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Scott Murray 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/apr/13/masters-round-three-live-updates
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World is unprepared for changes that will see parts of Africa turned into disaster areas, say food experts

Millions of people could become destitute in Africa and Asia as staple foods more than double in price by 2050 as a result of extreme temperatures, floods and droughts that will transform the way the world farms.

As food experts gather at two major conferences to discuss how to feed the nine billion people expected to be alive in 2050, leading scientists have told the Observer that food insecurity risks turning parts of Africa into permanent disaster areas. Rising temperatures will also have a drastic effect on access to basic foodstuffs, with potentially dire consequences for the poor.

Frank Rijsberman, head of the world's 15 international CGIAR crop research centres, which study food insecurity, said: "Food production will have to rise 60% by 2050 just to keep pace with expected global population increase and changing demand. Climate change comes on top of that. The annual production gains we have come to expect … will be taken away by climate change. We are not so worried about the total amount of food produced so much as the vulnerability of the one billion people who are without food already and who will be hit hardest by climate change. They have no capacity to adapt."

America's agricultural economy is set to undergo dramatic changes over the next three decades, as warmer temperatures devastate crops, according to a US government report. The draft US National Climate Assessment report predicts that a gradually warming climate and unpredictable severe weather, such as the drought that last year spread across two-thirds of the continental United States, will have serious consequences for farmers.

The research by 60 scientists predicts that all crops will be affected by the temperature shift as well as livestock and fruit harvests. The changing climate, it says, is likely to lead to more pests and less effective herbicides. The $50bn Californian wine industry could shrink as much as 70% by 2050.

The report lays bare the stark consequences for the $300bn US farm industry, stating: "Many agricultural regions will experience declines in crop and livestock production. The rising incidence of weather extremes will have increasingly negative impacts on crop and livestock production. Climate disruptions have increased in the recent past and are projected to increase further over the next 25 years.

"Critical thresholds are already being exceeded. Many regions will experience declines in crop and livestock production from increased stress due to weeds, diseases, insect pests and other climate change-induced stresses. Climate disruptions to agricultural production have increased in the recent past and are projected to increase further".

Lead author Jerry Hatfield, director of the US government's national laboratory for agriculture and the environment, said that climate change was already causing weather extremes to worsen. Very hot nights, fewer cool days and more heatwaves, storms and floods have already devastated crops and will have "increasingly negative" impacts, he said.

The report follows recent disastrous harvests in Russia, Ukraine, Australia and the US. In 2010, climate-driven factors led to a 33% drop in wheat production in Russia and a 19% drop in Ukraine. Separate climate events in each case led to a 14% drop in Canada's wheat output, and a 9% drop in Australia.

A separate US government-funded study of the fertile Lower Mekong basin, which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, states that temperatures there could rise twice as much as previously expected, devastating food supplies for the 100 million people expected to live there by 2050. "We've found that this region is going to experience climate extremes in temperature and rainfall beyond anything that we expected", says Jeremy Carew-Reid, author of the Climate Change Adaptation and Impact Study for the Lower Mekong.

Two major food security summits are being held in Ireland, organised by UN World Food Programme, the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change and the Mary Robinson Climate Justice foundation.

Ertharin Cousin, the UN's World Food Programme director, said: "We are entering an uncertain and risky period. Climate change is the game changer that increases exposure to high and volatile food prices, and increases the vulnerability of the hungry poor, especially those living in conflict zones or areas of marginal agricultural productivity. We must act quickly to protect the world's poorest people."


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John Vidal 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/apr/13/climate-change-millions-starvation-scientists
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Passengers suffer broken limbs and head wounds, but all 108 people on board survive as Lion Air Boeing 737 overshoots runway to land in sea

Terrified passengers were forced to swim to safety on Saturday after a brand-new plane carrying more than 100 people to the resort island of Bali missed the runway and crashed into the sea.

The Boeing 737, operated by Indonesian carrier Lion Air, broke apart as it hit the water while coming in to land. Passengers described screams of panic and fears of drowning as the cabin plunged into shallow waters. Twenty-two passengers were taken ashore suffering broken limbs, head wounds and shock but, incredibly, all 108 people on board survived.

"The aircraft was in landing position when suddenly I saw it getting closer to the sea, and finally it hit the water," said Dewi, an Indonesian woman who sustained head wounds in the crash. "All of the passengers were screaming in panic, afraid they would drown. I left behind my belongings and went to an emergency door. I got out of the plane and swam before rescuers jumped in to help me."

The crash will renew concerns about aviation safety in Indonesia, which attracts millions of international tourists every year, most of them heading to Bali. A string of air disasters has resulted in several Indonesian operators, including Lion Air, being banned from European airspace.

Television footage showed the plane lying among rocks, its fuselage shattered. Police and rescuers were seen in rubber boats pulling life-jacket-clad passengers and crew members on board. Some survivors had climbed on to the aircraft's wings to await rescue.

Hospital officials and paramedics said at least seven passengers were taken to Sanglah hospital in the capital, Denpasar, with head wounds and broken bones. Many passengers arrived with wet clothes and bruises. All but two of the 101 passengers and seven crew were reported to be Indonesian nationals, among them five children and one baby.

"There was no sign of trouble at all but then suddenly it dropped into the water," passenger Tantri Widiastuti, 60, told a local news station. "I saw holes in the floor of the plane... we were evacuated quickly."

Accident investigators have yet to establish the cause of yesterday's incident, which involved an internal flight from Bandung, on the Indonesian island of Java, to Bali's Ngurah Rai international airport near Denpasar.

"It probably failed to reach the runway and fell into the sea," said Lion Air spokesman Edward Sirat. Harry Bakti Gumay, director-general of aviation at Indonesia's transport ministry, said the plane overshot the runway and fell into the sea from a height of about 50m.

Local media reports quoted Eko Diantoro, general manager of the airport operator, saying the plane had been making an emergency landing at the airport, in good weather. "We don't know the cause of the accident," he told Indonesian television station tvOne. "We don't have the detail of the passengers' condition, but all are alive."

Lion Air was founded in 1999 and expanded rapidly to become the country's largest airline as economic growth fuelled interest in air travel. The company recently signed record-breaking contracts with two of the world's top aircraft makers, Boeing and Airbus, for more than 500 planes, which will come into service over the next 13 years. The plane involved in the crash was a 737-800 Next Generation from Boeing which had been delivered just last month.

The Lion Air fleet has a relatively good safety record in Indonesia, where active volcanoes and volatile tropical weather conditions are among the hazards faced by pilots. The airline has suffered six recorded emergencies since 2002, but only one fatal accident. In 2004, a Lion Air McDonnell Douglas MD-82 crashed in Surakarta, central Java, killing at least 30 people.


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David Batty, Conal Urquhart, Cass Jones 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/13/indonesian-plane-crashes-into-sea-off-bali
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US military spokesman says 'four less-than-lethal rounds fired' in disturbance but no injuries to guards or prisoners

Guards swept through communal cellblocks at the Guantánamo detention camp on Saturday and moved the prisoners into one-man cells, in an attempt to end a hunger strike that began in February, a US military spokesman said.

"Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired. There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees," Navy captain Robert Durand said in a news release. He said the action was taken because detainees had covered windows and surveillance cameras to block the guards' view into the cellblocks.

"Round-the-clock monitoring is necessary to ensure security, order, and safety as detainees continued a prolonged hunger strike by refusing regular camp-provided meals," Durand said. He said medical personnel had examined each detainee afterward.

The detention camp at the Guantánamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba holds 166 men, most of them captured more than a decade ago in counter-terrorism operations. Saturday's early-morning sweep took place in Camp 6, a medium-security building in which 80 to 100 detainees lived in cells that open into communal bays where they can eat, pray and watch television together. As part of the hunger strike, prisoners had been refusing to let food carts enter some of the bays.

Earlier in the week, Durand said 43 prisoners were taking part in a hunger strike, including 11 who were being force-fed liquid nutrients through tubes inserted into their noses.

The hunger strike began in February, to protest the seizure of personal items from detainees' cells. Some prisoners told their lawyers that their Korans had been mistreated during the cell searches, which the US military denied. Attorneys, military officials and human rights monitors have all said the hunger strike was partly an expression of frustration over the prisoners' unresolved fate. About half of them have been cleared for release or transfer, but Congress has made it increasingly difficult to move prisoners out of Guantánamo and president Barack Obama has failed to implement his 2009 order to shut down the detention camp.


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David Batty, Conal Urquhart, Cass Jones 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/13/guantanamo-bay-prisoners-hunger-strike
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US-based Venezuelans head to New Orleans on Sunday, with interim President Nicolás Maduro's lead narrowing

Thousands of Venezuelans have begun making their way from Miami to New Orleans by car, bus and plane, in order to vote in their homeland's presidential election Sunday. In just six weeks of preparation, Venezuelans in Florida have raised money, contracted buses and arranged car pools. Organizers said they expected a turnout similar or higher than that of last October, when 8,500 Venezuelans voted in New Orleans.

"It's been pretty amazing how people have responded since the first announcement that [president Hugo] Chávez died," said Gilda Sollami of Voto Donde Sea, a group of students and young professionals which promotes voting outside Venezuela. "They showed a lot of interest."

Chávez died in March, after a two-year battle with cancer. His chosen successor, interim president Nicolas Máduro, is favored to win, but one poll shows that challenger Henrique Capriles has narrowed Maduro's advantage, campaigning against a government that has faced chronic food shortages, inflation, power outages and surging crime.

The largest concentration of Venezuelans in the US resides in South Florida. Most are stridently anti-Chávez and are expected to vote for Capriles. They must travel to New Orleans to cast their ballots because Chavez closed the Miami consulate in January 2012. Some 20,000 Venezuelans were registered to vote from the Miami consulate. It is unlikely their numbers will decide the election; last year, Capriles lost by 1.6 million votes – there are 38,000 Venezuelan voters in the US.

"I don't see any reason to believe that this election will be any closer than the one back in October," said Eric Hershberg, director of the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University. "But it's a good thing when citizens vote in elections. At the end of the day, the votes will have to be counted. This is an election under an unusual circumstance. Surprises happen."

Sollami said Voto Donde Sea has arranged for 32 buses to depart from Miami on Saturday, seven more than during the October presidential election. Raising money was challenging, and the group hadn't been able to offer as many free tickets as last year. "It's very hard," Sollami said. "It's a very long and complicated move going inland."

The trip is 16 hours by car, and most of the buses were planning to arrive early Sunday and head back immediately after the vote. Sollami is traveling to Venezuela to vote, because she was not able to change her registration site before the Miami consulate closed. "People are motivated," she said.

The Miami suburb of Doral, affectionately known as "Doralzuela" because of its large number of Venezuelan residents, restaurants and businesses, is also preparing for Sunday night, when the election is called. Mayor Luigi Boria, who is traveling by plane Sunday to New Orleans and then returning to Florida, said Doral expects a large number of people will gather if Capriles is announced as the winner. Boria donated two buses and two airplane tickets for Venezuelans to travel from Miami to New Orleans. He said he has been encouraging others to vote and push their relatives in Venezuela to do the same.

"If we're traveling 1,500 miles just to exercise our right to vote, we have to tell the people in Venezuela they should do much more," he said.


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David Batty, Conal Urquhart 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/13/venezuela-election-maduro-lead-narrowing
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Former justice of the peace charged a day after his home was searched as part of investigation into prosecutors' murders

A former justice of the peace in Texas has been charged with making a "terroristic threat", a day after his home was searched in connection to the murder of two prosecutors. Eric Williams was admitted to the Kaufman County Jail early on Saturday morning, jail records show. A prison spokesperson said he was scheduled to go in front of a judge later on Saturday.

Federal and local authorities had searched Williams' home on Friday, as part of an investigation into the deaths of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, whose bodies were found 30 March in their home. In late January, assistant DA Mark Hasse was fatally shot as he was leaving work in Kaufman, about 30 miles southeast of Dallas. Williams, 46, has not been named a suspect in any of the deaths.

The district attorney's office prosecuted and convicted Williams last year, for theft. He lost his justice of the peace position as a result.

Spokesmen for the FBI and the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office confirmed on Friday that they were executing a search warrant but declined to provide details. The warrant's underlying affidavit has been ordered sealed by a judge, said sheriff's lieutenant Justin Lewis.

Williams' attorney, David Sergi, released a statement saying his client "has cooperated with law enforcement and vigorously denies any and all allegations." "He wishes simply to get on with his life and hopes that the perpetrators are brought to justice," Sergi said.

Authorities have released little information about the case, except to say they continue to follow leads, including possible ties to a white supremacist gang. A month before Hasse's death, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a warning to authorities statewide that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas could retaliate for an October indictment that targeted some of its leaders. McLelland's office was involved in that investigation.


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David Batty, Conal Urquhart 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/13/texas-da-murder-arrest-threat
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Job prospects are grim, health and education are in crisis and with more austerity to come, emigration is increasingly the only solution

Young men like Bernardo Lima are close to giving up on Portugal. Although he speaks five languages and has a degree in international relations, he has only been able to find bar work since he graduated three years ago and uses his skills merely to serve tourists.

"The future in Portugal is grim. I've often thought of emigrating. My brother lives in Finland and I may join him. He found work there quickly, as an architect," Lima said between making cups of coffee in a central Lisbon cafe.

The latest figures show that in 2011, after a respite of about 15 years, Portugal went back to being the country of net emigration it had been for centuries, and the government has now set up a website to advise job seekers heading abroad. Many more will follow in the footsteps of Lima's brother, leaving a country famous for the melancholy of its most famous poet, Fernando Pessoa.

On 5 April, the constitutional court cast doubt on a government austerity programme by ruling against proposed cuts in holiday bonuses for civil servants and pensioners, as well as other reductions that would have trimmed the budget by €1.3bn in order to meet tough targets set by international lenders.

Two days later, prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho said the ruling forced him to find further savings, although unions say education and health services are already in a parlous state after several rounds of cuts since 2008. Teachers and health workers fear deeper cuts threaten to turn the clock back 40 years to when the country was an impoverished backwater and mass emigration offered the only way out.

In Brussels, the warning lights have begun to flash. How much more pain can the Portuguese take before they say "enough" and trigger yet another eurozone crisis, right next door to Spain?

Only 11% of Portuguese stay on at school until 18, the Portuguese Teachers' Federation estimates, well below a European average of 46%, and that hobbles the economy. Middle-school teacher Graça Dias cannot see how Portugal can catch up while the classrooms are crowded, schools are closed, teachers are sacked in droves and specialised subjects are axed from the curriculum.

"The big concern is over lack of investment in education leading to more backwardness for future generations," said Dias, who teaches history in Freiria, a village 30 miles from Lisbon.

She says that standards have risen since she began teaching 25 years ago, "but now we're regressing 50 years. All that matters today is teaching the three Rs, not making people think." Some schools, particularly those in rural areas, are asking parents for money or raiding tuck shop takings to buy toilet rolls, Dias said. "And with more cuts this absurd situation could become widespread."

Healthcare is also under pressure. "Today, nurses complain that drips are of such poor quality they have to go through three or four to find a good one, and swabs fall apart and leave bits of lint in the cuts they are meant to clean," said José Carlos Martins, president of the Portuguese Nurses Union.

The union estimates that one million Portuguese avoided going to see a doctor last year, and 500,000 went without treatment, due to measures which include raising once nominal contributions in casualty wards to as much as €50. In the past four years, some 3,000 out of 37,000 nurses have lost their jobs.

Martins also notes that Portugal's health service made savings of €845m in 2012, far more than the €550m ordered by the International Monetary Fund, the EU and European Central Bank as a condition of bailing the country out.

"The prime minister's announcement of more health cuts is absurd," he said. "We reckon that deep down the government's aim is to use this fuss over the constitutional court to speed up privatisation of public services."

"The EU and the ECB are garrotting the economy," Aménio Carlos, leader of the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers said while overlooking disused shipyards on the Tagus.

"They say social spending must be cut, but at the same time wealth cannot be created to kickstart the economy. This is criminal," he added. "There are old people who cannot afford medicines, and that is condemning people to death."

Carlos says Portugal has untapped potential in agribusiness, while fisheries and shipbuilding could thrive in a country with a long seafaring tradition. Other possible growth-drivers include mining and exporting rolling stock to its former African colonies.

"This government behaves like someone who has been wounded, knows they haven't long to live and is ready to take as much revenge as possible," Carlos said.

Portugal has over the generations turned fatalistic resignation into an art form. People were said to be able to withstand anything, as long as they had fado music, football and the Virgin of Fátima. That all changed in 1974, when people took to the streets and ended half a century of dictatorship after a revolt by junior army officers. Just 12 years later, Portugal was an EU member and a mainstream European democracy.

"We put up with things, and then some, but when the explosion comes the outcome isn't peaceful at all," said Vasco Lourenço, who as a 31-year-old captain helped organise the "Revolution of the Carnations", as it became known.

Lourenço pointed out that Grândola Vila Morena, the folk song whose radio broadcast was the secret signal to start the revolt, was becoming popular again and he saw several parallels with 1974.

"All that makes up the welfare state in most European countries only came about in Portugal after the revolution. Today, that is all being destroyed," he said, just a couple of blocks from where the Salazar regime threw in the towel 39 years ago this month.

"I don't think it's possible to withstand things much longer without a popular revolt, or a social explosion," Lourenço added.


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David Batty, Conal Urquhart 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/13/portugal-slides-into-reverse
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Former Bush staffers and Guantanamo Bay commanders on list released in response to US Treasury visa bans

Moscow listed 18 Americans who are banned from entering Russia in an announcement Saturday – a tit-for-tat measure that comes a day after Washington imposed similar sanctions. The list, which was released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, includes staffers in the Bush administration and two former commanders of Guantanamo Bay.

On Friday, the US Treasury announced financial sanctions and visa bans on 18 Russian officials, the majority of whom were implicated over the arrest and death of the corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky died in a Russian prison in 2009, after being arrested by the same officers he was investigating over a $230m fraud. He was reportedly beaten and denied medical treatment while behind bars.

The case sparked an outcry in the US and led to the passage of a controversial bill requiring Washington to impose sanctions against those deemed responsible for the Russian whistleblower's death. The Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law last year, led to immediate counter measures by Moscow, which imposed a ban on US adoption of Russian children.

The Russian and American lists exclude senior figures, but will nonetheless further damage any chance of a "reset" on relations, which President Barack Obama has stated to be his aim.

Among those singled out by Washington for sanction are two police officers, Pavel Karpov and Artyom Kuznetsov, and a former tax official, Olga Stepanova. Magnitsky was arrested after linking the three to a tax fraud scheme. Of the 18 people named by the US Treasury, 16 are connected to the Magnitsky case. The other two were included in relation to the shooting death of a former bodyguard to the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, and the murder of a journalist, Paul Klebnikov.

The list published in Moscow includes John Yoo, a former US Justice Department official who wrote legal memos authorising harsh interrogation techniques, and David Addington, the chief of staff for former vice-president Dick Cheney. Two former commanders of Guantanamo Bay, retired Major General Geoffrey Miller and Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson, were also named. In addition, there were 14 Americans whom Russia claims violated the rights of Russians abroad. The list includes several current or former federal prosecutors in the case of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms merchant who was sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison, for selling weapons to a US-designated foreign terrorist group.

There is also a private list of banned Americans. The Magnitsky Act also provides for the US administration to compile a closed list of Russian officials subject to visa bans.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, was quoted Saturday as saying that the two countries' lists differed in fundamental aspects. "On the Russian list, including the closed part, are people actually responsible for the legalisation of torture and indefinite detention of prisoners in Guantanamo, for arrests and unjust sentences for our countrymen," he reportedly said.

The latest exchange between Moscow and Washington comes ahead of a visit to Russia by the White House's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, later this month.

After announcing the US list on Friday, a State Department official stressed that the administration was merely "complying with its legislative requirements". "Our approach to Russia is to seek co-operation on matters of mutual interest while speaking openly about our differences," acting deputy spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said.


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David Batty, Conal Urquhart 14 Apr, 2013


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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/13/russia-bans-18-americans-visa-sanctions
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