In Court

Published: Sunday 30 November 2003

The Nama are forever: The Nama community of South Africa are today scattered over four poor villages near the Namibian border. But, on October 14, 2003, their lives changed. On that day, the community won a court battle to regain their land, and mineral rights to diamonds worth billions. Upholding these rights, a constitutional court in Johannesburg ruled that the Nama had been cleared from their land under racist laws and had a legitimate claim to ownership.

The ruling was a big blow to Alexkor, the state-run company mining diamonds in the area. The court especially junked Alexkor's argument that claimed the Nama were too uncivilised to own land.

The Nama lost ownership of their land when the Cape Colony annexed the area in 1847. When alluvial diamond deposits were found in the 1920s, the government cleared the community from around 85,000 hectares around Orange river.

Cleaning up the air: George Bush's version of the Clean Air Act has riled 12 states in the us. They have sued to block changes in the act that will make it easier for power plants to upgrade their equipment without paying for anti-pollution devices. The lawsuit was filed in a Washington DC court. Most of these states lie to the east of the country. In other words, downstream of generating plants and refineries in the Midwest. At issue is a relaxation in regulations put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2002 and published on October 27, 2003. The changes are the most significant made to the 33-year-old Clean Air Act since it was strengthened by Congress in 1990. At the core of the act were emission ceilings for all big industrial plants. But a "grandfather" clause gave exemptions to facilities built before the act was introduced. However, even those older plants were to be fitted with scrubbers and other controls if they were modernised or expanded. It is this stipulation that the EPA wants to relax.

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