Gulf of Mexico Has Long Been a Sink of Pollution
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
Published: July 29, 2010
HOUMA, La. – Loulan Pitre Sr. was born on the Gulf Coast in 1921, the son of an oysterman. Nearly all his life, he worked on the water, abiding by the widely shared faith that the resources of the Gulf of Mexico were limitless.
As a young Marine staff sergeant, back home after fighting in the South Pacific, he stood on barges in the gulf and watched as surplus mines, bombs and ammunition were pushed over the side.
He helped build the gulf’s very first offshore oil drilling platforms in the late 1940s, installing bolts on perilously high perches over the water. He worked on a shrimp boat, and later as the captain of a service boat for drilling platforms.
Fears for unique wildlife of Galapagos as UN drops islands’ protected status
Scientists condemn ‘premature’ removal of world heritage listing
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor Friday, 30 July 2010
A panel of politicians has voted to remove the Galapagos Islands from the UN’s list of World Heritage Sites in danger – in spite of a firm recommendation from scientists and officials who visited the islands that they should keep their status.
The Pacific archipelago, whose unique wildlife inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution were included on the list in 2007 after scientists warned they were facing environmental disaster from mass tourism, immigration, development, overfishing and the invasion of alien species.
U.S. takes a tougher tone with China
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2010
The Obama administration has adopted a tougher tone with China in recent weeks as part of a diplomatic balancing act in which the United States welcomes China’s rise in some areas but also confronts Beijing when it butts up against American interests.
Faced with a Chinese government increasingly intent on testing U.S. strength and capabilities, the United States unveiled a new policy that rejected China’s claims to sovereignty over the whole South China Sea. It rebuffed Chinese demands that the U.S. military end its longtime policy of conducting military exercises in the Yellow Sea. And it is putting new pressure on Beijing not to increase its energy investments in Iran as Western firms leave.
Supreme Court leery of broad challenges to yet-to-take-effect state laws
Some experts say the tack of the judge who blocked parts of the Arizona law leaves her ruling vulnerable to reversal on appeal. But it may stand if the high court follows precedent on immigration.
By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau
The Supreme Court, where the legal controversy over Arizona’s immigration law is likely to be resolved, has taken a dim view in recent years of judges striking down state laws based on broad challenges to laws that have not taken effect.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton agreed Wednesday with the Obama administration that much of the Arizona law was unconstitutional “on its face,” without waiting for evidence that individuals were hurt or had their rights violated by state officials.
In her ruling, Bolton read the Arizona law broadly to apply to “all arrestees” in the state, not just those for whom there is a “reasonable suspicion” they are in the country illegally, as the state’s lawyers interpreted the law.
Russia to introduce ‘draconian’ Minority Report-style law
Legislation will give security services powers to arrest people for crimes they have yet to commit
Tom Parfitt in Moscow
Russian citizens can be issued official warnings about crimes that they have not yet committed under powers granted to the security services today.
President Dmitry Medvedev signed off on a new law giving the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, the right to caution people suspected of preparing acts of extremism, or to jail them for obstructing the agency’s work.
The powers appear similar to those enjoyed by Precrime, the police unit in the 2002 Hollywood film Minority Report. “This is a draconian law reminiscent of our repressive past,” said Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Solidarity opposition movement.
Silvio Berlusconi faces parliamentary crisis as speaker refuses to resign
Rebel lawmakers announce they have signed letter of resignation from Freedom People’s parliamentary party
John Hooper in Rome
The Guardian, Friday 30 July 2010
Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling Freedom People (PdL) movement was on the verge of a split last night that would pitch Italy into a political and constitutional crisis after a group of rebel lawmakers announced they had signed a letter of resignation from the PdL’s parliamentary party and delivered it to their leader, the lower house speaker, Gianfranco Fini.
The move came after the party leadership issued a vehement statement denouncing Fini, the co-founder of the PdL, for stirring up internal dissent and “devastating criticism of decisions taken by the party”. The statement brought to a head long-simmering tensions between the prime minister and the former neo-fascist who had been his principal ally since entering politics 16 years ago.
Mahmoud Abbas preparing to hold direct talks with Israel, say diplomats
Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, is expected to bow to intense US pressure by agreeing to hold direct peace talks with Israel within weeks, according to western officials.
By Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem and Samer al-Atrush in Cairo
Despite publicly insisting that he has no interest in face-to-face negotiations unless Israel agrees to a raft of demands, Mr Abbas is preparing the ground for what could be the gamble of his political career, they said.
Any resumption of direct talks after over 18 months of stalemate would hand US President Barack Obama a much needed foreign policy success ahead of midterm elections in the United States this November.
His administration has embarked on a frantic campaign to escalate the pressure on Mr Abbas to yield before a partial Israeli moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank expires in late September.
Niqab ban unveils Syria’s secular past
By Sami Moubayed
DAMASCUS – Syria was abuzz last week when unconfirmed reports surfaced in international media that the minister of higher education had instructed universities to prevent women wearing the niqab (face veil) from entering campuses.
Apart from raising eyebrows in conservative circles throughout the Middle East, the story reminded everybody of Syria’s strong secular values, preached by its ruling Ba’ath Party since it came to power in the 1960s and upheld by individual Syrians since early years of the 20th century.
The ministry has not yet officially commented on the ban, while the Syrian public is aggressively debating the reported legislation. Moderate Muslims, Christians and seculars are pleased with it, claiming that the niqab is foreign to Syrian society, referring to the Holy Koran and saying that not a single verse commands women to cover their entire bodies and face.
Patrick Coburn: ‘We need to talk to the Taliban’
David Cameron’s controversial attack on the links between the Taliban and the Pakistani military misses the point. Those links are our only hope of solving this conflict, argues Patrick Cockburn
Friday, 30 July 2010
David Cameron’s denunciation this week of Pakistan for “promoting terror” misses the point that there will be no peace in Afghanistan without Pakistani involvement. Finger-wagging by Mr Cameron is not going to change the interdependence between the insurgency in Afghanistan and the Pakistani army which has existed since the Soviet invasion in 1979.
But the link between the Taliban and the Pakistani military is an opportunity as well as a threat. Safe havens within Pakistan are essential to the Taliban, so its leaders will have to join peace talks if Pakistan insists that they do so.
Australia’s Aboriginals won land, now defend right to use it
Australian Aboriginals and environmentalists once allied to protect land. Now they’re split over whether struggling indigenous communities should exploit it for mining and other economic activity.
By Kathy Marks, Correspondent / July 29, 2010
For environmentalists, it doesn’t get much better than Australia’s Cape York Peninsula, a vast expanse of wetlands, tropical rainforest, savannah grasslands, and bone-white sand dunes, sheltering one-half of the country’s birds and one-third of its mammals.
The wild and beautiful Cape at Queensland’s northeast tip is also home to 10,000 Aboriginal people, many living in communities blighted by poverty and social dysfunction. To their leaders, economic activity – including mining, forestry, and cattle-grazing – seems like the obvious solution.
Now green and black interests, which were once closely aligned in this resource-rich region, are bitterly opposed, thanks to a law passed by the Queensland government designating a dozen waterways in Cape York as “wild rivers.”
Robert Mugabe loses political ally as younger sister Sabina dies
Robert Mugabe’s younger sister and close political ally has died following a long battle with an undisclosed illness.
By Aislinn Laing and Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg
The 76-year-old former politician, Sabina, was the closest to Mugabe of his three surviving siblings and her death will come as a major blow to the president, who is known to have few close friends.
A former seamstress with little formal education, she was according to those who knew her, proof of how Mugabe looked after his own after he took control of the newly-independent Zimbabwe in 1980.
She became a Zanu-PF MP shortly after he was elected, and is said to have benefitted personally from his land reforms which saw hundreds of white farmers killed, beaten and forced off their land by so-called war veterans.
Uganda bombings bring Africa together. Except Eritrea.
African leaders called for tougher measures against Islamist extremists in Somalia in the wake of the July 11 Uganda bombings. Eritrea is pushing for talks instead.
By Max Delany, Correspondent / July 29, 2010
Shortly after marking two weeks since suspected twin suicide bombings killed 76 people watching the World Cup Final in Uganda’s capital of Kampala, leaders from across the continent pledged to tackle the terrorist threat from Somalia at an African Union summit in the city.
After years of wrangling, underfunding, and broken promises, leaders agreed that the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia – AMISOM – would finally be boosted to its intended full strength of 8,000 soldiers and said that further pledges of soldiers from Guinea and Djibouti could see the mandated level rise still higher.
Mexican drug lord Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Coronel killed by army
Leading figure in the Sinaloa cartel dies in shootout near Guadalajara
Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
The Guardian, Friday 30 July 2010
A major Mexican drug lord from the country’s most important cartel has been killed during a shootout with the army. Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel was killed trying to resist arrest near the central city of Guadalajara, army spokesman General Edgar Ruiz told a press conference.
Coronel was one of the four main leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, considered to be the most successful trafficking organisation in Mexico. The most famous of these is Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is now a regular in the lists of rich and powerful people published by Forbes Magazine.