World Watch

6 minute read

Death of the Innocents
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict scaled new emotional heights with the discovery of two Jewish teenagers bludgeoned to death in a cave, in what might have been a revenge attack for the killing of a four-month-old Palestinian girl and the wounding of at least one other infant. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the “horrifying murders” of the two 14-year-old boys, one an American citizen, from the Tekoa settlement on the West Bank marked a new escalation in the conflict. Palestinian officials condemned the killings as well, but neither side offered a way out of the spiral of death. The widening violence also saw two Romanian migrant workers killed by a bomb while repairing Israel’s border fence with Gaza. By week’s end, the Israeli army had launched seven incursions into Palestinian-held territory, including a missile attack on a car in the West Bank that killed a policeman and an activist in Yasser Arafat’s Fateh movement. An assault on Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City also injured at least 20 people. The attacks on Palestinian targets were in apparent retaliation for the bombing that killed the Romanian workers. More than 100,000 migrant workers live in Israel, many of them filling jobs vacated by Palestinians temporarily barred from entering the Jewish state.

Algerian Torture
The publication of a book by a former French general on the Algerian war of independence in the 1950s has led to calls for his prosecution. In the book General Paul Aussaresses reveals that he and his troops tortured and killed Algerians in the battle of Algiers in 1957. He further alleged that he had acted with the full knowledge and consent of authorities in Paris. President Chirac called for Aussaresses to be stripped of his Legion of Honor and urged Defense Minister Alain Richard to consider disciplinary action against him.

Poison in the Earth
The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization produced an alarming report showing that the amount of pesticide waste endangering people and the environment is five times greater than was estimated two years ago. The FAO believes that some 500,000 tons of pesticides that have expired or been banned are accumulating in fields, farms and villages around the globe. Some of the chemicals were put into storage because they were outlawed for use and are now leaking into the soil and water supply.

Peaceful Overture
All major Macedonian political parties agreed to set up a coalition government that would address some of the demands put forward by ethnic Albanian rebels who have been fighting government forces north of the capital, Skopje. The agreement coincided with a temporary ceasefire during which aid groups were able to reach ethnic Albanian villages that had been cut off by shelling. But rebels rejected the idea that a new coalition would solve their problems. Some 8,000 women and children fled the fighting.

Children Taken
After around 50 UNITA rebels attacked the town of Caxito, north of Luanda, killing at least 100 people and interrogating foreign aid workers, they ransacked buildings for food supplies. To carry away their loot the rebels kidnapped 60 children from an orphanage school. Initially unita denied that any children had been taken, but by week’s end the group’s chief of staff General Geraldo Abreu said that any children kidnapped in the attack on Caxito would be released at the nearest mission station.

Refugees Suffer
The plight of 80,000 Afghan refugees living in the squalid Jalozai camp near Peshawar worsened as a heatwave took its toll of the very young. At least 11 children have died from heatstroke, diarrhea and dehydration. Most of the Jalozai refugees are sheltered from sweltering temperatures by little more than plastic sheeting and have inadequate access to water. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes in past months to escape a severe drought and the ongoing civil war.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Hong Kong to address the three-day Fortune Global Forum only to be met with demonstrations. Antiglobalization and pro-democracy protesters made their voices heard, while members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement silently showed their resentment of the group’s persecution on the mainland. Hong Kong authorities prevented more than 100 Falun Gong practitioners from entering the former British colony.

Slow of Force
New Zealand has decided to adopt an unusual approach to its defense forces. Prime Minister Helen Clark announced that, though spending on the military would rise by $820 million over the next 10 years, the air force will be stripped of its fighter jets and the navy will lose half its large warships. “New Zealand is a small country,” Clark said, “and it cannot afford to do a wide range of capabilities well.” The move has provoked protests from opposition groups and anxieties among the country’s allies.

Fit of Pique
Leading Republican politicians reacted angrily after the country lost its seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission. “It is an affront to the whole notion of human rights,” said Dick Armey, majority leader of the House of Representatives. Their ire increased when the U.S. lost its seat on another important committee, the 13-member International Narcotics Control Board. The House voted to withhold payment of $244 million in back dues the U.S. owes to the U.N. unless the country is reinstated to the human rights panel when seats are next contested.

Mass Vaccination
Faced with two outbreaks of the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease, the government decided to vaccinate 13 million animals. The disease appeared in cattle in Rio Grande do Sul state, near the border with Uruguay, which is vaccinating its entire herd of 10 million animals following the discovery of 190 cases. Neighboring Argentina, which has found 291 diseased animals, is also conducting a huge vaccination campaign. Beef exports are extremely important to the economy of Brazil, which numbers 160 million animals in its herd.

Seal Cubs Face Mass Starvation
Freak weather has stranded hundreds of thousands of baby seals on ice floes in the White Sea. Russian scientists said that unusually strong winds had prevented up to 200,000 baby harp, or Greenland, seals from floating to their normal feeding grounds in the Barents Sea. “Their mass death from hunger is inevitable,” said a Polar Institute scientist, adding that even if some cubs could be saved, no money was available for their rescue.

Another Soccer Tragedy — and the Worst
Tragedy struck an African football stadium for the fourth time in a month when 126 panicked fans died in a stampede in Accra. A shocked President John Kufuor declared three days of mourning and called for an inquiry into the continent’s worst-ever soccer disaster. Witnesses said people were crushed to death while fleeing tear gas fired by police to control rioting near the end of the match. Hometown team Hearts of Oak had just taken the lead against archrival Asante Kotoko. The death toll from the other recent stadium disasters in Africa: 52.

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