WorldWatch

6 minute read
MARYANN BIRD and KATE NOBLE

ISRAEL
Deaths on the Road to Peace
The cease-fire that never was claimed more lives last week as a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in northern Israel, killing two Israeli soldiers. Israeli forces responded with a helicopter missile attack on a farm near Bethlehem, which killed four Palestinians including two leading Hamas activists. As Israel boosted security measures with increased troop movements in the West Bank to deter Palestinian militancy, foreign ministers from the G-8 countries supported former U.S. Senator George Mitchell’s recommendations as the only way to break the deadlocked peace process, declaring that they backed the deployment of international monitors. Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer conceded that Israel would tolerate monitors to oversee a truce, but only if they were American. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers in the West Bank showed how difficult the task ahead is. On Thursday three Palestinians, a six-month-old baby and his parents, were murdered in their car by an extremist Israeli group near the city of Hebron.

GERMANY
To Save the Planet
Ministers from 180 countries met in Bonn to try to save the Kyoto Protocol. Since George W. Bush announced in March that the U.S. would not ratify the climate treaty, efforts have concentrated on confirming Japan’s support. Along with Russia, Canada and Australia, Japan wants greater emphasis on the use of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but European Union countries are pushing for actual cuts in emissions.

ITALY
Death on the Street
Primed for violent protests at the G-8 summit in Genoa, police shot and killed an Italian demonstrator on the first day of the meeting. The leaders of the world’s richest countries appealed for calm but refused to suspend their talks as tens of thousands of anti-globalization protesters marched in the streets. Some started fires, smashed windows, broke into banks and stoned the police, who responded with tear gas, water cannon and baton charges. More than 180 people were injured in the fighting.

SOMALIA
Food Fights
Continued fighting in Mogadishu between militiamen loyal to warlord Osman Ali Atto and others working for businessmen supporting the Transitional National Government (TNG) caused more than 40 deaths and injured 60 civilians. The fighters used antiaircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks in the clashes, which broke out over a shipment of food aid from Saudi Arabia to the government. The businessmen’s support for the TNG has deprived faction leaders of income from taxes on transported goods.

SOUTH AFRICA
Condoms for Life
South African Catholics have called for a relaxation of the church’s ban on the use of condoms to help the fight against aids. G

Generals
should be held responsible, too.
Heads should roll here, in Moscow. Only then can we restore the people’s faith
Akhmad Kadyrov, Russias administrator in Chechnya, on accountability for human-rights abuses

unther Simmermacher, editor of the Southern Cross Journal, supported Bishop Kevin Dowling’s call for the issue to be debated this week at the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ conference. They argue that for married couples in which one partner is HIV positive, condoms could be regarded as preventing infection and thus saving life.

INDIA
No Agreement
Whatever gloss India and Pakistan tried to put on the two countries’ summit meeting, the inability to agree on a joint statement on Kashmir could be counted as nothing less than failure. While Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf and India’s Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee met five times over three days in Agra, fighting continued in the disputed territory, leaving 49 people dead.

BURMA
Difficulties Still
For the first time in six years Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi missed a ceremony marking the assassination of her father. Her absence at the Martyr’s Day event was taken to indicate further difficulties in negotiations between the military government and opposition. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won elections in 1990 but was refused power by the ruling generals. In recent weeks the government has allowed the release of 51 NLD political prisoners and the reopening of 18 of its offices.

CZECH REPUBLIC
Good News: Smoking Isn’t Healthy
In a report to the Czech government that has outraged antismoking campaigners, the tobacco giant Philip Morris says that smoking — by causing premature deaths — saved the country nearly $150 million in 1999. A spokesman said Philip Morris regretted giving any impression that the early deaths “could represent a benefit for society.” The report stated that the “negative financial effects of smoking” — such as health care and pension payments — were “more than offset by positive effects such as excise tax and value-added taxes” on tobacco products.

INDONESIA
Standoff
Indonesia’s parliament voted to proceed ahead of schedule with impeachment hearings against President Abdurrahman Wahid. The People’s Consultative Assembly summoned Wahid to answer charges of corruption, but Wahid refused and called the hearing “illegal.” The President has repeatedly threatened to declare a state of emergency, which would allow him to dissolve parliament and rule temporarily by decree.

CHINA
Crane Crash
Just days after China celebrated winning the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games, the country’s poor construction safety standards were highlighted when a huge crane collapsed in Shanghai, killing 36 people. The giant gantry crane was being erected at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard when a steel cable fastening the 3,000-ton crossbeam to a leg snapped, sending the beam crashing to the ground.

JAPAN
Fishing for Influence
A senior member of Japan’s fisheries agency reportedly admitted that the country uses the “tools” of diplomacy and overseas aid to influence votes at meetings of the International Whaling Commission. Masayuki Komatsu deplored efforts to curtail Japan’s fishing for minke whales, a species he described as “a cockroach in the oceans.” New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clark, accused Japan of paying bribes to poorer nations to support its campaign for the restoration of commercial whaling.

AUSTRALIA
Abortion Murder
The murder of a security guard at Australia’s oldest abortion clinic prompted fears that American-style anti-abortion violence has arrived. Security guard Steven Rogers was shot dead by a man armed with a rifle at the Fertility Control Clinic in Melbourne. The man was arrested at the premises but refused to give his name. Margaret Tighe, president of the Right to Life anti-abortion organization, condemned the shooting, but said she was not surprised “given the nature of what occurs in these places.”

UNITED STATES
Criminal Loss
To lose one computer may be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose 184 seems like FBI carelessness. The U.S. law enforcement agency admitted last week that the computers, as well as 449 firearms, were missing. An inventory of FBI equipment by the Justice Department showed up the missing computers — at least one of which contained classified information — and discovered that 184 of the absent firearms had been stolen.

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