January 5, 2004
World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
BUZZFLASH NOTE: Once again, these are the views and perspectives of the individual papers, not of BuzzFlash or Gloria. They offer BuzzFlash readers a way of reading what other nations are saying about the crisis, whether we like it or not. We repeat: This is not an endorsement of their viewpoints.
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WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR JANUARY 5, 2004
1//The Independent, UK--AFGHANS AGREE NEW CONSTITUTION PAVING PATH FOR ELECTIONS (After weeks of rancorous debate in which proceedings almost broke down, a grand assembly of Afghans agreed yesterday on a national constitution - a move that officials hope will clear the way for elections more than two years after American-led forces overthrew the Taliban.)
2//The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea--MARINES, COMMANDOS ADDED TO IRAQ DISPATCH (About 100 marines and 500 commandos are to be added to the Iraq dispatch, and be responsible for guard duties and peacekeeping in the designated area. An official at the Ministry of Defense said Sunday that the ministry is reviewing various plans in which to include the marines and commandos, in addition to the Special Warfare Command, for the guard duties and peacekeeping.)
3//The Japan Times, Japan--DPJ MAY AGREE TO RELAX
BAN ON WEAPONS EXPORTS
5//Inter Press Service, Italy--NUMBERS UP, WORKERS
DOWN AFTER 10 YEARS OF NAFTA
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Independent 05 January 2004
AFGHANS AGREE NEW CONSTITUTION PAVING PATH FOR ELECTIONS
After weeks of rancorous debate in which proceedings almost broke down, a grand assembly of Afghans agreed yesterday on a national constitution - a move that officials hope will clear the way for elections more than two years after American-led forces overthrew the Taliban.
A day after warning that the loya jirga (grand assembly) was heading for dismal failure, its chairman, Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, appeared before the 502 delegates gathered in a tent in Kabul and announced that a "very successful agreement" had been reached.
These words were music to the ears of the Bush administration, which, bogged down in a chronic guerrilla war in Iraq, is eager to show that its intervention in Afghanistan is making progress.
The country still faces a swath of problems, particularly a resurgence of the Taliban, al-Qa'ida and other anti-government militants in the southern and eastern borderlands whose persistent attacks have made large areas too dangerous for international aid agencies.
MARINES, COMMANDOS ADDED TO IRAQ DISPATCH
About 100 marines and 500 commandos are to be added to the Iraq dispatch, and be responsible for guard duties and peacekeeping in the designated area.
An official at the Ministry of Defense said Sunday that the ministry is reviewing various plans in which to include the marines and commandos, in addition to the Special Warfare Command, for the guard duties and peacekeeping. The official said that apart from 1,500 guard and peacekeeping troops, it is likely that a company of marines (about 100 soldiers) and a battalion of Army Special Forces (about 500 soldiers) would be added to the dispatch troops to Iraq.
The Korean Marine Corps were first deployed overseas in 1965, during the Vietnam War. It is second overseas dispatch for the marines, excluding 2002, when 26 Marine Corps were sent to Afghanistan to guard a medical unit. The commando units were first established in 1983 to defend against a rear attack from North Korea. The commandos have never been sent abroad
SAUDI SCHOLARS WARN AGAINST CHANGING SCHOOLBOOKS
RIYADH (Reuters) - Some 150 Saudis, including judges, university professors and a cleric with links to militants, have signed a document warning the kingdom against changing its Islam-based school curricula.
The warning, which was obtained by Reuters on Saturday, was signed on Jan. 1, a day after Saudi intellectuals, clerics and prominent personalities recommended educational reforms at the end of a conference held to tackle the roots of militancy.
Saudi Arabia is battling a wave of attacks by suspected militants believed to be linked to Saudi-born Osama Ben Laden's Al Qaeda. Suicide attacks have killed more than 50 people since May 2003.
The kingdom's education system has come under attack in the West for promoting hatred towards Christians and Jews. In October, education ministry officials began removing references they saw as encouraging militancy.
Saudi Arabia, along with five other Gulf countries, also agreed last month to amend its schoolbooks to help stamp out militancy.
DPJ MAY AGREE TO RELAX BAN ON WEAPONS EXPORTS
The Democratic Party of Japan may consider supporting a government proposal to relax Japan's ban on exporting arms, DPJ leader Naoto Kan said Sunday.
The issue has emerged following a government decision to introduce a U.S.-developed ballistic missile defense system to counter possible missile attacks by North Korea.
"There is room for us to consider a review" of the ban, Kan said on a TV talk show.
He made the remark after Shinzo Abe, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, called for a review of the ban on the same TV program.
The government formally decided last month to introduce a ballistic missile defense system using U.S. missiles in a move that puts Japan a step closer to getting more deeply involved in Washington's missile defense initiative.
In line with the war-renouncing Constitution, Japan decided in 1976 not to export any weapons or to make technological agreements on weapons development.
It partly lifted the ban in 1983 to permit technological cooperation with the United States, with which Japan has a security treaty.
NUMBERS UP, WORKERS DOWN AFTER 10 YEARS OF NAFTA
OTTAWA, Dec 31 (IPS) - North America's trade deal drove down the real wages of Canadian workers by about 20 percent -- if they did not lose their jobs altogether, says globalisation critic Murray Dobbin, author of a critical book about Canada's new prime minister, Paul Martin.
"All of the studies have shown that workers in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada have not profited from NAFTA," says Dobbin, whose book 'Paul Martin: CEO for Canada', argues the multi-millionaire prime minister broke the unions in his companies, closed domestic shipyards and registered his fleet under "flags of convenience" to drive down wages and workplace rights.
"Proponents of the deal have a mantra of 'competitiveness', but what we've seen is a race to the bottom as governments erode workers' rights, wages and environmental regulations to try to be more competitive," Dobbin told IPS.
The federal government manipulated the Canadian dollar's exchange rate, the country's unemployment benefits system and other mechanisms to effectively deny workers an increase in their real wages through the 1990s, he adds.
Dobbin said the erosion of jobs and buying power occurred when Canada racked up huge trade surpluses. "It's ironic that these surpluses came at a time when workers have seen the greatest erosion of their real wages since the Great Depression of the 1930s."
But Canadian officials disagree. The governing Liberal Party, which came to power in 1993 partly on a platform of "reconsidering" NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), now supports the deal.
otherwise noted, all original