Sunday, June 26, 2005

News being reported from outside the US

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has asked for a full report into the outcome of a US military trial of two Marines accused of a brutal attack last year on a young Australian in a Townsville nightclub.
The American military court which heard the case dropped charges against one Marine and acquitted the other earlier this month.
The family of Heath Twomey, who had his throat cut, is questioning his fate at the hands of the United States military justice system.
The Townsville student never had the chance to give evidence against them in the court and he was not told by either the US or Australian Governments of the acquittal, only learning about the case through the media.
Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says his department should have informed the family and he is now seeking to find out if the US prosecutor has appealed the decision.

Tom e-mails to note the above from Michael Vincent's "Australian 'failed' by US military justice" (from Australia's ABC).

Trevor e-mails to note Ralf Beste's "A War of Diplomats" (from Germany's Der Spiegel):

As Berlin persistently campaigns for the expansion of the UN Security Council and a permanent seat for Germany, the German government tries to stir up the Third World against China and the United States, which are both opposed to a German seat.
The German foreign minister was the first to bear the brunt of rejection for his country. Just over a week ago, with Joschka Fischer standing at her side at the US State Department building in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained that the Americans had discussed "at length" Germany's wish for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. However, she added, "the only country that we clearly support is Japan."A week later it was German Chancellor Schroeder's security and foreign affairs adviser Bernd Muetzelburg's turn. While touring the United States to promote Germany's cause at the UN, he opened up the paper in New York last Thursday morning to read that next to Japan the best the US government could do would be to support "a developing nation's" bid for a permanent seat. It was, as the New York Times wrote, "a harsh setback for Germany."When German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder sits down with US President George W. Bush for lunch at the White House on Monday, he'll experience first-hand just how little support Germany can expect from its major ally in its efforts to land a permanent seat. US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns has already clarified the Bush administration's position on the matter, noting that more than two new permanent members "could be damaging."

Micah e-mails to note Fran O'Sullivan's "Israel remains silent over Mossad role in Scandal" (from The New Zealand Herald):

Israel has formally apologised for the passports scandal which disrupted diplomatic relations with New Zealand, but has stopped short of admitting a pair of convicted Israelis were Mossad agents.
Contacts between New Zealand and Israel were frozen at "officials" level last year when two Israeli members of a passports ring were caught trying to fraudulently acquire the identity of a man with cerebral palsy.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday an official inquiry - launched after the arrests of Eli Cara and Uriel Kelman in April last year - had revealed that this was not the first time an Israeli passports factory had obtained New Zealand passports.
"We turned up a very small number that emanated from what we believe to be Israeli intelligence," she said. "Those passports have been cancelled and it would be futile to attempt to use them."

We'll also note Audrey Young's "A murky tale of bugs and spy claims" (on the same topic and also from The New Zealand Herald):

The passport scam by two "citizens" working for the secret service agency Mossad was revealed by the Herald in April last year.
Uriel Zoshe Kelman, 30, and Eli Cara, 50, were caught trying to obtain a passport using the birth certificate of an unsuspecting Auckland tetraplegic with cerebral palsy. They made a passport application for a colleague, former Israeli diplomat Zev William Barkan, who managed to avoid arrest by fleeing the country.
A fourth man believed to be involved, Tony Resnick, a former paramedic with St John Ambulance (which the cerebral palsy sufferer also belonged to) left New Zealand shortly after Kelman and Cara were arrested.

We'll note Haaretz's coverage of the issue. From DPA's "Israel apologizes to New Zealand over spy case, normal relations resume:"

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Sunday that Israel had made a formal apology for sending two agents into the country last year to try to obtain a false passport. Normal relations between the two countries, suspended last July in retaliation for what New Zealand called an unfriendly act by a friendly country, are being resumed immediately, Clark said.
Israeli spies had fraudulently obtained a "very small number" of New Zealand passports, Clark revealed Sunday. She said it was learned that passports had been obtained by people working on behalf of Israeli intelligence during investigations into the arrest of two Mossad secret service agents as they tried to get another one last year.

Liang e-mails to note Trevor Royle's "How the world's richest countries arm the poorest " (from Scotland's Sunday Herald):

Merchants of death come in many different guises in Africa. There is the machete-wielding thug high on drugs and tribal animosity who hacks people to death for no other reason than they are different to him. There is the man-child, old beyond his years, for whom an AK-47 assault rifle is both a killing machine and a passport to security. There is the jumpy militiaman at the checkpoint angrily waving an Uzi machine-pistol and demanding dollars. There is the policeman on the make cradling his Browning handgun before concealing it for use later. There is the mercenary with his rocket- propelled grenade launcher , ready to fire it at any target provided the money is right.
And then there is the granddaddy of them all, the dealer who wears a sharp Savile Row suit, carries a slim briefcase and uses a Blackberry. He wears a familiar-looking tie (no doubt regimental); a signet ring graces his left little finger; he is no stranger to living high on the hog; he knows politicians and senior financiers by their Christian names; he lives in London where the world’s most lucrative arms deals are brokered and then factored; and he knows his way about the Middle East and Africa where arms are at a premium. His trade is carried out with the utmost discretion because it involves millions of dollars.
What he does is not illegal but it is all big business. Over the past four years, Britain has sold more than £1 billion worth of arms to Africa, flogging everything from handguns through body armour to armoured vehicles and artillery. Together with sales from the other G8 countries, this amounts to more than 80% of the world’s arms export sales to some of the world’s poorest and least effective countries.

The G8 countries are noted individually. We'll note the US:

US: The world’s leading arms supplier with sales of $151.9bn. Although US law forbids the export of arms to countries involved in the gross violation of human rights, recent customers have included Colombia, Israel, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka, and in 2003 the US lifted its ban on military assistance to Rwanda. Four US companies are the world’s leading arms manufacturers: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

Rachel e-mails to note "Priest’s arrest for exorcism death sparks outrage" (from The Irish Examiner):

THE arrest of a Romanian Orthodox priest after a 23-year-old nun was apparently chained to a cross, gagged with a towel and left for three days before she died, has caused uproar.
A monk and four nuns were arrested on Thursday and have been charged with murder in the case which has focused attention on the secretive convents and monasteries that dot Romania's impoverished northeast. Maricica Irina Cornici was said to be possessed by devils.
She died last week in the Holy Trinity convent outside the remote village of Tanacu. Daniel Petre Corogeanu, the red-bearded monk believed to have led the exorcism, has appeared unrepentant. He performed a funeral service for the dead nun on Sunday and said he was trying to take devils out of the woman.
When asked whether the nun was mentally ill and in need of medical help instead of exorcism, he responded: "You can't take the devil out of people with pills. You cure the devils with fasting and prayer."

Sam e-mails to highlight "Congress concerned over Unocal deal" (from The Australian Herald, credited to Big News Network):

Several members of Congress from both parties want Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, to review the possible sale of Unocal Corp. to a Chinese oil company.
Forty-one members of Congress sent a letter to Snow Friday to address concerns that Cnooc Ltd. oil company was using Chinese government funds to make the purchase, and that China could acquire sensitive technology, reported the Los Angeles Saturday.

Pru e-mails to highlight Matthew Cookson's "Portugal’s 1974-5 revolution -- 'Everything was possible'" (England's Socialist Worker):

ON 25 April 1974 army officers overthrew the 50 year old fascist dictatorship in Portugal. They were disgusted at the wasteful and brutal colonial wars being waged by the Portuguese state in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau.
They were also reacting to the resistance shown by Africans who were fighting back and winning in those colonies.
The Portuguese army officers were known as the Armed Forces Movement (MFA).
Their coup unleashed a torrent of workers' activity and unrest in the army that could have turned a democratic revolution into a socialist one.
Revolutionary left wing parties grew enormously and had a large impact on workers and soldiers.
For 19 months rulers everywhere were terrified by the events in Portugal as government after government fell in the face of the movement.
Fernando Rosas, who is a history lecturer and a Portuguese MP for the radical Left Bloc, explained the background of the revolution to Socialist Worker:
"In Portugal a coup d’état transformed itself in a revolutionary process. Young conscripted officers took power with a very successful coup, mainly in the capital Lisbon. They cut the head off the armed forces by getting rid of 100 generals.
"There had been a high level of social and political tension towards the end of the dictatorship.
"With the triumph of the coup a mass movement exploded spontaneously across the country. Workers occupied factories and took part in enormous demonstrations.
"This was the first phase of the Portuguese revolution--and it was not decreed by the political parties of the left. People came out because they felt the power to change the world was in their own hands.["]

On Friday morning, the New York Times had an AP story (not available in the print version) that offered anti-Americanism as being on the decrease. Lloyd saw the story (we didn't highlight it here) and felt it was another example of Operation Happy Talk. From The Econmist, Lloyd found "How others see Americans: Still not loved. Now not envied:"

So it is all the more sobering to find considerable levels of hostility when people compare America with other countries, or express their views about Americans in general, not Mr Bush in particular. Pew asked its respondents to give favourability ratings to five nations: America, France, Germany, Japan and China. America came bottom of everyone's list everywhere except in India, where it was top, Poland, where it was in the middle and China, where it came above Japan. The British view France and Germany more favourably than they do America. China is more popular than the United States throughout Europe. (Germany won this particular beauty contest, by the way, scoring highly almost everywhere except Germany itself.)
The survey was conducted during the referendum campaigns in France and the Netherlands over the EU constitution. But scepticism about the future of their union does not imply that Europeans want closer transatlantic ties. Half or more in every non-American country surveyed said they wanted Europe to be more independent of the United States, and huge majorities--between 70% and 80%--said they thought the world would be better off if America faced a rival military power.

Brad e-mails to note Michael Settle's "MPs hear horror of returned refugees" (from Scotland's The Herald):

MPs will hear details today of how Zimbabweans, refused refuge in Britain, have been forcibly returned to their homeland and tortured.
The grisly tales of life under the tyrannical regime of Robert Mugabe will be recounted by London Labour MP Kate Hoey in a House of Commons debate that will, campaigners hope, pile pressure on the government to put its deportation policy on hold.
Some refused asylum seekers, she will explain, were seized by the state police as they got off the plane and later tortured. "People have suffered dreadfully," the former sports minister said. "The families of these people have also suffered because they have been picked on."
Last night, the calls for Tony Blair and Charles Clarke, the home secretary, to suspend the government's deportation policy intensified as a hunger strike by asylum seekers entered its fifth day. Dozens of Zimbabweans are refusing food in several UK immigration detention centres -- none in Scotland -- protesting the lifting of a ban last November that prevented them being deported against their will.

Also by Micheal Settle, we'll note "Blair to halt asylum cases before G8 summit" (also from Scotland's The Herald):

TONY Blair will this week suspend the cases of more than 100 Zimbabwean asylum seekers – 41 on hunger strike – to avoid huge embarrassment at the forthcoming G8 summit in Scotland, a former minister suggested last night.

We'll note John Crabtree's "Peru: the next Andean domino?" (from

The next presidential elections in Peru are not due until April 2006, but campaigning is already underway among those hopeful to replace Alejandro Toledo. Although the candidates have promised to be respectful to one another, the campaign looks likely to be as dirty as any in recent Peruvian history – which is saying a lot.
Two candidates will almost certainly loom large in the race. Alan García, the former president, is once again pitching into the ring as leader of the centre-left Apra party. García’s record in office (
1985-90) is widely condemned, but he is a canny and charismatic politician with an intuitive populist flair. His most credible opponent is likely to be Valentín Paniagua, who briefly occupied the presidency on an interim basis (2000-2001), following Alberto Fujimori’s precipitous resignation in November 2000.
Peru operates a “ballotage” system in which the two candidates with the most votes fight it out in a second round if neither wins an outright majority in the first. This makes electoral calculation particularly difficult. Twenty-seven political parties have already registered with the electoral authorities, and much will depend on who the first-round losers will then support. Opinion polls suggest that anti-García sentiment is much stronger than anti-Paniagua.

Susan e-mails to Juliet Mitchell's "Jane Fonda's 'My Life So Far'" (also from

All the way through reading My Life So Far I was haunted by a dotty internal refrain: Jane Fonda undersells herself. A crazy thought, given that her exercise video sold more than any video ever, and then there are the films, and this book … Jane Fonda’s career suggests that we need a new equivalent to "the Midas touch"; not gold but success. Yet I couldn't rid myself of the thought that she undersells herself. It is part of her attractiveness.
On Golden Pond was made to help her father get an Oscar -- and to reach out to a cold, neglecting parent. As she puts it, Henry Fonda was the parts he played: courageous, just, a person of integrity. Had he played villains would he have meant more to his daughter (and us) than the unloving father he was? Only, I believe, if his acting had shown the common humanity behind some villainy (Macbeth's self-reflections) or the terrifying implications of its absence from the evil deeds.
A great actor, by becoming the part played (the hero or the villain) and yet staying her or himself (the common humanity), offers both, simultaneously: through the art the common humanity occupies new spaces. Jane Fonda can be said to undersell herself because the greatness of the prostitute (Klute), the housewife (Coming Home), the aviatrix (
Barbarella), the thief (Walk on the Wild Side), the failed would-be star (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? ), the intimidating mother-in-law (Monster-in-Law) are also manifestations of her own greatness.
"Hanoi Jane", the other much-cited persona, is also an underselling. Fonda has
apologised for sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun during the 1960s war against the United States. The apology should be related to the level of the offence: Fonda did not pose for a photograph, she sat down and was snapped. I have heard arguments that she should have opposed the war only at home; but she went to get photographic evidence that in planning to bomb dykes America was hellbent on destroying a civilian population.
What Fonda was pilloried for was an offence against the kind of mindless patriotism that is truly the last refuge of scoundrels.
Coming Home, the first film by the production company she set up, was about American veterans of the Vietnam war. It was a testimony to the people and country she loves and did not want to see destroyed along with the Vietnamese they bombed. As an actress, a filmmaker, a person, she grasped a common humanity to demonstrate the effects of unlimited violence on both sides.

Wally e-mails to note "Pakistan's top court in rape case" (BBC):

Pakistan's Supreme Court will shortly begin hearing appeals in a notorious gang rape case that has been the centre of worldwide attention.
The court has to decide if six men who are in custody are guilty of the rape in 2002 of village woman, Mukhtar Mai.
It is alleged that a village council ordered the rape because of an offence committed by her brother.
The case has become mired in controversy after a lower court last March acquitted five of the men.
The case has acquired further political overtones after President Pervez Musharraf ordered that Ms Mai be banned from travelling abroad.

We'll note that this topic was addressed at Democracy Now!. From "'I Will Go On Until I Have Even the Slightest Hope of Justice' - Rare Broadcast Interview With Pakistani Rape Survivor Mukhtar Mai:"

We spend the rest of the hour looking at the case of Mukhtar Mai - a Pakistani rape survivor who has become an international symbol of the ongoing struggle for women's rights in Pakistan.
In June 2002, a group of men gang-raped Mukhtar Mai near her home in Pakistan. The rape was ordered by her local tribal counsel as punishment for a crime allegedly committed by her 12-year-old brother. After her rape, Mukhtar Mai was forced to walk home nearly naked before a jeering crowd of three hundred onlookers.
According to The New York Times, on average, a woman is raped every two hours in Pakistan, and two women a day die in so-called honor killings. Most of the cases go unnoticed, but Mukhtar Mai defied tradition by fighting back against her attackers in the courts. She testified against them. A number of them were convicted and sent to prison. With the compensation money she received, she opened elementary schools in her village.
Last week, Mukhtar Mai was back in the headlines when the Pakistani government barred her from leaving the country in an attempt to block her from publicizing her case. Amnesty International had planned to bring her to the United States. On the eve of her trip, she was detained by Pakistani government officials and placed under house arrest. The government then apparently tried to intimidate her by ordering the release of the 12 men connected to her rape.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted that he had ordered Mukhtar placed on the no fly list, telling reporters "I don't want to project a bad image of Pakistan." But her detention had the opposite effect, sparking international condemnation. The Pakistani government now says Mukhtar Mai is free to travel wherever she wants. But there is one small problem - they confiscated her passport. Once again, Mukhtar Mai is refusing to be silent and is speaking out to the local and international media about her case. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes, "President Musharraf may have ousted rivals and overthrown a civilian government, but he has now met his match - a peasant woman with a heart of gold and a will of steel."

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