Conflict Mineral Rules Becoming Established in Africa, Experts Say

July 14 - Despite challenges and initial suspicions, rules covering the international trade in conflict minerals are taking hold in Africa and are providing a legal framework for small enterprise mining operations to bring the minerals to the international market, experts said at a panel discussion in Washington DC.

Legal production and sale of tin, tungsten and tantalum is viable five years after a new US law began requiring companies to disclose whether they are obtaining minerals that had fostered violence in central Africa, said Yves Bawa, regional director and program manager for the NGO Pact in the central Africa.

Middle East Food Crisis Grows With Conflict

July 13 - As early harvests of grain come in from the fields in the Middle East, Iraq is facing shortages because of war-related problems farmers had in obtaining seed and also in distribution problems that began at the storage silos and continued through the supply chain to the point of household rations dispersals, according to press reports and UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports.

A July 12 Wall Street Journal story quoted the FAO's country brief on Iraq, which said "Food prices in Anbar are the highest of all governorates, around 58 percent above the prices in Baghdad."

Central African Politics Under Watch

July 11- Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have come under scrutiny by international bodies who caution that undemocratic practices in the Central African countries may lead to instability or violence.

The UN Security Council heard a warning about the July 21 presidential elections in Burundi, and the European Union Parliament passed a resolution calling for immediate political reforms in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lloyd's: Cyber-Attack on US Northeast Power Could Cost $1Trillion

July 9 - A cyber-attack on 50 power generation plants in the Northeast United States would not only harm millions of people but could cost the economy between $243 billion and $1 trillion in damages from the resulting power outages, said insurance firm Lloyd's and the University of Cambridge's Centre for Risk Studies.

A report entitled "Business Blackout" issued by the two organizations detailed a scenario in which cyber-attackers hacked, infiltrated and disabled only 7 percent of the 676 power generators feeding the grid of the 15 states of the northeast United States, a scenario the report called "improbable, but technologically possible."

Lawsuits Quickly Follow EPA's New Water Regulation

States are forming coalitions to challenge the EPA's new "Waters of the United States" Rule, filing four lawsuits to overturn the regulation.

The Waters Rule would specifically give EPA jurisdiction over smaller streams that the EPA says are connected to larger water supplies. The states say the Federal government is intruding on state powers.

The story include maps showing the states challenging the rule and the number of people get drinking water from smaller streams.

Aleppo Fighting Continues As Other Fronts Flare in Syria

July 4, 2015 - Syrian moderate rebels fighting in Aleppo held on to a research center that the Damascus government had been using for military barracks, but a militant group reportedly had been pushed back from the gains it had made in another part of the city when government warplanes conducted dozens of air strikes against their positions.

Yemen Crisis Requires Highest Level Response, UN Reports

Yemen needs the highest level of humanitarian intervention in the wake of a war that has affected millions of people, said the United Nations. UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien called for a "Level 3" intervention status for Yemen.

Days before, Human Rights Watch had issued a report about bombing of civilian areas in Saada, Yemen. The NGO said that its field investigators saw several damaged targets that showed no signs of military usage.

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