Mexico prepares plan to protect journalists
Violence against reporters surges after crackdown on drug traffickers
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
MEXICO CITY – President Felipe Calderon announced a plan Wednesday to protect journalists in Mexico, where violence against reporters has surged since the government launched a crackdown on drug traffickers nearly four years ago.
The plan includes an early warning system in which reporters would have immediate access to authorities when threatened, the creation of a council to identify the causes behind attacks on reporters, legal reforms, and a package of “best practices” in journalism, according to a statement from Calderon’s office.
Fossils of new species of horned dinos found in Utah
Scientists have unearthed two new species of giant plant-eating horned dinosaurs in southern Utah, US.
By Katia Moskvitch
Science reporter, BBC News
The creatures lived on the “lost continent” of Laramidia in the Late Cretaceous period, some 68 to 99 million years ago.
Laramidia was formed when a shallow sea flooded part of what is now North America and separated the eastern from the western parts.
The findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE.
The newly found dinos lived in the subtropical swampy environment about 100km from the seaway that split the ancient continent in two.
G.O.P. Cites Tax Cuts and Health Care as Main Focus
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
Published: September 22, 2010
WASHINGTON – House Republicans on Thursday will issue a legislative blueprint called “A Pledge to America” that they hope will catapult them to a majority in the November elections. Its goals include a permanent extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts, repeal of the newly enacted health care law, a cap on discretionary federal spending and an end to government control of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
With control of the House, the Republicans said they would seek to immediately cancel any unspent money from last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus program, to freeze the size of the “nonsecurity” federal work force, and to quickly cut $100 billion in discretionary spending. But the blueprint, with echoes of the 1994 Contract With America, does not specify how the spending reductions would be carried out.
Two of Obama’s closest advisers among those likely to leave in White House shuffle
By Anne E. Kornblut and Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 2:36 AM
In his nearly two years in office, President Obama has relied on a very small clique of advisers that serves as his most trusted sounding board on politics and policy.
Members of his staff describe Obama as wary of outsiders and reluctant to widen his inner circle. As one of his advisers bluntly put it, the president “doesn’t like new people.”
Women take control of Swiss government
By Tony Paterson in Berlin Thursday, 23 September 2010
Women gained a majority in Switzerland’s cabinet for the first time yesterday – less than 40 years after the country became one of the last in Europe to allow them to vote in national elections.
The era of male-dominated politics was ended by Simonetta Sommaruga, a popular Social Democrat, who was elected the fourth woman in the republic’s seven-seat federal council.
Mrs Sommaruga, 50, a financial adviser and consumer protection expert, defeated her nearest rival, Jean-François Rime, of the rightwing and xenophobic Swiss People’s Party (SPP), in the contest for the post after securing a lead of 78 votes in parliament.
France braces for day of strikes over retirement age
French unions are staging another day of protests and strikes today, aiming to bring more than two million people on to the streets to defy President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Published: 7:00AM BST 23 Sep 2010
Mr Sarkozy, already under attack from the European Union for deporting Roma and from the media over a lingering financial scandal, is facing fierce opposition to his pension reform plans, but says he will press on regardless.
The issue is central to both his reform programme and his personal political survival strategy, with less than two years to go before he seeks re-election.
Between one and three million French workers took to the streets two weeks ago to fight the reforms and now unions are hoping for an even bigger day of demonstrations to keep the right to retire at the age of 60.
Israel used ‘incredible violence’ against Gaza aid flotilla, says UN Human Rights Council
Israeli troops broke international law by storming an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, according to a UN inquiry, which found that the killings of activists on-board were comparable to “summary executions”.
By Jon Swaine in New York and Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem
Published: 1:37AM BST 23 Sep 2010
The sharply critical report found there was “clear evidence to support prosecutions” against Israel for “wilful killing” and torture committed in the raid on the flotilla on May 31. Nine activists on a Turkish ship were killed as they attempted to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.
However, Israel brushed aside the findings of the UN Human Rights Council, which it has consistently denounced as biased against the Jewish state.
A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry accused the body of having a “politicised and extremist approach,” adding: “The Human Rights Council blamed Israel prior to the investigation and it is no surprise that they condemn after.”
World powers seek talks with Iran
US and other world powers announce diplomatic overture to come to “early negotiated solution” on nuclear issue
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2010
The US and five other world powers have said they are seeking an “early negotiated solution” to the standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and her counterparts from Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany announced the new diplomatic overture to Iran on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.
Iran has indicated a new willingness to engage the international community over its nuclear programme. But so far it has failed to meet the terms for talks, and its defiance triggered new UN Security Council sanctions in June.
“We agreed to sanctions in June … Now is the time for Iran to engage in real negotiation, in actual constructive dialogue, about its whole nuclear programme,” William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said.
New Zealand adds to India’s Commonwealth Games woes
Pressure is growing on India to deal with urgent concerns over security and poor facilities ahead of its hosting of the Commonwealth Games next month.
The BBC 23 September 2010
New Zealand is the latest country, after Canada and Scotland, to delay the arrival of its athletes in Delhi for the event which begins on 3 October.
Canadian officials said India had been “indifferent bordering on intransigent” in tackling the issues.
Games chief Michael Fennell is due in Delhi for emergency talks.
Continue reading the main story
Q&A: India’s Commonwealth Games crisis
British teams raise Delhi doubts
England to stick with Games plans
India insists the Games will be one of the most successful.
Several participating countries have delegates in the capital urgently checking the facilities and the arrangements for security.
Afghanistan election investigators face threats, bribes
Corruption pressures test the integrity of rag-tag provincial committees as they sift through Afghanistan election complaints.
By Ben Arnoldy, Staff writer / September 22, 2010
Pana Khail, Afghanistan
Seated around a room are an investigator, a legal scholar, and three judges. Their mission: Decide how to handle election complaints in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province, and therefore help determine the outcome of the Afghanistan-wide parliamentary elections that took place over the weekend.
So far, the group has disqualified three candidates, some backed by powerful people, because the candidates lied about resigning from their government jobs. Now they are digging into investigating fraud attempts during Saturday’s parliamentary elections, including accusations of police interference in the vote and poll workers lobbying for candidates.
Exiled journalist’s return to Zimbabwe
The crew were told to prepare for landing. My heart was pounding. How would I be received in the country I fled in a blaze of death threats nine years ago?
By Basildon Peta Thursday, 23 September 2010
Even dead, they would get me, the man from Mugabe’s spy agency, the CIO, had warned. My corpse would be shred into “mince meat” even if I returned to Zimbabwe in a coffin for burial, he told me when our paths crossed in Johannesburg.
I had been branded a “sell out”, and an enemy of the state for my reports in the foreign media on how the ruling party and its supporters waged their land war against white farmers and then tortured and murdered hundreds of black opposition supporters.
An Al Qaeda affiliate getting rich in Niger
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb says it kidnapped five Frenchmen and two Africans from a Niger uranium mine. The group appears to be cultivating revenue streams.
By Drew Hinshaw, Correspondent / September 22, 2010
The Saharan chapter of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility Tuesday for the abduction of five Frenchmen and two of their African colleagues working at a Uranium mine in remote Niger.
Analysts say the announcement likely means the hostages have been transferred from local mercenaries to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a flourishing militant group that evolved from an earlier movement in Algeria. Analysts expect a ransom demand will be made.
The kidnappings are just the latest crime associated with Al Qaeda affiliates in the region. In July, a French aid worker seized by AQIM in Niger was murdered during a French rescue attempt. The rescue attempt was set up with feigned ransom negotiations.
Juarez editorial ignites a beleaguered Mexico
KATHERINE CORCORAN AP foreign, Thursday September 23 2010
A newspaper’s stunning, front-page editorial of seeming surrender to drug capos has set off a national debate from the presidential palace to Mexico’s equivalent of the water cooler – its ubiquitous town squares.
“What do you want from us?” El Diario de Juarez asked the cartels whose war for control of the border city across from El Paso, Texas, has killed nearly 5,000 people – including two El Diario journalists – in less than two years. “You are currently the de facto authorities in this city … Tell us what you expect from us as a newspaper?”