Sunday, November 27, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media

Police physically prevented human rights activists from attending a City Hall-approved rally against fascism near Belorussky Station on Sunday, and when demonstrators rallied instead at City Hall, dozens were promptly detained and whisked away to a police station.
Liberal politicians, who organized the demonstration in response to a march by thousands of nationalists and skinheads through central Moscow earlier this month, accused authorities of encouraging nationalism and quashing a civil initiative aimed at curbing it.
"We are outraged at how the authorities are playing games with fascists and not allowing us to say a word," Nikita Belykh, leader of the liberal Union of Right Forces party, or SPS, said outside the Tverskoi police station, where riot police brought 52 protesters.

The above is from Nabi Abdullaev's "Activists Find It Difficult to Protest Fascism" (The Moscow Times) and was highlighted by Jamal. It's Sunday and this is where we take a look at some of the stories being reported from elsewhere than the mainstream media in the United States.

Dominick e-mails to note James Tapsfield's "Marines' 'bullying' video sparks criminal probe" (The Irish Examiner):

A CRIMINAL investigation has begun into alleged violent bullying rituals within the Royal Marines. Britain’s Ministry of Defence announced an urgent probe after a video emerged seemingly of a new recruit being beaten unconscious as part of an initiation ceremony.
Stills from the film, obtained by the News of the World, show the naked man forced to take part in a fist fight. He is then apparently kicked in the face by another man, claimed to be one of his superiors in 42 Commando, and knocked out.

James in Brighton notes "Al-Jazeera seeks 'US bomb' talks" (BBC):

A senior al-Jazeera executive is in the UK to demand publication of a memo in which George Bush allegedly discusses bombing the TV station's HQ.
Wadah Khanfar, al-Jazeera's director general, is hoping to meet UK government officials to press its case.
A spokesman for al-Jazeera told the BBC News website that the channel only wanted the record set straight.
Downing Street said: "We are quite happy to talk to al-Jazeera as we are to other broadcasters." 'Outlandish'
The Italian La Stampa newspaper has reported that Mr Khanfar had "demanded an urgent meeting" with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Mr Khanfar told La Stampa: "We want to know whether Bush really did want to attack al-Jazeera last year and was dissuaded from doing so by the British prime minister, as the British press has claimed.
"We will be silent only when we get the truth."

JB e-mails to note Liam McDougall's "Report denies link between service in Iraq and ex-soldiers’ ill health" (Scotland's Sunday Herald):

A GROUND-BREAKING study into UK Gulf war veterans who died after returning from Iraq has found no link between their deployment and their deaths.
The controversial research, led by scientists from Aberdeen University, also concludes that the number of British soldiers who were exposed to depleted uranium and pesticides and who subsequently died of "disease-related causes", such as cancers, was "not statistically significant".
[. . .]
However the project, conducted by Professor Gary Macfarlane at the university’s department of public health and funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has outraged British and US Gulf veterans, politicians and other academics who have labelled the findings "flawed" and "biased".
Around 53,000 UK troops were involved in the first Gulf war, and support groups claim that since then almost 800 British ex-soldiers have died of Gulf war syndrome and thousands more suffer its effects.

JB also notes Rachelle Money's "143 same-sex couples sign-up for ‘marriage’ in Scotland" (Scotland's Sunday Herald):

MORE than 140 same-sex couples have applied to be "married" under next month’s new civil partnership legislation.
A Sunday Herald survey of local authorities has revealed that councils have received 143 provisional bookings for registering civil partnership ceremonies in the run-up to December 5, when the new law comes into force.
Edinburgh City Council has the most applicants, with 59 couples registering their intent to take advantage of the new legislation. The other top authorities are Glasgow City Council, with 30 provisional bookings, Fife with 15 interested couples, and Perth and Kinross, where nine couples are seeking to be joined together by the new civil ceremony. North Lanarkshire Council, meanwhile, has been contacted by seven couples.
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said the council was "thrilled that people have chosen our city to celebrate their special day".
She added: "We are also pleased that the first civil partnership in Scotland will be performed in Edinburgh."
Under the new law, which comes into force on December 5, couples can be "married" following a 15-day countdown after giving registrars notice of their intent to be joined in a civil partnership. The countdown begins the day after the notice is recorded. However, in Scotland registrars misread the legislation and gave permission for the first ceremonies to take place on December 20, a day ahead of England and Wales.

Colin e-mails to note Manuel Bermúdez's "GUATEMALA: Violence Against Women Unchecked and Unpunished" (IPS):

Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Guatemala City Friday to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, painting X's on judicial buildings and security agencies to protest the failure to protect women and bring the perpetrators to justice.
"An average of 14 or 15 murders a day are committed in Guatemala," human rights prosecutor Sergio Morales told IPS, noting that so far this year, 560 women have been slain, and not a single murderer has been convicted. Guatemala's homicide rate is among the highest in Latin America, one of the most violent regions in the world.
"Since 2001, the phenomenon has grown in both quantitative and qualitative terms, because these murders are accompanied by extreme violence, which aggravates the victims' suffering," by contrast to male murder victims, who are almost always killed by firearms, he explained. Civil society groups, meanwhile, complain about the justice system's failure to investigate the murders of women.
"We are seeing a setback with regard to the rights of women, not only in terms of the killings, which are the most brutal expression, but also with respect to all kinds of violence against women, which the state justifies and tolerates," activist Andrea Barrios told IPS.
Barrios belongs to the Centre for Legal Action on Human Rights (CALDH) and the 25 de Noviembre Coordinator, an umbrella group of more than 30 organisations.

Gareth e-mails to note Geoff Dyer's "Harbin turns taps back on after toxic spill" (The Financial Times):

Harbin restored its water supply on Sunday night following a five-day shutdown caused by the risk of chemical pollution from a factory accident that highlighted the environmental damage from China's rapid industrialisation.
Environmental officials at the north-eastern city government said on Sunday the levels of dangerous chemicals in the river that supplies the city had fallen to normal levels. A local official said, however, that since water had been sitting in the pipes for four or five days residents should wait until further notice before drinking from domestic taps.
Harbin's water crisis was caused by an explosion two weeks ago at a chemicals plant in Jilin city that spilt 100 tonnes of benzene and related compounds into the river Songhua, 200km upstream from Harbin.
Although the accident was reported in official media at the time, the 80km-long chemicals spill was not mentioned and Harbin residents were informed of the risk only last Wednesday, undermining public confidence in local government.

Ted e-mails to note Peter Popham's "Pay up to save the rainforests" (The Independent):

A bloc of developing countries plans to make a radical proposal this week at the United Nations summit on climate change in Montreal: pay us, and we will preserve our rainforests.
The group of 10 countries, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, argues that the rest of the world is benefiting from the rainforests' natural wealth without sharing the cost. Sir Michael Somare, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, said timber was one of the few natural resources available to the countries and their only real option for economic growth involved the destruction of the forests.

The Rainforest Coalition of countries calls that a recipe for failure - failure to preserve biodiversity, pressure to release the poorest people from poverty and failure to protect the world from the greenhouse effect.
Pointing out that the world and its climate benefits immensely from what remains of the developing world's tropical forests, but the rich countries pay nothing to ensure their safety, the Rainforest Coalition points out that: "In many forested rural areas, the only real options for economic growth involve the destruction of the natural forests."

We'll close with a highlight from Pru (an editorial from The Socialist Worker):

"This corrupt and shameless occupation"
US vice-president Dick Cheney stepped up White House attacks on critics of the Iraq war this week. He declared that politicians who say Americans were sent into battle based on a lie are engaging in "revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety."
The US is found to have used chemical weapons on civilians in Iraq. Death squads are operating with official sanction and running their own torture centres where detainees have their skin flayed from their bones.
Previously detainees have been rescued from the interior ministry where they were being abused. Corpses are routinely dumped, blindfolded, in Baghdad.
Meanwhile a deal is being pushed through where US multinationals will be paid to extract oil from Iraq, thus undermining every agreement signed by oil producing countries.
The only possible "revisionism" would be to cloak this corrupt and shameless war in the mantle of respectability.
Each day the charge sheet against Cheney and the architects of this criminal war grows longer. Let’s help bring them to book by joining Cindy Sheehan and others at the International Peace Conference in London on 10 December.
Radical tasks ahead
The Respect conference held last weekend attracted widespread interest and participation from the European radical left.
For them the most striking feature is how multiracial it is. But what is also of interest is that its starting point is strikingly different from their own organisations'.
Rifondazione in Italy came from the biggest Communist Party in Western Europe. The new Left Party in Germany was initiated by trade union leaders and prominent party members expelled from the Social Democrats.
In Britain the weakness of the left, the trade unions and the student movement meant opposition to neo-liberalism has been channelled in a different direction, through the Stop the War Coalition and the networks it has created.
Respect is largely based on people drawn into political activity by the war. The party will have to develop in different from the small group politics to which the left has been restricted.
While remaining active in the unions, it is crucial to immerse Respect in the anti-war movement and in the campaign networks being born round housing, health, education and pensions. The new radical left in Europe differs in origins, but we all face the same challenge.
Murderous 'moderate'
That the man who even a tame inquiry found partially responsible for the massacre of 2,000 Palestinian refugees can be considered a middle of the road candidate says everything about Israeli politics.
Prime minister Ariel Sharon has quit his Likud party in a bid to head up a coalition after new elections next year.
The turmoil in Israeli party politics is in large part due to the resistance by the Palestinian people. Israel’s political establishment is divided over how to deal with that resistance. But they are united in refusing the Palestinians justice. Israel will continue its repression, and international solidarity with the Palestinians must be redoubled.
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