- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008


Warming feared for Lake Baikal

BOLSHIYE KOTY | The world’s oldest, deepest and biggest freshwater lake is growing warmer, dirtier and more crowded.

Lyubov Izmestieva is charting these insidious changes. Marina Rikhvanova is fighting them. And the fate of one of the world’s rarest ecosystems, a turquoise jewel set in the vast Siberian taiga, hangs in the balance.

For centuries, Lake Baikal has inspired wonder and, more recently, impassioned defenders. With more freshwater than the Great Lakes combined, and home to 1,500 species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, Baikal has been called Sacred Sea, Pearl of Siberia, Galapagos of Russia.

But these pristine waters, a mile deep in some places, are threatened by polluting factories, a uranium-enrichment facility, timber harvesting and, increasingly, Earth’s warming climate. The struggle has turned nasty, with Mrs. Rikhvanova, an environmental activist, saying the authorities even coerced her own son into a violent attack on her group.

Tourists, most of them newly prosperous Russians, are flocking to the lake, filling the beaches, building vacation homes and changing the lake’s ecology. Resorts are opening. There are more fishermen, hunters and boaters.

The lake’s significance goes far beyond Russia’s borders; its size and fragility, say environmentalists, makes it a sort of test case for such bodies of freshwater around the world.

Mrs. Izmestiva, 56, the director of Irkutsk State University’s Scientific Research Institute of Biology, is the third generation in her family to do this work. Starting in 1945, her grandfather sailed out onto Baikal’s waters - or trudged out on its ice - to take samples. When he died, Mrs. Izmestieva’s mother continued the work until her death in 2000. Mrs. Izmestiva then took over.


Wanted mobster arrested in Spain

ROME | One of Italy’s most-wanted mobsters was arrested while dining at a restaurant in northeastern Spain, officials said Sunday.

Patrizio Bosti was arrested late Saturday while he was having dinner with a group of 15 Italians and Spaniards in Girona, according to Italian and Spanish police who captured him in a joint operation.

Bosti, 49, had been on the run since 2005.

Bosti was convicted in absentia of heading a clan of the Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate and sentenced to 23 years in prison for the murder of two rival mobsters during a feud in 1984.

Bosti was spotted when he took a flight from Naples to Barcelona a week ago and traced to nearby Girona, where he was spending some time in a luxurious villa, police said.

The convicted mobster tried showing police a fake ID, but quickly surrendered when he realized he had been recognized, said Cesare Nalli, a Carabinieri paramilitary police official in Naples. He was not armed, but police found he was carrying the equivalent of more than $30,000 in euro500 bills, Mr. Nalli said.

Spanish police said Bosti will appear before judges in Madrid within 72 hours. Italian authorities expect him to be extradited in the coming days.


Lightning strike injures soccer team

BERLIN | Police say lightning struck 32 soccer players training in western Germany, seriously injuring nine of them.

A police statement late Friday said the players were practicing in Wald Michelbach, a village south of Frankfurt, when they were struck.

The seriously injured ranged in age from 14 to 30. Three were flown by helicopter to a clinic for treatment and six were taken to a hospital.

The other players from senior and youth amateur teams were treated at the scene. Many suffered from shock.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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