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Wednesday, 12 July 2006 02:23

World Media Watch for July 12, 2006

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Edited by Gloria R. Lalumia

BuzzFlash Note: WMW provides BuzzFlash readers foreign views and perspectives that are not usually available from the media here in the U.S. The presentation of these articles from these international publications is not an endorsement of their viewpoints.

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR JULY 12, 2006

1//Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy--U.S. DEMOCRACY CRUSADE FALLS BY THE WAYSIDE ("America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof." So spoke U.S. President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address last January, vowing to help build democratic institutions and strengthen civil society in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Yet today, the Bush administration is substantially reducing funding for the organisations that are traditionally mandated to transform the president's vision into reality. In budget requests to Congress, funding for democracy promotion in Iraq has been limited. Some organisations ran out of funds in April; others are trying to make their resources last through the summer. … At the beginning of the Iraq war, money was not a problem for the organisations traditionally involved in promoting democracy. For example, soon after the fall of Baghdad, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) received 25 million dollars to expand its Iraq programmes, and eventually received a total of 71 million dollars. … Now the funding for both organisations has dried up. Their sole source of financing is special funds earmarked by Congress last year, as the result of an effort spearheaded by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat. The funds will be exhausted later this year. … But another view is expressed by Christopher J. Roederer, associate professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law. Prof. Roederer told IPS, "It is not wholly surprising that funding for democracy promotion in Iraq is dwindling. Democracy promotion was not the reason for invading Iraq, not even the stated reason for going into Iraq." "Democracy promotion only came to the fore as a reason for invading Iraq after the invasion and after the 'weapons of mass destruction' justification and the 'connections to al Qaeda' justification had been discredited," he added.)

2//The Moscow Times, Russia--‘THE OTHER RUSSIA’ MAKES ITSELF HEARD (Despite a concerted government effort to keep them from meeting, hundreds of opposition leaders and activists convened Tuesday for an unprecedented conference meant to dispel the happy image of a democratic Russia that the Kremlin plans to broadcast during the G8 summit. "The Other Russia" conference immediately precedes the summit of the Group of Eight heads of state in St. Petersburg, renowned for being Russia's window on Europe. The Other Russia, taking place in Moscow, ends Wednesday; the G8 summit begins Friday. On Tuesday, authorities massed more than 100 riot police and dozens of barking German shepherds outside the Renaissance Hotel, where the event was held. They also posted a metal detector. Meanwhile, reporters from state-controlled television stations were nowhere to be seen, while journalists from Western countries, Japan and Latin America bearing notepads, television cameras and long-range lenses turned up.
"We want to send the message that the West should not believe what Kremlin officials are going to tell them at the G8 summit," said Garry Kasparov, the chess champion-turned-liberal reformer and one of the conference organizers. … "The Other Russia" comes at a time when dissent is steadily being squeezed out of Russian politics: Recent measures spearheaded by the Kremlin and the State Duma bar parties from forging coalitions and running candidates with other affiliations. Reformers say both measures compromise opposition forces' electoral prospects. Also, to qualify for elections, parties must now have more members than in times past, and a new anti-extremism law is likely to be used to sideline any candidate deemed threatening to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, critics contend. A new law dictates that the country's 450,000 NGOs register with the Justice Ministry, which will closely monitor their financial activities.)

3//The Independent, UK--BP TO TAKE $1BN STAKE IN LONDON FLOTATION OF OIL GIANT ROSNEFT (BP is set to defy critics of the controversial Rosneft flotation by taking a stake worth about $1bn (£540m) in the state-owned Russian oil producer. The decision by Britain's biggest company to become a strategic investor in Rosneft will be a huge fillip to the Kremlin, which is desperate to attract support for the share listing from Western oil companies. But opponents of the flotation said last night that BP had "a gun to its head" because of its existing oil interests in Russia, which would have been compromised had it decided not to back the Rosneft offer. Confirmation of BP's decision came as the Rosneft flotation, one of the biggest ever staged on the London Stock Exchange, received the formal approval of the Financial Services Authority, which vets all UK listings. … The success of the Rosneft flotation in London will be an important test for the Russian president Vladimir Putin, who hosts the G8 summit of world leaders in Moscow this week. Rosneft has strong links to the Kremlin, not least through its chairman, Igor Sechin, who is also the deputy head of President Putin's administration. The Kremlin has been determined to ensure that the offer receives a good reception from investors in the West after friction with the European union over energy policy.)

4//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea--SEOUL SLAMS JAPAN FOR PONDERING STRIKES ON N. KOREA (Discord between Seoul and Tokyo over North Korea’s missile tests last week is deepening, with Cheong Wa Dae issuing a biting attack on Japanese musings about military strikes against the North on Tuesday. The development comes amid what is already the biggest chill in bilateral ties since Korea and Japan resumed relations in 1965, prompted by a range of other issues including persistent Japanese claims to Korea’s Dokdo islets. “Japanese government officials are talking about possible pre-emptive strikes against the Korean Peninsula and the legitimacy of using force in a certain scenario. This is a serious situation,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Jung Tae-ho told reporters. “Such remarks are serious threats to peace on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.” Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe earlier said Japan could strike the North’s missile launch base if no other solution is forthcoming. “Those remarks clearly show Japan has invasive ambitions and that we must be on our guard against them,” Jung said. “We will respond strongly to the arrogant and thoughtless remarks of Japanese politicians who try to stoke a crisis on the peninsula and take advantage of the situation to build up their military.”)

5//The Mail & Guardian, South Africa--ISLAMISTS OVERRUN DEFIANT WARLORD FORCES IN MOGADISHU (Hundreds of fighters who were battling Somalia's Islamic militia in the capital, Mogadishu, surrendered early on Tuesday after a surge of violence that has killed more than 70 people and wounded 150 since Sunday, officials said. The fighters, loyal to secular warlord Abdi Awale Qaybdiid, turned over their arms and pick-up trucks mounted with heavy weapons to the Islamic militia, top Islamic commanders said. "They were holed up inside buildings and we were pounding them with heavy artillery and mortars from every corner," said Abdi Shakur, an Islamic fighter. "They had no option but to surrender." The Islamic militia wrested Mogadishu from a United States-backed secular alliance of warlords last month, but Qaybdiid had refused to disarm. Late on Monday, he escaped to the town of Baidoa, 150km from Mogadishu, his cousin, Salad Ali, told the Associated Press. … The militia has forbidden movies, television and music. Last week, militiamen in central Somalia fatally shot two people at the screening of a World Cup soccer broadcast, which was banned because it violated the fighters' strict interpretation of Islamic law. They also broke up a wedding because it featured a band, and men and women socialising together.)

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1//Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy Tuesday, July 11, 2006

U.S. DEMOCRACY CRUSADE FALLS BY THE WAYSIDE
William Fisher

NEW YORK, Jul 11 (IPS) - "America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof."

So spoke U.S. President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address last January, vowing to help build democratic institutions and strengthen civil society in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Yet today, the Bush administration is substantially reducing funding for the organisations that are traditionally mandated to transform the president's vision into reality.

In budget requests to Congress, funding for democracy promotion in Iraq has been limited. Some organisations ran out of funds in April; others are trying to make their resources last through the summer.

At risk are projects to teach Iraqis how to create and manage political parties, organise and run think tanks, human rights organisations, a free press, and trade unions.

The decline in funding is being attributed to ballooning security costs, which have already caused the Bush administration to scale back its ambitious reconstruction programs designed to restore Iraq's infrastructure.

Administration officials admit they are requesting fewer dollars for traditional democracy-building programmes, but contend that their efforts to help Iraqis to run more effective ministries also contribute to democracy.

At the beginning of the Iraq war, money was not a problem for the organisations traditionally involved in promoting democracy.

For example, soon after the fall of Baghdad, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) received 25 million dollars to expand its Iraq programmes, and eventually received a total of 71 million dollars.

It distributed some of these funds to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and its sister organisation, the International Republican Institute, both affiliated with the United States' two main political parties.

Now the funding for both organisations has dried up. Their sole source of financing is special funds earmarked by Congress last year, as the result of an effort spearheaded by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat. The funds will be exhausted later this year.

"The solution to Iraq lies in the political process, and it's reckless for the White House to cut funds to strengthen democracy in Iraq at this time," Kennedy said.

The NED has received its final 3 million dollars, but no further funding source has been identified. "It does feel like everybody's getting squeezed in this area," Barbara Haig, the endowment's vice president, told the Washington Post, adding, "There probably is a commitment to these programmes in principle. I don't know how much commitment there is in specificity."

The Bush administration has included only 15 million dollars for the two party institutes in next year's budget. The total for democracy promotion in Iraq for 2007 is 63 million dollars, which would mean that most programmes would have to be cut. Another 10 million dollars for democracy promotion was included in the president's supplemental request to Congress. This is a tiny fraction of the tens of millions the U.S. spends in Iraq each day.

(SNIP)

Mary Shaw of Amnesty International USA agrees. She told IPS, "U.S. support for democratic institutions in Iraq is crucial to the future of human rights in that country. More than three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, conditions in that country are at a critical juncture, and the security of the Iraqi people hangs in the balance."

"The U.S. owes it to the Iraqi people to provide the means to rebuild and strengthen not only their civil infrastructure but their societal infrastructure as well. Only then will Iraq be truly liberated."

But another view is expressed by Christopher J. Roederer, associate professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law. Prof. Roederer told IPS, "It is not wholly surprising that funding for democracy promotion in Iraq is dwindling. Democracy promotion was not the reason for invading Iraq, not even the stated reason for going into Iraq."

"Democracy promotion only came to the fore as a reason for invading Iraq after the invasion and after the 'weapons of mass destruction' justification and the 'connections to al Qaeda' justification had been discredited," he added.

The White House and U.S. aid agencies have declined to discuss the budget cuts.

2//The Moscow Times, Russia Wednesday, July 12, 2006. Issue 3451. Page 1.

‘THE OTHER RUSSIA’ MAKES ITSELF HEARD
By Francesca Mereu, Staff Writer

Despite a concerted government effort to keep them from meeting, hundreds of opposition leaders and activists convened Tuesday for an unprecedented conference meant to dispel the happy image of a democratic Russia that the Kremlin plans to broadcast during the G8 summit.

"The Other Russia" conference immediately precedes the summit of the Group of Eight heads of state in St. Petersburg, renowned for being Russia's window on Europe. The Other Russia, taking place in Moscow, ends Wednesday; the G8 summit begins Friday.

On Tuesday, authorities massed more than 100 riot police and dozens of barking German shepherds outside the Renaissance Hotel, where the event was held. They also posted a metal detector.

Meanwhile, reporters from state-controlled television stations were nowhere to be seen, while journalists from Western countries, Japan and Latin America bearing notepads, television cameras and long-range lenses turned up.

"We want to send the message that the West should not believe what Kremlin officials are going to tell them at the G8 summit," said Garry Kasparov, the chess champion-turned-liberal reformer and one of the conference organizers.

"Putin should stop pretending that he is the leader of a democratic country," Kasparov added. "There is a completely different Russia that wants its voice to be heard."

Kasparov spoke to reporters between crammed conference sessions that many attendees were forced to watch on television screens outside the main hall.

The first day of the meeting drew ultranationalist Eduard Limonov, head of the National Bolshevik Party; Viktor Anpilov, head of the Working Russia party and an open admirer of Josef Stalin; and liberal leaders such as former presidential candidate Irina Khakamada and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, among many others.

Also crowded into the hotel's hot and smoke-filled conference facilities were government representatives from the United States, Britain, Canada and other countries, and a hodgepodge of so-called ordinary people who have a gripe with the Kremlin, including the mother of a man killed after Chechen rebels took over the Dubrovka theater in October 2002.

The eclectic mix of politics and personal styles -- with Limonov sporting his signature spectacles, Kasyanov donning a pressed suit, and Khakamada exuding the air of a seasoned campaigner -- reflected opposition figures' need to unite against the Kremlin, said Georgy Satarov, head of the Indem think tank and another conference organizer.

The conference also represented an important opportunity for NGOs and opposition groups to speak out in a country where the airwaves are controlled by the state, said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki group.

"The Other Russia" comes at a time when dissent is steadily being squeezed out of Russian politics: Recent measures spearheaded by the Kremlin and the State Duma bar parties from forging coalitions and running candidates with other affiliations. Reformers say both measures compromise opposition forces' electoral prospects.

Also, to qualify for elections, parties must now have more members than in times past, and a new anti-extremism law is likely to be used to sideline any candidate deemed threatening to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, critics contend. A new law dictates that the country's 450,000 NGOs register with the Justice Ministry, which will closely monitor their financial activities.

(MORE)

3//The Independent, UK Published: 12 July 2006

BP TO TAKE $1BN STAKE IN LONDON FLOTATION OF OIL GIANT ROSNEFT
By Michael Harrison, Business Editor

BP is set to defy critics of the controversial Rosneft flotation by taking a stake worth about $1bn (£540m) in the state-owned Russian oil producer.

The decision by Britain's biggest company to become a strategic investor in Rosneft will be a huge fillip to the Kremlin, which is desperate to attract support for the share listing from Western oil companies.

But opponents of the flotation said last night that BP had "a gun to its head" because of its existing oil interests in Russia, which would have been compromised had it decided not to back the Rosneft offer.

Confirmation of BP's decision came as the Rosneft flotation, one of the biggest ever staged on the London Stock Exchange, received the formal approval of the Financial Services Authority, which vets all UK listings.

The flotation is expected to raise $10bn-$11bn, valuing Rosneft at between $60bn and $80bn. It has proved massively controversial because of claims that the company's main asset,
Yuganskneftegaz, was stolen by the Russian government from another oil company Yukos.

The chief executive of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is now serving time in a Siberian concentration camp after being convicted of tax fraud.

The book building for the offer among institutional investors is due to close tonight and the price will be fixed on Thursday. The shares are scheduled to begin trading on the London and Moscow stock markets next week.

The state-owned Malaysian oil company Petronas and the China National Petroleum Company are also said to have agreed to become strategic investors in Rosneft. The share sale will see between 13 and 19 per cent of the company offered to outside investors although the maximum stake that any one shareholder can own will be limited to 2 per cent.

The offer has been criticised on ethical grounds by the billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros and has also received a hostile reception from a number of large US and British investment funds.

(SNIP)

But BP appears to have ignored the international condemnation of the flotation. Its joint venture Russian oil company TNK-BP is the third largest in Russia and Lord Browne of Madingley, BP's chief executive, is keen to win fresh oil exploration rights from the Kremlin. This is seen as one of the main reasons why the company has decided to become a strategic investor in Rosneft.

(SNIP)

The success of the Rosneft flotation in London will be an important test for the Russian president Vladimir Putin, who hosts the G8 summit of world leaders in Moscow this week. Rosneft has strong links to the Kremlin, not least through its chairman, Igor Sechin, who is also the deputy head of President Putin's administration. The Kremlin has been determined to ensure that the offer receives a good reception from investors in the West after friction with the European union over energy policy.

(MORE)

4//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea Updated July.11,2006 20:33 KST

SEOUL SLAMS JAPAN FOR PONDERING STRIKES ON N. KOREA

Discord between Seoul and Tokyo over North Korea’s missile tests last week is deepening, with Cheong Wa Dae issuing a biting attack on Japanese musings about military strikes against the North on Tuesday. The development comes amid what is already the biggest chill in bilateral ties since Korea and Japan resumed relations in 1965, prompted by a range of other issues including persistent Japanese claims to Korea’s Dokdo islets.

“Japanese government officials are talking about possible pre-emptive strikes against the Korean Peninsula and the legitimacy of using force in a certain scenario. This is a serious situation,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Jung Tae-ho told reporters. “Such remarks are serious threats to peace on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.” Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe earlier said Japan could strike the North’s missile launch base if no other solution is forthcoming.

“Those remarks clearly show Japan has invasive ambitions and that we must be on our guard against them,” Jung said. “We will respond strongly to the arrogant and thoughtless remarks of Japanese politicians who try to stoke a crisis on the peninsula and take advantage of the situation to build up their military.”

Abe, a hardline hopeful as next prime minister, had cited opinion that strikes against the missile launch bases were within the right to self-defense guaranteed in Japan’s pacifist postwar Constitution.

The Korean response was the result of a Cheong Wa Dae staff meeting under President Roh Moo-hyun and attended by security chief Song Min-soon earlier in the day. It is the second shot at Tokyo from the presidential office this week after a message on the Cheong Wa Dae website for allegedly using North Korea’s missile tests as a convenient excuse to build up its military.

(SNIP)

Top officials here are also unhappy that Japan did not consult South Korea before drafting a UN Security Council resolution to sanction the North which mentions “use of force” under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

Vice Foreign Minister Lee Kyu-hyung on Monday called in Japanese Ambassador to Korea Shotaro Oshima to inform him the government will not support the resolution.

That shows the deep cracks in the cooperative triangle of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan set up to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. While Tokyo drafted the resolution, it is in constant touch with the U.S. on the issue, with the two foreign ministers talking by phone again Tuesday.

(MORE)

5//The Mail & Guardian, South Africa 12 July 2006 12:24 AM

ISLAMISTS OVERRUN DEFIANT WARLORD FORCES IN MOGADISHU
Mohamed Olad Hassan, Mogadishu, Somalia
(sapa-AP)

Hundreds of fighters who were battling Somalia's Islamic militia in the capital, Mogadishu, surrendered early on Tuesday after a surge of violence that has killed more than 70 people and wounded 150 since Sunday, officials said.

The fighters, loyal to secular warlord Abdi Awale Qaybdiid, turned over their arms and pick-up trucks mounted with heavy weapons to the Islamic militia, top Islamic commanders said.

"They were holed up inside buildings and we were pounding them with heavy artillery and mortars from every corner," said Abdi Shakur, an Islamic fighter. "They had no option but to surrender."

The Islamic militia wrested Mogadishu from a United States-backed secular alliance of warlords last month, but Qaybdiid had refused to disarm. Late on Monday, he escaped to the town of Baidoa, 150km from Mogadishu, his cousin, Salad Ali, told the Associated Press.

The new violence started on Sunday and broke weeks of relative calm under the rule of the Islamic fighters, who have grown increasingly radical since seizing Mogadishu and establishing strict courts based on the Qur'an. Mortar shells and gunfire shook the city for two days, sending residents into homes and shops or fleeing Mogadishu altogether.

More than 70 people were killed, most of them combatants, according to doctors and hospital officials. The 150 wounded appeared to be mostly civilians, doctors said.

"We will not allow other militiamen in Mogadishu to remain armed," Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a top Islamic official, said on Tuesday.

Mogadishu was quiet after Tuesday's surrender, and cars were moving freely through the city again. Members of the Islamic militia went house to house searching for any weapons that Qaybdiid's fighters might have hidden.

Somalia has been without an effective government since warlords overthrew its long-time dictator in 1991 and divided the nation into fiefdoms. The Islamic fundamentalists have stepped into the vacuum as an alternative military and political power.

The volatile nation in the Horn of Africa has been a particular concern to the US, which has long-standing fears that Somalia will become a refuge for members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, much like Afghanistan did in the late 1990s.

US officials cooperated with the warlords, hoping to capture three al-Qaeda leaders allegedly protected by the Islamic council who are accused in the deadly 1998 bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

But the Islamists prevailed, taking the US by surprise and further marginalising the country's interim government. The interim body was established with the help of the United Nations but is powerless outside its base in Baidoa.

The militia has forbidden movies, television and music. Last week, militiamen in central Somalia fatally shot two people at the screening of a World Cup soccer broadcast, which was banned because it violated the fighters' strict interpretation of Islamic law. They also broke up a wedding because it featured a band, and men and women socialising together.

(MORE)


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