Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she expects the next challenge to Bush’s war policies to come in the form of legislation requiring the Pentagon to adhere to strict training and readiness standards in the case of troops ticketed for the war zone. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the leading advocate of that approach, has said it would effectively deny Bush the ability to proceed with the troop buildup that has been partially implemented since he announced it in January. Some Senate Democrats have been privately critical of that approach, saying it would have little chance of passing and could easily backfire politically.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Determined to challenge President George W. Bush, Senate Democrats are drafting legislation to limit the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq, effectively revoking the broad authority Congress granted in 2002, officials said Thursday. While these officials said the precise wording of the measure remains unsettled, one draft would restrict American troops in Iraq to combating al-Qaida, training Iraqi army and police forces, maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity and otherwise proceeding with the withdrawal of combat forces. The officials, Democratic aides and others familiar with private discussions, spoke only on condition of anonymity, saying rank-and-file senators had not yet been briefed on the effort. They added, though, the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to present the proposal to fellow Democrats early next week for their consideration. The plan is to attempt to add the measure to anti-terrorism legislation that scheduled to be on the Senate floor next week and the week following. Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, declined to discuss the deliberations, saying only, “No final decisions have been made on how to proceed.” Any attempt to limit Bush’s powers as commander in chief would likely face strong opposition from Republican allies of the administration in the Senate and could also face a veto threat. The decision to try to limit the military mission marks the next move in what Reid and other Senate war critics have said will be a multistep effort to force a change in Bush’s strategy and eventually force an end to U.S. participation in the nearly four-year-old war. Earlier efforts to pass a nonbinding measure critical of Bush’s decision to deploy 21,500 additional troops ended in gridlock after Senate Republicans blocked votes on two separate measures. The emerging Senate plan differs markedly from an approach favored by critics of the war in the House, where a nonbinding measure passed last week.
5 October 2005The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have praised South Africa for a R140-million (US$21.5-million) contribution to the agencies’ operations in southern Africa.The WFP will R35-million ($5.4-million) for food aid while the FAO will receive R98-million ($15-million) for agricultural and livestock inputs. An additional R7-million ($1.1-million) will be donated for the SADC Regional Early Warning System.“Yet again the government of South Africa is playing a leading role in trying to help its neighbours during their time of critical food need”, WFP regional director for southern Africa Mike Sackett said in a statement on Tuesday.According to the WFP, the donation comes at a critical time in the gearing up phase of programmes ahead of the region’s lean season, which starts as early as November in some countries.“Already many poor people have very little to eat and their needs are only going to escalate the closer we get to the lean season, but because it’s a cash donation, we’ll be able to buy food locally and quickly transport it to the people in need,” Sackett said.The donation is the third major contribution from South Africa to the UN agencies since 2003, when SA donated R170-million, followed by a R100-million donation in 2004.The situation in southern Africa is considered so serious that in early August, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote to 27 heads of state, the European Commission and the African Development Bank to raise the alarm for urgent funding to “avert a catastrophe”.“Large numbers of people in the central-eastern part of southern Africa – including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and southern Mozambique – are at risk of food insecurity due to reduced harvests, lack of purchasing power and the devastating effects of HIV/Aids,” said Anne Bauer, director of the FAO’s emergency operations and rehabilitation division.The WFP launched a regional appeal in January this year for US$621-million to assist the region’s most vulnerable in Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe over the next three years.The organisation says it faces an immediate funding shortfall of US$152-million to feed up to 9.2-million people through to the end of the next lean season in March/April 2006.The FAO, for its part, has asked for $16-million to finance its emergency activities in southern Africa. To date, the agency has only received $3-million.“Maize prices are already rising dramatically in most countries in the region, months ahead of the lean season, which means that many people we assumed would be able to fend for themselves will need food aid earlier,” Sackett said.“The South African donation comes at the right time to help many people who would otherwise face an extremely difficult and long period without enough food to eat.”SouthAfrica.info reporter
In recent years, companies have zeroed in on the problem, trying—if not to tame it—at least better forecast C.A.T. so pilots can avoid bumpy areas. The latest advance and most promising is a deal among The Weather Company (an IBM Business) and Gogo Business Aviation. The arrangement will speed the delivery of real-time, turbulence-avoidance information to airline dispatch operations and pilots alike.The companies are able to do this, according to The Weather Company’s President Mark Gildersleeve by, “collecting massive amounts of data very quickly, and then using that insight to provide guidance to all flights that will be traveling through impacted airspace.”The result could spare passengers and crew alike the uncomfortable bumps. Traditionally, flight operations, pilots and aviation meteorologists have received coded verbal reports—reports containing limited information on actual, real-time flight conditions—via pilot reports, or PIREPS. Now, the Weather Company and Gogo say their Turbulence Auto PIREP System (TAPS) can communicate critical en-route weather information far faster, affording pilots a chance at avoiding sometimes-dangerous conditions. The payoff among those who employ the WSI Total Turbulence set-up is, say the two partner companies, a full 50% reduction in turbulence-related injuries and unnecessary maintenance inspections.AirlineRatings will have more on this important story in the near future. Nothing sets passengers’ teeth on edge and induces a fear of flying quite like turbulence, be it the weather-induced variety or C.A.T—clear air turbulence. Each year the nerve-wracking phenomena cost airlines some US$100 million. Turbulence remains the number one cause of non-fatal injuries aloft.Watch this spectacular video of a thunderstorm over Guatemala and South of Mexico. It was taken from a Boeing 767-300 by Noe Castillo of Videos de Aviacion. The thunderstormn action starts at 1.5 minutes in and is amazing.
A crisis has been unfurling in Darjeeling following the GJM’s call last week for an indefinite shutdown from Monday. Even as a semblance of normality seemed to return on Wednesday, the situation took a turn for the worse on Thursday.