Hurricane Alex slams northeast Mexico
Category 2 storm spawns tornadoes in Texas, floods roads; thousands flee
SAN FERNANDO, Mexico – Hurricane Alex made landfall on Mexico’s Gulf coast as a powerful Category 2 storm Wednesday, spawning tornadoes in nearby Texas, forcing evacuations in both countries and whipping up high waves that frustrated oil-spill cleanup efforts and pushed crude onto beaches.
Alex hit a relatively unpopulated stretch of coast in Mexico’s northern Tamaulipas state about 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, and was pushing inland at 10 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Its heavy rains and 110 mph winds lashed Mexican fishing villages, whose residents fled inland to the town of San Fernando on buses and in the back of pickup trucks.
Hundreds of people filled a storm shelter in an auditorium in San Fernando.
Biologists find ‘dead zones’ around BP oil spill in Gulf
Methane at 100,000 times normal levels have been creating oxygen-depleted areas devoid of life near BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill, according to two independent scientists
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Scientists are confronting growing evidence that BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is creating oxygen-depleted “dead zones” where fish and other marine life cannot survive.
In two separate research voyages, independent scientists have detected what were described as “astonishingly high” levels of methane, or natural gas, bubbling from the well site, setting off a chain of reactions that suck the oxygen out of the water. In some cases, methane concentrations are 100,000 times normal levels.
Other scientists as well as sport fishermen are reporting unusual movements of fish, shrimp, crab and other marine life, including increased shark sightings closer to the Alabama coast.
Banned Trailers Return for Latest Gulf Disaster
By IAN URBINA
Published: June 30, 2010
VENICE, La. – In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they became a symbol of the government’s inept response to that disaster: the 120,000 or so trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to people who had lost their homes.
The trailers were discovered to have such high levels of formaldehyde that the government banned them from ever being used for long-term housing again.
Some of the trailers, though, are getting a second life amid the latest disaster here – as living quarters for workers involved with the cleanup of the oil spill.
Pentagon recommends Medal of Honor for a living soldier
By Greg Jaffe and Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 1, 2010
The Pentagon has recommended that the White House consider awarding the Medal of Honor to a living soldier for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to U.S. officials.
The soldier, whose nomination must be reviewed by the White House, ran through a wall of enemy fire in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in fall 2007 in an attempt to push back Taliban fighters who were close to overrunning his squad. U.S. military officials said his actions saved the lives of about half a dozen men.
Plea to overturn ban on school crucifixes
European Court of Human Rights ruled in November that crucifixes in Italian public schools violate education freedoms
The Guardian, Thursday 1 July 2010
A European ruling banning crucifixes in Italian schools should be overturned, nine governments said in an appeal today.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in November that crucifixes in Italian public schools violate education freedoms. The case, part of a larger debate over the role of religious symbols in public places, has sharpened divisions between secular and religious groups. Italian courts have previously ruled the display of crucifixes is part of Italian national identity and not an attempt at conversion , an argument expanded by New York University legal scholar Joseph Weiler on behalf of the governments of Italy, Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, San Marino, Romania and Russia, who are appealingagainst the ruling.
Europe tightens the screw on cash bonuses for bankers
BANKERS in Europe are facing a more severe crackdown on their cash bonuses than anything so far put forward.
Suzy Jagger and Patrick Hosking The Times July 01, 2010
The EU says that cash bonuses should be capped at 30 per cent of the total bonus – or 20 per cent in the case of particularly large payouts.
That is significantly tougher than the regime for British banks put in place by the Financial Services Authority last year. That set the cap at 40 per cent for the most highly paid and 60 per cent for for other senior staff.
The draft rules, which were agreed late on Tuesday in the face of resistance from Britain, France, Germany and Italy, will be put before the European Parliament next week, where they are almost certain to be approved.
Iraq looks to spectacular oil boom to revive its political fortunes
What is being called the great Iraqi oil rush has gained momentum in the wake of BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster
By Patrick Cockburn Thursday, 1 July 2010
The map of the world’s main energy suppliers is about to change as Iraq’s oil output quadruples over the next 10 years according to new forecasts. Iraq will eventually displace Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest exporter, experts predict, giving Baghdad crucial influence over the future price of oil.
The rush to exploit Iraq’s “super-giant” oilfields, of which it has the largest concentration in the world, has gathered impetus with unexpected speed in the wake of BP’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which has raised fears over deep-sea drilling. Iraq’s oil has the advantage of being both onshore and cheap to develop.
The anatomy of an attack on Iran
By David Moon
In mid-June, Hugh Tomlinson in the Times of London wrote that the government of Saudi Arabia conferred on Israel the “green light” for use of its airspace for an attack on Iran. This revelation was said to be conventional wisdom inside the Saudi military. Tomlinson also quoted an unnamed United States military source stating to the effect that the US Department of State and the Defense Department had both said “grace” over this arrangement.
The Saudis and Israelis immediately denied the report, while US officials made no specific comments on the subject. The silence and denials nixed further media speculation.
China takes softly-softly approach in effort to boost Tibet’s economy
By Clifford Coonan in Lhasa Thursday, 1 July 2010
Hao Peng cuts an avuncular figure and is unusually frank for a party official in Tibet, where people rioted against Beijing rule two years ago. He is the new, approachable face that China wants to front its multibillion-yuan efforts to boost the isolated mountain enclave’s economy and win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people.
“We are doing our best to improve the quality and calibre of local Tibetans and have also introduced special policies in terms of employment projects, subsidies and grants to help local people,” Mr Hao, the deputy secretary of the Communist Party in Tibet and vice-chairman of the regional government, told reporters.
Children, aged 5, used to plant Taliban bombs in Afghanistan
Children as young as five are being used by the Taliban to lay bombs and carry weapons in a deadly new tactic in Afghanistan, it can be disclosed.
Thomas Harding in Sangin
In the past five months the number child insurgents has increased almost fivefold in the town of Sangin, to a band of 40, who are used to run weapons, plant bombs and carry out tasks for the Taliban, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
According to military intelligence sources there are about 12 children being routinely used in the Sangin area just to plant bombs.
The Taliban have resorted to the tactic because they know that British troops are unlikely to fire on children planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices). They have also been forced into the change because sophisticated surveillance technology is able to pick up Taliban IED planting teams and take action against them.
On one occasion surveillance cameras picked up two children under 10 walking along the main road with one placing an IED in a hole followed by another covering it up with a bag of stone and earth.
Congo war leaves legacy of sexual violence against women
A 17-fold increase in civilian rape between 2004 and 2008 in the Democratic Republic of Congo underscores the wartime legacy of sexual violence.
By Jina Moore, Correspondent / June 30, 2010 Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, sexual violence has become so common that the eastern provinces are sometimes called “the ground zero of rape.”
Tens of thousands of women here have been raped by armed combatants seeking to destroy communities by assaulting the women, who are often shunned and sometimes abandoned after sexual assaults. In Congo, it has become common to say rape is a weapon of war.
Or at least it was. New data suggest that rape by combatants is on the wane in eastern Congo. But a different trend indicates that crimes of war may have changed habits –for the worst.
Ex-police commander held in Michoacan ambush
Mexican officials say Miguel Ortiz Miranda, alias ‘El Tyson,’ directed operations in Morelia for the Michoacan-based La Familia, including an attack on security chief Minerva Bautista Gomez’s convoy.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Mexico City – Mexican authorities Wednesday announced the arrest of a key suspect in the attempted assassination of a state security chief whose convoy was attacked with grenades and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition.
The suspect until recently was a police commander who also worked for the notorious drug cartel known as La Familia, authorities said.
Minerva Bautista Gomez, security chief for the state of Michoacan, survived the April 24 ambush. Two of her bodyguards and two passing motorists were killed.