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and rat poison
The River of Death
As Burma’s junta spurns the world’s offers of aid, Andrew Buncombe finds a landscape flooded with corpses – and a people begging for help
For the people living alongside the Payapon river – a branch of the mighty Irrawaddy – the slow-moving waters have always been a sustainer of life. The river has provided irrigation for their crops, as well as clean, sweet water for washing and bathing, and the fish from which so many of them make their livelihoods.
Now the same river is delivering the dead. The corpses of hundreds of people swept away and killed by the surging tidal wave of Cyclone Nargis are now being washed back.
They lie on the river’s edge, snagged in the roots of the mangrove swamps, bloated and burnt by the sun. Many of the corpses have already been buried by family or friends but there are plenty more that lie floating and abandoned, as anonymous in death as they must have been named and known in life.
Support disaster relief in Myanmar (Burma) Through the UN
Iraq Contractor in Shooting Case Makes Comeback
Last fall, Blackwater Worldwide was in deep peril.
Guards for the security company were involved in a shooting in September that left at least 17 Iraqis dead at a Baghdad intersection. Outrage over the killings prompted the Iraqi government to demand Blackwater’s ouster from the country, and led to a criminal investigation by the F.B.I., a series of internal investigations by the State Department and the Pentagon, and high-profile Congressional hearings.
But after an intense public and private lobbying campaign, Blackwater appears to be back to business as usual.
The State Department has just renewed its contract to provide security for American diplomats in Iraq for at least another year.
FBI, ATF Battle for Control Of Cases
Cooperation Lags Despite Merger
In the five years since the FBI and ATF were merged under the Justice Department to coordinate the fight against terrorism, the rival law enforcement agencies have fought each other for control, wasting time and money and causing duplication of effort, according to law enforcement sources and internal documents.
Their new boss, the attorney general, ordered them to merge their national bomb databases, but the FBI has refused. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has long trained bomb-sniffing dogs; the FBI started a competing program.
Hizbullah success in west Beirut replaces impasse with uncertainty
· Attacks described as coup and as show of force
· At least 11 dead after worst clashes since civil war
Lebanon’s western-backed government was reeling yesterday after Hizbullah guerrillas seized control of Muslim west Beirut in a significant victory for the Iran-supported Shia movement.
Security sources said at least 11 people had been killed and 30 wounded in three days of battles between pro-government forces and fighters loyal to Hizbullah, in the worst internal clashes since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990.
The Hizbullah takeover – described by some as a coup and others as a “show of force” – broke months of political deadlock that reflects Lebanon’s deep internal divisions and the ambitions of neighbours such as Syria and Israel, as well as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US. But, as an uneasy calm returned to Beirut yesterday, it was unclear what the change would mean.
Turkish strikes ‘kill 19 rebels’
Turkey’s military says its has killed at least 19 Kurdish rebels in air strikes in the south-east.
The raids took place in Hakkari province, which borders Iraq and Iran.
The military says it bombed positions of the PKK rebel group in response to an attack in the area in which two of its soldiers were killed on Friday.
The PKK, which is seeking autonomy for Kurds in south-eastern Turkey, is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU.
Part of Guinness’s Dublin brewery to close
The home of Guinness for the past 250 years got a reprieve yesterday when Diageo said it would continue to brew the black stuff in Dublin. But the drinks group will close half its famous brewery as part of a £520m modernisation plan that will cost hundreds of jobs.
After a year of uncertainty, the drinks group announced yesterday that it plans to build a new factory on the outskirts of Dublin. Two smaller breweries, in Kilkenny and Dundalk, will close, as will 50% of the St James’s Gate site. The rest of the plant will be revamped. The brewery will continue to produce the popular stout for sale in Ireland and Britain.
Paul Walsh, Diageo’s chief executive, said that the plan reaffirmed the group’s commitment to Guinness and to its “spiritual home” in Dublin.
He said: “We will rejuvenate St James’s Gate and also build a world class, state-of-the-art brewery.
Tanks return to Red Square as Russia flaunts military might
By Shaun Walker in Moscow
Saturday, 10 May 2008
Missile launchers and tanks rolled across Red Square yesterday for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as Russia flexed its military muscles at the annual celebration of its triumph over Nazi Germany.
Fighter jets tore through the sky, and more than 8,000 soldiers goose-stepped across the vast expanse in the heart of Moscow, saluting the Russian flag under the watchful eye of the new President, Dmitry Medvedev, and – just behind his shoulder – his predecessor and now Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.
Chinese factories, flouting labor laws, hire children from poor, distant villages
LIANGSHAN, China: The mud and brick schoolhouses in the lush mountain villages of this remote part of southwestern China are dark and barebones in the best of times. These days, they also lack students. Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Du Bin for The New York Times Ji Ke Ri Sha, 15, with his mother in Liangshan, China. He says he has spent more than a year working in factories in several provinces, including Shandong and Shanxi.
Residents say children as young as 12 have been recruited by child labor rings, equipped with fake identification cards, and transported hundreds of miles across the country to booming coastal cities, where they work 12-hour shifts to produce much of the world’s toys, clothes and electronics.
S. Koreans Abuzz Over Their Obsession With the Office
SEOUL – South Koreans are working up a lather over working too much
They put in far more time on the job than citizens of any other free-market democracy. Compared to Americans, they average 560 more hours at work a year — the equivalent of 70 more eight-hour days. And that is down significantly from the go-go 1990s.
These numbers come from the 2008 Factbook of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 30 developed countries. And they have been bouncing around in the hyperactive local media for several weeks.
Tsvangirai to run in second round
Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he will contest a presidential run-off, despite fears of widespread poll violence.
Speaking in South Africa, he said people would feel “betrayed” if he did not run, and vowed to return shortly.
Mr Tsvangirai called for an end to violence, as well as full access by international monitors and media.
Official first-round results put him ahead of President Robert Mugabe, but not by enough votes to win outright.
Mr Tsvangirai had earlier insisted he had secured more than 50% of the vote, and that there was therefore no need for a second round.
Pollution in paradise: Flamingos vs the factory
The headlong rush to exploit Africa’s natural resources is threatening to destroy one of nature’s most spectacular breeding grounds. Steve Bloomfield reports
It is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. More than 500,000 flamingos congregate on the salty shores of Lake Natron in the north of Tanzania every year to breed. And it could be about to end.
That is the dire warning from a coalition of 32 environmental groups in east Africa if a company backed by the Indian conglomerate Tata Chemicals gets the go-ahead to build a soda ash factory at the lake. The factory would produce 500,000 tonnes of soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, every year. Tanzania’s state-owned National Development Corporation, which will jointly run the factory with Tata, said that it has moved the proposed site 22 miles away from the shore after opposition was first raised. But conservationists say it will make little difference.
Mexico vows to continue war on organized crime
Top officials mourn a colleague allegedly killed by a drug cartel. ‘We will not be intimidated,’ one says.
MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials vowed Friday to press their war on organized crime despite the brazen killing a day earlier of a top federal police official by a gunman believed to be working for a drug cartel.
“We will not be intimidated,” federal Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said during an official memorial service in Mexico City for Edgar Millan Gomez, who was acting chief of a federal police agency.
President Felipe Calderon, visiting the violence-plagued northern border town of Reynosa later in the day, said organized crime groups were striking back against the federal government “because they know we are hitting their criminal structure.”
“We are determined to recover streets that never should have ceased being ours,” said Calderon, who had attended the memorial.