Charles Wiwa fled Nigeria in 1996 following a crackdown on protests against Shell's oil operations in the Niger Delta. Now a resident of Chicago, Wiwa and other natives of the oil-rich Ogoni region are suing Shell for human rights violations.
Human rights are front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in two cases testing how American law intersects with international law. At issue in both cases is whether foreign nationals in the United States can sue corporations or other entities in U.S. courts for alleged violations of human rights.
The case that has corporate teeth chattering is a lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell Oil, which is accused of aiding and abetting the Nigerian government in committing atrocities in the 1990s.
The halls of the State Department are haunted, not by actual ghosts, but by people who might as well be ghosts: whistleblowers, people who angered someone powerful and people who for one reason or another, can't be fired.
"People like me, that the State Department no longer wants, but for some reason can't or won't fire, are assigned to what we call 'hallwalking,'" says author Peter Van Buren.
Robert Ford (left), the U.S. ambassador to Syria, speaks to an unidentified U.S. military attache during a guided government tour in the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur last June. The U.S. has closed its embassy in Syria owing to security concerns, but Ford is using Facebook to stay involved in the country.
The U.S. evacuated the staff of its embassy in Damascus earlier this month owing to security issues. But that hasn't stopped Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, from using social media to keep in touch with events on the ground, and to try to shape them.
A new program led by the U.S. seeks to limit amounts of soot, hydrofluorocarbons and methane released into the atmosphere. In this file photo from 2009, a researcher ignites trapped methane from under a pond's ice cap in Alaska.
Credit Todd Paris / AP
The United States and five other nations are embarking on a new program to limit pollutants connected to global warming. But they're not targeting carbon dioxide with this effort — instead, they're looking at methane gas, and soot.
NPR's Richard Harris filed this report for our Newscast desk:
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. is teaming up with Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Ghana and Bangladesh to get countries thinking about some potent contributors to climate change."
The $750 million embassy building is the largest of its kind in the world and the Times adds that a major cut in staffing just two months after American troops withdrew from the country signals a "declining American influence."