China Oil Spill; U.S. aid boat wants to sail to Gaza as 'The Audacity of Hope'

Wednesday, July 21, 2010; A12


Efforts underway to contain oil spill

China strove to keep an oil spill from reaching international waters Tuesday, while an environmental group tried to assess if the country's largest reported spill was worse than has been disclosed.

Crude oil started pouring into the Yellow Sea off the busy northeastern port of Dalian after a pipeline exploded late last week, sparking a 15-hour fire. The government says the slick has spread across 70 square miles of ocean.


Aid boat seeks to sail as 'Audacity of Hope'

A group calling itself U.S. Boat to Gaza is seeking $370,000 in the next month to send an aid ship to the Gaza Strip that would be named after President Obama's best-selling book "The Audacity of Hope."

Rashid Khalidi, a friend of Obama who is active in Palestinian causes, has signed the appeal, part of a broader effort to thwart the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave.

Khalidi, a Columbia University professor, briefly became the subject of controversy during the 2008 presidential campaign when Sen. John McCain's camp tried to make an issue of what it called Obama's suspect friendships. The news of Khalidi's involvement in the boat appeal has led the National Review to call for a Justice Department probe of the academic on grounds he may have provided material support to a terrorist group.

The White House declined to comment. Khalidi said he was not aware the boat would be named after Obama's book when he agreed to add his name to the list of sponsors.

"But if the name is a problem for the administration, it can simply insist publicly that Israel lift the siege: end of problem, end of embarrassment," he wrote in an e-mail.

-- Glenn Kessler

2 Americans among 3 slain at base

An Afghan army trainer apparently opened fire on his fellow instructors on a shooting range in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing two American civilian trainers and an Afghan soldier before being killed himself, NATO officials said.

The shooting, at a weapons-training base near the city of Mazar-e Sharif, came just a week after another rogue Afghan soldier killed three British troops at a base in Helmand province.

A NATO soldier and an Afghan soldier were wounded in Tuesday's attack, which took place during a routine weapons-proficiency class for the eight-week Afghan army basic training course at Camp Shaheen. Across the country, about 20,000 Afghan National Army trainees are currently involved in such a course, NATO officials said.

The rapid growth of the Afghan army and police force is a top priority for both NATO and the Afghan government ahead of the eventual departure of foreign troops from the country.

NATO officials said that over the past two to three years, there have been fewer than 10 incidents of rogue Afghan security personnel attacking their NATO partners.

"We have to keep that in perspective," one NATO official said.

-- Joshua Partlow

Anger unabated over alleged police killing

The death of a young man at the hands of police in Alexandria last month has given fresh momentum to calls for political change in Egypt, which appears to be drifting toward an uncharted transfer of power after President Hosni Mubarak, 82, dies or steps down.

Pictures of Khaled Said's bloodied face, widespread on the Internet and in the media, have triggered demonstrations around the country to protest the 28-year-old's killing, as well as the Interior Ministry's attempt to portray him as a petty criminal and drug addict.

"The killing of Khaled Said marks a milestone allowing us to bring new generations into the national movement," said Ahmed Maher, coordinator of the 6th April Movement, an opposition group that will hold the latest in a series of protests against police impunity on Friday.

-- Financial Times

-- Associated Press

Chávez to have presence on Globovision board: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said he would put a representative on the board of opposition television station Globovision, the leftist leader's boldest move yet against his fiercest media critic. Chávez stressed that the move did not signify a takeover. "Let nobody say we are expropriating. We are incorporating ourselves in the business," he said.

Singapore frees British author: Singapore released on bail a British author arrested Sunday as part of a criminal defamation investigation related to his book on the city-state's death penalty policy, "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock." Police were to question 75-year-old Alan Shadrake further on Tuesday, his attorney said.

Driver error may have caused Indian train crash: A train that slammed into another in an eastern Indian station Monday was traveling three times as fast as it should have been and ignored signals to stop, railway officials said, suggesting that driver error caused the crash that killed 63 people.

-- From news services

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