Hurricane Katrina after five years: a symbolic funeral but anger lives on
Ceremony was supposed to give victims closure, but that is difficult for many who fled and can’t afford to rebuild or return
Chris McGreal in New Orleans
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 29 August 2010 23.00 BST
The coffin lay open. The mourners approached one by one.
Some spat their contempt and turned away swiftly. Others reached inside the grand, silver casket and kept a hand there for a moment as if trying to purge the years of terrible memories and suffering. Each left a handwritten note.
“Since this is a church, I’m going to be nice,” said one. “You made me lose my home. You may have taken away my life as I know it but you’ll never take away my spirit.”
Another said: “Thank God you are gone but unfortunately you will never be forgotten.”
Environmental groups face their future in climate-change debate
By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 29, 2010; 9:10 PM
On Thursday, some of the country’s most respected environmental groups – in the midst of their biggest political fight in two decades – sent a group of activists to Milwaukee with a message.
They put on what they called a “CarnivOil” – a fake carnival with a stilt-wearing barker, free “tar balls” (chocolate doughnuts), and a suit-wearing “oil executive” punching somebody dressed like a crab. It was supposed to be satire, but there was a bitter message underneath: When we fight the oil and gas industry, they win.
Small businesses win bigger share of federal contracts
The U.S. government paid small firms $96.8 billion to do a wide variety of jobs last year, up from $93.2 billion in 2008 but still short of its goal.
By Sharon Bernstein, Los Angeles Times
August 30, 2010
Small businesses won contracts worth more money from the federal government in 2009 than the year before, increasing their share of a key source of income.
The U.S. government paid small businesses $96.8 billion last year to do a wide variety of jobs including defense work, scientific research, technological support and even janitorial services, up from $93.2 billion in 2008.
Many migrant workers in UK are modern-day slaves, say investigators
Channel 4’s Dispatches says thousands of workers endure sexual, physical and psychological abuse from employers
The Guardian, Monday 30 August 2010
Thousands of foreign domestic workers are living as slaves in Britain, being abused sexually, physically and psychologically by employers, according to an investigation to be screened tonight.
More than 15,000 migrant workers come to Britain every year to earn money to send back to their families. But according to a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation, many endure conditions that campaigners say amount to modern-day slavery.
Kalayaan, a charity based in west London that helps and advises migrant domestic workers, registers around 350 new workers each year.
The workers united: The strike that shook the Kremlin
Thirty years ago, a trade union forced the Communist Party into a retreat that marked the beginning of the end of Soviet Europe. Solidarity’s legacy – for Poland and beyond – mustn’t be forgotten, writes Neal Ascherson
Monday, 30 August 2010
Thirty years ago, ordinary people challenged an armed dictatorship, and won.
On 31 August 1980, the strikers in the Lenin Shipyard at Gdansk forced the Communist authorities in Poland to sign an agreement. It promised them – among many other lesser things – a free and independent trade union, the liberation of political prisoners, plural and uncensored media and the right to strike.
Within days, other strike committees all over Poland were winning the same sort of terms from their Party bosses.
Israeli actors refuse to take the stage in settlement theatre
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem Monday, 30 August 2010
Five leading Israeli theatres were facing a mounting political row yesterday after a pledge by 60 of the country’s most prominent actors, writers and directors to boycott the companies’ planned performances in a Jewish West Bank settlement.
The companies triggered the protest by planning a programme of performances to mark the opening of a new £6.4m cultural centre in the West Bank settlement of Ariel later this year.
Abbas puts onus for talks on Israel
Palestinian president says peace talks are doomed if settlement building continues.
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2010
The Palestinian president has warned that Israel would be to blame if resumed direct talks with Israel failed over the Jewish settlements issue.
Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised speech on Sunday that “the Israeli government alone will bear the responsibility of threatening these negotiations with collapse and failure if it continues settlement expansion in all its forms in all the Palestinian lands it has occupied since 1967”.
“We support the need of Israel and our people for security, but this cannot be a pretext to justify settlement activities and taking away other people’s land and rights.”
The Palestinians have earlier threatened to pull out of the direct talks due to begin on September 2 in Washington, unless Israel extends the self-imposed freeze on West Bank settlement building, which expires on 26 September.
Muslim states vow $1bn Pakistan aid
OIC pledge comes as rising waters threaten densely populated areas in Sindh province.
Last Modified: 30 Aug
Muslim countries and organisations have pledged nearly $1bn in cash and supplies to relief efforts for flood victims in Pakistan, the head of a group of Islamic states has said.
The announcement came as rising waters inundated the city of Thatta in the southern Sindh province and threatened the nearby town of Sujawal, home to 250,000 people.
“They [Muslim countries and organisations] have shown that they are one of the largest contributors of assistance both in kind and cash,” Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, head of the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said in Islamabad on Sunday.
The aid pledges come from OIC institutions and telethons held in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, he said.
Ihsanoglu did not provide a breakdown of the pledges or say how much of the money would go to the Pakistani government versus non-governmental organisations.
Bank of Japan takes stimulus steps
By Michiyo Nakamoto, FT.com
August 30, 2010
The Bank of Japan moved to halt the rise of the yen and support the country’s faltering economy by expanding a special bank lending programme by half to Y30,000bn.
The central bank’s decision on Monday, a day before Naoto Kan, prime minister, is scheduled to unveil economic stimulus measures, highlights the growing sense of concern about the weakness of the Japanese economy and the negative impact of the yen’s sharp appreciation against the dollar.
How moderate Muslims in Africa view NYC mosque debate
Senegal is a critical junction for US dialogue with the Muslim world. Reaction there to the NYC mosque debate has potentially far-reaching implications for the battle against Al Qaeda.
By Drew Hinshaw, Correspondent / August 29, 2010
Suburban Point E, on whose cobblestone backstreets Senegalese-American R&B roué Akon passed his boyhood years, already has a mosque. Several, actually, each megaphoning prayer songs across balmy Ramadan soirées. So, locals wonder, why shouldn’t downtown New York City get another mosque, too?
The question may seem trivial, coming from one of Africa’s smaller nations, but America’s controversy over the interfaith community center proposed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has implications for the United States’ ability to thwart terrorism and defeat Al Qaeda. And Senegal, with a 95 percent Muslim population, represents a pivotal buttress in that campaign, say US military operatives.
In Egypt, more people call for civil instead of religious marriage
Controversial cases in Egypt have spotlighted a legal system that leaves regulation of marriage and divorce to religious institutions, limiting individuals’ freedom to make personal decisions.
By Kristen Chick, / Correspondent / August 29, 2010
Iriny has wanted out of her marriage for a decade. A member of Egypt’s ancient Coptic Orthodox church, she was pushed into marrying a virtual stranger by her family 12 years ago.
Problems quickly developed, and her husband began to beat her, explains Iriny. When they had a son, Iriny’s husband beat him, too. This is where her voice cracks.
Fearing for her son, she took him and left her husband to live with her parents.
But Iriny, a woman of modest means from a traditional family, cannot make a new life for herself because she is still married. In Egypt, the state leaves matters of marriage and divorce to the religious establishment, and the strict, patriarchal Coptic church will not grant her a divorce. “I want to continue my life,” says Iriny, who did not want her real name to be used. “I want my own home, to live on my own with my son. My life is all lost.”
Chile miners speak to loved ones for first time
Miners who have been trapped underground in Chile for more than three weeks have had their first telephone contact with loved ones.
The BBC 30 August 2010
Families queued to use a special telephone cabin and were given one minute each to talk to the trapped men.
The breakthrough came as Chile’s mining minister insisted that the rescue shaft drilling – due to begin on Monday – was likely to take three to four months.
On Sunday reports from engineers working on a “plan B” option has suggested this could be cut by as much as half if an existing route down was adapted.