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Thursday, April 14, 2005

BBC NEWS | Africa | Refugees trek to escape Somalia

BBC NEWS | Africa | Refugees trek to escape Somalia: Refugees trek to escape Somalia
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC, Malawi

A group of Somali asylum seekers has arrived in Malawi after walking more than 2,000 kilometres.

The 42 men said their trek had taken two-and-a-half months and they were refused refugee status in Tanzania and Mozambique en route.

A Malawian official told the BBC the men were emaciated and dehydrated when they were spotted by villagers after crossing the border from Mozambique.

The refugees said they were fleeing from the conflict in Somalia.

They said they were unaware of the peace efforts undertaken in recent months.

A government has been named in neighbouring Kenya, although it has not set up in Somalia because it is too dangerous.


The men said they had struggled to get enough water, food, or rest during their walk.

"We were refused asylum in Tanzania and Mozambique," the group's spokesman, Said Hassan, told officials in the southern Malawian district of Phalombe in halting English.

They fled Somalia for fear of being recruited into one of the militias which have controlled and fought for the country in the 14 years since there was last a functioning national government.

Phalombe District Commissioner Khumbo Chongwe told BBC News they were spotted by local villagers near the border with Mozambique.

"They looked tired and emaciated and in dire need of food, water and sleep," he said.

The group of men are between about 20 and 40 years old and are now being looked after in a local school and fed well.

They are to be transferred to Luwani refugee camp on Thursday after a football game is organised between them and some locals.

"We want to show them they are welcome in the Warm Heart of Africa," Mr Chongwe said.

The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, says there are about 16, 000 refugees in Malawi - mainly from Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cobb Moves on Laptop Program

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cobb Moves on Laptop Program: Marietta
Cobb Moves on Laptop Program
Apr 13, 2005, 7:36 PM

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) -- A concept to provide laptop computers for all high school students in the Cobb County system was approved by the county school board today, to be ushered in by a limited pilot program.

Spokesman Doug Goodwin said, "They approved the concept for the first phase of the program. The board did not vote on the contract."

Goodwin said the next step would be approving a contract for the pilot program which would cover four schools in the county.

Under the current plan, teachers would get laptops this year. Current computer connections at schools would be revamped and as many as four schools would become test sites for the laptop plan. The vast majority of high school students would not get laptops sooner than next year.

Japan Today - News - Karzai wants long-term security partnership with U.S. - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Karzai wants long-term security partnership with U.S. - Japan's Leading International News Network: "

japantoday > asia
Karzai wants long-term security partnership with U.S.

Thursday, April 14, 2005 at 08:03 JST
KABUL, Afghanistan — Catching U.S. officials slightly off guard, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking a long-term security partnership that could keep U.S. troops there indefinitely and make permanent the military relationship that began when American forces invaded his country in 2001.

Karzai made the statement Wednesday at a news conference with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was notably reluctant to discuss the Bush administration's level of interest in giving Afghanistan security guarantees.

Pressed several times on this point, Rumsfeld said it was a matter for President George Bush to decide. He noted that the United States had pledged to remain a friend to Afghanistan and to help rebuild the country.

But when it came to the question of a permanent military presence here, 'We think more in terms of what we're doing rather than the question of military bases and that type of thing,' he said.

In Washington, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said 'discussions are ongoing' with Karzai on future security arrangements. 'I don't want to speculate about anything beyond that,' McClellan said.

It is not clear whether Rumsfeld would favor a long-term military presence in Afghanistan. Some believe he would prefer a more flexible arrangement for U.S. aircraft overflight rights and possibly access to an Afghan air base for occasional training, refueling and other activities.

The Pentagon has already made such arrangements with other Central Asian nations. Rumsfeld generally favors that approach because it is less rigid and less expensive.

At the news conference with Rumsfeld, Karzai appeared eager to talk about his hopes for a permanent relationship with the United"

Japan Today - News - U.N. approves global nuclear treaty - Japan's Leading International News Network

japantoday > world
U.N. approves global nuclear treaty

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 at 07:59 JST
NEW YORK — The U.N. General Assembly approved a global treaty Wednesday aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism by making it a crime for would-be terrorists to possess or threaten to use nuclear weapons or radioactive material.

A resolution adopted by the 191-member world body by consensus calls on all countries to sign and ratify the "International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism." The treaty will be opened for signatures on Sept 14 and must be ratified by 22 countries to come into force.

"By its action today, the General Assembly has shown that it can, when it has the political will, play an important role in the global fight again terrorism," U.S. deputy ambassador Stuart Holliday told delegates after the vote. "The nuclear terrorism convention, when it enters into force, will strengthen the international legal framework to combat terrorism."

Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Konuzin, whose country sponsored the resolution, hailed it's approval.

"It's the first time that an anti-terrorist convention has been developed on the basis of preventing — that is not after the fact but before the terrorist acts which are criminalized by this convention," he said.

The treaty makes it a crime for any person to possess radioactive material or a radioactive device with the intent to cause death or injury, or damage property or the environment. It would also be a crime to damage a nuclear facility.

Threatening to use radioactive material or devices — or unlawfully demanding nuclear material or other radioactive substances would also be a crime. Accomplices and organizers would also be covered by the convention.

Countries that are parties to the treaty would be required to make these acts criminal offenses under their national laws, "punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of these offenses."

Russia launched the campaign for a treaty to combat nuclear terrorism more than seven years ago, when Boris Yeltsin was president. But it was stymied for years because countries believed the draft convention was trying to define terrorism — an issue that has deeply divided the United Nations.

Diplomats said the roadblock was broken after the drafting committee's last formal meeting in November, when the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference decided the new treaty could focus on criminalizing specific actions related to nuclear terrorism as other anti-terrorism treaties have done. (Wire reports)

Japan Today - News - Gaza settlers ready for resistance - Japan's Leading International News Network

japantoday > world
Gaza settlers ready for resistance

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Thursday, April 14, 2005 at 08:01 JST
NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip — Jewish settlers in Gaza have collected hundreds of tents and are stockpiling food for thousands of supporters they expect to arrive in coming days to help resist this summer's evacuation.

Removal of the 21 settlements from Gaza and four from the West Bank is shaping up as a traumatic social episode in Israel's history. There are warnings of opposition, even armed resistance, against thousands of police and soldiers who are to take down veteran settlements in those territories for the first time.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, winding up a visit to the United States, told NBC News earlier this week that the atmosphere around the pullout "looks like the eve of the civil war."

On Wednesday, Sharon told CNN he favored leaving the buildings in the settlements intact after the pullout but that depended on coordination with the Palestinians, which had not started yet.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser Al Kidwa complained to CNN that Israel had not given the Palestinians information about the buildings, adding "there should be no reward for any of the assets, because they were established illegally."

Settlers expect huge crowds to gather in Gaza to show solidarity during the weeklong Jewish holiday of Passover this month — and organizers are preparing for many of them to stay and oppose the evacuation, set for July.

The army says it has no intention of stopping the influx, even though the presence of thousands of protesters would further complicate the operation. There are plans to close the area in the weeks before the pullout.

Settler spokesman Eran Sternberg said organizers hope to bring 100,000 supporters to Gush Katif, the main Gaza settlement bloc, for Passover. He said police have issued permits for the gatherings, including concerts and marches.

Preparing for the friendly invasion, Gaza settler activist Datya Yitzhaki said she and her husband Arye have set up a "war room." An inspection of the warehouse showed hundreds of tents, parachute material and piles of canned food.

Arye Yitzhaki said the plan is to "pitch a tent in every backyard in Gush Katif." They said they expected hundreds of families and youths to stay in Gaza after the holiday.

Datya Yitzhaki said more equipment was to arrive next week, including generators and refrigerators.

To accommodate the reinforcements, Gaza residents are refurbishing abandoned buildings, shacks and barracks.

Official settler leaders have expressed their opposition to the evacuation in the strongest possible terms, even employing comparison with the Nazi Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were killed. While the leaders say their resistance will be nonviolent, security officials have been warning that extremists among the settlers or their backers might open fire on troops and police, try to assassinate Sharon or attack a Muslim holy site in bids to stop the pullout. (Wire reports)

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Asian giants keep up war of words

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Asian giants keep up war of words: Asian giants keep up war of words
China and Japan have kept up their war of words over disputed gas reserves and Japan's wartime behaviour.

China said Tokyo's decision to issue drilling rights in a disputed area of the East China Sea was a "serious provocation".

But Japan's Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura signalled he would take a tough line in weekend talks in China.

China has seen violent protests over Japanese textbooks which critics say play down Japan's wartime brutality.

The protests were also directed at Tokyo's bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

China and Japan increasingly competing for natural resources
Have never agreed a maritime border
Also dispute ownership of Senkaku/Diaoyu islands

The Chinese government said it had lodged a protest with Japan following Tokyo's announcement on Wednesday that it was starting to review applications to drill for gas in the East China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang called the decision a "serious provocation to the rights of China and the norm of international relations", according to China's state media.

Mr Machimura, who is due to make a one-day visit to Beijing on Sunday, signalled that Japan was not ready to back down over the row.

He repeated Tokyo's demand for an apology and compensation for damage caused by the protests.

"Destructive actions are not acceptable. We cannot accept remarks which appear to put the blame on Japan," Mr Machimura told a parliamentary panel.

China pledge


Senior diplomats from Japan and China are reported to have met in the Chinese capital, Beijing, on Thursday.

The Japanese news agency, Kyodo, said the Chinese side gave security assurances regarding Mr Machimura's Beijing visit.

Last Saturday, a 10,000-strong gathering marched in Beijing to voice their anger at the textbooks - the city's biggest protest since 1999.

Japan has already begun processing applications from companies which want to explore the disputed area of the East China Sea.

Both China and Japan claim the area as lying within their exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Japanese companies have been waiting for 40 years to be given the go-ahead to drill in the area, which has a potentially vast reserve of natural gas and oil.

China and Japan are heavily dependent on imported energy, and both are seeking new sources of energy to power their economies.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/14 07:27:30 GMT

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tiger Woods At The Masters
A Golf Shot for The Ages
16th Hole 4-10-2005

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Independent News

Independent News: "Home > News > World > Asia

Textbook war escalates as China and Korea vent their fury at Japanese rewriting of history
By David McNeill in Seoul
11 April 2005

Thousands of Chinese protesters pelted the Japanese embassy in Beijing with missiles and shouted "Japanese pigs come out" and "stop distorting history" over the weekend, dragging Sino-Japanese relations to a new low.

The protests against Tokyo's authorisation of textbooks that many Chinese say whitewash Japan's 15-year occupation is the latest incident to rock the shaky partnership between Asia's leading power and its rising star.

Protests also took place in South Korea, where Gil Won Ok and her elderly comrades gathered at the Japanese embassy in Seoul to plead, pray and bitterly denounce Tokyo. "Who will take away my pain," cried the frail 77-year-old who was barely a teenager when she was forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers. "Atone for the past and let me die in peace!"

The pensioners - among the few still alive from up to 200,000 comfort women (sex slaves) of the Imperial Japanese Army, have been assembling at the embassy since 1992 to demand an apology. But neither time nor mortality has dulled the emotional heat of their campaign, which is regularly stoked by what Chinese and Koreans consider fresh insults. The new textbooks, which Korean government spokesman Lee Kyu Hyung said "beautify and justify" Japan's occupation of much of Asia until 1945, have added fuel to the fire.

The most contentious history text removes all references to the comfort women and suggests that Korea and China invited or benefited from the Japanese occupation. A civics text claims jurisdiction over a clump of rocks called Takeshima (in Korean, Tokdo) that Korea has held since 1945. "What nonsense is this," said an editorial in the normally mild Korea Herald.

Written by a group of neo-nationalist academics, the two texts, with the backing of a right-wing media conglomerate, have sold nearly one million copies since 2001. This success has dragged the teaching of history sharply to the right: just one new history textbook out of eight mentions the comfort women this year, down from seven in the mid-1990s, and references to other war crimes have been toned down or dropped.

If Tokyo can afford to ignore the anguish of Gil Won Ok and her dwindling fellow survivors, however, the weekend riots in its biggest trading partner, China, are far more worrying. The textbooks have inflamed many already angry at Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Tokyo war memorial, the Yasukuni Shrine, and Japan's handling of the territorial conflict over the Diaoyutai (in Japanese, Senkaku) Islands claimed by both China and Japan. A boycott of Japanese goods is growing, and attacks on Japanese businesses in Chengdu and Shenzhen have spooked otherwise bullish investors.

The attacks come on the heels of an online campaign in China which claims to have gathered more than 25 million signatures against Japan's hope for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. China's foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said last week that China will not endorse Japan's UN campaign until the nation "clarifies some historic issues" regarding its aggression. In a year full of political and business possibilities, Tokyo is finding the way forward blocked by its undigested history.

Tokyo's response to the textbook controversy has been a series of bland statements calling on Korea and China to prevent differences in historical interpretation from damaging ties. "It is important to control emotions," Mr Koizumi said. But behind the diplomatic platitudes lies a hardening of sentiment among his fellow Liberal Democrats, well over 100 of whom - including his Education Minister, Nariaki Nakayama - publicly back the historical revisionist movement in schools. Under Mr Koizumi's government, hundreds of teachers have been punished for refusing to stand for the national anthem.

Many in the government say that Japan has apologised enough, and given enough cash - 3,000bn yen (£15bn) in overseas aid to China alone since 1980. China is stoking patriotism and anti-Japanese sentiment, they say, while Korea has failed to digest its own history of collaboration with Imperial Japan.

Historical revisionists also criticise US and European "hypocrisy" for failing to teach their own children about their colonial past. "Great Britain committed war crimes," one of the movement's leading lights, Professor Nobukatsu Fujioka, said. "America too. My concern is that Japanese children are taught to hate their country. They're taught that only Japan was wrong in the war. Don't all countries use history to instill pride in students?"

Japan is doing little to clear up its murky colonial past, however. "The Japanese government is inflaming opinion across Asia with these textbooks," said Takashi Hasegawa, a teacher and anti-textbook campaigner in Tokyo. "If they really think Chinese communists are to blame, why are they playing into their hands?"

Tokyo hopes that red-hot trade with China, which grew by 17 per cent last year as China surpassed the US as Japan's largest trade partner, and growing cultural links with Korea, will overcome the fallout from its unpopular take on history. But a looming clash of old nationalisms in the world's most dynamic economic region may not be good for business.

Although support among ordinary Japanese for school textbooks that extol the benefits of Japan's imperial rule in Asia is minuscule, the backing of much of the country's political leadership is bound to have an impact on the revisionist campaign. Revisionists already control the country's largest educational council in Tokyo, which will decide this summer whether the textbooks are to be used in thousands of schools.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Tiger Woods wins the Masters

CBS 46 Atlanta - Tiger Woods wins the Masters: "Augusta
Tiger Woods wins the Masters
Apr 10, 2005, 8:33 PM

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Tiger Woods is the Masters champion again, turning back a surprising challenge Sunday with a shot of sheer magic and a birdie putt to win a playoff he never expected.

A spectacular finish of birdies and bogeys finally ended when Woods produced the most important shot of all -- a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to capture his fourth green jacket and finally put away the gritty Chris DiMarco.

Woods knew it was over when the ball was a foot from the hole, taking two steps to the left as a smile broke out on his face and his right fist punched the air with fury. Everything else about this Masters was up in the air to the very end.

First came the most improbable birdie on the par-3 16th, when Woods skipped his chip shot up the slope and watched it crawl 25 feet down to the cup, where it paused for 2 full seconds before dropping. Then came an even greater surprise.

The greatest closer in golf looked like a first-timer at Augusta National, making a mess out of the last two holes to finish with two bogeys and allow DiMarco one more chance." >Taiwan bans official Chinese news agency, newspaper
Taiwan bans official Chinese news agency, newspaper

Related News »
• Taiwan opposition leader expected to visit China in May
• Taiwan government investigates opposition KMT's China visit
• More than 40 percent of Taiwanese favour proposed Lien-Hu summit: poll

TAIPEI : Taiwan barred journalists from China's official Xinhua news agency and People's Daily newspaper on Sunday as ties continued to deteriorate.

The two groups were barred less than five years after Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as part of its territory, lifted a decades-old ban on Chinese journalists.

"What we see is that reporters from Xinhua news agency and People's Daily have made little contributions to the understanding of the two sides," Wu told reporters.

"Sometimes their reports have had negative effects ... we feel we need to make some adjustments," Wu said, adding that the ban was "not permanent".

He rejected suggestions that the move was linked to China's anti-secession law, which providing legal grounds for an invasion of Taiwan and has been strongly condemned by Taipei and Washington.

Ties have also been under strain this week after Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian attended Pope John Paul II's funeral in the Vatican, prompting protests from Beijing.

Taiwan has been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Yahoo! News - Taiwan opposition leader expected to visit China in May

Yahoo! News - Taiwan opposition leader expected to visit China in May: Taiwan opposition leader expected to visit China in May

Sat Apr 9, 2:25 AM ET

TAIPEI (AFP) - Lien Chan, leader of Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, is expected to make an historic visit to China in May, KMT spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen said.

"Chairman Lien is likely to visit Nanjing, Beijing and perhaps Xian in a peace trip which will begin as early as next month," she said.

"We are not sure at this moment if Lien will meet (Chinese President) Hu Jintao during the visit," she told AFP, adding Lien's schedule is yet to be finalized.

Taiwan's Apple Daily reported Saturday that Lien will leave for the mainland on May 10 and is expected to receive the "highest treatment" from Beijing, including a meeting with Hu.

China last week extended an invitation to Lien while a KMT delegation, led by vice chairman P.K. Chiang, was on the first "bridge-building" trip to the mainland in more than 55 years.

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has accused the KMT of being a "communist propaganda tool" for visiting China after Beijing passed an anti-secession law threatening the island with war.

Taiwanese prosecutors are also investigating if the KMT broke the law by reaching a "10-point consensus" with Beijing to seek closer ties in areas ranging from air transport to investment in agriculture.

The legal move irritated the KMT.

"A government unable to properly handle cross-strait problems now wants to use the law against us. This is ridiculous, isn't it?" Lien said Wednesday.

The two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949 but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification -- by force if necessary.

Tensions have risen since Chen Shui-bian of the independence-leaning DPP won the presidency in 2000, ending the KMT's 51-year grip on power. He was re-elected last year.