...where failure is documented
Haze returns to Malaysia
16 June 2012
Kuala Lumpur Tower is seen through haze, on June 15.
AFP - Haze caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia blanketed parts of Malaysia including the capital, causing air pollution to hit unhealthy levels.
Haze is an annual problem during the monsoon season from May to September as winds blow the fumes from Sumatra across the Malacca Strait to Malaysia.
Skies over Kuala Lumpur Saturday were gloomy and visibility was described as poor by the Meteorological Department. With dry weather forecast for the next week, air quality is expected to deteriorate further. The Air Pollutant Index reached 127 in the capital Kuala Lumpur, 144 in Port Klang, the Southeast Asian country's top port and 129 in the township of Shah Alam. Readings of 101-200 are considered unhealthy.
Rio summit exposes grim Guanabara Bay
13 June 2012
Plastic debris entangles the roots of a mangrove tree at Maua Beach in the Guanabara Bay on June 6.
AFP - At the 1992 Earth Summit a grand plan was drawn up to tackle pollution in Rio's Guanabara Bay, but 20 years on the once-pristine fishing ground is a cesspool of garbage and toxic waste.
Guanabara at one time had healthy mangroves, sandy beaches and a rich ecosystem, but decades of urbanization and deforestation have taken their toll on waters now choked full of household garbage and sewage. Fishermen blame the dwindling fish stocks on a massive oil leak in 2000, which saw nearly one million litres of crude spew into the bay from an underwater Petrobras pipeline.
EU fish discard ban agreed -- for 2019
13 June 2012
Greenpeace activists block the access to the Council building in Luxembourg during an Agriculture, fisheries and food council, on June 12.
AFP - After 20 hours of talks into the early hours Wednesday, Europe's fisheries ministers finally struck a compromise deal to save the oceans from overfishing -- but failed to satisfy environmentalists.
The deal for a 2014 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy notably will ban the contested practice of discarding dead fish caught by accident, however not before 2019. Ministers agreed that the European Union, the world's third fishing power, would tackle the problem of shrinking fish stocks in its oceans by limiting over-fishing by 2015 for some stocks, and 2020 at the latest.
Scientists say 80 percent of Mediterranean stocks are overfished -- meaning fish cannot reproduce quickly enough -- although the situation has improved in Atlantic waters.
19-year-old rotten meat sold in Swedish shops
13 June 2012
Canned meat from 1993 has been relabelled and resold in Swedish shops despite being rotten and severely lacking in nutritional value, according to a report in newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) on Wednesday.
“Eating this meat, consumers would risk being poisoned,” was the verdict from Polish scientists after testing one batch of the meat which made it to Poland a few years ago.
Svenska Dagbladet revealed in 2009 that canned meat from the early 90s was being relabelled and sold to restaurants in Poland. The meat, which had been part of Sweden’s emergency stock, had been produced by a Swedish meat company called Scan Syd from Kristianstad in southern Sweden in 1993.
Manning case reveals panic at State Department over WikiLeaks
by Rupert Cornwell
Saturday 09 June 2012
Bradley Manning: State documents may reveal that the alleged leaks were less harmful than was thought. Getty Images
A military judge refused yesterday to drop eight of the 22 charges against Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables and army logs to the WikiLeaks website.
Earlier the judge had ordered the government to hand over confidential documents outlining its huge damage control exercise.
The overall assessment of harm done was not made public. But the fact that the government was obliged to disclose details represented a small victory for lawyers for the 24-year-old US Army private, at a pre-trial hearing at the Fort Meade, 30 miles north of Washington. A fascinating picture emerged in court of the State Department in crisis mode. According to Rena Bitter, head of its operations centre, one group of 25 officials was set up to get ahead of the crisis, even before WikiLeaks started to publish the material on 28 November 2010. Another team tried to identify people in other countries, among them sensitive State Department and Pentagon contacts, who could be endangered by the leaks.
Putin's Watch Collection Dwarfs His Declared Income
08 June 2012
President Vladimir Putin declared income of 3.6 million rubles ($112,000) last year, but his watch collection alone may be worth six times that.
Putin, who wears the timepieces on his right wrist, has been photographed sporting a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar, valued at $60,000. The president has also been seen wearing a Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date by Blancpain, worth $10,500. Made of crocodile leather, sapphire glass and platinum, an A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph may be his most expensive timepiece, valued at half a million dollars.
Defense scores partial victory in WikiLeaks pretrial
7 June 2012
US Army Private Bradley Manning (2nd R) is escorted during his arrival to military court on the first day of a three-day motion hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland.
AFP - Lawyers for WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning scored a partial victory when a judge ruled his defense team should be given access to government documents on the scandal.
Manning, 24, is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan -- as well as US diplomatic cables on a wide range of issues -- to whistleblower WikiLeaks while serving as a low-ranking intelligence analyst. He could be jailed for life if convicted of "aiding the enemy," one of 22 criminal charges that judge Colonel Denise Lind let stand at pre-trial hearings in April at Fort Meade, a military base north of Washington.
Indian government defends $54,000 toilets
6 June 2012
An Indian transit passenger gets ready in a toilet complex at a railway station in New Delhi in 2011.
AFP - India's Planning Commission, which plots the country's economic future, defended itself on Wednesday over a 3 million rupee ($54,100) bill for upgrading toilets.
The cost sparked outrage after a local activist unearthed the figure through a Right To Information request about work done on toilets at the commission's headquarters in New Delhi. The commission was forced to deny media reports that only two individual toilets were renovated and that they were reserved for senior staff who would access them via an electronic card system.
Indian 'untouchable' lynched over water pump: police
6 June 2012
Indian police patrol fields in the eastern state of Bihar, after a spate of attacks on lower caste Hindus in 2000.
AFP - Police in north India said Wednesday they were hunting for a village leader accused of beating to death an "untouchable" neighbour who broke strict caste-based rules by using a local handpump.
Mohan Paswan, in his late 40s, was lynched in Parhuti village in Bihar state last Thursday when he disobeyed an order by a local thug not to use the pump during a heatwave.
Queen's English Society says enuf is enough, innit?
Society formed 40 years ago to protect language against poor spelling and grammar closes because too few people care
by Lewis Smith
Monday 4 June 2012
The Queen's English Society has called it a day, claiming there is not enough interest in its work in the tweet and txt msg age. Photograph: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images
The Queen may be celebrating her jubilee, but the Queen's English Society, which has railed against the misuse and deterioration of the English language, is to fold. For 40 years the society has championed good English – and hasn't been above the occasional criticism of the Queen's own pronouncements – but it has finally conceded that it cannot survive in the era of textspeak and Twitter.