Carter gains release of U.S. activist imprisoned by North Korea
By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, August 27, 2010; 2:46 AM
TOKYO — An American activist imprisoned since January in North Korea was released early Friday and permitted to return to the United States, following a rescue mission by former president Jimmy Carter.
Aijalon Mahli Gomes departed Pyongyang with Carter; they are expected to land in Boston on Friday afternoon.
North Korea’s state-run news agency described the pardon as “a manifestation of [North Korea’s] humanitarianism and peace-loving policy.”
Parade of Super Cars Inspires Mixed Feelings
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: August 26, 201
LONDON – With his canary yellow Ferrari at rest in the forecourt of one of the most expensive hotels in London’s upscale West End, its eight-cylinder, race-bred engine burbling, a young Arab man who gave his name as Khalefa spoke with whimsical regret about the array of even faster, more expensive super cars parked nearby that belonged to other young men like himself from the Persian Gulf oil states.
“Me, I only have the Ferrari,” he said. “I am a poor man.”
With Britain still struggling to climb out of recession, and the new governing coalition embarked on a historic campaign of budget austerity, wealthy young men like Khalefa – who declined to give his full name, or his nationality – encounter a conflicted reception when they flee the conservative social mores and the 130-degree heat of the Middle East in high summer to enjoy the cool breezes of millionaires’ row districts of London like Belgravia, Mayfair and Knightsbridge.
Behind Scenes of Gulf Oil Spill, Acrimony and Stress
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS, HENRY FOUNTAIN and JOHN M. BRODER
HOUSTON – Richard Lynch was walking down the hall in BP’s crisis command center in early May when some engineers rushed up, bearing bad news.
“We’ve lost the cofferdam,” they said.
In fact the cofferdam, a 100-ton, four-story-high steel dome that the company had lowered to try to contain the flow of oil from its out-of-control well, had become clogged with icelike crystals and was rising in the water, full of flammable gas and oil.
Uneven Katrina recovery efforts often offered the most help to the most affluent
By Michael A. Fletcher
Friday, August 27, 2010; 12:12 AM
IN NEW ORLEANS The massive government effort to repair the damage from Hurricane Katrina is fostering a stark divide as the state governments in Louisiana and Mississippi structured the rebuilding programs in ways that often offered the most help to the most affluent residents.
The result, advocates say, has been an uneven recovery, with whites and middle-class people more likely than blacks and low-income people to have rebuilt their lives in the five years since the horrific storm.
U2 deliver subtle dig to Medvedev in Moscow
By Shaun Walker in Moscow Friday, 27 August 2010
When a huge rock band with strong political interests played in Russia for the first time, the results were never likely to be sedate.
But as it turned out, the most dramatic moments at U2’s debut show in Moscow were not on stage but off it. Although Bono, who has also visited President Dmitry Medvedev this week, did invite a prominent Kremlin critic onstage, the results were strictly musical, with no mention of Russian human rights abuses. Meanwhile, activists complained of police harassment outside the stadium, and five volunteers from Amnesty International were arrested for distributing leaflets.
France deports more Roma in defiance of international criticism
France deported hundreds more Roma on Thursday in defiance of growing international unease about its crackdown on traveling minorities. Amnesty International said it was alarmed about the stigmatization of the Roma.
IMMIGRATION | 27.08.2010
Around 300 Roma departed from airports in Paris and Lyon on Thursday in the latest wave of what the French government calls a voluntary repatriation scheme. The flights bring the total number of Roma expelled from France this year to more than 8,000.
French police also dismantled a campsite in Lille as part of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s major crackdown on crime that began earlier this month. Police have targeted the Roma community, along with other itinerant groups.
Chilcot inquiry accused of fixating on west and ignoring real victims
Iraq Body Count group claims attention paid to Iraqi casualties has been derisory
The Guardian, Friday 27 August 2010
The Chilcot inquiry has “fixated” on decision-making in Whitehall and Washington, obsessed over the ”war at home” and given “derisory” attention to the plight of the main victims, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) claims today.
Releasing correspondence with Sir John Chilcot, the IBC, which is widely considered as the most reliable database of Iraqi civilian deaths, says a proper “Iraq War Inquest” may be the only way to fill the gap his inquiry has left.
The inquiry closed its public hearings last month after seeing 140 witnesses but none dealt specifically with civilian casualties, which the IBC calculates as between 97,000 and 106,000.
Iraq combat phase ends, but U.S. might stay past 2011
By Warren P. Strobel and Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially comes to an end Tuesday, 2,722 days after American-led troops stormed across the border from Kuwait. The remaining 49,000 U.S. troops are supposed to depart by the end of next year.
The American mission is far from over, however, and it may have to be extended, according to former senior U.S. officials, foreign diplomats and private analysts.
Pakistan floods prompt mass evacuations in south
Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis have been ordered to evacuate their homes as flood waters threaten several cities in the south of the country.
The BBC 27 August 2010
The flood surge, after weeks of monsoon rains, has breached embankments on the Indus River, inundating villages and swamping vast areas of farmland.
Continue reading the main story
Pakistan’s Monsoon Floods
Floods ‘consuming’ southern villages
Damage and challenges
Army boosted by aid effort
Your pictures: Shangla
Parts of Pakistan have been described as resembling an inland sea.
After threats from Pakistan’s Taliban, the UN is reviewing security for its aid workers helping flood victims.
A US official said militants planned to attack foreigners delivering aid to the millions of people affected by the devastating floods.
Afghan leader criticises US pullout
FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 2010
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has strongly criticised the US planned troop pullout starting next July, saying the announcement has given “the enemy a morale boost”.
Karzai said the war on terror cannot be won as long as insurgents’ sanctuaries exist, citing the situation in neighbouring Pakistan.
He also criticised the death of civilians during military operations, saying the US announcement of a drawdown date has given courage to his country’s enemies, referring to the Taliban and its allies.
How did rebels rape 200 women just miles from UN base in Congo?
Agency condemns attack but struggles to justify costly mission in North Kivu that was powerless to stop wave of sexual violence
By David Usborne in New York Friday, 27 August 2010
The UN Security Council yesterday condemned the mass rape of almost 200 women by rebels in eastern Congo as the organisation’s top officials struggled to account for the failure of peacekeepers to prevent the attacks.
The UN has a large and costly peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which appeared powerless to prevent the rebel rampage through a string of rural villages.
UN officials in Congo said they only learned of the rape from an international medical charity 10 days after they occurred.
Kenya to adopt new constitution
Kenya is set to adopt a new constitution on Friday, more than three weeks after it was overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum.
The BBC 27 August 2010
President Mwai Kibaki will sign the document into law at a large ceremony in the capital, Nairobi.
The constitution is expected to bring significant changes, with political supporters hailing it as the birth of the second republic.
Continue reading the main story
Kenya’s new constitution sparks hopes of rebirth
Key reforms put to vote in Kenya
In pictures: Kenyan views on constitution referendum
The debate over a new constitution has lasted 20 years.
The new constitution will bring a more decentralised political system which will limit the president’s powers and replace corrupt provincial governments with local counties.
Brazil government gives go-ahead for huge Amazon dam
Brazil’s government has given the formal go-ahead for the building on a tributary of the Amazon of the world’s third biggest hydroelectric dam.
The BBC 26 August 2010
After several failed legal challenges, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed the contract for the Belo Monte dam with the Norte Energia consortium.
Critics say the project will damage the local ecosystem and make homeless 50,000 mainly indigenous people.
But the government says it is crucial for development and will create jobs.
Bidding for the project had to be halted three times before a final court appeal by the government allowed Norte Energia, led by the state-owned Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco, to be awarded the contract.