June 6, 2007

News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 23

Important but overlooked news from around the world.

QUOTED:

“It’s a fledgling industry with high demand and yet there are no standards for the carbon credits themselves. There is no regulation in the business.”

— EasyJet spokesman Toby Nicol, on rampant fraud among carbon-emissions trading schemes (see “Climate Change,” below).

CONTENTS:

*Top Stories*
Government, Taliban Let Afghan Poppies Blossom
“Intemperate” Asylum Judges Under Fire
Iran’s Eyes on the Nose

*IMMIGRATION*
Migrants Face Dangerous Waters and a Cold Shoulder

*EGYPT*
When is an Islamist Not an Islamist?

*ENVIRONMENT*
Carbon Trading, Beset by Fraud and Doubt


TOP STORIES

Government, Taliban Let Afghan Poppies Blossom

Shopkeepers selling poppy paste at bazaars in Helmand pay “protection” at a price openly negotiated with police, who in return warn of impending NATO raids. Police officials deny any complicity. The government estimates that Helmand produced about 90,000 hectares of poppies, only 7,000 of which were destroyed in eradication campaigns.

According to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, both the government and the Taliban benefit from the trade, and even suspended their fighting in the spring to accommodate farmers.

“Intemperate” Asylum Judges Under Fire

Lawyers say bias and an overwhelming caseload cause some immigration judges to deny appeals for asylum at much higher rates than others. One in Dallas denied an asylum seeker from Cameroon before the lawyer even finished making his case, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged the “intemperate” and “abusive” conduct of some judges, and pledged reforms for a system that saw caseloads jump 39 percent between 2000 and 2005.

Iran’s Eyes on the Nose

An unprecedented number of young Iranians are getting nose jobs since the imposition of fundamentalist dress code, which prohibits exposing any body part except the face and even bans heavy makeup.

“The beauty of Iranian women can only be seen in their faces,” one patient told Reuters.

Sources:

“Everyone’s a winner at Helmand’s opium bazaars”
Institute for War & Peace Reporting, June 1, 2007

“Asylum-seekers at mercy of inconsistent courts”
Dallas Morning News, June 1, 2007

“In Iran, the rich and trendy queue up for nose jobs”
Reuters, June 6, 2007


IMMIGRATION

Migrants Face Dangerous Waters and a Cold Shoulder

If they survive the voyage, Africans fleeing to Europe on wooden boats do not always get a warm welcome.

Malta took 25 shipwrecked Somalis ashore last week, but only after coming under fire late May when a Maltese fishing boat refused to rescue a another group of migrants, and left the task to Spain.

A Maltese ship has since found 18 other bodies floating in the Mediterranean; while 233 migrants were brought ashore in the last week alone, the Times of Malta reports.

In response to the surge, the European Union is boosting patrols off the coast of Africa to intercept migrant boats.

Hundreds of protestors at an E.U. immigration summit in Greece called for a different solution that includes legalization and ending war and poverty in Africa.

European officials are struggling to agree on immigration policy, from hard-to-enforce guest worker program, visas for skilled workers, or investing in jobs in Africa, The Economist reports.

E.U. citizens have their own thoughts on the subject: a recent poll found that 60 per cent of respondents in Italy, 59 per cent in Britain and 54 per cent in Germany would like to see all illegal immigrants deported.

Sources:

“Rescued migrants brought ashore”
Times of Malta, June 1, 2007
http://www.timesofmalta.com/core/article.php?id=263478

“French ship finds 18 bodies in sea”
Associated Press, June 1, 2007

“Immigrants protest in Greece ahead of EU-Mediterranean meeting”
Associated Press, May 31, 2007

“In search of an immigration policy”
Economist, May 31, 2007

“Italians more likely to expel illegal immigrants”
Angus Reid Global Monitor (Canada), May 31, 2007


EGYPT

When is an Islamist Not an Islamist?

Neither the United States nor Egypt are square on how to treat the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic group with terrorist origins that also happens to be Egypt’s most powerful opposition party.

The government of Hosni Mubarak arrested 87 party members in May and detained 52 more last week just ahead of the June 11 elections.

New constitutional amendments give Egypt the power to ban any political activity based on religion, but the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch says it’s censoring free speech instead.

This includes the repeated jailing and torture of Abd al-Menim Mahmoud, a young blogger for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Harper’s editor Ken Silverstein argues that the party is misunderstood by both Egypt and the U.S.

The Brotherhood may be Islamic, but it “renounced violence decades ago and has pledged to support democracy,” he says.

Egypt, meanwhile, is angry over what it calls a double standard in U.S. policy towards Islamist groups.

Although Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice refused to meet with Muslim Brotherhood members when visiting Egypt, a bipartisan Congressional delegation on a Middle East tour met with the banned group’s leader last week.

Egypt said the meeting undermined its national interests, and blasted the U.S as hypocritical because the delegation refused to meet with Hamas, the Islamist leaders of the Palestinian Authority with links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sources:

“Egypt arrests 52 Muslim Brotherhood members”
Agence France-Presse, June 2, 2007

“Egypt lays into U.S. delegation for Brotherhood meeting”
The Daily Star Egypt, June 1, 2007

“Blogger of the Brotherhood”
Harper’s, May 31, 2007


CLIMATE CHANGE

Carbon Trading, Beset by Fraud and Doubt

A new report finds the most common system for trading carbon emissions, which allows rich European countries to continue polluting while also investing in environmental projects in developing countries, has major flaws.

The report finds that as many as a third of the “green” projects approved in India are actually regular commercial ventures, wrongly approved by fraudulent middlemen.

Those concerns led British airline Easyjet to cut out the middleman entirely, buying U.N.-backed carbon credits on the open market and selling them directly to passengers.

The Guardian reports that scientists have doubts about how effective carbon credits actually are.

Widely-used carbon offset schemes, such as tree planting, may ironically increase global warming by trapping heat, the newspaper reports.

But that hasn’t stopped Canada and Australia from jumping on the bandwagon.

British Colombia is creating a carbon-trading registry that would allow residents to invest in green projects within their own province rather than buying credits over the Web.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that a proposed mandatory national greenhouse emissions-cutting program would not come cheap.

The program, which includes emissions trading on a large scale, is predicted to increase the price of travel and cause higher gas prices and electricity bills.

A government official said education would also be needed to induce people to change their lifestyle habits.

Sources:

“Abuse and incompetence in fight against global warming”
Guardian (U.K.), June 2, 2007

“Living costs to rise after carbon trading”
The Australian, June 2, 2007

“Would you like carbon credits with those fries?”
CanWest News Service, May 29, 2007

“Airline slams ‘snake oil sellers'”
Guardian (U.K.), May 7, 2007


Editors: Julia Scott, Josh Wilson

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