Oil spill plunges BP £11 billion into the red
By Russell Lynch, Press Association Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Oil giant BP plunged into the red for the first time in 18 years today as it racked up a huge 32.2 billion US dollar (£20.8 billion) bill for the Gulf of Mexico spill.
BP, which also confirmed the departure of chief executive Tony Hayward, posted a loss of 17 billion dollars (£11 billion) for the April-June period following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
The firm is replacing Mr Hayward with US citizen Bob Dudley and also announced a shake-up of its portfolio including up to 30 billion dollars (£19.3 billion) in asset sales over the next 18 months.
Millions of Earths? Talk causes a stir
Alan Boyle write
A leader of the Kepler planet-hunting team has created a slow-moving scientific stir by telling an audience at a high-tech conference that our galaxy could harbor 100 million Earths, based on the space mission’s raw data. The resulting buzz focuses not only on the findings, but also on the means by which they came to light.
The conclusions drawn by Harvard astronomer Dimitar Sasselov totally make sense, based on the composition of our own solar system. If we look at the eight dominant planets, four of them are Earth-scale, two are Neptune-scale, and the other two are big gas giants. (And then there are hundreds or thousands of smaller worlds like Pluto.)
Among House Democrats in Rust Belt, a sense of abandonment over energy bill
THE CRUCIAL CORRIDOR
By Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
When Democratic Rep. John Boccieri went home to Ohio early this year to talk with voters in his Canton-based district, he figured he would have to do battle with at least some constituents over his support for health-care reform. And the economic stimulus. And the auto company bailouts.
But at a meeting with business leaders, he had to come up with fast answers on something completely different: Why, the businessmen wanted to know, had Boccieri voted for a bill last summer to cap carbon emissions, which they feared would drive up their energy bills in the middle of a recession?
Documents leak leaves White House on defensive about Afghanistan policy
There are few bombshells, but the volume of data and the focus on the conduct of the war are likely to embolden critics at a time when Congress has expressed doubts about Obama’s Afghanistan policy.
By David S. Cloud, Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times
July 26, 2010 | 6:58 p.m.
Reporting from Washington – The leaking of a trove of U.S. documents has put the Obama administration on the defensive about its Afghanistan policy and may deepen doubts in Congress about prospects for turning around the faltering war effort.
The documents made public late Sunday by the website WikiLeaks included dozens of new disclosures about Pakistani intelligence agencies’ assistance to Afghan insurgents, corruption in the U.S.-backed Kabul government, and incidences of U.S. troops accidentally killing civilians.
Turkey must be welcome in EU, insists Cameron
The Prime Minister has used a speech in Ankara to launch an attack on Eurosceptic ‘prejudice’.
Andrew Grice reports Tuesday, 27 July 2010
David Cameron will today attack opponents of Turkey joining the European Union as “prejudiced” as he promises to champion the country’s membership application.
Speaking in Ankara, the Prime Minister will tackle fears among Eurosceptic Tory MPs that a Muslim nation with a population of 72 million people would swamp the EU and result in a new wave of immigration to Britain under Europe’s free movement policy.
Vatican admits ‘new Caravaggio’ is a copy
The Vatican’s top art historian has been forced to admit that a report in its own newspaper, which suggested a recently discovered painting was a Caravaggio, was wrong.
Published: 7:00AM BST 27 Jul 2010
The head of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, wrote in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that the work was most likely a copy of an original by a Caravaggio-influence artist.
It was L’Osservatore itself that set the art world aflutter last week with a front-page article headlined “A New Caravaggio,” detailing the artistry behind the “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence,” which had been discovered in the sacristy of a Jesuit church in Rome.
The author of the article, art historian Lydia Salviucci Insolera, had made clear that she was not making any conclusions about the authenticity of the work and that more diagnostic tests were required.
Iraqi Militants Stealing Blood for the Injured
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and YASMINE MOUSA
Published: July 26, 2010
MOSUL, Iraq – Members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have been holding up blood banks and hospitals at gunpoint, stealing blood for their wounded fighters rather than risk having them arrested at medical facilities, according to Iraqi doctors, employees at health centers and the Sunni insurgents themselves.
Iraqi health officials say the raids have been occurring for some time in provinces with large Sunni Arab populations and appear to signal an insurgency desperate to safeguard its core group of fighters.
Wikileaks Afghanistan: Iran accused of supporting Taliban attacks
Iran is waging a secret campaign to arm, train and fund the Taliban-led insurgency against Nato forces in Afghanistan, according to American military reports.
By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor
Published: 8:30AM BST 27 Jul 2010
A series of military intelligence logs, mainly from 2005 and 2006, report that Tehran offered insurgency commanders financial bounties for each soldier killed in Afghanistan. Iranian intelligence officials are also accused of supplying cash and vehicles for car bombs.
The claims are based on reports from local Afghan intelligence agents and highlight the background to American claims that Iran is waging a covert proxy war against Nato forces in Afghanistan.
Khmer Rouge torture chief: chameleon or contrite Christian?
Khmer Rouge torture chief ‘Duch’ converted to Christianity after overseeing the torture and deaths in Cambodia of some 17,000 people in the late 1970s. His pastor now suspects it was a ploy to gain leniency in court.
By Jared Ferrie, Correspondent / July 26, 2010
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Math wiz, high school teacher, communist ideologue, born-again Christian, aid worker, contrite confessor, and mass murderer.
These were some of the roles played over the past three decades by Kaing Guek Eav, better known by his revolutionary name, “Duch.”
Now an international war crimes tribunal has given the former Khmer Rouge prison chief a new title: war criminal.
A United Nations-backed tribunal today found Duch (pronounced Doik) guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as head of Cambodia’s S-21 prison camp in Phnom Penh, where some 17,000 people were tortured and executed.
Pakistani students prefer guns to books
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
ISLAMABAD – Several hundred students in the southern port city of Karachi have left the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), Pakistan’s largest student union, to join al-Qaeda training camps in the North Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, Asia Times Online has learned.
The IJT is an offshoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the country’s premier Islamic party.
“This is true. They now have their own camp in North Waziristan and it is purely the work of the late Dr Arshad Waheed that such a huge number of people are joining here,” Usman Punjabi, a militant leader, told Asia Times Online on the telephone.
African Union pledges to reinforce its Somalia force
African Union leaders at a summit in Uganda have agreed to reinforce the AU peacekeeping force in Somalia to counter al-Shabab militants.
The BBC 27 July 2010
They approved a request to send 2,000 more troops to the Somali capital Mogadishu, officials said.
Rules of engagement will be changed to allow the troops to fire first if they are facing imminent attack.
Earlier, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had said the fight against al-Shabab must be stepped up.
Dozens of people were killed two weeks ago in two bomb attacks in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, which al-Shabab said it carried out.
His call for a military offensive to defeat al-Shabab was not taken up by the African Union leaders. However, the force will now be able to carry out pre-emptive attacks against the hard-line Islamist insurgents.
Egypt police on trial for brutality
TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010
Two Egyptian police officers have gone on trial over the death of a 28-year-old man in custody in the coastal city of Alexandria.
The officers are accused of harshly treating, beating and torturing Khaled Mohammed Said, after he was allegedly unlawfully arrested.
They are not, however, charged with causing his death.
The case has sparked widespread public protests in the country, where security forces have enjoyed broad powers and acted with impunity under Hosni Mubarak, the president.
Mexico City’s rainy torment
During the infamous rainy season, the capital is hit nearly every afternoon with tormentas, storms with heavy rains and lashing winds. The only sure thing is that the sunshine is done for the day.
Los Angeles Times
July 27, 2010
Reporting from Mexico City –
They’re calling for rain today, but that’s no surprise. Predicting rain on a summer day in Mexico City is like forecasting death in an old-folks home. It’s bound to happen.
From springtime to autumn, it rains a lot here. Let me be clear: a lot.
The Mexico City government issues the same monotonous forecast each day: 80% or higher chance of rain. The only suspense is whether it will come with lightning or hail.
It’s the same almost every afternoon – you could set a clock, if the power hasn’t been knocked out. People schedule outdoor parties early, knowing that by late afternoon, the storm clouds will prevail. During the sodden last week, the rains haven’t even waited past noon.