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Wednesday, 09 August 2006 01:58

World Media Watch for August 9, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//AKI Adnkronosinternational, Italy--IRAN NUCLEAR: FOCUS - TEHRAN PREPARES ECONOMIC WEAPON (Iran has practically rejected a UN security council resolution threatening economic sanctions if it fails to suspend uranium enrichment by 31 August. And as a document obtained by Adnkronos International (AKI) suggests, Iran means to show how much the West has to loose if a boycott is imposed. The 11-page document prepared by authorities in Tehran offers an analysis of Iran's economic relations with Western countries using data from Iran's central bank, the Bank Markazi. The document rhetorically poses as its main question: "who will have the courage to boycott the Islamic Republic?")

2//EurasiaNet.org, U.S.--AFGHANISTAN, IRAN AND TAJIKISTAN PROBE CLOSER ECONOMIC TIES (Iran is attempting to cultivate closer ties with Afghanistan and Tajikistan as part of a diplomatic effort to alleviate international pressure over Tehran's nuclear program. The Iranian initiative led to a late July summit in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, where the leaders of the three states signed several economic agreements. The summit's crowning achievement, though, was the creation of a "cultural cooperation commission" to promote closer tripartite economic and security ties. According to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the commission will convene twice annually with the inaugural gathering slated for this fall in the Afghan capital Kabul. In addition, the Iranian president advocated the creation of a television network that would "broadcast the Persian language and culture to the world," and the expansion of educational exchanges. ... Political observers in Tajikistan say that Rahmonov's government is genuinely interested in expanding trade with Iran. However, some add that officials in Dushanbe are guarded about the commission's prospects, believing that Iran may try to use it to advance a political/cultural agenda. "Undoubtedly, the Iranian party pursues its ideological purposes. The Iranians have always pursued the idea of exporting its cultural values," said Galim Fashutdinov, an independent expert and journalist. Given this concern, an Iranian-backed television network is unlikely to find sincere backing from the Tajik president, an ex-Communist who appears intent on maintaining a secular political environment ahead of presidential elections later this year.)

3//Gulfnews.com, United Arab Emirates--OMANIS URGE ARAB LEADERS TO USE OIL AS WEAPON (Residents in Oman feel that it is time Arab leaders use oil as a weapon to put pressure on the United States and the West to end Israeli carnage in Lebanon. ... Awad Ba Khuwair, a political analyst with an Arabic daily in Oman, suggested that people from GCC countries could play a major role in exerting economic pressure on the United States and the West. "A lot of the GCC nationals and governments have invested in the West; withdraw everything, use oil production as another weapon and the message will be strong to the powers that are supporting Israel.")

4//The Korea Herald, South Korea--U.S. MAY CUT KOREA GARRISON FURTHER (The number of U.S. troops stationed in Korea may be reduced further than the 25,000 currently agreed between Seoul and Washington when the role of the troops changes with upcoming events, such as the transfer of wartime command of the Korean military to the South Korean government, according to a senior U.S. Defense Department official on Monday. ... Expressing special concern over the training range of U.S. Air Force in Korea as a very sensitive agenda, he recounted that there have been repeated problems with the lack of a target range and called it "a very serious issue." "Now we have a situation where if this problem is not resolved in the near term, that is in the next couple of months, entire units will have to leave the peninsula (for training) on a rotating basis," the official said. He added that it would be a very bad sign for the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. and "the worst signal you can send to North Korea.")

5//The Independent, UK--THE GOOD LIFE IN HAVANA: CUBA'S GREEN REVOLUTION (... Spurred into action by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disastrous impact this had on its subsidised economy, the government of Cuba was forced to take radical steps to feed its people. The solution it chose - essentially unprecedented both within the developed and undeveloped world - was to establish a self-sustaining system of agriculture that by necessity was essentially organic. Laura Enriquez, a sociologist at the University of California Berkeley, who has written extensively on the subject of Latin American agriculture, said: "What happened in Cuba was remarkable. It was remarkable that they decided to prioritise food production. Other countries in the region took the neo-liberal option and exported 'what they were good at' and imported food. The Cubans went for food security and part of that was prioritising small farmers." ... Remarkably, this organic revolution has worked. Annual calorie intake now stands at about 2,600 a day, while UNFAO estimates that the percentage of the population considered undernourished fell from 8 per cent in 1990-2 to about 3 per cent in 2000-2. Cuba's infant mortality rate is lower than that of the US, while at 77 years life expectancy is the same. ... "Not everything is perfect," said Mr Salcines. "But if you look what capitalism has done for other countries in the region, I believe that the situation for poor people is better in Cuba. Our society is more equal.")

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1//AKI Adnkronosinternational, Italy Aug-08-06 17:19

IRAN NUCLEAR: FOCUS - TEHRAN PREPARES ECONOMIC WEAPON
By Ahmad Rafat

Tehran, 8 August (AKI) - Iran has practically rejected a UN security council resolution threatening economic sanctions if it fails to suspend uranium enrichment by 31 August. And as a document obtained by Adnkronos International (AKI) suggests, Iran means to show how much the West has to loose if a boycott is imposed.

The 11-page document prepared by authorities in Tehran offers an analysis of Iran's economic relations with Western countries using data from Iran's central bank, the Bank Markazi. The document rhetorically poses as its main question: "who will have the courage to boycott the Islamic Republic?"

Europe would lose some 13 billion euros in exports and 10 billion in imports a year, mainly in gas and petrol, the document estimates.

As far as Italy, Iran's main commercial partner in Europe is concerned, cutting ties with Iran would bring a loss amounting to two annual budgets, a fact recognised recently by Italian foreign minister Massimo D'Alema.

Relations between the Islamic Republic and the West however are not limited to commercial exchanges.

Iran has debts worth 27 billion dollars with European banks. Moreover, the Iranian government has 25 billion dollars deposited in banks in Europe which could be withdrawn any time soon, causing significant debts.

Ten major oil companies including Italy's ENI have invested 15 billion dollars in South Pars, the world's largest gas field in the Persian Gulf off Iran. China has signed investment accords in the energy sector worth 25 billion dollars.

Finally, the document talks about the 'oil weapon'. Today 40 oil companies, including three from Italy, import every day 2.5 million barrels of crude oil. Japan, with its 541,000 barrels imported each day, would be the hardest hit.

(SNIP)

Overall, experts who drafted the document estimated that were Iran to stop exporting crude oil and gas, the price of oil a barrel would amount to a minimum of 100 dollars but could reach 125 dollars.

2//EurasiaNet.org, U.S. Tuesday, August 8, 2006


AFGHANISTAN, IRAN AND TAJIKISTAN PROBE CLOSER ECONOMIC TIES

Iran is attempting to cultivate closer ties with Afghanistan and Tajikistan as part of a diplomatic effort to alleviate international pressure over Tehran's nuclear program.

The Iranian initiative led to a late July summit in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, where the leaders of the three states signed several economic agreements. The summit's crowning achievement, though, was the creation of a "cultural cooperation commission" to promote closer tripartite economic and security ties. According to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the commission will convene twice annually with the inaugural gathering slated for this fall in the Afghan capital Kabul. In addition, the Iranian president advocated the creation of a television network that would "broadcast the Persian language and culture to the world," and the expansion of educational exchanges.

Security issues figured prominently in the summit discussions. Speaking at a joint press conference after the two-day meeting, Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov and Ahmadinejad called for an end to the ongoing violence in Lebanon. The Iranian leader also indicated Iran was prepared to expand strategic cooperation with Tajikistan. "We think that Tajikistan's security is our own," Ahmadinejad said.

Iranians and Tajiks - along with a sizable minority of Afghans -- share strong cultural and linguistic ties. The summit provided diplomatic support for Iran at a time when Tehran is facing the prospect of UN sanctions. In a July 31 resolution, the UN Security Council threatened the imposition of sanctions unless Tehran suspended its efforts to enrich uranium. Iranian officials on August 6 announced that they intend to defy the Security Council.

(SNIP)

Rahmonov added that the leaders would "pay special attention to regional security and military-technical cooperation." Afghan President Hamid Karzai played a relatively low-key role in the proceedings and focused his comments on the fight against drugs and cross-border trade and energy cooperation.

Despite a common linguistic base, several political factors - including the US military presence in Afghanistan, Iran's antipathy to the United States, and Tajikistan's close strategic relationship with Russia -pose significant barriers to closer cooperation.

Political observers in Tajikistan say that Rahmonov's government is genuinely interested in expanding trade with Iran. However, some add that officials in Dushanbe are guarded about the commission's prospects, believing that Iran may try to use it to advance a political/cultural agenda. "Undoubtedly, the Iranian party pursues its ideological purposes. The Iranians have always pursued the idea of exporting its cultural values," said Galim Fashutdinov, an independent expert and journalist. Given this concern, an Iranian-backed television network is unlikely to find sincere backing from the Tajik president, an ex-Communist who appears intent on maintaining a secular political environment ahead of presidential elections later this year.

3//Gulfnews.com, United Arab Emirates Published: 08/09/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)

OMANIS URGE ARAB LEADERS TO USE OIL AS WEAPON
By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief

Muscat: Residents in Oman feel that it is time Arab leaders use oil as a weapon to put pressure on the United States and the West to end Israeli carnage in Lebanon.

Banker Jamal Al Sharji wants the oil reserve with the Arab world to be used a weapon. "Stop producing oil and put pressure on the Americans, ask them to stop Israelis from killing ... civilians in Lebanon," he urged Arab leaders.

Al Sharji felt that there cannot be a better way to put pressure on the United States. According to him, 60 per cent of the Arab leaders would agree to use oil as a weapon. "The rest could be persuaded to do so in the interests of all the Arabs."

(SNIP)

Taha would like to see a Gandhi like figure among the Arabs. "We truly need a leader of that stature at this stage to stand up and defy the might of the Americans like Gandhi had done against the British rulers."

South African Paul du Blessis, who works with an oil company, liked the idea of using oil and economic boycott to put pressure on the Americans. "Using oil or economic means to put pressure won't work against ... the United States but Arab countries should definitely come together and take a collective action to stop what is happening in Lebanon."

Awad Ba Khuwair, a political analyst with an Arabic daily in Oman, suggested that people from GCC countries could play a major role in exerting economic pressure on the United States and the West. "A lot of the GCC nationals and governments have invested in the West; withdraw everything, use oil production as another weapon and the message will be strong to the powers that are supporting Israel."

4//The Korea Herald, South Korea August 09, 2006 04:30


U.S. MAY CUT KOREA GARRISON FURTHER

The number of U.S. troops stationed in Korea may be reduced further than the 25,000 currently agreed between Seoul and Washington when the role of the troops changes with upcoming events, such as the transfer of wartime command of the Korean military to the South Korean government, according to a senior U.S. Defense Department official on Monday.

(SNIP)

However, the official declared that the United Nations Command (UNC), the symbolic supervisor of the armistice between the two Koreas, will remain and that the UNC will continue with a senior leader from the U.S. troops retaining the responsibilities as commander.

Expressing special concern over the training range of U.S. Air Force in Korea as a very sensitive agenda, he recounted that there have been repeated problems with the lack of a target range and called it "a very serious issue."

"Now we have a situation where if this problem is not resolved in the near term, that is in the next couple of months, entire units will have to leave the peninsula (for training) on a rotating basis,`` the official said.

He added that it would be a very bad sign for the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. and "the worst signal you can send to North Korea."

5//The Independent, UK Published: 08 August 2006


THE GOOD LIFE IN HAVANA: CUBA'S GREEN REVOLUTION
By Andrew Buncombe

To the right lay revolutionary tomatoes and to the left lay revolutionary lettuces, while in the glass in my hand - filled to the brim and frothing with vitality - was the juice from revolutionary mangoes. It was thick, unfiltered and fabulously sweet. It was also organic.

"Yes, it is very good. It's all natural," said Miguel Salcines Lopez, his brow dotted with sweat from the midday sun, as he raised a glassful to his lips. "Growing food in this way is much more interesting. It is much more intelligent," he adds.

Almost five decades after the now ailing Fidel Castro and his comrades overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista and seized power in Cuba, another revolution, largely unnoticed by most visitors and tourists, is well underway on this Caribbean island. And Mr Salcines and his small urban farm at Alamar, an eastern suburb of the capital, Havana, are at the centre of a social transformation that may turn out to be as important as anything else that has been achieved during Castro's 47 years in power.

Spurred into action by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disastrous impact this had on its subsidised economy, the government of Cuba was forced to take radical steps to feed its people. The solution it chose - essentially unprecedented both within the developed and undeveloped world - was to establish a self-sustaining system of agriculture that by necessity was essentially organic.

Laura Enriquez, a sociologist at the University of California Berkeley, who has written extensively on the subject of Latin American agriculture, said: "What happened in Cuba was remarkable. It was remarkable that they decided to prioritise food production. Other countries in the region took the neo-liberal option and exported 'what they were good at' and imported food. The Cubans went for food security and part of that was prioritising small farmers."

Cuba is filled with more than 7,000 urban allotments or "organoponicos", which fill perhaps as many as 81,000 acres. They have been established on tiny plots of land in the centre of tower-block estates or between the crumbling colonial homes that fill Havana. One afternoon I visited a small garden of tomatoes and spinach that had been dug just a few hundred yards from the Plaza de la Revolution, a vast concrete square where Castro and his senior regime members annually oversee Cuba's May Day parade. More than 200 gardens in Havana supply its citizens with more than 90 per cent of their fruit and vegetables.

Of all these gardens, the Vivero Organoponico Alamar is considered one of the most successful. Established less than 10 years ago, the 0.7 hectare plot employs about 25 people and provides a range of healthy, low-cost food to the local community. The hand-written blackboard at the shop attached to the garden listed mangoes at the equivalent of 2p a pound, black beans at about 15 pence and plantains for 12p. Everything looked as if it had been picked just that morning, which it probably had.

Mr Salcines led a brief tour of his garden, stopping off to point out things of which he was particularly proud. There was the shed of tomatoes that had produced five tons of fruit in six months, a self-designed metal pyramid structure which he claimed focused natural energy and benefited not just the plants but the gardeners as well; a worm farm wriggling with California Red worms and the bright marigolds planted at the end of each row of vegetables to attract bees and butterflies. He was also very proud of his crop of splendid, shiny mint. "The Hotel Nacional [Havana's state-run landmark hotel once frequented by the likes of Al Capone] uses our mint for its mojitos [a mint-based cocktail]," he said. "It's because it's organic."

The economics of various organoponicos differ. At the Metropolitana Organoponico in the city centre, two of the four workers who tend the plot said that the land was owned by the government and that everything grown there was split 50-50. "It's very good. It means that food does not have to be brought into the city," said one of the men.

At Alamar, Mr Salcines said that once the workers had grown their set quota of food and given that to the government, the surplus was theirs to sell with the profits then divided among them. Such a sense of co-operation - along with the free meals for the workers - added to the heady sense of idealism at Alamar, the sort of socialist idealism that has earned Cuba many international supporters over the years, despite Castro's dictatorial rule and his repression of political dissent.

(SNIP)

Professor Jules Pretty, of the University of Essex's department of biological sciences, recently wrote: "Cut banana stems baited with honey to attract ants are placed in sweet potato fields and have led to control of sweet potato weevil. There are 170 vermicompost centres, the annual production of which has grown from 3 to 9,300 tons. Crop rotations, green maturing, intercropping and soil conservation have all been incorporated into polyculture farming."

Remarkably, this organic revolution has worked. Annual calorie intake now stands at about 2,600 a day, while UNFAO estimates that the percentage of the population considered undernourished fell from 8 per cent in 1990-2 to about 3 per cent in 2000-2. Cuba's infant mortality rate is lower than that of the US, while at 77 years life expectancy is the same.

(SNIP)

"Not everything is perfect," said Mr Salcines. "But if you look what capitalism has done for other countries in the region, I believe that the situation for poor people is better in Cuba. Our society is more equal. "

Experts, such as Professor Pretty, believe Cuba may be one of the only countries in the world to have adopted wholesale a self-sustaining system of agriculture. "They had no choice," he said. "Their only choice was to look inwards, to the resources they had and say: 'Can we make more of these resources?'"

(MORE)

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH