Syrian unrest: ‘Many deaths’ as army attacks Hama
The Syrian army has begun an assault on the city of Hama in northern Syria, with residents saying that dozens of people have been killed.
The BBC 31 July 2011
Hama has been in a state of revolt and virtually besieged for the past month.
Locals said more than 20 people were killed in “intense gunfire” after forces moved in from several sides.
The army is signalling that it will not tolerate large-scale unrest ahead of the month of Ramadan, when protests are expected to grow, correspondents say.
Syria has seen more than four months of protests against the authoritarian four-decade rule of President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party.
China rail crash families accept compensation as Beijing moves to silence furore
Ten families agree to £87,000 compensation as death toll mounts
Tania Branigan in Beijing
The Observer, Sunday 31 July 2011
Relatives bereaved by China’s high-speed rail crash have accepted compensation after the government doubled its original offer, as authorities tried to silence the furore over the disaster. Ten families have agreed to the deal – 915,000 yuan (£87,000) per victim – the state news agency reported. The death toll is now 40, with another 190 injured.
Other relatives say the compensation is insufficient and that the ministry of railways, which has apologised for last weekend’s disaster, should take more responsibility. “Our deceased relatives were in the prime of their lives; they have children and senior parents to support,” said Chen Engfen. He said he would not accept less than £141,000.
Kenya is on the brink of its own disaster
While the situation in Somalia deteriorates, millions of its neighbours are at risk of malnutrition
By Emily Dugan Sunday, 31 July 2011
The small harness hanging from the branch of an acacia tree looks much like the baby swings used to cradle infants around the world. But slumped against its straps is no bouncing, chubby toddler. Instead, there lies the listless frame of a child brought close to death by hunger.
The harness is hooked to a set of makeshift scales – and the weight reading for two-and-a-half year-old Ekure Nachukuli signals a grim future if she is not helped quickly. At 12.5kg, with spindly arms, belly protruding and every upper rib showing, she is in a state of severe malnutrition.
Europe’s Right-Wing Populists Find Allies in Israel
Islamophobic parties in Europe have established a tight network, stretching from Italy to Finland. But recently, they have extended their feelers to Israeli conservatives, enjoying a warm reception from members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Some in Israel believe that the populists are Europe’s future.
By Charles Hawley
Anders Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto is nothing if not thorough. Pages and pages of text outline in excruciating detail the ideological underpinnings of his worldview — one which led him to kill 76 people in two terrible attacks in Norway last week.
It is a document which has led many to question Breivik’s sanity. But it has also, due to its myriad citations and significant borrowing from several anti-immigration, Islamophobic blogs, highlighted the deeply entwined network of right-wing populist groups and parties across Europe — from the Front National in France to Vlaams Belang in Belgium to the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).
Campaign puts Mexico teachers union leader back in spotlight
Elba Esther Gordillo is courted by nearly every political party because of the 1.5 million votes she controls. She says her true cause is Mexico, but scandal dogs her.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
July 31, 2011
Reporting from Mexico City– The most powerful woman in Mexico carries $5,000 Hermes purses and can make or break a presidency.
She’s head of the nation’s principal teachers union, the largest syndicate in Latin America, and once gave Hummers as gifts to loyal teachers.
Elba Esther Gordillo commands the patronage of more than 1.5 million teachers, and in election years, that means more than 1.5 million votes. Almost every political party courts her.