News Desk – Dry Rivers and Burning Trains

Saudi Arabia
Saudi businesswoman Nawal Abbas Baitar has embarked on a venture to supply women security guards for projects and institutions of women in the Kingdom. Nawal, who is contesting elections to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s board of directors, said she was planning to supply well-trained female guards.

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians across seven states have been hit this year by the Amazon region’s worst drought in four decades, the result, meteorologists say, of warmer ocean water, which also is being blamed for one of the most violent hurricane seasons on record around the Gulf of Mexico. The summer rains have begun, but it remains to be seen whether enough water will fall to restore the rivers. Malaria, which is common, has proliferated as retreating waters leave stagnant pools behind, ideal for breeding mosquitoes. The drought has been most intense around Amazonas state’s biggest city, 1.6 million-person Manaus, where cruise ships heading for the Atlantic have been forced to dock far from the urban waterfront, which has been reduced to barren earth covered in heaps of trash. Residents have taken to calling the riverfront the “naked port.” This year, some towns, such as Tabatinga near the Colombian and Peruvian borders, received a fifth of their normal rainfall. Water levels on the Amazon and other rivers have dropped by as much as 33 feet.

Border controls have been introduced for the first time at a key India-Nepal crossing to curb what Nepal authorities call terrorist and criminal activities. About 10,000 people a day use the Nepalgunj border point in western Nepal and they will have to register and show identity cards. Under a 55-year-old treaty citizens of both countries have not needed a visa or passport for travel. India recently expressed fears of infiltration by Nepal’s Maoist rebels.

Red tape is stifling business development in Vietnam. Procedures are so complex and time consuming that many businesses cannot begin operating, or if they do, cannot operate efficiently. Entrepreneurs who want to start a business must spend an average of 260 hours filling out at least 13 forms, the report said. About 75% of surveyed enterprises said too many forms were required and 45% said they had to pay double the officially required costs. Even worse, newly established enterprises investing in factories have to cope with complex land-related procedures, the most annoying problem of all, according to a survey. 46% of the respondents said they had to spend three days buying invoices and 76% said that they had to pay under-the-table money to buy these invoices. If enterprises want to print their own invoices, they are required to complete complicated procedures, which often require at least 15 days and considerable expense. Once land ownership is conferred, companies are then required to complete construction license applications; which often take 30 days to process. At least 90 days are needed to work with authorized agencies to complete documents that require 40 seals and signatures.

The mission in Afghanistan is becoming the most accident-prone and expensive deployment ever for the Dutch defence ministry. Although Dutch troops in Afghanistan never exchanged fire with al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters, the Dutch air force lost some 80 million euros worth of equipment in the past year, a record for Dutch missions abroad. The Dutch air force confirmed that a second Chinook helicopter was written off after making an emergency landing in mountains north of Kabul. The 25-million-euro aircraft, en route to Dutch commandos in Kandahar, was forced to land for reasons not yet clear. In July, a Chinook crashed near Kandahar. The air force suffered its heaviest loss in August last year when a miscommunication resulted in the crash of a 30-million-euro Apache combat helicopter north of Kabul. As the Dutch mission in Afghanistan continues its dangerous operations, the air force risks losing more of its remaining 11 Chinooks.

A key FARC guerrilla, wanted by the United States on drug trafficking charges, was captured by Colombian law enforcement authorities at Bogotá’s international El Dorado airport. The Colombian attorney general’s office said that police who captured Faruk Shaikh Reyes said that he had left Colombia in February with a shipment of cocaine. It was not clear from the information initially provided by the authorities whether Shaikh Reyes was trying to re-enter the country, leave it, or was at the airport for some other reason. Shaikh Reyes, who is considered the major buyer of weapons for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country’s largest leftist guerrilla group, is also said to be the FARC’s “key contact” person with arms trafficking organizations in Mexico and the United States.

As many as 200 million Monarch butterflies may migrate to Mexico this year, a nearly tenfold increase over 2004, when unfavorable weather, pollution and deforestation caused a drastic decline in the population, environmental officials said. The Monarchs’ annual 5,500-kilometre journey from the forests of eastern Canada and parts of the United States to the central Mexican mountains is an esthetic and scientific wonder. The butterflies began arriving in Mexico last week and usually continue to stream south until early December. The spectacle of millions of orange and black butterflies carpeting fir trees attracts 200,000 visitors a year. Authorities plan to open four major sanctuaries to tourists Nov. 19.

Russia is planning to construct a security barrier along the border with Chechnya similar to Israel’s West Bank security fence to combat terrorism. “Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra met with Dmitry Kozak, head of counter-terrorism in Chechnya and the Kremlin’s envoy to southern Russia, for talks on the effectiveness of the security fence and Israel’s overall success in fighting Palestinian militants,” a newspaper quoted Israeli officials as saying.

Pakistan has protested to India that the son of one of its embassy staff was abducted in Delhi and subjected to a bizarre photo session with corpses. Pakistan’s foreign ministry says Roshan Ali, 19, was forced to hold a knife over three bodies, held for eight hours and then thrown out of a vehicle. Pakistan’s information minister accused Indian intelligence agencies of carrying out the abduction. The Pakistan embassy said it had found a note in Mr Ali’s pocket addressed to his father saying the teenager should leave Delhi immediately as the kidnappers had photographs that could incriminate him.

A Chinese insurance company is to become the first to start offering a life policy specifically for bird flu. Minsheng Life Insurance has been given the go-ahead by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper. The scheme will pay out a maximum of 100,000 yuan ($12,400). People in the main cities will pay 200 yuan for the policy, while those outside only 100 yuan, although for a reduced payout of 50,000 yuan. The report said the policy would be launched “very soon”.

The State Minister at the Ministry of Transport, Roads and Bridges Omar Suleiman Adam said a plan has been set to upgrade the capacity of the railways transport to some five million tonnes a year. The state minister said the plan covers rehabilitation and revival of the Port Sudan- Atbara line so that it could play its role in the smooth flow of goods and imports via the seaport, adding that the rehabilitation will include the Muglad-Babanousa-Wau line so that it would help in transportation of the needs of Southern Sudan

Iranian drivers with a taste for luxury have spent 1.5 billion dollars over the past seven months on foreign cars, despite the huge duties slapped on vehicle imports. According to the Javan daily newspaper, more than 15,000 such cars costing between 55,000 and 145,000 dollars have been brought into the country since March, when taxes on imported cars were slashed from 300 to 100%. Iran expects to make about a million cars this year – ranging in price from around 6,600 to 20,000 dollars. The average Iranian’s income is about 250 dollars per month.

South Africa
Rail passengers angry at service delays torched at least 26 train carriages near Johannesburg. Carriages were burnt at three different locations south of the city, causing 200m rand ($30m) worth of damage. The arson followed service delays reportedly caused by technical faults. A shortage of trains has now caused services on one route to be suspended. It was the second time in a week that trains have been torched because of poor services. On Tuesday, passengers burnt four coaches after service delays apparently caused by the theft of electric cables. Trains are used by many poor working South Africans who cannot afford cars.

When a United States soldier dies in Iraq his comrades immediately know about it because all communications at the base are cut-off pending notification of the family. Within minutes of a death being reported, commanders order all outside phones, along with Internet access, closed in order to prevent families finding out by chance about a death or worrying after hearing of an incident. Overall, deaths average about two per day, with one person dying of wounds received for every three killed in action, according to Pentagon figures. Of the combat deaths reported until October 15, 766 were caused by explosive devices, 424 by gunshot and 151 by mortar or other missile fire. The recent deployment of large numbers of reservists has also seen their casualty numbers increase. Over the past seven months, nearly four out of every ten soldiers killed have been national guardsmen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *