Mosul struggles with ethnic divides, insurgency
By Leila Fadel
Saturday, July 24, 2010
MOSUL, IRAQ — In Iraq’s third-largest city, buildings are bombed out and scarred by thousands of bullet holes. But unlike in many parts of Iraq that have calmed significantly in recent years, much of the damage is recent.
Mosul and the surrounding province of Nineveh are a microcosm of Iraq’s most explosive and unresolved conflicts as the United States prepares to draw down to 50,000 troops by Sept. 1. Kurdish and Sunni Arab leaders battle over disputed lands, provincial and central government officials wrestle for control, and Sunni insurgents continue to slip back and forth across the porous borders with Turkey and Syria.
Money for old bones: Dinosaur fossils become big business
Sotheby’s is to auction some of the world’s rarest prehistoric relics
By Steve Connor Saturday, 24 July 2010
She possesses a set of fearsome jaws, is in spectacular condition for her age and would make a striking addition to any drawing room – provided you have one big enough to contain her 33ft-long set of fossilised bones.
Anyone with a seriously large wallet could soon be able to buy this rare, partially complete fossilised skeleton of an Allosaurus, a large carnivorous dinosaur that lived about 150 million years ago and is sometimes referred to as the T. rex of the Jurassic Period – T. rex itself lived much later during a period known as the Cretaceous Period.
Federal records show steady stream of oil spills in gulf since 1964
By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The oil and gas industry’s offshore safety and environmental record in the Gulf of Mexico has become a key point of debate over future drilling, but that record has been far worse than is commonly portrayed by many industry leaders and lawmakers.
Many policymakers think that the record before the BP oil spill was exemplary. In a House hearing Thursday, Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) said, “It’s almost an astonishingly safe, clean history that we have there in the gulf.” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the industry’s “history of safety over all of those times” had provided the “empirical foundation” for U.S. policy.
Did fear of racial backlash trigger administration blunder?
By Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – Is President Barack Obama afraid of talking about race? Of being seen as too black? As an anti-white racist?
Analysts say the Obama administration’s hasty decision this week to fire a black Agriculture Department employee who’d been falsely accused of racism was made in a moment of panic driven by fear of conservative media criticism or a white political backlash.
Catholic church embarrassed by gay priests revelations
Vatican on defensive again after magazine exposes priests visiting gay clubs and bars and having sex
John Hooper in Rome
The Guardian, Saturday 24 July 2010
The Catholic church, already reeling from a string of clerical sex abuse scandals, was last night facing new embarrassment after an Italian magazine published an investigation into what it termed the double life of gay priests in Rome.
Using hidden cameras, the weekly Panorama, owned by Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, captured priests visiting gay clubs and bars and having sex. The Vatican does not condemn homosexuals, but it teaches that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered”. In one of his earliest moves, pope Benedict barred actively gay men from studying for the priesthood.
Moth wipes out French Riviera’s palm trees
The French Riviera’s palm trees have long been synonymous with the balmy exoticism and glamour of the Cannes “croisette” or Nice’s “promenade des anglais.”
Henry Samuel in Paris
But the tropical plants have been all but wiped out in parts of southern France by two beautiful but voracious insects: a South American moth and the Asian red palm weevil.
The larvae of these two deadly “palmivores” ruthlessly eat their way through palm tree hearts often fatally wounding the plant.
The paysandisia archon moth, with olive-green forewings and bright red, black and white hind-wings, is believed to have landed in France in 1997 in a consignment of palms from Argentina, its country of origin.
Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah ‘worse than Hiroshima’
The shocking rates of infant mortality and cancer in Iraqi city raise new questions about battle
By Patrick Cockburn Saturday, 24 July 2010
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.
Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.
Israel risks alienating Jewish diaspora over definition of a Jew
Israel has been warned it risks alienating the Jewish diaspora with controversial proposals to redefine who has the right to be called a Jew.
By Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem
Published: 11:47PM BST 23 Jul 2010
The row has left Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, as an unwilling arbitrator in a stand-off of potentially historic proportions between American Jewish leaders and senior figures in his own coalition.
There are growing fears that the dispute could lead to a major schism in world Jewry and the prime minister is facing a choice between further isolating his country or the possible collapse of his government. Mr Netanyahu said this week that the proposed law could “tear apart the Jewish people”. He has received tens of thousands of emails of protest from American Jews, who have been urged to contact him by their rabbis.
North Korea warns of nuclear ‘sacred war’
North Korea says it will use its “nuclear deterrent” in response to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend.
The BBC 24 July 2010
Pyongyang was ready to launch a “retaliatory sacred war” at any time, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Washington and Seoul say the war games are to deter North Korean aggression.
Tensions between the two Koreas have been high since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
North Korea: A Secretive State
N Korea watches Clinton in DMZ
The Korean War armistice
Q&A: Inter-Korean crisis
An international investigation said the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, a claim strongly denied by Pyongyang.
The BBC’s John Sudworth, in Seoul, says this is not the first time that North Korea has issued such a warning.
India’s strategy of suppression in Kashmir could backfire
India has imposed a curfew on Kashmir and squashed nonviolent rallies. Now a cycle of retaliation between rock-throwing boys and gun-wielding security forces has set in.
By Ben Arnoldy, Staff Writer / July 23, 2010
Carefully, in ones and twos, residents of Srinagar emerged from their homes for the first time in a week to pray at small mosques Friday.Prayers were tense. The city’s larger mosques remain blocked by police for the fourth week following the government’s imposition of a strict curfew in June, and thousands of Indian security forces were ready to swoop in on any potential protests among pro-independence activists.
Police say only four protests occurred across the Indian-controlled Kashmir region. One protest in Srinagar swelled to 1,000 people, though tear gas quickly broke its ranks. In the village of Palhalan, someone from within the protest crowd shot a police officer twice in the leg.
Guinea and Djibouti are planning to send troops to bolster an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force charged with protecting the transitional government in Somalia, the AU has said.
The pledge was announced on Friday before an AU summit in Uganda, which is expected to be dominated by the issue of security in Somalia.
Kampala, Uganda’s capital, was hit by twin suicide attacks that killed at least 74 people on July 11.
The bombings, at a rugby club and a restaurant, were claimed by Somalia’s al-Shabab group, which is fighting to topple the Horn of Africa nation’s UN-backed government.
It said that the attacks were in response to the deaths of Somali civilians at the hands of AU peacekeepers.
Insecurity rises in makeshift camps for Haiti quake victims
Criminal gangs subdued by the earthquake are stirring again as about 1.5 million people still live in displacement camps, bunking next to strangers with no doors to lock. Rape is a special concern.
By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti – If it weren’t hard enough looking after 2,000 earthquake victims crammed into a sweltering schoolyard, Jean Robert Charles now has to worry about rapists.
Charles is the de facto mayor of a tent settlement that fills a school and a soccer field in the gang-plagued Matisan section of the Haitian capital. A recent series of rapes has created fear in his camp and others nearby, adding crime and safety to the long list of anxieties facing residents displaced by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
“There’s no light. We can’t see. We don’t have any guns. We have only two flashlights,” Charles said.