Is the Russian province of Dagestan going the way of neighboring Chechnya? This July 2 AFP account (online at Qatar's The Peninsula) makes a disturbingly good case:
Some 225,000 came out for the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh July 2, on the eve of the G8 summit about to open at the Gleneagles resort outside the city, as Live8 concerts echoing the demand for action against poverty in Africa and elsewhere were held in London's Hyde Park and other venues around the globe. Only one arrest was reported, but many activists complained of being photographed by police, both on the march and at road stops and train stations en route to Edinburgh. Police are also said to be concerned about an "Anarchist Carnival" scheduled for this evening in Edinbugh. (BBC, July 2) Anti-war themes were prominent in the Edinburgh march, but another action by the UK's Stop the War Coalition is scheduled for tomorrow, with a blockade of the nearby Faslane Naval base scheduled for Monday the 4th.
RFE/RL Newsline reports July 1 that a leading Uzbek opposition figure, Muhammad Solih, is seeking to use a visit to Washington to urge the US and European Union to expand their support for "democracy activists" in Uzbekistan.
"We do not ask for a lot from the West," Solih said. "We want the West to aid the legalization of political parties in Uzbekistan. We would like the West to aid the leaders of the opposition to function in Uzbekistan, to ensure the conduct of fair elections in Uzbekistan and the participation of the opposition in those elections and to ensure the existence of a free press. This in and of itself is enough to ensure the peaceful removal of this antidemocratic regime."
Russia has increased its support for the embattled government of Uzbekistan, announcing that it will soon conduct joint military exercises with the regime of President Islam Karimov. The announcement by Sergei Ivanov, Russia's defense minister, was broadcast in Moscow after a meeting with Karimov. Ivanov said the maneuvers would be in central Uzbekistan this summer, the first since Uzbekistan broke from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Days after a deadly eviction of peasants by paramilitaries, anti-privatization protests are shaking Paraguay. Neither have made any significant international media coverage. Cuba's Prensa Latina reports June 27 that a national mobilization has coverged on Asuncion, the capital, demanding the government halt the pending Law 1615 that calls for further privatization of state services. The protesters have blocked roads and filled streets with massive marches, paralyzing the capital. Led by the National Front in Defense of National Heritage and Public Property, the National Small Farmers Federation, the Front in Defense of Life and Sovereignty, and the Coordination of Small Farmers Organizations, protesters pledge the campaign will escalate if the government goes through with further privatizations.
A little-reported story from Paraguay on an eviction of peasants from contested lands by the private gunmen of local big land-owners (apparently Brazilians), backed up by the army and police. It is the biotech opponents who are distributing this news, as the landowners are seeking to plant genetically-modified soy. As we recently noted, there is a growing US military presence in Paraguay at the moment. It is ostensibly there to train and back up Paraguayan security forces in a crackdown on supposed Islamic terror networks in the country, but here is an ugly taste of how the new prowess could be used. Our friend Javiera Rulli of Argentina's Grupo de Reflexion Rural (GRR) provides this report:
If the Iraq war is not about oil, somebody forgot to tell the editors of the New York Times and, it seems, the leadership of the People's Republic of China. On June 27, the Times runs a front-page story on the current $18.5 billion bid to purchase Unocal by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), which the Bush administration is considering barring on national security grounds. Drawing an unsettling analogy "with Japan in the 1930's," the Times says China's bid for control of a US oil major is also seen by Beijing explicitly in terms of national security—an inexorable result of growing Chinese energy consumption combined with US military control of the Persian Gulf:
A friend writes from Philadelphia, scene of the recent anti-biotech protests (where, as we noted, a police officer died of a heart attack):
Please donate bail money!
A dozen or so protesters were arrested at the Biodevestation protests in Philadelphia this weekend. They are all still in jail, and need your help to get out. Only 3 people have been arraigned - it's $960 for each one of them to get bailed out. There is at least 1 other person facing felonies - one from Quebec who is facing 2 counts of felony assault. Everyone else is facing misdemanors - disorderly conduct and misdemanor. Thier bails should be set over the next 12 hours, but we know we'll need a lot of money to get them out. Every little bit helps, so please send money. You can Western Union it to Cynthia Pitt,Philadelphia. You can also paypal it to email@example.com. Or just bring it to the jail support vigil at 8th and Race Streets in Philadelphia.