Hurricane Earl, downgraded to Category 2, begins hitting Outer Banks
By Rob Stein and Michael W. Savage
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 2, 2010; 11:58 PM
NAGS HEAD, N.C. – Hurricane Earl’s powerful winds and lashing rains began hitting the fragile Outer Banks late Thursday, and people all along the Eastern Seaboard braced for major disruptions and significant damage as the massive storm swept up the coastline.
Earl’s winds had weakened from 140 to 105 mph by 11 p.m. Thursday, downgrading it to a Category 2 hurricane, and could ease further as the storm crossed cooler water in approaching the North Carolina coast.
Malaysia tackles national woes with ad campaign
The 1Malaysia campaign, promoting unity and national pride, comes as ethnic tensions have increased and the ruling party has seen its support decline. Many dismiss the effort as style over substance.
By Ivy Sam and Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
September 2, 2010|3:23 p.m.
Reporting from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and New – Malaysia’s reputation as a moderate, progressive Muslim nation has been sullied by a string of embarrassing news stories involving church burnings, pig heads dumped in mosques, Muslim girls caned for premarital sex and an interminable sodomy trial of a senior political figure.
The government’s response? “Rebrand” Malaysia.
Hoping to unite the nation of 27 million people and promote its attractions abroad (and maybe make the negative coverage go away), government officials have hired a high-powered American public relations firm.
BP Says Limits on Drilling Imperil Oil Spill Payouts
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS and JOHN M. BRODER
Published: September 2, 2010
BP is warning Congress that if lawmakers pass legislation that bars the company from getting new offshore drilling permits, it may not have the money to pay for all the damages caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The company says a ban would also imperil the ambitious Gulf Coast restoration efforts that officials want the company to voluntarily support.
BP executives insist that they have not backed away from their commitment to the White House to set aside $20 billion in an escrow fund over the next four years to pay damage claims and government penalties stemming from the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The explosion killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the gulf.
Survey: Employers still shifting insurance costs to workers
By Tony Pugh | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – An annual survey released Thursday finds that workers are paying, on average, about $482 more for job-based family health insurance this year as companies force employees to shoulder more of the burden of health care costs.
The premium hike, up 14 percent from last year, means that workers are paying nearly all of a $495 increase in the average cost of family coverage this year.
Bundesbank sacks ‘racist’ board member
By Tony Paterson in Berlin Friday, 3 September 2010
Germany’s central bank agreed to dismiss a controversial board member yesterday amid a growing public outcry over his vitriolic criticism of Muslims and Jews in a new bestselling book that has been widely condemned as racist.
The Bundesbank’s board said it had reached a unanimous decision to fire Social Democrat Thilo Sarrazin, 65, a former Berlin city government finance minister. Under German law, the step must be approved by the country’s federal president, Christian Wulff.
ECB to create ‘super regulators’ for banks
The European Union last night took its first major step towards the creation of three super regulators that could eventually take direct responsibility for the oversight of individual member states’ financial systems.
By Harry Wilson
Published: 6:28AM BST 03 Sep 2010
In what constitutes a complete overhaul of European financial regulation, politicians agreed to the creation of new regulators to oversee the region’s banks, insurers, pensions funds and broader financial markets.
The three European Supervision Authorities (ESA) will sit above individual national regulators and will in time gain sweeping powers that will allow them to intervene in the running of national financial institutions and markets.
Netanayahu and Abbas agree to biweekly Israeli-Palestinian meetings
Israeli and Palestinian leaders have opened direct peace negotiations in Washington to the praise of numerous international leaders. Still, finding a solution to their decades-long conflict is an uphill battle.
The first direct peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in 20 months opened on Thursday with both sides aiming to reach a lasting peaceful solution within a year.
Representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are to meet every two weeks, with the next meeting to take place Sept. 14-15 in Egypt.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly agreed that the first step would be to create a “framework agreement” that would establish the fundamental compromises necessary for the realization of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Gaza militants vow new Israel attacks after peace talks
Militants in Gaza have vowed to step up attacks against Israel, following the first direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders since 2008.
The BBC 3 September 2010
A Hamas spokesman said that 13 groups had joined forces to launch “more effective attacks”.
In Israel, right-wing activists also condemned the talks in Washington.
The US Middle East envoy earlier said the talks, between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, had been “constructive”.
The talks at the US state department – the first such negotiations in 20 months – had been initiated by US President Barack Obama, who gave both sides a one-year deadline to reach a solution.
The Israeli and Palestinian delegations agreed to meet again in the Middle East in two weeks.
Pakistan’s rich ‘diverted floods to save their land’
By Omar Waraich in Islamabad Friday, 3 September 2010
A senior Pakistan diplomat has accused “powerful” figures of diverting floodwaters into unprotected areas to save their own land.
Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s representative to the UN, has called for an inquiry into a “handful” of cases where influential people took “advantage of these floods and saved themselves” in a disaster that has left more than 1,600 people dead.
Taiwan in a rice wine stew
By Jens Kastner
TAIPEI – Taiwan found recently that World Trade Organization (WTO) membership can be a pain in the proverbial when it announced a drastic tax cut on locally brewed rice wine.
Taipei’s intention to halve the bottle price of home-produced rice wine did not go down well with the United States and the European Union (EU), the biggest exporters of alcoholic beverages to the Taiwanese market. Both Washington and Brussels allege that after the tax cut the local liquor will become an unfair competitor to imported whisky, cognac and brandy.
UN ‘ignored Congo rape warnings’
Assistant secretary general to investigate after community leaders say they begged for help before villagers were raped
David Smith and agencies
The Guardian, Friday 3 September 2010
Pressure grew on the UN over its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo yesterday after claims that it ignored appeals for protection just days before more than 240 villagers were raped by rebel forces.
Human rights groups said the UN was still failing to safeguard civilians after 11 years in Congo and demanded an urgent review. A British MP said the best solution now lay in seeking military support from Congo’s neighbour, Rwanda.
Mexican army kills dozens of drug suspects
Soldiers shoot dead suspected drug cartel members near US border
guardian.co.uk, Friday 3 September 2010 08.49 BST
Soldiers killed 25 suspected drug cartel members yesterday in a raid in a Mexican state near the US border that has seen a surge in gang violence, the military said.
Mexico’s defence department said soldiers on a reconnaissance flight over Ciudad Mier in Tamaulipas state saw several gunmen in front of a property. When troops on the ground moved in, gunmen opened fire, starting a gun battle that killed 25 suspected cartel members, according to the military.
The statement said two soldiers were injured and authorities had rescued three people believed to be kidnap victims.