was caught on film, smartly groomed and heavily armed, stalking railway commuters at Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus railway station.
The attacks, in which ten highly trained commandos sailed into Mumbai from Karachi, launched an audacious four day killing spree, and brought India and Pakistan close to war. Western diplomats feared an Indian retaliatory air strike would bring an immediate military response from Islamabad.
Rwanda Pursues Dissenters and the Homeless
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: April 30, 2010
IWAWA ISLAND, Rwanda – A few months ago, Gasigwa Gakunzi was hanging around a ramshackle house where poor children pay to watch television when the Rwandan police arrested him for loitering. The next thing he knew, he said, he was taken away from his family and carted off to this remote island in the middle of Lake Kivu.
Gasigwa, 14, now spends his days learning patriotic songs and how to march like a soldier. At night, he sleeps in a huge sheet-metal shed with hundreds of men and boys packed mattress to mattress.
“Please call my father,” he whispered. “He has no idea where I am.”
UN chief warns against early withdrawal from DR Congo
The UN’s top humanitarian official has warned against a premature withdrawal of the organisation’s military force from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The BBC Saturday, 1 May 2010
The Congolese government wants the UN mission to leave the troubled country by the end of August next year.
But speaking on a visit to the volatile east of the country, John Holmes said any exit strategy should be considered carefully.
He pointed out that UN troops were protecting civilians and aid agencies.
Mr Holmes, the UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, was visiting three provinces where humanitarian workers face increasingly difficult conditions.