The Global Note: Afghan Friends, Afghan Foes…The “God Particle”…Exhuming Arafat?…Pistorius, Olympian

By Tom Nagorski

Jul 4, 2012 9:34am

AFGHAN WAR

-AMERICANS ATTACKED…It’s happened again. A man in an Afghan army uniform has shot and wounded five American troops in eastern Afghanistan. The extent of their injuries isn’t clear – we know only that they are receiving treatment at a medical facility. The U.S.-led NATO coalition said the attack happened Tuesday in eastern Wardak province’s Sayed Abad district. The coalition retains a large base there. The attack is the latest manifestation of a terrible trend: so-called green-on-blue shootings, in which Afghans turn their guns on Western mentors. Three British soldiers were shot in a so-called “green-on-blue” attack Sunday – and 26 soldiers have been killed and many more wounded in this way this year.

-CRUCIAL SUPPLY ROUTES REOPENED…After Hillary Clinton’s “I’m sorry” to Pakistan – for the raid that took the lives of 24 Pakistani soldiers last fall – a key route for war supplies is open again. Trucks carrying NATO troop supplies are resuming shipments to Afghanistan following the deal between the U.S. and Pakistan that ended Islamabad’s seven-month blockade. A customs official at one of Pakistan’s two main border crossings said he had received orders from the government to begin allowing trucks to cross into Afghanistan at 2 p.m. local time.

-4TH OF JULY…Some 68,000 American soldiers are serving in Afghanistan this Fourth of July. Muhammad LILA and Matt MCGARRY – on an embed in Eastern Afghanistan – spent the day with many of the soldiers, who were eager to send holiday greetings to families from Seattle to the Bronx, from Muscatine, Iowa to the Bronx, to name a few. They’ll feed material this morning.

“GOD PARTICLE” FOUND?

As Angus HINES puts it, this is either “an historic day – or the most baffling science project ever”. Or perhaps it’s both. Excited scientists at Cern (along the French/Swiss border) have announced that they have found the strongest evidence yet that they have captured the elusive “God particle”, a subatomic particle that gives matter mass and holds the physical fabric of the universe together. Whitney LLOYD offers this: “The discovery of the Higgs particle ranks as one of the most important scientific advances of the past 100 years. According to the theory, all the particles in the newborn universe were massless and hurtled around at the speed of light. But one trillionth of a second after the big bang, the Higgs field switched on, turning the vacuum of space into a kind of cosmic glue. This field is thought to give mass to the smallest building blocks of matter, the quarks and electrons that make up atoms. Without the field, or something like it, there would be no planets, stars, or life as we know it.” Scientists add that finding the Higgs plugs a gaping hole in the “Standard Model”, the theory that describes all the particles, forces and interactions that make up the universe. Whew.

ARAFAT MAY BE EXHUMED

Following yesterday’s Al Jazeera report suggesting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned,  Nasser ATTA reports Arafat’s widow Suha has asked the Palestinian Authority to exhume her husband’s body from its grave in Ramallah for an inquest. Palestian Presidentr Mahmoud Abbas says he sees no reason why that should not be allowed to happen. The suggestion that Arafat had been poisoned resurrected conspiracy theories that he had been killed by Israel agents or Palestinian rivals. Worth noting that a Palestinian investigation after his death (Arafat died eight years ago) was inconclusive; a New York Times investigation suggested he died after complications from a stroke.

SYRIA

-BREAKING…Reports just in say the Turkish military has found the bodies of both pilots of F-4 jet shot down by Syria last month – and is working to retrieve them.

-TITANIC GURU TO LOOK FOR TURKISH JET…The above news may change this – but The Washington Post reports the celebrated ocean explorer, Bob Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic, has been tapped to find the Turkish jet shot down by Syria. If Ballard finds the debris, it could settle whether the jet was in Syrian or international airspace when it was shot down. If the plane was hit by antiaircraft gunfire, it was probably attacked in Syrian airspace, but if the wreckage indicates a missile downed the plane, it could have been hit further out to sea.

IRAN SHOWDOWN

-AHMADINEJAD: “TOUGHEST SANCTIONS YET”…During a meeting with Intelligence Ministry officials in Tehran yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called new European Union sanctions against his country “the most severe and strictest sanctions ever imposed on a country.” He made the remarks soon after Iran test-fired missiles capable of hitting Israel and American military bases in the Middle East.    

-NUCLEAR TALKS PRESS ON…Meanwhile, the U.S. and other world powers agreed with Iran to move toward a resumption of full negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The meeting was held yesterday in Istanbul where the participants reached the agreement.

FORMER BARCLAYS CHIEF TESTIFIES TODAY – AS SCANDAL EXPANDS 

-ON THE STAND…Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond is testifying before Parliament’s Treasury committee on the loan rate fixing scandal that yesterday ended his 16-year career with the bank. Barclays is accused of manipulating the Libor rate, which is used to set the borrowing costs of millions of consumers. The Independent suggests the Bank of England may actually be in on the scandal, based on an e-mail Barclays released last night that appears to show the bank was under the impression that manipulating rates was sanctioned by the Bank of England.     

-NOT SURE HER DAD WILL APPRECIATE THIS…The Guardian has this footnote to Diamond’s resignation. Diamond’s daughter Nell took to Twitter yesterday to defend her father with this “George Osburn and Ed Miliband you can go ahead and #HMD.” As the Guardian writes, “Those unaccustomed to the HMD hashtag may wonder whether it stands for “help my dad,” or perhaps “honor Mr. Diamond.” They will be disappointed. According to popular Internet wisdom, it is an abbreviation of a less lofty imperative.” That imperative won’t be printed here. Click the link to find out.

PISTORIUS – AKA “BLADE RUNNER” – GOING TO OLYMPICS

Double amputee Oscar Pistorius is going to the London Olympics after being selected in South Africa’s 4×400 relay team. Pistorius is set to become the first amputee track athlete ever to compete at the games. South Africa’s Olympic committee picked him Wednesday. The selection eased Pistorius’ disappointment at his failure to qualify in the individual 400 meters. The 25-year-old South African, who runs on carbon fiber blades, missed out by less than a quarter of a second at his final qualifying race at the African championships last week.  Pistorius made history last year by qualifying for the world championships, where he won silver in the 4×400. The decision to leave him out of the final race caused controversy. Pistorius won several medals at the Beijing and Athens Paralympics.

EURO CRISIS

-HURTING LOVE LIVES?…According to a Pfizer survey, the sex lives of Spaniards and Italians have been affected by the long-running debt crisis. 34% of Spanish and 21% of Italian respondents admitted that the crisis is negatively affecting their “levels of sexual fulfilment and desire”. Those percentages are far lower in the economically virtuous Northern countries, with a mere 8% of Belgians and 9% of Germans saying the crisis affects them in the bedroom. Pfizer interviewed sexually active men and women aged 36-65 for this survey.

-SELLING AN HEIRLOOM…Former Miss Spain blames Euro crisis as she sells off family heirloom.

NEW CLUES ON WHY COSTA CONCORDIA SANK

Phoebe NATANSON in Rome notes damaging new allegations that may shed more light on why the Costa Concordia went down. The ship was sailing with electrical problems, its doors were not sealed properly and the crew were using unauthorized maritime charts when the vessel ran aground in January. These new revelations were leaked from Italian magistrates. Not clear what role these issues may have played in the disaster.

MANCHESTER UNITED TO FILE $100 MILLION IPO

The Wall Street Journal reports Manchester United has filed plans to raise $100 million in an initial public offering in the U.S. The team is owned by the American Glazer family which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It would be the first sports team to go public in the U.S. in more than a decade. 

GADHAFI’S SON ENJOYING THE HIGH LIFE IN NIGER

Officially, Moammar Gadhafi’s third son Saadi is under house arrest in Niger as Libya continues to seek his extradition, but the  Washington Post paints a different picture. They say Saadi is known to frequent fancy restaurants and nightclubs and leads a normal life in Niger’s capital Niamey.

NO MORE SHARK FIN SOUP IN CHINA

China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reports China has banned shark fin soup at official receptions. Shark fin soup is an expensive and popular delicacy and is blamed for a sharp decline in global shark populations. It’s unclear how widely the ban will be adhered to, but the it was welcomed by environmental campaigners.

EARLY AMERICAN MAP UNCOVERED IN GERMANY

The BBC reports a 16th-century map of America, credited with being the first to document and name the newly-discovered land, has been discovered in Germany. The map was found in the pages of an unrelated 19th century book at a Munich university. It’s a copy of a much larger version given to the U.S. as a gift by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that is kept in the Library of Congress.

ODD GOINGS-ON IN RUSSIA…

Kirit RADIA sends along the following: A mass jump off a bridge in Siberia…and tank maneuvers choreographed by the Bolshoi ballet.

Happy Holiday!

 

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