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A week in the life of the world | 18-24 October 2013

Vol 189 No 19 £2.40 €4.60* Exclusions apply

 
 
 
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace
Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace

Incorporating material from the Observer, Le Monde and the Washington Post

Sri Lanka’s uneasy peace Tamils struggle to reconcile past

Lanka’s uneasy peace Tamils struggle to reconcile past Why I stood up to the Taliban Malala

Why I stood up to the Taliban Malala on her life in the UK

Why I stood up to the Taliban Malala on her life in the UK Tantrums, tiaras
Why I stood up to the Taliban Malala on her life in the UK Tantrums, tiaras

Tantrums, tiaras as

and teardrops ps

French bemoan oan ‘Mini-Miss’ ban an

 

Resentment swells in Sudan

Brutality and price rises anger middle classes

Targets … a peace rally by Darfuris, who are often subject to police violence Mohamed

Targets … a peace rally by Darfuris, who are often subject to police violence Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

Bashir faces criticism within his own party

Patrick Kingsley Khartoum

Fifteen men from Sudan’s state secu- rity rattled the door of Miyada el-Ru- faei’s house in Khartoum last month and asked for five minutes outside

with her father. Abdel Fatah el-Rufaei has not been seen since. “After 24 years,” said Miyada, re- ferring to the length of time since Islamist autocrat Omar al-Bashir took power in a coup, “we know what five minutes means”. Miyada’s father,

a

longtime political dissident, is no

stranger to arbitrary detention. This

is

the sixth time in two decades that

he has been held incommunicado by Sudan’s feared National Intelligence and Security Services, known as Niss. What is significant this time is who has joined Abdel Fatah in prison. At least 800 Sudanese were rounded up that week – and more than 200 killed in the streets – as demonstrators across the country took to the streets in several days of protests against a cut in fuel subsidies that was the final straw for a population already suffer- ing extreme economic hardship. Those involved were not just the usual students and activists like el- Rufaei, but middle-class Sudanese from well-to-do areas and those from the poorest districts of Khartoum and other towns. Estimates suggest fewer than 20,000 were on the streets of greater Khartoum at any one time – a tiny proportion of the city’s 5 million

residents – and no more than a few thousand congregated in any one place. But in Sudan, where dissent has long been stifled, this was still significant. Ahmad Mohamed – a rapper and activist from Girifna, a prominent pro- test movement – said: “This is not a revolution of the square, but of alleys and dusty neighbourhood roads. And it’s significant because it’s reaching neighbourhoods where there’s not re- ally a big history of protests.” Accord- ing to Amin Mekki Medani, president of a coalition of 30 Sudanese NGOs,

“the magnitude and spontaneity of the protests are unprecedented”. So, too, was the state’s brutality. Long accused of atrocities in Darfur, Korfodan and the Nuba mountains, Bashir’s men have rarely murdered opponents on the capital’s streets. But when crowds first congregated in sev- eral districts in Khartoum in the days following 25 September, Niss troops often arrived in pickup trucks within minutes. In some cases they fired teargas, beating and arresting anyone they could find. In others they fired live rounds from their Toyota trucks.

“They shot us like mice,” said Auob, an activist, who counted 19 dead in the run-down district of Mayo, populated mainly by Darfurian refu- gees, on 25 September, the first day of protests. The next day he saw Niss

using mounted machine guns to shoot two men queueing outside a hospital to see relatives injured the day before. Local people here largely stayed out of Sudan’s last round of major protests in summer 2012. But this time they were out in force, and Auob – whose name has been changed for his safety

– claims the

Continued on page 7≥

 

Abu Dhabi AED12 Bahrain BHD1.55 * Cyprus €2.30 Czech Rep CZK121 Denmark DKK32 Dubai AED12 Egypt EGP21 Hong Kong HKD43 Hungary HUF785 * Republic of Ireland €2.70 Japan JPY620 Jordan JOD2.40 Kenya KSH290 Kuwait KWD1.20 Latvia €5.55/LVL3.90 Lebanon LBP5000 * Malta €1.95 Mauritius MR153 Morocco MAD30 Norway NOK43 Oman OMR1.25 Pakistan PKR220 Poland PLN11.50 Qatar QAR12 Romania RON31 Saudi Arabia SAR13 Singapore SGD6.60 Sweden SEK45 Switzerland CHF7.50 Syria (US$)2.98 Turkey TRY8.50

2 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

World roundup

Obama ‘toughest on leaks since Nixon’

1 Barack Obama has pursued the most aggressive “war

on leaks” since the Nixon administration, according to a report published last week that says the adminis- tration’s attempts to control information is hampering the ability of journalists to do their jobs. The author of the study, the former Wash- ington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, who was an editor

during the Post’s inves- tigations of Watergate, said Obama had become “more aggressive”, step- ping up the Espionage Act to pursue those accused of leaking clas- sified information. “The war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon admin- istration,” Downie said in the report, which was commissioned by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Republicans attack memorial closures

to Protect Journalists. Republicans attack memorial closures 2 Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and other conservative Republicans

2 Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and other conservative

Republicans led a pro- test last Sunday that tore down barriers at

a

memorial in Washington and confronted police at the White House. Palin

(pictured) accused Pres- ident Obama of using veterans as pawns in the government shutdown. “We are here to hon- our our vets,” she told

crowd at the national

a

mall, which had been closed since 1 October.

“Is this any way that a

second world war

commander-in-chief would show his respect … to our military?” Last Sunday’s protest tried to shift blame for the memorial closures,

one of the most politi- cally sensitive aspects of the shutdown, on to the White House. Polls show that most Americans blame Republicans for the cri- sis. Tea Party activists forced more mainstream Republicans into a cor-

ner by linking the fiscal battle to a repeal of the administration’s health- care law.

Fernández could miss Argentina polls

3 Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the president of Argen-

tina (pictured), was

released from hospital last Sunday, after under- going surgery for

a cranial blood

clot, but doc- tors said she needs another month of rest. Doctors at the Fundación Favaloro hospital issued a statement saying she should be

in “strict repose” and should avoid air travel for 30 days. Despite the restriction, her spokes- man Alfredo Scoc- cimarro said she was recovering well and

man Alfredo Scoc- cimarro said she was recovering well and is “in excellent spirits”. That period

is “in excellent spirits”. That period of rest would keep her out of the campaign for elections on 27 October. Polls indi- cate that her party could suffer losses.

Ultranationalist violence hits Moscow

4 Moscow police

arrested more

than 1,000

migrant workers at a vegetable warehouse on Monday, hours after ultranationalists clashed with riot police. The rioters had raided a shopping centre used by migrants after the mur- der of an ethnic Russian. Police arrested more than 1,200 people in what was called a “pre- emptive raid” on the warehouse where the

rioters believed the killer worked, Russian news agencies reported. Last Sunday’s rioting escalated after hundreds gathered where Egor Shcherbakov, 25, was murdered last week. It was the capital’s worst nationalist unrest in three years.

More Europe news, page 12-13

Syrian rebels accused of killings

6 Syrian rebels killed at least 190 civilians and took

more than 200 hostage during an offensive in Latakia province in August, according to Human Rights Watch, in what it says is the first evidence of crimes against humanity by

opposition forces. It said many of the dead had been executed by militant groups, some linked to al-Qaida, who overran army positions and moved into 10 vil- lages where members of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect lived.

2 1 Nobel for chemical weapons watchdog 5 The international chemical weapons watchdog was the
2 1
Nobel for chemical weapons watchdog
5 The international
chemical weapons
watchdog was the
Denis Mukwege, the
Congolese gynaecologist
who has helped huge
surprise choice for this
year’s Nobel peace prize,
numbers of rape victims.
The chairman of the
a decision the Oslo com-
mittee said recognised
3
both its hazardous hazardous mis- m
sion to destroy estroy
Nobel committee, Thor-
bjørn Jagland, said the
award was a reminder
to nations with
Syria’s
remaining remaining chemi- chem
chemical l
cal cal weapons, weapons,
weapons s
like like the the US US and and
stocks and nd
Russia, Russia, to to get get
US US and and stocks and nd Russia, Russia, to to get get 16 years of

16 years of of

wider global obal efforts. The

Organisa-

tion for the

Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a relatively new global body, set up in 1997 in The Hague, with

a relatively tiny annual

budget of around $95m, trumped the established bookmakers’ favourites of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl turned advocate for female education, and

rid rid of of them, them, “especially “especially because beca they th are demand- d
rid rid of of them, them,
“especially “especially
because beca
they th are
demand- d
ing that
others do
the same,

like Syria”. ria” He added: “We now have the opportunity

to get rid of an entire category of weapons of

mass destruction

would be a great event

in history if we could achieve that.”

That

Malala Yousafzai interview, page 30

Ex-CEO says sorry for mine massacre

7 The man who led the mining con- glomerate Lonmin

during the Marikana massacre has broken his silence to apologise to the victims’ families and condemn the actions of South African police. In his first interview since last year’s tragedy, in which 34 minework- ers were gunned down, Ian Farmer said he understood the police

were working in an “extremely difficult”

environment of inter- union rivalry and tit-for- tat violence. But the former chief executive said: “Quite frankly, it was wrong and they handled it badly on the day. There’s no other way to describe an inci- dent in which 34 people were killed.”

More Africa news, page 10

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 3 Eyewitnessed The week’s events in pictures ≥ Centre pages 24-25
The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 3
Eyewitnessed
The week’s events in pictures
≥ Centre pages 24-25
Azerbaijan president wins third term
Polonium find suggests Arafat poisoning
Summit to fix Great Barrier Reef’s future
8 Azerbaijan’s
president has won
a third five-year
term by a landslide,
according to exit polls,
extending decades of
dynastic rule in the oil-
rich Caspian Sea nation,
an ally of the west.
An independent poll
by the company Progno-
sis said Ilham Aliyev took
nearly 84% of the vote.
Two other exit polls
showed similar figures.
Aliyev’s campaign
chief, Ali Ahmadov,
quickly claimed victory.
“Ilham Aliyev has uncon-
ditional support of the
population,” he said.
The main opposition
candidate, historian
Jamil Hasanli, had
between 8% and 10% of
the vote, followed by
eight other contenders,
the polls said.
10 Swiss sci-
entists gave
details of their
findings of traces of the
radioactive substance
polonium-210 on items
belonging to the late
Palestinian president
Yasser Arafat, which
fuelled claims that he
was poisoned by Israel
in 2004.
The discovery of
polonium-210 was first
made public last year.
In a paper in the Lan-
cet, toxicologists said
they had examined 38
items belonging to the
late Palestinian leader,
including underwear and
a toothbrush, and com-
pared them with a con-
trol group of 37 items of
Arafat’s that had been in
storage before his death.
They found traces of
the substance that “sup-
port the possibility of
Arafat’s poisoning with
polonium-210”, the sci-
entists reported.
12 Environmen-
talists and the
mining industry
have set out competing
visions for the future of
the Great Barrier Reef
ahead of a summit that
will aim to set Queens-
land’s priorities for the
next 30 years.
The Queensland Plan,
an initiative of the state
government, was due to
be finalised at a meeting
in Brisbane this week.
The plan, which the
government said would
help “define a long-term
vision” for the state,
has received more than
78,000 submissions
from the public and spe-
cial interest groups.
The environment is
set to be a major issue of
debate at the summit.
4
More Australia
news, page 4
Christians ‘can’t call their God Allah’
8
11
13 A Christian
newspaper in
6
10
Malaysia may
14
13
7
9
12
‘Black death’ threat to Madagascar jails
not use the word “Allah”
to refer to God, a court
has ruled, in a landmark
decision on a matter that
has fanned religious ten-
sion and raised questions
over minority rights.
Monday’s unanimous
decision by three Muslim
judges in the appeals
court overturned a
2009 ruling by a lower
court that allowed the
Malay-language version
of the newspaper, the
Herald, to use the word
Allah. Many Christians
in Malaysia say the word
has been used in this
context for centuries.
“The usage of the
word Allah is not an
integral part of the faith
in Christianity,” chief
judge Mohamed Apandi
Ali said in the ruling.
“The usage of the word
will cause confusion in
the community.”
The government
argued in the case that
the word Allah is specific
to Muslims and that the
then home minister’s
decision in 2008 to deny
the newspaper permis-
sion to print it was
justified on the basis of
public order.
9 Madagascar is at
risk of a major
outbreak of
Fukushima staff exposed to radiation
Earthquake strikes heart of Philippines
bubonic plague unless
it can clean up its rat-
infested jails, health
experts have warned.
The Indian Ocean
island became the most
severely affected coun-
try last year, with 256
cases and 60 fatalities
Red Cross (ICRC) and the
Malagasy prison authori-
ties have launched
a campaign against
rodents in Antanimora
prison in the capital,
Antananarivo, which
houses 3,000 inmates.
11 Six workers at
the Fukushima
nuclear power
14 A 7.2-mag-
a
fish market collapsed
nitude
in Cebu city, just across
earthquake in
the strait from the
Christoph Vogt, head
of the ICRC delegation in
Madagascar, said: “The
chronic chronic o overcrowding
plant have been exposed
to radiation in the latest
water leak in a week.
The plant’s operator,
Tokyo Electric Power
Co (Tepco), said several
from the “black death”
e
black death”
and and the unhygienic
which, which, swept swept through through
conditions con in
Europe Europe in in the the
prisons prppp i can
14th 14th century. century.
bring bri on new
quake’s epicentre. Two
more died and 19 were
injured when the roof
of a market in Mandaue
caved in.
Many of the central
Philippines’ historic
buildings were dam-
aged. In Loboc town,
south-west of Carmen,
The The Inter- Inter-
cases case of the dis-
a
17th-century lime-
national national
ease. ease. That’s dan-
Committee Committee
gerous gerou not only
of of the the
for for the the inmates in but
also also for for the th popula-
tion tion in in general.” gen
tonnes of radioactive
water had spilled from a
treatment facility after
one of the workers mis-
takenly removed a pipe.
The workers, who
were wearing protec-
tive clothing and masks,
came into contact with
the water and were
being checked for con-
tamination, a Tepco
spokesman said.
The accident occurred
last week as 11 workers
were about to remove
salt from hundreds of
tonnes of water that had
already been cleansed
of almost all of its radio-
active caesium content
at another treatment
facility.
Other radioactive
materials still present
in the water were meas-
ured in August at 37m
becquerels per litre, the
utility said.
the central Philippines
killed at least 32 people
and caused widespread
damage.
Tuesday’s quake was
centred within 3km of
Carmen town on the
popular beach island of
Bohol, north of Mind-
anao. Five people died
in a stampede in nearby
Cebu, where the bell
tower of the country’s
oldest church collapsed.
Five more people
were killed when part of
stone church was left in
ruins, while in Bohol a
400-year-old tower col-
lapsed on to surrounding
buildings.

4 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

International news

 

Xi gains from Obama’s absence

 

China’s president offers regional business and peace at Apec summit

“Every entrepreneur and business in the Asia Pacific needs to know that they can reap the benefits when they develop the next big thing,” Kerry said, in an implicit challenge to the alleged Chinese practice of appropri- ating intellectual property. “If your ideas are at risk of being stolen, and

your innovations can be ripped off, you will never reach the full potential of that country or economy.”

 
the full potential of that country or economy.”   Kerry and his Japanese and Austral- ian

Kerry and his Japanese and Austral- ian counterparts had issued a state- ment opposing “coercive or unilateral actions” to change the status quo. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan,

Anne Gearan Bali Washington Post

Malaysia and Brunei are also involved in sovereignty disputes with China. The US has tried to unite south-east Asian nations under its banner, prom- ising rhetorical and some military help. Shen Dingli, Shanghai’s Fudan University vice-dean of the Institute of International Affairs, said the US no longer had the clout “to make the rules and lead the world” but was still sticking to its old strategy without the resources to back it up. China, by con- trast, does not seek hegemony and has an opportunity to win friends in the region as a result, Shen said. Xi’s friendly, relatively low-key ad- dress drew applause and appreciative comments in the hall of executives and government officials. He never mentioned Obama or the president’s decision to stay home to tend to the domestic political crisis.

China’s President Xi Jinping took advantage of President Obama’s ab- sence from the premier Asian trade and economic summit to push Bei- jing’s offers to neighbouring nations. China is next door and seeks eco- nomic ties that benefit and unite all states in the region of expanding economies, Xi said as the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum got under way this month without full participation from the US, the world’s largest economy. Skirting security confrontations with Japan and several south-east Asian nations, Xi underscored Chi- nese commitment to a peaceful region that is good for business. “The Asia- Pacific is a big family,” he told a group of business executives. “A family of harmony prospers. China is ready to live in amity with others.” The US secretary of state, John Kerry, acting as Obama’s stand-in, countered that the US sets a model for business fair play. The world’s next star entrepreneurs will not be born out of economies that repress inno- vation and steal good ideas, he said.

Xi

and Kerry were selling their na-

tions as the best business partners for emerging economies in Asia, but the contest highlighted the larger con- frontation between the US and China for economic and military influence across the continent. Obama’s no-show left a clearer field for Xi, who bracketed his visit to Bali with stops elsewhere in Indonesia and in Malaysia. Obama had been due to visit both nations, but cancelled the trip because of the federal govern- ment shutdown.

 

Xi

acknowledged a slowdown in

China’s economic growth, but he said

 
 

“I

think it’s very damaging,” Brook-

it was expected and not a cause for concern. “I am fully confident about

the future of China,” Xi told the del- egates. “I am deeply convinced the Chinese economy will sustain its sound growth.”

 

Good neighbour? Xi Jinping addresses the summit in Bali

Chinese foreign ministry said the US, Australia and Japan should not use their alliance as an excuse to inter-

ings Institution Asia scholar Kenneth Lieberthal said of Obama’s absence. The most acute damage may be to Obama’s chances to line up a trans- Pacific free-trade deal in the coming months, Lieberthal said. “There’s a big difference between having the presi- dent go out for a major meeting like this and having the secretary of state substitute for him.”

Xi

made no direct reference to bit-

vene in territorial disputes in the East China and South China seas. China and Japan both claim tiny, uninhab- ited islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

ter territorial disputes with several na-

 

tions whose delegates populated the hall, including Japan and the Philip- pines. As the summit kicked off, the

Gandhi launches campaign

 

Australia climate warning

Jason Burke Delhi

gress old guard, publicly opposing an executive order from the 81-year-old prime minister, Manmohan Singh, which would have allowed politicians convicted of criminal charges to re- main in office and stand in elections. About 30% of Indian lawmakers across federal and state assemblies have criminal charges against them, and after a supreme court order in July many faced being expelled from their seats, including government allies seen as important for electoral success. Gandhi, a former management consultant, is the son of Sonia Gan- dhi, widow of the assassinated prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and current president of the Congress party. The main opponent for Gandhi and Congress is Narendra Modi, the contro- versial chief minister of Gujarat state and prime ministerial candidate for the Bharatiya Janata party, a Hindu na- tionalist conservative party that held power before being defeated in 2004.

Oliver Milman

tions. In Sydney, the number of deaths caused by heatwaves is expected to triple from 2.5 deaths for every 100,000 people to 7.4 deaths for every 100,000 people by 2100. Water and food-borne diseases are projected to increase, with up to 870,000 new cases of bacterial gastro- enteritis by 2100. But the IPCC warns there is minimal scientific consensus on specific disease projections and their link to climate change. Australia is set to suffer financial as well as human loss, with the IPCC say-

ing sea-level rise is a “significant risk”

Rahul Gandhi, 43, scion of India’s most famous political dynasty, has launched the ruling Congress party’s campaign for re-election in polls due next spring with a promise to bring in a “young government”. Analysts agree that 120 million first- time voters in India will be crucial in determining if the current coalition, in power since 2004, can win in what is predicted to be a bitter and close con- test next year. Half of Indians are under 26, with an even higher proportion in the big, poor northern states such as Bi- har and Uttar Pradesh, where Gandhi addressed large rallies last week. Uttar Pradesh, which has poverty levels worse than many parts of sub- Saharan Africa, has the highest num- ber of potential first-time voters in India, with 23 million. Gandhi, vice-president of the Con- gress party, recently took on the Con-

Indigenous Australians face “dis- proportionate” harm from climate change, according to a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second IPCC report, which is due to be released next March, also warns that climate change could swamp billions of dollars worth of coastal property via sea-level rises and cause the number of heatwave-

related deaths in Sydney to triple by the end of the century.

It

says there is “high agreement”

to the country because of the heavy population skew towards coastal cit- ies and towns.

among scientists that indigenous

people will face significant challenges from heat stress, extreme weather events and heightened rates of dis- ease by 2100.

A

rise of 1.1 metres would affect as-

sets worth $226bn, according to the report, threatening 274,000 residen-

A

sharp increase in heatwaves will

tial and 8,600 commercial buildings. Risks to road and rail infrastructure would “increase significantly” with a rise above 0.5 metres, the report said.

affect the broader Australian popula- tion, especially older people, through heat-related deaths and hospitalisa-

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 5

International news

Sri Lanka boom fails to mollify Tamils

Colombo still hopes to pacify the north with economic development

Jason Burke Kilinochchi

Amid scruff y palms a few metres from

a dirt track, two brothers are building

their third house in under a decade. They hope it will last longer than the others. They do not want to be iden- tified – for fear of security agencies

– but their story is a common one in

Kilinochchi, a small town in northern Sri Lanka, once the capital of the de facto state run by the separatist Lib- eration Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In Kilinochchi, more than four years after the Tamil Tigers were routed by

the Sri Lankan army, there are new banks, ATMs, shops, street lighting, an internet cafe and a station that still smells of fresh paint. Trains run three times a day to Colombo, 320km to the south. A large sports complex is taking shape, alongside the widened road. But for the two brothers none of this is progress. “Before, it was safe for women, now it isn’t … Before, we could talk freely, now we can’t,” one said. “OK, so there is some develop- ment, but that is not real freedom … this is not true peace.” Such sentiments are as widespread as the construction across much of the north, an area dominated by people from the Tamil minority. As David Cameron and other leaders prepare to travel to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Sri Lanka in November, the question of what a “real peace” might look like and how

it might be achieved looms ever larger.

The choice of Sri Lanka as the sum- mit venue has been controversial. The hosts face criticism for failing to investigate alleged war crimes by the military, dominated by the Sinhalese majority, at the end of the war against the Tamil Tigers. There are also con- cerns about the government’s limited efforts to reach a genuine political rec- onciliation with the Tamils. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, an analyst and activist in Colombo, said the summit would consolidate the re- gime. “They will be able to say to the world and at home: look, 50 countries have come … we are not pariahs.” However, some say it was interna- tional pressure that convinced a re- luctant President Mahinda Rajapaksa that elections for a provincial council in the north, the first for 25 years, should go ahead in late September. The results underlined how de- velopment had done little to weaken

underlined how de- velopment had done little to weaken Symbol … a soldier in Colombo on

Symbol … a soldier in Colombo on Sri Lanka’s Army Day last week Reuters

demands for greater autonomy. De- spite what Commonwealth observers described as intimidation by the army, the Tamil National Alliance, once a proxy for the LTTE, won 30 out of 38 seats. Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance holds power in all other eight provinces. The president has opposed moves to grant greater autonomy anywhere, let alone to the

north. Instead he is banking on eco- nomic growth and development to win over Tamils. Few doubt there has been an eco- nomic boom. More than twice as

many new vehicles were registered in the north in 2011, the last year for which statistics have been released, than were on the roads in 2009. There are at least twice as many cattle, and agricultural land that fell into disuse during the conflict has been cleared. Many, including the two brothers building their home in Kilinochchi, work as labourers on construction sites. Conditions for the hundreds of thousands displaced by the fight- ing have improved, albeit from a very low base. A survey earlier this year by the UNHCR revealed 63% of recently

Canada brands Commonwealth chief as Colombo ‘stooge’

Canada last week attacked the Commonwealth secretary general as a stooge for a Sri Lankan regime it accuses of human rights abuses. Last Tuesday, Hugh Segal, Canada’s special envoy to the Common- wealth, accused Kamalesh Sharma of “acting as a shill [a stooge] for the Sri Lankan leadership, defend- ing their every mistake”. Canada’s prime minister, Ste- phen Harper, said he would boy- cott the Commonwealth heads of state summit because of alleged human rights abuses by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s gov ernment. India

is undecided about whether its prime minister, Manmohan Singh, should attend. Canada is the Com- monwealth’s second-biggest funder after the UK and is now reviewing its $19m-a-year financial backing and looks set to cut support for the secretariat headed by Sharma. Canada is likely to be isolated in snubbing the summit. Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, has told Rajapaksa he would attend. John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister, last month confirmed his attendance at the summit. Robert Booth and Jason Burke

resettled families had access to a toilet and only one in 25 had to walk more than 500 metres to find water. More than 160 schools are now open. But progress is patchy – up to half of respondents in some areas said they had insufficient food. Much of the growth has been spurred by loans or foreign aid. “Debt has soared and there are many who can’t pay back what they’ve borrowed,” said Ahi- lan Kadirgamar, an economic analyst in Jaffna. One debtor is Sanmugam Sivalingam, who borrowed $3,550 to buy a rickshaw 18 months ago. He said he made only around $5 on a good day and, with monthly repayments of $150, he often goes hungry. The government is also banking on war weariness among northern Tam- ils to buy time for its strategy to win over separatist sentiment with de- velopment. Though few in the north admit it, there was disaffection with the Tigers at the end of the conflict. Now there is a growing nostalgia for the Tigers, said a veteran Tamil rights activist in Jaffna. “The war should have ended six months before it did, with thousands of lives saved. There was nothing heroic about the final days but that is the legend now being spread. It is an insult to all those who died.” For people like Ananthi Sasitharan, the war may have been lost but the struggle, as the newly elected provin- cial councillor calls it, is far from over. Her husband was a Tamil Tiger leader and among the hundreds, possibly thousands, who went missing after surrendering at the end of the war in May 2009 and who, campaigners say, were summarily executed by soldiers. “We do not want another armed strug- gle. We have suffered very much from the war. But during the LTTE time [in power] we had a very happy life. So the political struggle must go on,” Sasitharan said. In Kilinochchi, a water tower felled by the Tamil Tigers as they fled the town has been turned into a neat tourist site, with a souvenir shop, postcards, orange ice lollipops and a plaque commemorating its opening by Namal Rajapaksa, the president’s 27-year-old son and new minister for youth. Sinhalese tourists take photographs and pose with an army patrol. But Sasitharan said the sight of the tourists made her very angry. “They destroyed our beautiful country. They eliminated our society and erected victory monuments in our land and now they are coming to enjoy our de- struction,” she said. “We are a people changed by war. There is no healing.”

6 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

International news

PM’s kidnap marks new low for Libya

Ali Zeidan’s seizure is only an extreme form of what is now normal

Ian Black

Libya’s slide into chaos reached a new nadir with the brief abduction of prime minister Ali Zeidan. It was an alarming reminder that rival armed militias, a weak central government and a rise in Islamic extremism are a dangerous mixture. Conflicting regional and tribal demands have been a regular feature of the political scene since Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow by Nato-backed rebels in August 2011 – one of the most dramatic moments of the Arab spring. Few Libyans want to see the dictator back – many of the country’s problems are his own toxic legacy – but a chronic lack of security and a worsening eco- nomic climate are casting dark clouds over the future. The US special forces raid earlier this month to capture a fugitive Lib- yan al-Qaida leader, apparently the trigger for the move against Zeidan, was a humiliating reminder both of the impotence of the government and of how the country has become a safe haven for terrorists. No one has yet been charged over the deadly assault on the US consulate in Benghazi in September 2012. The Russian and French embassies in Tripoli have both been attacked this year.

embassies in Tripoli have both been attacked this year. Dark clouds Libya is plagued by chaos

Dark clouds

Libya is plagued by chaos Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

But Zeidan’s kidnapping is only an extreme form of what has be- come depressingly normal in Libya’s post-Gaddafi political culture. Power comes not from debate in a bitterly divided parliament or the interim ex- ecutive, but from the barrel of a gun. Opponents of government policy rou- tinely take over a ministry or surround congress to force submission to their demands. Protests by state employees began even before Gaddafi was killed by rebels in his home town of Sirte, two months after the fall of Tripoli. There is still no new constitution. On the surface, the capital feels more normal than it did in the first year after the revolution. New restau-

Battle for democracy

Libya’s prime minister has de- nounced his kidnapping as an attempted coup and warned that some of the country’s many armed militias want to turn it into “an- other Afghanistan or Somalia”. “This is a coup against legiti- macy,” he said. Ali Zeidan’s speech puts the prime minister, a former human rights lawyer once exiled in Switzerland, on a collision course with powerful militia forma- tions based in Tripoli, in a trial of strength he characterised as a bat- tle for democracy. Chris Stephen

rants are opening, and there is even a branch of Debenhams. Fewer armed men and truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns are on the streets. But the gun- men, some with links to the govern- ment, are still in their barracks. Efforts to integrate them into a national army and police force are moving slowly. Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son, remains in custody in the western town of Zintan, where local fighters refuse to hand him over for trial in Tripoli. It was no coincidence that Zeidan’s first comments after his release included an appeal to the thuwwar – revolution- aries – “to assimilate into the state, and play an active role in it through its civilian and military institutions”. Economic issues are compounding the general sense of an open-ended crisis. Libya has Africa’s largest oil reserves – the source of enormous potential wealth for a country of just 6 million people. But oil terminals have been blockaded by militiamen demanding a greater share of the rev- enues for their own regions. Foreign investment has been sluggish because of insecurity, red tape and corruption. Western governments were quick to condemn the abduction and express support for the “political transition”. In September 2011 the British prime minister David Cameron and the then- French president Nicolas Sarkozy were hailed as heroes for their role in helping overthrow Gaddafi when they appeared at Tripoli’s luxurious Corin- thia hotel – where Zeidan was hustled into the custody of gunmen.

Algeria shuts off Morocco’s contraband petrol trade

Isabelle Mandraud

Le Monde

Donkeys are replacing pickups as they make less noise. Twice a day, at dawn and again at nightfall, the placid beasts laden with large blue cans set off along stony trails. When they reach the Al- gerian border they carry on alone, coming back, still unaccompanied, bearing their precious load. At Oujda, 16km inside Morocco, their return is eagerly awaited. This summer the Algerian govern- ment moved to stop petrol trafficking, stepping up the tension on its border with Morocco’s Oriental province. Only the donkeys are left to convey the vital fuel, and prices have soared. The cabinet assembled in Algiers last month for a meeting attended by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika – the first time since December 2012 due

to his uncertain health – to discuss a new bill designed to combat petrol smuggling. In the build-up to the presidential election next April, the Algerian authorities are determined to manage hydrocarbon resources more efficiently. With so much vanishing over the border there are sometimes shortages in the oil-rich country. For at least three decades Oriental residents have enjoyed a regular sup- ply of cheap, all-purpose petrol. Offi- cially the land border between the two countries has been closed since 1994 following the murder of two Spanish tourists, which the Moroccans blamed on Algerian extremists. It is suppos- edly watertight and the barrier at the Zouj Bghal checkpoint at the end of Route 7 is definitely closed. But north and south of the crossing point there has been a steady stream, in both directions, of contraband goods,

from milk to Turkish-made clothes to cannabis resin. There are close links between families on either side. No less a figure than President Bouteflika was born in Oujda. But petrol is a special case. Accord- ing to Mohammed Benkaddour, head of the Association for the Protection of Oriental Consumers (Apco), the trade provides a livelihood for “between 3,000 and 5,000 families, a figure to be multiplied by five to obtain the number of people concerned”, in a poor area where unemployment is high. Morocco has no oil reserves, so the authorities have been all the more inclined to turn a blind eye to the smuggling, which has saved millions of dollars on imports. Local people soon realised things had changed. Ahmed, a father of three, is at his wit’s end. For the past 10 years he has made a living smug-

gling petrol, but he has “never seen anything like it”. “Before I would get 10 or 12 30-litre cans twice a day, now it’s barely three or four; as a result I earn three times less,” he says. “It’s all the fault of the people in power and it’s always us that pays the bill.” Wholesalers, who used to make $650 a day, built big houses, but the work has stopped. Fuel prices have rocketed: a 30-litre can, once $11, now costs $36. This situation is exacerbating social tension, at a time when Morocco is trying to reduce the compensation fund that subsidises staples such as sugar, flour and petrol, and weighs heavily on the current account deficit. Twice in recent months the govern- ment, led by the Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD), has raised official petrol prices across Morocco, causing widespread discontent.

 

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 7

International news

 

Canadian pair describe Cairo jail ordeal

 

Doctor and filmmaker detained and beaten after seeking police help

Home … John Greyson, right, and Tarek Loubani arrive in Toronto Reuters

Home … John Greyson, right, and Tarek Loubani arrive in Toronto Reuters

All the cell’s occupants – including Greyson and Loubani – had been ar- rested in an arbitrary roundup in cen- tral Cairo on 16 August and accused of attacking a police station during

a

protest. Many had either been no-

Patrick Kingsley

 

where near the station or were not at

 

the protest in the first place. For their part, Greyson and Lou- bani were not even aware of the sta- tion’s existence. They were travellers in transit, and attended the protest

Shortly after arriving at Egypt’s noto- rious Tora prison, the Canadian film- maker John Greyson was beaten and kicked so hard that for the next week “there was a single bootprint perfectly etched on my back”. His companion Tarek Loubani – a Canadian-Pales- tinian doctor – was subjected to the same brutal treatment. “We both went foetal to try to protect ourselves,” re- members Greyson. “I was in pain for about a week.” It was not quite what Greyson and Loubani had envisaged when they arrived in Egypt on 15 August. The pair intended to remain only briefly in Egypt; their final destination was Gaza, where they planned to train and make a film about Palestinian doc- tors. Instead they found themselves arrested during a crackdown on sup- porters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, and spent the next 50 days detained without charge – most of it in a cramped jail cell shared with 36 other prisoners. “There was no way you could sleep without touching your neighbour,” said Grey- son, of the conditions within their tiny three-by-10-metre cell. “You had to co-ordinate with them when you wanted to roll over.” It was a nightmare that lasted until the early hours of last Sunday, when Egyptian prosecutors let the pair leave prison. It followed a high-profile campaign for their release – featur- ing a 150,000-strong petition signed by actors Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron – and finally intervention from the highest level of the Egyptian

merely to bear witness. Once the demonstration fell victim to Egypt’s fourth state-led massacre in six

weeks, they put their skills to work at

a

nearby mosque that had been trans-

formed into a field hospital. Greyson documented the wounded on camera, while Loubani treated them. After the flow of bodies “slowed to a trickle” hours later, the pair left to find their way back to their hotel. They got lost in an area where many of the streets had been blocked off by a series of walls aimed at protect-

ing government ministries. When

government. But even then their or- deal was not quite over. Still banned for several days from leaving the country, they were only allowed to fly home to Canada last Friday. Speaking to a newspaper for the first time since their release from Tora, the pair gave testimony that shines a rare light on the abhorrent conditions inside Egypt’s prisons and police jails. When Greyson and Loubani arrived at Tora, warders purposely left the three dozen men inside the cramped truck, so that they might overheat in the blazing Cairo sun. One was on the point of a heat-induced coma before the truck’s doors were opened. Outside were two lines of police- men with batons and electric cat- tle prods who, Loubani said, “stood there beating people as they went between them”. Soon afterwards the pair suffered the further assault that left Greyson with a boot-marked back.

Loubani had received an earlier beat- ing at a police station. Conditions in their minute cell were appalling. The 38 detainees slept on concrete, with just one water tap between them. One prisoner arrived with a broken foot that went untreated for three weeks until it got so bad it had to be removed. “This young guy with a 100% prevent- able problem ends up having to have his foot amputated,” said Loubani, looking pale after six weeks on a prison diet. “That was a theme again and again – people were not treated.” The pair were keen to emphasise the plight of their fellow detainees, who were also detained without charge and have still not been re- leased. “One guy was arrested on what would have been his wedding day,” said Greyson. “Another man missed his child’s birth. A lot of peo- ple lost their jobs, and some lost their homes.”

they stopped to ask for directions at

 

a

police checkpoint, their nightmare

began. An officer grew suspicious at Loubani’s Palestinian accent (as the home of Hamas, an affiliate of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine has become tainted by association). Like hundreds of others that day, they were hauled into state custody for little rea- son other than police paranoia. Greyson and Loubani were finally freed last Sunday after Loubani’s fa- ther flew to Egypt to campaign for their release. Mahmoud Loubani eventually found himself on speaker- phone with Egypt’s entire cabinet. The pair’s treatment improved subse- quently. After release, Tarek Loubani said: “We saw a lot of people get mas- sacred, and have their rights trampled in jail. Neither is acceptable.”

 

Jonathan Steele, page 20 ≥

Dissent in Sudan spreads to middle classes after price rises and police violence

≤Continued from page 1

particularly

was economic. The day before protests began, Bashir announced economic reforms aimed at easing the strain on government finances weakened through years of corruption, the cost of wars on three fronts, international sanctions, and the loss of oil revenues with the secession of South Sudan. The most controversial of the re- forms was the removal of a fuel sub- sidy. Overnight the price of a gallon of fuel jumped from around $2.80 to $4.80. That morning thousands of workers and schoolchildren sud- denly could not afford the bus, so

either walked long distances to work or stayed at home. And the cost of food rose in proportion with the cost of transporting it. It was the final straw for many who had long resented how Bashir’s cor- rupt cronies lived in luxury. “Every- thing is just expensive,” said Betul el-Refaei, Miyada’s sister. “At a public hospital the doctor might be free, but you have to bring your own cotton or injections. The same with education. You have to buy your books. In gov- ernment schools they gather money from pupils to pay for electricity.”

To add to the insult, many grew fu- rious at patronising comments made by Bashir. The Sudanese, he said, should be grateful to him because his tenure had brought them the hot dog. Perhaps the greatest threat to Ba- shir comes from his own National Congress party. Thirty of his nominal allies – led by his former adviser, Ghazi Salahuddin Attalah – sent Bashir an open letter this month that criticised both his cuts and the crackdown. “People are back inside their homes for now,” said Betul el-Refaei. “But they’re boiling with anger.”

brutal crackdown was fuelled by the regime’s discrimination towards those from Darfur. Salah Sanhouri, a popular 27-year- old pharmacist connected to Sudan’s elites, became a lightning rod for middle-class outrage when he was shot dead while protesting in the up- market district of Buri. Many in the middle classes who were uninterested in last year’s protests identified with Sanhouri, said Usamah Mohamed, a well-known activist jailed last year. But the initial cause of the protests

8 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

International news

 

UN sued over cholera deaths

 

Indigenous tribe plagued by suicides

 

Haitians’ class action in US will test organisation’s traditional immunity

 

which has claimed more than 8,000 lives and infected nearly 700,000 – one out of every 16 Haitians. UN peace- keepers from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, brought a south Asian strain of the disease to Haiti, which had re- mained free of it for 200 years. The claim was filed at the federal district court in Manhattan by an ac- tivist group of US-based lawyers: the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), its Haitian partner Bureaux des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and a prominent Florida civil rights law firm. IJDH lawyer Beatrice Lindstrom said a case of this scale against the UN was unprecedented in the US and that she hoped the court would set aside the UN’s traditional immunity. Lind- strom compared the case with a ruling

by the Dutch supreme court last month that Holland should compensate the deaths of Bosnian Muslims expelled by Dutch soldiers from a UN compound during the Balkans conflict. The UN argues it has legal immu- nity from such compensation claims and has formally rejected claims from Haitians affected. But last week the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, made a rare case for compensation for the victims. “I still stand by the call that victims of those who suffered as a result of that cholera be provided with compensa- tion,” she said. The case is the latest in a string of bad publicity for Minustah, which is preparing to scale back one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping missions in the world to its lowest level in 10 years.

Jonathan Watts Rio de Janeiro

Rashmee Roshan Lall Port-au-Prince

The discovery of an indigenous girl’s body hanging from a tree in Bororó de Dourados last week was as grim as it was familiar for Brazil’s Guarani- Kaiowá tribe. It has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, according to a report. Figures from Survival International suggest that the Guarani-Kaiowá are 34 times more likely to kill themselves than Brazil’s national average. This has prompted warnings that a “silent genocide” is under way. The community of 31,000 people, mostly based in the south-western state of Mato Grosso do Sul, is plagued by alcoholism, depression, poverty and violence after losing its ancestral lands to ranchers and biofuel farmers. The problem is decades-old, but Survival says the rate has increased in recent years. Since the start of the cen- tury, one suicide has been reported on average almost every week. Almost all are hangings. Most are young. The latest victim, whose name has yet to be released, was a 17-year- old girl. In the previous week, a 16-year-old in Dourados reserve and a 19-year-old in Amambai reserve killed themselves. “The principle reason is their lack of land,” said Mary Nolan, a US nun and human rights lawyer. “The Gua- rani people think their relationship with the universe is broken when they are separated from their land. They feel they are a broken people.” Many in the community interpret their situ- ation cosmologically as a symptom of the destruction of the world. As well undermining their spiritual base, the seizure of their land by farm- ers has disrupted the social structure of the community. Traditionally, dis- putes between families were settled by one side moving away and starting again in a new territory. But this is no longer possible now that thousands of Guarani are crammed together in camps. One camp in Dourados has a mur- der rate that is more than 50% higher than that of Iraq. The stressful, violent environment is worsened by beatings and assassinations of indigenous lead- ers who try to reclaim their land from wealthy farmers. The authorities have recognised the community is in the midst of sui- cide epidemic, but the government is being criticised for not doing enough to deal with the cause.

Human rights lawyers have filed a law- suit against the UN seeking compensa- tion for the families of thousands of Haitians who died of cholera as a re- sult of sanitation lapses at a UN camp. The class action claim came just days before the UN formally renewed the mandate of Minustah, the French acronym of the mission in Haiti, after a troubled decade keeping the peace. Sloppy sanitation at a Minustah base is blamed for starting the outbreak,

Brazilian Japanese get apology for abuse

 

Jonathan Watts Rio de Janeiro

Jonathan Watts Rio de Janeiro Brazilian history. “I apologise and ask forgiveness on behalf of all

Brazilian history. “I apologise and ask forgiveness on behalf of all Brazilian citizens … because the background of this episode is racism. The Brazilian elite have always been racist,” Rosa Cardoso, a lawyer with the national truth commission, said. After the Japanese imperial army’s attack on the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, Brazil – which aligned with the allies – prohibited this community from reading or writing their own language. Several other countries interred or maltreated large numbers of their citizens with Japanese heritage. In the wake of Pearl Harbor, the US moved about 110,000 people into “war re- location camps”, while Canada held 27,000 without charge and auctioned off many of their belongings. Redress came far earlier in those cases. The US government apologised in 1988 and paid out $1.6bn in compensation. A month later, Canada followed suit and subsequently gave $21,000 to each of the survivors as well as $36m to race- relations groups. In Brazil, Fernando Morais, the author of a book about the deten- tion, torture and killing of Japanese, German and Italian migrants during that era, said the next step should be compensation because the govern- ment had confiscated the money and property of people in those groups. “Brazil should not only apologise. It owes money, a lot of money, to the Japanese community,” he told the Globo newspaper. “The confiscation of assets is well documented in the central bank’s archives. Nobody ever got anything back.”

Brazil’s truth commission has apolo- gised for the government’s “racist” maltreatment and detention of its large Japanese community during the second world war in a step that could open the way to compensation claims. Twenty-five years after similar steps by the US and Canada, the move to make amends has been welcomed by groups representing the 1.5 mil- lion migrants and second- and third- generation descendants in Brazil who now make up the biggest ethnically Japanese population outside of Japan. After Brazil declared war on Japan in 1942, thousands of families from this community were arrested or de- ported as potential spies or collabo- rators. The government also closed hundreds of Japanese schools, seized communications equipment and forced the relocation of Japanese who lived close to the coastline. A Japanese community in the northern Pará state was restricted from travel. Survivors have testified about the use of torture, and the degrading loy- alty test in which Brazilian Japanese were forced to step on an image of Em- peror Hirohito, who was then consid- ered a deity in his country. The truth commission saw video testimony of survivors and their children, including Akira Yamachio, who said his father was arrested and tortured in Anchieta along with other prisoners. “A bit of the truth is better than silence,” he said. “There inside [the penitentiary] there was persecu- tion and torture. They ordered people

Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Past tense … during the war, Brazilian Japanese were forced to step on an image of Emperor Hirohito

to take off their clothes and pass through a ‘corridor of death’,” he said. The commission made a formal apology and will include their findings in a final report to the government, which will also include other infringe- ments of human rights in modern

 

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 9

International news

 

Mini-maligned?

Kicker here like this

France’s child beauty queens protest

Then a short description here like this

Review, page 32

Then Section and Page XX

Police play for hearts and minds as Rio’s favelas are taken back by force

 

Brazil diary

 
New era …residents of Lins watch as police on horseback patrol the favela Mario Tama/Getty

New era …residents of Lins watch as police on horseback patrol the favela Mario Tama/Getty

Jonathan Watts

F irst came troops with assault rifles and flak jackets, then street cleaners with brooms and buckets of white- wash, and finally satel- lite TV salesmen with a

special offer to first-time subscribers.

Rio de Janeiro’s 35th favela pacification operation to clear drug gangs from 12 shantytowns in the Lins favela complex was over within hours without a shot being fired. But the commercial barrage has only just begun for the latest com- munities – all within 5km of the Maracanã World Cup final stadium

to be brought into the fold of gov-

ernment authority and consumer culture. Following a series of scandals relating to excessive use of force by the police, the latest battle was as much for hearts and minds as the city streets. On the heels of the military came street cleaners to sweep the road- sides and pick rubbish from the

 

filthy stream below Lins. The Rio state governor, Sergio Cabral, said $223m had been allocated to im- prove living conditions.

 

about the pacification programme and whether it is a cosmetic exercise before the World Cup and Olympics. The authorities, however, insist it represents a long-term shift in

of the month, 10 officers from the UPP – lightly armed units – were charged with the torture and killing of Amarildo de Souza, a resident of Rocinha, Rio’s biggest favela. “There is a lack of confidence in the police. The Amarildo case showed that. It’s not the first time,” said Rodrigo Martins, an observer of the Lins pacification operation from the public defender’s office. “Some people were a little afraid because there were so many police here, but we saw no arrests or incursions today. People are afraid to change.” The transformation, however, has been dramatic. The Guardian had visited one of the seven Lins communities, Bairro Preto, six months ago when it was controlled by Rio’s most powerful gang, the Red Command. Back then, armed traffickers guarded the favela entrance, a drug factory had been set up in a back alley and zombie- like crack addicts lolled around. “They were still there last night when I got home,” said their neigh- bour Michelle Xavier. “But it is very quiet now. That’s an improvement already. It was noisy all the time before. The crack users never sleep.”

Her neighbours expressed amaze- ment at the sight of a first taxi on their street, which drivers had previously deemed too dangerous to drive into. Another eye-popping change was the arrival of two satel- lite salesmen. “I just came today. We always do this after a pacification operation,” said Renate Isahu, who said he had already signed up 10 customers. “It’s a good time to pick up business.” Most residents were hopeful that pacification would bring an im- provement in their lives. “We won’t have to be so fearful. The community will be more peace- ful,” said Antonia Pereira, who has lived in the Gamba community of Lins for 30 years. “It’ll also be good for property values.” But some were sceptical. Milena Moura had come to Lins from Alemão, a favela that had been the headquarters of the Red Command until it was taken over by police last year. “I’ve seen how it works. The police did bad things,” she said. “I’ve no confidence that they will be any better here.” Additional reporting by Sam Cowie

Next, graffiti was whitewashed over and the Policia Militar insignia

a dagger through a skull – was

priorities. The results so far have been impressive. Official statistics show a sharp fall in murders, gun- related incidents and other crimes. But concerns about excessive police violence have been revived in recent months. In June, police killed nine residents, including seven sus- pected drug traffickers, after an of- ficer was murdered at the Maré com- plex, forcing the authorities to delay the planned pacification of that vast community. At the beginning

draped over the walls. Local chil- dren were invited to ride on police horses, a PR team displayed the bags of cocaine, blocks of cannabis and the gun clips they said had been found in the search operations. A van repeatedly broadcast an appeal for support: “People of Rio de Janeiro: as part of the ongoing paci- fication of our city, your community is being occupied. We rely on your co-operation to maintain stability. The new era begins now.” The change of power was marked with a ceremony in which marines and police presented arms as the flags of Brazil and Rio state were raised to mark the recovery of the territory by the authorities. “I don’t know if this will be an improvement yet,” said a local resident, Diane de la Rosa, looking out across an open sewer at the flag- raising ceremony. “But I hope so. We all hope so.” There have long been questions

 

Some people were a little afraid because there were so many police here, but we saw no arrests today

   

10 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

International news

 

Africa asks: don’t target sitting leaders

 

African Union urges ICC to defer trial of the Kenyan president

Union urges ICC to defer trial of the Kenyan president concerns are heard loud and clear,”

concerns are heard loud and clear,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Ethiopian foreign minister, said. He said the AU would ask for the trials of the Kenyan president and his deputy as well as Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, to be deferred. The two Kenyan politicians deny charges that they orchestrated a killing spree after a disputed 2007 election. Frustration with the ICC has been growing in Africa because the court has convicted only one man, an Af- rican warlord, and all others it has charged are also Africans. “It is in- deed very unfortunate that the court has continued to operate in complete disregard of the concerns that we have expressed,” the Ethiopian prime min- ister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said. Ministers called for the use of video links in the Kenyan trials to ensure leaders could carry on offi- cial duties. The court has yet to rule on whether Kenyatta and Ruto can be excused from parts of their trials or whether they can participate by a video link. Proceedings, though not

trials, against the two were under way before their election victory in March this year. Tedros said the ICC was “conde- scending” towards Africa. “The court has transformed itself into a political instrument targeting Africa and Afri- cans. This unfair and unjust treatment is totally unacceptable,” he said. Kofi Annan has said withdrawing from the court would be a “badge of shame”, while Archbishop Desmond Tutu voiced support for the court. Amnesty International urged Af- rican nations not to cut ties with the court, saying victims of crimes deserved justice. “The ICC should expand its work outside Africa, but it does not mean that its eight current investigations in African countries are without basis,” Amnesty’s deputy di- rector of law and policy, Tawanda Hondora, said. Lawyers for Kenyatta asked last week that his trial on charges of crimes against humanity be abandoned, say- ing that defence witnesses had been intimidated.

Shane Hickey and agencies

The African Union has called for cases against sitting leaders in the interna- tional criminal court (ICC) to be de- ferred until the politicians leave office. Foreign ministers in the 54-mem- ber African Union called for the cases of the Kenyan president, Uhuru Ken- yatta, and his deputy, William Ruto, to be delayed amid claims that the court unfairly targets African countries. A proposal for African nations to withdraw from the ICC – which has been criticised by the former UN sec- retary general Kofi Annan – did not gain support at a summit in the Ethio- pian capital, Addis Ababa. “Sitting heads of state and govern- ment should not be prosecuted while in office. We have resolved to speak with one voice to make sure that our

Accused … Kenyan leader Kenyatta

while in office. We have resolved to speak with one voice to make sure that our
while in office. We have resolved to speak with one voice to make sure that our
while in office. We have resolved to speak with one voice to make sure that our
 

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 11

International news

 

Clinton: we need to talk about spying

 

Former US secretary of state calls for sensible debate on surveillance

Former US secretary of state calls for sensible debate on surveillance

Guardian reporters

Hillary Clinton has called for a “sensi- ble adult conversation” to be held in a transparent way, about the bounda- ries of state surveillance highlighted by the leaking of secret NSA files by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. In a boost to Nick Clegg, the British deputy prime minister, who is plan- ning to start conversations within government about the oversight of Britain’s intelligence agencies, the for- mer US secretary of state said it would be wrong to shut down a debate. Clinton, who is seen as a front- runner for the 2016 US presidential election, said at Chatham House in London: “This is a very important question. On the intelligence issue, we are democracies, thank goodness:

both the US and the UK. We need to have a sensible adult conversation about what is necessary to be done, and how to do it, in a way that is as transparent as it can be, with as much oversight and citizens’ understanding as there can be.” Her words were echoed by the British shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, who repeated her call in a speech in July for reform of the oversight of the intelligence agen- cies. Cooper, a former member of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee that oversees the agencies, said: “I have long argued that checks and balances need to be stronger – this would benefit and maintain confidence in the vital work of our security and intelligence agen- cies as well as being in the interests of democracy.”

Key to security? NSA files leaked by Edward Snowden have highlighted international concerns Felix Clay

The conciliatory language of Clin- ton and Cooper contrasted with that of the British security service MI5, whose director general, Andrew Parker, warned last week that the leaked documents by Snowden had provided a gift to terrorists. The former Labour foreign secre- tary Jack Straw reinforced that mes- sage last Friday, criticising the Guard- ian for publishing articles based on the leaked documents. Straw, who was British foreign secretary during the Iraq war in 2003, told the BBC:

“They’re blinding themselves about the consequence and also showing an extraordinary naivety and arrogance in implying that they are in a position to judge whether or not particular se- crets which they have published are not likely to damage the national in- terest, and they’re not in any position at all to do that.” Clegg, who agrees with Straw that in some cases the Guardian was wrong to publish details from the NSA files, believes the leaks show the need to

consider updating the legal oversight of Britain’s security services. Aides said he would be calling in experts from inside and outside Whitehall amid concerns that the leaked files show that powerful new technolo- gies appear to have outstripped the current system of legislative and po- litical oversight. The agencies are overseen in three ways in Britain: they are answer- able to their relevant secretary of state, accountable to parliament’s intelligence and security committee, and answerable to the intelligence commissioners. David Bickford, a former legal di- rector of MI5 and MI6, said that the current oversight regime for Britain’s intelligence agencies was “obviously inadequate”. Clinton did not comment on the UK’s oversight arrangements, but she indicated that she was wholly supportive of the approach adopted by President Barack Obama who – in contrast to the British prime minister –

has said he welcomes a debate on sur- veillance in the wake of the NSA leaks. Answering a question from the Guardian at Chatham House, the former secretary of state said the discussion had to take place within a framework that addressed issues of privacy and protection of citizens be- cause some surveillance programmes remained a “really critical ingredient in our homeland security”. Clinton, who is considering whether to make her second chal- lenge for the Democratic presidential nomination, added: “It would be go- ing down a wrong path if we were to reject the importance of the debate, and the kinds of intelligence activities that genuinely keep us safe. “So how do we sort all of this out? This is a problem that is well over a dec- ade old, where these capacities have corresponded with increasing out- reach to consumers on the business side and increasing concern about se- curity on the government side. People need to be better informed.”

MI5’s criticism of Guardian revelations has a hollow ring to it

 

Comment Richard Norton-Taylor

 

director, told the Times newspaper last week that the leaks by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden were “the most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever, much worse than [Guy] Burgess and [Don- ald] MacLean in the 50s”. Yet the business secretary, Vince Cable, told BBC Radio that the Guard- ian had performed “a very consider- able public service”. He called for “proper political oversight” of the security and intelligence agencies. Then Nigel Inkster, a former

deputy chief of MI6, told BBC Radio that the Snowden leaks were “com- parable” to those by the Cambridge spies, “only worse”. Yet last month he described the leaks as “very embar- rassing, uncomfortable and unfortu- nate”. He added, clearly referring to al-Qaida-inspired terrorists: “I sense that those most interested in the activities of the NSA and GCHQ have not been told very much they didn’t know already or could have inferred.” It is unclear whether, as those who make the dramatic comparison

with the Cambridge spies suggest, the spooks are concerned more about information getting into the hands of the Russians and Chinese than the “gift” the leaks gave to ter- rorists, as the head of MI5, Andrew Parker, put it in a speech. And it is perhaps ironic, given the dramatic comparison made by some, that the real damage done by the Cambridge spy ring – as opposed to the embarrassment it caused British ministers and spooks – has almost certainly been grossly exaggerated.

Britain’s spooks are striking back. Weeks, months, after the Guard- ian, Washington Post and German magazine Der Spiegel published documents about the massive sur- veillance operations of GCHQ and the NSA, they are saying the leaks have done more damage than the infamous Cambridge spy ring. Sir David Omand, a former GCHQ

12 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

International news

Italy to step up migrant safety patrols

PM triples air and sea watch to halt the flow of Mediterranean disasters

Lizzy Davies Rome and agencies

Italy is to triple its air and sea presence in the Mediterranean between north Africa and Sicily in a bid to make it “as safe as possible” for migrants making the perilous journey in overcrowded and rickety boats, the prime minister, Enrico Letta, has said. Speaking after a fortnight during which at least 390 people lost their lives in disasters involving capsized vessels, Letta announced that Italy would this week launch a military and humanitarian mission in the part of the Mediterranean he said had been “turned into a tomb” in recent days. “We will spend a lot of money. We will triple the naval and air units that are currently working in the Strait of Sicily,” he was quoted by La Repub- blica as saying last Saturday. Italy has repeatedly called for co- ordinated action by the European Un- ion to tackle the crisis on its doorstep, and the issue is likely to feature promi- nently at a summit on 24 October. But, he said, the issue needed to be tackled immediately and “we cannot wait for European decisions to be taken and acted on”. The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that unmanned Predator drones were being consid- ered for use in surveillance. The interventions came after

ered for use in surveillance. The interventions came after Mourning … an Italian flag at half

Mourning … an Italian flag at half mast marks the recent deaths at sea Getty

another 34 bodies were recovered from the latest stricken vessel that sank south of Sicily last Friday. More than 200 passengers were rescued. Some of the survivors say they were shot at by another vessel soon after they left Libya. Meanwhile, a further 19 bodies were found in a boat that sank last week, bringing the death toll from that incident to 358. An Ital- ian naval spokesman, Commander Marco Maccaroni, said his units also rescued 180 people from other boats

in the same area overnight in a further indication of the relentless flows of migrants braving the Mediterranean. More than 30,000 migrants ar- rived in Italy and Malta in the first nine months of 2013, compared with 15,000 in all of 2012, according to the UN refugee agency. The majority leave from Libya, which has emerged as a funnel for migrants from as far afield as Senegal, Somalia and Syria. The number who left Libya rose sharply in September, according to the UN

refugees agency, UNHCR. In all, 4,619 people left Libya for southern Europe in September on a total of 32 boats. In September 2012 the figure was 775. “The numbers are unprecedented,” said Emmanuel Gignac, UNHCR mis- sion chief in Libya. “Why it is happen- ing is a good question. Lack of border controls, lack of capacity, and war.” UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for action to prevent future tragedies “that places the vulner- ability and human rights of migrants at the centre”, while Pope Francis la- mented that “too often we are blinded by our comfortable lives, and refuse to see those dying at our doorstep”. At least 70,000 Syrians are reg- istered in Egypt as refugees. Many, including thousands of Palestin- ians who fled the war in Syria, are not registered, and use the country as a stopover before mak- ing a perilous sea trip to Europe. Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, called on fellow EU leaders to prove they are committed to end- ing migrant boat tragedies, warning that “we will be reporting more deaths next year” unless concrete action is taken soon. He said Europe was turn- ing the Mediterranean into a “ceme- tery” by its failure to act. “I don’t know how many more people need to die at sea before something gets done.” Muscat said that when there was a financial crisis, all Europe pulled to- gether to ensure other countries did not go down. “Right now, we have a humanitarian crisis and I hope that, for Europe, money is not worth more than people’s lives.”

France shows its support for independent booksellers

Hélène Bekmezian Alain Beuve-Méry Le Monde

Supporting bookshops is one of the few issues on which both sides of the French parliament more or less agree. On 3 October they passed a bill to up- date a 1981 law that set a fixed-price system for books. The original aim of the revision was to stop sellers including postage in the price of books, but in its final draft the amendment stipulates that retailers cannot combine the currently allowed 5% discount on new books with free post and packaging. At present only two online companies – Amazon and Fnac – apply this two-tier reduction. Online booksellers now represent the third-largest trading network in France, behind independent book-

shops and big cultural chains (such as Fnac), both of which have 23% market share. In 2012 the internet accounted for 17% of sales of “general literature”. “E-trade now holds a 20% share of the market for printed books and is putting increasing pressure on book- shops,” says Vincent Chabault, a re- searcher at Paris Descartes University. French bookshops have been slow to respond to the internet. Despite be- ing represented by a single body, the French Booksellers Association (SLF), they have focused their efforts on maintaining their independence, and have failed to agree on a common web- site for online sales. The only venture of this sort, 1001libraires.com, was a commercial disaster that cost the trade almost €2m ($2.6m). “All bookshops are losing money at present, even if

Grant to aid booksellers

A

new head is to be appointed for

France’s National Book Centre. On taking office his or her top priority will be to convene a board meet- ing and release funds allocated

by the government to help retail booksellers. The €11m ($14.5m) package, announced in March, will double support (rising to €2m) for online trading. The Institute for Funding Films and Cultural Industries will receive €5m to help bookshops manage cashflow, with

a

further €4m given to the As-

sociation for the Development of Creative Booksellers to assist the transfer of bookselling businesses. Le Monde

they have an internet outlet, but at the same time they cannot afford not to be

represented online,” says Guillaume Husson, the head of SLF. The new amendment should reduce Amazon’s competitive advan- tage and ease the financial pressure on Fnac. Free postage, which is a key feature of Amazon’s strategy, costs the company an estimated $5.1bn world- wide, SLF alleges, condemning the practice as a form of dumping. In response, Amazon France said that it makes “more than 70% of its sales with remainders” and that it is

more “complementary” rather than “in competition” with French book- sellers, who sell mainly new books. It also suggested that, by raising the price of books, the amendment would be bad news for consumers.

 

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 13

International news

 

Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this ≥ Then Section and Page XX

 
  Wealth gap in Spain is ‘EU’s biggest’
 

Wealth gap in Spain is ‘EU’s biggest’

Paul Hamilos Madrid

Spain is the most unequal society in Europe, according to a report that finds 3 million Spaniards now live in conditions of “extreme poverty”, and another study that shows the number of millionaires has increased.

A

report by the Catholic charity

Caritas says more than 6% of Spain’s

 

Crisis … a Red Cross critique of the response to the EU debt crisis highlights a rising demand for food parcels AP

‘Despair’ in austerity Europe

population of 47 million lived on €307 ($417) a month or less in 2012, double the proportion in 2008 before Spain was hit by the recession, which has left 26% of its workforce unemployed.

A

study by Credit Suisse finds that

 

the number of millionaires in Spain rose to 402,000 last year, an increase

of 13% on 2011, emphasising the wid- ening gap between rich and poor. Announcing the findings of the Caritas report at a press conference in Madrid, Sebastián Mora, general sec- retary of the charity’s Spanish arm,

 

Red Cross report focuses on joblessness, social unrest and poverty

the near future … We wonder if we as

depression, resignation and loss of

a

continent really understand what

hope. Compared to 2009, millions more find themselves queueing for

food, unable to buy medicine or ac- cess healthcare. Millions are without

 

has hit us.” The damning critique, of the policy response to the debt crisis that

 

surfaced in Greece in late 2009 and raised questions about the viabil- ity of the single currency, foresees gloomy prospects for tens of millions of Europeans. Mass unemployment, especially among the young, 120 million Euro- peans living in or at risk of poverty; increased waves of illegal immigra- tion clashing with rising xenophobia in the host countries; growing risks of social unrest and political instabil- ity estimated to be two to three times higher than most other parts of the world; greater levels of insecurity among the traditional middle classes:

all combine to make a European future more uncertain than at any time in the postwar era. “We see quiet desperation spread- ing among Europeans, resulting in

a

job and many of those who still have

warned of “a situation of neglect, injustice and the dispossession of people’s most basic rights”. He said that while poverty was widespread in Spain, it mainly affected the most vulnerable. The economic crisis had “produced a weakening of family ties and other safety nets, particularly in the public sector”. The top 20% of Spanish society is now seven-and-a-half times richer than the bottom fifth, which reflects the biggest divide in Europe, says Car-

Ian Traynor Brussels

work face difficulties to sustain their families due to insufficient wages and skyrocketing prices. “Many from the middle class have spiralled down to poverty. The amount of people depending on Red Cross food distributions in 22 of the surveyed countries has increased by 75% between 2009 and 2012. More people are getting poor, the poor are getting poorer.” Youth unemployment figures in

Europe is sinking into a protracted period of deepening poverty, mass unemployment, social exclusion, greater inequality, and collective despair as a result of austerity policies adopted in response to the debt and currency crisis of the past four years, according to an extensive study due to be published this week. “Whilst other continents success- fully reduce poverty, Europe adds to it,” says the 68-page report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “The long-term consequences of this cri- sis have yet to surface. The problems caused will be felt for decades even if the economy turns for the better in

a

quarter of the countries surveyed

itas. “The report paints a picture of a more fractured, more divided society, where the middle class is disappearing and a minority has access to wealth, goods and services while the majority sits outside,” Mora said. The ruling rightwing People’s party has introduced austerity measures to deal with public debt that is nearly

 

ranged from 33% to more than 60%. But just as destructive to families, the report said, is the soaring jobless level among 50- to 64-year-olds that has risen from 2.8 million to 4.6 mil- lion in the EU between 2008 and 2012.

Leader comment, page 22 ≥

Russia takes brutal line against protesters

100% of GDP, but many fear that these are hitting the poorest sectors of society disproportionately hard. Last week the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muižnieks, issued a report warning

Kathy Lally Washington Post

Putin’s inauguration as president. To

they saw him hitting a police officer.

the north in Murmansk, a ship’s doc- tor, a photojournalist on assignment and a former radio reporter who had

Amnesty International called him a prisoner of conscience.

that “cuts in social, health and educa- tional budgets” had led to a worrying

Courts from Moscow to Murmansk sent out an uncompromising message last Tuesday: Russian authorities will not tolerate protest, from the weak or the powerful, on land or at sea. In a reminder of the Soviet era, a Moscow court ordered a 38-year-old disabled man to be confined to indef- inite psychiatric treatment. Mikhail Kosenko was found guilty of rioting and assaulting police at a 6 May 2012 demonstration on the eve of Vladimir

 

A

psychiatrist from the Serbsky

growth of family poverty in Spain. “This has had a particularly negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights by children and persons with disabilities.” The OECD’s first global study of adult skills has revealed that Spain

been on a Greenpeace ship seized af- ter a protest against Arctic drilling lost their appeal for bail. Accused of piracy along with 27 others, they will remain

Institute, where many dissidents were confined in the Soviet era, said Kosenko was insane. An independent psychiatrist disagreed and pointed

 

in

Kosenko had been classified as disabled ever since he was beaten up as a young army draftee in a brutal initiation attack that left him with brain damage. No witnesses said

jail until at least 24 November.

out that he had never displayed aggressive behaviour.

 

In

a tweet Sergei Mitrokhin, head

came bottom for levels of literacy and numeracy in a list of 24 countries, raising concerns about its ability to emerge quickly from the crisis.

 

of the opposition Yabloko party, de- clared: “In fact, it is a restoration of the punitive psychiatry of Soviet times.”

 

14 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

Finance in brief

Finance

Green shoots in Irish economy

Finance in brief Finance Green shoots in Irish economy Looking ahead … an activist warns against

Looking ahead … an activist warns against possible welfare and health cuts in Ireland’s 2014 budget Corbis

After years of austerity, Ireland tipped to grow by more than 2% next year

Henry McDonald

Observer

Five years after the Irish government decided to stand behind its crippled banks – in a bailout that cost €70bn ($95bn) and forced the country to go to the EU and International Monetary Fund for its own rescue package – Ireland is officially out of recession. Growth is projected at 2.7% next year. This week finance minister Michael Noonan will deliver the seventh con- secutive austerity budget, with deep cuts to social welfare spending and other controversial measures ex- pected. But three sectors of the econ- omy that suffered gravely – construc- tion, small businesses and tourism – all report signs of recovery. Each is arguing against any VAT or indirect tax rises, and for the government to cre- ate a more favourable environment to boost private business, big and small. Two people working in some of the sectors hit hardest by the economic collapse, small business and tourism,

here look ahead to their own and their nation’s prospects.

The cafe owner

A possible increase in VAT is the

thing Garrett McMahon and his part- ner Triona fear in the budget. A few months ago the couple took an enor- mous gamble by setting up a coffee shop in Glasnevin, close to Dublin’s Botanical Gardens and the river Tolka. Having invested their life savings, Mc- Mahon worries that any rise in VAT in the hospitality industry from its cur- rent 9% would severely dent profits and put their dream in danger. The government cut VAT in the sector from 13% to 9% to boost con- sumer demand. “If they were to put it back up to 13%, that would mean 4% off every euro we make,” McMahon says. “We don’t want to be passing on higher prices to our customers.” While still upbeat, he says the climate for small businesses needs to be less restrictive: “We pay €2,500 rates to the city council. We pay for our water, we pay for our bins and we still have to sweep our own footpath every day.”

The marketing man Paul O’Kane, public affairs director

at Dublin airport, notes that between

January and July this year there was a 14% increase in traveller numbers. He puts down the rise to several factors, including a spike in transatlantic traf-

fic and the presence on Irish soil of the US customs and immigration service, which means passengers don’t have to go through heavy security checks after landing in the US. “We have more routes across the At- lantic than many British and European cities: there are now 224 flights per week from Dublin to north American destinations.” Aer Lingus is opening up new routes to San Francisco and Toronto in spring next year. Cynics say the 700,000-plus pas- senger figures are boosted by young emigrants seeking jobs abroad. O’Kane disagrees and cites the ex- tra tourists coming to Ireland and additional numbers from Northern Ireland, Britain and further afield us- ing Dublin as a link to North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Oth- ers claim that a recent tourist cam- paign aimed at the worldwide Irish diaspora has contributed to the surge. The one thing O’Kane doesn’t want to see is any increase in the €3 flat- rate tax imposed on all flights, long- or short-haul. Given tourism is a big

invisible export, that seems unlikely.

Iceland’s defiance of overseas creditors was a bold stroke Dublin dare not emulate

Iceland and Ireland were facing parallel financial meltdowns in autumn 2008, with their banks over-extended but the two nations took dramatically different paths. Ireland, locked into the eurozone, was unable to rely on the cushion- ing effect of a weakening currency. In contrast, the Icelandic krona lost much of its value, greatly helping export businesses.

While Ireland insisted it would use taxpayer funds to bail out its banks, Iceland said it could not af- ford to bail out any of its big three banks and let them collapse into administration. Foreign creditors could go hang. Economists were soon declaring it a masterstroke. But the contrasting reactions owed a great deal to necessity. Iceland, a tiny country of 317,000

people with an output of less than $15bn, could never have mustered the financing to bail out its biggest banks. That said, it did have rich natural resources. Ireland had no such resources to fall back on. Its economy is built on housing the European headquarters of US mul- tinationals. Looking after overseas investors is a central tenet of Irish economic policy. Simon Bowers

The White House named

Janet Yellen as the first woman to head the US Fed- eral Reserve, arguably the most important job in world finance. The nomination ends a long – and often bitter – pub- lic debate about Barack Oba- ma’s choice for Fed chairman. Yellen has long been seen as the frontrunner to succeed Ben Bernanke, who is set to step down early next year.

Chinese authorities have

arrested and charged the chairman of the world’s largest producer of refined tin, Yunnan Tin Co, over al- legedly accepting bribes, a provincial government said, in the latest example of the country’s crackdown on graft. Lei Yi, Yunnan Tin’s chairman, is charged with taking $3.3m in bribes from four people, the Yunnan gov- ernment said on an official website.

The 2013 Nobel prize in

economics was awarded to Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller. The awarding committee said the trio’s separate pieces of work had “laid the foundation for the current understanding of asset prices”.

America’s biggest bank,

JP Morgan, made a loss in the third quarter of 2013 after legal expenses of $9.2bn caused by a wave of regulatory investigations and potential lawsuits. The bank, thought until recently to have weathered the financial crisis well, has put aside $23bn for potential litigation since 2010 and said its legal bills could be $6.8bn more. Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive, described the loss – his first since taking charge in December 2005 – as painful, though also said underlying performance is “really good”.

Foreign exchanges

Sterling rates

(at close)

11 Oct

4 Oct

Australia

1.69

1.70

Canada

1.66

1.66

Denmark

8.77

8.82

Euro

1.18

1.18

Hong Kong

12.37

12.46

Japan

156.76

156.13

New Zealand

1.92

1.93

Norway

9.56

9.57

Singapore

1.99

2.00

Sweden

10.32

10.29

Switzerland

1.45

1.45

USA

1.59

1.61

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 15

UK news

University challenge

The UK must find a new way of funding

Kicker here like this

Then a short description here like this

Then Section and Page XX

≥ Will Hutton, page 21

this Then Section and Page XX ≥ Will Hutton, page 21 ≥ Welcome to Britain …

Welcome to Britain … ministers including George Osborne were alarmed to hear of Chinese tourists buying more designer goods in France PA

Osborne opens doors to rich Chinese with new visa system

Chancellor moves to improve relations with Beijing after rift over Dalai Lama

Nicholas Watt

George Osborne has heralded the “next big step” in Britain’s relation- ship with Beijing, unveiling a new visa system to make it easier for Chinese business leaders and rich tourists to visit the UK. In a sign of Downing Street’s deter- mination to reset relations with Bei- jing, which unofficially downgraded Britain’s status after David Cameron met the Dalai Lama last year, the chan- cellor told an audience in the Chinese capital that no country in the west is more keen to attract Chinese invest- ment than Britain. Osborne, who began a five-day trade mission to China last weekend, told students at Beijing University: “I don’t want us to try to resist your eco- nomic progress, I want Britain to share in it. And I want us all to take the next big step in the relationship between Britain and China. Because more jobs and investment in China mean more jobs and investment in Britain. And that equals better lives for all.” As a first step the chancellor announced that Britain will make it

easier for Chinese business leaders to visit the UK by introducing a 24-hour “super priority” visa service. In the biggest step, a separate pilot scheme will allow selected Chinese travel agents to apply for UK visas simply by submitting the application form used for the EU Schengen visa. The scheme is aimed specifically at the high-end tourism market, after figures showed that wealthy Chinese tourists are not bothering to apply for a UK visa after applying for a Schen- gen visa, which allows them to visit 22 out of the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Ministers were understood to be alarmed when one study found that Chinese tourists were buying vastly higher numbers of expensive designer handbags in Paris than in London. The chancellor said: “These changes will streamline and simplify the visa ap- plication process for Chinese visitors, while ensuring the system is strong and secure. This is good news for Brit- ish business and tourism.” The Foreign Office has no difficulty with the relaxed visa system, which

will be administered through its em- bassy in Beijing and consulates in Shanghai and other high-growth cit- ies. But concerns have been voiced to the chancellor and the prime minister from within the Foreign Office that Britain needs to tread with care in the light of China’s human rights record and its aggressive cyber-attacks. Cameron is understood to have heard the Foreign Office’s concerns with sympathy. But he is determined to open a new chapter in Britain’s rela- tions with China after declaring that the “Bric” countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – would be a prior- ity. He has led two trade missions to India but has visited China only once as prime minister, three years ago. Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, who has recently re- turned from Beijing, spoke of a “mas- sive Chinese investment” worth tens of billions of pounds in nuclear power and other sources of energy in Britain. Davey told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that there would also be big energy investments from Japan and South Korea. The China General Nuclear Power Group has been in talks

with EDF Energy about taking a stake of up to 49% in the deal to build a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point. Osborne’s trip – in which he is being accompanied in part by the London mayor, Boris Johnson, and four other government ministers – is designed to pave the way for a long-awaited trade mission to China by the prime minis- ter. Cameron was forced to abandon a visit to China earlier this year when Beijing punished him for meeting the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, in London in May 2012 with Nick Clegg. The prime minister abandoned ten- tative plans for a trip to China in April after Beijing indicated that he was unlikely to be granted meetings with senior figures. The UK government said no plans had been finalised and the new Chinese leadership, which only took over in March, needed time to bed down. The Osborne and Cameron trips, which have been pencilled in for the autumn for some months, were the subject of intense negotiations in Whitehall.

John Pilger, page 18 ≥

16 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

 

UK news

 

Young ‘worse-off than parents’

 

Big switch after energy price rise

Middle-class children face debt and job fears, concludes inquiry

On your marks … poor students aren’t the only ones at risk Frank Baron

On your marks … poor students aren’t the only ones at risk Frank Baron

Terry Macalister

Daniel Boffey Observer

More than 50,000 energy consum- ers have switched their suppliers and many more were expected to follow in the aftermath of the 8.2% price increase levied by SSE last week, experts say. Other “big six” energy firms are be- lieved to be temporarily holding back their plans to raise bills in the hope they soak up customers opting to leave SSE. The mass switching will be wel- comed by the government, which had urged consumers hit by the price rise to find cheaper options. Paul Green, the marketing manager at Energyhelpline, said that at the end of last week his switching company had had six times the activity seen on normal days. “I would think that around 50,000 people overall have switched their energy providers – not necessarily all from SSE – following the price rise,” he said. The SSE price rise – the first to be an- nounced by one of the big six this win-

Today’s middle-class children are on track to be the first in more than a century to be materially less well-off in adulthood than their parents, the leaked findings of a government com- mission reveal. The findings show the existence of

a

national trend not experienced since

the early 20th century, with children from families with above-average in- comes as well as the most deprived set to enjoy a worse standard of living than their mothers and fathers. The social mobility and child pov- erty commission, established by David Cameron, was expected to warn this week that government initiatives have all too often been aimed at the poorest 10%. Yet the inability to get on in life is a now a major and grow- ing problem for middle-class children, and they are in dire need of attention. A Whitehall source said: “This will be controversial, but for the first time in over a century there is a real risk that the next generation of adults ends up worse off than today’s gen- eration. This is a problem for the chil- dren of parents with above-average incomes, not just a problem for those at the bottom.” The findings will electrify the po- litical debate over the “squeezed middle”, who have done so badly in the economic downturn. Such was the expected political impact that the planned publication date for the commission’s report was delayed so that it did not clash with the autumn

party conference season and become “a political football”, according to one government source. Among its conclusions, the com- mission was expected to say that those at particular risk are low- attaining children who are not poor enough to enjoy additional help from the system, but whose parents are not wealthy enough to insulate them from failure. Pupils on free school meals benefit from an additional £14,300 ($22,900) to improve their chances in life through the pupil premium. Yet nearly two-thirds of those who fail to attain an A to C grade in English and maths are from backgrounds not considered to be deprived. The cross-party com- mission describes this group as the

“missing piece in the jigsaw” of the government’s education policies. The commission was also expected

to

warn that children in the south-

ter – will take effect from 15 November and force up the cost of living for more than 7 million customers. SSE blamed government policy charges and green levies for the increase.

east but outside London are being let

down. Children in the capital on free school meals do 50% better in their GCSEs than those in other regions.

A

major cause of this geographical

Michael Fallon, the energy minis- ter, encouraged people to consider

shift, the commission is expected

to

say, is that a higher proportion of

switching to one of the company’s rivals. “The best answer here is more

high-quality heads and teachers live

in

disadvantaged areas in London, in

competition. I would encourage cus- tomers to look at the tariffs they are on, and see if they can switch,” he argued. But the Labour leader, Ed Miliband,

part because of the “London weight-

ing” wage lift for those in the capital. Some of the weakest schools, it is set

to

point out, are located in bastions

made an impassioned attack on SSE,

of

middle England, such as Peterbor-

accusing it of ripping off customers and said the latest “scandal” showed why the government needed to act.

ough, west Berkshire, Herefordshire and satellite areas around London.

Labour to end ‘ideological experiment’ of free schools

Nicholas Watt

greater oversight than the free schools championed by the education secre-

of

the 2010 intake of MPs promoted

The interventions by Hunt and

in

last week’s reshuffle, highlighted

Reeves show that they are following in the policy footsteps of their pre- decessors, Stephen Twigg and Liam Byrne, who were demoted in the reshuffles. Twigg had outlined plans for par- ents to be allowed to set up academies – subject to more stringent oversight than Gove’s free schools – in his No School Left Behind speech in June. Hunt and Reeves appear able to speak more freely and openly than Twigg and Byrne, who supporters be- lieve were constrained by more senior members of the shadow cabinet.

A

new generation of academies, to be

tary, Michael Gove. Hunt, who was promoted to the shadow cabinet in this month’s La- bour reshuffle, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I am in favour of parent- led academies which are going to be good parent-led academies. And we will keep the good free schools when we get into government. But have no doubt, what we have seen recently is an ideological experiment with our young people.” Hunt, 39, spoke in favour of reform as Rachel Reeves, 34, another member

further fresh thinking when she said Labour would be tougher than the Tories on cutting the welfare budget. The new shadow work and pensions secretary said Labour’s job guaran- tee scheme means the long-term un- employed would not be allowed to “linger on benefits”. Under the guarantee, to be funded by reinstating the tax on bankers’ bonuses, those aged under 25 will be offered a job after one year out of work. Those aged over 25 will be of- fered a job after two years out of work.

 

led by parents and social entrepre- neurs, will be established by the next Labour government as it seeks to press ahead with reforms while ending the Tories’ “ideological experiment” with free schools, the new shadow educa- tion secretary, Tristram Hunt, said last weekend. Hunt pledged to support parents and teachers who want to set up new schools. But they would only be able to open in areas where there is a short- age of places and would be subject to

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 17 Kicker here like this Kicker here like this UK news
The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 17
Kicker here like this
Kicker here like this
UK news
Then a short description here like this
Then a short description here like this
Then Section and Page XX
Then Section and page XX
The leader of the English
British detectives release
new efits of McCann suspect
Police seek man who
was seen carrying child
away from crime scene
Defence League, Tommy
Robinson, last week quit the
extreme rightwing group
and apologised for causing
fear among British Muslims.
Robinson said he was sorry
for helping to create a culture
of “us and them” and for
frightening the UK Islamic
community, and would now
talk to police to help them
investigate dangerous racists
in the organisation.
Britain’s newspaper industry
Sandra Laville
The face of a suspect in the investiga-
tion of the disappearance of the Brit-
ish three-year-old Madeleine McCann
in Portugal six years ago has been re-
leased to the public by detectives.
Police have issued two efits that
they believe are descriptions of the
same man, who is now being sought
as a priority by the British detectives
leading the new McCann inquiry.
In what police are calling a new un-
derstanding of events on the night of
3 May 2007, witnesses described see-
ing the brown-haired man carrying an
infant from the direction of the Ocean
Club complex in Praia da Luz towards
either the centre of town or the beach,
said Detective Chief Inspector Andy
Redwood, who is leading a Metropoli-
tan police review of the case.
Descriptions of the suspect were
given to the Portuguese inquiry by
two witnesses after Madeleine dis-
appeared. It is only now, after Met
detectives cross-referenced informa-
tion gathered by Portuguese detec-
tives, private investigators and mo-
bile phone data, that the significance
of the witness statements has been
fully understood. A new, 25-minute
has been given a blunt warning
by the government that it risks
being subject to full statutory
regulation if it refuses to ac-
cept a royal charter designed
to place the system on a lighter
footing. The charter introduces
a
small fee for complainants
Face to face … British police efits of the man they want to talk to Getty
wishing to use the new arbi-
tration scheme and includes
changes to the committee that
draws up the newspaper code
of practice, abolishing a previ-
ous quota system.
reconstruction of the events of 3 May
2007, with a child actor playing Ma-
deleine, was screened on the BBC’s
Crimewatch programme in the UK
this week, resulting in several hundred
new phone calls and emails to police.
“The efits are clear and I would ask
the public to look very carefully at
them,” Redwood said. “If you know
who this person is, please come for-
ward. Whilst this man may or may not
be the key to unlocking this investiga-
tion, tracing and speaking to him is of
vital importance to us.”
Redwood is leading the £5m ($8m)
British investigation into the sus-
pected abduction of Madeleine in May
2007 while her family were on holiday
in Praia da Luz.
The inquiry is focusing on 41 sus-
pects and requests for assistance have
been issued to 30 countries in a bid to
identify and eliminate these people,
15 of whom are British.
The sighting took place at about
10pm, notably later than police’s pre-
vious assumption of when Madeleine,
three, was taken from the family’s
apartment. The man is described as
white and aged in his 30s, with short
brown hair, of medium build and
clean-shaven. The child he was car-
rying was aged three to four, blonde,
and may have been wearing pyjamas.
Police officers across the
country supplied informa-
tion on workers to a blacklist
operation run by Britain’s
biggest construction compa-
nies, the Independent Police
Complaints Commission told
lawyers representing victims.
The admission was welcomed
by campaigners for the 3,200
workers whose names were
on the blacklist as “absolute
evidence” of a conspiracy be-
tween the state and industry
that lasted for decades.
Scotland Yard’s counter-
Royal Mail shares soar 38% on debut
terrorism command arrested
four suspects in London last
Sunday in connection with
a
suspected terrorist plot to
Rupert Neate
The government has been accused of
shortchanging taxpayers by selling off
Royal Mail at a knockdown price after
shares in the privatised postal service
rose by 38% on their debut last Friday.
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader,
said the jump in the share price –
which made an immediate £284
($455) paper profit for almost 700,000
Royal Mail investors – showed that the
privatisation was a “fire sale of a great
British institution”.
Royal Mail stock, which the govern-
ment sold at 330p, leapt to 455p on the
first day of trading – the biggest one-
day rise in a privatisation since British
Airways in 1987. They were expected
to rise higher in the following days.
Chuka Umunna, the shadow busi-
ness secretary, said the steep share
price rise showed that the government
had “massively shortchanged” taxpay-
ers by significantly undervaluing the
institution.
Royal Mail’s initial market value
rose by £1bn to £4.3bn – confirm-
ing that it will join the FTSE 100 list
of Britain’s biggest companies. The
government had valued Royal Mail
at a maximum of £3.3bn, and had at-
tacked analysts’ valuation of £4.5bn as
“way out”. If the government had sold
the shares at 450p, rather than 330p,
it would have made an extra £600m
for the taxpayer on top of the £1.7bn
it made from the 52% stake in Royal
Mail. But sources close to the transac-
tion said institutions would not have
bid at that price.
Billy Hayes, the general secretary of
the Communication Workers Union,
which represents more than 100,000
postal workers, said: “Privatisation is
about greed. I think [business secre-
tary] Vince Cable … made one of the
stupidest mistakes in politics on pri-
vatising Royal Mail.”
The public applied for more than
seven times the number of shares
available to them, which meant nearly
everyone did not get as many shares
as they had asked for.
Meanwhile, Royal Mail staff are
pushing ahead with plans for strikes –
in opposition to privatisation – in the
runup to Christmas.
launch a Mumbai-style attack.
Police said the arrests were
made “on suspicion of the
commission, preparation or
instigation of acts of terror-
ism under the Terrorism Act
2000”.
Inquiries into allegations
of sexual abuse by Jimmy
Savile could be extended to
more hospitals after police
uncovered information relat-
330p
The price put
on the shares.
If they had been
sold at 450p, the
taxpayer would
have made an
extra £600m
ing to the BBC star, the health
secretary said. Investigations
are under way at 13 hospi-
tal trusts, but Jeremy Hunt
said new inquiries could be
launched after police found
relevant information” .
Savile, who died in 2011 aged
84, is believed to have abused
hundreds of children.
News in brief
18 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 Comment&Debate China’s role in Africa is Obama’s obsession C ountries
18 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13
Comment&Debate
China’s role
in Africa is
Obama’s
obsession
C ountries are “pieces on a chessboard upon
which is being played out a great game
for the domination of the world”, wrote
Lord Curzon, the viceroy of India, in 1898.
Nothing has changed. The shopping mall
massacre in Nairobi was a bloody facade
behind which a full-scale invasion of Africa
With minimal media interest, the US African Com-
mand (Africom) has deployed troops to 35 African
countries, establishing a familiar network of authoritar-
ian supplicants eager for bribes and armaments. In war
games a “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds US officers
at every level of command from general to warrant of-
and a war in Asia are the great game.
The al-Shabaab shopping mall killers came from So-
malia. If any country is an imperial metaphor, it is Soma-
lia. Sharing a language and religion, Somalis have been
divided between the British, French, Italians and Ethio-
pians. “When they are made to hate each other,” wrote a
John Pilger
British colonial official, “good governance is assured.”
Today Somalia is a theme park of brutal, artificial
divisions, long impoverished by World Bank and IMF
“structural adjustment” programmes, and saturated
with modern weapons – notably President Obama’s
personal favourite, the drone. The one stable Somali
government, the Islamic Courts, was “well received by
the people in the areas it controlled”, reported the US
Congressional Research Service, “[but] received nega-
tive press coverage, especially in the west”. Obama
crushed it; and last January Hillary Clinton, then secre-
tary of state, presented her man to the world. “Somalia
will remain grateful to the unwavering support from the
United States government,” effused President Hassan
Sheikh Mohamud. “Thank you, America.”
The shopping mall atrocity was a response to this
– just as the Twin Towers attack and the London bomb-
ings were explicit reactions to invasion and injustice.
Once of little consequence, jihadism now marches in
lockstep with the return of unfettered imperialism.
Since Nato reduced modern Libya to a Hobbesian
state in 2011, the last obstacles to Africa have fallen.
“Scrambles for energy, minerals and fertile land are
likely to occur with increasingly intensity,” report Min-
istry of Defence planners. As “high numbers of civilian
casualties” are predicted, “perceptions of moral legiti-
macy will be important for success”. Sensitive to the PR
problem of invading a continent, the arms mammoth
BAE Systems, together with Barclays Capital and BP,
warns that “the government should define its interna-
tional mission as managing risks on behalf of British
citizens”. The cynicism is lethal. British governments
are repeatedly warned, not least by the parliamentary
intelligence and security committee, that foreign adven-
tures beckon retaliation at home.
ficer. The British did this in India. It is as if Africa’s proud
history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson
Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master’s
black colonial elite – whose “historic mission”, warned
Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the subjugation of
their own people in the cause of “a capitalism rampant
though camouflaged”. The reference also fits the son of
Africa in the White House.
For Obama, there is a more pressing cause – China. Af-
rica is China’s success story. Where the Americans bring
Where America brings
drones, the Chinese
build roads, bridges and
dams. Al-Shabaab and
co march in lockstep
with this imperialism
drones, the Chinese build roads, bridges and dams.
What the Chinese want is resources, especially fossil
fuels. Nato’s bombing of Libya drove out 30,000 Chinese
oil industry workers. More than jihadism or Iran, China
is
Washington’s obsession in Africa and beyond. This is
“policy” known as the “pivot to Asia”, whose threat of
world war may be as great as any in the modern era.
Last week’s meeting in Tokyo between John Kerry,
the US secretary of state, Chuck Hagel, the defence
secretary, and their Japanese counterparts accelerated
the prospect of war. Sixty per cent of US naval forces
a
are to be based in Asia by 2020, aimed at China. Japan
is
re-arming rapidly under the rightwing government
of Shinzo Abe, who came to power in December with a
pledge to build a “new, strong military” and circumvent
the “peace constitution”.
A US-Japanese anti-ballistic-missile
system near Kyoto is directed at
China. Using long-range Global Hawk
drones, the US has sharply increased
its provocations in the East China and
South China seas, where Japan and
China dispute the ownership of the
The threat of a world
war stemming from
the US ‘pivot to Asia’
policy may be as
great as any in
the modern era
Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Both countries now deploy ad-
vanced vertical take-off aircraft in Japan in preparation
for a blitzkrieg.
On the Pacific island of Guam, from where B-52s
attacked Vietnam, the biggest military buildup since the
Indochina wars includes 9,000 US marines. In Australia
last week an arms fair and military jamboree that di-
verted much of Sydney is in keeping with a government
propaganda campaign to justify an unprecedented US
military build-up from Perth to Darwin, aimed at China.
The vast US base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs is, as
Edward Snowden disclosed, a hub of US spying; it is also
critical to Obama’s worldwide assassinations by drone.
“We have to inform the British to keep them on side,”
McGeorge Bundy, an assistant US secretary of state,
once said. “You in Australia are with us, come what
may.” Australian forces have long played a mercenary
role for Washington. However, China is Australia’s big-
gest trading partner and largely responsible for its eva-
sion of the 2008 recession.
The dangers this presents are rarely debated publicly
in Australia, where Rupert Murdoch, the patron of the
prime minister, Tony Abbott, controls 70% of the press.
Occasionally, anxiety is expressed over the “choice”
that the US wants Australia to make. A report by the
Australian Strategic Policy Institute warns that any US
plan to strike at China would involve “blinding” Chinese
surveillance, intelligence and command systems. This
would “consequently increase the chances of Chinese
nuclear pre-emption … and a series of miscalculations
on both sides if Beijing perceives conventional attacks
on its homeland as an attempt to disarm its nuclear ca-
pability”. In his address to the nation last month, Obama
said: “What makes America different, what makes us
exceptional, is that we are dedicated to act.”
Matt Kenyon
 

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 19

Comment&Debate

The key to Buddhism’s western flourish

Madeleine Bunting

Madeleine Bunting

Tibetan monk Choje Akong Rinpoche, who was murdered in China last week, fought against the odds to preserve an entire cultural tradition

B uddhism’s popularity over the past half-

century in the west has surprised and

dismayed in almost equal measure. Along-

side the fad for Buddhist statues in garden

centres, there has been a much more seri-

ous engagement with hundreds of cen-

 

tres opening, many of the most dynamic

founded by Tibetan Buddhists. Given that Tibet had limited contact with modernity until the 20th century, it’s been an extraordinary story of cultural export. The vivid colour and spectacle of Tibetan Buddhist monas- teries, and the warmth and humour of their teachers, have contributed to making Buddhism into a rare reli- gious success in a deepening secularism. Central to this history was the remarkable life of Choje Akong Rinpoche, co-founder of the first Tibetan monastery in the west, who was murdered in Chengdu in China last week. As a small child he was taken from his nomadic family to a monastery as an important rein- carnation. Throughout his childhood he was honoured as a great teacher. At the age of 19, as the Chinese arrived in Tibet and destroyed thousands of monasteries, he set off on foot for India, a journey of indescribable suffering in which hundreds of fellow refugees died of starva- tion, exhaustion and attacks. Four years later in 1963 he arrived in England and worked as a hospital orderly in Oxford supporting a fellow Tibetan monk who was studying. Within a few years he had gone from a life of immense monastic prestige to scrubbing toilets. Anyone visiting Samye Ling, the monastery Akong Rinpoche co-founded in the Scottish Borders in 1963, or the London centre in Bermondsey, cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer scale of the ambition they repre- sent. This kind of institution-building by a refugee com- munity and the volunteer effort it has inspired are hard to match. The temples are lavishly decorated with paint- ings and statues according to Tibetan practice, and the rituals and ceremonies are an extraordinary spectacle of drums, bells and chanting by Tibetan monks, as well as dozens of western counterparts – an experience of Tibet in the rainy hills of the Scottish Borders. Some found the Tibetan influence immensely appealing; others were bemused at the deeply ritualistic approach. Akong Rinpoche was a traditionalist and one of his driving motivations was the preservation of Ti- betan Buddhism, in particular his Kagyu lineage (one of four lineages or sects in Tibetan Buddhism), in the face of a concerted Chinese effort to obliterate Tibetan cul- ture. In recent years he and a team gathered thousands of single-copy manuscripts and took copies of them out of Tibet to be saved. What was at stake was an entire cultural tradition. Ken Holmes, a Buddhist teacher and close associ- ate for over 40 years, believes this was a task of im- mense value. “Tibetan Buddhism, when it is properly understood, has the most profound and complete understanding of the human mind and its possibilities. An immense treasure has been stored in Tibet all these years.” Hundreds of devoted followers would agree. On

Andrzej Krauze

one occasion I found myself in the London centre for an “empowerment” ritual. The entire compound, newly refurbished by volunteers, looked resplendent and was heaving with thirty- and fortysomethings gathered to welcome Akong Rinpoche. It was the kind of reception that his neighbour, the archbishop of Canterbury, would have relished. Other Buddhist teachers are more critical. John Peacock, once himself a Tibetan Buddhist monk, argues that western followers romanticise the Tibetan association and fail to distinguish between what is Tibetan cultural practice and Buddhism. “Tibetan Bud- dhism is deeply sectarian,” he says.

B ut what Peacock and Holmes agree on is that Akong Rinpoche developed over the last decade a remarkable programme of humanitarian work in Tibet and among Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India. He set up schools, clinics and reforestation pro- jects, and supported monasteries and stu-

dent monks in universities in China and India. It is a pio- neering model of socially engaged Buddhism in a faith sometimes criticised for its preoccupation with spiritual development to the neglect of material wellbeing. Akong Rinpoche supervised dozens of other projects.

What lay behind all of them was Akong Rinpoche’s re- markable skills as a diplomat and a manager. He was a modest, quiet man but he was brilliant at organising. He walked a diplomatic tightrope to safeguard his develop- ment projects in Tibet, withdrawing from any public meetings with the Dalai Lama for fear of giving offence to the Chinese. Peacock sees his success as symptomatic of a re- markable refugee community that has managed to re-establish itself and set up flourishing monasteries in several parts of the world. He points to the history of Tibetans as one of traders and entrepreneurs between the two great civilisations of India and China. Holmes sees something else in Akong Rinpoche – an extraordi- nary ability to inspire others to live out the compassion on which he based all his teachings. The fundraising was never about soliciting big donations but about dozens of dogged initiatives, many of which lasted decades with- out losing a clear vision of the ultimate goal.

Within a few years, Akong Rinpoche had gone from a life of immense monastic prestige to cleaning toilets

   

20 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

Comment&Debate

 

The future for Egypt looks grim indeed

 

T he Obama administration’s decision to sus- pend some military aid to Egypt is a clear case of better late than never. Although an announcement was originally planned for August, its timing now is a warning to Cairo’s military coup-makers that their repressive treatment of the opposition

thuggery against its opponents. Yet Mohamed Morsi’s many failings cannot match, let alone justify, what has happened since the coup of 3 July this year. Equally grim is the virtual absence of public criti- cism or peaceful protest from other sectors of Egyptian society other than the Brotherhood’s supporters. The Twittersphere is still free for dissent and there have

risks plunging Egypt into uncontrollable violence.

It was predictable that General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s refusal to relax the clampdown on the Muslim Brother- hood would provoke violence. In what other country

not yet been reprisals or arrests for posting anti-army comments there or on Facebook. The regime sees this as

useful safety valve. More significant is its flooding of

a

the official press, the TV stations and the talkshows with grotesque smears of the Brotherhood and all its works,

 

is

an elected president held for three months with no

access to his family or lawyers? In what other country

as well as of the few prominent non-Brotherhood figures

are demonstrators routinely shot without warning? Egypt has not seen such brutal repression for decades.

The last few years of Hosni Mubarak’s rule now seem almost benevolent: in spite of tight overall control, dem- onstrations were more or less tolerated and the Brother- hood was allowed to run candidates for parliament as independents. Egypt’s regime-influenced courts have started proceedings not just to ban the political party that the Brotherhood set up after 2011 but to outlaw the organisation and its social welfare network altogether. The Brotherhood’s own record on human rights, dur- ing the year it had partial power in Egypt, was not good.

It

made little effort to rein in the police, whose abuses

who have spoken out, such as Mohamed ElBaradei. Primitive though the propaganda is, it has convinced an astonishing number of otherwise sensible Egyptians. As

Jonathan Steele

a

result, politics have become almost completely polar-

The US decision to stop military aid will not prevent General Sisi and his followers from plunging the country deeper into violence

ised. The chances of eventual reconciliation look flimsy. Some Salafis have joined the Brotherhood’s protests but the al-Nour party, which represented them in the last election, still wavers between support for the coup and silence. A few secular liberals mutter behind a comforting intellectual stance of “neither the Brother- hood nor the army”, but unless this fence-sitting is abandoned in favour of open condemnation of today’s main threat to civil liberties – which comes from the army – it is politically vacuous. The business community hunkers down and hopes for a few crumbs, even though the economy is in tatters and cannot live for ever off loans from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Tourism is dead and last week’s attacks near the Red Sea resorts, the first violence there for several years, will further delay its recovery. Yet, far from contributing to stability, what General Sisi and his civilian followers are doing will only con- demn Egypt to greater turmoil. If Iraq is any guide, the next stage will be terrorist violence against civilians. General Sisi will probably put himself forward for the presidency, claiming Egypt needs a new strongman. But what it really needs is a gradually recovering economy; social justice; a properly managed, non-abusive police force; a politically engaged citizenry; and the enabling environment of media pluralism, multi-party options and civic tolerance that are the true pillars of stability.

were one of the main complaints that led to the dem- onstrations in January 2011. Indeed, there were times when the Brotherhood was willing to encourage police

Andrzej Krauze
Andrzej Krauze

Comment is free In brief

More at theguardian.com/commentisfree

If you must lie on your CV, at least go all out

I must be sick. All my symptoms are on the web

Everyone lies on their CV don’t they (guys? Guys?). I’m not talking mas- sive great lies like top barrister Den- nis O’Riordan’s, who was suspended for having claimed to have two first- class degrees and a doctorate from Oxford and a master’s from Harvard, but little lies, like “I am a highly mo- tivated and enthusiastic employee.” Or bumping up your A-levels a grade or two. Or saying you have A-Levels. You know, minor stuff. In O’Riordan’s case, thems were some big, big lies, but the fact that he felt he needed them tells us something about the way things still work in the UK. He chose the most prestigious institutions that he could, those that are prized by his profession above all others, rather than admit who he really was. While colleagues, one of whom anonymously posted on a forum for lawyers (“Had Gordon Brown-style

 

eruptions when challenged – now at least we know why. Had plenty to hide”) were unsympathetic, I have to admit that I felt a pang.

Ever sat at your laptop, doggedly convinced that you could prove your tiredness after a day at the office was

of syndromes out there on the worldwide web. Why exactly do we find cyber- chondria so seductive? Partly, of course, because lying in bed with your laptop is a hell of a lot less strenuous than making a doctor’s appointment. Partly because of embarrassment about conditions one might not feel comfortable bringing up with another human being. Even though most of us might readily admit to Googling our sore throats, the cyberpsychology study points out that some so-called cyberchondriacs get trapped in a cycle of anxiety. In America, where the study was conducted, a num- ber of people who had diagnosed themselves ended up obsessing about medical bills and job loss to the point where they became too worried to see a real doctor at all. Holly Baxter

Many of us fall prey to status anxi- ety, especially when we come into

contact with those coming from lives of unimaginable privilege. It makes me wonder how many other people are up to their necks in high-status careers, having decided that the truth – that they went to schools like mine – was less appeal- ing than a fantasy. Now that jobs are vanishing over- night, there must be even more of

something way trendier than stress, like anaemia? Then congratulations:

I diagnose you with cyberchondria. That’s hypochondria for the digital age, FYI, and according to a study in the Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking journal, it’s on the rise. And you thought you only had brain cancer to worry about. I’m going to safely assume that most people reading this have indulged in a bit of disease tourism at some point in their lives. Paraneo-

a

temptation to lie. If Oxford does

plastic pemphigus? Sure, I’ll take that. Oppositional defiant disorder? Sounds plausible. Sars? Juvenile arthritis? Asperger’s? Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency? All realistic contenders for what’s incubating in your sinuses, once the internet’s involved: it’s a veritable sweetshop

indeed raise its fees to $25,000 a year, as it proposed last week, I’ll hazard that O’Riordan won’t be the only one opting for a phoney degree. After all, it’s free, and it works. Until you get caught. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

 

The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 21

Comment&Debate

 
  In praise of Talea de Castro
 

In praise of Talea de Castro

There was no need for the NSA in Talea de Castro, since there was no privacy to breach. A remote coffee- growing village in the Mexican mountains, its repeated requests for a mobile mast were declined by tele- com giants, which thought it would yield small beans. Costly calls had to be made from borrowed landlines in the middle of shops, while urgent communications were bellowed through a PA system for the whole village to hear. Undaunted and des- perate, the 2,500 citizens created their own phone company, using radio receivers, a laptop and open- source software, with signed paper receipts serving as pre-pay credit. The cut-price system supports only 11 calls at once, but that’s a huge advance for a community that is unused to making “I’m on the bus” type calls. If the millions who live in parts of the world without modern communications follow this self- starting lead, big corporates will one day regret refusing to answer Talea de Castro’s call.

Universities in UK face funds crisis

E ngland’s universities have been humming as another wave of near 340,000 undergradu- ates begin their rite of passage into adult- hood. University is their gateway to knowl- edge, a career and a future. But, above all, it is about learning to think for themselves, becoming themselves, even.

The university sector is one of the few parts of the English institutional structure that still works. Over the decades ahead, as new technologies, unleashed by dig- itisation, transform our economic base, the universities should be an important asset to the country, both as a fountainhead of knowledge and as a unique space for bringing together people, society, business and ideas. Instead, the unsustainable system of student finance

plunged into the maelstrom) comes with interest at- tached. At the very least, graduates are charged an inter- est rate equal to the retail price index, scaling up to the RPI plus 3% once their incomes exceed £41,000. Today, this implies an effective top interest rate of a whopping 6.3%. Only the US has the same cavalier ap- proach, but the average graduate debt there is a mere £15,700, with much lower interest rates, and a good third of American students leave with no debt. The Eng- lish combination of high interest rates and sky-high debt is a unique double whammy. The impact of compound interest on debt that is only repaid slowly is deadly; only those students who earn very high salaries early in their careers can escape being locked into a debt trap. There are insufficient jobs that pay enough to allow even a fraction of each year’s 340,000 students to es- cape the trap. The average salary is £26,500. Only about 10% of the population earn more than £41,000. Even allowing for the fact that wages usually rise faster than prices, it follows that many, perhaps even the majority of students will struggle to fully pay back their debt. Unless there is some bold political leadership, the fu- ture is becoming clearer. Oxford, Cambridge and a hand- ful of other top English universities will want to charge more than £9,000 to support their expensive teaching, while offering even more generous fee rebates and scholarships to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. They would preserve themselves in the short term as premier institutions. But they would have caused a uni- versity system to fragment, leaving less strong universi- ties in an impossible position, and further entrenching the noxious class stratifications in English society. What is needed is a mixed economy of student fi- nance. Universities create the public good of knowledge and thus more wealth; they should be paid for in part by general taxation and in part from moderate student fees with negligible interest. But loading the burden for university financing on to the shoulders of the innocent young, while their elders are washing their hands of responsibility, is a disgrace. England will pay a high price for such arrant selfishness.

Will Hutton

Observer

Unless student finance is changed, the graduates will be mainly children of the very wealthy

could so fragment the sector that not only will the standard university be endangered, but so will the char- acter of the elite. The facile belief that market structures are the solution could undermine a great system. Complacency surrounds the new regime of £9,000 ($14,000) tuition fees. So far, admissions to university have held up. The effort to persuade students that the repayment of up to £45,000 of debt works more like a graduate tax, affordable because your degree makes you more valuable, has plainly worked. Yet take a closer look and the picture is more disturbing. Although the proposition was that there would be a range of fees, few universities charge less than £9,000

a

year. Indeed, average fees are about £8,400. Accom-

modation and living costs have to be paid for on top, so

that almost whatever university a student attends or whatever the degree taken, he or she will end up with about £45,000 of debt. Even so, universities such as Oxford, warned its vice- chancellor last week, may have to charge more, given that government support for teaching has been emascu-

lated (I am principal of an Oxford college, Hertford, and also chair the Independent Commission on Fees). This is

fragile system that is going to break. One fatal weakness is that English student debt (Scot- tish, Welsh and Northern Irish students have not been

a

22 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 theguardianweekly Europe’s recession 18 October 1967 Sick roots beneath green
22 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13
theguardianweekly
Europe’s recession
18 October 1967
Sick roots beneath green shoots
Anything left to
rebel against?
Since the economic crisis began in 2007-08,
the ubiquitous image has been a financial
storm. But today, as well as producing a bat-
tery of depressing statistics about the fallout
from Europe’s long recent recession, the In-
ternational Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies talks of the “roots of the cri-
sis” having been “planted”, roots that it insists
will yield bitter growth for many years yet.
The Red Cross is particularly well placed to
tally up the developing penury at the bottom
of the heap – hungry bellies have forced a 75%
rise in recourse to food assistance. Beyond
this intense hardship, there are the insecure
terms and conditions that are such a feature
of hard times in Britain and America, too.
What marks Europe out is unemployment.
Although conditions remain, in European
Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s phrase,
“weak, fragile, uneven”, the eurozone is tech-
nically in recovery. Joblessness, however, re-
mains stubborn at over 12% – five points more
than in Britain, and twice as high as it ever got
during Japan’s 20-year, on-and-off slump.
The Red Cross charts problems with men-
tal and physical health, which connect back
to this reality. Even more chilling is the con-
centration of worklessness on the youth, at a
stage in life when enforced idleness incurs an
economic penalty that endures for decades.
With youth unemployment running at 30%,
50% or even 60% in the worst-hit countries,
the wages and opportunities of a generation
are going to be set back long into any recovery.
Sick roots will long lurk beneath proclaimed
green shoots. For purposes of both immediate
cure and future prevention, the most impor-
tant thing is to grasp the cause.
The orthodox analysis, of course, is all
about social protections making the continent
a cripplingly costly place to hire a hand. But
the conventional wisdom is awry. For this is
not fundamentally a story about minimum
wages or maximum hours. The real explana-
tion here is macroeconomic, just as it was in
the entirely pre-regulated American economy
of the 1930s, where unemployment soared to
double the dreadful levels of contemporary
Europe. German neurosis about inflation has
precluded the same liberal use of the elec-
tronic printing presses in Britain and America,
so the monetary stance remains tighter.
The long years of European muddling
through, from crisis to crisis, have never ad-
dressed any of this. The single currency got
out of the emergency room in 2012 when Mr
Draghi promised to do “whatever it took” to
shore up stricken banks, part of an implicit
bargain that also involved the south swal-
lowing interminable austerity. Today’s messy
politics in Greece and Italy, which flow from
popular rage about unending retrenchment,
suggest that it should not be assumed that
the south’s acquiescence will last for ever.
The people of Europe will be paying the price
for the last few years for many more to come.
YESTERDAY: The passing of the
deadline for this article has sharp-
ened my speculations concerning
Permissiveness versus Authority.
Let us take, for example, a hypo-
thetical situation in which (say) the
“Guardian” represents Authority,
faced with a contributor who wishes
to assert his individuality failing to
present his copy on time. Any rea-
sonable person’s sympathy will in
this case go to the writer. However,
it may be that several writers have
made a similar assertion; who now is
required to display permissiveness?
FOR NEW READERS — THE STORY
SO FAR:
Nobel prizes
Curiouser and curiouser
Physics and chemistry Nobels often reward
endeavours that began as pure curiosity. The
shorthand is “blue skies research”, work with
no obvious practical application.
When the new physics laureates Peter
Higgs and François Englert first proposed a
particle now called the Higgs boson, the skies
could not have been bluer. In 1964 there was
a proposal that matter, space and time may
have pecked out of some kind of cosmic egg,
and a counter-proposal that the universe was
eternal. For most people, both arguments had
no more substance than fairytales. Almost 50
years on, Cern’s Large Hadron Collider has
more or less produced an answer to the ques-
tion about why matter has mass. But the Higgs
boson represents no practical gain.
Big deal? Yes. Because Higgs’s and Englert’s
questions were seemingly impossible to
answer, thousands of scientists had to devise
once-unimaginable ways of answering them.
Along the way, they achieved superconduct-
ing magnets of astonishing power, detectors
of exquisite sensitivity and computer systems
that could sift the fragments of 200m colli-
sions a second. Technological advances pio-
neered at Cern – which include the world wide
web – are all byproducts of curiosity, yet they
later enriched industry. So many advances
that enhance our lives and line our pockets
start the same way – with a nagging question.
Do heavy things fall faster? Why do things fall
at all? What is heat? Is light a wave, or a parti-
cle? Why is the sky blue?
Newton’s optics and mechanics, Davy’s
electrolysis experiments and Faraday’s games
with electromagnetism were all attempts
simply to answer fundamental questions
about the nature of our world. Governments
always try to devise mechanisms that will
turn fresh discovery into new business, but
the best investment of all could be in science
driven by pure curiosity. Visible matter makes
up only 4% of the universe. So the next thrill-
ing blue skies question is: what is the rest of
the universe made of?
John has been asked by the
“Guardian” to write an article called
“Is There Anything Left to Rebel
Against?” but is finding it difficult
because his own former Swiftian
savagery, corrupted by money and
showbiz life, has gone by the board.
Suddenly a paper is pushed through
his letterbox. The old sensations of
rage come flooding back. What is it
that he has found, and why does it
make him run screaming round the
room? NOW READ ON.
WARNING! Dangers of Complacency
Yes, I’d been lulled into think-
ing there was nothing left to rebel
against; after all, Miss Quant an-
nounced “Next spring I have a com-
plete body-stocking with plastic-
soled feet coming on to the market,”
and I’d been worrying like hell about
that. Sometimes you aren’t allowed
into a restaurant in a trouser suit.
Mary said she was wearing a velvet
suit, but they still wouldn’t let her
in. What sort of a country are we
living in? There are too many con-
formists around. John Bird
Corrections and
Clarifications
• The letter in Reply, 4 October,
was from the Tony Taylor in Sydney,
Australia, not the one in Victoria,
British Columbia, Canada.
• The 4 October Shortcuts piece
headed Ghana’s ghosts in the
machine actually described
conditions in Gabon.
The Guardian Weekly’s policy is to
correct significant errors as soon as
possible. Please give the date, page
or web link: reader@theguardian.
com The readers’ editor, Kings Place,
90 York Way, London N1 9GU,
United Kingdom.
The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 23 Follow us facebook.com/ Reply guardianweekly @guardianweekly Climate change and
The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 23
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facebook.com/
Reply
guardianweekly
@guardianweekly
Climate change and calamity
The latest IPCC report summarises
the work of many scientists who
have focused their research on the
issue of climate change (Scientists
say only 30 years to calamity unless
we act, 4 October). Yet they have not
been very successful in convincing
us that climate change is a major
issue. Recent elections in Australia,
Norway and even Germany have
shown that voters did not have a
major concern for the earth warming
up. In my country, people still buy
more gas-guzzling pick-up trucks
than cars. Why is that?
The main reason may be that
people have been warned of too
many dangers during the last
half-century. In addition to the
climate warming danger, we have
the increase in violence danger,
the terrorist threat, the antibiotic
overdose danger, the genetically
modified food danger and so on.
All these dangers have apparently
major potential catastrophic conse-
quences. People know that most of
these have to be taken with a grain of
salt. We would all be suffering from
anxiety disorders if we were to re-
spond to all these potential dangers.
The climate issue is obviously
serious. Scientists face strong
criticism from some businessmen
and conservative politicians. In
addition, people are more concerned
by the economic situation.
More importantly, one has the im-
pression that some of the scientists
concerned – or at least their loudest
supporters – want to use this poten-
tial danger to change our consumer-
ist way of life. This will not work in
developing countries and is proving
a challenge in western countries.
At best such an approach may only
slow the rise in demand for energy.
Instead, the focus should be
to encourage more research to
make nonpolluting energies price-
competitive and to develop inex-
pensive ways to considerably reduce
the impact of polluting energies.
When this goal will be achieved, the
problem will solve itself.
Francois P Jeanjean
Ottawa, Canada
tan, thus putting themselves at risk
of skin cancer, or pay money to get
fake tans or sit in expensive booths
that give them an artificial tan, at
great risk to their health.
It seems that wherever you are,
the grass is greener on the other
side. Is it just a human trait for so
many of us to wish we look different
from what we are?
Peter D Jones
Lenah Valley, Tasmania, Australia
Unitarian tolerance
approach aimed at reversing the
trend only to find that it is too late
anyway.
Terry Hewton
Adelaide, South Australia
When I read Esther Addley’s article
about atheist congregations (27
September), I wondered whether
these people had ever heard of
Unitarianism. When we lived in Eng-
land, my late husband and I found
no place to go on a Sunday. But in
Canada, a tip-off led us to the Uni-
tarians. You can believe in whatever
your idea of God is, or not.
Somehow, we are all nice people,
we have progressive opinions, we
get along, and the sense of fellow-
ship is overwhelming. We have no
final answers, just enquiring minds,
tolerance, kindness and a sense of
being part of the wonderful web of
life on this planet.
Jenny Carter
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
for greenhouse gases. Any crop
represents carbon dioxide removed
from the atmosphere. Indeed, pho-
tosynthesis is the only process that
can remove this greenhouse gas in
anything like the quantities required
(the effect is clearly visible in the
seasonal variation of CO2 concentra-
tion in the atmosphere).
Allowing this stuff to rot simply
returns the carbon to the atmos-
phere, making a large and generally
unacknowledged contribution
to our carbon footprint. What is
needed are technologies to recover
the carbon in a useful form, and
the obvious candidate for waste
food is anaerobic digestion, which
generates a gas that is about one-
half methane.
Graham Andrews
Spokane, Washington, US
Briefly
Terrorism has a cause
My interpretation of Angela
Jason Burke, in his article How much
should we fear jihadist terrorism
(4 October), misses the point.
So-called terrorism does not appear
from nowhere. People in the Middle
East have tried in vain for decades to
have their grievances addressed: for
example, the most important issue
of illegal occupation and annexation
of their lands – with “illegal”
referring to the taking of land with-
out the owners’ consent.
It is no wonder that some of
these people thus made power-
less have eventually found that
they had no choice but to use the
last resort open to them: armed
struggle. The solution, of course, is
to acknowledge and deal with their
legitimate concerns instead of just
assassinating them.
Who is the terrorist here?
Karola Mostafanejad
Geraldton, Western Australia
University place is wasted
Anders Breivik may have a legal
right to education, but he has
already attended the 16 mandatory
years of schooling in Norway (Why
Breivik is welcome at our university,
September 20). This means that he
should already have learned about
things such as democracy and free
will. Though he may have a poor
understanding of the matter, there
are plenty of other people who could
take Breivik’s spot in the political
science course that could make
better use of that education later
on in life, rather than wasting the
knowledge in a prison cell.
Sofia Holmquist
Oberwil, Switzerland
Merkel’s comment “What we have
done, everyone else can do” differs
from that of Timothy Garton Ash
(4 October). It strikes me that Merkel
is telling the other European coun-
tries that Germany’s success is due
to the fact that it lives within its
means. Which is why the German
people seem increasingly reluctant
to continue handing over their
hard-earned euros to countries like
Greece, Spain and Italy.
Frankly, it is wishful thinking to
believe that these countries will be
willing to give up a long-held culture
in exchange for a high degree of self-
control and discipline.
Shmaiel Nona
Burradoo, NSW, Australia
What the Republicans are doing
The irony of skin colour
• The trouble is that we are up
against our social limits in coming
up with a timely response to the
dire predictions in the recent IPCC
report. The dilemma remains: how
to meet the challenge in time by
benign, democratic means with-
out resorting to authoritarian,
dictatorial approaches.
If we continue in the delayed
reaction the report complains of,
we run a high risk of suddenly
panicking when apocalyptic dis-
aster is almost upon us and abruptly
switching to a desperate, knee-jerk
VV Brown, in her article on black
models (27 September), might have
also considered the human paradox
that, all over the world, women
view pale skin as more attractive
than dark skin, and sadly spend a
lot of money on trying to achieve
this. On the other side, women with
a fair skin sit out in the sun to get a
Food waste’s other problem
Your recent article on food wastage
(An ugly truth? 27 September)
failed to mention the implications
in the US senate is deliberate de-
structive behaviour for the sake
of scoring party points, regardless
of the consequences to ordinary
citizens (11 October). Their stance
is aimed at closing down the
government by making it impossible
to function in the way expected of
it, regardless of the damage done to
ordinary people. I hope it rebounds
on these soulless, self-seeking,
merciless barbarians.
Keith Short
Fortaleza-Ce, Brazil
So we elect a government to
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represent the people (4 October).
The government pays civil servants
in the UK to work out how to change
public opinion so they can spend
our money invading other people’s
countries. Is this how democracy
works?
Mike Kearney
La Mouche, France
weekly.feedback@theguardian.com
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Gary Kempston
24 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 Eyewitnessed Schoolgirls wave Vietnamese and Chinese flags to welcome the
24 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13
Eyewitnessed
Schoolgirls wave Vietnamese and Chinese flags to welcome the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, to Hanoi’s presidential palace at the start of an official three-day visit Kham/Getty
A sheep awaits judging at the 15th Russian Agricultural Golden Autumn Exhibition in Moscow.
Exhibitors from 70 regions of Russia and 30 countries attended Kirill Kudryavtsev/Getty
Evacuees cram into an auto-rickshaw as Typhoon Phailin battered villages near Gopalpur,
on the Odisha coast of eastern India. At least six people died as winds reached 200km/h G
The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 25 Weapons of choice at the World Conker Championships in Northamptonshire,
The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 25
Weapons of choice at the World Conker Championships in Northamptonshire, England, where
women were this year allowed to compete against men for the first time Mary Turner/Getty
An anti-independence Catalan man bedecked in the colours of the Spanish flag shows his
support for a unified Spain during a rally at Catalunya square in Barcelona Josep Lago/Getty
Muslims gather on Mount Mercy, near Mecca, at the start of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi
Arabia. Numbers of pilgrims are down 20% this year due to health and safety concerns Reuters

26 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13

26 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 Behind the black market dog trade Rising demand for dogmeat in
26 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 Behind the black market dog trade Rising demand for dogmeat in
26 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 Behind the black market dog trade Rising demand for dogmeat in
26 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 Behind the black market dog trade Rising demand for dogmeat in
26 The Guardian Weekly 18.10.13 Behind the black market dog trade Rising demand for dogmeat in

Behind the black market dog trade

Rising demand for dogmeat in Vietnam has forced suppliers to look outside the country. Kate Hodal investigates a brutal but highly profitable business

N guyen Tien Tung is the sort of man you’d expect to run a Hanoi

N guyen Tien Tung is the sort of man you’d expect to run a Hanoi slaugh- terhouse: wiry, frenetic and filthy, his white T-shirt collaged with bloodstains, his jean shorts loose around taut, scratched-up legs, his

feet squelching in plastic sandals. Hunched over his metal stall, between two hanging carcasses and an oversized tobacco pipe, the 42-year-old is surveying his killing station – an open-air concrete patio leading on to a busy road lined with industrial supply shops. Two skinless carcasses, glistening pure white in the hot morning sun, are being rinsed down by one of Nguyen’s cousins. Just two steps away are holding pens containing five dogs each, all roughly the same size, some still sporting collars. Nguyen reaches into one cage and caresses the dog closest to the door. As it starts wagging its tail, he grabs a heavy metal pipe, hits the dog across the head, then, laughing loudly, slams the cage door closed. Down the leafy streets of north Hanoi’s Cau Giay district, not far from Nguyen’s family busi- ness, sits one of the city’s most famous restau- rants, Quan Thit Cho Chieu Hoa, which has only one thing on the menu. There’s dog stew, served

in a soup of blood; barbecued dog with lemongrass and ginger; steamed dog with shrimp-paste sauce; dog entrails sliced thin like sausage; and skewered dog, marinated in chilli and coriander. This is just one of several dogmeat restaurants in Cau Giay, but it is arguably the most revered, offering traditional dishes in a quiet setting beside a canal. “I know it seems weird for me to eat here when

I have my own dogs at home and would never con- sider eating them,” says Duc Cuong, a 29-year-old

doctor, as he wraps a sliver of entrails in a basil leaf and takes a bite. “But I don’t mind eating other people’s dogs.” He swallows and clears his throat. “Dog tastes good and it’s good for you.” No one knows when the Vietnamese started eating dog, but its consumption – primarily in the north – underlines a long tradition. And it is increas- ingly popular: activists claim up to 5 million of the animals are now eaten every year. Dog is the go-to dish for parties, family reunions and special occa- sions. It is said to increase virility, warm the blood and help provide medicinal cures, and is considered

a healthy alternative to the pork, chicken and beef

that the Vietnamese consume every day. Some diners believe the more an animal suffers before it dies, the tastier its meat, which may explain the brutal way dogs are killed in Vietnam – usually by being bludgeoned to death with a heavy metal pipe, having their throats slit, being stabbed in the chest or being burned alive. “I’ve got footage of dogs being force-fed when they get to Vietnam, a bit like foie gras,” says John Dalley, a lanky British retiree who heads the Thailand-based Soi Dog Foundation, which works to stop the dogmeat trade in south- east Asia. “They shove a tube into their stomach and pump solid rice and water in them to increase

their weight for sale.” Nguyen has a simpler method for bumping profits: “When we want to increase the weight, we just put a stone in the dog’s mouth.” He shrugs, before opening up his cage for another kill. The government estimates that there are 10 million dogs in Vietnam, where dogmeat is more expensive than pork and can be sold for up to $48