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Salmaan Taseer Assassinated by Own Guard in Islamabad

Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, was assassinated in Islamabad by one of his security force protectors Tuesday, officials said.

A report by the Associated Press of Pakistan said that the Punjab governor was shot while riding in his motorcade through a market district in the nation’s capital.

Police official Mohammad Iftikhar told AP that Taseer was shot by a member of his own guard, who later surrendered to the police. Five others were wounded in relation to the Islamabad attack.

Taseer, a senior member of the ruling party (the Pakistan Peoples Party), was against Pakistan’s blasphemy law. The attacker said he disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to the policy.

He was rushed to Polyclinic in a critical condition before he died, the News Tribe reported. He had been shot 27 times.

Meanwhile, more violence erupted in the southwestern city of Turbat when a school bus near a girl’s school was bombed, UPI reports. Five children were wounded, one of them critically. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

On Monday, five ostensibly politically motivated murders took place in Karachi, UPI said. A violent mob spilled into the streets and set fire to to buses, a rickshaw and a hotel after a local politician was gunned down.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Politics, Politics & Politicians0 Comments

Mexican Drug Wars Killed 12,000 in 2010

Mexican drug wars have killed at least 12,000 people this year, officials said Friday.

The Los Angeles times reported that as of Nov. 30, 12,456 people lost their lives to drug-related violence in Mexico, making 2010 the country’s deadliest year since President Felipe Calderon launched an effort to eradicate drug activity in 2006.

Mexican attorney Gen. Arturo Chavez said Thursday that over 30,000 people have been killed in the drug wars since Calderon’s crackdown against cartels four years ago.

Chavez and federal authorities said Thursday that La Familia, one of Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartels, was critically weakened by the recent deaths or arrests of some of its key members.

“The systematic weakening of this criminal group due to the actions of the federal government has forced some of its members to adopt false rhetoric about helping the people of Michoacan, when in fact their operational methods are to terrorize and rob them,” Mexican officials said in the statement.

Officials maintained that they would not negotiate with drug cartels. “The only option that remains for these criminals to hand themselves over to the authorities,” the government said.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Politics0 Comments

Ban on Stem Cell Research Upheld by Judge

Sept. 8, 2010 (EcoWorld) – Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research remains blocked after a judge refused the Obama administration’s request to lift a temporary injunction.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth, in an order issued on Tuesday, held that the injunction should remain in place until a final determination of the issues is conducted by the court. The Obama administration had argued that the injunction was stopping important research projects and scientific advances.

Lamberth disagreed with the Obama administration’s assessment, writing that the administration was “incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result” from the injunction. Lamberth explained that lifting the injunction would “flout the will of Congress” which was expressed in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment (a 1996 law prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for research in which embryos are destroyed).

Although Lamberth added that Congress “remains perfectly free to amend or revise the statute,” but that he is not free to do so.

Opponents of stem cell research celebrated the decision as a victory for human embryos.

As a result of the judge’s order, the National Institutes of Health announced that no new grants for stem cell research would be considered. While existing research could continue, this funding would not be renewed once it comes up for routine review. Consequently, hundreds of researchers currently working on stem cell research will be forced to find alternative funding sources, or halt their research.

The ruling on Tuesday stems from a March 2009 decision by President Obama to permit the use of human embryonic stem cells in research supported by federal dollars. This was in opposition to former President George W. Bush, who had only permitted research on existing cell lines. The original case in Lamberth’s court was brought by a group of Christian organizations and two researchers who are opposed to the use of human stem cells in research.

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Greenpeace Activists Heckle Canadian Politician Michael Ignatieff

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 17 (UPI) — Activists disrupted a speech by the leader of Canada’s Liberal party, protesting his position on development of the country’s oil sands, authorities said.

Tarsands are a mixture of sand or clay with a heavy form of crude oil, which can be extracted.

Michael Ignatieff was addressing a town hall meeting at the University of British Columbia when Greenpeace protesters started chanting and displaying signs, Canwest news service reported Sunday.

About a dozen activists began chanting “When I say ‘Stop the,’ you say ‘Tarsands’; Stop the Tarsands!” Canwest said.

The protesters said they want the Canadian government to halt development of Alberta’s oil sands, they said. Ignatieff, whose speech was halted for about two minutes, seemed not bothered by the protest, the report said.

“One of the key things about politics, one of the key things about Canada, is that we can’t pick and choose which facts we like. The tarsands are a fact of our national lives. We have one of the largest proven carbon oil reserves in the world,” he said.

“If you’re asking me to shut down the tarsands, it’s not in my power to do so, and frankly, it’s not in the national interest of our country to do so,” he added while the audience of about 400 applauded, Canwest reported.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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Clean Technology Projects Get $2 Billion in Tax Credits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) — Tax credits of $2.3 billion will be awarded for new, clean-technology manufacturing jobs, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday.

The tax credits, available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, will enable creation of more than $7 billion in new manufacturing projects and create tens of thousands of jobs, Obama said in remarks at the White House.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” Obama said. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”

Obama said 183 projects in 43 states are eligible for the credits, worth up to 30 percent of each project.

This effort, along with other Recovery Act investments, will drive growth in the renewable energy and clean technology manufacturing sectors, Obama said, giving the United States the ability to take global leadership in these markets.

While welcoming a global competition to develop clean energy jobs, Obama said, “I don’t want America to lose that competition.”

The tax credit awards also will give a “much needed boost to the manufacturing sector” buy building new plants or rehabilitating old ones, he said.

“This is good for middle class families, good for our security and good for our planet,” Obama said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Policies & Solutions, Policy, Law, & Government, Politics, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

Top Politicos Arriving at Climate Summit

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 16 (UPI) — Leaders and lawmakers from around the globe began arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark, to attend the final days of the U.N.-sponsored climate change summit.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., co-author of climate change legislation pending in the upper chamber, was the first high-level U.S. politician to attend the talks, The Boston Globe reported. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to meet with negotiators Thursday and President Barack Obama was scheduled to arrive and speak on Friday.

Before leaving, Kerry told the Globe he may agree with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that a deal may be struck over one of the most contentious issues facing climate change negotiators: long-term financing for developing nations to help them adapt to global warming and move to more eco-friendly technologies.

The “makings of a deal” existed at the summit, Kerry said, adding, “today (Wednesday) is going to be quite critical.”

Kerry said he wanted to assure world negotiators that the United States was serious about reducing its emission output.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who arrived at the conference Tuesday, said the gravity of the talks couldn’t be overstated, The Times of London reported.

“It is an uphill struggle, there is a huge amount to be done” in negotiating a climate change treaty, he said.

If a deal can be stuck that results in jobs in Britain, it would be worth the effort, Brown said.

“But I also think our children, growing up, going to school every day, I don’t want them to live in a world of floods, of droughts, of extreme weather,” he said. “It is really important; therefore, for Britain that we get this deal … .”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Global Warming & Climate Change, International Relations & Treaties, Politics0 Comments

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