Calif. wildfire jumps aqueduct, threatens 2,000 homes
‘We are deploying everything that we’ve got,’ Gov. Schwarzenegger says
PALMDALE, Calif. – A huge wildfire in the high desert wilderness north of Los Angeles jumped an aqueduct on Friday, rushing toward hundreds of houses as firefighters also tried to keep flames from damaging power lines that bring electricity to Southern California.
Some 2,000 structures were threatened and 300 homes were evacuated, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.
Evacuations were lifted late Friday, but residents of about 500 homes in Rancho Vista were told to “shelter in place” until further notice so that roads remain clear for the movement of fire equipment, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Destiny Brown, 19, stood beside her family’s tan Ford Taurus waiting for her mother and sisters to finish packing so they could leave their home in a smoke-clogged Delta Ridge subdivision on the outskirts of Palmdale.
North Korea’s failed World Cup footballers undergo public mauling
Footballers subjected to six-hour excoriation on stage for ‘betraying’ North Korea and Kim Jong-il’s son and heir
guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 July 2010 17.31 BST
England’s failed footballers should count themselves lucky that their ignominious World Cup exit was met with little more than a public mauling by the media.
Their counterparts from North Korea, who lost all three of their group games, have been subjected to a six-hour excoriation for “betraying” the communist nation’s ideological struggle, according to reports.
There are even fears for the safety of the team coach, Kim Jung-hun, who was accused of betraying the son and heir of the regime’s “dear leader,” Kim Jong-il.
GDP report: Economic growth slows with 2.4 percent rate in second quarter
By Neil Irwin and Sonja Ryst
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 31, 2010
The recovery is fading, and a troubling new pattern is setting in: economic growth that is too slow to put Americans back to work.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the April-through-June period, the government said Friday, down from 5 percent at the end of 2009 and 3.7 percent at the beginning of this year.
House approves oil spill legislation
The bill, passed 209 to 193, would impose new safeguards for offshore drilling, remove a liability cap for spill damages, and hit energy producers with a new tax to fund conservation measures.
By Richard Simon, Reporting from Washington
July 31, 2010
In its most sweeping response to the gulf oil spill, the House on Friday approved legislation that would impose new environmental safeguards for offshore drilling, remove a liability cap for spill damages, and slap industry with a new tax to fund conservation projects nationwide.
The Democratic-drafted legislation passed on a largely party-line 209-193 vote but faces trouble in the deeply divided Senate.
EU turning blind eye to discrimination against Roma, say human rights groups
Criticism comes in wake of France’s decision to expel illegal Roma immigrants and destroy hundreds of their encampments
Leigh Phillips in Brussels, Kate Connolly in Berlin and Lizzy Davies in Paris
guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 July 2010 22.44 BST
The European Union was today accused of “turning a blind eye” as countries across Europe carried out a wave of expulsions and introduced new legislation targeting the Roma.
Human rights groups criticised the EU for failing to address the real issues driving Europe’s largest ethnic minority to migrate in the first place and for choosing not to upbraid countries for breaking both domestic and EU laws in their treatment of them.
The criticism came after France announced it would round up and expel illegal Roma immigrants and destroy hundreds of their encampments.
Rome advertises Colosseum to sponsors
Rome is advertising for sponsorship of the Colosseum in a move which would see entry tickets stamped with company logos and advertising hoardings adorning the outside of the 2,000-year-old amphitheatre.
Nick Squires in Rome
In return, firms interested will be required to invest £20 million to restore the landmark, which is visited by four million tourists every year.
It is the first time in Italy that sponsors will be sought for such an ambitious restoration effort, and it is likely to be used as a template for future projects.
So far a Japanese tycoon, an Italian shoe company and a Rome-based construction group are among those reported to be interested in financing the project.
However, a battle is looming over plans to try to make money from the country’s cultural heritage with claims that there is a push to “McDonaldise” ancient sites.
Syria and Saudi leaders in mission to avert war
An unprecedented show of Arab cooperation reflects worries of fresh conflict in Lebanon. Robert Fisk reports from Beirut
Saturday, 31 July 2010
Syria is back. President Bashar al-Assad dropped off in Beirut yesterday – along with old King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – to chat to the Lebanese president, ministers and members of parliament over a massive lunch.
It lasted only a few hours, but no one doubted the significance. Lebanon’s chaos needs once more the guiding hand of Sister Syria. Not Syria’s army – not yet – but even Assad’s father Hafez only made a presidential trip to the Lebanese border. This is the first time in more than 40 years that the Caliph of Damascus – as head of state – has entered the holy of holies in Beirut.
Iraqis to sue US firm at Abu Ghraib
SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2010
A US court has given the green light to 72 Iraqis to proceed with a lawsuit against a private contractor accused of complicity in the alleged abuse of detainees at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
US District Judge Peter Messitte ruled that the Iraqis can proceed in their case against L3 Communications and its unit formerly known as Titan Group, which provided interpreters to the US army in Iraq after the US invasion.
In the ruling obtained on Friday, the judge said the alleged actions by the company “arguably violated the laws of war such that they are not immune from suit under the laws of war”.
Under the cover of darkness, Nato troops draw Taliban into their trap
Kim Sengupta joins ‘Operation Black Prince’ targeting deadly insurgents in Helmand
By Kim Sengupta in Nad-e-Ali, Helmand Saturday, 31 July 2010
The first wave of air assaults began at 2.38am, the helicopters flying low and fast into the swaying poppy fields surrounding the dark silhouettes of the walled compounds. This was Operation Tor Shezada, designed to clear insurgent fighters who have been carrying out relentless attacks as the fighting season gets underway.
The four Chinooks ferrying in the troops, with Apache gunships providing cover, was part of the attempt to capture Saidabad, the last town held by the Taliban in central Helmand and a base from which they have been operating as they attack British, American and Afghan forces in Nad-e-Ali, Marjah and Helmand.
Floods trap thousands in Pakistan
SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2010
Rescue workers in Pakistan are attempting to reach thousands of people stranded by the worst floods in the country’s history, as the death toll rose to more than 430.
More than a million people had been affected by the floods by Saturday, which have bloated rivers, washed away villages and triggered devastating landslides throughout the northwest of the country.
Five years after death of John Garang, a divided Sudan wonders: What if?
Thousands gathered today at the grave of Sudan leader John Garang de Mabior, who was killed July 30, 2005, after signing a peace deal between North and South. Would Sudan still be divided if the tenacious rebel was still alive?
By Alan Boswell, Contributor / July 30, 2010
Juba, South Sudan
Crowding the tops of the city’s roofs, vehicles, and trees, a sea of faces struggled to catch a glimpse of the US-educated African bush guerrilla.
John Garang de Mabior – the burly, coal-skinned Sudanese Dinka known simply as “Dr. Garang” to most of his followers – had arrived in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, having signed a peace deal ending the two-decade rebellion he led in the nation’s marginalized south. Some one million turned out to greet him.
Less than one month later – on July 30, 2005 – the tenacious leader was Sudan’s new vice president, and dead. Five years later, the optimism spurred by the peace deal has largely faded and Sudan’s split appears imminent. A January 2011 secession referendum in the south is expected to result in either the country’s division, renewed war, or both.
Wyclef Jean mulling Haiti presidential run against politician uncle
Wyclef Jean released a statement Friday saying he will make a public announcement next week on whether he will run for president of Haiti. Meanwhile, his uncle has resigned his post as Haiti’s ambassador to the US in preparation for his own candidacy.
By Stephen Kurczy, Staff writer / July 30, 2010
Wyclef Jean is considering running for president against his politician uncle, although some observers are skeptical if the earthquake-ravaged country is even capable of holding elections this year.
“Wyclef has just returned to the US from Haiti and will meet with key advisers on several continents, as well as spend time with us, before he makes a final decision,” according to a statement Friday morning from The Jean Family.
“At this time, he remains committed to helping people in his homeland of Haiti and has not made a final decision on whether to seek elected office. He recognizes pending deadlines and is committed to a public announcement next week.”