The well is dead, but Gulf challenges live on
Long-term environmental, industry and legal impacts from BP spill unknown
By ALLEN G. BREED, DINA CAPPIELLO, HARRY R. WEBER, SETH BORENSTEIN, CURT ANDERSON, BRIAN SKOLOFF
The “nightmare well” is dead. But the Gulf coast’s bad dream is far from over.
Federal officials declared Sunday that the well where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded had finally been killed. Workers drilled a relief well into the damaged one and sealed it with cement.
Its official end came 11 years after Texaco first sank an exploratory well near that same spot 50 miles (80 kilometers) out in the Gulf of Mexico, then moved on after finding it unprofitable. When BP PLC purchased the rights to explore for oil there in 2008, it held an in-house well-naming contest. The winning team chose the name Macondo, after the mythical town from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”
New footage shows tigers can thrive in Himalayas
A few seconds of film showing tigers roaming wild in the foothills of the Himalayas could provide the ”missing link” to an ambitious plan to try to save them from extinction
Published: 7:30AM BST 20 Sep 2010
The film is the first real evidence that tigers can thrive – and breed – in the hills which are more than 13,000 feet above sea level.
A team from the BBC Natural History Unit captured the images using hidden cameras wedged into gullies and trees over six weeks during an expedition to Bhutan.
Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan said he was reduced to tears the first time he saw the footage.
He said: ”It was beyond words, pretty overwhelming.
”We were there about six weeks. For me the whole purpose of the expedition was to film evidence of the tigers living in Bhutan so all the effort and everything we did came down to a few seconds of footage.”
Sickle cell testing of athletes stirs discrimination fear
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 20, 2010; 12:19 AM
U.S. colleges and universities for the first time are requiring top student athletes to submit to testing for the gene for sickle cell anemia, a mandate aimed at preventing sudden deaths of promising young players but stirring deep fears about reviving dangerous old prejudices.
The screening hopes to identify athletes at high risk for life-threatening complications from intense physical exertion. That way, those with the gene could be monitored more closely and their training could be modified by, for example, allowing more time for rest and drinking more water.
Investors seeing farmland as safer bet than stocks
Wary of fluctuations on Wall Street, more wealthy Americans, private funds and foreigners are putting money into parcels of cornfields, fruit orchards and other U.S. agricultural products.
By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Kern County, Calif. – As investors tire of Wall Street’s roller coaster, more of them are plowing their money into land – farmland.
Few people understand this shift better than farm manager Carl Evers.
On a recent morning, Evers steered his pickup truck through a Central California almond grove, his drawling sales pitch at the ready. Evers is co-founder of Farmland Management Services, which runs about 30,000 acres of nut groves, fruit orchards and wine grape vines for a Boston investment firm.
Sweden’s ruling coalition heads for minority government
Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt becomes first non-socialist to win re-election since 1930s
The Guardian, Monday 20 September 2010
Sweden’s ruling centre-right coalition beat the Social Democrat opposition in yesterday’s election but failed to win an outright majority and the far-right Sweden Democrats won seats in parliament for the first time.
Early results showed Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s four-party Alliance coalition winning 173 seats in the 349-seat parliament, just three short of a majority. The result makes Reinfeldt, the Moderate party leader, the first non-socialist to win re-election since the 1930s. The Social Democrat-led opposition bloc won 156 seats while the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats got 20 seats, entering parliament for the first time.
Across Europe, support for populist parties is on the rise
In recent months, extreme right-wing and populist parties have won significant gains in regional and parliamentary elections in Europe. For them, times of crisis are a boon.
As Europe grows together, expanding its visa-free zone toward Iceland and the Ukrainian border, many citizens are beginning to see themselves firstly as Europeans rather than as citizens of their individual countries.
But not everyone supports the breaking down of national barriers. In recent months, xenophobic and right-wing parties have made spectacular political gains across Europe.
In Hungary on Sunday, the far-right Jobbik party won well over 16 percent of votes in parliamentary elections. With the country hard-hit by recession, Jobbik capitalized on rising nationalism and a resurgence of anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsy sentiment to win votes.
Netanyahu’s ‘catastrophic success’
The ongoing colonisation of the West Bank may have unintended and unwanted consequences for Israel.
The George W. Bush administration had a phrase for it: “Catastrophic success.” As part of the planning process before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a comprehensive list of potentially disastrous unintended consequences of a successful military campaign was drawn up. Though initially there was considerable relief when none of the developments on the list came to pass, it eventually became apparent that the list – which failed to anticipate a string of supremely unwise post-invasion decisions – was far too short.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, may soon be wishing he had drawn up such a list – and paid attention to it – many years ago. For the consequences of his own – and his party’s – catastrophic success are becoming manifest.
A ‘Jewish state’
I have thought previously that Netanyahu, whatever he may be saying to the contrary, is really not interested in direct negotiations with the Palestinians – that his avowed interest in a viable settlement is a sham. I now think that
US troops still forced to bolster Iraqi forces in battle
Far from merely ‘advising and assisting’ Iraqi forces, as the Obama administration has described their new role, US troops are still needed to battle insurgents, as evidenced in three recent incidents in different parts of Iraq.
By Shashank Bengali and Mohammed al Dulaimy, McClatchy Newspapers / September 19, 2010
In the two weeks since President Obama declared the end of the US combat mission in Iraq, a series of bloody skirmishes has sharpened the questions about the Iraqi security forces’ ability to protect the country.
In three incidents in different parts of Iraq, American forces stepped in with ground troops and air support when their Iraqi counterparts were threatened by suicide attackers or well-armed gunmen, according to US and Iraqi military accounts.
Japanese Playing a New Video Game: Catch-Up
By HIROKO TABUCHI
Published: September 19, 2010
CHIBA, Japan – A supersonic hedgehog and a plumber named Mario may have been unlikely heroes, but they once dominated video games. Only the Japanese could make innovative games like those, developers here used to boast. The West just didn’t get it.
Warp ahead 20 years, though, and much of Japan’s game industry is in a rut.
Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario still sell games. But more recent Japanese attempts to establish franchises, like White Knight Chronicles from Sony or Monster Hunter from Capcom, have not made a mark in the United States and Europe. Instead, the blockbuster hits now come from the West: Call of Duty and Guitar Hero from Activision Blizzard, for example, and Grand Theft Auto from Take-Two Interactive.
Prostitutes of god
Journalist Sarah Harris has made a documentary about temple prostitutes in south India – girls dedicated to the Hindu goddess Devadasi before puberty who spend their lives selling sex.
Interview by Matilda Battersby Monday, 20 September 2010
Former Independent journalist Sarah Harris has made a documentary about India’s temple prostitutes – young girls who are dedicated to the Hindu goddess Devadasi at a young age and support their families as sex workers.
The first instalment of the four-part exclusively online documentary ‘Prostitutes of God’ goes live today on VBS.tv.
I first went to India after I left The Independent three years ago. I wanted to run away and do something really different, so I went to volunteer with a charity in southern India which rescues victims of sex trafficking.
World leaders warned that approach to African aid needs a total rethink
As key summit on Millennium Development Goals begins, experts cast doubt on conventional approach to poverty reduction
By Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent Monday, 20 September 2010
As world leaders gather in New York today to decide the future of aid, an influential new lobby has emerged calling for a total rethink of foreign assistance. At the end of a decade dominated by slogans such as “Make Poverty History”, in which development has been defined by a series of sweeping targets – known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – experts are warning heads of state at the global poverty summit not to sign up blindly to more of the same.
A draft declaration being circulated by the UN deplores the lack of progress and calls for “redoubling of efforts” towards 2015 targets such as slashing poverty and improving access to education. International NGOs concerned at “aid fatigue” are demanding a “rescue package” to save the goals.
Obama amps up intervention to prevent Sudan war
President Obama’s meeting with Sudanese leaders this week will set the stage for whether this US administration is seen as a credible arbiter between rivals in the North and South of Sudan.
By Laura Heaton, Guest blogger / September 19, 2010
After coming under intense pressure from Sudan advocates – from grassroots across the US, to Sudan watchers in Congress, to proponents within the Obama administration of a tougher stance – administration officials laid out a series of incentives to entice Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party to allow a credible referendum in the South and make post-referendum arrangements with the southern semi-autonomous government. If preparations stall or if the NCP meddles in the referendum or its aftermath, Khartoum could face additional sanctions.
The substance of the offer may not be much different from what the Obama administration has put forth all along; the incentives and pressures alluded to by State Department officials at the unveiling of the new Sudan policy last year were never made public. And again, the incentives part of the package has been emphasized over the pressures. But who is doing the offering is significant.