Posts Tagged ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’

In Copenhagen: The Guardian leaked a document known as the ‘Danish Text,‘ written by ‘the circle of commitment’ HwS(The US, UK, and Denmark). The document creates a rough outline for changes in climate policy that have offended the developing world and move away from the Kyoto Protocol. Instead of making rich countries responsible for financing emissions cuts, the World Bank would provide funds to developing nations on a conditional basis. In response, developing countries drafted another document to voice their concerns. They fear the Danish Text framework weakens th United Nations role in the debate, divides poorer countries into a new category of “the most vulnerable” to climate change, forces the developing world to adopt new standards, and would not allow poor countries to emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon per person by 2050- rich countries would be allowed 2.67 tonnes per person. The head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat Yvo de Boer tried to calm tempers by saying the Danish Text was outdated and irrelevant. “That text, and other texts that have been circulating, have not been on the table in a formal sense.”

National Public Radio higher-ups made a request to reporter Mara Liasson to stop appearing as a Fox News commentator, citing the political bias of the television network as cause for concern. Liasson, who joined Fox in 1997, was asked to watch the network for 30-days and gauge whether or not the network was growing increasingly partisan, but did not break her contract with Fox in the end.

Yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced that his country would delay a decision on the relocation of the American Futenma military facility in Okinawa, which the two countries discussed in 2006. The U.S. responded to this delay by putting off meetings that would strengthen U.S. ties to Japan until the fate of the base has been decided.The meetings were planned after Obama and Hatoyama met in November and, during a joint press conference, announced that bilateral cooperation between the countries would begin to extend past security issues to issues of public health and education.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced yesterday that 24% of power used by state and university buildings will be from solar and wind farms. The Governor is postioning the state as a major contract in Maryland’s small but growing renewable energy market. Last week, O’Malley made a decision to protect and re-build oyster sanctuaries in the Chesapeke Bay, which creates a symbiotic filtration and habitat system in the notoriously polluted body of water.  Read Governor O’Malley’s Clean Energy Announcement

Ugandan legislation threatening the death penalty for “active homosexuals” introduced last month has caused a chain of mixed reactions, including solidarity between gay activists and religious groups. While Uganda’s Ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo claims homosexuality “is not natural in Uganda,” he remains confident the death penalty clause will be repealed.  Critics say the aim is to divert attention from corruption and other political issues ahead of the 2011 national vote. Country reactions: Britain & Canada, Sweden, United States

Google has announced that it will post over 14,000 pictures of artifacts in the Iraqi National Museum online in early 2010. In 2003 the museum was ransacked during the Iraqi invasion. It contains objects from the Stone Age, as well as the Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic period and will reopen to the public in February of 2010.

A total of 165 men and 39 women have been arrested in Iran for their part in Monday’s National Student Day anti-government protests. Intelligence ministry officials claim they have documents that prove specific students’ involvement, and that the government will inform the rest of countries students who is creating this “schism” so they can avoid the same fate.

Illinois lawmakers will review a proposal to sell the “largely vacant” Thompson Correctional Center to the federal government for the domestic detainment of terrorism suspects currently held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Drafted by Governor Pat Quinn’s administration, the proposal will go infront of a House-Senate panel on December 22nd. The Obama Administration expressed interest in the Thompson site in early November.

United Nations officials in Yemen say this will have to open a third camp to accommodate all of the internally displaced people fleeing the Saa’da province because of “Operation Scorched Earth”, the joint Saudi and Yemeni government offensive against Houthi rebels. The population of refugees has doubled in the past month.

After its citizens passed a medical marijuana law last month, the state of Maine held a task force panel discussion to determine “how, exactly, to help those with legitimate medical conditions get access to the drug without also making it easier for recreational users to buy” yesterday.

A Christie’s Old Masters and 19th Century auction set a category sales record in London last night.  This success comes during the first bounce-back in the art market since October 2008.

Raphael's sketch entitled "Head of Muse" sold for $47.9 million), the highest price ever paid for a drawing at auction.

On Monday,Barack Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Their main point of discussion was Iran’s nuclear program. Obama, while still pushing for a diplomatic solution to the problem, expressed a growing impatience with Iran’s recalcitrance.  Erdogan, however, maintained his view that the world could only coerce Iran through diplomatic efforts, and called criticism that his country’s close relationship with Iran isolating it away from the West “ridiculous.”

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee passed a same-sex marriage bill Tuesday night. Heading to the floor tomorrow, the bill is not likely to pass. Regardless, this is the first time the NJ legislature passed an equal-marriage bill out of committee.

A Chicago man has been charged with “conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country” because of his involvement in last year’s terrorist attack on Mumbai. David Coleman Headley, from Chicago, went to India to do recon for Laskkar-e-Taiba He, along with former military man Abdur Rehman, are also connected to a plot to bomb the Danish newspaper that ran controversial cartoons negatively depicting Islam. Headley has, fortunately, begun to cooperate with the FBI in their investigation. Chicago business man Tahawwur Rana has also been charged.

It is getting harder and harder to separate truth from hype on the border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Iranian news source Alalam claims that Houthi rebels have pushed Saudi away from the Sa’ada, the Yemeni province where Saudi and Yemeni forced are carrying out“Operation Scorched Earth.” The BBC, however, reports that Yemeni commanders have announced that they will have the city of Sa’ada under their control by the end of today. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has passed a non-binding resolution on the conflict, calling for the global community “to use all appropriate measures to assist the people of Yemen to prevent Yemen from becoming a failed state.”

In an address to an audience of families of those killed during the 1980’s war against Iraq, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahjmadinejad claimed to have documented proof that the U.S. is trying to stop the coming of the Mahdi, the Imam that Muslims believe will save man-kind. “They have devised all these plans to prevent the coming of the Hidden Imam because they know that the Iranian nation is the one that will prepare the grounds for his coming and will be the supporters of his rule.”  He also said that the West was caught in a quagmire in Afghanistan and asked – “Is there not one sane person in your country to tell you these things?”

Russia and India have agreed to work more closely on nuclear power in a round of discussions to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Of the total number of crimes with filed complaints, 15% to 20% are committed by police officers, particularly those involving most violence such as homicide and kidnapping” said the Interior minister during the program “Aló, Presidente” anchored by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In a renewed effort to revive nuclear disarmament talks, President Barack Obama has sent veteran diplomat Stephen Bosworth to North Korea to meet with high level North Korean officials.  “The main question is whether Bosworth will meet with Chairman Kim Jong Il,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul’s Dongguk University. “Such a meeting would demonstrate that both the U.S. and North Korea intend to resolve the nuclear issue.”

Through French President Nikolas Sarkozy, Syria has informed Israel that it is ready to return to peace talks without the precondition that Israel pull completely out of the Golan Heights. Talks may resume with a mediator, the question is who. Israel would like to continue discussion through Sarkozy, but Syrians prefer Turkey. To that, Netanyahu responded that an “honest broker” is needed, and he is “not certain” the Turks fit the bill given their behavior since Israel’s war in Gaza nearly a year ago.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Monday “the time has come” for the government to make a decision on the fate of the Futenma military facility in Okinawa Prefecture and convey it to the United States, but he wouldn’t say what it will be or precisely when it will be.

Google on Tuesday unveiled a new approach to presenting news online by topic, developed with The New York Times and The Washington Post, and said that if the experiment was successful, it would be made available to all publishers.

Also on Tuesday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared greenhouse gas a threat to human health. This “endangerment finding” could lead to the modification of power plants, factories, refineries, and automobiles with new technologies, and caused an almost immediate jump in solar energy holdings & drop in crude oil.

Carbon dioxide output from the U.S. energy sector has already fallen half as much as needed to meet the 2020 emissions reduction target the Obama administration took to the Copenhagen climate-change summit.  Falling U.S. emissions are the result of the “weak economy,” which grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the third quarter after shrinking for a year, and a cleaner fuel mix in the electricity sector, according to a new report.

APTOPIX Pakistan Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chats with Pakistani tribal people during her meeting with them in Islamabad, Pakistan on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. Clinton came face-to-face Friday with Pakistani anger over U.S. aerial drone attacks in tribal areas along the Afghan border, a strategy that U.S. officials say has succeeded in killing key terrorist leaders. (AP Photo/Irfan Mahmood)

Finally, European leaders passed an agreement in Brussels making it possible for Czech leaders to sign the Lisbon Treaty, which aims to widen the power bloc’s presence on the world stage. They passed a measure that would allow the Czech Republic to opt out of the EUs Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Czechs, along with the Irish and Poles, were some of the final holdouts in terms of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. Now that the EU will officially expand, the debate on who will lead it is intensifying. Tony Blair was considered a shoo-in for president, but as time passes that no longer seems so clear. French and German leaders believe the EU President should be from a center-right coalition, which would reflect most of the governments in the EU. Others are concerned he’s too close to the past.

“Now in the United States, Obama is the president, it is no more Mr Bush. We have a new treaty, we have to reset Europe and we need to start with some new ideas. There is and will remain a link for the next generation between Iraq, Bush and Tony Blair.”  — Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn [Bloomberg]

Also at the Brussels summit, EU leaders set a target for funding climate change, agreeing it would cost 100 billion euros a year to fight global warming. The deal has drawn some criticism, but leaders seem hopeful. The U.K’s Gordon Brown said “We were aware that if the European Union did not come together to solve some of the impasses, the possibility of a deal at the Copenhagen summit would be a lot less likely…The EU is leading the way with bold proposals – do not allow years to go by without action.” Poorer countries, especially East Europe’s former communist bloc, insist that the financial burden be proportional with what each country can bear, while environmental groups insist the deal does not do enough. “[The EU] failed to use this opportunity to put its money where its mouth is,” said Joris den Blanken of Greenpeace.  There were also few specifics attached to the agreement, other than the 5-7 billion euros richer countries have pledged to begin taking action. Other details are to be worked out in an EU committee.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that the U.S. economy has the capacity to weather the storm blowing in the commercial real estate market: “You can say now with confidence that the financial system is stable, the economy is stabilized,” Geithner said. “You can see the first signs of growth here and around the world.” The numbers, however, are daunting. In the third quarter the cost of leasing space dropped 8.5% last year, which is the most dramatic drop since the 90s. Companies have also let go of 20 million square feet of space in the third quarter.

Wednesday’s bombings in a Peshawar Pakistan marketplace left more than 100 dead. While the U.S. and Paskistani governments looked to the usual suspects to take the blame, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has fingered private security firm Blackwater as the culprit. In an interview with BBC Urdu, Mehsud and his spokesman claimed the U.S. was attempting to “defame” the Taliban, who he says is successfully defeating the Paskistani army in South Waziristan.

A recent poll showed that former French Prime Minister Jacque Chirac is the most famous politician in the country, but that may not stop him from facing prosecution for corruption during his tenure as Mayor of Paris. Specifically, Chirac is alleged to have paid over 20 employees in his administration for doing jobs that did not exist. Xaviere Simeoni, the investigating magistrate, also dropped charges that Chirac had forged government documents. There are nine other individuals charged in this suit, including Jean de Gaulle, grandson of former president Charles de Gaulle.  (Al Jazeera ENG)

The Hondurans have a deal. Ousted President Manuel Zalaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti have signed an agreement to share power until November 29th when Presidential elections will take place. The election date included in the deal, as well as the forming of a “Truth Commission” to investigate this ordeal, were suggested in the first round of peace talks headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and the Organization of American States. However, those talks fell through, and on October 23rd Zelaya still opposed elections.

“To have an electoral process under these circumstances is almost the same as elections in Afghanistan under blood and fire…

The Hondurans, the Central American people and Americas do not want a democracy with violence.”

Blood, fire, mañana. Conditions changed because Micheletti agreed to allow Zelaya to return to power, pending a decision by the Honduran Supreme Court, in the interim between now and the Presidential election.

Don’t get too comfortable. After yesterday’s impressive rally on the news of the U.S.’s expanding GDP, the stock market has taken a tumble in response to a drop in consumer spending and confidence. Continued job losses and idle incomes kept Americans away from the mall as spending decreased 0.5% in September after a 1.4% jump in August.

“The stock market got a little tired after a rally of that magnitude yesterday,” said Malcolm Polley, chief investment officer at Stewart Capital Advisors in Indiana, Pennsylvania, which manages $1 billion. “Third-quarter GDP numbers were good, the worst is behind us, but consumer spending is not sustainable yet. Valuations are probably ahead of where they should be.”

Meanwhile, the dollar and yen have risen. Analysts fear this may be because other countries are beginning to scale back on recession efforts to stimulate their economies.

ICANN — the org that coordinates the world’s internet traffic — approved plans to let web domains be written in non-Latin characters, the “biggest technical change” to the web since its invention four decades ago. The change would further globalize the ever-expanding internet landscape, allowing regions around the globe to use their own local alphabet characters to surf more… fairly?

Staff

use this opportunity to put its money where its mouth is

Last week the FCC unanimously voted in favor of Net Neutrality, and the moment it was passed John McCain took up the opposition side with gusto. Why Mr. McCain — admittedly a tech novice — decided to take up the mantle of big business in this argument over the internet seems a mystery. The blogosphere asked Why? as the senator penned an act to curb the FCC’s action, and just in case McCain misses it on the web, it’s all over 24-hour news, too. Rachel Maddow takes a look.


McCain, also a champion of campaign finance reform, collects checks from the telecom industry more than any other U.S. Senator, over $600,000 since 1989. His 2008 Presidential campaign was chock-full of telecom lobbyists including veterans of Verizon and AT&T.

People who lobbied for telecom companies on those issues include McCain’s campaign manager, his deputy manager, his finance chief, his top unpaid political adviser and his Senate chief of staff. Telecom companies have paid the lobbying firms that employed those top five McCain advisers more than $4.4 million since 1999, lobbying records show.

Verizon and AT&T even provided free cell phone towers for McCain’s Arizona ranch.  Records show that the cost of such construction would have been around $22,000. But a maverick’s gotta do what a maverick’s gotta do. In this case, perhaps that’s be mavericky.

Al Jazeera reports that security consultants, specifically British company Hart, trained Somali men to combat illegal fishing boats. Now many of those same Somalis are working as pirates in the notoriously dangerous Gulf of Aden. Hart insists that it is not a part of the ransom portion of the Somalis business, but according to report from UK’s Guardian, someone in the West must be, specifically in London. These London based consultants provide information about which ships to hit, when, and even a ship’s layout. This allows pirates to prepare for a hit days in advance. They also can target ships based on cargo and national flag, analysts noting that British vessels have been avoided. Once a ship is taken security consultants swoop in again to deal with kidnapping, ransom, and all of the legal implications surrounding a modern day “walking the plank.”

The latest Senate Finance Committee’s health care overhaul would expand coverage to 94 percent of all eligible Americans at a 10-year cost that’s expected to reduce federal deficits by $81 billion over the decade, and could lead to continued reductions in federal red ink in the years beyond. (AP)

Italy’s Berlusconi, 73, vows to govern with “even more grit,” and calls the top court’s Wednesday ruling that no long protects the PM-in-office from corruption charges “laughable.” But, the rest of the country may a bit more worried. (Reuters)

A suicide bomber‘s blast kills 17 and wounds more than 60 outside the Interior Ministry and Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban has taken responsibility. (BBC)

Meanwhile, the Pentagon moves to overhaul Afghan prisons — including one jail run by the U.S. — that breed insurgents. (NYT)

U.S. Democrats have blocked a move from Republicans to oust Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) from his powerful chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, the House’s chief tax-writing team. Mr. Rangel is under investigation for major discrepancies in his personal financial disclosures involving real estate and perks from lobbyists — complicating things for the committee that steers unemployment benefits, Social Security, and Medicare policy. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Today, reforms to New York’s infamously harsh Rockefeller drug laws go into effect. The reforms stress treatment for lower level drug offenders who will also now have the opportunity to petition judges for lighter sentences. (Newsday)

The Pakistani government readies to launch an assault against the Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold of South Waziristan, in defense of a criticized U.S. aid package which would provide Pakistan with $1.5 billion a year over the next five years, tripling the state’s nonmilitary assistance. (Guardian)

Manhattana feasable option? The New York borough’s leasing is now down 59% from last year. (Crain’s)

Some U.S. lawmakers are worried that the Federal Housing Agency may be doing its job too well.  As pillar of the still-wobbly housing market, the FHA provides insurance enabling borrowers to qualify for loans with as little as 3.5% down — but allowing too many people with shaky finances to get loans may, in effect, set up a repeat of the housing bubble fueled in part by no-questions-asked subprime loans. (LAT)

Irving Penn, renowned photographer of fashion and the iconic, is dead at 92. (NYT)

Staff

According to a new report from the EU, while Georgia triggered conflict with Russia one year ago, it was Russia that broke international law by invading Georgia, and subsequently declaring war. (WSJ)

Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat in no uncertain terms that Iran’s nuclear plan was a danger for the Middle East. (Iran Focus)

Top American U.N. official is removed from his position in Kabul, this after he publicly campaigned against Afghanistan presidential election fraud.  (Reuters)

Now that the Senate Finance Committee has voted down two key Democratic public-option amendments to the health care bill, the fate of such reform lies in Obama’s hands. (Politico)

After years of increased government control, deep economic strife is causing Russia PM Vladimir Putin to push for privatization at the country’s big businesses. (WSJ)

The New York Times is still weighing pay-model options. The paper thinks it could make everyone happier if it could just figure out how to make money out of that new-fangled internet, but at this point they lack a clear proposal from any party. (New York Observer)

SAMOA BEARS BRUNT: Earthquake in the South Pacific triggers a deadly tsunami that rips through Samoa killing over 100 people.

The Age | Al-Jazeera | CS Monitor | Economist | NYT | Reuters | WSJ

The British Royal Navy and U.S. Coastguard bust up an international cocaine shipment off the Colombian shore — $380 million, the largest seize “by value, and by volume.” (BBC)

Director and ex-Pat Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland. He was heading to the Zurich Film Festival to receive an award. If his appeals are denied he will be extradited to the United States to face sentencing for his 1977 conviction for having sex with a 13 year old girl. (NYT)

Angela Merkel will remain Germany’s Chancellor after a landslide election win this weekend. She will be ditching her former coalition partners, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the Social Democrats (SPD), to form a center-right coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP). (France 24)

Getting to know you: Angela Merkel. (Reuters)

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has ordered an end to state censorship ahead of national elections. Sure, dude. (Al Jazeera)

The U.S. Treasury is set to pump ailing state housing agencies with funds to provide mortgages for low-income borrowers through Freddie & Fannie — the nation’s largest home-lending sources — in another effort to widen accessibility to home loans. (Bloomberg)

Poland okays law forcing castration for captured pedophiles. Prime Minister Donald Tusk: the accused are ‘not human.’ What California should have been thinking? (Reuters)

New Yorker speaks with Nobel Prize winning Columbia University Economist Joseph Steiglitz on dollars and cents. (The New Yorker)

When the U.S. Supreme Court opens for Fall next week, it will consider whether life-without-parole for minors who haven’t committed murder counts as cruel and unusual punishment. (Los Angeles Times)

Staff

Researchers in Thailand have found a vaccine that reduces the risk of HIV infection by 1/3. (BBC)

A Candian citizen sues his government and its foreign minister for his alleged arrest, exile, and torture in Sudan. He is seeking $27 million in damages. (Globe and Mail)

Barney Frank is gaining support for a government watchdog agency of consumer financial products like credit cards, mortgages and the like. (Politico)

Sarkozy runs in Central Park during his stay in NYC. Hot. (Daily Mail)

Ahmadinejad spread his usual warm and fuzzies at the UN General Assembly calling Israel’s policies “barbaric” and accusing the West of hypocrisy.

“The awakening of nations and the expansion of freedom worldwide will no longer allow them to continue their hypocrisy and vicious attitudes.”

Blah, blah… Give us something new Mamou-mou. (Al Jazeera)

The Atlantic Wire and Max Fisher present The Five Worst Parts of Max Baucus’ Health Care Bill. (Atlantic Wire)

Staff

The FDIC may tap healthy banks for billions of dollars to restore the depleted fund safeguarding, well, bank deposits. (NYT)

Honduras’ ousted President Zelaya returns home after over two months of exile. (BBC)

Oil trading company Trafigura pays $50 million to 31,000 people in the Ivory Coast over toxic waste settlement — victims agree death & disease has ‘no link’ to waste exposure. (Al Jazeera)

According to the U.S. Census, the number of  immigrant residents in the country declined for the first time in about 40 years, as economic downturn soils the country’s rep as land-of-opportunity for the foreign-born. (WSJ)

China appeals a recent WTO ruling that the state violates its free-trade agreements by requiring its importers to channel foreign publications and audiovisual products — including music sold on the internet — through government-run entities. (Bloomberg)

Busy Japanese couples pay actors to play their friends. (Telegraph)

From Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal: Certain Pakistani and Iranian spy services aiding the Taliban. (Los Angeles Times)

New species of fish discovered off the coast of Bahia, Brazil. No, you can’t eat it but yes, it looks totally awesome.  (NatGeo)

Scientific advances find new a way to tap into natural gas resources- by extracting it from shale rock. (NPR)

China’s recent influx of aid to African nations — drawn from its pool of foreign currency savings — risks fostering corruption, rather than correction. (NYT)

Staff