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Israel Concerned About Egyptian Regime Change

Israel warily watched Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation unfold Friday, concerned about the countries’ peace treaty.

The 30-year autocrat’s decision to step down from power, which comes after 18 days of widespread protests in Cairo and other major Egyptian cities, was announced by Vice President Omar Suleiman in a televised broadcast Friday night.

While Israel’s government has declined official comment on the new development, Israeli officials are worried that the ouster of their Arab ally could mean trouble.

“We have a tough period ahead of us,” Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador in Egypt, told Israel TV, according to AP. “Iran and Turkey will consolidate positions against us. Forget about the former Egypt. Now it’s a completely new reality, and it won’t be easy.”

After Turkey abandoned its alliance last year, Jordan is the only remaining Arab country that still has a peace deal with Israel, AP reports.

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, an Israeli Labor Party Knesset member and former defense minister, voiced concern over Mubarak’s resignation.

“From this day on, I only have lots of questions about what will be, what will be the fate of the peace treaty between us and the Egyptians?” Ben-Eliezer told Israel TV’s Channel 10, as quoted by AP. “There are many questions that we don’t have answers for, how will this affect the entire region now?”

The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has been in effect since 1979.

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

Suicide Attack Leaves 30 Pakistani Troops Dead

A suicide attack in an army center in northwester Pakistan Thursday killed more than 30 Pakistani troops and wounded more than 40, officials say.

Geo News reported that a young suicide bomber in a school uniform walked into the heavily guarded parade ground inside the Punjab Regimental Center in Mardan and blew himself up.

The bombing occurred during the soldiers’ morning exercises at the training camp. All of the soldiers present were killed except for one, who was a drill instructor, AP reports.

CNN quoted officials saying that the attacker was 14 years old and was either wearing an explosive vest or caring a bag containing the bombs.

The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the incident. “We will continue targeting the Pakistan military until it stops supporting the U.S,” spokesman Azam Tariq said, according to CNN.

A suicide bomber attacked the same facility in 2006, killing 36 cadets.

Posted in Military0 Comments

Clean Air Regulations to Create 1.5M Jobs, Report Finds

An upcoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal that will mandate air pollution laws for industrial facilities could create 1.5 million jobs over the next five years, according to a new report.

The study by Ceres and the Political Economy Research Institute claims that the new federal regulations will generate engineering, construction and pipefitting positions as facilities work to meet pollution standards and as older, inefficient plants are dismantled.

“New Jobs – Cleaner Air” predicts $200 billion in capital improvements in the electric power industry in the 36 Eastern states over the next five years.

The report flies in the face of the frequent objection by Republicans that a shift to clean energy would be “job killing,” forcing coal industry workers out of employment.

“The bottom line: clean air is a worthwhile investment,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, as quoted by AP.

Most of the 1.46 million jobs created over the next five years would be temporary, related to power industry investment in the construction of new facilities.

But the clean air regulations would trigger more than 2,000 permanent positions in operations and maintenance, according to the report released Tuesday at the 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference in Washington, D.C.

The new EPA regulations – designed to reduce smog-causing emissions in the East, reduce mercury output, and curtail other harmful pollutants – are expected to be finalized later this year.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution Prevention0 Comments

Sierre Leone Bans Imports of Ozone-Depleting Products

Sierra Leone plans to prohibit imported goods known to damage the ozone layer, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday.

Kolleh Bangura, director of the West African nation’s EPA, told AFP that a new measure would ban products containing substances known to deplete the ozone, such as old refrigerators. The ban will go into effect April 1.

“A recent workshop has sensitised customs and marine officials as well as other stakeholders including fire-fighters on the harmful effect of ozone-depleting substances,” Bangura said, according to AFP.

“Sierra Leone has made progress in the issue of ozone depletion between 1990 to 2000 introducing environmental policies, strategies and regulations but practical control and management have been severely affected by lack of funding,” Bangura added.

The attempt to ban ozone-damaging products and substances dates back to 2008, when the law was first passed by the nation’s parliament. A lack of funding prevented the ban from going into effect until now.

Posted in Laws & Regulations, Ozone0 Comments

Pollution Standards Won’t Apply to All, EPA Says

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday reversed pollutions standards for a California power plant waiting for a permit, and the decision could leave a dozen additional industrial facilities exempt from the stringent new rules as well, The Associated Press said Wednesday.

A top EPA official reportedly told a federal panel that a California facility would not have to comply with new federal air pollution regulations.

The EPA on Wednesday appeared before a Senate panel to go over its new federal controls on heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Republicans say the new restrictions will kill jobs and slow economic growth.

AP reported Wednesday that the reversal could exempt about 10 to 20 industrial facilities from the standards on smog and pollutants responsible for acid rain.
An EPA official said the change would not influence efforts to fight global warming.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution Prevention, Air Pollution Remediation0 Comments

Hosni Mubarak Supporters Gather in Cairo

Supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gathered today in Cairo to counter the past week’s anti-government protests.

On an upscale boulevard in the nation’s capital, thousands of Mubarak defenders – including government workers, men in designer sunglasses and women with expensive hairdos – congregated to peacefully voice their support of the autocratic leader, AP reported Wednesday. A few dozen government-employed nurses chanted, “We love you Mubarak!”

Things were less subdued in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, where opposition protesters had been keeping a vigil for days. The two sides clashed violently there today, AP reported, hitting each other with sticks and leaving many injured.

After 30 years in power, Mubarak has buckled to pressure from the protests and promised to stand down at the country’s next election in September. But demonstrators continue to demand that the 82-year-old relinquish his authority immediately.
The Egyptian military also called for Mubarak to step down immediately.

“Your message has arrived, your demands became known … you are capable of bringing normal life to Egypt,” a military spokesman said, according to AP.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Laws & Regulations, Military0 Comments

$46M Spent on Calif. Climate Change Prop

Over $46 million was spent on a California ballot measure aimed at postponing the state’s landmark global warming law, according to fundraising and spending reports filed Monday.

Proposition 23, which failed to pass on the November ballot, would have temporarily suspended the state’s 2006 greenhouse gas regulations until the unemployment rate, now at 12.5 percent, remained at 5.5 percent for a year.

Opponents pumped more than $36 million into the campaign against the measure, while supporters headed by out-of-state oil companies spent about $10.5 million.

The ballot measure, which failed by a margin of 61.6 percent to 38.4 percent, sought to freeze the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, a law that will curb heat-trapping industrial emissions beginning in 2012 and start reducing dependency on fossil fuels in 2020.

Oil companies championed the proposition, claiming that the law would do further damage to California’s already-crippled economy by driving businesses out of the state. They said it should be postponed until the state regained financial security.

Steve Mavilglio, a spokesman for the opponents to Proposition 23, said the measure was defeated because of state and national groups that believe green jobs will help California’s economy rebound.

“California’s business community rallied to save the fastest-growing business sector in the state,” Maviglio told AP. “It also became a flashpoint nationally for the future of clean energy.”

The state’s unemployment rate has held at 5.5 percent for a year just three times in three decades, AP reports.

Posted in Laws & Regulations, Policies0 Comments

Republican Senators Pledge to Strip Obama Climate Power

A group of Republican U.S. senators Monday announced plans to strip the Obama administration of its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and 10 other conservative senators introduced sweeping legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating heat-trapping emissions from power stations and industrial plants without permission from Congress.

The bill would also bar all federal agencies from considering the impact of greenhouse gas emissions when implementing existing laws, such as the Endangered Species Act.

“My bill will shrink Washington’s job-crushing agenda and grow America’s economy,” said Barrasso, an outspoken skeptic of climate change.

“I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Washington doesn’t impose cap-and-trade policies in any form.”

Environmental groups and Democratic senators fired back immediately, with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry charging that Barrasso’s bill “puts the public health at risk and encourages the outsourcing of American jobs.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer said the legislation threatens bipartisan efforts to serve the public by protecting the environment.

“Since president Nixon signed the Clean Air Act in 1970, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have worked together to protect American families from dangerous pollution,” Boxer said in a statement. “The Republican effort now to turn their back on the health of the American people will be resisted by those of us who believe it is our responsibility to make life better for the people we serve.”

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey accused the Republican senators of seeking to please industrial emitters, saying: “The health of our children must come before the interests of polluters.”

While the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House can block the effort to curb powers on emissions, the proposed bill demonstrates that it will be impossible for Democrats to pass legislation on climate change. Obama’s “cap-and-trade” bill to force emissions standards halted in Congress last year.

Posted in Global Warming, Global Warming & Climate Change, Laws & Regulations, Politics & Politicians0 Comments

Davos Conference Wraps Up

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland drew to a close Sunday after a week’s worth of debate on global debt, climate change, food shortages, and a host of other international issues.

Prominent politicians spoke to the world’s most powerful business leaders at the upscale snowbound resort in the Swiss mountains during the annual event, aimed at strengthening a globalized economy.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pushed hard for the development of an energy-efficient economy, urging the United States and Europe to lead the rest of the world in combatting climate change.

“Let me highlight the one resource that is scarcest of all: time,” Ban said, according to AFP.

Other issues that took precedence at the gathering included the ongoing anti-government revolts in North Africa, Chinese asset-price inflation, rising food prices, and Europe’s debt crisis.

The first day of the conference was rocked by news of a Moscow airport bombing, which took place shortly before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was due in Davos. The violence delayed his arrival, and the forum paused for a minute of silence prior to his opening day speech.

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

Egypt Gov’t Gains Apparent Support of Israel

As violent street protests imperil President Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt, Israel is calling on Western countries to end criticism of the 30-year leader “in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt” and the Middle East at large, Al Jazeera reports.

The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported Monday that Israel’s foreign ministry urged the United States and Europe to “stress…the importance of Egypt’s stability” as widespread demonstrations wrack the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.

Egypt has been a key ally to Israel since the two countries reached peace in 1979.

The anti-government protests present a significant threat to Israel, and although Israeli officials have remained largely silent about the unrest, they have reportedly held lengthy strategy sessions this week to address the possibility of Mubarak’s ouster.

“We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region,” said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before his cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday, according to Al Jazeera.

“Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved. At this time, we must display responsibility, restraint and utmost prudence,” Netanyahu added.

If Mubarak’s autocratic regime is booted from power, the Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt’s strongest opposition group – could assume control over the country. In all likelihood, that group and its allies would distance Egypt from its relationship with the West and possibly nullify the peace agreement with Israel.

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

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