...where failure is documented
Late Azerbaijan leader's statue raises hackles in Mexico
25 October 2012
Sculpture of former president of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, seen at the Reforma avenue, in Mexico City.
AFP - Surrounded by flowers and palm trees off Mexico City's main avenue, the statue of Azerbaijan's late leader looks peaceful in a corner of the noisy and polluted capital's biggest park.
But rights activists are fuming like angry motorists over the addition of the bronze likeness of Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB man, in a city that boasts statues of revered world figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King.
The new statue features Aliyev sitting with legs crossed, gazing to his left, and a plaque describing him as "a great politician and statesman" who was a "shining example of infinite devotion to the homeland and loyalty to the universal ideals of world peace." While supporters remember him as the father of Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union, critics recall him as the strongman who cracked down on dissent, jailed opponents and stifled the media during his 1993-2003 rule. Aliyev's son Ilham succeeded him.
Borneo orangutan was shot over 100 times with airgun
25 October 2012
A female orangutan who is pictured in Indonesia.
AFP - An endangered orangutan on Borneo island has survived after being shot more than 100 times with an air rifle, Indonesian officials said on Thursday.
The female ape, whom conservationists have named Aan, has gone blind in one eye and sustained serious wounds across her body after being repeatedly hit with pellets on the Indonesian part of the island.
Conservationists had feared the orangutan, found on an oil palm plantation with 37 pellets lodged in her head and 67 elsewhere in her body, would not survive but officials now believe she has cheated death. "She is fighting hard. She was badly wounded, but she's starting to eat so we're hopeful," Hartono, head of the local government conservation agency, told AFP.
Brazil's Indians appeal for help to stop eviction
25 October 2012
Photo illustration of Guarani Kaiowa Brazilian Indians in June 2012.
AFP - The Guarani-Kaiowa Indians of central Brazil are desperately urging authorities to demarcate their ancestral lands to stop plans to evict them in a dispute with wealthy white ranchers, a Catholic Church group said.
"Last week, several disputes flared between Indians and ranchers in Mato Grosso do Sul due to slow government efforts to demarcate indigenous lands," Rui Posati, a spokesman for the Church-linked Missionary Council for Indigenous Peoples (CIMI), told AFP.
Guarani Indians, whose total population in Brazil is estimated at 46,000, have been trying to recover a small portion of their original territories, but face violent resistance from wealthy ranchers as well as soya and sugar cane plantation owners. In a letter sent to CIMI, judicial authorities and the Brazilian presidency, the Guarani-Kaiowas said a recent ruling by state judicial authorities on the land disputes forced them to abandon an area near several ranches in Iguatemi, a town located 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the state capital Campo Grande. This amounts to decreeing "their collective death," said the group of 170 natives. "This ruling is part of the history of extermination of Brazilian Indians. We have lost any hope of surviving in dignity, without violence, on our ancestral lands. We will all die soon," their letter said.
WikiLeaks releases new US military documents
25 October 2012
AFP - Julian Assange's WikiLeaks website on Thursday started publishing more than 100 US Department of Defense documents including the first prisoner treatment manual for Guantanamo Bay.
The latest release by the anti-secrecy site comes as Assange, who faces charges of rape and sexual assault in Sweden, remains holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London with what Quito says are health problems.
Assange said in a statement that the newly released documents exposed military detention policies at camps in Iraq and at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Among the documents is the 2002 manual for staff at Camp Delta at Guantanamo, shortly after it was set up by US President George W. Bush to house alleged Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees from the "war on terror".
Ecuador 'very concerned about Assange's health'
24 October 2012
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addresses the media and his supporters from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on August 19.
AFP - Ecuador is "very concerned" about the health of Julian Assange after the WikiLeaks founder lost a lot of weight while staying at the country's embassy in London, a foreign ministry official said while in Moscow.
The deputy foreign minister of Ecuador, Marco Albuja, expressed his concern for Assange as he gave a briefing to Russian press after wrapping up his delegation's visit to Russia. "Assange has visibly lost weight, and we are very concerned for his health," he said, quoted by the Voice of Russia radio. "In case of his illness we will have to pick among two options: to treat Mr Assange at the embassy or to hospitalise him."
Water extraction helped trigger deadly quake in Spain: scientists
21 October 2012
A damaged building is pictured in Lorca, southeastern Spain, after a 5.2 magnitude earthquake in 2011.
AFP - Massive extraction of groundwater helped unleash an earthquake in southeastern Spain last year that killed nine people, injured at least 100 and left thousands homeless, geologists said on Sunday.
The finding adds a powerful piece of evidence to theories that some earthquakes are human-induced, they said. Seismologists were surprised by the May 11, 2011 earthquake which happened two kilometres (1.2 miles) northeast of the city of Lorca.
The quake struck in the Eastern Betics Shear Zone, one of Spain's most seismically active regions, where there has been a large number of moderate-to-large temblors over the last 500 years. But the May event was unusual because it was so devastating and yet so mild -- only 5.1 magnitude -- in terms of energy release.
Guinea-Bissau accuses Portugal of 'coup bid'
21 October 2012
Guinea Bissau soldiers patrol in the capital
AFP - Guinea-Bissau accused Portugal, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and a former prime minister of backing a coup bid after a gun battle that claimed at least seven lives.
Gunmen staged a pre-dawn raid on the barracks of an elite army unit near the capital's airport, sparking a firefight in the latest unrest to blight the chronically unstable country.
Witnesses said the raid had been led by Captain Pansau N'Tchama, the head of a commando unit that assassinated president Joao Bernardo Vieira in 2009. It was not immediately clear why N'Tchama might have carried out the assault. But the captain is a former associate of the government overthrown in an April 12 coup. That coup toppled the government of Gomes Junior, interrupting a presidential election between the first and second rounds, which he was leading after the first round.
Hong Kong customs seize four tonnes of smuggled ivory
20 October 2012
Hong Kong customs officers seized almost four tonnes of ivory, pictured here, which is worth about $3.4 million.
AFP - Hong Kong customs officers seized almost four tonnes of ivory worth about $3.4 million, hidden in shipments from Kenya and Tanzania, officials said Saturday.
The 1,209 pieces of raw ivory tusk and a small number of ivory ornaments were discovered in two containers marked "plastic scrap" and "roscoco beans", shipped to Hong Kong earlier this week, a customs official said. The smuggled ivory, weighing 3.81 tonnes (8,400 pounds) -- Hong Kong's largest ever seizure -- was found hidden among bags of plastic scraps and beans by customs officers acting on a tip-off from counterparts in mainland China.
Sandy Price Gouging Probed: $7 Loaf of Bread, $10 Box of Matches
Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012
More than 400 possible cases of price gouging of gasoline and other essentials, including a $10 box of matches and $7 loaf of bread, have been reported in New York before and after Sandy.
Reports are being investigated in New York City, the Hudson Valley and on Long Island by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Schneiderman said Monday that he's investigating an increasing number of reports of spikes in prices for essential goods including gasoline, food, bottled water, generators, batteries and flashlights. The probe can include sharp, unwarranted increases in the cost of prices by retailers including supermarkets, hardware stores, bodegas, delis, hotels and taxis, he said.
HSBC to face £1bn fines over money-laundering
By Nathalie Thomas, and Harry Wilson
4 November 2012
Stuart Gulliver, chief executive of HSBC, apologised for the scandal in July. Photo: Reuters
HSBC is set to face a final bill for fines as high as $1.5bn (£937m) for the “shameful and embarrassing” US money-laundering scandal that has engulfed Britain’s biggest bank.
The lender is tomorrow expected to spell out the full financial damage caused by the crisis, which erupted earlier this year. The bank stands accused of leaving America’s financial system exposed to Mexican drug cartels and rogue nations such as Iran and Sudan, by failing to enforce US anti money- laundering laws.
HSBC said at its half-year results in the summer that it had set aside $700m to cover the cost of the scandal. The bank said at the time that the huge sum was only its “best estimate” for the fines and penalties it would face from US authorities. But Stuart Gulliver, HSBC’s chief executive, admitted the actual total could be higher.