Compiled by Lily Galvin

Nations Compete over Islands of Crap
Rising prices of synthetic fertilizers and organic foods have intensified the collection of bird droppings on 20 climatically ideal islands off the coast of Peru where 12-inch-thick seabird guano coats the land. In the 19th century, Spain fought with Peru on the high seas for the right to mine the guano, which at that time was 150 feet high in places. Said an official of the Peruvian company that controls guano production (to a New York Times reporter in May), "Before there was oil, there was guano, so of course we fought wars over it." The exceptionally dry climate means that 12,000 to 15,000 tons of guano are available yearly.

- New York Times, 5-30-08

Young People Find Ways Round Internet Blocks

Young, technologically-minded Syrians say they continue to access banned web sites despite increasing attempts by their government to block sites deemed undesirable.

The government last week shut down public access to Wikipedia Arabic, adding the resource to a long list of sites officially banned in Syria.

By finding proxy sites through which they can look at blocked websites, and using sophisticated "anonymity software" students prevent those monitoring internet usage from identifying who is visiting which sites.

- Adapted from Syria News Briefing May 30, 2008

LAPD Gives Itself Perfect Record on Racial Profiling
The Los Angeles Police Department announced in April that it had investigated 320 complaints against its officers last year for alleged "racial profiling" and found that not a single one was valid. The Los Angeles Times reported that that was at least the sixth consecutive year that LAPD reported a perfect record on racial profiling.

- Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2008

Small Town overthrows Corporate Giant for Control of Water
The people of Felton, California learned that they had successfully wrested control of their water from the clutches of giant for-profit corporation, California American Water (CalAm), on Friday, May 30, 2008.

The private water utility, CalAm is said to have been extorting huge, unjustified rate increases and failing to protect sensitive watershed properties.

CalAm has agreed to sell its Felton water subsidiary to the San Lorenzo Valley Water District for a cash price of $10.5 million. As part of the deal, the Valley water district will assume CalAm's debt of $2.9 million for the Kirby treatment plant and CalAm will donate watershed land that it purchased from Citizens Water.

First Same-Sex Weddings Performed in Greece
Defying threats of prosecution and mounting public wrath, the mayor of a remote Greek island performed the country's first same-sex marriages on Tuesday, wedding two men and two women.

The civil ceremonies, held at sunrise in the nondescript town hall of Tilos, a tiny island in the eastern Aegean Sea, defied statements by a senior Greek prosecutor last week that such unions were illegal. Despite it's growing homosexual community, gays and lesbians in this European Union nation of 11 million people frequently complain of discrimination.

On Tuesday, however, a bubbling just-married Evangelia Vlami emerged from the Tilos town hall, telling the BBC that the unions would help end discrimination. "We did this to encourage other gay people to take a stand," she said.

- Adapted from International Herald Tribune, June 3, 2008

George Monbiot Attempts Citizen's Arrest on John Bolton John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, escaped a citizen's arrest by British activist and columnist, George Monbiot Wednesday night as he addressed an audience in Britain. Monbiot says Bolton is a war criminal for his role in helping to initiate the US invasion of Iraq.

"Under an act of Parliament here, the Serious Organized [Crime and Police] Act, a citizen has the right to arrest anyone that they suspect to be guilty of a crime who would otherwise get away from the scene or escape without being arrested…. Now, there is a proviso which says that you can only act in this way if the police are unable to act to arrest this person. In this particular case, the police were able to act and had chosen not to do so," Monbiot explained.

Monbiot was caught by two security guards and pulled out of the venue quickly after announcing his plans to perform the citizen arrest as the former UN-ambassador left the stage.

- Adapted from Amy Goodman's interview and report from www.democracynow.org

Hawaii Requires Solar Water Heaters for New Homes With a heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels, Hawaii has become the first state to require solar water heaters in new homes, pleasing environmentalists but leading opponents to note the island chain's already high home prices.

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle signed a bill Thursday requiring the energy-saving systems starting in 2010. She said the law is "another important step in our long-term plan for energy independence in Hawaii."

- Associated Press, July 1, 2008