World Wrap: August 7, 2013
Japan’s Abe calls Fukushima leak an “urgent issue,” fire cripples Kenya’s main airport, and Tunisia’s anti-government protests gather force. Today is Wednesday, August 7, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Fukushima’s radioactive water leak raises government concerns
Members of a Fukushima prefecture panel, which monitors the safe decommissioning of the nuclear plant, inspect the construction site of the shore barrier, which is meant to stop radioactive water from leaking into the sea, near the No.1 and No.2 reactor building of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima in this photo released by Kyodo, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo
Worse than we thought. Japanese officials said highly radioactive water is seeping from the Fukushima nuclear plant at a rate of 300 metric tons a day, reaching the ocean and prompting the government to finally step in:
The leak from the plant 220 km northeast of Tokyo is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week. The water is spilling into the Pacific Ocean, but it was not immediately clear how much of a threat it poses. As early as January this year, (Tokyo Electric Power Co) found fish contaminated with high levels of radiation inside a port at the plant. Local fishermen and independent researchers had already suspected a leak of radioactive water, but Tepco denied the claims. Tetsu Nozaki, the chairman of the Fukushima fisheries federation said he had only heard of the latest estimates of the magnitude of the seepage from media reports. Environmental group Greenpeace said Tepco had “anxiously hid the leaks” and urged Japan to seek international expertise.
The Japanese government authorized Tepco to dump tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific in an emergency response soon after the plant was compromised. According to a director in Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s Nuclear Accident Response Office, the government believes water has been leaking from the plant for two years at unknown rates and levels of contamination. Tepco has worked alongside the industry ministry since May on a proposal to prevent leakage by freezing soil, but experts say such an operation could be expensive. Abe said that the “government will take measures,” to deal with the issue, but did not offer specifics. Since shuttering nuclear plants, Japan has relied on expensive imported fuel for energy. On Tuesday, a government affiliated institute said some plants could be reopened as soon as July 2014.
Firefighters inspect damages from a fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Noor Khamis. Click here for more images.
Kenyatta airport burned. Kenya’s main airport was engulfed in flame, halting international passenger flights indefinitely, stranding thousands of would-be passengers, and causing transport delays throughout the region. Firefighters fought the blaze for five hours before conquering the fire, the worst on record at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport:
The country’s anti-terror police boss said he did not believe that there was a terror link to the fire even though it coincided with the 15th anniversary of a twin attack by Islamist militants on the United States embassy in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of neighboring Tanzania…There were no immediate reports of casualties from the fire, which started in the arrivals and immigration area.
Authorities plan to prepare the airport’s domestic terminal for international flights on Thursday. Domestic flights had resumed by Wednesday evening and outward bound cargo flights were expected to resume hours later.
Anti-government protesters wave flags and shout slogans during a demonstration in Tunis, August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili
Momentum in Tunis. Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in downtown Tunis in the largest opposition rally since protests began two weeks ago:
Tunisia is facing the worst political turmoil since autocratic ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled. The crisis has been compounded by growing instability as Islamist militants step up their attacks. “The people want the fall of the regime,” shouted crowds crammed into Bardo Square, using the same slogan they popularized when Tunisians ousted Ben Ali in 2011 and sparked a wave of uprisings across the Arab world. Tuesday’s opposition protests mark the six-month anniversary of the assassination of leftist politician Chokri Belaid, one of the two opposition figures shot dead in recent months.
On Monday the head of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly suspended the body until Tunisia’s Islamist government and secular opposition start a dialogue, possibly signalling rifts within Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party. Anti-government sentiment has not extended to many of Tunisia’s poor, who say the protests are propelled by the country’s upper and middle class.
Nota Bene: Obama cancels meeting with Putin over Snowden asylum.
Toy gun control - Pakistan hopes to stem a culture of violence by cracking down on toy guns. (The Atlantic)
Poo package - Spanish dog owners who neglect their duties can expect a special delivery. (The New York Times)
‘Bongo Bongo Land’ - The UK Independent Party bans representatives from using an “outdated” phrase. (BBC)
Runway for sale - Spain’s airport at Ciudad Real in La Mancha is on the market. (The Guardian)
Fighting words - An EU Parliamentarian is under fire for encouraging Palestinians to start a third intifada. (Al Jazeera)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
World Wrap: July 26, 2013
Egypt’s military investigates Mursi for alleged crimes, Pussy Riot member denied release from prison, and Tunisians rally over assassination of opposition leader. Today is Friday, July 26, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Egypt’s Mursi accused of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy
Anti-Mursi protesters chant slogans during a mass protest to support the army in Tahrir Square, Cairo, July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
Mursi charged. The Egyptian army accused deposed president Mohamed Mursi of a number of crimes and will detain him for fifteen days while officials investigate the allegations, Egypt’s state news agency reports. Military leaders made the announcement hours before anti-Mursi protesters heeded a call from army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to rally for a military mandate to confront recent violence:
Military officials have told Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood to end its protests and work with a new interim government or face the consequences, raising fears of a crackdown against Islamist protesters camped out by a mosque in a Cairo suburb… The probe centers on charges that he conspired with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to flee jail during the 2011 uprising against veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak, killing some prisoners and officers, kidnapping soldiers and torching buildings.
Mursi’s family previously threatened to take legal action against the army for detaining Mursi without charge. Until today, the military said they were holding Mursi to protect him. Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad dismissed the charges against Mursi, calling the accusations “nothing more than the fantasy of a few army generals and military dictatorship.” While many secular Egyptians welcome army rule, some fear a return to the violence that overcame Egypt when the military overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Washington halted a shipment of F-16 jets to Egypt but stopped short of deciding whether to sever aid to the country. Nearly 200 people have been killed in clashes this month.
A member of the female punk band “Pussy Riot,“ Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, looks out from a holding cell as she attends a court hearing to appeal for parole at the Supreme Court of Mordovia in Saransk, July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Request denied. A member of the Russian female punk group Pussy Riot who was imprisoned for hooliganism in 2012 lost an appeal for release, refusing to plead guilty even though it could have won her favor in court:
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova watched from behind the black metal bars of a courtroom cage as a regional court on Friday upheld an earlier decision not to release her after nearly a year in prison so that she could look after her five-year-old daughter… “I do not admit guilt and will not plead guilty. I have principles upon which I will stand,” she said from the cage, often used for defendants or convicts in Russian courts.
On Wednesday band member Maria Alyokhina, serving a similar two-year sentence, was also denied early release. The ruling comes soon after a court sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to five years in prison and barred him from running for office in a move that prompted rebellion against what critics see as oppressive rule by the Kremlin.
Protesters shout slogans while marching on the streets in the capital of Tunis, July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili
Smoking gun. Thousands of Tunisian anti-government protesters gathered in the capital city of Tunis after opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated on Thursday, as new evidence links his death to another political killing in February:
Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi was killed with the same gun that was used to assassinate his party leader six months ago, suggesting the involvement of the same hardline Islamist group, the interior minister said on Friday… Brahmi belonged to the secular, Arab nationalist Popular Front party, formerly led by Belaid, whose killing set off the worst violence in Tunisia since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011 in the first of the Arab Spring revolutions.
Banks and stores were closed on Friday and flights in and out of the country were canceled due to a general strike as the country observed a national day of mourning. Tunisians will vote on a new constitution in a few weeks, ahead of presidential elections slated for later this year.
Nota Bene: A profile details the life of Francisco Garzon, one of the drivers of a train that sped off its tracks on Wednesday in one of Europe’s worst rail disasters.
Return to growth - Reuters columnist Anatole Kaletsky discusses the global shift away from austerity. (Reuters)
Cat burglar’s escape - A member of the Pink Panther jewel thieves escaped from a Swiss prison. (Bloomberg)
Censorship outsourced - A Chinese firm is controlling the UK’s Internet porn filter. (BBC)
Formula squeeze - Chinese consumers cause an infant formula shortage worldwide. (The New York Times)
Mafia bust - Italian police arrest more than 100 people in mob crackdown. (CNN)
Check out more from World Wrap at Reuters dot com.
BREAKING: Tunisian PM Jebali says at a news conference that he has resigned
Female war correspondents are no longer a novelty. The legendary 20th century author and journalist Martha Gellhorn broke that mold around 80 years ago, and in recent times many of our most accomplished journalists and chroniclers of war zones — among them CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the BBC’s formidable Kate Adie, Alex Crawford from Sky News and others — just happened to be women.
Male news executives like to think we have become more enlightened over the years as we made decisions about who should cover wars and who was not suited and should stay at home.
As I made judgments, as head of Newsgathering at the BBC and then president and managing director of CNN International, about whom to assign to the hellholes around the globe, the gender of a war correspondent was always under the surface. Was the story suitable for a woman? Would she prove a distraction? Was her hair too long or too blonde? Did her flak jacket fit? Crucially: Was she at greater risk of harassment, sexual assault and rape than her male colleagues?
Read more: On the front line with female war reporters
The White House announced plans on Monday to help “Arab Spring” countries swept by revolutions with more than $800 million in economic aid, while maintaining U.S. military aid to Egypt.
In his annual budget message to Congress, President Barack Obama asked that military aid to Egypt be kept at the level of recent years — $1.3 billion — despite a crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe targeting American democracy activists.
Obama proposed $51.6 billion in funding for the U.S. State Department and foreign aid overall, when $8.2 billion in assistance to war zones is included. The “core budget” for the category would increase by 1.6 percent, officials said.
Most of the economic aid for the Arab Spring countries — $770 million — would go to establish a new “Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund,” the president said in his budget plan.
Tarak Amara for Reuters - As a symbol of how far Tunisia still has to go to fulfill the promise of the first Arab Spring revolution, Ammar Gharsallah’s death this week could hardly have been more poignant.
The 40-year-old father of three, despairing at his poverty, died after immolating himself with petrol, echoing the act of the Tunisian vegetable vendor who one year ago set off a wave of revolt that has not yet abated.
Tunisia will on Saturday hold celebrations in the capital to mark one year from the day when protests forced autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country, and gave birth to the “Arab Spring” uprising