Obama, Wen huddle in a side meeting at U.N.
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 24, 2010
President Barack Obama urged Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to speed up the revaluation of his nation’s currency, telling him in a two-hour meeting Thursday that the slow pace of reforms was affecting both the global and U.S. economies, a top U.S. aide said.
The talks on the sidelines of this week’s U.N. General Assembly opening also covered security issues including Iran, Sudan and the dispute between China and Japan — a major U.S. ally — regarding the South China Seas, said Jeff Bader, Obama’s special assistant and senior director for Asian affairs.
America’s best fall color drives
Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway or get close to color at Shenandoah National Park
By Margie Goldsmith
Crisp air, panoramic views, brilliantly colored ash and poplar trees: the exhilarating route to North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell State Park – the highest peak in the Eastern United States – is a destination in itself. The scenic 75-year-old Blue Ridge Parkway is just one of the country’s great autumn drives.
The fall foliage season, when the changing palette of deciduous trees is in blazing bloom, is now starting. And the way to maximize your intake of color is to map out a driving route. In September, October, and – in some spots – even November, color seekers can visit 31 states and drive more than 3,000 miles of national scenic byways, plus thousands of other scenic roads.
Hidden Under Tax-Exempt Cloak, Political Dollars Flow
By MIKE McINTIRE
Published: September 23, 2010
Alaskans grew suspicious two years ago when a national organization called Americans for Job Security showed up and spent $1.6 million pushing a referendum to restrict development of a gold and copper mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
It seemed an oddly parochial fight for a pro-business group based in the Washington suburbs that had spent tens of millions of dollars since the late 1990s roughing up Democrats with negative advertisements around election time.
5 years after Rita hit, some left out of recovery
CAMERON, Louisiana (AP)
First Baptist Church in this southwestern Louisiana town is finally celebrating its reopening, five years after the community was nearly obliterated by one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history: Hurricane Rita.
It took that long for the church’s members to raise money to repair the double dose of damage from Rita and then from Hurricane Ike in 2008. On Saturday, they will sing a theme song they adopted in Rita’s aftermath, “Standing on the Promises.”
Church treasurer Cyndi Sellers had noticed a hymn book opened to the old Baptist standard in the church’s muddy wreckage.
French trains grind to a halt as millions join pension strike
By John Lichfield in Paris Friday, 24 September 2010
Strikes crippled French transport and public services yesterday as around two million people took to the streets in the second mass protest this month against pension reform.
Despite the threat of more strikes next month, President Nicolas Sarkozy is convinced that mainstream French unions do not have the stomach for the kind of rolling protests that forced previous governments to scrap social reforms in 1995 and 2006.
Flemish leader riles French speakers with accusation of Nazi collaboration
ARTHUR BEESLEY, European Correspondent
BELGIUM’S POLITICAL crisis intensified after the hardline Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever riled the country’s French speakers by accusing them of blotting out collaboration with the Nazis in the second World War.
More than 100 days after the general election in which he took the spoils, De Wever’s démarche raised further questions over the prospects of a coalition deal between his New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party and French-speaking Socialists.
“When you’re courting a political partner, you don’t start by saying they stink,” said Richard Miller, an MP with the French-speaking Liberal party.
Centrality of Middle East talks most striking aspect of speech
The resumption of the talks is one of the few foreign policy successes Obama can point to
THE MOST noteworthy thing about Barack Obama’s address to the UN general assembly yesterday was the centrality of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The White House showed the importance it attaches to the talks by releasing only excerpts pertaining to them in advance of the speech. The resumption of the talks less than a month ago is one of the few foreign policy successes Obama can point to. As he stressed himself, success is far from assured. But he has demonstrated that contrary to the Bush administration’s feeble and tardy attempt at Annapolis, he is serious about brokering peace.
How SA company oiled Iran’s war machine
A company co-owned by a close aide to former apartheid president PW Botha helped Iran evade American sanctions by sneaking a James Bond-style speedboat through South Africa last year.
GCINA NTSALUBA & STEFAANS BRüMMER | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Sep 24 2010
Willem “Ters” Ehlers, a former navy officer and Botha’s private secretary, is no stranger to apartheid-era embargo-busting. Now his company has shipped the speedboat to Iran, where the elite Revolutionary Guard is mass-producing it as an attack craft armed with torpedoes and missiles.
The use of South Africa as an entrepôt, sidestepping American and British blocking attempts, puts the country in a conflicted diplomatic position. Although Iran may consider its tentative relationship with South Africa reaffirmed, Western states may believe that South Africa’s image as a responsible international citizen has been dented.
People of Rajanpur have nothing to drink but filthy water
In the worst hit Pakistani district, Patrick Cockburn finds flood survivors facing an even worse threat
Friday, 24 September 2010
Ali Sher Khan stands precariously on a piece of broken road that once led to the land where he lived before it was torn apart by the flood. The road has been replaced by a deep lake. Mr Khan, a clan leader in Rajanpur District in south Punjab, points grimly to the other side of the water where we can just see ruins of 200 houses where he and other members of his clan used to live.
A few people are trying to return to their house by driving a motor scooter, piled high with clothes, along a narrow path which skirts the newly formed lake. Mr Khan said that he and his neighbours lost their livestock and their possessions when water 15ft high surged through their settlement of scattered houses.
Four Japanese citizens detained in China as dispute escalates
China is investigating four Japanese citizens over claims that they “illegally” filmed sensitive military installations while on a business trip, in an apparent escalation of the growing two-week diplomatic row between Asia’s two largest economies.
By Peter Foster in Beijing
Published: 4:25AM BST 24 Sep 2010
The move comes after weeks of growing tension between China and Japan over the arrest of a Chinese trawler captain by the Japanese coastguard during a confrontation in disputed waters of the East China Sea.
In a short report, Xinhua, the state-run news agency said: “Four Japanese are being investigated for having entered a military zone without authorisation and illegally videotaped military targets in northern Heibei province.”
The investigation is likely to be seen as a tit-for-tat response by China to Japan’s arrest of its trawler captain who remains detained despite calls from China’s premier Wen Jiabao to “unconditionally” release him.
Ivory Coast starts paying former rebels for peace
Ivory Coast began paying former rebel soldiers on Wednesday who disarmed ahead of elections set for next month, bringing the West African nation a step closer to ending years of crisis.
The New Forces rebels had long feared the government would renege on their promises to hand thousands of former rebel fighters payouts meant to help them adjust to civilian life, as agreed under a 2007 peace accord.
Karna Soro, head of the New Forces demobilisation programme, told Reuters 400 rebels had received payments on Wednesday of $100,00 CFA francs ($200) each in Korogho town.
“There is a real feeling of joy for us,” Soro said. “As soon as they are demobilised and they received their money, allwill be calm.
Top Farc rebel leader Mono Jojoy killed by Colombian army
The No 2 leader and top military strategist of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) has been killed by the Colombian army, officials said on Thursday.
Published: 12:35AM BST 24 Sep 2010
The death of Jorge Briceno is a huge setback for Farc, which has been reeling from a decade of pressure by the US-backed military.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said the attack is “the most crushing blow against the Farc in its entire history” – more important than the March 2008 bombing raid across the border with Ecuador that killed Farc foreign minister Raul Reyes or the bloodless rescue that July that freed former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three US contractors and 11 other hostages without firing a shot.