Gulf oil spill: White House accused of spinning report
Scientists say it is ‘just not true’ that the vast majority of oil from the BP spill has gone
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 August 2010 23.17 BST
The White House was accused today of spinning a government scientific report into the amount of oil left in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP spill which had officials declaring that the vast majority of the oil had been removed.
As BP workers finished pouring cement into the well as a first step to permanently sealing it today, environmental groups and scientists – including those working with government agencies to calculate the scale and effects of the spill – said White House officials had painted far too optimistic a picture of a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (Noaa) into the fate of the oil.
How CNN went from breaking records to yesterday’s news
Twenty years ago, a billion people watched the channel’s coverage of the first Gulf war. Now it’s a different story
By Guy Adams Friday, 6 August 2010
The place was the Al-Rashid hotel in downtown Baghdad. The year was 1991. As allied forces pounded Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on the opening night of the first Gulf War, a worldwide audience of more than a billion people watched as two dashing American reporters, Peter Arnett and Bernard Shaw, rushed to and from the roof of the building with live updates from the heat of the battle.
Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, exactly 20 years ago this week, didn’t just set in train the events which led to Operation Desert Storm. It also kick-started the first war of the rolling news era. Arnett and Shaw’s broadcast, for an Atlanta-based organisation called Cable News Network, or CNN for short, was the most watched live event, outside the sporting arena, in the history of mankind.
Corporate Money Aids Centers Linked to Lawmakers
By ERIC LIPTON
Published: August 5, 2010
WASHINGTON – Nearly a dozen current or former lawmakers have been honored by university endowments financed in part by corporations with business before Congress, posing some potential conflicts like that attributed to Representative Charles B. Rangel in an House ethics complaint.The donations from businesses to the endowments ranged from modest amounts to millions of dollars, federal records show. And the lawmakers, who include powerful committee chairmen or party leaders, often pushed legislation or special appropriations sought by the corporations.
Alarms sound over trash fires in war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq
By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 6, 2010
Hundreds of military service members and contractor employees have fallen ill with cancer or severe breathing problems after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they say they were poisoned by thick, black smoke produced by the burning of tons of trash generated on U.S. bases.
In a lawsuit in federal court in Maryland, 241 people from 42 states are suing Houston-based contractor Kellogg Brown & Root, which has operated more than two dozen so-called burn pits in the two countries.
Russian wheat export ban threatens higher inflation and food riots
By Sean O’Grady, Economics Editor Friday, 6 August 2010
The world faces an inflationary time bomb as shortages of food threaten to push prices to fresh all-time highs.
A variety of freakish weather conditions across the world has sent the price of staples including wheat, pork, rice, orange juice, coffee, cocoa and tea to fresh highs in recent weeks. Yesterday’s decision by the Russian government to ban the export of wheat to protect home consumers saw grain prices jump 8 per cent on the day, on what was already a two-year high. Meanwhile, the burgeoning demand for foodstuffs and raw material growth in the resurgent economies of China and India has also driven oil, copper and other industrial commodities higher.
International team gives Greece thumbs up over austerity reforms
International inspectors say Greece has made a strong start in implementing austerity measures to curb its debt crisis. One official said he was confident Athens would now receive the next instalment of a rescue package.
FINANCE | 05.08.2010
A team of international inspectors has given Greece the thumbs up over its government’s efforts to counteract the country’s debt crisis. The assessors also said, however, that important reforms still needed to be enacted.
The mostly positive assessment was made by officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission who had been in Greece for two weeks.
The financial fact-finding mission reported that Greece would likely meet this year’s deficit-cutting target.
“This was a very ambitious program with a lot of front-loading, and the good news is that it is being implemented as agreed,” the IMF’s mission chief, Poul Thomsen, told news agency Reuters.
Tariq Aziz calls on US troops to stay in Iraq
Tariq Aziz, who was for years the public face of Saddam Hussein’s regime, has called on US troops to stay in Iraq and not leave the country “to its death”
By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 7:00AM BST 06 Aug 2010
The late dictator’s foreign minister and spokesman said President Barack Obama’s decision to continue with the withdrawal of combat troops despite worsening violence would endanger Iraq’s future.
“We are all victims of America and Britain,” he said, referring to the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam. “They killed our country in many ways. When you make a mistake you need to correct a mistake, not leave Iraq to its death.”
He added that he had hoped Mr Obama would “correct some of the mistakes of [George W] Bush”, but now viewed the new president as a “hypocrite”.
“He is leaving Iraq to the wolves,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.
Saudi Arabia Blackberry ban to take effect
A ban on the use of Blackberry phones to send and receive messages is due to come into effect in Saudi Arabia.
The BBC 6 August 2010
The country is one of a number concerned that such communications are encrypted and can not be monitored.
The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, India and Algeria have all announced or are contemplating bans on the popular Canadian-made handsets.
Untangling the BlackBerry ban
Blackberry ban in the Gulf states: Your views
Canadian officials are in talks with the Saudi government to help the makers of Blackberry avoid the ban.
Blackberry handsets, made by Research in Motion (RIM), automatically encrypt messages and send them to computer servers in Canada.
US ambassador attends 65th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing
The Japanese city of Hiroshima has marked 65 years since the world’s worst atomic bomb attack, with a ceremony attended for the first time by the US and other major nuclear powers.
Published: 7:00AM BST 06 Aug 2010
Washington’s decision to send ambassador John Roos to the 65th anniversary of the bombing was seen by many as potentially paving the way for President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima – which would be unprecedented for a sitting US leader.
Along with the US, Britain and France also made their first official appearance at the memorial, as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Altogether, 74 nations were represented.
China, which sent a low-ranking official in 2008, was not participating. Officials said it did not give a reason.
Pakistani exodus as floods spread
FRIDAY, AUGUST 06, 2010
Authorities in Pakistan have evacuated at least 500,000 people from at-risk areas in the south as the worst floods in living memory threatened the country’s farming heartland.
The number of people affected across the country has risen to more than four million after rivers swept through villages, washed away roads and destroyed crops.
With the death toll already numbering at least 1,500 people, authorities in the densely populated southern province of Sindh warned that major floods were expected this weekend in fertile agricultural areas along the swollen Indus river.
“We are seeing a number of preparations being made across Sindh province,” Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reported from the southern coastal city Karachi.
Does Kenya’s ‘yes’ to new constitution signal new era?
Kenyans gave a firm ‘yes’ to a new constitution today. The rewards could be great – but the journey toward the dividends many Kenyans now expect may be rocky.
By Mike Pflanz, Correspondent / August 5, 2010
It’s official: Kenya has a new constitution. US President Obama immediately praised the country for its “significant step forward” after a “peaceful, transparent” nationwide referendum.
The final tally, released Thursday evening just over 24 hours after polls closed, was no great surprise. A little more than 67 percent voted in favor of the proposed draft, fairly close to the figure opinion polls had predicted throughout the months of campaigning.
Outside a central Nairobi conference hall Thursday afternoon, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga – bitter rivals in the 2007 general elections – stood shoulder to shoulder and addressed a crowd of hundreds.
Wyclef Jean confirms he will run for Haiti president
• Haitian-born star’s announcement ends weeks of speculation
• Electoral campaign to be formally launched next Thursday
Ed Pilkington in Bloomfield, New Jersey
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 August 2010 23.03 BST
Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born rap star who became one of the world’s most popular hip-hop artists, has told the Guardian that he will run for president of Haiti in the country’s November elections.
The singer-songwriter’s declaration ends weeks of speculation after Jean began exploring the possibility of standing. For the past five years he has been steadily increasing his engagement with Haiti through his charity, Yéle Haiti, having left the country to come to the US when he was nine years old.