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Russia stands by Georgia actions Monday, 1 September, 2008

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BBC NEWS | Europe | Russia stands by Georgia actions.

Welders repair a gas pipeline in Russia (archive image)

Russia supplies roughly a quarter of the EU’s natural gas

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said his decision to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions as independent is irrevocable.

On the eve of a special EU summit on Georgia, he warned that Russia was ready to retaliate against any sanctions the EU might impose.

Germany and the UK have differed in tone over how the EU should proceed, with Berlin warning against escalation.

Moscow’s envoy to London said sanctions would hurt the EU more than Russia.

Ambassador Yuri Fedotov told the BBC that Russia did not want any further confrontation and was not seeking a new Cold War.

He was speaking after UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called in a newspaper article for a fundamental review of relations with Russia to prevent further “Russian aggression”. (more…)

Nasa ‘reviews shuttle shelf-life’ Monday, 1 September, 2008

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BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Nasa ‘reviews shuttle shelf-life’.

By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News

Space shuttle Discovery (Nasa)

Could this sight continue for several years to come?

Nasa will study whether the space shuttle can operate beyond its planned retirement in 2010, reports say.

The agency will look at what might be required to delay the retirement of its fleet until the shuttle’s replacement – Ares-Orion – begins flying in 2015.

The exercise is aimed at answering questions it expects on the matter from Congress and the incoming president.

News of the study comes from a leaked internal email obtained by a Florida-based newspaper.

Nasa chief Michael Griffin, who is reported to have ordered the study, had previously opposed extending the shuttle programme.

The agency’s administrator argued that the money and effort required to do so would stymie progress on the Ares rockets and the Apollo-style Orion capsules that will succeed the shuttle.

These are being developed by Nasa as part of its “Constellation” programme. The system is expected to carry astronauts to the Moon under the Vision for Space Exploration plans announced by President George W Bush in 2004. (more…)

Int’l festivals to screen Iranian films Sunday, 31 August, 2008

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Press TV – Int’l festivals to screen Iranian films.

Two award-winning feature-length Iranian films are scheduled to be screened at international film festivals in Europe and Africa.

Asqar Farhadi’s Fireworks Wednesday will participate in the Carthage International Film festival, to be held from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1, 2008, in Tunisia.

Fireworks Wednesday has received numerous international awards including the 2006 Best Director award at India’s Kerala International Film Festival and the 2007 Best Feature award of Las Palmas International Film Festival.

Saman Salour’s From the Land of Silence will be screened at Germany’s Around the World in 14 Films, to be held from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6, 2008.

New Orleans evacuates as Gustav nears Sunday, 31 August, 2008

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Press TV – New Orleans evacuates as Gustav nears.

Residents wait to board buses to evacuate New Orleans

New Orleans residents have begun to evacuate the city as the ‘storm of the century’ takes aim at the Louisiana coast in southern US.

New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, has ordered the mandatory evacuation of more than 239,000 residents in order to avoid a replay of the 2005 Katrina catastrophe.

On August 29, 2005, the city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina – a Category 3 storm.

Katrina, the third-strongest hurricane ever to hit the US, caused more than 1,600 deaths, while flooding about 85 percent of the city.

Calling Gustav ‘the mother of all storms’, Nagin urged citizens not commit ‘one of the biggest mistakes’ of their life by seeking to ride out the storm.

“This is not the one to play with,” he said. (more…)

ran to compile Shahnameh encyclopedia Saturday, 30 August, 2008

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Press TV – Iran to compile Shahnameh encyclopedia.

Iran is compiling the world’s first Shahnameh encyclopedia in a bid to facilitate academic research into the Persian epic masterpiece.

Iranian scholars and literary figures such as Hassan Anousheh, Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi, Fereidoun Joneidi and Jalal Khaleqi Motlaq will participate in the project.

A team of Iranian and international scholars will contribute to the project in different fields including history, geography, culture and civilization, medicine, astronomy and astrology, architecture and music.

The encyclopedia will discuss the cultural and historical impacts of a number of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries which were part of Iran when Shahnameh was written.

Written by the Persian poet, Ferdowsi, Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) is a classic among epic Persian poetry and recounts Iran’s mythical and historical past.

The book is unique as it was written when Arabic was the main scientific and literary language of Iran.

Palin: Big Oil’s new champion Saturday, 30 August, 2008

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Press TV – Palin: Big Oil’s new champion.

Sarah Palin strongly supports oil drilling in Alaska and off the US coastline.

For many, John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for presidential running mate came as a surprise. Political heavyweights such as Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty had to stand aside for the little-known Alaska governor with “telegenic” looks.

McCain’s choice may not have been predictable but it shows him moving further towards the interests of the industry most concerned about a Republican victory this November – Oil.

US oil firms have given John McCain three times more declared campaign money than to Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. Big oil contributions to the Republican Party outweigh oil money to the Democrats by a similar ratio.

Sarah Palin hasn’t been in the game long enough to have shown all her political colors but on one key issue she has made herself abundantly clear. Oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Palin describes it as “nonsensical” that the president should have to “ask the Saudis to ramp up production of crude oil” while “sister state” Alaska has the oil that “hungry markets” in America need. (more…)

Who risks more, Russia or West? Saturday, 30 August, 2008

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Press TV – Who risks more, Russia or West?.

The following is Press TV’s exclusive interview with Vladimir Sotnikov from the Centre for International Security in Moscow.

Press TV: Tbilisi has ended ties with Moscow. How does this move add to the tension that already exists between Russia and Georgia?

Sotnikov: I would like to say that this is wholly Georgia’s decision to stop the diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and Georgia and Georgia is to blame. I think for Georgians it will be bad to do during this diplomatic crisis which followed after the short war between Russia and Georgia and it would be better to keep up the diplomatic relations and to conduct negotiations. As the ordinary Georgians say it’s better to have a close friend which is your neighbor than to have a close friend which is an outside power.

Press TV: There is a military build up in the Black Sea and Russia is also seeking military bases in South Ossetia. What are the West and Russia both demanding from these moves?

Sotnikov:According to the situation which is now in the Black Sea, we have several NATO warships and Russian Black Sea fleets now is in position. I think that the NATO seeks a situation where it can control the movements of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea and Russia would like to prevent the possible breaking up of this truce by Georgia and the possible situation when Georgians could again be in a state of war with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. (more…)

198 Palestinians out of 11000 Saturday, 30 August, 2008

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Press TV – 198 Palestinians out of 11000.

By Daryoush Bavar, Press TV, Tehran

Israel on August 25th released 198 Palestinian prisoners out of some 11000 it holds in its jails. Among them were women and children.

Their release came just hours ahead of a Mideast visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It was her seventh visit to the region since the November 2007 launch of the Annapolis conference, which sought to establish peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Since then, all of the attempts by Rice to broker a deal between the two have been to no avail.

A large number of the released prisoners were members of the Fatah movement led by Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees reported that nearly half of them would have finished their prison terms in 2009.

Their release also coincided with an ongoing Israeli detention and abduction campaign. Palestinian sources have revealed that Israeli soldiers kidnapped over 300 Palestinians in the West Bank in July 2008. Nearly the same number of Palestinians have reportedly been kidnapped since the beginning of August. (more…)

‘Lost towns’ discovered in Amazon Saturday, 30 August, 2008

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BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | ‘Lost towns’ discovered in Amazon.

Trench over a defensive ditch (Science)

The settlements show an advanced level of planning

A remote area of the Amazon river basin was once home to densely populated towns, Science journal reports.

The Upper Xingu, in west Brazil, was once thought to be virgin forest, but in fact shows traces of extensive human activity.

Researchers found evidence of a grid-like pattern of settlements connected by road networks and arranged around large central plazas.

There are signs of farming, wetland management, and possibly fish farms.

The settlements are now almost completely overgrown by rainforest.

The ancient urban communities date back to before the first Europeans set foot in the Upper Xingu region of the Brazilian Amazon in the 15th Century.

Urban planning (more…)

Russia: US still looking for WMDs in Iraq? Friday, 29 August, 2008

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Press TV – Russia: US still looking for WMDs in Iraq?.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin

Russia has slammed what it calls the UN Security Council’s hypocritical stance on the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has accused the world body of adopting a double standard approach in dealing with the issue.

He said members of the Council are ignorant about the essence of the Caucasus conflict, Russia Today reported on Friday.

The remarks were made after a Thursday’s meeting of the Security Council during which the Western powers criticized Moscow’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“Russia violated the security zone patrolled by UN peacekeeping forces deployed by the UN Security Council,” said Alejandro Daniel Wolff, US Representative to the UN. “In Abkhazia, Russia is violating not only the territorial integrity of Georgia, but also the integrity of this Council.” (more…)