06 May

Events of Interest and Analyses


US to expand Pakistan drone strikes

The US has reportedly carried out more than 100 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2008 [Getty]

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been granted approval by the US government to expand drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions in a move to step up military operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, officials have said.

Federal lawyers backed the measures on grounds of self-defence to counter threats the fighters pose to US troops in neighbouring Afghanistan and the United States as a whole, according to authorities.

The US announced on Wednesday that targets will now include low-level combatants, even if their identities are not known.

Barack Obama, the US president, had previously said drone strikes were necessary to “take out high-level terrorist targets”.

The ocean is a rich blue. But suddenly we see what this crisis is all about

There may be few indicators to the scale of the US oil slick from land, but from the air it is a different story

By David Usborne

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Crude oil streaks on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico can be seen from the air several miles from where the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up

Crude oil streaks on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico can be seen from the air several miles from where the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up

The radio chatter, mostly from spotter planes, is all about “the source” – the point in the Gulf where the Deepwater Horizon rig once stood. Our pilot has to be more precise. We are headed towards 28.44 degrees north and 088.23 degrees west. Since leaving the shore, a low-hanging fog has developed, obscuring any view of the ocean.

We are 12 miles away from our destination when the cloud bank, like the cliffs of Dover, abruptly drops away once more to reveal the ocean. Two reporters and a cameraman who have been covering the BP spill for days and days without physically seeing any oil, let alone a slick, lean out of our helicopter.


Anti-gay Baptist minister took male prostitute on holiday

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A Baptist minister who is one of America’s leading opponents of gay rights, and who believes that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be “cured”, found himself with some serious explaining to do yesterday after he was photographed at Miami airport with a male prostitute he had hired to join him on a European holiday.

George Alan Rekers, a prominent anti-gay activist and cofounder of the conservative Family Research Council, recently returned from a 10-day trip to Europe with a male escort who advertises on a Web site called, according to a May Miami New Times article that was lighting up the liberal blogosphere and gay media outlets Wednesday.

Rekers told the New Times he hired the escort to help carry luggage, not for sexual purposes, and that he only learned his companion was a prostitute midway through the trip. On Wednesday, he published a statement on his Web site decrying the New Times story as “slanderous.”


Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Obama attempts to limit political fallout

The US national guard on Dauphin Island, Alabama, erecting barriers against oil White House lists actions taken to contain the disaster as BP says robot submarines have blocked

one leak


By Jon Donnison
BBC News, Gaza



A tunnel under Egypt's steel barrier


Some 80% of imports into Gaza come through the tunnels, the UN says

“Every problem has a solution. The Egyptian steel barrier was a problem but we found a solution,” says Mohammed, a grimy-faced Gazan tunnel digger who didn’t want to give his real name.

Mohammed, covered in dust and dirt, is in the process of digging a 750m (2,460ft) smuggling tunnel from Gaza into Egypt. He says he’s been digging it for 18 months.

As he hauls up a plastic container of sand with an electric winch from the metre-wide tunnel shaft, he says the new underground Egyptian barrier aimed at stopping smuggling is a “joke.”

“We just cut through it using high-powered oxygen fuelled blow torches,” he says.


Losing Afghan hearts and minds
By Julien Mercille

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is losing hearts and minds in Afghanistan, according to a report by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) that gives a clear signal of the dangers of the military operation against Kandahar planned for this summer.

Contrary to its stated objectives of protecting the population from insurgents, NATO is actually raising the likelihood that poor Afghans will join the Taliban – not a great report card for General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, whose strategies seem to be backfiring.

The report, entitled Operation Moshtarak: Lessons Learned [1], is based on interviews conducted last month with over 400 Afghan

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