News You Might Have Missed * Vol. 6, No. 25

Important but overlooked news from around the world.


“Fishing here is finished. We have boats, but we don’t really use them anymore.”

— Turkish fisherman Adem Vay, on the effects of the Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which terminates near his Mediterranean fishing village (see “Resource Battles,” below.)


*Top Stories*
Anti-gay protests “fall flat” in Jerusalem
Agent Orange persists — in court
Adam and Eve photos bring calls for death

*Resource Battles*
Natural resources spur pollution, indigenous rights disputes

The promises and pitfalls of Darfur’s salvation

Trade bolsters Myanmar junta


Anti-Gay Protests “Fall Flat” in Jerusalem

Fundamentalist, ultra-conservative — the Haredi Jews of Israel may be all that, but their message of intolerance towards gays and lesbians has so far failed to bring out the Orthodox masses.

Their protest last weekend against the upcoming Jerusalem gay pride parade fell far short of the hoped-for “100,000 strong” crowd, and Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said their campaign to cancel the parade has failed. Even the most Orthodox non-Haredi Jews skipped the affair, primarily because they didn’t want to expose their children to a lifestyle they disapprove of.

Agent Orange Persists — in Court

On the eve of Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet’s trip to the United States — the first such visit since the 1970s — a federal court in New York City is hearing an appeal of a ruling that exonerated producers of the toxic Agent Orange herbicide for birth defects and disabilities among more than 3 million Vietnamese.

The chemical, which was used to defoliate jungle cover used by guerrillas during the Vietnam War, was produced by 37 American companies, including Monsanto and Dow. A 2005 ruling found no evidence that Agent Orange causes birth defects, and its producers say they acted under wartime presidential orders.

Adam and Eve Photos Bring Calls for Death

The publisher and editor of Octane, an Islamabad fashion magazine, have been condemned to death by a local cleric for publishing a suggestive image of the proverbial first family, Adam and Eve.

The magazine’s editor says the image was an advertisement that has run previously, and is willing to apologize. But another religious leader has called for an additional charge of blasphemy be added to the obscenity complaint.


“Ultra-Orthodox protests against gay pride parade fall flat”
Haaretz (Israel), June 19, 2007

“Agent Orange appeal in U.S. court”
BBC, June 19, 2007

“Pakistan bans sale of magazine”
The Times of India, June 17, 2007


Natural Resources Spur Pollution, Indigenous Rights Disputes

From fossil fuels to “blue gold,” from uranium to offshore biodiversity, natural resources around the world promise riches but often deepen social and economic disputes.

In Turkey, the massive new Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is expected to bring $1 billion into the national economy. But residents of the fishing vilage of Golovasi, near the pipeline terminal on the Mediterranean Sea, say the pipeline has scared away the fish, and that the local economy is shutting down even as promises of financial aid fall through.

In the United States, a spike in the value of uranium has renewed interest in abandoned uranium mines throughout the West. The Christian Science Monitor reports that a leap in prices, from $10 to almost $140 per pound, has inspired a surge in mining land claims — 32,000 of them in 2006 alone.

With that surge comes renewed fears of mining pollution, often near waterways such as the Colorado River — the lifeline of the West — as well as concerns for preserving scenic landscapes that drive the ever-burgeoning tourism industry.

In Montana, Indian Country Today reports on a move by Indians to secure $250 million and 55,000 acres of land as part of a water- rights settlement. Their plan is to build a new reservoir, improve irrigation, and construct an ethanol plant. Local gold miners are trying to block the settlement, however.

And in Australia, a senator decried a move to remove or block representatives of indigenous groups from national park governance committees, particularly that of the Great Barrier Reef. Andrew Bartlett of Queensland said that indigenous Australians have become cynical with promises of greater involvement that are not fulfilled, and said their cultural heritage in the Great Barrier Reef makes them an essential voice in its management.


“Turkish fishing villages blame pipeline for dwindling catches”, June 7, 2007

“Mining revival: a uranium boom for a wary West”
Christian Science Monitor, June 19, 2007

“Tribes seek land, money in water rights settlement”
Associated Press, June 11, 2007

“Indigenous people to be shut out of marine park management, senator says”
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, June 19, 2007

“Speech: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 2007”, June 18, 2007


The Promises and Pitfalls of Darfur’s Salvation

An international charity is pulling out of Sudan even as that nation grudgingly accepted a bolstered peacekeeping force in the Darfur region, home to mounting ethic violence and fears of genocide.

The new peacekeeping force comes too late for Oxfam, which has decided to permanently close its operations in on Darfur town over Sudan’s “reluctance” to protect aid workers against roving militias.

The United States said the biggest challenge is for Sudan to move beyond good words and fully implement the peacekeeping plan.

But the Guardian reports that a failure by the U.S. to deliver as much as $1 billion in support to the peacekeepers may doom such efforts.

In the United Kingdom, major investors in Sudanese petroleum, including Barclay’s and the Church of England, are subjects of a new divestment campaign which says oil profits are used to support the murderous Janjaweed militias at the heart of Darfur’s strife.


“U.S. takes Sudan’s acceptance of peacekeepers with grain of salt”
The Daily Star (Lebanon), June 19, 2007

“U.S. failure to pay ‘threatens Darfur peacekeeping'”
The Guardian (U.K.), June 19, 2007

“British investors urged to quit Sudan”
The Guardian (U.K.), June 19, 2007

“Sudan: Oxfam Pulls Out of Gereida, Government Accepts Hybrid Force for Darfur”
IRIN (U.N.), June 18, 2007


Trade Bolsters Myanmar Junta

Another birthday of imprisoned dissident Daw Aung Sung Suu Kyi has come and gone, and the plight of Burma slips again to the back burners of the highest-profile international press.

But dig into local and regional media, and you’ll find a wealth of coverage of the repressive junta that took control of Burma and renamed it Myanmar in 1989.

More than a million refugees have fled the country since the coup, many to India and Bangladesh, where dissidents publish newspapers and Web sites about their homeland.

Inter Press Service reports that forced labor on a mass scale persists despite agreements with the International Labor Organization to monitor and register complaints directly within the country.

The agreements have fallen by the wayside since an internal coup replaced the ruling military faction with another, less accommodating group.

Meanwhile, trade with the junta is thriving, particularly with major partners in India, Thailand and China.

An international gem show in Rangoon is expected to serve thousands of gem dealers from around the world. Last year’s event earned more than $180 million off trade in locally produced gems, jade and pearls.

Overall, jade exports alone earned the junta more than $205 million last year.

Timber is also big business. Ninety-five percent of Burma’s timber exports to China — more than 1 million cubic meters of wood — were illegally smuggled across the border, the Irrawaddy news Web site reports.

But that has been bolstered by a new trade in live ye-htin-shu trees, rare specimens that are thought to impart good luck, and are coveted for their role in soil and water conservation.

Intact trees can cost as much as $13,000, and are dug up whole and transported by military forces and ethnic groups alike.

Meanwhile, fighting between the junta and rebels show no sign of letting up, with battallions en route to the eastern border for new engagements with Karen and Shan ethic militias.

Writing in the Boston Globe, two American advocates say that U.S. and international sanctions remain vital tools against a military regime that permits rape as a weapon of war.

But they also cautioned that sanctions can also worse the humanitarian crisis in a country where a third of children under five are malnourished and 52 million people have AIDS or HIV.

Dr. Chris Beyrer of Johns Hopkins University and Eric Stover of the University of California, Berkeley, said that the junta spends just 40 cents on health care per citizen each year, compared to $61 in neighboring Thailand.

“Aid can be delivered through international and local non-governmental organizations and through cross-border approaches,” they wrote, “but must not be allowed to sip into the coffers of junta-backed organizations.”


“BURMA: No end to forced labour”
Inter Press Service, June 15, 2007

“Myanmar’s Suu Kyi turns 62 in isolation”
Reuters, June 19, 2007

“Burma to hold special gem sale”
The Irrawaddy, June 18, 2007

“Aid and sanctions in Burma”
The Boston Globe, June 16, 2007

“Getting to the roots of Burma’s latest timber trade”
The Irrawaddy, June 19, 2007

“Two western battalions march east to battle Karen”
Narinjara (Bangladesh), June 19, 2007

“Burma uncertain trade policy leads to decline of imports from Thailand”
Mizzima News (India), June 18, 2007

“Over a million Burmese to be recognized on World Refugee Day”
Mizzima News (India), June 19, 2007

Editor: Josh Wilson

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