January 17, 2007

News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 3

Important but overlooked news from around the world.

THIS WEEK:

A German “eco-mafia” is dumping toxics in Eastern Europe, Peru cocaine revives the Shining Path, Shiites and Sunnis are at odds in Detroit, the Gates Foundation retreats on principle, women take strides in Yemen and Zimbabwe, and a newspaper pushes a peace plan for Iraq.

QUOTED:

“[I]t is naive to suggest that an individual stockholder can stop that suffering. Changes in our investment practices would have little or no impact on these issues.”

— Patty Stonesifer, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on oil investments linked to pollution and health problems in the African nations it serves (see “Global Giving,” below).


TOP STORIES

“Eco-Mafia” Targets Eastern Europe

Hungarian police say that 10 illegal toxic waste dumps are the work of a German “eco-mafia” that offers a cheap but hazardous alternative to incineration. The Budapest Times reports that a local mayor, his wife and several companies are suspects in a dumping scheme that has also struck the Ukraine.

Peru: The New Colombia

Resurgent Shining Path militants protect Mexican drug cartels that bypass Colombia to bring an efficient and ruthless cocaine trade to Peru. Speaking to El Universal, some analysts blamed prohibition for creating the cartels, and said coca eradication isn’t offsetting market growth worldwide.

Canada Brainwash Lawsuit

Montreal resident Janine Huard won $66,000 from the CIA for trauma from an electroshock and brainwashing program it sponsored with Canada from 1950-1965. But the Montreal Gazette reports that Canadian officials want to shut her and hundreds of others out of any further government settlements.

“Illegal German waste dumps found”
Budapest Times (Hungary), January 15, 2007

“Mexican cartels settling into Peru”
El Universal (Miami/Mexico), January 13, 2006

“Class action sought in brainwashing case”
Montreal Gazette, January 11, 2006


RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Hate Speech in England

British officials want a preacher “closed down” for using a false name to post calls for violence against Ethiopian “infidels” and others. The messages appeared on a password-protected Web site that has about 700 members, and may have inspired other European- born extremists to smuggle weapons and fight alongside al Qaeda in Somalia, the Times of London reports.

Sectarian Detroit

Iraq comes home to Detroit, where Sunnis angered by the hanging of Saddam Hussein are blamed for vandalism and threats against local Shiite businesses and mosques. Community leaders say that the attacks were the work of a few individuals only, and the FBI has promised to investigate any civil-rights violations.

“U.K. preacher in secret Web call for jihad”
Sunday Times (U.K.), January 14, 2007

“Islamic group calls for federal probe into vandalism of buildings”
Associated Press, January 10, 2006


GLOBAL GIVING

Questions for Gates Foundation, Nigeria Funds

Although the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spends millions on health and anti-poverty campaigns in Africa, the charity also derives almost half of its $35 billion endowment from investments in oil companies blamed for widespread pollution and health problems there.

In a letter to the Los Angeles Times, CEO Patty Stonesifer defended the investments, saying that it is “naive” to think that stockholders can affect corporate practices.

In Nigeria, presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar was indicted for his alleged role in the disappearance of $125 million meant to combat a “brain drain” of oil and gas industry experts; he claims outgoing president Olusegun Obasanjo spent it to illegally bankroll a third elected term.

“Gates Foundation may shift billions into ethical stocks”
Guardian (U.K.), January 12, 2007

“Gates Foundation to keep its investment approach”
Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2007

“Science and technology millions missing in Nigeria”
SciDev.Net (U.K.), January 13, 2007


WOMEN: RIGHTS & SAFETY

Progress in Yemen, Zimbabwe

A Western-educated Yemeni woman said she would break a law against women in politics by forming a party dedicated to gender equality.

GulfNews.com reports that Sumaya Ali Raja, who was invited to deliver her message to a traditionally all-male council, got a mixed reception from conservatives, but was welcomed by the Socialist Party and others.

Legislators in Zimbabwe finally passed a bill protecting women from domestic abuse … ten years after it was introduced. Activists say that one in four women there are victims of abuse, and linked domestic violence with high rates of murder and HIV infection.

“‘Good omen’ for Yemeni women”
Gulfnews.com (UAE), January 13, 2007

“Zimbabwe: New law hope for abused women”
Integrated Regional Information Networks (U.N.), January 11, 2007


IRAQ: MOVING FORWARD

A Peace Plan’s Ambition

A “blueprint” for stability in Iraq, proposed by former defense minister Ali Allawi, would replace American troops with an international security force, negotiate security treaties, and establish a “Middle Eastern Confederation of States” to bolster civil society and establish a collective supreme court.

The Independent, which published Allawi’s original proposal, reports that the plan also calls for a decentralized Iraqi government divided into regions, and a World Bank-funded reconstruction council.

“The Iraqi proposals”
Independent (U.K), January 5, 2007

“From all corners, support grows for Iraq peace plan”
Independent (U.K), January 6, 2007


ALLEGATION & PERSPECTIVE

Claims of Counterfeit Cover-Up

A German newspaper alleges the United States is secretly printing the counterfeit bank notes the Bush administration has publicly charged North Korea of forging, allegedly to finance its nuclear weapons program. The newspaper cites anonymous sources and does not suggest a motive, according to a blog item on AlterNet.

The Doctor of Haifa Street

Speaking on a cell phone with a CBS correspondent, a famed Iraqi surgeon and one-time guest of President Bush describes hiding with his family in a dark, bullet-scarred home along Haifa Street in Baghdad as insurgents and U.S. troops battle outside.

“Is the CIA counterfeiting dollars and blaming it on North Korea?”
AlterNet.org, January 9, 2007

“Trapped on Baghdad’s deadliest street”
CBS News, January 12, 2006


Editors: Julia Scott, Josh Wilson

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