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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mandela ‘Much Better Today’, Says S.African President

South African President Jacob Zuma, who cancelled a visit to Mozambique in order to visit former president Nelson Mandela in hospital, said the former leader was “much better today than he was when I saw him last night”. Mandela has been in hospital in Pretoria since June 8 with a lung infection. His daughter Makaziwe, speaking to public broadcaster SABC, said that he “doesn’t look good”, but that “if we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes. He’s still there. He might be waning off, but he’s still there”. She also used her interview to lambast the international media for what she termed its “racist” coverage. “There is sort of a racist element with many of the foreign national media where they cross boundaries – it’s like truly vultures waiting [for] when the lion has devoured the buffalo. We don’t mind the interest but I just think that it has gone overboard”, said Ms. Mandela.

Obama Will Not Barter for Snowden

US President Barack Obama has said he would not engage in “wheeling and dealing” with Russia or any other foreign government to secure the extradition of intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, currently living in the international transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. He said he had not spoken to Chinese leader Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin about Snowden, but added he would discuss other issues before talking about Snowden. Obama said Snowden’s flight from justice was “a made-for-TV movie” and insisted he wouldn’t use many resources attempting to track him down, saying he was “not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker”. His words were markedly different from those of other US figures. Members of the US Congress have called Snowden a “traitor” and Senator Lindsey Graham suggested a manhunt for the whistleblower. “I hope we’ll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy”, he said.

UK Doubles Its Estimates of Shale Gas Reserves

A report by the British Geological Survey has revealed that the UK has doubled its previously estimated resources of shale gas. “Today’s news from the Geological Survey confirms 1,300 trillion cubic feet, which is double previous estimates”, said Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, while speaking in Parliament. While typically only 10 to 15 percent of all shale gas in place is recoverable, the reserves could meet British consumption demands. The country consumed 2.76 trillion cubic feet last year. In order to placate environmental concerns over the practice of fracking, in which rocks are hydraulically broken to extract the gas, the companies interested in shale gas exploration will have to give local communities £100,000 worth of benefits and 1 percent of the revenue from each production site. “This will provide a welcome boost for communities who will host shale exploration and production as well as offering strong assurances that operators will engage with them and work to the highest health, safety and environmental standards”, said Energy Minister Michael Fallon.

Japan’s Public Broadcaster Sued Over the Use of English Words

A 71-year-old Japanese pensioner has sued NHK, the country’s public broadcaster, for the “mental distress” caused by the excessive use of words derived from English in its broadcasts. Hoji Takahashi is seeking £9,300 in damages from NHK, saying it should instead be using authentic Japanese alternatives the words. “I contacted NHK to inquire about this, but there was no response so I decided to take the matter to court”, he said, adding that he wanted the broadcaster “to take into account elderly viewers like me when it is creating shows.” Among those cited by Takahashi are kea (care), toraburu (trouble), risuku (risk) and shisutemu (system). He also criticised the use of loan words in programme titles such as BS Kosheruju (BS Concierge) and Sutaijo Paaku Kara Konnichiwa (Hello from Studio Park). Makoto Yamazaki, an associate professor at the National Institute for Japanese language and Linguistics, told the Guardian that the “lawsuit was ridiculous”, but that it did “draw attention to a problem”. NHK said it was studying the legal documents and would only comment once fully informed.

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