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US$30m to fight Colombia’s traffickers

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WASHINGTON, United States – Citing improvements in Colombia’s human rights record, the Obama administration freed up more than US$30 million in assistance to the country’s military to help it fight insurgents and drug traffickers.
The administration said the Colombian government had curbed what had been a growing number of extrajudicial killings and taken other steps to prove it was serious about protecting human rights. The finding allows the administration to send US$30.3 million to the Colombian army that had been withheld over human rights concerns. (AP)
Miners stage coal protest
WASHINGTON – Hundreds of coal miners rallied on Capitol Hill against the Obama administration’s attempts to rein in mountaintop removal mining, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of trying to wipe out the coal industry.
The industry-backed group Faces of Coal said it paid for most of the travel and lodging expenses for the coal miners, who came from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Speakers included politicians from both parties and country music singer Stella Parton.
Later, country music performer Big Kenny told a smaller, rival rally of opponents of mountaintop removal that the coal industry does not speak for all of Appalachia.
In mountaintop removal mining, forests are clear-cut, explosives blast apart the rock, and machines scoop out the exposed coal. The earth left behind is dumped into valleys, covering intermittent streams. Coal operators say it’s the most efficient way to reach some reserves, and that it supports tens of thousands of jobs and provides coal for electricity. Opponents say it pollutes water, defaces majestic scenery and obliterates the quiet country environment. (AP)
Govt threatened
SYDNEY – Australia’s Opposition Leader Tony Abbott threatened to bring down Julia Gillard’s fragile minority government, one day after it was sworn in, by persuading independent MPs to support him.
Neither leader won an outright majority at August 21 polls but Gillard’s ruling Labour Party was returned to office after the prime minister managed to broker the support of minority lawmakers.
But Abbott said he was determined to lure two rural “kingmaker” independents to his side by convincing them that Labour’s planned national broadband Internet network was a mistake – a move that would smash Gillard’s hold on power. (AFP)