Important but overlooked news from around the world.
Iran’s cell phone police are on patrol, Russia and the United States get some realpolitik in their arms-industry earnings, war-crime rapes remain largely unprosecuted, there’s a spot of good news amidst the gloom for migrant workers, San Francisco art students are censored … and Bush’s document declassification is too.
“Not renewing our license is like President Bush one day announcing that NBC is going off the air because it was involved in a conspiracy against the United States.”
— Venezuelan RCTV General Manager Marcel Granier says his network was shut after President Hugo Chavez accused it of supporting a failed 2002 coup (see “Censorship,” below).
Sunnis, CIA Target Hizbollah
Fearing the growing strength of Shia Islam and the influence of Iran and Syria, President Bush as “authorized the CIA to take covert action” against Hizbollah, The Telegraph reports. The move will support the government in Lebanon, and is backed by “mainstream” Sunni Arab nations, which in return have agreed to spur new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Iran’s Cell Phone Spies
A member of Iran’s parliament has criticized a new group of plainclothes officials who seize and erase citizens’ cell phone if they contain independent news, political jokes, and other “illegal” messages, according to ADNKronos. This follows other bans on satellite TV and 10,000 Web sites.
Afghans Unarmed and Dangerous
NATO-led forces will shoot small children pointing replica guns at them if they look real enough, warned officials. The force already mistook about 1,000 civilians for insurgents and killed them in the past year.
“CIA gets the go-ahead to take on Hizbollah”
The Telegraph, January 10, 2007
“Iran: Special police corps charged with controlling cell phones”
ADNKronos International (Italy), January 4, 2007
“Kids with toy guns worry NATO troops in Afghanistan”
PakTribune.com (Pakistan), January 06, 2007
U.S., Russia, Israel Follow the Money
In Washington, emergency supplemental budgets have sparked a “feeding frenzy” for weapons contractors, a military official told the Wall Street Journal. Case in point: The Pentagon’s request for an additional $99.7 billion to buy weapons that won’t be ready for years, and aren’t intended for Iraq or Afghanistan.
Overseas, the United States ended sanctions against a Russian military firm that’s working with Boeing, but imposed new ones against other weapons companies that sell to Iran and Syria. Russia condemned the move as “illegal,” and said the U.S. is denying itself economic opportunity.
Israel has taken its place among the world’s top five weapons exporters with $4.4 billion in sales last year, primarily to India and the United States. Officials report sales to the U.S. jumped from $300 million in 1999 to $1 billion in 2006.
“Pentagon redefines ’emergency'”
Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2007
“Moscow slams U.S. sanctions on its military firms”
Reuters, January 6, 2007
“2006: Israel defense sales hit record”
Jerusalem Post, January 1, 2007
Kalahari Homeland Denied … Again
A group of Basarwa Bushmen returning to their ancestral homeland were turned away at the border of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, despite winning a court case against the government. Officials claimed only the plaintiffs and their children would be allowed back in.
Rape Victims’ Voices Unheard
Although up to 500,000 women in Rwanda alone were estimated to have been raped, U.N. tribunals prosecuting genocide there and in the former Yugoslavia have had only 34 successful convictions for rape as a weapon of war.
“Khoisan denied entry to Kalahari reserve”
Independent Online (South Africa), January 5, 2007
“International justice failing rape victims”
Institute for War & Peace Reporting, January 5, 2007
Student Magazine, Venezuelan TV Shut Down
The Art Institute of California-San Francisco has fired a part- time professor who claimed the school’s confiscation of a student magazine was a First Amendment violation.
The former professor and his students claim that the Institute has censored other works in the past. Administrators say the magazine, which included criticism of the school’s corporate funders, has since been approved for publication.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has come under fire from the Organization of American States and Reporters Without Borders for closing Venezuela’s oldest and largest TV network. He accuses network operators of supporting a failed 2002 coup against him, an event they claim to have covered as a news event only.
“Teacher fired; accused school of censorship”
San Francisco Chronicle, January 4, 2007
“Chavez blasted for pulling plug on TV network”
Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2007
Workers Abused, Praised in Different Countries
Rebels in India’s impoverished Northeast are targeting migrant workers to stir anger over high unemployment there. According to the Associated Press, 67 workers were killed or wounded in the space of a week, the latest violence in a region home to “dozens” of insurgent groups and long-simmering ethnic conflict.
A human rights advocate says foreign maids in Bahrain have been “specifically excluded” from labor protections, leading to widespread abuse. The Gulf Daily News reports that maids from South and Southeast Asia are frequently overworked, beaten, sexually abused and driven to attempt suicide.
Contrary to public fears, 500,000 workers from Poland, Hungary and other former Soviet countries have reduced unemployment and boosted production in the U.K., a study finds. They also take lower wages, however, which reduces labor-bargaining powers.
“More than 50 killed in Indian violence”
Associated Press, January 6, 2007
“‘Bring domestic workers under Gulf labour law’ call”
Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), January 3, 2007
“‘Little evidence’ of migrants adversely affecting UK job market”
24dash.com (U.K.), January 4, 2007
NEWS & COMMENTARY
“Declassified” Documents Withheld
Numerous exemptions built into the Bush Administration’s historic declassification of government files at least 25 years old means very little of it will ever reach the public.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, history professor Jon Weiner says the exemptions cover any information obtained from confidential sources and foreign governments, or through wiretaps.
“Government documents are declassified in name only”
Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2007
Editors: Julia Scott and Josh Wilson
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