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Wednesday, 19 July 2006 01:48

World Media Watch for July 19, 2006

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WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR JULY 19, 2006

1//The Independent, UK--PLAN FOR ‘CREDIT CARDS’ TO RATION INDIVIDUALS’ CARBON USE (A limit could be imposed on the carbon each person pumps into the atmosphere under proposals being considered by the Government to combat global warming. A credit card-style trading system would ensure that people pay for air travel, electricity, gas and petrol with carbon rations as well as cash, under the plans to be floated today by David Miliband, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a speech to the Audit Commission. … Under the proposals, all citizens would be given a personal carbon allowance, based on national targets for cutting CO2 emissions. People who take measures to cut the pollution they produce could sell their surplus. Those who continue to produce pollution above their personal cap would have to buy credits on the open market.)

2//The Scotsman, UK--WHOLE CATALOGUE OF FAILURES LEAVES G8 LOOKING INCREASINGLY IRRELEVANT (The most startling sight at the G8 summit was a small number of anti-globalisation protesters, complete with face-paint and multicoloured flags, demonstrating in the centre of St Petersburg against a conspiracy of rich nations. On the evidence of two rain-lashed days of arguments in Russia's grandest city, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the world's richest club yesterday ended two days of intense discussions without a tangible breakthrough on the disputes that divide them. Two key issues - Russia's energy war with the European Union and its bid to join the World Trade Organisation - lie unresolved, with prospects of a solution now complicated by acrimony. … Meanwhile, Europeans will spend an anxious winter wondering if Mr Putin is serious about his threat to switch their gas supplies to China after a failure to agree a common energy policy. … Meanwhile, the arrival yesterday of observers from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa pointed to a second failure of the G8: its growing irrelevance, when more and more of the world's economic leaders are excluded. A third problem is the dislocation of summit leaders from their voters. Global polls consistently show ordinary people are concerned about poverty, human rights and pollution - issues that received scant attention. "By downplaying the fight against poverty, the G8 ignored the world's most critical crisis," said Oxfam's Max Lawson. "Ending poverty is a race against time - this year, the G8 were jogging in circles.")

3//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--TALIBAN PAUSE FOR FRESH BREATH (A sudden lull in the Taliban's activities has surprised the thousands of coalition forces that were sent to Kandahar and other parts of southwestern Afghanistan to patrol the deserts and the populated areas in the scorching heat. … A Taliban contact told Asia Times Online that the development was a "break" as commanders had been told to call off their forces until further orders. The thinking is that the unrest in the Middle East will generate a new wave of fury among Afghans against Israel and its backer, the United States. The Taliban will then renew their efforts, bolstered by increased support on the ground among the Afghan population. … Political and religious rhetoric apart, there are other reasons to turn popular sentiment in Afghanistan against the alliance between President Hamid Karzai and the US. Foremost is the drought in southwestern Afghanistan. … The drought has caused a massive displacement of people to areas where they can find food and water. The issue is generally perceived as mismanagement on the part of the government, which has failed to meet the food requirements of the masses. … Taliban sources anticipate that this discontent can be harnessed once the "break" is over in a few weeks, and the offensive will be resumed, including suicide attacks in Kabul against US forces. "At this time the Taliban will awaken their network of over 300,000 men who were part of their army and police during their rule [1996-2001], and a mass mobilization movement should be in place in the urban centers of Afghanistan. That's how the resistance will reach its high point of its spring offensive this year," sources close to the Taliban asserted.)

4//The Mail & Guardian, South Africa--SOMALI ISLAMISTS: EASING ARMS EMBARGO A ‘FATAL MISTAKE’ (The supreme leader of Somalia's increasingly powerful Islamist movement said on Tuesday that easing a 14-year-old United Nations arms embargo on the lawless nation would be a "fatal mistake." A day after a United States-created diplomatic body recommended "urgent" modifications to the embargo, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys warned the move would plunge Somalia into new chaos with new battles between Islamists and defeated US-backed warlords. "What has been destroying Somalia is the presence of arms and it's awful to see the international community advocating the shipment of more arms to Somalia," Aweys told Agence France-Presse from his central home region of Galgadud. "Easing the embargo would be a fatal mistake," he said. "It is like allowing one group to arm itself. Others will follow and then we will have new problems in Somalia.")

5//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea--U.S. ‘WANTS SHOT OF WARTIME COMMAND SOONER’ (Washington wants to return wartime operational control of Korean forces to Seoul by 2009-2010, military sources said Tuesday. The government has been pushing for a handover in five or six years’ time, but first concrete statements from the U.S. suggests Washington would like to be shot of it sooner rather than later. … Some observers interpret the U.S. timetable as a sign that Washington is washing its hands of Korea as a result of strains in the alliance. Last week’s meeting, contrary to government briefings, apparently did not make progress over who should pay for the environmental cleanup of bases the U.S. is returning to Korea, so the U.S. unilaterally announced on July 15 that it is handing back 15 of them. U.S. Forces Korea Commander Burwell Bell and others also take every opportunity to lament that the USFK has still not been assigned a new bomber training range.)

* * *

1//The Independent, UK Published: 19 July 2006

PLAN FOR ‘CREDIT CARDS’ TO RATION INDIVIDUALS’ CARBON USE
By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent

A limit could be imposed on the carbon each person pumps into the atmosphere under proposals being considered by the Government to combat global warming.

A credit card-style trading system would ensure that people pay for air travel, electricity, gas and petrol with carbon rations as well as cash, under the plans to be floated today by David Miliband, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in aspeech to the Audit Commission.

Mr Miliband will point to the expansion of emissions trading schemes for business and the public sector and suggest a similar system for individuals. Government estimates suggest that individuals' use of gas, electricity and transport accounts for 44 per cent of Britain's carbon emissions, with the average Briton responsible for around 4,000 kilograms of emissions a year.

Under the proposals, all citizens would be given a personal carbon allowance, based on national targets for cutting CO2 emissions. People who take measures to cut the pollution they produce could sell their surplus. Those who continue to produce pollution above their personal cap would have to buy credits on the open market.

Mr Miliband will suggest banning products such as inefficient light bulbs and electrical appliances which waste power while on standby. He will suggest new environmental taxes to shift the cost of pollution on to consumers and propose that consumers might make automatic payments to offset pollution.

(MORE)

2//The Scotsman, UK 18-Jul-06 02:08 BST

WHOLE CATALOGUE OF FAILURES LEAVES G8 LOOKING INCREASINGLY IRRELEVANT
Christopher Stephen in St. Petersburg

The most startling sight at the G8 summit was a small number of anti-globalisation protesters, complete with face-paint and multicoloured flags, demonstrating in the centre of St Petersburg against a conspiracy of rich nations.

On the evidence of two rain-lashed days of arguments in Russia's grandest city, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the world's richest club yesterday ended two days of intense discussions without a tangible breakthrough on the disputes that divide them.

Two key issues - Russia's energy war with the European Union and its bid to join the World Trade Organisation - lie unresolved, with prospects of a solution now complicated by acrimony.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, will long remember the humiliation of believing the United States was about to let him in to the WTO - his is the biggest nation excluded from this club - only for Washington to say no over the weekend.

This failure, over Russia's refusal to open its market to food imports and deal with computer and DVD piracy, robbed Mr Putin of the public relations success he wanted for his first summit as host.

Meanwhile, Europeans will spend an anxious winter wondering if Mr Putin is serious about his threat to switch their gas supplies to China after a failure to agree a common energy policy.

As it has done for many months, Russia refused to open its energy market to European firms, preferring to keep its Kremlin-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom under state control. Europe, in turn, stuck to its refusal to let Gazprom buy into its pipeline network.

Complicating things still further was the US's refusal to agree on the reduction of emissions. The result was that all sides refused even to sign the Energy Charter, a document that commits to only the broadest principles.

The truth is that no progress can be expected on these issues, or on the burning question of lowering tariffs in the so-called Doha round of trade talks, from the G8 in its present form. Officials are unlikely to solve problems by phone that their leaders could not solve face to face, because something more than wordplay now divides Russia from the West.

(SNIP)

Meanwhile, the arrival yesterday of observers from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa pointed to a second failure of the G8: its growing irrelevance, when more and more of the world's economic leaders are excluded.

A third problem is the dislocation of summit leaders from their voters. Global polls consistently show ordinary people are concerned about poverty, human rights and pollution - issues that received scant attention. "By downplaying the fight against poverty, the G8 ignored the world's most critical crisis," said Oxfam's Max Lawson. "Ending poverty is a race against time - this year, the G8 were jogging in circles."

3//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong Jul 19, 2006

TALIBAN PAUSE FOR FRESH BREATH
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
(Syed Saleem Shahzad is Bureau Chief, Pakistan, Asia Times Online.)

KARACHI - A sudden lull in the Taliban's activities has surprised the thousands of coalition forces that were sent to Kandahar and other parts of southwestern Afghanistan to patrol the deserts and the populated areas in the scorching heat.

These fresh troops, many of them British, now wander around without being challenged, unlike up to just days ago after the Taliban launched a massive spring offensive three months ago that has cost hundreds of insurgent lives.

Apart from sporadic armed guerrilla attacks, the detonation of improvised explosive devices and a few suicide missions, all sustained battles have ceased.

A Taliban contact told Asia Times Online that the development was a "break" as commanders had been told to call off their forces until further orders. The thinking is that the unrest in the Middle East will generate a new wave of fury among Afghans against Israel and its backer, the United States. The Taliban will then renew their efforts, bolstered by increased support on the ground among the Afghan population.

(SNIP)

A source close to the Taliban's inner circles explained to Asia Times Online how the events in the Middle East could impact on Afghanistan: "The Taliban aim to stir up a national movement, not merely a military mobilization against coalition forces.

"Therefore, issues concerning the Muslim cause or Islam give a wake-up call, like what happened after the Iraq war; on the issue of Christian convert Abdul Rahman [whose possible death sentence in Afghanistan created an uproar in the West]; the issue of the desecration of the Holy Koran in Guantanamo Bay prison; and when cartoons were published in the Western press to satirize the Prophet Mohammed. All these incidents produced positive results for the resistance."

(SNIP)

Political and religious rhetoric apart, there are other reasons to turn popular sentiment in Afghanistan against the alliance between President Hamid Karzai and the US. Foremost is the drought in southwestern Afghanistan.

According to reports quoting the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, the harvest of rain-fed wheat is about half of what it was last year, and up to 2.4 million Afghans now face hunger.

The drought has caused a massive displacement of people to areas where they can find food and water. The issue is generally perceived as mismanagement on the part of the government, which has failed to meet the food requirements of the masses.

Taliban sources anticipate that this discontent can be harnessed once the "break" is over in a few weeks, and the offensive will be resumed, including suicide attacks in Kabul against US forces.

"At this time the Taliban will awaken their network of over 300,000 men who were part of their army and police during their rule [1996-2001], and a mass mobilization movement should be in place in the urban centers of Afghanistan. That's how the resistance will reach its high point of its spring offensive this year," sources close to the Taliban asserted.

During the "break" in operations in the southwest, some guerrilla attacks will be staged in southeastern Afghanistan, where in coming days top Afghan officials and the bases of coalition forces will be targets in such places as Laghman, Kunar and Nanagarhar.

"The storm after the lull will be stronger than all previous Taliban military campaigns and Afghanistan will soon again be the center of world attention," the sources said.

4//The Mail & Guardian, South Africa 18 July 2006 06:16


SOMALI ISLAMISTS: EASING ARMS EMBARGO A ‘FATAL MISTAKE’
Ali Musa Abdi | Mogadishu, Somalia

AFP - The supreme leader of Somalia's increasingly powerful Islamist movement said on Tuesday that easing a 14-year-old United Nations arms embargo on the lawless nation would be a "fatal mistake."

A day after a United States-created diplomatic body recommended "urgent" modifications to the embargo, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys warned the move would plunge Somalia into new chaos with new battles between Islamists and defeated US-backed warlords.

"What has been destroying Somalia is the presence of arms and it's awful to see the international community advocating the shipment of more arms to Somalia," Aweys told Agence France-Presse from his central home region of Galgadud.

"Easing the embargo would be a fatal mistake," he said. "It is like allowing one group to arm itself. Others will follow and then we will have new problems in Somalia."

Aweys heads the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS), a group of Sharia courts whose militia seized the capital Mogadishu in June from a US-backed warlord alliance after months of fierce battles and is now tightening its grip on the nation.

(SNIP)

Their growing influence also threatens the authority of Somalia's weak transitional government, which has been appealing to the UN to ease the arms embargo to help the deployment of foreign peacekeepers.

5//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea Updated July.18,2006 23:42 KST

U.S. ‘WANTS SHOT OF WARTIME COMMAND SOONER’

Washington wants to return wartime operational control of Korean forces to Seoul by 2009-2010, military sources said Tuesday. The government has been pushing for a handover in five or six years’ time, but first concrete statements from the U.S. suggests Washington would like to be shot of it sooner rather than later.

A military source said Tuesday that Washington told Seoul in Security Policy Initiative meetings last week that returning wartime operational command before 2010 would be desirable, while another source said the U.S. is targeting 2009. The U.S. apparently pointed to the cutting-edge communications and command system C4I which the Korean military is establishing as among steps that have boosted Korea’s independent defense capability, and feels 2011-2012 is too long to wait

(SNIP)

Some observers interpret the U.S. timetable as a sign that Washington is washing its hands of Korea as a result of strains in the alliance. Last week’s meeting, contrary to government briefings, apparently did not make progress over who should pay for the environmental cleanup of bases the U.S. is returning to Korea, so the U.S. unilaterally announced on July 15 that it is handing back 15 of them. U.S. Forces Korea Commander Burwell Bell and others also take every opportunity to lament that the USFK has still not been assigned a new bomber training range.

Other experts and military brass feel even 2011-2012 is too early, pointing out how heavily Seoul relies on the U.S. for intelligence on North Korea, and saying the capability of the military must include precise aerial bombing of strategic targets and independent tactical planning abilities it lacks. They say wartime operational control should only be returned once South Korea’s independent defense is watertight.

Copyright 2006, Gloria R. Lalumia