February 7, 2007

News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 6

Important but overlooked news from around the world.

THIS WEEK:

Global warming goes green (as in “growth industry”), a monster mud volcano is blamed on botched gas drilling, the Mahdi Army may only gain from a surge, Australians dispute their flag’s role in recent ethnic rioting, Indian police discover an illegal kidney transplant trade, Zimbabwe’s health care system grinds to a halt … and gay marriage makes estranged bedfellows of clerks in Canada and California.

QUOTED:

“They’ll wave at us during the day and shoot at us during the night … People (in America) think it’s bad, but that we control the city. That’s not the way it is. They control it, and they let us drive around.”

— 1st Lt. Dan Quinn, a U.S. Army platoon leader in Baghdad, says the Mahdi Army has effectively infiltrated Iraq’s Army and police force (see “Top Stories”).


TOP STORIES

Shiite Militia May Gain From Surge

American soldiers in Iraq say the Mahdi Army will only be strengthened by White House plans to boost troops levels there.

The soldiers told a McClatchy Newspapers reporter that Shiite militants have “heavily” infiltrated Iraq’s army and police, use U.S. training and supplies to stage death squad killings, and are waiting for an American withdrawal before launching a final attack on Sunnis to consolidate their hold on Baghdad.

Humans Blamed for Indonesia Mud Volcano

More than 10,000 people have been made homeless so far by the slow but devastating eruption of a huge mud volcano. Scientists blame the tide of hot mud, which may continue for years, on botched gas- drilling by a company linked to an Indonesian government minister. Efforts to control the flood have so far proven futile.

Australia’s Flag: Gang Colors?

The director of Australia’s largest outdoor music festivals has enraged veterans and politicians by asking concertgoers to leave the national flag at home. Prompted by race riots at sporting and music events, Big Day Out producer Ken West told the Daily Telegraph that the flag was being used as “gang colors.”

Sources:

“Mahdi Army gains strength through unwitting aid of U.S.”
McClatchy Newspapers, February 1, 2007

“Indonesia trying to stop mud flow”
Reuters, February 3, 2007

“Drilling for gas caused Java mud deluge, British scientists believe”
The Guardian, January 25, 2007

“Australian anger at flag controls”
BBC, January 22, 2007


CLIMATE CHANGE

The Global Warming Growth Industry

The worst weather may be a century away, but consumers and energy companies in coal-dependent Kentucky and Indiana may see early signs of climate change in their bank accounts. Officials say a push for cleaner power plants could triple energy bills there.

In Texas, a predicted increase in drought conditions could cause the Colorado River and Rio Grande to dry up before they reach the coast, creating a desert in the west of the state and eliminating 40 percent of all crops.

By 2050, some predict that oil tankers will be used to ship drinking water from New Zealand, Norway and Russia to thirsty parts of China, Australia, and the United States. Iceberg towing and chemical “cloud seeding” could become routine “if the money’s right,” one tanker owner told Reuters.

The pundit circuit also sees green in climate change: The American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank funded by ExxonMobil and other companies, has offered scientists $10,000 each to dispute the findings of the latest international climate change report.

Sources:

“Warming puts region’s coal in the cross hairs”
Courier-Journal (KY), February 3, 2007

“Severe heat, drought predicted for 22nd-century Texas”
Houston Chronicle, February 3, 2007

“Tankers may ship water to parched cities of future”
Reuters, February 2, 2007

“Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study”
Guardian (U.K.,) February 2, 2007


ILLEGAL ORGAN TRADE

India Kidney Scam Revealed

Police are investigating 10 private hospitals in Tamil Nadu for illegally removing kidneys from tsunami victims and impoverished textile workers, then selling them to patients from Sri Lanka, East Asia and “the Gulf,” according to Indian media.

The practice has been going on for “about six years,” police told ADN Kronos. Some donors some claim they were tricked, or drugged and subjected to nonconsensual surgery. Police say victims of the scam are paid a “pittance,” and that suspected hospitals may be falsifying records.

Sources:

“India: 500 people sell kidneys in Tamil Nadu”
ADNKronos International/Asian Age, February 1, 2007

“Tamil Nadu kidney racket may be catering to foreigners”
Daily News & Analysis (India), January 23, 2007


GAY MARRIAGE

Free Speech, Gay Marriage Clash in California and Canada

A Yolo County, Calif., clerk says she will exercise her free speech rights by giving a symbolic “certificate of inequality” to gay couples seeking to marry during a Valentine’s Day protest, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Some critics blasted the move as inappropriate; others say it reflects the conflict between Proposition 22, California’s voter-approved ballot initiative banning gay marriages, and constitutional mandates to ensure equal protection.

In Saskatchewan, a 70-year-old marriage commissioner is on trial for violating human rights rules when he refused to marry a gay couple as provided by Canadian law. His lawyer says to do so would have violated his religious beliefs.

Sources:

“Clerk protests gay marriage ban”
Sacramento Bee, February 2, 2007

“Decision reserved in case of Sask. official who refused to marry gay couple”
CBC Saskatchewan, February 2, 2007


NEWS & PERSPECTIVE

Zimbabwe’s Deadly Medical Strike

With medical workers on strike over wages so low that a junior doctor’s monthly salary won’t cover a single tank of gas, Zimbabwe’s health care system has come to a “near-total halt.”

An op-ed published by the Institute for War & Peace Reporting claims that the strike, underway since December 21, is killing “hundreds” of patients weekly, and was caused by government neglect of a once-admired health care system that today denies service to 90 percent of the population.

The anonymous author says the international community is ignoring the problem, even while senior Zimbabwean officials fly to South Africa and elsewhere to receive health care.

Source:

“Zimbabwe: Health system near total collapse”
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, January 30, 2007


Editors: Julia Scott, Josh Wilson

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