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Friday, 25 August 2006 02:51

World Media Watch for August 25, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH

1//The Independent, UK--ROBERT FISK: HIZBOLLAH'S RECONSTRUCTION OF LEBANON IS WINNING THE LOYALTY OF DISAFFECTED SHIA (Hizbollah has trumped both the UN army and the Lebanese government by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars -- most of it almost certainly from Iran -- into the wreckage of southern Lebanon and Beirut's destroyed southern suburbs. Its massive new reconstruction effort -- free of charge to all those Lebanese whose homes were destroyed or damaged in Israel's ferocious five-week assault on the country -- has won the loyalty of even the most disaffected members of the Shia community in Lebanon. ... A frightening side to this long-term promise for believers in the UN ceasefire is that Hizbollah has encouraged its Shia population to rent homes in Khalde, south of Beirut, since it intends to delay its entire city construction project for a year -- because of its conviction that the ceasefire will break down and that another Israeli-Hizbollah war will only wreck newly built homes.)

2//RIA Novosti (Russian News and Information Agency), Russia--RUSSIA'S LUKoil, U.D. BIOENERGY TO BUILD ETHANOL PLANT IN 2007 (Lukoil Americas, a subsidiary of Russian oil giant LUKoil [RTS: LKON], will start building an ethanol plant in Pennsylvania in the first quarter of 2007, jointly with Massachusetts-based BioEnergy International, the biotechnology company said Thursday. ... Lukoil Americas has agreed to buy all of the plant's output, and will market gasoline blended with ethanol throughout its marketing network, which covers the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., the BioEnergy news release said. ... LUKoil owns 779 filling stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which it bought in late spring 2004 from Conoco through its 100%-owned subsidiary Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc.)

3//The Barbados Advocate, Barbados--BARBADOS PROVING ATTRACTIVE AS A POSSIBLITY FOR OFFSHORE OIL EXPLORATION (Shell Oil Company, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Chevron Texaco, BHP Billiton, BP Global, Hess Corporation, and Total. These global giants are among the more than 12 companies jostling for a chance to pump many millions of dollars into the search for oil offshore Barbados. ... The matter will be engaging the attention of Cabinet shortly as officials press on in the hope of opening bidding by year-end. ... The Minister of Energy and the Environment said Government was not prepared to sign off on a deal with any company, unless they could assure protection of the environment, had a strong social responsibility, and the technical capability necessary for drilling in the ocean. "We have prepared a package which Cabinet now has to sign off on because there are a number of considerations that are of extreme importance to Barbados. One would be [for] a company that has a good reputation, programme and protocol for environmental protection. Two, we want a company that is willing to partner with Barbados and help us to develop the (Barbados) National Oil Company, as well as to act as a good corporate citizen. So there is to be a strong social programme," she explained.)

4//The Manila Times, Philippines--IMPEACH CASE ‘EXPIRES' AFTER MARATHON SESSION (The House of Representatives on Thursday threw out a second attempt to impeach President Arroyo over alleged election irregularities after a marathon all-night sitting. ... The opposition has been trying to remove Mrs. Arroyo from office since she gained a second term in a hotly contested election in 2004. It alleges the President stole the election from her rival, the film actor Fernando Poe. The allegation gained credence last year when the opposition produced a wiretap recording in which a woman, alleged to be Mrs. Arroyo, called an election commissioner, said to be Virgilio Garcillano, to secure a million votes -- the margin of the President's victory. She later apologized on national television for a "lapse in judgment," saying she was only trying to protect her vote and not trying to cheat. ... Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, one of those who led the impeachment bid, said the opposition had not decided whether to try again next year, conceding the President had too much support in the House. "We have always accepted defeat, but it's the consequences of defeat that we are worried about," he said, fearing anti-Arroyo groups may be forced to hold massive street protests.)

5//Arab News, Saudi Arabia--BAN ON SALE OF PET CATS, DOGS (The Makkah governorate, acting on a request from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, has decided to prohibit the sale of pet cats and dogs. The commission made the request after it noticed many young Saudis going out in streets with their pet dogs in violation of the Kingdom's culture and traditions. Saudi authorities in Jeddah have begun enforcing the decision. The commission complained of Saudi youth, apparently influenced by Western culture, bringing their pets into public places, allegedly causing distress especially to families with young children. Arab News learned that the Jeddah Municipality had received a letter from the Makkah governorate banning sales of pet dogs and cats in the city.)

* * *

1//The Independent, UK Published: 24 August 2006

ROBERT FISK: HIZBOLLAH'S RECONSTRUCTION OF LEBANON IS WINNING THE LOYALTY OF DISAFFECTED SHIA

Hizbollah has trumped both the UN army and the Lebanese government by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars - most of it almost certainly from Iran - into the wreckage of southern Lebanon and Beirut's destroyed southern suburbs. Its massive new reconstruction effort - free of charge to all those Lebanese whose homes were destroyed or damaged in Israel's ferocious five-week assault on the country - has won the loyalty of even the most disaffected members of the Shia community in Lebanon.

Hizbollah has made it clear that it has no intention of disarming under the UN Security Council's 1701 ceasefire resolution and yesterday afternoon, Major-General Alain Pellegrini, the commander of the UN Interim Force in southern Lebanon - which the Americans and British are relying upon to seize the guerrilla army's weapons - personally confirmed to me at his headquarters in Naqoura that "the Israelis can't ask us to disarm Hizbollah". Describing the ceasefire as "very fragile" and "very dangerous", he stated that disarming Hizbollah "is not written in the mandate".

But for now - and in the total absence of the 8,000-strong foreign military force that is intended to join Unifil with a supposedly "robust" mandate - Hizbollah has already won the war for "hearts and minds". Most householders in the south have received - or are receiving - a minimum initial compensation payment of $12,000 (£6,300), either for new furniture or to cover their family's rent while Hizbollah construction gangs rebuild their homes. The money is being paid in cash - almost all in crisp new $100 bills - to up to 15,000 families across Lebanon whose property was blitzed by the Israelis, a bill of $180m which is going to rise far higher when reconstruction and other compensation is paid.

In the 20sqkm of Beirut's southern suburbs which have been destroyed or badly damaged in 35 days of Israeli bombing, 500,000 residents - most of them Shia - lost their homes. But money is being poured in. For example, one Shia owning four floors of an apartment block, Hussein Selim, has already received $42,000 in cash for his possessions and lost furniture. And Hizbollah has pledged to rebuild the entire municipal area from its own - or perhaps Iran's - funds.

A frightening side to this long-term promise for believers in the UN ceasefire is that Hizbollah has encouraged its Shia population to rent homes in Khalde, south of Beirut, since it intends to delay its entire city construction project for a year - because of its conviction that the ceasefire will break down and that another Israeli-Hizbollah war will only wreck newly built homes.

Across the devastation of southern Lebanon, Hizbollah has now visited hundreds of thousands of Shia families for details of their losses. In some cases, Lebanese government officials - largely distrusted by the local population - have also made notes of compensation costs but all the authorities have done so far is to start the repair of water pipes and power lines. I found bulldozers working for Hizbollah's "Jihad al-Bena" company, clearing rubble from streets and tearing down half-destroyed houses. "We are doing this for nothing at the moment, but we know we will get paid because we trust Sheikh Hassan," a construction team leader told me. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, has promised to indemnify all survivors.

Driving more than 100 miles across the south of the country yesterday, the sheer enormity of Hizbollah's task - and of the Lebanese government's failure - becomes evident. Looking across the green countryside of southern Lebanon, the villages appear undamaged as they bask in the sun. But the closer you get, the more you notice vast grey fields of rubble that were once homes. Some villages - Bint Jbeil, for example, and Zibqin - have been half-destroyed.

In Zibqin itself, I found one especially poignant ruin: the bombed remains of a mosque well over 1,000 years old which the Lebanese believe contains the body of Zein Ali Yaqin, son of the Prophet Yacoub - Jacob in the Jewish faith - and grandson of the Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham. Two of Abraham's sons - Yacoub and Ismail (Ishmael) - define the split between Islam and Judaism, the former believing God told Abraham to sacrifice Ismail and the latter contending it was Yacoub/Jacob who was to be sacrificed. Zein Ali Yaqin is thus of precious Jewish lineage - yet the casket containing his mortal remains actually moved on the floor of the shrine as Israeli bombs fell outside.

(MORE)

2//RIA Novosti (Russian News and Information Agency), Russia 15:40 24/08/2006

RUSSIA'S LUKoil, U.D. BIOENERGY TO BUILD ETHANOL PLANT IN 2007

MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - Lukoil Americas, a subsidiary of Russian oil giant LUKoil (RTS: LKON), will start building an ethanol plant in Pennsylvania in the first quarter of 2007, jointly with Massachusetts-based BioEnergy International, the biotechnology company said Thursday.

The dry-mill ethanol plant in the northeast of the United States will have a capacity of 108 million gallons per year (409,000 cubic meters). During the first stage of the project, ethanol will be produced using corn as raw material, and subsequently using bio-waste. Ethanol production is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2008.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell said the project will receive $17.4 million in government investment.

Lukoil Americas has agreed to buy all of the plant's output, and will market gasoline blended with ethanol throughout its marketing network, which covers the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., the BioEnergy news release said.

(SNIP)

BioEnergy International is a private biotechnology company developing bio-refineries and technologies to produce specialty chemicals and renewable fuels from feedstocks and cellulose.
LUKoil owns 779 filling stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which it bought in late spring 2004 from Conoco through its 100%-owned subsidiary Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc.

3//The Barbados Advocate, Barbados Thur Aug 24 2006


BARBADOS PROVING ATTRACTIVE AS A POSSIBLITY FOR OFFSHORE OIL EXPLORATION
By Shawn Cumberbatch

Shell Oil Company, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Chevron Texaco, BHP Billiton, BP Global, Hess Corporation, and Total. These global giants are among the more than 12 companies jostling for a chance to pump many millions of dollars into the search for oil offshore Barbados.

Total is the French company which partnered Conoco (now ConocoPhillips) in its 2001 hunt for oil and gas 70 miles off Barbados, both Australia-based BHP Billiton and British-based BP have links with neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, while Shell, Exxon and Chevron all have a long-standing presence here.

Hess, a well-known multinational engaged in exploration for and the production, purchase, transportation and sale of crude oil and natural gas, is headquartered in New York. Yesterday, Minister of Energy and the Environment, Elizabeth Thompson, said there was "tremendous" interest amongst several companies keen to bid for blocks of the island's territorial waters to look for oil.

The matter will be engaging the attention of Cabinet shortly as officials press on in the hope of opening bidding by year-end.

(SNIP)

"People are offering tremendous amounts of money, to even buy seismic data and so on to be involved in the process, so we think that it is going to go very well. The 12 or more (companies) would be people who have actually come to Barbados, but a number of other companies have written and indicated their interest as opposed to actually sending representatives, "she added.
Thompson said Cabinet would "soon" examine the general policy "that will sign off on these priority areas and identifying the international consultants who will go through the process of drawing up the bid blocks and the general exploration programme".

"Then the international companies will come in and bid. We expect that if everything goes according to how we see the timing going at the moment that by the end of the year (or) the beginning of next year our bid blocks will be ready for bidding," Thompson said.

The Minister of Energy and the Environment said Government was not prepared to sign off on a deal with any company, unless they could assure protection of the environment, had a strong social responsibility, and the technical capability necessary for drilling in the ocean.

"We have prepared a package which Cabinet now has to sign off on because there are a number of considerations that are of extreme importance to Barbados. One would be (for) a company that has a good reputation, programme and protocol for environmental protection. Two, we want a company that is willing to partner with Barbados and help us to develop the (Barbados) National Oil Company, as well as to act as a good corporate citizen. So there is to be a strong social programme," she explained.

Thompson added: "And then there is the matter of the technical expertise and competence of the company itself. Drilling in the deep shore is very expensive, very high tech and requires very sophisticated equipment that is not readily available. So the company has to have the international clout to be able to access that kind of equipment and technology."

4//The Manila Times, Philippines Friday, August 25, 2006


IMPEACH CASE ‘EXPIRES' AFTER MARATHON SESSION
AFP and Sam Mediavilla

The House of Representatives on Thursday threw out a second attempt to impeach President Arroyo over alleged election irregularities after a marathon all-night sitting.

The opposition, needing 78 votes for an impeachment, managed only 32 from the 233 House of Representatives legislators.

The vote was 173 against with one abstention. Thirty legislators did not attend.

"After 17 hours of grueling debate, no sleep and fatigue, I am happy to report to our nation, to our people, that we have finally put an end to the impeachment complaint," said Speaker and Arroyo ally Jose de Venecia.

Under the Constitution only one impeachment bid can be filed each year against a sitting president.

This year's impeachment complaint was filed by the Black and White Movement.

The opposition has been trying to remove Mrs. Arroyo from office since she gained a second term in a hotly contested election in 2004.

It alleges the President stole the election from her rival, the film actor Fernando Poe.

The allegation gained credence last year when the opposition produced a wiretap recording in which a woman, alleged to be Mrs. Arroyo, called an election commissioner, said to be Virgilio Garcillano, to secure a million votes-the margin of the President's victory.

She later apologized on national television for a "lapse in judgment," saying she was only trying to protect her vote and not trying to cheat.

De Venecia Thursday urged the President's opponents to end "poisonous, disruptive politics" and concentrate on helping her solve the country's myriad problems.

(SNIP)

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, one of those who led the impeachment bid, said the opposition had not decided whether to try again next year, conceding the President had too much support in the House.

"We have always accepted defeat, but it's the consequences of defeat that we are worried about," he said, fearing anti-Arroyo groups may be forced to hold massive street protests.

The President's political adviser, Gabriel Claudio, said she was extending a hand of reconciliation to her opponents so the country can move forward.

"The sooner the process of healing gets under way, the greater chances for the nation to achieve harmony, stability and economic growth," Claudio said.

The President expressed "a sense of triumph and relief" after the final votes were counted, Claudio said.

(SNIP)

Claudio said that having the impeachment process out of the way, the Arroyo administration and its allies in the House would give priority to Charter change.

He acknowledged that Malacañang was backing de Venecia's plan to push for constitutional changes, particularly the shift from the bicameral, presidential government to a bicameral parliament.

Bunye dismissed the warning of House minority members to take the issue of failed impeachment to the streets.

5//Arab News, Saudi Arabia Thursday, 24, August, 2006 (30, Rajab, 1427)


BAN ON SALE OF PET CATS, DOGS
Saeed Al-Abyad, Arab News

JEDDAH, 24 August 2006 - The Makkah governorate, acting on a request from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, has decided to prohibit the sale of pet cats and dogs. The commission made the request after it noticed many young Saudis going out in streets with their pet dogs in violation of the Kingdom's culture and traditions.

Saudi authorities in Jeddah have begun enforcing the decision.

The commission complained of Saudi youth, apparently influenced by Western culture, bringing their pets into public places, allegedly causing distress especially to families with young children.
Arab News learned that the Jeddah Municipality had received a letter from the Makkah governorate banning sales of pet dogs and cats in the city.

The municipality is in the process of dispatching special squads to close down such shops. The growing trend in purchasing domestic pets has encouraged businessmen to open shops and clinics for such animals in Jeddah. Veterinary clinics charge SR100 to SR200 for diagnosing sick animals and the amount can increase if the animal requires special treatment or surgery.

The popularity of pets has increased the demand for breeds that are popular among pet lovers, such as Dobermans, boxers, pit bulls, Yorkshire terriers, etc.

Pet cats, too, aren't relegated to the countless street felines, but rather fancier breeds.
These breeds of dogs and cats have increasingly been imported from the United States, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine and some other European countries.

MORE

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia

WORLD MEDIA WATCH