Sunday, December 04, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media

Ukraine on Sundayy began combating what appeared to be the biggest outbreak yet in Europe of the deadly strain of bird flu, after more than 2,000 domestic birds died in a remote region of the Crimean peninsula.
President Viktor Yushchenko declared a state of emergency in five villages on Saturday after the agriculture ministry said it had identified the H5 subtype of bird flu virus. Officials enforced a quarantine and began culling and burning the villages’ birds on Sunday.
But the government’s failure to notice the outbreak earlier is likely to heighten concerns across Europe about Ukraine’s ability to deal with the bird flu problem. Ukrainian villagers who keep birds in their gardens are at particular risk, because they regularly handle birds that may have come into contact with the migratory wild birds that spread the virus.
Confirmation that the outbreak was caused by the H5N1 strain that can kill humans was awaiting the results of tests in Britain and Italy. But officials left little doubt that they were dealing with the same deadly strain that has shown up in Romania and other parts of south-east Europe.

Gareth e-mailed to note the excerpt above which is from Tom Warner's "Emergency in Ukraine over bird flu" (The Financial Times). It's Sunday, we're looking at what's being outside of the US mainstream media . . . kind of, sort of. I say that because we're including, at Skip's request, an article that originally ran in the Washington Post. We'll get to that in a moment.

But now we'll note Nepal which Marcia feels (I'd agree) the United States mainstream media has little interest in. This is from Marty Logan's "King Cornered by Maoists, Political Parties" (IPS):

Communist Party leader Bamdev Gautam was hustled into a cafe to avoid skirmishes with police, Friday, as King Gyanendra motored past with an army escort but it seems Nepal's political parties have gained the upper hand during the monarch's three-week trip outside the country.
Midday on Friday tens of thousands of people poured into the streets for the largest yet opposition rally here since the king seized power Feb. 1. Gautam, a senior leader of the mainstream United-Marxist Leninist (UML) wing of the Communist Party, looked happy in the nearly empty restaurant where employees downed and reopened shutters repeatedly as riot police with bamboo canes charged at crowds of youths--who ran from the street towards the cafe--and then retreated to regroup. He estimated the crowd at 75,000 people while observers from a local human rights group suggested 30,000.
It is only a beginning, Gautam told IPS. "We are happy...We have only one aim--we have to isolate the king. It will take a long time, but we are ready."
Two recent events may have started that process. One is the ceasefire called by Maoist rebels three months ago, which they extended for another month just hours before the monarch returned Friday. The other is the 12- point 'understanding' between the political parties and the insurgents, long rumoured and finally announced late in November.
The pact is supposed to lead to elections for a constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution for Nepal's young democracy and finally, to multi-party parliamentary elections, which have not been held here since 1999.
King Gyanendra ascended the throne in 2001 after then King Birendra and all the immediate members of his family were killed in the 'royal massacre'. In October 2002, he dissolved parliament and appointed a government and then, 10 months ago, he fired it and had Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba arrested on corruption charges.
While Nepal's political parties and rebels have stayed in contact during the decade-long Maoist uprising that has killed more than 12,000 Nepalis, mostly innocent villagers, local politicians have been favourite targets of the Maoists in rural areas.
After Feb. 1, when an alliance between the two sides appeared possible, government officials warned that the parties could also be branded "terrorists" for cooperating with the rebels. But, in recent weeks, local media have reported numerous incidents of villagers attempting to join pro-democracy rallies led by either the political parties or the Maoists.

Turning to events in Chinda, Liang notes "Democracy marchers flood Hong Kong" (Al Jazeera):

Tens of thousands have marched in Hong Kong for direct elections of their leaders and to protest against electoral reforms being imposed by the city's chief executive and Beijing.
The march on Sunday could irritate China's Communist party leaders and embarrass Donald Tsang, the Hong Kong chief executive.
Police said 40,000 people gathered at the city's Victoria Park, but thousands more protesters wearing "Hong Kong loves democracy" stickers joined as the march snaked between skyscrapers to government offices. Organisers put the number of protesters at nearly 250,000.
A government spokeswoman declined to comment on the march and demands of organisers.

Liang notes that Lynda is "so good about highlighting Al Jazeera but with the verbal attacks on it increasing, I hope members are showing support with their web choices." Good point. (And we have highlights from Al Jazeera on Iraq in tonight's other entry from Lynda.)

Iraq's neighbor Iran is a country that we note only from outside the US mainstream media and that's my editorial choice. Why? Because after being cheerleaded into war with Iraq in part by an eager/compliant mainstream media in the US, I don't have a great deal of faith in their reports (even for a brief excerpt). Fortunately, James in Brighton e-mails to note Anne Penketh's "UN chief urges West and Iran to cool brinkmanship over nuclear programme" (The Independent):

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, has appealed to both Iran and the West to refrain from escalating their dangerous game of brinkmanship, which has entered an unpredictable phase after the election of a hardline Iranian president.
Talks between Iran and the European Union, which has been leading negotiations aimed at preventing the Iranians from building a nuclear bomb, broke down in August, when the Iranians resumed nuclear-related activities at their Isfahan plant.
The main hope of resuming the dialogue now resides in compromise proposals from Russia, which is offering to enrich uranium for Iran outside its territory. Uranium enrichment is the critical stage in nuclear power which can produce weapons grade fuel.
In an interview in his 28th floor office at IAEA headquarters overlooking the Danube in Vienna, Mr ElBaradei noted that Iran has not rejected the Russian proposal outright, and he said he expected "talks about talks" to be held before next month.

Olive's found a report that's worthy of note and she wonders if I've read anything of it in the New York Times? No, I haven't. This is a new story to me. Possibly to other members as well.
From "Terrorism suspects' custody conditions 'inhumane'" (Australia's ABC):

The lawyer for eight Sydney men charged with terrorist offences has again raised concerns about the conditions of their custody and is asking New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma to intervene.
The men were arrested last month and are alleged to have been stockpiling chemicals in preparation for a terrorist attack.
The case was briefly mentioned in Sydney's central Local Court this morning where the men's lawyer, Adam Houda, complained that the prosecution is yet to provide details of the evidence against the men.

From inhumane detentions we move to executions via Dominic's highlight, Victoria Ward's "Amnesty International condemns 1,000th execution" (The Irish Examiner):

AMNESTY International yesterday condemned as "absolutely shocking" the execution of the 1,000th prisoner in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Kenneth Lee Boyd was executed in North Carolina early yesterday for the 1988 murder of his estranged wife Julie Curry Boyd, 36, and her father, 57-year-old Thomas Dillard Curry. Amnesty's British director Kate Allen said: "It is absolutely shocking that the USA has executed its 1,000th prisoner in modern times - a shameful record that puts the USA in the same company as countries like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam." Ms Allen said the high crime rate in many states which carry the death penalty was proof that capital punishment is no proven deterrent. "It is time to end the death penalty and to stop the killing," she said.

And staying on the issue of justice (or "justice), we come to Skip's highlight. This is a Washington Post article. It ran in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald which is where Skip saw it and what we're providing a link for. Skip's been calling "everyone" about this and it is news in Australia. It's news in the United States as well. We're noting it because Skip thinks it's important and because he writes at length about the impact this article has had on his friends and family. So although it's a mainstream media, United States, article, it's having an impact in Australia. From Dana Priest's "Plea to cover up wrongful arrest:"

IN MAY 2004, the White House dispatched the US ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister.
Daniel Coats informed Otto Schily that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned a German citizen, Khaled Masri, for five months and would soon release him. There was also a request: that the German Government not disclose what it had been told even if Mr Masri went public. The US feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Mr Masri and others with similar allegations.
The Masri case offers a rare study of how pressure on the CIA to apprehend al-Qaeda members after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US has led in some instances to detention based on thin or speculative evidence.
The CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3000 people, including several key leaders of al-Qaeda, in its campaign to dismantle terrorist networks.
It is impossible to know, however, how many mistakes the CIA and its foreign partners have made. Unlike the military's prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - where 180 prisoners have been freed after a review of their cases - there is no tribunal or judge to check the evidence against those picked up by the CIA.
The same bureaucracy that decides to capture and transfer a suspect for interrogation - a process called "rendition" - is also responsible for policing itself.

"Does Condi miss the days when everyone found her so 'fashionable'?" Polly wonders that in her e-mail to highlight news of rough times for Condi. (Sidebar, Sheldon notes Joel Fishman's report of Condi Rice being overheard by hotel employees in Israel yelling at Israeli defense minister Sha'ul Mofaz.) Not good times for Condi Rice. Polly steers us to "CIA jail claim dogs Rice's Europe tour" (BBC):

Her first meeting with Germany's new Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday had been meant to mark a dramatic improvement in US-German ties.
But Germany's opposition parties are demanding an investigation into claims that more 400 CIA flights used German airspace. The suspicion is that some may have been used to transport terrorist suspects to secret prisons for interrogation.
The issue will follow Ms Rice as she moves on to Bucharest later in the week. Romania is one of the countries that human rights activists believed housed a CIA secret prison - a charge the Romanian government denies.

Pru's provided highlights from the UK's Socialist Worker for both entries. In fact, she's noted more than two. We'll use one in each entry tonight and pick up the other two tomorrow and Tuesday. And you can certainly visit The Socialist Worker at any time, not just when it's highlighted here. Because of their policy, leave copyright note in place and you can quote in full, we're able to note their articles in full here. We'll do that with Pru's other choices as well but to make sure the entries are readable for our "quick scanning" members, we'll stick with one highlight in each entry for tonight.

Here's Kevin Ovenden's "Sign up for the International Peace Conference:"

Places are filling up fast for the International Peace Conference to be held in London next week.
"It is attracting very widespread support," says Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition, which is hosting the event.
"There are very significant delegations of trade unionists, who are clearly keen to see the policy of withdrawal from Iraq, passed unanimously at the TUC congress, enacted."
The conference is taking place just as a deluge of revelations about the disaster of the occupation of Iraq and the "war on terror" is flooding out in Britain, the US and elsewhere.
Stop the War convenor Lindsey German says, "It now seems that they seriously considered bombing Al Jazeera, a news station that dared to criticise the war on Iraq. So much for this invasion being about bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East.
"Tony Blair is painted as the restraining hand who prevented this bombing.
"If Blair was the supposed force for restraint, it just goes to show how lunatic this whole project was.
"It is now even more important that people unite to tell the truth about this war -- and that soldiers speak out.
"People are coming from all over the world for the International Peace Conference. From India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Australia, US, Iraq and all over Europe.
"This will not just be a fantastic gathering, but also a chance to organise for change."
Among the many inter­national delegations is one from the Turkish anti-war movement, which managed to prevent their country being part of the war two years ago.
Yildiz Onen of the Global Peace and Justice Coalition says the movement is now targeting Turkey's role in the wider war on terror. She reports:
"The Turkish ministry of transport has officially admitted that US aircraft, converted by the CIA into prisons-cum-interrogation rooms and used to transport secret prisoners to secret locations, have been landing at Turkish airports.
"The latest such plane, according to the ministry, arrived from Baku, Azerbaijan, stayed for 27 hours at a small Istanbul airport and then headed for Amsterdam on 15 November.
"The Global Peace and Justice Coalition has been campaigning to force the government into disclosing all details of these flights and preventing the use of Turkish civilian and military airports for such blatantly illegal purposes.
"At a time when support for the occupation of Iraq is unravelling even in Washington, when its inhumanity is exceeded only by its illegality, the peace conference in London will give us all an opportunity to exchange information, learn from each other’s experiences, pool our resources and further strengthen our movement.
"The greater international representation there is at the conference, the more effective we can be afterwards in bringing an end to the occupation."
The conference will be formulating a statement to be circulated internationally. Sessions include: Iraq, the US, Britain: the current situation; military families campaigns; trade union solidarity; and building an international movement.
The International Peace Conference will held on Saturday 10 December, 10am–8pm at the Royal Horticultural Hall, 80 Vincent Square, London SW1P 2PE. For more information on the event and delegate forms go to
The following should be read alongside this article: » Hundreds of delegates will be coming from trade unions and colleges
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