Sunday, July 17, 2005

Roundup of reporting from outside the US mainstream news organizations

When G8 finance ministers announced a package for some of the world's poorest
countries on 11 June, Bob Geldof praised it as "a victory for the millions of people in the campaign around the world". Bono called it "a little piece of
Forget the immoral condition of enforced liberalisation and
privatisation that it contained. That was not all. Bono went on to hail George W
Bush as the saviour of Africa. "I think he has done an incredible job", he
pronounced, adding: "Bush deserves a place in history for turning the fate of
the continent around." He came across as serious. Does Bono know that the US is
the lowest aid donor in the industrialised world, giving only 0.16% of GNP? Does
he not care about climate change and about Bush's role as serial environmental
abuser? Maybe he has forgotten.
The mutual admiration club between Bono, Bob Geldof, Tony Blair
and Bush -- rock stars and men who would love to be them -- has been the
abiding symbol of the G8. It is deeply disturbing. It has nothing to do with the
commitment and the passionate argument of the 225,000 people who took to the
streets of Edinburgh on 2 July encircling the centre of Scotland's
capital to protest against global injustice.
This demonstration -- at which I was a speaker – provided the real backdrop, the real pressure for change. Not that many people, particularly those south of the border, would have known.
Saturation television that day from Live8 in Hyde Park beamed pictures from as far away as Philadelphia, Berlin and Tokyo -- cities united in superficial soundbites about desperately serious issues. The newspapers fared little better.
Edinburgh was nowhere to be seen. Was it inadvertent, or did our celebrity musicians conspire to allow the biggest demonstration of people power in Scotland's history and the biggest march against poverty the UK has seen to be erased from the public's consciousness?

The above excerpt is from Bianca Jagger's "Why I don’t trust them, or Sleeping with the enemy" (openDemocracy) and was sent in by Polly.

Skip e-mails to note "Australian Army spends $100K on wine glasses for troops" (The Australian Herald):

AS hundreds of Australian troops wait to be sent to Afghanistan, the army's top
brass is preparing to spend up to $100,000 on champagne flutes, wine glasses and
brandy balloons.
The shopping spree comes after the Defence Department
identified a critical shortage of wine and beer glasses, pitchers and carafes in
the officers' mess.
At the top of the list is 2405 champagne flutes and 3710
wine glasses. Defence records show the department is also seeking a supplier of
105 brandy balloons - the traditional tipple of generals.
Also on the list of acquisitions is 364 beer pitchers, 70 wine or spirits decanters and 350 carafes.

Kara e-mails to note Amos Harel, Gideon Alon and Nadav Shragai's "9 IDF soldiers refuse to block Gaza, two go AWOL in Gush Katif" (from Israel's Haaretz):

Nine Israel Defense Forces soldiers refused on Saturday night to follow
orders and participate in an operation to prevent Israeli citizens from entering
the Gaza Strip. All nine, two of whom are in hiding in Gush Katif and now
considered AWOL, are hesder yeshiva students.
A 10th IDF soldier was tried and jailed Sunday for 21 days after giving an
interview to Channel 2 television and denouncing the army's behavior toward the
A few weeks ago, the same soldiers who were involved in Saturday's incident
requested not to help set up a base near Kibbutz Re'im, in the Negev, for the
forces that would be taking part in the pullout. Their request was granted.

Joan: Maybe it's that old crushes never die but I've had one on Robert Redford since Barefoot in the Park and I found this thing on him that I thought might be interesting.

From Scotland's The Sunday Herald, excerpt of Demetrios Matheou "How Redford pursued the president's men:"

"I was making The Way We Were in 1972 and following Watergate in the
newspapers," he recalls. "And in July and August there were these small articles
that began to appear with these two names on them, Carl Bernstein and Bob
Woodward. They were talking about this slush fund for the committee to re-elect
the president, and they started naming people and the stories were getting
bigger and bigger, and as that happened I got really excited. Then the Nixon
administration completely turned on The Washington Post, accusing them
of bias, lying and scurrilous, unpatriotic reporting -- very similar things are
happening now.
"Then I read a story about who these guys Woodward and
Bernstein were: one was a Jew, the other was a Wasp, one was a radical liberal,
the other a Republican. They didn't like each other but they had to work
together. I thought that's a pretty good character study, maybe it will make a
nice little movie."
He got on the phone but neither Woodward nor Bernstein
would take his calls -- something Hollywood stars, even as defiant a
non-celebrity as Redford, wouldn't be accustomed to. Thus started a long
campaign by the actor to strike a deal with the reporters, all the while getting
on with the life of making movies -- he had completed The Way We Were, The Sting and The Great Gatsby by the time he finally got their attention.

If I thought it was frivilous, it wouldn't be in our roundup. I can imagine, however, a few people being shocked by Redford's characterization of Woody (an apt characterization). (And Barefoot in the Park was reviewed by The Third Estate Sunday Review in February.) (Disclosure, I helped with the review.)

Skip e-mails to note "Guantanamo ruling won't derail Hicks campaign: lawyer" (Australia's ABC):

Australia's sole Guantanamo Bay detainee, David Hicks, will continue his
campaign to avoid facing a United States military commission even though a
recent court ruling has upheld the commissions as legal.
A year-long inquiry by the US Defence Department also found no evidence that either Mr Hicks or recently released Australian Mamdouh Habib were abused at Guantanamo Bay.
David McLeod, the civilian lawyer for Mr Hicks, says the decision has
not deterred his client from trying to secure a fair hearing outside the
military commission system.
"David has his own case before the Federal Court
which was put on hold," he said.

Keesha e-mails to note Martin Plaut's " Pressure grows on Zimbabwe head" (BBC):

Pressure is mounting on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to reverse the
policies of slum clearance that have left hundreds of thousands homeless.
A group of South African church leaders is returning to Zimbabwe on Monday, having met President Thabo Mbeki.
And a UN report is due shortly on the government's destruction of homes.

Keesha also notes "Lawyer sues US over false arrest" (BBC):

Brandon Mayfield, 38, was held for two weeks when the FBI linked him to
fingerprints found in Spain - but later said it was wrong and apologised.
Mr Mayfield, a convert to Islam, says he was targeted because he is a Muslim.
The Justice Department rejects the charge, saying he was arrested "because
fingerprint examiners believed his print to match the Spanish print".
Mr Mayfield's lawyers say they have an internal FBI e-mail that contradicts the
government's official position.
The e-mail, from FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele, said the agency had "tied" Mr Mayfield to the attacks but that "there is not enough other evidence to arrest him on a criminal charge".

Olivia e-mails to note Charles Hawley's "IT'S THE OIL STUPID: Worldwide Supply Crunch Spells Doom for Black Gold" (Germany's Der Spiegel):

A hurricane is ravaging the Gulf of Mexico? Better head to the pumps to
fill up your car. Even last week's miniscule supply blip caused by Hurricane
Dennis drove oil prices over $62 per barrel. The reason? The world is running
out of petroleum.
The oil headline at the end of last week, courtesy of AFX News Limited, a
financial news wire out of London read "Oil Tops $62 a Barrel on Weather
Concerns." The article went on to provide more detail on the price spike.
Hurrican Dennis was heading for the Gulf of Mexico oil rigs and the projected
supply pinch was worrying the market.
Early this week, prices were again jittery as Tropical Storm Emily
approached the region. A clear cut supply and demand story.
The only problem with it: Mexico only produces a paltry 4.5 percent of the
world's oil supply. A mere 3.34 million barrels against a daily global flood of
73.47 million barrels according to figures compiled by the US government agency
Energy Information Administration (EIA) in April of this year.
Even more telling, Dennis only managed to cut Gulf of Mexico production by
190,506 barrels per day -- the price rise, then, resulted from world oil supply
having been pinched by just 0.25 percent.
In other words, if one single trickling oil tributary gets dammed up, oil
prices shoot through the roof.
Storms in the Gulf of Mexico, of course, aren't the only factors driving up
prices. Security issues in the other Gulf and rising global demand are likewise
doing their part. Plus, jumpy investors tend to magnify even small supply
glitches -- and like to panic when they see a storm on the horizon.
And the prices went down this week on US fuel stock data with the
announcement by the International Energy Agency (EIA) predicting cooling demand.
But while the day-to-day price of oil tends to be battered about by government
reports and weather forecasts, experts say the real issue is the extremely fine
line between oil supply and oil demand. Even the smallest of interruptions
brings the system to its knees.

Trevor e-mails to note Suman Pradhan's "NEPAL:Refugee Crisis Builds Up as Civil War Rages On" (IPS):

A little over a year ago, Laxmi Budha had everything going for her. The wife of
a village politician-cum-trader in Nepal's far-west Humla district, she ran her
husband's commodity dealership while he tended to the people on behalf of the
Nepali Congress party. By local standards the family with four children were
well off by local standards. That is, until the Maoists came. Early last year,
groups of young men claiming to be Maoist fighters began to frequent Laxmi's
village. They threatened her husband, warning him to abandon politics or face
the consequences. They also demanded food and shelter. ''The fear was too much.
He fled to the district headquarters Simikot while we stayed in the village,''
says Laxmi. Angry that the husband had fled, the rebels forcibly took her and
the children on a long march into the jungles of western Nepal. ''We were held
for nine days in captivity,'' she says. ''Then one day, I just fled with my
youngest child, leaving the others behind.'' She connected with her husband in
the bazaar, and the three of them travelled south down to the plains, looking
for food and shelter. Last October, they were given shelter by the government on
a patch of land just outside Kohalpur town. They are among 215 other families
living there since October, victims of Nepal's brutal Maoist insurgency and one
more statistic in the ever- increasing number of internally displaced people
(IDP) in Nepal's conflict. Though figures are hard to come by, a recent UN
mission on IDPs estimated that between 100,000 to 200,000 Nepalis have been
displaced by the 10- year-old insurgency within the country. Several thousands
have crossed over into India in search of work and security. Though many of
these people have fled Maoist atrocities and threats, Nepal's security forces
are also not without blame. Human rights organisations accuse government forces
of killing, raping and intimidating villagers, contributing to the rising number
of IDPs.

Howard e-mails to note Michael McCarthy's "The mystery of Britain's disappearing butterflies" (the UK's The Independent):

They have gone from gardens and they have gone from parks. They have gone from
allotments. They have gone from railway embankments and they have gone from
roadside verges. Small woods and great forests as well as moorland, heathland
and downland are also mourning their loss.
Did you notice the butterflies
going? Look around you: in many of the above places, where you see nothing, your
parents would have seen butterflies. If you are over 40, you may have a hazy
feeling that there seemed to be a lot more small tortoiseshells and meadow
browns and "cabbage whites" about when you were a child, and you would be
Of course, there are still butterflies, especially on warm summer
days, and in some places, still in substantial numbers. But one of the most
meticulously recorded sets of wildlife data put together has shown convincingly
that in the past 25 years, seven out of 10 of Britain's butterfly species have
declined, some by amounts so large they are on the road to extinction.

Also from The Independent, we'll note Justin Huggler's "Karzai ally lynched as Taliban violence rocks Afghanistan:"

A tribal leader and ally of President Hamid Karzai has been
kidnapped and hanged by the Taliban as violence in Afghanistan continues to
intensify in the approach to elections planned for September.
[. . .]
In recent days, fighting has flared on both sides of the
Afghanistan-Pakistan border, with US, Afghan and Pakistani forces claiming they
have killed as many as 60 Taliban insurgents and their Islamic militant allies
over the past four days.
Women and children were also killed alongside
militants in a Pakistani army operation at the weekend in the tribal area of
North Waziristan, just across the border from Afghanistan.
The murder of Agha
Jan is a sign of how far the situation has deteriorated in in recent months and
how emboldened the Taliban have become. A vital ally of President Karzai in the
battle against the resurgent Taliban, he was abducted along with his two sons, a
brother and two nephews from his home on Friday.

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