Sunday, March 13, 2005

A look at reporting from outside the United States

Liam McDougall has "Muslim miscarries in cell after grilling at airport" in The Sunday Herald (Scotland). From the article:

A MUSLIM woman detained by officials at Glasgow Airport suffered a miscarriage in an immigration cell, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
Marina Miraj, a Canadian Afghan, collapsed in the airport detention room last month after being questioned for hours by immigration staff.
The woman, who is in her 30s and was three months pregnant, was rushed to Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital after being found by airport officials on the cell floor.
Miraj had flown into the UK from Toronto to make plans to settle in Glasgow with her husband. She claims the stress of the interrogation and detention contributed to the miscarriage and is now considering legal action.
She described the ordeal as: "the worst experience of my life."
She added: "I will never be able to forget how I lost my baby in a police cell."
Senior Scottish Muslims last night said it was the latest in a wave of incidents where Afgh-ans had been questioned "like terrorists" at Glasgow Airport.

Girl Blogger of Baghdad Burning has "Chalabi for the Nobel Peace Prize..."

We woke up this morning to a huge explosion. I was actually awake and just lying there, staring at the ceiling, trying to decide if today would be a good day to go shopping for some things we need in the house. Suddenly, there was a loud blast and the house shuddered momentarily. In a second I was standing in front of the window in my room, hands pressed to the cool glass. I couldn't really see anything, but the sky seemed overcast.
I rushed downstairs to find E. and my mother standing in the kitchen doorway, trying to see beyond the houses immediately in front of our own. "Where did it happen?" I asked E. He shrugged his shoulders indicating he couldn't tell either. We later learned it was a large garbage truck of explosives in front of Sadeer Hotel, a hotel famous for hosting foreign contractors- some of a dubious/mysterious reputation. It’' said that the foreign security contractors stay at the hotel, like former South African mercenaries, etc. Since the hotel is quite far from our home, we assume it was a very large explosion. Immediately afterwards, black plumes of smoke began to drift into the sky.
I got an interesting email today telling me about an internet petition to nominate Sistani, of all people, for the Nobel Peace Prize. That had me laughing and a little bit incredulous. Why should Sistani get the Nobel Peace Prize? Because he urged his followers to vote for a list that wants to implement an Iranian-styled government in Iraq? Is that what the Nobel Peace Prize has come to? Someone once told me that they thought Sistani was responsible for the fact that civil war didn't break out in Iraq. That's garbage. Sistani has no influence over Sunnis and he also has little influence over many Shia. Civil war hasn't broken out in Iraq because Iraqis are being tolerant and also because we're very tired. It's like we spent our lives in conflict with someone or another, and being in conflict with each other is not the most tempting option right now. Sistani is an Iranian cleric quietly pushing a frightening agenda and we're feeling the pressure of it every day.
If ANYONE should get the Nobel Peace Prize, it should be my favorite Puppet- Ahmed Chalabi. No, really- stop laughing. Ahmed Chalabi is the one Iraqi politician we can all agree on. Iraqi political debates were never pretty. Lately, they've been worse than ever. I think, to a certain degree, we don't really know how to debate. Sometimes, a debate will begin over a subject both debating parties actually agree upon and then it will escalate into a full-blown yelling match. It never fails to happen with politics.

Aljazeera has "Hizb Allah protest blasts 'US meddling:'"

Hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for a Hizb Allah rally against foreign meddling in Lebanon, while a UN envoy has met the country's president to press demands for a Syrian pullout.
"America out!" yelled supporters of the Shia Islamist group at a rally in the southern town of Nabatia on Sunday, mocking chants of "Syria out" that have resonated in central Beirut streets in recent weeks.
It was the second time in a week the Hizb Allah resistance group, which has the largest following in the country and is the only one with weapons, had flexed its muscles.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in central Beirut on Tuesday to support Hizb Allah's right to bear arms and to thank Syria for its role in Lebanon, where Damascus has kept troops since a 1976 civil war intervention.

Reporters Without Borders has '"Happy 75th birthday to Win Tin, in prison for the past 16 years"Reporters Without Borders activists held at Burmese embassy in Paris:'

Two Reporters Without Borders representatives have been held for two hours, with a French police officer, inside the Burmese embassy in Paris. Other activists were surrounded by policemen outside. Reporters Without Borders went to the embassy in an attempt to give a letter to the ambassador, who refused it. The embassy has threatened to file a complaint against Reporters Without Borders.
Win Tin, Burma's most famous journalist, will celebrate his 75th birthday tomorrow in his cell in Rangoon's sadly notorious Insein prison, Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association said today. Since his arrest on 4 July 1989, he has been deprived of his basic rights, in particular, the right to receive proper medical treatment and the right to be able to write.
Despite recent announcements that he would be included in the release of a number of detainees, the military junta did not free this respected intellectual, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for various alleged offences including "anti-government propaganda."

Win Tin has had two heart attacks since he was imprisoned. For several years, the septuagenarian has had to spend frequent spells in a Rangoon hospital where a number of small rooms are reserved for prisoners.

Over at The Economist they have "Curbing terror or menacing freedom?" From the article:

IN THE wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, President George Bush and the British prime minister, Tony Blair, faced little opposition in arguing that tough measures had to be taken to counter the threat from al-Qaeda and other international terror groups, even if this meant compromising some basic civil liberties. Both countries rushed through new anti-terror laws and began interning suspects -- America mainly at its military base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, and Britain mostly at Belmarsh high-security jail in London.
But, more than three years after the attacks, both leaders have recently suffered setbacks to their anti-terror policies. American and British judges have ruled that their governments cannot go on detaining suspects without giving them acceptable recourse to the courts. In the latest such ruling in America, last week, a judge found that Mr Bush had greatly exceeded his powers in continuing to detain without charge José Padilla, who is accused of conspiring to build a radioactive “dirty bomb”. And on Friday March 11th, Britain's two houses of Parliament continued in deadlock after an all-night battle of wills over a new anti-terror bill that the prime minister is trying to rush in, to replace the 2001 law. Just when it looked like Parliament was set to continue arguing all weekend, Mr Blair apparently gave in to his critics' main demand and agreed to give lawmakers a chance to rewrite the new legislation, a year from now.

[. . .]
In marathon debates throughout Thursday night and into Friday, the upper house, the Lords, repeatedly reinserted the sunset clause, only for the Commons, the lower house, to strike it out and throw the bill back down the corridor linking the two houses. While the politicians continued arguing, an appeals commission headed by a senior judge began freeing the terror suspects --

all North African Muslims -- on bail, subject to curfews or other conditions, using the old terrorism law that was due to expire.
Finally, on Friday afternoon, Mr Blair announced that Parliament would, after all, be given a genuine chance to amend the new law in a year's time, when he (assuming he wins the forthcoming elections) will present it with yet another anti-terrorism bill, replacing the one currently being argued over. Michael Howard, leader of the main opposition Conservative Party, said Mr Blair had conceded a "sunset clause in all but name" and declared victory. Whatever the case, the way was thus cleared for Conservative members of the Lords to let the draft law finally pass.
There is already a sunset clause affecting some of the most controversial measures in the Patriot Act, the terrorism law America passed after the September 11th attacks. Mr Bush is urging Congress to renew these measures, which include special powers for the FBI to obtain information about suspects.

[. . .]
While gearing up for a struggle to renew the Patriot Act, the Bush administration continues to battle with the courts over its detentions of more than 500 terror suspects, many now held for three years with no legal advice and no indication of whether they will be charged. Last June, the Supreme Court made three rulings that were a severe blow to Mr Bush’s detentions policy. First, the court ruled, prisoners at Guantánamo had the right to petition against their detention. Second, it decided that Yaser Hamdi, an American citizen captured in Afghanistan, may not be held indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" without any opportunity to face a court. And third, the court granted Mr Padilla another chance to have his case against detention heard in a lower court.

Remember the bankruptcy bill that got shoved through Congress? (If not, go check out A Winding Road and you'll also find out about Democrats who voted for the bill.) Well the Financial Times has an interesting article entitled "Growing fears credit boom may implode." From the article by "Dan Roberts and David Wighton in New York and Peter Thal Larsen in London :"

Bankruptcy advisers are hiring extra staff amid fears that an end to the global credit boom could spark a surge in business failures in the US and Europe.

Unusually loose lending conditions have encouraged record borrowing by speculative-grade companies, with leveraged buy-outs and debt refinancing on both sides of the Atlantic generating more than $100bn of deals in the past eight months.
But last week's fall in the price of US Treasury bonds, coinciding with signs that bankers are struggling to complete riskier corporate bond issues, has added to a sense of nervousness in some quarters.
Although corporate default rates remain low, some fear the legacy of recent private equity buy-outs and hedge fund investments in distressed debt will be a swath of over-leveraged companies ill-equipped to survive in less benign conditions.
PwC, the largest corporate recovery adviser, said it was hiring insolvency specialists in sectors such as retailing, utilities and telecommunications in preparation for the expected fall-out.

London's Sunday Times has "Interview: John Follain meets Giuliana Sgrena." From John Follian's article:

Sgrena herself, physically unharmed during her month in captivity, was injured in the shooting nine days ago. One bullet pierced her left shoulder, fracturing part of her collar-bone and fragments of bullets entered the membrane surrounding the lung. Doctors are due to operate on an injured muscle tomorrow.
Meanwhile the death of Calipari, an officer with the SISMI military intelligence service, has provoked an emotional outburst in Italy. Hundreds of thousands of Italians attended his funeral in Rome last week. Amid persistent reports that a ransom of $6m (£3.1m) was paid for Sgrena's release, the affair has also prompted a turnaround by the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who has yielded to American pressure and pledged that in future Italy will not submit to kidnappers' demands.
A journalist with the communist newspaper Il Manifesto, Sgrena is no newcomer to war. She has covered fighting in Algeria and Afghanistan, and on her seventh trip to Iraq this winter she had "of course" thought she might become the target of kidnappers. "I took precautions. I never fixed appointments in advance. I never stopped a long time in one place," she says in a voice made weak by her difficulty catching breath. But she disobeyed those rules on February 4 with disastrous consequences.
Long interested in the resistance movement in the town of Falluja, she set up an appointment to meet the imam of a mosque in Baghdad and asked him for permission to interview refugees from the town.
"What I do is report on the effect war has on people," she says. "I'm not interested in strategy or military planning and here was an opportunity to speak to victims of the American crushing of Falluja," she says. Several refugees agreed to tell her their stories.
Sgrena stayed there for four hours conducting interviews and was on her way back to her hotel when her driver stopped the car, jumped out and ran away. Another car had blocked the way and men firing into the air ran up and seized her. "It’s my turn," was all she could think.
Three days into her kidnapping, she was allowed to see a report on the EuroNews network. It showed a giant picture of her that had been hung on the wall of Rome's city hall, and this comforted her. But then the report mentioned a message from a group named the Jihad, saying that if Berlusconi did not withdraw Italian troops from Iraq by the next evening, she would be killed. "I believed it, even though my guards told me they didn't want to kill me," she says.
"On the evening the ultimatum was supposed to run out, I was so scared that I knocked hard on the door to talk to someone, and the guards even let me watch part of an American film. The next morning when two guards came at 5.30am, I was sure I was for it, but they were just checking on me."
As well as fear she felt anger that the kidnappers had chosen her. One kidnapper told her they had a right to liberate their country. "You’re telling me," she shot back. "I've always said that and I’m not an Iraqi."
She then explained that she worked for an opposition newspaper. "Berlusconi isn't going to pull out his troops from Iraq just because I ask him to," she said. "If you want to kill me, you might as well do it now . . . In any case it's easier to kill a woman than to go and fight the Americans in the street."

The Moscow Times has an Associated Press article entitled "Maskhadov's Body in Moscow." From the article:

The body of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, who was slain by FSB commandos last week, has been sent to Moscow for forensic examination, officials said Friday.
But residents of the house where authorities said Maskhadov was killed in Tolstoy-Kurt denied that he had been hiding in their basement, casting doubt on Moscow's accounts of the killing.
[. . .]
But Yakha Yusupova, who said she lived with her husband and 15-year-old daughter in the house, said that Maskhadov "was not here," and that she suspected federal forces may have brought him to the house Tuesday in a truck. She said the family had lived there for 27 years.
"He could not have been here," said Yusupova, 44, who returned to her home Thursday after what she said was questioning by authorities at a police precinct. "How could he have been in the house where we sleep, walk and eat?"

The Moscow Times also has (from "Combined Reports") "U.S. Doctors Secretly Assisted Yushchenko." From the article:

American doctors secretly assisted in the treatment of Viktor Yushchenko after he was apparently poisoned while running for president of Ukraine, the U.S. State Department said Friday.
U.S. officials kept the doctors' role secret because they did not want to appear to be interfering in the tumultuous Ukrainian election.
Yushchenko, who won a Dec. 26 election after an earlier vote was disallowed because of fraud, fell ill in September after dining with the former head of the Ukrainian security services. He was treated in an Austrian hospital, and tests confirmed he had been poisoned with a massive dose of dioxin.
A team of doctors flew to Vienna in December. The lead doctor, Gregory Saathoff, executive director of the University of Virginia's Critical Incident Analysis Group, said the U.S. government was not involved in their work.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the department provided "limited assistance."
The Washington Post, which first reported about the team, quoted an unidentified U.S. official as saying the doctors became involved after Yushchenko's family appealed for assistance through a Pentagon official. The State Department provided logistical support for the doctors' trip, the official said.

From Haaretz, Shlomo Shamir's "Bassi to explain pullout to U.S. rabbis:"

The head of the Disengagement Administration, Yonatan Bassi, will promise U.S. rabbis and Orthodox community leaders this week that the evacuation of Gush Katif will be accomplished while taking special care to preserve the dignity of the settlers and respect their feelings.
Bassi is slated to hold a conference call on Wednesday with leaders of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, or OU, one of North America's largest and most influential Jewish organizations. The conference call will be Bassi's first effort to explain issues related to the implementation of the disengagement plan to an audience outside Israel. Several hundred rabbis and synagogue leaders are expected to participate in the call.
The conference call is a significant public relations event. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, most widely known by its logo OU certifying kosher food products, is active in hundreds of Orthodox congregations in the U.S. The idea for the call originated from the OU's leadership and was arranged by Israel's consul general in New York City, through the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

The Daily Yomiuri's John O'Connor & Yomiuri Shimbun has an article entitled "New York's Plaza Hotel faces doubtful future." From O'Connor's article:

The future of one of New York's most famous buildings, the Plaza Hotel, is in doubt, as its new owner recently announced plans to convert the 98-year-old hotel into luxury condominiums.
Elad Properties, an Israel-based real estate developer, purchased the Plaza last summer for 675 million dollars. It intends to close the hotel on April 30 and reopen it a year later, but not before transforming most of the 805 rooms into 200 private condos. The plan also calls for a 150-room hotel to remain on the ground level, but that still means about 900 of the hotel's 1,200 current employees, many of whom have worked at the Plaza for more than 20 years, will soon be out of work.
"The union will resist this with whatever means are in our power," said Peter Ward, president of the hotel-workers union, which has formed a Save the Plaza committee and set aside about 1 million dollars to oppose the renovations. It also has enlisted the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and several local celebrities, including actress Kate Capshaw, in its efforts to preserve what many consider a symbolic New York institution.

"The Plaza is a part of the fabric of the city," said Ward. "Elad should recognize what the Hotel, as an historical icon, means, and they should also recognize what 900 jobs mean to our city."

[The link above takes you to the main page. If you click on the story, which is still listed, the page you're taken to has the same web address. Use the cached version if you're unable to find the story otherwise. A Yahoo search also provides the page at this address.]

Nigel Morris of The Independent informs that "Women warn Blair that he has lost their respect and votes:"

When Kate Moss warned Tony Blair that he was about to lose her vote, the Prime Minister was not being snubbed by the world-famous supermodel. But the other Ms Moss, who works for a gas company in south London, had a more chilling message for Mr Blair, because it is echoed by millions of other British women.
She told him on LWT's Jonathan Dimbleby programme: "After the 1997 election, I felt a huge sense of euphoria you heralded a new breed of politician and gave me a great deal of hope for the future. I even felt proud to be British. Today you've lost my respect. I need a reason to vote for you; I want you to give me that reason."
Ms Moss, 35, added: "The decisions made around Iraq in particular have sat very uncomfortably with me and I can't reconcile myself to those decisions you made and to voting for you in the next election."
An ICM poll has found that Mr Blair, once a crucial asset for female voters, was now an electoral turn-off for women. Just 28 per cent thought he was honest and 29 per cent wanted him to resign immediately.
With women making up more than half the electorate, the parties never lose sight of their importance. In the general election expected in May, they are desperate in particular to secure the support of younger women, notoriously volatile in their voting patterns.

Norway's Aftenposten has "PM blasts IKEA" by Morten Andersen and Jonathan Tisdall. From the article:

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik is astonished by Swedish furniture giant IKEA's view of women and wants the company to start depicting women building furniture in their assembly instructions.
IKEA has about 2,000 products that need diagrammed instructions to assemble, and not one of these sheets shows a woman tackling the problem of putting Swedish flat-packed furniture together, newspaper VG reported.
[. . .]
"We have over 200 warehouses around the world and have to take cultural considerations into account. In Muslim countries there is a problem using women in instructions," IKEA's information chief Camilla Lindemann told VG.
"That's not good enough. Promoting attitudes of equality is at least as important in Muslim countries. They should just change this," Bondevik told VG.
The prime minister not only had support from Progress and Labor party politicians, who shared both his argument and his skepticism of the explanation.

In Der Spiegel, Thilo Thielke has "Government Too Scared to Return:"

Fourteen years of clan warfare and total anarchy have left Mogadishu a bizarre shadow of its former self. The Somalian capital teems with both warlords and wireless Internet, armed checkpoints and a Coca-Cola plant. The African nation finally has a government: But its in exile in Nairobi. Whether or not it will succeed may hinge on whether it can manage to return to the city.
The minister carefully surveys his countrymen from the window of his propeller plane. Any suspicious movements down there? A few exhausted-looking militiamen squat next to the dusty airfield behind a machine gun, flanked by a couple of boys wearing their ammunition belts across their chests like villains in some spaghetti western. Off to the side, colorfully dressed women wave Somali flags. A desert wind blows across the dry plain.Something unusual is about to take place here, on one of the many tiny airfields in the bush not far from the Somali capital. Energy Minister Mohammed Nureni Bakar, an oil expert with a doctorate in economics who has spent most of his life in Dubai, is about to land in Mogadishu, the city where he -- along with the few dozen other ministers that make up Somalia's fledgling government -- should by all rights be governing.Mogadishu was once a beautiful city on the Indian Ocean, but 14 years of civil war and anarchy have wreaked havoc here. By noon, the militiamen who run the city have usually started chewing a local drug, Kat, and are out patrolling the streets among the city's ruined buildings.

Australia's ABC has an AFP story entitled "Five Iraqi civilians wounded in US chopper attack."

At least five Iraqi civilians, including a woman, were wounded in the northern city of Mosul when a US military helicopter opened fire on insurgents.
"The helicopter was ... engaged by small arms fire from a nearby building. The helicopter returned fire," the US military said.
"At least five Iraqi citizens were injured in the crossfire. The civilians were transported to a local hospital for treatment. An investigation of the incident is under way."
According to witnesses and hospital sources, three people were killed, including a woman and two children.

The BBC has "Himalayan glaciers 'melting fast:'"

Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people, the conservation group WWF has warned.
In a report, the WWF says India, China and Nepal could experience floods followed by droughts in coming decades.
The Himalayas contain the largest store of water outside the polar ice caps, and feed seven great Asian rivers.
The group says immediate action against climate change could slow the rate of melting, which is increasing annually.
"The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers, causing widespread flooding," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the WWF's Global Climate Change Programme.
"But in a few decades this situation will change and the water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive eco and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal and northern India."

Jonathan Watts of The Guardian offers "Blood and coal: the human cost of cheap Chinese goods:"

"Someone has snitched. The security men are coming. Shut the door, close the curtains and stay quiet."
Moments later, footsteps outside. A rap on the door. A mother squeezes her child tightly to her breast to muffle his cries. An older woman holds back sobs, her eyes red with tears. Two others sit on a bed, exchanging anxious glances. It is my fault the security are here, bringing trouble to people who have already suffered too much. But why is a meeting between four middle-aged women and a foreign journalist considered such a threat?
The women are not subversives, they are widows and bereaved daughters. Their husbands and fathers were among the 166 men killed in an explosion at the Chenjiashan colliery in Miaowan, a mining community in north-west China's Sha'anxi province, last November. Such accidents are so common in China that their plight and that of tens of thousands of other mining widows has become one of the most sensitive issues facing the communist government.
More than 5,000 Chinese miners are killed each year, 75% of the global total, even though the country produces only a third of the world's coal. Working under appalling safety conditions, they are sacrificed to fuel the factories that make the cheap goods snapped up by consumers in Britain and other wealthy nations.
Faced with energy shortages this winter, the government has stepped up the pressure on mine operators to raise output. This has contributed to a spate of the worst disasters in the country's history. Last month, 216 miners were killed at Sunjiawan mine in north-east China in the most deadly accident in 50 years. Last October, another gas explosion killed 148. Last Thursday, a cave-in at a mine in Sha'anxi province killed 16 miners and left another 11 trapped underground.

Canada's CBS has "Uganda president urges trade, not more aid:"

A new report challenging rich countries to reduce poverty and foster development in Africa is receiving a lukewarm response from at least two prominent Ugandans.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's commission on Africa calls for an immediate $25 billion increase in aid, and for 100 per cent debt relief for nations who need it.
The 400-page reports recommends rich countries eliminate trade barriers, especially agricultural ones, so poor countries can expand their economies.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says he favors that approach instead of seeing more aid dollars poured into his country.

[Note: This post has been corrected to add the name of Yomiuri Shimbun who co-wrote the story on the Plaza. Another link had been added for that story as well because the link posted takes you to the main page. When you go to the main page and click on the story, the web address is the same as the main page. Searching the title provided a cached version which has been added as has a page found using Yahoo search. Thanks to Melinda for noting the problems with the link. When I went to the story, I saw that there were two writers and have credited Shimbun in the text above. My apologies to Shimbun.]