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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Final Plug On Gulf Oil Leak At Least Days Away : NPR

Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico (NASA, International...Image by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via FlickrFinal Plug On Gulf Oil Leak At Least Days Away : NPR
The government official overseeing the Gulf oil spill response said Saturday he wants additional tests done before ordering BP to finish drilling a relief well that will help plug the runaway well for good.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters it could be late Monday or early Tuesday before officials know the results of those tests, which will be designed to minimize any potential risks with the final plugging procedure.
If Allen gives his final order to proceed with the relief well then, it could be next weekend before the relief well intercepts the blown-out well. Once that happens, engineers will pump in mud and cement to plug the well from below, a process known as the bottom kill.

Obama slams GOP on Social Security - Abby Phillip -

Obama slams GOP on Social Security - Abby Phillip -
President Barack Obama marked the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act with a message to seniors that he will fight to keep Social Security from being privatized.
In his weekly address Saturday, Obama took the offensive against Republican lawmakers who he said “would gamble your Social Security on Wall Street,” as a part of their agenda if they win majorities in Congress in the November midterm elections.

The Korean Herald - Taiwan, China could follow Europe’s pathway

Taiwan, China could follow Europe’s pathway
One tasty looking kitty catBOK keeps key interest rate unchanged at 2.25%Ssangyong names Mahindra preferred bidder for stakeS. Korea beats Nigeria 2-1 in friendlyBus drivers threaten boycott after explosionSorman, Missoni to attend C20 Korea promotion eventBusan rape story catches fire on InternetRecords show annexation treaty invalidCellist Chang Han-na taking up conducting batonLG eyes over 5m smartphones
There are encouraging signs that the much-discussed economic co-operation framework agreement between Taiwan and China could bolster a lasting security across the straits, but there remains some way to go before the complex issues of the past can be resolved.
Last week, Lo Chih-chiang, spokesman for Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, had this warning for Beijing: “Despite the fast improving ties over the past two years, China still targets Taiwan with more than 1,000 missiles. This picture is incongruous, and those missiles have hurt the feelings of Taiwan’s people.”
The Chinese defence ministry said on July 30 that Beijing will consider removing the arsenal if Taipei acknowledges the ‘One China Principle,’ which highlights Beijing as the legitimate government of both the mainland and Taiwan. In response, Lo called on the mainland to base missile talks on the 1992 Consensus, which emphasizes “one China, different interpretations.”
While the interpretation of ‘one China’ will inevitably be a point of contention in difficult political negotiations on issues such as missile removal, warming relations in the post-ECFA era must now be built upon to find a compromise that will allow both sides to move forward.
The ECFA was designed to increase trade between Taiwan and the mainland, but the guiding motivation behind the talks was to reduce tensions between two nations which have been divided by history and nationalistic intransigence for more than 60 years.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama stands up for Ground Zero mosque - Print View

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via WikipediaObama stands up for Ground Zero mosque -

By: Abby Phillip

August 13, 2010 08:37 PM EDT

President Barack Obama on Friday endorsed a controversial plan to build a mosque and Islamic center just blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan, despite the strong objections of conservatives, civic groups and those who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks.

“Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground,” according to prepared remarks Obama was to deliver at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. “But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

Having steered clear of the controversy for weeks, Obama took on opposition to the mosque directly — a move that many other Democratic lawmakers had been hesitant to do in the face of highly emotional appeals against its construction. But polls indicate the issue could be a high-voltage third rail for politicians who support the project: a recent CNN poll found that 68 percent of those surveyed did not approve of building a mosque so close to where the World Trade Center towers fell, killing more than 2,000 people.

First John H. Armwood Weekly News Podcast

This is my first in a series of weekly news podcasts.This podcast is for the week ending Friday August 13th 2010.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Judge Allows, but Delays, Gay Marriage in California -

Judge Allows, but Delays, Gay Marriage in California -
SAN FRANCISCO – Same sex marriage is legal again in California. Sort of.
Just a week after ruling that Proposition 8 — a 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage — was unconstitutional, a federal district judge lifted a stay on his decision on Thursday, opening the door for untold numbers of gay couples to marry in the nation’s most populous state. But he delayed implementation of the order to lift his stay until Aug. 18.
Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, who invalidated Proposition 8 in last week’s decision after presiding over a trial earlier this year, had issued a temporary stay to allow for arguments whether same-sex ceremonies should be allowed to be performed pending an appeal by supporters of the ban.
On Thursday, however, Judge Walker declined to extend that stay, but said he would allow the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – where the case has been appealed by proponents of Proposition 8 -- time to consider the matter.
His opinion of the ban, though, seems certain. “The evidence presented at trial and the position of representatives of the state of California show that an injunction against enforcement of Proposition 8 is in the public’s interest,” he wrote.
The news of decision initially set off a joyous scene at San Francisco City Hall, where several dozen gay couples had lined up outside the county clerk’s office in hopes of getting marriage licenses and where a large crowd of supporters had slowly built on the hall’s steps during the morning. Several ministers had arrived to perform ceremonies and rainbow flags – long a symbol of gay rights – were being waved. But that mood soon turned to disappointment as couples realized that same-sex ceremonies would still be on hold.

Trouble Abroad Adds to Worries for U.S. Recovery -

Trouble Abroad Adds to Worries for U.S. Recovery -
As economic recovery wavers in the United States, evidence is mounting that growth abroad is also slowing and may be unable to sustain the fragile rebound here.
Concerns about flagging global growth weighed heavily on Asian stocks Thursday, while European markets opened flat. Japan’s Nikkei index dropped more than 2 percent Thursday before recovering some of those losses, which came after steep declines Wednesday in American and European equities.
Those market drops followed a spate of developments signaling a slowing economy both in the United States and abroad. On Tuesday, Federal Reserve officials warned that the pace of recovery in the United States had slowed. Then on Wednesday came news from China suggesting its fast-growing economy was cooling. And later that day, the Bank of England reduced its already diminished forecast for the British economy.
Finally, new trade figures from Washington showed that American exports were faltering, a sign that hard-pressed domestic manufacturers could not rely on overseas markets to ease their pain at home.
Those reports sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling in a 265-point decline, moving it back into the red for the year. The broad market fell 2.8 percent. And those declines carried into Asia on Thursday morning.
The optimism that had pervaded Wall Street only weeks ago has faded quickly. In its place is a growing realization of what many Americans have been feeling in their bones: this is not the economic recovery the nation had hoped for. While the economy is growing again, it is growing too slowly to create many jobs or to increase household incomes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WikiLeaks Faces Growing Pressure Over War Files : NPR

Julian Assange (WikiLeaks)@HITBSecConf2009 KLImage by biatch0r via Flickr
WikiLeaks Faces Growing Pressure Over War Files : NPR

WikiLeaks, having prompted a torrent of criticism for its release of 76,000 secret U.S. military documents last month, now faces growing pressure to withhold or redact the remaining 15,000 classified documents in its possession.

U.S. officials say a criminal investigation into the leak of the documents is proceeding, and they warn that an additional release of classified material could expose the leakers to criminal prosecution. At the same time, prominent human rights groups are pressing WikiLeaks to proceed more carefully with further releases in order to safeguard individuals whose lives may be in danger if their identities are revealed.

The Obama administration has charged that by revealing military plans and intelligence sources and methods, WikiLeaks has already endangered U.S. troops and Afghan civilians. The Pentagon is now telling allied governments that their Afghanistan-based forces could also be vulnerable as a result of the massive leak.

"I imagine that our allies are thankful that we are bringing this to their attention, so they're aware of whatever exposure they may have in these documents," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell says. "I can also imagine that they are displeased with us right now. This is information that should have been better safeguarded, and now their troops are potentially at risk as well."

White House and Pentagon officials will not confirm published reports that the Obama administration is pressing other Western governments to launch investigations of their own, focusing on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but neither do they deny those reports.

Japan Apologizes to South Korea for Colonial Era -

Japan Apologizes to South Korea for Colonial Era -

TOKYO — Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan offered a renewed apology to South Korea on Tuesday for Japan’s brutal colonial rule, as part of a statement marking the 100th anniversary of his nation’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula in 1910.

“For the enormous damage and suffering caused during this colonial rule, I would like to express once again our deep remorse and heartfelt apology,” Mr. Kan said in a statement, issued ahead of the Aug. 29 centenary of Japan’s annexation of Korea. The text largely repeated language Japan has used since the early 1990s in apologies to South Korea and other Asian victims of its military expansion in the early 20th century.

While the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it accepted Mr. Kan’s apology, anger at Japan still runs deep across the region.

The abuses by Japan during its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula pale in comparison to its documented atrocities during World War II — including mass killings of civilians and human experimentation. Many Asians and Westerners urge Tokyo to come to terms with the past, and Japan continues to grapple with that legacy.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Rep. Waters Formally Accused By Ethics Committee : NPR

Maxine Waters (D-CA), Member of the U.S. House...Image via Wikipedia
Rep. Waters Formally Accused By Ethics Committee : NPR

WASHINGTON — The House ethics committee has formally charged California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters with three counts of ethics wrongdoing, including charges that she accepted special favors for a family member.

Today's announcement of the charges by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct opens the way for a trial this fall before eight members of the ethics committee — four Democrats and four Republicans.

Waters, a 10-term representative from Los Angeles who holds a senior position on the Financial Services Committee, has denied the charges. The committee denied her motion to dismiss the charges.

In its "statement of alleged violation," the committee states that it determined there is "substantial reason to believe that a violation of the Code of Official Conduct, or of a law, rule, regulation, or other standard of conduct applicable to the performance of official duties or the discharge of official responsibilities ... has occurred."

BBC News - BP makes $3bn deposit in $20bn relief fund

BBC News - BP makes $3bn deposit in $20bn relief fund

BP has made an initial deposit of $3bn (£1.8bn) into a $20bn compensation fund for the oil spill, after completing talks with the US Department of Justice, according to BP officials.

The fund, called an escrow account, was set up by the oil giant to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico spill.

BP's response has cost $6.1bn already.

Meanwhile, BP's relief well will reach the damaged well by the end of the week and start the final "kill", the government's incident commander said.

An additional deposit of $2bn will be made in the fourth quarter by BP, with deposits of $1.25bn being deposited each of the following quarters until the $20bn has been paid in full.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

North Korea Seizes South Korean Boat Near Border -

North Korea Seizes South Korean Boat Near Border -

SEOUL — North Korea seized a South Korean fishing boat in waters near their eastern sea border, the South Korean Coast Guard said Sunday, straining already high tensions between the two Koreas.

The 41-ton squidding boat was believed to have been detained after entering the North’s exclusive economic zone, where foreign fishing boats are banned, the coast guard said in a statement.

Four South Koreans and three Chinese crew members were on board. South Korea’s national news agency, Yonhap, quoting an unnamed coast guard official, said that the ship was being towed to Songjin, a port on the eastern coast of North Korea, for interrogation of the crew.

“Our government hopes for the safe return of our ship and crew according to international laws,” the coast guard’s statement said.

Battles Around Nation Over Proposed Mosques -

Battles Around Nation Over Proposed Mosques -

While a high-profile battle rages over a mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, heated confrontations have also broken out in communities across the country where mosques are proposed for far less hallowed locations.

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., Republican candidates have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision, and hundreds of protesters have turned out for a march and a county meeting.

In late June, in Temecula, Calif., members of a local Tea Party group took dogs and picket signs to Friday prayers at a mosque that is seeking to build a new worship center on a vacant lot nearby.

In Sheboygan, Wis., a few Christian ministers led a noisy fight against a Muslim group that sought permission to open a mosque in a former health food store bought by a Muslim doctor.

At one time, neighbors who did not want mosques in their backyards said their concerns were over traffic, parking and noise — the same reasons they might object to a church or a synagogue. But now the gloves are off.

In all of the recent conflicts, opponents have said their problem is Islam itself. They quote passages from the Koran and argue that even the most Americanized Muslim secretly wants to replace the Constitution with Islamic Shariah law.

These local skirmishes make clear that there is now widespread debate about whether the best way to uphold America’s democratic values is to allow Muslims the same religious freedom enjoyed by other Americans, or to pull away the welcome mat from a faith seen as a singular threat.

“What’s different is the heat, the volume, the level of hostility,” said Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky. “It’s one thing to oppose a mosque because traffic might increase, but it’s different when you say these mosques are going to be nurturing terrorist bombers, that Islam is invading, that civilization is being undermined by Muslims.”
It is amazing how ignorant so many American are of our countries constitution and core values. Where is there patriotism? Patriotism is not waving a flag. It is living by the values the country holds dear and which are enshrined in our constitution. It seems that civics lessons have been lost on these scared, ignorant and bigoted Americans. New York Mayor Bloomberg really said all that needed to be said in his speech regarding the new mosque to be built in downtown New York City.

John H. Armwood