Congress punts tough choices until after election
Stopgap spending measure passed while tax cuts, budget wait
By ANDREW TAYLOR, LAURIE KELLMAN
WASHINGTON – A deeply unpopular Congress is bolting for the campaign trail without finishing its most basic job – approving a budget for the government year that begins on Friday. Lawmakers also are postponing a major fight over taxes, two embarrassing ethics cases and other political hot potatoes until angry and frustrated voters render their verdict in the Nov. 2 elections.
As a last necessary task before leaving, both the Senate and House passed a temporary spending measure needed to keep federal agencies operating when the new budget year starts.
Not too hot, not too cold: could the ‘Goldilocks’ planet support life?
Astronomers excited by world 120,000 billion miles away in the Libra constellation
By Steve Connor, Science Editor Thursday, 30 September 2010
The search for a faraway planet that could support life has found the most promising candidate to date, in the form of a distant world some 120,000 billion miles away from Earth.
Scientists believe that the planet is made of rock, like the Earth, and sits in the “Goldilocks zone” of its sun, where it is neither too hot nor too cold for water to exist in liquid form – widely believed to be an essential precondition for life to evolve.
For many with a stake in Alaska native corporations, promise of a better life remains unfulfilled
By Robert O’Harrow Jr. Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, September 29, 2010; 11:31 PM
IN NOME, ALASKA They wander the streets of this chilly city just steps from the arctic tundra, native people who have little money and nowhere else to go. Some come from villages without plumbing. Others drift among the city’s bars or hold down low-wage jobs. Wearing flannel shirts and tennis shoes, they are among America’s poorest corporate shareholders. They came by their holdings in the Sitnasuak Native Corp. as a birthright, when Congress established more than 200 Alaska native corporations, or ANCs, 40 years ago to provide land and money for indigenous people who had long been mired in deprivation and dislocation.
Democrats Find Many Big Donors Cutting Support
By MICHAEL LUO and JEFF ZELENY
Published: September 29, 2010
Many wealthy Democratic patrons, who in the past have played major roles financing outside groups to help elect the party’s candidates, are largely sitting out these crucial midterm elections.
Democratic donors like George Soros, the bête noire of the right, and his fellow billionaire Peter B. Lewis, who each gave more than $20 million to Democratic-oriented groups in the 2004 election, appear to be holding back so far.
“Mr. Soros believes that he can be most effective by funding groups that promote progressive policy outcomes in areas such as health care, the environment and foreign policy,” said an adviser, Michael Vachon. “So he has opted to fund those activities
‘Slavery’ uncovered on trawlers fishing for Europe
Exclusive: EJF find conditions including incarceration, violence, and confinement on board for months or even years
The Guardian, Thursday 30 September 2010
Shocking evidence of conditions akin to slavery on trawlers that provide fish for European dinner tables has been found in an investigation off the coast of west Africa.
Forced labour and human rights abuses involving African crews have been uncovered on trawlers fishing illegally for the European market by investigators for an environmental campaign group.
The Environmental Justice Foundation found conditions on board including incarceration, violence, withholding of pay, confiscation of documents, confinement on board for months or even years, and lack of clean water.
Wave of strikes cripples Europe as workers vent fury at budget cuts
Series of co-ordinated protests hits 13 capital cities from Madrid to Brussels
By Anita Brooks in Madrid and Vanessa Mock in Brussels Thursday, 30 September 2010
Workers across Europe yesterday vented their anger against government spending cuts and tax hikes that unions said would punish the poor.
Rallies were called in 13 capital cities and millions of Spanish workers went on strike in a mass action that hobbled public transport, paralysed building work and left streets littered with uncollected rubbish.
Some 100,000 workers, including German miners and Polish shipbuilders, brought Brussels to a standstill to protest against savage spending cuts they claimed would make workers the biggest victims of an economic crisis that they are blaming on bankers and traders in the financial markets.
Why the US doesn’t talk to Iran
By Ismael Hossein-zadeh and Karla Hansen
The unrelenting diplomatic and geopolitical standoff between Iran and the United States is often blamed on the Iranian government for its “confrontational” foreign policies, or its “unwillingness” to enter into dialogue with the United States. Little known, however, is that during the past decade or so, Iran has offered a number of times to negotiate with the US without ever getting a positive response.
The best-known effort at dialogue, which came to be known as Iran’s “grand bargain” proposal, was made in May 2003. The two-page proposal for a broad Iran-US understanding, covering all issues of mutual concern, was transmitted to the US State Department through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran
SAfrica school rethinks Israel ties
University of Johannesburg threatens to sever ties with Israeli Ben-Gurion University if certain conditions are not met.
Azad Essa Last Modified: 30 Sep 2010
The South African University of Johannesburg (UJ) senate has threatened to end its relationship with the Israeli university, Ben-Gurion (BGU), unless certain conditions are met.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the South African university’s highest academic body said Ben-Gurion University would have to work with Palestinian universities on research projects and stop its “direct and indirect support for the Israeli military and the occupation”.
“The conditions are that the memorandum of understanding governing the relationship between the two institutions be amended to include Palestinian universities chosen with the direct involvement of UJ,” the university said in a statement.
Musharraf prepares to launch new Pakistani party
Former president says he has ‘no regrets’ about security surrounding Benazir Bhutto on day of assassination
The Guardian, Thursday 30 September 2010
The former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf said last night that he had “no regrets” about the security provided to Benazir Bhutto on the day of her assassination, as he prepared to officially launch his political comeback.
Bhutto, a former Pakistan prime minister was killed at a political rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007. A UN report into her death, published in April, said her death could have been prevented and criticised the Pakistani intelligence services, police and government, led by Musharraf, for security failures.
Heavy security for India Ayodhya mosque ruling
Nearly 200,000 security personnel are being deployed in northern India ahead of a court ruling on the long-running Ayodhya religious dispute.
The BBC 30 September 2010
Helicopters are keeping watch overhead and authorities have urged calm amid fears the ruling could spark unrest.
The Allahabad High Court will decide who owns land where Hindu mobs tore down a 16th Century mosque in 1992.
Hindus claim the site of the Babri Masjid is the birthplace of their God, Ram, and want to build a temple there.
The destruction of the mosque led to widespread rioting between Hindus and Muslims in which some 2,000 people died.
It was some of the worst religious violence since the partition of India in 1947.
Nigerian flood victims face food shortages, disease ourbreak
SABONGARIN DOLE, Nigeria — Thousands of people from more than 30 flooded villages in northwestern Nigeria faced shortages of food and shelter on Wednesday, with fears building of disease outbreaks.
Officials in Sokoto state said more than 130 000 people had been displaced by flooding three weeks ago when a spillway from the Goronyo dam burst from heavy rains, sweeping through the villages.
Dozens of displaced camps have sprung up in the Goronyo district, where most schools have been turned into shelters for displaced communities, Yusuf Muhammad.
Kenya sends mixed signals as ICC team arrives
THURSDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2010
THE International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators have arrived in Kenya to investigate suspected crimes against humanity committed during the 2007 post-election crisis.
The team representing the international court’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is in Kenya gathering evidence against the alleged masterminds of the chaos that swept across Kenya in late 2007 and early 2008. ? The Kenyan government has promised full cooperation. But recent statements made by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo have many analysts concerned about the country’s position.? Speaking to Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, Kilonzo said the judiciary under Kenya’s new constitution would allow suspects to be tried locally, adding that he preferred local trials over proceedings by the ICC. ? The minister’s remarks have provoked a public outcry, with many Kenyans accusing him of trying to disrupt probes into the violence. A statement issued by Moreno-Ocampo reaffirmed the court’s commitment to the investigation.? On Monday, Kilonzo attempted to clarify his remarks, saying that those not tried in The Hague would be tried locally. ? “You must understand I supported the ICC because cabinet refused to set up a local tribunal. My position has not changed.
Brazil election tightens as Dilma Rousseff slips in polls
Dilma Rousseff still leads polls for the Brazil election Sunday, but scandals are weighing her down despite backing from popular President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
By Andrew Downie, Correspondent / September 29, 2010
São Paulo, Brazil
A week ago, Dilma Rousseff looked on course to win an overall majority in Brazil’s presidential election Sunday and thus avoid a runoff ballot four weeks later.
That possibility now hangs in the balance as new polls show her momentum slowing.
The candidate from the ruling Workers’ Party has 46 percent of voter support, according to a Datafolha poll published Tuesday, a clear 16 points ahead of her center-right rival Jose Serra but 5 percentage points down from two weeks ago and three points below her level seven days ago. A separate Ibope poll released Wednesday showed her static on 50 points, 23 points ahead of Serra. The poll’s 2 percent margin of error shows that she could still fall short of a majority