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Published: Thursday 15 July 2010

imageOil spills: a way of life in niger delta

Using two large tubes to funnel polluted water into his small wooden boat, a Nigerian teenager helps mop up the latest oil spill in the Niger Delta.

The government estimates there were over 7,000 spills between 1970 and 2000, and some have been leaking for years. Most of the times oil companies refuse to clean up saying spills were caused by sabotage. Life expec - tancy in the delta region is the lowest in Nigeria—40 years.

image Russia reduced the natural gas supplies to Belarus by 30 per cent and warned to increase the cut to 85 per cent if Minsk does not pay the gas bill of US $192 million. Minsk, which insists on making the payment in commodities and not in cash, threatened to siphon gas from Russian transit pipelines to Europe.

image The European Parliament approved a draft food labelling rule to fight rising levels of obesity in Europe. The draft rule, unlikely to be finalized before 2012, limits advertizing of foodstuffs that exceed specific amounts of salt, sugar and fat content and mandates listing calorie contents on the package.
image Under a draft ruling, the European Commission will approve new GM crops without consulting member states, who will have the freedom to decide whether to grow them. Green groups say the commission could allow pro-GM countries to cultivate more GM crops.

image The Swedish parliament voted to replace old nuclear reactors with new ones, marking a change in its policy on nuclear power. In 1980, it pledged to phase out reactors by 2010.

image A group of Hong Kong researchers have warned that H1N1 swine flu virus has been spreading in pigs and swapping genes with other virulent viruses. They have called for tighter disease surveillance in pigs before mutated viruses can emerge.

image Geologists in Chad are using magnetic resonance sounding, a medical technique, to find new water sources for over three million refugees. The authorities said they do not have time for the geophysical studies that do not give accurate information.

image The UN approved a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. This is the first time Iran’s allies, China and Russia, voted for the measures, which prohibit Iran from buying heavy weapons and toughen rules on dealings with its banks. Iran vowed to build another reactor for research use.

image A 7.7 magnitude quake struck Indonesia’s eastern province of Papua on June 16, killing 17 people and damaging nine villages.

image The Maldives launched an action plan to phase out ozone-depleting chemical hydrochlorofluorocarbons by 2020. This is 10 years ahead of other countries that have signed an international agreement to phase it out.

image Over 30 miners were killed in two coal mine explosions in Colombia in a week. Colombia is South America’s largest producer of coal and the world’s fourth-largest coal exporter. Most mines do not have adequate safety measures.

image Peru banned helicopters from Machu Picchu. Noise of helicopters affects habitat of the endangered Andean bear, cock-of-the-rock, guanaco and vicuna, the authorities said. In January tourists were evacuated by helicopters from Machu Picchu after flooding and mudslides washed away roads.

image Venezuela launched staterun supermarkets in stores expropriated from the French-owned Cada chain. President Hugo Chavez is nationalizing private retail companies, saying they cause artificial food scarcity.

image Canada’s Innu communities have blocked the only road leading to two iron ore mines in Quebec and Labrador provinces. Since the mines are on their ancestral territory, the Innu demand a share in the revenue earned from them.

image 2010 saw the hottest May on record. The March-May and January-May were also the hottest periods since record keeping began in 1880, said the US NOAA.

image Staple food prices would rise 40 per cent in the next decade, said the Food and Agriculture Organization.

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