February 21, 2006 in Nation/World

Panel to probe war crimes, abuse

The Spokesman-Review

Liberia’s president inaugurated a truth commission Monday to investigate crimes and human rights abuses committed in the war-battered country over the last quarter century.

The seven-member Truth and Reconciliation Commission has a mandate to investigate crimes committed from 1979 until 2003, when years of civil war came to an end.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took over last month from a postwar transitional government, said Liberians must “face up to the past and revile as an affront to all civilized people the despicable acts our people endured during the past 14 years of our civil conflict.”


Africa study probes warming, food link

Climate change that strengthens El Nino weather patterns could endanger food supplies for more than 20 million people in Africa, a new study warns.

El Nino is a warming of the water in the tropical Pacific Ocean associated with changes in air pressure and the movement of high-level winds that can affect weather worldwide.

In the past, El Ninos have occurred every four to seven years, but many climate experts worry that continuing global warming will lead to stronger and more frequent events.

A new analysis of 40 years of African crop and livestock records shows a close association between El Ninos and variations in production of corn, sorghum, millet and groundnuts such as peanuts.

Corn was particularly affected, with yield reduced in El Nino years in several African countries, researchers led by Hans R. Herren of the Millennium Institute in Arlington, Va., report in today’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In southern Africa, crop production could be down by as much as 20 percent to 50 percent in strong El Nino years, the researchers found.


U.N. peacekeepers are not wanted

Sudan’s vice president told a visiting U.S. delegation that the country opposed a proposal to deploy international peacekeepers to Darfur, but was committed to negotiations to end tensions in the region, state media reported Monday.

Despite the Sudanese objections, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton on Monday accused the U.N. and some Security Council members on Monday of moving too slowly to set up the U.N. force.

Bolton expressed frustration with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.N. officials over the pace of preparation for the mission to replace 7,000 African Union troops. He also said African and Arab diplomats on the Security Council needed to move more quickly.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said United Nations officials were in talks with African leaders about the force and planning for the mission “is moving full-steam ahead.” The African Union’s mandate in Darfur expires March 31.


Allowing U.S. beef not likely soon

Japan will resume imports of U.S. beef only if Washington can convince Tokyo it will implement effective safeguards against mad cow disease, a top Japanese official said today.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said the government was still examining a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on the faulty veal shipment that prompted Japan to close its markets to American beef last month.

Japan’s agriculture minister said Monday the report was insufficient, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said a quick resumption of imports was unlikely.

Japan closed its doors to American beef last month after the discovery of banned backbones in a shipment of U.S. veal, a violation of the pact that reopened Japan’s market to the meat in December.

Compiled from wire reports

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