U.S. jobless claims jump to 9-month high of 500,000.
Unexpected climb is yet another setback for already frail recovery
Civilians to Take U.S. Lead After Military Leaves Iraq
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
Published: August 18, 2010
WASHINGTON – As the United States military prepares to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, the Obama administration is planning a remarkable civilian effort, buttressed by a small army of contractors, to fill the void.
By October 2011, the State Department will assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police, a task that will largely be carried out by contractors. With no American soldiers to defuse sectarian tensions in northern Iraq, it will be up to American diplomats in two new $100 million outposts to head off potential confrontations between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish pesh merga forces.
Eat your art out: Artists develop a taste for food
Antony Gormley’s bread bed is back in a new exhibition, and Tate Modern has bought a couscous installation
By Matilda Battersby Thursday, 19 August 2010
The aesthetic significance of a plate of food is usually considered only for the few seconds it takes to bite into it. In fact, when taste and not style is of the essence, a bowl of grey-coloured slop could be just as satisfactory as a tower of carefully constructed haute cuisine, so long as said slop is well seasoned. In the age of culinary pretentiousness (ie now) with chefs like Heston Blumenthal producing food that has been tweaked, preened and garnished with the artistry of, well, an artist, it’s unsurprising that some of it should have found its way into an art gallery.
Poll shows more Americans think Obama is a Muslim
By Jon Cohen and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The number of Americans who believe — wrongly — that President Obama is a Muslim has increased significantly since his inauguration and now account for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s population.
Those results, from a new Pew Research Center survey, were drawn from interviews done before the president’s comments about the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, and they suggest that there could be serious political danger for the White House as the debate continues.
Mediator takes reins on gulf oil spill claims
‘No more beating up on BP,’ Kenneth Feinberg tells claimants. Next week, he will take over from the oil giant the $20-billion fund for spill compensation claims.
By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
August 19, 2010
Reporting from Houma, La. – Wayde Bonvillain, who makes his living selling Louisiana’s tender softshell crabs, said Wednesday that his problem is he doesn’t know yet how broke he is. How can he know, when crabs make their home thousands of feet down on the ocean floor, and now people are saying there’s spilled oil on the bottom of the sea?
BP has offered him $143,000 for six years of lost earnings, he told Kenneth R. Feinberg, the mediator who next week will take over from the British oil giant a $20-billion fund for oil spill compensation claims. But, Bonvillain continued, who says the crabs are going to be back after six years? What if it’s more like 100?
Quelle horreur! Asterix surrenders to McDonald’s
A new McDonald’s advert featuring Asterix enjoying a hamburger and fries has sparked outrage among French comic purists who claim the Gallic hero has surrendered to the American fast food chain.
By Henry Samuel in Paris
The mustachioed warrior and his larger-than-life chum Obelix, famed for defending a village in Gaul from Roman invaders, are shown revelling in a McDonald’s outlet while the village’s tone-deaf bard, Cacofonix, sits outside tied to a tree, his harp by his side.
The scene is a send-up of the comic book’s normal village banquet. Instead of feasting on ale and wild boar, they tuck into Coca Cola and a Big Mac. “Come as you are”, reads the slogan on the bottom of the billboard, which was designed by Euro RSCG, the advertising agency.
Outspoken French politician presents new statue of Lenin
Nearly 20 years after statues of the Bolshevik revolutionary were torn down en masse across eastern Europe, Vladimir Lenin has been immortalized again – in France. A regional politician lists Lenin as one of his heroes.
HISTORY | 19.08.2010
The southern French city of Montpellier has unveiled five imposing bronze statues of leading historical figures – including Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.
The figures will memorialize “the great men of the twentieth century,” according to the project’s brainchild, opinionated regional leader Georges Freche.
“Lenin was no blood-thirsty dictator,” Freche, president of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, said. “He shaped the world in the twentieth century.”
Wikipedia editing courses launched by Zionist groups
Two Israeli groups set up training courses in Wikipedia editing with aims to ‘show the other side’ over borders and culture
Rachel Shabi in Jerusalem and Jemima Kiss
Since the earliest days of the worldwide web, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has seen its rhetorical counterpart fought out on the talkboards and chatrooms of the internet.
Now two Israeli groups seeking to gain the upper hand in the online debate have launched a course in “Zionist editing” for Wikipedia, the online reference site.
Yesha Council, representing the Jewish settler movement, and the rightwing Israel Sheli (My I srael) movement, ran their first workshop this week in Jerusalem, teaching participants how to rewrite and revise some of the most hotly disputed pages of the online reference site.
In impoverished Gaza, electric company can’t collect its bills
By Liam Stack | McClatchy Newspapers
GAZA CITY, Gaza – The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, marked by daytime fasting and nighttime feasting, was just a few days away, but the Abu Hassan Sweet Shop in Gaza City was eerily empty recently.
Gaza’s power plant had run out of fuel and had shut down the day before for the second time in two months, plunging the Strip’s 1.5 million residents into 12 to 16 hours of darkness at a time. Mohamed Hassouna stood behind a wide tray of flaky desserts inside his shop, shouting over the constant thrum of its gasoline-powered generator.
Pakistan floods: Saudi Arabia pledges $100m
Oil-rich country overtakes US as main aid donor as second wave of flooding hits new areas in southern provinces
Saeed Shah in Islamabad
Saudi Arabia has overtaken the US as the largest donor to Pakistan’s flood relief effort, following criticism that Muslim countries were not giving enough for victims of the disaster.
The oil-rich country is to give $105m (£67m) in aid, according to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, though just $5m of this is in cash, with the rest in the form of relief goods. The Saudi public has separately raised $19m.
Obama wants Burmese rulers to face UN war crimes investigation
US move reflects the failure of engagement with Rangoon
By Andrew Buncombe Thursday, 19 August 2010
The administration of US President Barack Obama has decided to throw its crucial support behind moves to establish a special UN commission to investigate alleged war crimes perpetrated by the military rulers of Burma.
In what represents a marked rollback of one of President Obama’s most controversial foreign policy initiatives, US officials said Washington would now back the war crimes investigation, as urged earlier this year by the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burma.
South Africa strike: 1.3 million government workers push for wage hike
More than 1.3 million government nurses, teachers, and office workers went on strike in South Africa on Wednesday, pushing for higher wages.
By Savious Kwinika, Guest blogger / August 18, 2010
Johannesburg, South Africa
A nationwide strike of South African government workers – some 1.3 million of them – threatened to bring South Africa’s government to a virtual halt on Wednesday.
Nurses, teachers, clerks, immigration officers, and home affairs personnel all walked out on the job, bringing almost all essential services to a halt.
The strike was called when talks broke down over wage increases. Unions had demanded an 8.6 percent wage increase, while government negotiators stuck to an increase of just 7 percent, along with a small housing allowance.
Haiti election: Struggle over Wyclef Jean’s eligibility could spark crisis
The Haiti election commission postponed its ruling on who is eligible to run for president. Critics charge that the commission opposes Wyclef Jean’s candidacy.
By Alice Speri, Contributor / August 18, 2010
It was the news everyone in Haiti had been waiting for: Would hip hop star Wyclef Jean be officially cleared to run for president on Nov. 28?
Haiti’s Interim Electoral Commission (CEP) was supposed to announce Tuesday who among the 34 aspiring candidates meet all constitutional requirements to run for president. But late afternoon came and went with no word, and the CEP waited until 10 p.m. to put out a press release postponing the decision to Friday.
Although the CEP’s deliberations should be largely technical, critics say they have become subject to political manipulation by a Haitian political elite seeking to limit the participation of powerful Haitians living abroad. Mr. Jean, who recently announced that if president he would fight for the diaspora’s right to vote in Haitian elections and has gone into hiding after reportedly receiving death threats, has become the symbol of that power struggle.