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News in Brief: Russia to Load Fuel Into Iranian Nuclear Reactor, and More …

Russia to Load Fuel Into Iranian Nuclear Reactor

Russia to Load Fuel Into Iranian Nuclear Reactor

Iran is set to gain nuclear capability as Russia begins to load fuel into its Bushehr nuclear power station next week, Russian officials said Friday. In a move certain to anger the United States, uranium-packed fuel rods will be loaded into the reactor on 21 August, a process that should take about two to three weeks. Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, said: “This will be an irreversible step” toward nuclear energy, reported The Guardian UK.

Ground Zero Center Fuels Anti-Muslim Protests

The continuing battle over plans to build an Islamic cultural center near ground zero, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, is fueling a tide of Islamophobia across the country. Civil rights activists and religious leaders warn that the “outrage” of a mosque close to the “hallowed ground” surrounding where the World Trade Center used to stand is bound up with the increasing acceptability of hate speech. They decried the political exploitation of the dispute before nationwide elections and said it went hand in hand with the hostility to immigrants and other forms of racism. Protesters have also opposed new Islam centers from Georgia to California, reported The Guardian UK, with a Florida church planning to burn a Quran on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

Labor Organization Warns of “Lost Generation”

Global unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 has reached a record high, according to the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO), with a 7.8 million increase in unemployed youth from 2007. With global youth unemployment rates at 13 percent in 2009, 82 million young people, out of 620 million people in that age group, were unemployed. The ILO expects these figures to continue rising until 2011. In the US, the unemployment rate is 26.5 percent for teenagers and 15.7 percent for people between 20 and 24. The Washington Independent reported the ILO’s warning of the “risk of a crisis legacy of a ‘lost generation’ comprised of young people who have dropped out of the labor market, having lost all hope of being able to work for a decent living.”

Mexico’s Cartels Use Blog to Go Where Journalists Can’t; Asylum Precedent Set

As Mexico’s drug cartels keep journalists at bay, an alternate source has surfaced to keep the country informed about its deadly narco-wars: Blog del Narco, a site that generates hundreds of hits a day and more than three million a week. Authored by an anonymous university student in northern Mexico, the blog publishes information from drug cartels, law enforcement officials and tips from the public, reported The AP. The neutrality of the blog has been condemned as free publicity for the cartels, but has also become a go-to source for which streets to avoid during shootouts.

The Obama administration’s decision to grant asylum in a domestic abuse case has clarified the exacting standards that domestic abuse victims must meet to receive asylum, reported The New York Times. The Department of Homeland Security found that the woman, a Mexican national who was sexually abused and severely battered by her common-law husband, could not expect Mexican authorities to protect her from violence or murder from her attacker, at whose hands she suffered decades of abuse including rape and burning.

Conflict of Interest in Time’s Afghanistan Story

The journalist who wrote Time magazine’s contentious cover story about a young Afghan girl disfigured by the Taliban had failed to disclose a conflict of interest, reported The New York Observer. Baker’s husband, Tamim Samee, is an Afghan-American IT entrepreneur, a board member of an $100- million project advocating foreign investment in Afghanistan and runs two companies which have solicited and won development contracts with the assistance of the international military. Though Time has denied any conflict of interest, Samee has been quoted saying that the “opportunities are definitely here” thanks to “quite a bit of involvement from ISAF [NATO’s International Security Assistance Force] and coalition forces.”

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