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World
  • IHT - "The human population is living far beyond its means and inflicting damage on the environment that could pass points of no return, according to a major report issued Thursday by the United Nations. Climate change, the rate of extinction of species and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the threats putting humanity at risk, the UN Environment Program said in its fourth Global Environmental Outlook since 1997. This was all but ignored in U.S. news.

  • Guardian - 25 primate species are "on the edge of oblivion and, according to a report commissioned by three leading conservation charities, scores of others of our closest relatives are poised to suffer the same fate... The 25 species most at risk include two of our closest great ape cousins, the Cross River gorilla of Cameroon and Nigeria and the orang-utan from Sumatra. Miss Waldron's colobus also makes it on to the list, although more by hope than expectation. Conservationists declared it officially extinct in 2000, but a photograph taken since then of a similar-looking creature has been tentatively identified by scientists."

  • Independent - " A UN expert yesterday called the growing practice of turning crops into biofuel 'a crime against humanity' because it has created food shortages and sent food prices soaring, leaving millions of poor people hungry. Jean Ziegler, who has been the UN's independent expert on the right to food since the position was established in 2000, called for a five-year moratorium on biofuel production to halt the growing 'catastrophe' for poor people."

  • Guardian - "Oil prices moved above $90 a barrel for the first time yesterday, setting a record high on the back of renewed political tensions between the US and Iran and fresh concern over supply shortages in the US ahead of the winter months. Analysts say the recent surge means oil prices could reach $100".

USA
  • AP - Michael Mukasey, the nominee for Attorney General, said "the president cannot use his executive power to get around the Constitution and laws prohibiting torture. But wiretapping suspected terrorists without warrants is not precluded, he said."

  • NYT - "The nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general encountered resistance on Friday, with Democratic senators suggesting for the first time that they might oppose Mr. Mukasey if he did not make clear that he opposed waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques that have been used against terrorism suspects."

  • Independent - "An American military lawyer and veteran of dozens of secret Guantanamo tribunals has made a devastating attack on the legal process for determining whether Guantanamo prisoners are 'enemy combatants'. The whistleblower, an army major inside the military court system which the United States has established at Guantanamo Bay, has described the detention of one prisoner, a hospital administrator from Sudan, as 'unconscionable'... The officer they interviewed was so frightened of retaliation from the military that they would not allow their name to be used in the statement, nor to reveal whether the person was a man or woman."

  • Telegraph - "A senior foreign policy adviser to the Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani has urged that Iran be bombed using cruise missiles and 'bunker busters' to set back Teheran's nuclear programme by at least five years. The tough message at a time of crisis between the United States and Iraq was delivered by Norman Podhoretz, one of the founders of neoconservatism, who has also imparted his stark advice personally to a receptive President George W. Bush."

  • Seattle Times - "In an extremely rare move, the U.S. Army has overturned the convictions of 28 World-War-II soldiers who were court-martialed in 1944 after a riot and lynching at Seattle's Fort Lawton. The decision, released this morning, found the trial, held in the segregated Army of the time, was 'fundamentally unfair' to the African-American soldiers, who were denied access to their attorneys and to critical investigative records... Only two of the 28 soldiers are still alive.

  • NYT - "After more than two years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a fellow teenager, Genarlow Wilson" is finally a free man. "Wilson, who is now 21, was released just hours after" a 4-to-3 ruling by Georgia Supreme Court "ended his 10-year prison sentence. The court said the sentence for the act, which was considered a felony at the time, violated the Constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment."

  • LA Times - The rich have their own private firefighters. Insurer AIG dispatched crews with fire retardant when multimillion-dollar homes were threatened by California's wildfires. "AIG's Wildfire Protection Unit, part of its Private Client Group, is offered only to homeowners in California's most affluent ZIP Codes... It covers about 2,000 policyholders, who pay premiums of at least $10,000 a year and own homes with a value of at least $1 million... It's just another way for the wealthy to buy their way around cash-strapped, understaffed public services. Firefighters across the region have complained this week that they simply did not have enough trucks, helicopters and airplanes."

  • ABC News - "Environmental and public health experts overwhelmingly denounced editing by the White House of a federal health agency head's testimony to Congress Tuesday. Significant deletions were made from the testimony, concerning global warming and the potential impact on human health. The original, unedited testimony presented to Congress by Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and obtained by ABC News was 14 pages long, but the White House Office of Management and Budget edited the final version down to a mere six pages."

  • AP - "FEMA has truly learned the lessons of Katrina. Even its handling of the media has improved dramatically. For example, as the California wildfires raged Tuesday, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy administrator, had a 1 p.m. news briefing. Reporters were given only 15 minutes' notice of the briefing, making it unlikely many could show up at FEMA's Southwest D.C. offices...Very smooth, very professional. But something didn't seem right. The reporters were lobbing too many softballs... Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters." (Hat tip UncommonSense.)

  • TPMmuckraker - The House Judiciary Committee "inadvertently sent the email addresses of all the would-be whistleblowers to everyone who had written in to the tipline" set up to collect information about the U.S. attorney firings by the Department of Justice. "The committee email was sent to tipsters who had used the website form, including presumably whistleblowers themselves" and "the public email address for Vice President Dick Cheney." (Hat tip standingup.)

  • WaPo - "J. Thomas Schieffer, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, sent President Bush an unusual private cable this week warning that the pending nuclear deal with North Korea could harm relations with Japan. He also complained that the U.S. Embassy had been left in the dark while the deal -- which could include North Korea's removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism -- was negotiated by top State Department officials."

  • Denver Post - "Federal authorities charged a veteran immigration agent [Cory Voorhis] with unlawfully accessing a government computer to find information later used by Republican Bob Beauprez's campaign" for Colorado governor in 2006. "He was immediately suspended by the immigrations and customs agency."

  • AP - Republican "Idaho Sen. Larry Craig will argue before an appeals court that Minnesota's disorderly conduct law is unconstitutional as it applies to his conviction in a bathroom sex sting, according to a new court filing."

Europe
  • BBC News - "Turkey has dismissed a range of proposals from Iraq on dealing with Kurdish rebels, saying they will take too long to work. The foreign ministry said more urgent action was needed than that offered by an Iraqi delegation, which is in Ankara to try to resolve the dispute. The visit is an attempt to avert a threatened Turkish ground attack on Kurdistan Workers' Party bases in Iraq. Turkey gave the Iraqis a list of PKK rebels and demanded their extradition."

  • Guardian - "The [British] Ministry of Defence is conducting a major study into brain injury in troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan amid fears that thousands of soldiers may have suffered damage after being exposed to high-velocity explosions. The US army says as many as 20% of its soldiers and marines have suffered 'mild traumatic brain injury' (mTBI) from blows to the head or shockwaves caused by explosions. The condition, which can lead to memory loss, depression and anxiety, has been designated as one of four "signature injuries" of the Iraq conflict by the US department of defence, which is introducing a large-scale screening programme for troops returning from the frontline."

  • Spiegel - "About 700 neo-Nazis may have to change their weekend plans after a court in Lower Saxony refused a last-minute appeal by the party to let them hold a national party congress there. Germany's largest party on the radical right, the National Democratic Party (NPD), wanted to hold its annual convention in the city of Oldenburg, not far from Bremen, this Saturday and Sunday."

  • Guardian - "Nicolas Sarkozy launched his 'green revolution' for France yesterday, styling himself as an international environmental crusader and urging Europe to tax imports from countries that do not respect the Kyoto protocol. After an unprecedented three-month consultation with the green lobby, farmers and business leaders, Mr Sarkozy endorsed a raft of proposals, from eliminating the waste of household energy to halving France's heavy pesticide use."

  • IHT - "A group of U.S. and European human rights organizations is pursuing a legal complaint against Donald Rumsfeld in a Paris court that accuses the former defense secretary of being responsible for torture... In France, the group is seeking to press charges against Rumsfeld for authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq under the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which France has used in previous torture cases."

  • Independent - "Dust brought in by the constant flow of tourists into the Cenacolo, the convent refectory in Milan where Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper hangs, threatens to cause permanent damage to the masterpiece."

  • Spiegel - "Aging German playboy Rolf Eden has rarely taken no for an answer. And he's not about to start. He has filed charges against a 19-year-old for refusing to sleep with him. The complaint? Ageism... 77-year-old Eden has filed suit against a 19-year-old Berlin woman for the following reason: Despite a night on the town with Eden, which ended back at his place, she refused to have sex with him, saying the he was too old for her." Um...

Middle East
  • NYT - Saeed Jalili, "Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, on Friday dismissed the sweeping new sanctions announced by the Bush administration against an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran as insignificant and said they would have no effect on the country's nuclear policies, the news agency ISNA reported."

  • LA Times - The U.S. Marines see "trash pickup as the key to maintaining security in Ramadi, where a decision last year by Sunni Arab tribal leaders to turn against insurgents has brought calm to the once-violent capital of Anbar province... The desire for clean streets and pleasant surroundings has overtaken security concerns in Ramadi, where the population has declined by 100,000 residents since the war began four years ago."

  • WaPo - "Syria has cleared away all traces of a large building that experts say was bombed by Israeli jets last month because it was suspected of housing a partially finished nuclear reactor, according to a new satellite image that shows only freshly groomed dirt at the site."

  • NYT - "King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is staking $12.5 billion on a gargantuan bid to catch up with the West in science and technology." He "is building from scratch a graduate research institution" that "is directly at odds with the kingdom's religious establishment, which severely limits women's rights and rejects coeducation and robust liberal inquiry as unthinkable... The king has broken taboos, declaring that the Arabs have fallen critically behind much of the modern world in intellectual achievement and that his country depends too much on oil and not enough on creating wealth through innovation."

Africa
  • McClatchy - "African and United Nations diplomats are preparing a Mediterranean seaside conference center for a crucial round of peace talks on Sudan's Darfur region, but it's still not clear whether any of the war-torn country's key rebel leaders are going to appear... Among the eight announced no-shows are two of the most powerful rebels: Abdol Wahid al Nur, who commands the support of Darfur's dominant Fur tribe, and Khalil Ibrahim, whose forces are thought to have the most military might."

  • CS Monitor - "'Good governance'... is so unusual in Africa that an African entrepreneur created a $5 million annual prize to reward it. This week, the first so-called Mo Ibrahim Prize was awarded to Joachim Chissano, the former president of Mozambique. The award, announced by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in London Monday, while applauded by many, has sparked a debate over how to improve the performance of African leaders, and even whether West's definitions of good governance can work in Africa." Maybe we need such a prize in the United States?

  • IHT - "More than 100 children from Sudan, discovered aboard a plane headed for France, were at the center of a diplomatic row on Friday as the French government distanced itself from the operation. The police in Chad arrested nine French adults travelling with the children late Thursday, accusing them of human trafficking. President Idriss Déby warned that those responsible for the operation would be 'severely punished.'"

South Asia
  • NYT - "Pakistani security forces exchanged heavy gunfire with militants at the sprawling seminary of a powerful cleric in the troubled North-West Frontier Province on Friday, a day after a suicide bomber killed 20 people, most of them border guards, in the same area. Armed militants also beheaded four men thought to be police officers or members of local security forces in a village 10 miles west of Mingora, a resident said by telephone."

  • LA Times - "Islamic militants bombed an army convoy in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 21 people Thursday, two days after the government deployed thousands of troops in the area to try to rein in a pro-Taliban cleric... The blast... in the picturesque Swat valley hit a military truck that was loaded with ammunition, setting off huge secondary explosions."

  • McClatchy - "In 2004, U.S.-contracted aircraft secretly sprayed harmless plastic granules over poppy fields in Afghanistan to gauge public reaction to using herbicides to kill the opium poppies that help fund the Taliban and al Qaida... Now the Bush administration is pressing [President Hamid] Karzai to spray real herbicide against what's expected to be another record opium poppy crop, which is refined into heroin. There's wide opposition -- from Karzai and his government, NATO allies such as Britain with troops in Afghanistan and even major parts of the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, the CIA and U.S. military commanders."

  • WaPo - "Five years after one of India's worst episodes of Hindu-Muslim violence, a series of videotaped confessions released Thursday showed Hindu activists acknowledging their roles in the killings and detailing blatant state collusion. In the video footage, recorded as part of an undercover exposé by a New Delhi-based weekly magazine called Tehelka, Hindu activists and politicians bragged about hacking Muslims to death and burning their bodies. One assailant said he slit open a pregnant woman's stomach.

  • BBC News - "India's main stock index, the Sensex, hit yet another record high on Friday. The surge of 2.3% by mid-morning trading came despite plans for legislation to tighten investment rules for unregistered foreigners. The Sensex gained 431.55 points to 19,202.44 - beating the previous high of 19,198.66, set on 18 October."

Asia-Pacific
  • WaPo - "From the refugees' stories, a fuller picture is emerging of how a peaceful and apolitical movement by Burma's revered Buddhist monks morphed into the most serious challenge to the junta in two decades. After at least tacitly allowing the demonstrations to take place, the government launched its crackdown when a banned student group and the country's largest opposition party openly joined in and hoisted their banners. The refugees also offered first-person accounts of seeing unarmed protesters shot and killed."

  • Xinhua - "China's Air Force has begun recruiting this year's pilot trainees, and for the first time it now requires pilot candidates to pass a foreign language test" in English or Russian.

  • IHT - "Eastern China's Jiangsu Province posted a notice Friday on a government Web site announcing plans to spend 108.5 billion yuan, or $14.4 billion, for a clean-up campaign of Lake Tai, the country's third-largest freshwater lake. The campaign would initially focus on eradicating the toxic algal bloom that choked the lake this spring and left more than 2 million people without drinking water."

  • Xinhua - "China's lunar probe Chang'e-1 is expected to arrive at the apogee of more than 70,000 kilometers from the earth on early Saturday morning after having completed its second orbital transfer on Friday, according to the moon probe team.

  • IHT - "Nhem En, now 47, was on the staff of Tuol Sleng prison, the most notorious torture house of the Khmer Rouge regime, which caused the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979." "Under threat of death, within earshot of screams of torture," he took mug shots of prisoners about to be murdered. "This week he was called to be a witness at an upcoming trial of Khmer Rouge leaders, one of whom was his commandant at the prison, Kaing Geuk Eav, known as Duch, who has been arrested and charged with crimes against humanity."

  • SMH - "Sydney's ferries are set to be handed to private managers then culled on some routes and boosted on others in a last-ditch effort to save the harbour's iconic but troubled service."

Americas
  • Globe and Mail - "A continued exodus out of the greenback and record oil prices sent the Canadian dollar to a new 33-year high Friday, as currency traders shrugged off a plan to hike royalties in Alberta. The loonie rose as high as $1.0416 (U.S.) Friday, its highest level since May, 1974."

  • Globe and Mail - "Ottawa is running an $8.7-billion budget surplus five months into the fiscal year, $1.5-billion ahead of where it stood one year ago... All this excess cash - driven by massive increases in corporate tax revenue - is potentially embarrassing for the Conservative Party, which vowed to end massive surpluses and projected a surplus of only $300-million.

  • AP - "Rescuers found the bodies of two oil workers in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, bring to 21 the death toll after a drilling rig and an offshore platform collided earlier this week. Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said in a statement that it would continue to look for the last two missing workers. Most of the victims drowned after they abandoned the rig and their life rafts were swamped by high seas. Some 63 workers have been rescued, some after treading water for hours."

  • CS Monitor - "As paramilitary warlords and their armies have demobilized and Supreme Court magistrates prosecute politicians who colluded with them, politics in areas once controlled by feared militias are becoming freer and more open. But Sunday's elections will be a measure of how much paramilitary political power has been dismantled, analysts say. They are the first local and regional elections [in Columbia] since a scandal broke in late 2006 that connected politicians with some of Colombia's armed right-wing groups."

  • Reuters - "The widow and four of the children of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet were cleared on Friday of embezzling millions of dollars of public funds during his 1973-1990 rule. An appeals court in the capital Santiago said there was no evidence to suggest Pinochet's widow Lucia Hiriart and four of their five children were aware of the alleged embezzlement."

  • McClatchy - "With a population of 16 million people, Chile doesn't produce much of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming... Chilean researchers have found that more than half of the 120 glaciers they monitor are shrinking, with many disappearing at twice the rate recorded just a decade ago. That includes glaciers near the capital of Santiago that provide water to the city's 6 million residents."

By the numbers
  • Bush has 450 days left. 3,837 U.S. and 4,141 total coalition confirmed deaths in Iraq. Over $463,345,000,000 has been spent on the Iraq invasion and occupation. The U.S. federal debt is now over $9,063,060,000,000.
by Magnifico on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 12:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IHT - "Eastern China's Jiangsu Province posted a notice Friday on a government Web site announcing plans to spend 108.5 billion yuan, or $14.4 billion, for a clean-up campaign of Lake Tai, the country's third-largest freshwater lake. The campaign would initially focus on eradicating the toxic algal bloom that choked the lake this spring and left more than 2 million people without drinking water."

That is really good news.

And suggests that grass roots activism (even if it leads to getting tortured and wrongfully imprisoned) and good reporting (even [especially?] in foreign newspapers), can have a significant impact on Chinese internal policies.

But the new crackdown has not helped a local environmentalist who spent more than a decade trying to force official action. Wu Lihong, a feisty peasant, had repeatedly protested against the chemical factories and the local officials who protected them.

May continued activism and media coverage work to free him soon -- and continue to pressure Chinese officials, especially on more local levels, to implement more and more environmentally sound regulations and policies.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 03:05:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"An American military lawyer and veteran of dozens of secret Guantanamo tribunals has made a devastating attack on the legal process for determining whether Guantanamo prisoners are 'enemy combatants'. The whistleblower, an army major inside the military court system which the United States has established at Guantanamo Bay, has described the detention of one prisoner, a hospital administrator from Sudan, as 'unconscionable'... The officer they interviewed was so frightened of retaliation from the military that they would not allow their name to be used in the statement, nor to reveal whether the person was a man or woman."

the person will be found and his career and life will be ruined. And for nothing, cos there is nobody in a position to affect this who will do anything to stop it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 11:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The House Judiciary Committee "inadvertently sent the email addresses of all the would-be whistleblowers to everyone who had written in to the tipline" set up to collect information about the U.S. attorney firings by the Department of Justice. "The committee email was sent to tipsters who had used the website form, including presumably whistleblowers themselves" and "the public email address for Vice President Dick Cheney."

Inadvertantly ? Inadvertantly ? This was standard GOP MO, their fingerprints are all over it.

Do not expect your government to do the right thing
Government is bad for you
Shrkink government till you can drown it in a bath.
Vote Republican.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 11:32:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is staking $12.5 billion on a gargantuan bid to catch up with the West in science and technology." He "is building from scratch a graduate research institution" that "is directly at odds with the kingdom's religious establishment, which severely limits women's rights and rejects coeducation and robust liberal inquiry as unthinkable... The king has broken taboos, declaring that the Arabs have fallen critically behind much of the modern world in intellectual achievement and that his country depends too much on oil and not enough on creating wealth through innovation."

I wish them well and like the idea of freeing women from their prison (even if it's only a little). Tho' one wonders whether they will be allowed the academic freedom to study internationally, currently forbidden to women.

However, I have heard well-argued sentiments that suggest that closed religious traditions which discourage and intimidate a quesitoning mentality (Salafi islam is a prime example) tend to prevent the development of the very sort of free thinking creative intellectuals which the prince wishes to encourage. He's gonna have to start with reforming education and society at a much earlier point.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 11:47:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My reading of the article was that the king planned on luring non-Saudi nationals to this little gated research institution with fat salaries and grants. I was not under the impression that he was planning on using home-grown talent.
by Magnifico on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 01:22:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The article suggests that he will start off with foreigners, but wishes to create home grown talent over time. Sadly, I fear that the salfi-mindset may be the prison he will eventually have to challenge to achieve his ends, and that ain't never gonna happen.

Plus, seeing as the article explicitly states alcohol is banned, he's gonna only get some real po-faced joyless wonders.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 04:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"In 2004, U.S.-contracted aircraft secretly sprayed harmless plastic granules over poppy fields in Afghanistan to gauge public reaction to using herbicides to kill the opium poppies that help fund the Taliban and al Qaida... Now the Bush administration is pressing [President Hamid] Karzai to spray real herbicide against what's expected to be another record opium poppy crop, which is refined into heroin. There's wide opposition -- from Karzai and his government, NATO allies such as Britain with troops in Afghanistan and even major parts of the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, the CIA and U.S. military commanders."

Acting a recruiters for the Taliban and engendering hatred of the USA. Why does george hate america ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 11:55:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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