World Bank opens credit line to Pakistan as UN chief calls for aid
The World Bank said it will make nearly $1 billion in credit available to Pakistan to help the country’s economy cope during an unfolding flood crisis that has affected around 20 million people.
NATURAL DISASTERS | 17.08.2010
The World Bank has announced it will provide flood-ravaged Pakistan with a $900-million-dollar (702 million euros) credit in an effort to boost the country’s economy during this time of crisis.
The funding is to come from the International Development Association, an arm of the World Bank that deals with developing countries.
The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations were asked last week by Pakistan to carry out evaluations on damages, needs and recovery initiatives in the flood-hit regions. The World Bank said the assessment could be completed by mid October if there was no further flooding.
Bill seeks to make electronics accessible to blind, deaf
By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Blind and deaf consumers, who have fought to make home phones and television more accessible, say they are being left behind on the Web and many mobile devices. Touch-based smartphone screens confound blind people who rely on buttons and raised type. Web video means little to the deaf without captioning.
But legislation is in the works to put pressure on consumer electronics companies that revolutionized an earlier generation of technology for the vision- and hearing-impaired.
“Whether it’s a Braille reader or a broadband connection, access to technology is not a political issue — it’s a participation issue,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the author of a House bill aimed at making the Internet more accessible to people with disabilities.
Unallayed by tests, fishermen greet start of gulf shrimp harvest with suspicion
By David A. Fahrenthold and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
On Monday, Louisiana’s shrimpers could shrimp again. On the first day of the state’s fall season, boats began unloading their catch at bayou-side docks, and processors began peeling, freezing and packaging the shellfish for the long trip to America’s dinner plates.
Federal officials said it was safe. They had allowed states to reopen harvest areas, they said, only after tests on fish and shrimp showed no signs of oil or dispersants.
U.S. schools chief endorses release of teacher data
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says parents have a right to know how effective teachers are at raising student test scores. “What is there to hide?” he says.
By Jason Felch and Jason Song, Los Angeles Times
August 16, 2010|8:07 p.m.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday that parents have a right to know if their children’s teachers are effective, endorsing the public release of information about how well individual teachers fare at raising their students’ test scores.
“What’s there to hide?” Duncan said in an interview one day after The Times published an analysis of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest school system. “In education, we’ve been scared to talk about success.”
Bonjour jeunesse: new French literary star is 15
By Molly Guinness in Paris Tuesday, 17 August 2010
With a flurry of new books and no literary agents to fight your corner, one way to attract attention as a novelist in France is to be a teenager. Over the next few weeks, as more than 700 novels are released in time for the annual “rentrée littéraire” Carmen Bramly will stand out from the crowd. At 15, she is this year’s youngest contributor.
Her first novel, Pastel Fauve, due out next week, is about a 14-year-old girl losing her virginity and the precocious young author began working on it at the same age. It is dedicated to Pete Doherty, the musician. Mr Doherty will perhaps be gratified to learn that as well as in the dedication, he figures as a formative sexual fantasy for the protagonist of the book, although Ms Bramly says she did not base anything in the book on her own life. “I listen to his music when I write and I wanted to put him in the book,” she says.
Former priest appointed as head of Czech secret police archives
A former Catholic priest has been appointed to lead the Czech Republic’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, the body that oversees hundreds of thousands of communist secret police files.
Daniel Herman takes over at a difficult time for the Czech Republic’s secret police archive, amid fierce internal disputes over how it should be run. He is now the institute’s third director in as many years.
Herman is well-known within the Czech Republic, one of Europe’s most secular nations, in which there are few high-profile religious figures. Most Czechs recognize him from his frequent appearances in the media, as spokesman of the Czech Bishops’ Conference.
From the priesthood to the archives
Herman is himself a former priest, but asked to be released from the Catholic Church in 2007, citing personal reasons.
Suicide attack kills Iraqi army recruits in Baghdad
At least 51 people have been killed in a suicide attack on an army recruitment centre in Baghdad, officials say.
The BBC 17 August 2010
More than 100 were reported to have been injured in the bombing, in the centre of the Iraqi capital.
The attack comes as the US prepares to end combat operations in Iraq by the end of this month.
It also comes a day after one of the two main contenders in Iraq’s March election suspended talks on forming a coalition.
Violence in Iraq is down from its peak in 2006-2007, though the number of civilian deaths rose sharply in July.
Israel ‘killed Palestinian girl’
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2010
An Israeli court has ruled that the Israeli government is responsible for the death of a young Palestinian girl in the occupied West Bank three years ago, lawyers for the family said.
The Jerusalem court found Israeli forces responsible for the death of Abir Aramin, 10, in the town of Anata, north of Jerusalem, in January 2007.
Aramin died from a rubber bullet shot by a border guard during a clash with rock-throwing youths.
Taliban brutality returns as coalition forces prepare for withdrawal
Fears for future of Afghanistan as hardliners stone couple to death for being in love
By Kim Sengupta Tuesday, 17 August 2010
The announcement came on loudspeakers, ordering people to gather at the village bazaar to see Taliban justice being meted out. Then the condemned appeared, a young woman struggling in her bonds, weeping and begging for mercy, her male companion silent, seemingly resigned to his fate.
The first stone was thrown by a Taliban fighter and then the crowd followed suit. The woman fell after the first hail of blows to her head and witnesses in the crowd of around 150 reported that she must have died soon afterwards. The man, covered in blood and severely injured, survived the stoning.
China increases military advantage over Taiwan
China is extending its military advantage over Taiwan and building up a force with power to strike in Asia up to the US territory of Guam, the Pentagon has said.
Published: 7:00AM BST 17 Aug 2010
In an annual report to Congress, the US Defence Department said China was ramping up investment in an array of areas including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare.
“The balance of cross-Strait military forces continues to shift in the mainland’s favour,” the report said.
The Pentagon said China’s military build-up on the Taiwan Strait has “continued unabated” despite improving political and commercial relations since the island elected Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008.
In ANC bill, South African media see threat to press freedom
The African National Congress (ANC) is proposing a bill that South African media say would take the country back to apartheid-era practices, restricting their ability to investigate government practices and look into cases of incompetence or corruption.
By Scott Baldauf, Staff writer / August 16, 2010
Johannesburg, South Africa
During the height (or depths) of South Africa’s racist apartheid era, draconian media laws restricted reporters from meeting with members of the then-illegal opposition movement, the African National Congress. Even mentioning the names of independence fighters like Nelson Mandela or Jacob Zuma in print was seen as a threat to national security.Today, after 16 years in power, the ANC is proposing a bill that South African journalists say would take the country back to those bad old apartheid days, and restrict the news media’s very ability to investigate whether the ANC government is living up to its promises, as well as to look into cases of incompetence or corruption.
In Colombia plane crash, pilot skill praised for minimal injury
Pilot skill in the Colombia plane crash is being pointed to as a key factor in saving the lives of 130 passengers. One passenger died.
By Sara Miller Llana, Staff writer / August 16, 2010
Officials in Colombia called it a “miracle” that the plane crash on a Colombian island early Monday morning resulted in just one death.Even as authorities work to determine what caused the Boeing 737 to go down, deft piloting is being pointed to as a key factor in saving the lives of the 130 other people aboard, including at least five American citizens.
“The pilot’s professionalism prevented the plane from going off the runway,” Gen. Orlando Paez of Colombia’s national police told Caracol Radio.
Officials are investigating whether the plane, which belonged to Colombian carrier Aires and was on its way from the capital, Bogotá, had been hit by lightning as it neared San Andres, a Caribbean resort island off the east coast of Nicaragua. A downdraft could have also caused the crash, officials speculated.