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Friday, May 29th

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U.S. agency let oil industry write offshore drilling rules

The oil industry, not the federal agency that regulates it, plays a crucial role in writing the safety and environmental rules for offshore drilling, a role that critics say reflects cozy ties between an industry and its regulators that need to be snapped.

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Israel bows to pressure and admits arrest of rights activist

Amir Makhoul, the head of the Palestinian NGO Ittijah, was arrested in a dawn raid on his homeThe Israeli authorities finally revealed yesterday that they had been holding a prominent Israeli-Arab human rights activist for several days and had accused him of spying for Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas.

Israel appeared to buckle under intense domestic pressure to release details of the case against Amir Makhoul after a gagging order issued by the courts had prevented the media from reporting details of the case. The order, which covered details including his identity, riled democracy advocates in Israel after a similar case last month involving the secret house arrest of an Israeli journalist.

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Israel's tourism ministry is wiping Palestinians off the map

Israel's tourism mapAs Israeli-Palestinian negotiations restart, Palestinians are determined to begin by tackling the issue of borders, before working backwards toward deciding how to implement the establishment of a Palestinian state. Once agreement is reached on borders, the thinking goes, it will become clear who has the right to decide whether or not settlement activity can continue.

Naturally all this talk must have a reference point. While exact borders are a matter for negotiation, it is hard to begin talks if one side insists on anticipating a fixed outcome. Yet the most recent maps published by the governemt unilaterally annex Palestine to Israel while ignoring the existence of many Palestinian communities.

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UN warned on Monday that "massive" loss in life-sustaining natural environments

UN fears ‘irreversible’ damage to natural environmentThe UN warned on Monday that "massive" loss in life-sustaining natural environments was likely to deepen to the point of being irreversible after global targets to cut the decline by this year were missed.

As a result of the degradation, the world is moving closer to several "tipping points" beyond which some ecosystems that play a part in natural processes such as climate or the food chain may be permanently damaged, a United Nations report said.

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Despite court ruling, Palestinian use of Route 443 likely to be limited

The Beit Sira roadblock on Route 443. Palestinian vehicles will be subject to thorough security checks.By dint of a ruling passed down by the High Court of Justice, Route 443 - the main artery connecting Jerusalem and Modi'in - will be open by the end of the month to Palestinian motorists who reside in villages adjacent to the roadway. This will mark the first time in almost nine years that Palestinians will be permitted to use the highway, yet the volume of Palestinian traffic is likely to be very limited.

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Obama Seeks to Ease Rules on Questioning Terror Suspects

Obama Seeks to Ease Rules on Questioning Terror SuspectsThe Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan.

Mr. Holder proposed carving out a broad new exception to the Miranda rights established in a landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling. It generally forbids prosecutors from using as evidence statements made before suspects have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer.

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Gulf spill reminds America: The era of 'easy oil' is over

Oil worker working on the rigging of a wellTo meet the world's boundless thirst for oil, drillers are searching in the sand and mud of remote western Canada, the tough shale rock of North Dakota and more than a mile under the seas off the southern U.S. coast, where a drilling accident has sent hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Why are we going nearly to the ends of the earth and the bottom of the seas for oil?

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Probe uncovers strip searches, chains and racism at prisons

An officer stands in a tower overlooking the behavior management unit at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in CorcoranA Bee investigation into the behavior units, including signed affidavits, conversations and correspondence with 18 inmates, has uncovered evidence of racism and cruelty at the High Desert facility. Inmates described hours-long strip-searches in a snow-covered exercise yard.

They said correctional officers tried to provoke attacks between inmates, spread human excrement on cell doors and roughed up those who peacefully resisted mistreatment.

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Manipulation, not error, behind market plunge

The major media say the chaos on Wall Street was the result of a “trader error, possibly a typo,” as the Washington Post put it. Some reports claim the culprit was a “fat finger” on a computer somewhere that pressed the wrong key. But Zubi Diamond, author of the Wizards of Wall Street, says these claims are all lies. “What happened in the market on Thursday is a typical example of pure market manipulation” by unregulated hedge fund short sellers.

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