AROUND THE WORLD
Afghanistan: transitional relief
When the history of the past decade of western intervention in Afghanistan is written, few will escape censure. What matters now is that there is a last chance to spare Afghanistan a fourth decade of war. More effort is being put into crafting a face-saving narrative or keeping the country out of the news altogether. The policy is called "transition" but there is little to be in transit to. Afghanistan's government preys on its people more than it serves them. The Afghan army is not what Nato claims, which is just as well, for a strong army in a fragile state is an old story that never has a happy ending. International aid to the country is roughly equivalent to its GDP, but little of this has ever reached the Afghan people, and there are commitments to reduce it gradually.
The centrepiece of this transition is next year's presidential election. It is likely to make Saturday's poll in neighbouring Pakistan, and the bloody turbulence that preceded it, seem a model of peace and propriety. At best, Afghanistan's election will lend it a semblance of self-government. At worst, it will prompt a long, violent unravelling. Washington's insurance policy is to retain special forces and the increasingly militarised CIA in the country. These partners have a long and disruptive record here, as the citizens of Wardak and Kunar provinces are only the latest to testify. If Afghanistan is treated as a no man's land, that is what it will become, and even the west's most minimal goals will not be met.
Ambos on meal break as woman lay dying
The Age; Deborah Gough
The closest ambulance to an elderly woman who lay badly burnt and dying was not called to the scene because officers were on a meal break, Ambulance Victoria says.
The woman, aged 77, was found by Country Fire Authority officers on Wednesday last week while they put out a grass fire at Diggers Rest.
She was found under a gum tree after she conducted a burn-off on her Crinnion Road property.
The CFA attempted to keep the woman alive while they waited for an ambulance.
The closest ambulance was at Sunbury, which was 10 minutes away, but that service was not contacted because officers there were on a meal break. The meal break is only allowed when there are no immediate threats, such as a suspected cardiac arrest or a person has stopped breathing.
China: 40 miners die in two coal mine blasts
AP via New Zealand Herald
Less than 24 hours earlier, another coal mine blast in neighbouring Guizhou province killed 12 people.
China's mines are the deadliest in the world. Authorities have improved safety in recent years, but regulations are often ignored.
Engineering students devise bra that can shock assailants
Times of India; Gladwin Emmanuel, Mumbai Mirror
The device called Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE) comprises pressure sensors, an electric circuit, and Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) modules. The circuit is placed on the bosom and when pressure is applied the sensor-enabled device will trigger a 3,800 KV surge of current that can incapacitate the assailant long enough for the woman to escape. The innerwear would be bilayered; the layer touching the skin made of a material that would insulate her from the shock. Sensors would be placed between the two layers. The sensor is calibrated to distinguish between a normal touch, like a hug, and a violent one, like a squeeze, grab and pinch. The GPS and GSM work in tandem to send location details of the woman.
In case of multiple attacks, SHE can send up to 82 electrical currents. "The device can be recharged like we recharge our cellphones," Pal says.
I wonder if there could be a control button on a ring or bracelet, also.
Fearing China, India pulls out of war games with US, Japan
Shishir Gupta & Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times
Concerned at how it would be perceived by Beijing, India last month suddenly withdrew from the planning of a naval exercise with the US and Japanese navies off the US Pacific island of Guam.
Instead, India will stick to geopolitically less sensitive separate naval manoeuvres with the US and Japan.
US and Japanese naval officials visited India last month to discuss coordination for the trilateral exercise.
The Indian defence ministry first indicated a preference for holding the exercise off the coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
Then it took the view that war games should be kept to the bilateral level for the time being in deference to Chinese sensibilities. The ministry then withdrew from the discussion altogether.
China's bullying garners a reward, seemingly.
And, to add to any available confusion:
Taiwan steps up naval patrols after Philippines fires on fishing vessel
Agence France-Presse in Taipei and Cary Huang in Beijing, hosted by South China Morning Post
Taiwan sent four coastguard and naval vessels to strengthen patrols in waters near the Philippines yesterday following public outrage over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino coastguards.
"The government is determined to protect our fishermen," cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen said in a statement as a frigate and coastguard vessels set sail for the area where the 65-year-old fisherman was killed on Thursday.
Taiwan in a strongly worded statement late on Saturday demanded Manila apologise and compensate the victim's family or face a freeze on the hiring of its nationals.
It also asked the Philippines to bring to justice the coastguards responsible and start negotiating a fisheries agreement.
Pakistan Elections Live Blog
First glance looks like the winning party dominated. Here is one specific artlcle:
'PML-N ready to accommodate all political forces in govts'
Despite of having enough presence in National and Punjab assemblies to form governments on its own, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is ready to accommodate all political forces including MQM and PTI to form a likely political coalition, says PML-N leader Senator Pervez Rashid.
Consultations are underway to form the next government, said Rashid while speaking to media representatives on Sunday.
Shahbaz Sharif, Ishaq Dar, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Ahsan Iqbal and Dr Asif Kirmani among other party leaders attended a meeting, headed by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, at their party's headquarters in Raiwind.
Death toll rises to 46 as explosions hit Turkish town on border with Syria
Hürriyet Daily News; Erdem Güneş
The death toll from suspected twin car bombs that hit the southern province of Hatay's Reyhanlı district on the Turkish-Syrian border has risen to 46, Turkish Deputy Prime Ministrer Beşir Atalay said today. More than 100 were injured, 56 of whom are still being treated, he added.
38 victims were identified, three of them being Syrian citizens.
Nine people linked to the deadly attack in Turkey's southern province of Hatay detained, Deputy PM says.
The town center of Reyhanlı, which is hosting many Syrians fleeing the conflict in the Arab republic, was the target of deadly explosions at around 1:45 p.m. local time. Bombs were set off near the municipality, causing major damage to buildings in the town center. A wooden building close to the municipality collapsed following the explosions, while power has reportedly been cut in the town. Police took heavy security measures after the explosions.
Later in the article, a link is mentioned to Syrian Government forces. I don't know how long Turkey can show how much restraint.
Three voting campaigners arrested in Zim
SAPA-AP at Mail & Guardian
Another 19 democracy activists were arrested last month for allegedly impersonating state election officials in a drive to get potential electors to register their names on voters' lists. They are still waiting to appear in court.
President Robert Mugabe (89) said on Friday he would proclaim a date for the elections next week, after the Parliament passes a new constitution.
This is looking ugly early. Remember, Mugabe is only in power today because he stole the previous election. I wish there was better coverage of this issue.
King No More: The Tragic Plight of Lions in Africa
Der Spiegel; Renate Nimtz-Koester
When cubs are born here, on this lion farm in Vrystaat, a province of South Africa, "each employee is assigned to bottle-feed one of them," says Christiaan. "You can buy a cub for 40,000 rand (€3,400, or $4,455)." A delighted visitor asks whether she can take a lion baby into her room at night. It can be arranged, promises the guide.
Lisa's father, a grown specimen with a stately mane who lives in the enclosure, can be had for about €20,000. Roughly 2,000 lions are kept in captivity in Vrystaat alone, where they are bred for a practice called "canned hunting." It's a diversion that executives at major German companies have been known to enjoy.
The king of the animals has fallen on hard times in his own kingdom. "In all of South Africa, there are almost as many lions behind bars as in the wild," says Fiona Miles of the Vrystaat chapter of the international animal rights group Four Paws, which has been unsuccessful in its efforts to protest the hunting of animals that are somewhat tame and are sometimes even drugged to keep them calm. "As a first step to ban canned hunting," Miles is calling for a moratorium on the breeding of lions.
Across the entire continent, the large African predator, a symbol of strength and majesty, is threatened with decline. Outside fenced enclosures, there is hardly any room left for Panthera leo. Scientists and conservationists warn that the king of the steppes has lost much of his habitat in the last 50 years.
Change of policy? Obama hosts Chile and Peru presidents; Biden visits Brazil and Colombia
Biden says the coming months will include the most active stretch of high-level engagement between the U.S. and Latin America in a long time.
The visits come shortly after Obama travelled to Mexico and Costa Rica. While in the two countries, Obama emphasized that the US relationship with Latin and Central America transcends security, immigration and drug-smuggling and urged the region to move beyond old stereotypes and called for strong economic ties.
Humala and Piñera have been in Washington several times and have met with Obama at different events but this will be the first time there will be official receptions at the White House.
ACROSS THE USA
This Week in Poverty: Twelve Things You Can Do To Fight Poverty Now
The Nation; Greg Kaufmann
This is a tough moment in the fight against poverty.
The sequester is the latest chapter in a time-honored tradition of kicking the poor when they are down. A do-nothing Congress certainly isn't going to do something about poverty without pressure from the grassroots. And it seems that the only way most of the mainstream media will pay attention to the more than one in three Americans living below twice the poverty line-on less than $36,000 for a family of three-is if their lives make good fodder for tabloid television or play out in a courtroom drama.
That said, there are still plenty of people and groups fighting for real change, and plenty of ways you can get involved or stay engaged. I reached out to a handful of folks who dedicate their lives to fighting poverty in different ways. Here is what they asked people to do:
HERE IN UTAH
Cherry-picking one survey to discredit a survey of scientists on climate change
Washington Post; Glenn Kessler
"There is also uncertainty regarding to what degree man is to blame for global warming. However, the claim that 98 percent of scientists agree that humans are the singular driver of climate change has been repeatedly discounted. This oft-cited statistic is based on an online survey with a sample size of only 77 people, and the survey didn't even ask to what degree humans contribute to climate change."
- Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment, in an opinion article, April 13, 2013
Stewart is a freshman lawmaker who ended up with a plum position: heading a House panel on the environment. In an opinion article for the Salt Lake Tribune, he struck a cautious stance on climate change, arguing that the science is "anything but settled."
He, for instance, cited an interesting Economist article that the climate may be heating up less quickly in response to greenhouse gas emissions than previously thought. (He did not mention that the article also said "that does not mean the problem is going away.")
For the purposes of this fact check, we will look at his claim about the 98 percent statistic, which he says "has been repeatedly discounted" and is based just on a survey of 77 people. What's he talking about?
This is my elected representative. Please don't judge me. I stayed in the same location.
"Follow your passion" - ha. Ha! Hahahaha! No, but seriously.
She says it's for graduation season, I see broader applications. I also think the rules of "The Game" need to change.
Ahakoa He Iti, He Pounamu
I love koa wood. Mostly the smell. The grain is lovely too. Colors are interesting. But I love the grain and must have the smell.
Infographic: Is Your State's Highest-Paid Employee A Coach? (Probably)
If you're not in the NE, it's just the Dakotas and Nevada with non-coaches at the top of the salary heap. Also, is that California spot for Steve Alford? Or someone at Berkeley or Stanford?
Alex Ferguson bows out in style at Old Trafford with a 2-1 win against Swansea A return to a sports feature. Also because I didn't otherwise include Europe. And he is a famous coach.
Crossposted from the orange