Key ships evacuate as storm approaches Gulf of Mexico
By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 22, 2010; 10:28 PM
With a tropical storm approaching, hundreds of workers and more than a dozen vessels will begin moving from the Deepwater Horizon blowout site Friday, stopping work on the long-awaited final “kill” of the well for more than a week.
The decision to begin the evacuation was made by retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, after concluding that Tropical Storm Bonnie would likely hit the site with winds above 40 mph on Saturday morning.
Uncovered: Britain’s secret rendition programme
Until now, this country has been guilty only by association in the illegal transfer of prisoners. But the covert rendition of a Moroccan man by MI5 agents suggests that the practice was central to Britain’s ‘war on terror’
By Robert Verkaik, Home Affairs Editor Friday, 23 July 2010
MI5 was directly involved in the rendition of a Moroccan national, illegally taken from a Belgian prison to work for Britain’s Security Services in London, an investigation by The Independent has discovered.
The man, now aged 29 and who cannot be named for his own safety, was secretly transferred from a Brussels jail in April 2004 and then further held and interrogated by senior MI5 officers at a secret base near London.
Pentagon Faces Intensifying Pressures to Trim Budget
By THOM SHANKER and CHRISTOPHER DREW
Published: July 22, 2010
WASHINGTON – After nearly a decade of rapid increases in military spending, the Pentagon is facing intensifying political and economic pressures to restrain its budget, setting up the first serious debate since the terrorist attacks of 2001 about the size and cost of the armed services.
Lawmakers, administration officials and analysts said the combination of big budget deficits, the winding down of the war in Iraq and President Obama’s pledge to begin pulling troops from Afghanistan next year were leading Congress to contemplate reductions in Pentagon financing requests.
Fleeing Phoenix out of fear of immigration law
As families leave the city, and state, some neighborhoods – already suffering from the weak economy – are left with fewer customers to sustain businesses.
By Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times
July 22, 2010 | 7:35 p.m.
Reporting from Phoenix – Every time a customer buys some of the large fabric tote bags from the Dollar Store at 43rd Avenue and Thomas Road, Najmuddin Katchi sees another piece of his business vanish.
The purchase of the briefcase-sized shoulder bags means that another one of Katchi’s customers, mostly Latino immigrants, is packing to leave the state before what is touted as the nation’s toughest law against illegal immigrants takes effect July 29.
Belgrade loses fight over Kosovo independence
UN’s highest court backs 2008 declaration as Nato steps up presence amid fears of violent backlash from Serbian minority
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Belgrade Friday, 23 July 2010
Kosovo scored a significant victory in its struggle to be recognised as a full and legitimate state yesterday when the UN’s highest court ruled that its 2008 declaration of independence did not break international law. Serbia denounced the judgement – more than a decade after it fought a civil war over its former province – and warned the ruling would encourage separatist movements around the world.
The ruling sets the stage for Kosovo to renew its appeals for further international recognition. The tiny Balkan country has been recognised by 69 countries, including the United States and most European Union nations.
European bank stress test results awaited
The health of Europe’s banks will come under scrutiny again later, when the results of EU-wide bank stress tests are published.
The BBC 23 July 2010
Results for a total of 91 banks across Europe will be made public, in a move designed to reassure investors over the health of Europe’s financial sectors.
The tests assess whether banks will be able to survive future economic shocks.
The UK’s four major banks – RBS, Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays – have been among those tested.
The Financial Services Authority has already said it expects the UK banks to pass the tests.
Turkey means business in Kurdistan
By Justin Vela
ISTANBUL – Take a drive through the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq and it’s easily to pick out buildings and shops with Turkish names like Istikbal, Istanbul Bazaar, Dogan and the Ozboy furniture shop. On the main street, two new overpasses were built by Turkish companies, as were the city’s international airport and also dormitories at the local university.
This is but a glimpse of the more than 1,000 Turkish companies, including oils firms, that are forging a presence in Kurdish northern Iraq at a breakneck pace. Whatever the project, Turks are building an international reputation for being able to get the job done with their skilled knowledge base and ability to negotiate the often heavy red tape in the developing or autocratic world.
As Iraq war winds down, US military cleans up hazardous waste
Recent reports have accused the US military of irresponsible disposal of millions of pounds of hazardous waste, mostly from the Iraq war. But after investigating, the military says EPA standards are being upheld.
By Scott Peterson, Staff writer / July 22, 2010
American commanders in Iraq are working to demonstrate that they are clearing the country of tens of millions of pounds of US-made hazardous waste, rebutting claims that they are leaving behind a toxic legacy as US troops withdraw.
Hundreds of barrels of all types and all colors – filled with everything from discarded lithium batteries and oil filters to powerful chemicals like hydrochloric acid – are stacked in a dusty purpose-built compound on a US base at Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
This and a sister facility on another base have so far processed 32 million pounds of “regulated” waste – more than half of that soil contaminated with petroleum products. The material has been decontaminated, crushed or shredded, and then sold as scrap in Iraq, or recycled and shipped abroad.
Pakistan’s PM gives army chief three more years
Pakistan’s PM Yousaf Raza Gilani has extended the term of anti-extremist army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in a move that will be welcomed in the US
Associated Press, Islamabad
The Guardian, Friday 23 July 2010
Pakistan’s PM Yousaf Raza Gilani extended the term of army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for three more years yesterday, saying continuity was needed to ensure the success of the country’s fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban. The decision will likely be welcomed in the US, which has praised Kayani’s leadership and willingness to battle extremists. Washington has some 130,000 troops in neighboring Afghanistan fighting a related insurgency, and US success there is strongly tied to how well Pakistan’s army tampsclamps down on militant activity in its own country.
China ‘to debate execution policy changes’
China is considering cutting the number of crimes which attract the death penalty, a report suggests.
The BBC 23 July 2010
The country’s highest law-making body will debate a draft amendment to the criminal law next month, a report in a liberal newspaper said.
There are currently 68 crimes which carry the death penalty in China.
The South Weekend newspaper quotes a law professor at Beijing University as saying this was unnecessary and hurt China’s global image.
The newspaper, based in the southern city of Guangzhou, says the draft amendment will be debated by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Beijing does not publish official figures on executions, but Amnesty International estimates that China executed “several thousand” people in 2009.
AU Leaders Face Difficult Issues at Summit
African Union foreign ministers are meeting in Kampala to settle positions on a host of difficult issues facing the continent’s heads of state when they gather Sunday for an African Union summit. Security concerns have failed to dampen summit spirits as Africa celebrates one of its proudest moments.
Inside the halls of the Speke Munyonyo resort, Africa’s decision makers are discussing weighty issues: how to respond to the threat of terrorism from al-Qaida-linked groups in Somalia; how to prepare for the possible split of Sudan after next January’s referendum; and how to respond to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s insistence on speedy political and economic integration of the continent.
Venezuela cuts ties with Colombia over FARC rebels. Prelude to war?
Venezuela President Hugo Chávez severed ties with Colombia today after Colombia accused its neighbor of harboring Marxist guerrillas of the FARC rebel group. Will it lead to war? No, say most analysts.
y Sara Miller Llana, Staff writer / July 22, 2010
There are no fiercer foes in Latin America today than conservative Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. So as Mr. Uribe steps down and incoming president Juan Manuel Santos steps in, hopes were high that relations between the two South American neighbors could stabilize.
But ahead of Mr. Santos’s inauguration Aug. 7, the relationship could not be worse.
Venezuela on Thursday cut off all diplomatic ties after Colombia charged that Venezuela is sheltering leftist guerrillas. “We have no other choice but to totally break our relations with our brother nation of Colombia,” Mr. Chávez declared.