News from around the World – 5/18/10

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on May 18, 2010

(The excerpts from World Briefs and Briefly below are from WashingtonTimes.com – from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

EGYPT  – Cairo keeps water rights to Nile River

CAIRO | Egypt is refusing to relinquish a drop of its legal right to the lion’s share of Nile River water, despite demands from other African countries for a more equitable sharing agreement.

Following years of barren negotiations, seven upstream African countries – Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi – are expected on Friday to push forward with a new water-sharing deal to replace an agreement that gives Egypt and Sudan majority control of the water flow.

Egypt repeatedly has cited its “historical” right on the river, which provides the country of 80 million people with 90 percent of its water needs.

The upstream countries want to be able to implement projects in consultation with Egypt and Sudan but without Egypt being able to exercise the veto power it was given by a 1929 colonial-era treaty with Britain.

UNITED NATIONS  – U.N. elects violators to rights panel

Seven countries accused of human rights violations have won seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council in an uncontested election, including Libya, Angola and Malaysia.

The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday approved all 14 candidates for the 14 seats on the 47-member council by wide margins.

Human rights groups criticized the poor human rights records of seven countries that won seats – Libya, Angola, Malaysia, Thailand, Uganda, Mauritania and Qatar.

The seven other countries that won seats were Maldives, Ecuador, Guatemala, Spain, Switzerland, Moldova and Poland.

The 14 countries will serve three-year terms on the Geneva-based council, which was created in March 2006 to replace the U.N.’s widely discredited and highly politicized Human Rights Commission.

ISRAEL – Fishing to be banned in Sea of Galilee

JERUSALEM | The Israeli government has [implemented a ban on fishing] in …the Sea of Galilee to cast aside their nets. 

…Israeli … officials say a decade of overfishing has left the aquatic population of the biblical body of water in danger.

The fishing ban will be in effect for two years…

PHILIPPINES – Marcos won’t yield on family’s wealth

LAOAG | Former first lady Imelda Marcos, newly elected to the Philippines’ Congress, vowed Thursday never to compromise with the government in the battle for her family’s allegedly ill-gotten wealth.

The widow of deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos said she would be willing to discuss the wealth, but would not bargain on dividing the assets.

“I don’t want a compromise, a settlement or a plea bargain because it looks like there is a bit of guilt there, and I am not guilty,” the 80-year-old widow said as she showed journalists around a local hotel she helped develop.

She was reacting to calls by a government wealth-recovery agency for a settlement with the Marcos family over the assets and money they are said to have stolen from the state during the 20 years Ferdinand Marcos was in power.

While no exact figure is known, the agency has previously said it could be as much as $3 billion.

KYRGYZSTAN – Protesters seize regional offices

BISHKEK | Opponents of Kyrgyzstan’s interim rulers stormed several regional government headquarters Thursday, threatening the delicate peace that has reigned since the violent overthrow of the president last month.

Provisional authorities are struggling to restore control over the entire country, particularly the former southern stronghold of deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted April 7 amid violent clashes between government troops and demonstrators that left at least 85 people dead.

If the protests once again spread to the capital, Bishkek, it could threaten the stability of the Central Asian nation, which is of strategic concern to Washington and Moscow – both have military bases in Kyrgyzstan.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the governor’s office in the city of Osh to demand the return of former Gov. Mamasadyk Bakirov, a Bakiyev loyalist who lost his post after the revolt.

Eyewitnesses said that after several minor scuffles broke out between supporters and opponents of the interim government, a crowd of around 500 people barged into the building and installed Mr. Bakirov in the governor’s office.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from Briefly published at WashingtonTimes.com on Thursday, May 13, 2010 and World Briefs and Briefly published at WashingtonTimes.com on Friday, May 14, 2010.

Copyright 2010 News World Communications, Inc.  Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times.  For educational purposes only.  This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.  Visit the website at washingtontimes.com.

Questions

1. For each of the 5 countries, give the following information:
a) the continent on which it is located
b) the name of the capital city
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different)
e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country: type of government, capital and executive branch (chief of state/head of government) can be found under the “Government” heading; population is listed under the “People” heading.  Go to worldatlas.com for a list of continents.]

2.  For Egypt:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  Read the “Background” information below about the Nile River and the water controversy between Egypt and other African countries.  What argument does Egypt make to explain why it doesn’t want to share the Nile water with other countries?

3.  For the United Nations:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  How do you view the integrity of the United Nations considering the fact that 7 countries known to violate human rights were overwhelmingly voted onto the Human Rights Council (HRC)?  What would you say to someone who defended the integrity of the HRC?

4.  For Israel:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  With what biblical stories is the Sea of Galilee associated?

5.  For Philippines:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  Read the information about Mrs. Marcos below.  For what extravagance is she most widely known?
c)  Ask a parent if he/she remembers the story of Mrs. Marcos’ extravagance.

6.  For Kyrgyzstan:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  Why is Kyrgyzstan strategically important to both the U.S. and Russia?


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Background

EGYPT:  ON THE NILE RIVER CONTROVERSY (from english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2010/04/2010419194851419735.html):

  • The Nile Basin Initiative, a World Bank-funded umbrella group of Nile basin countries, has put off signing a water-sharing pact due to objections from Egypt and Sudan.
  • At the heart of the dispute is a 1929 agreement between Egypt and Britain, acting on behalf of its African colonies along the 5,584km river, which gave Egypt veto power over upstream projects.
  • An agreement between Egypt and Sudan in 1959 allowed Egypt 55.5 billion cubic metres of water each year – 87 per cent of the Nile’s flow – and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic metres.
  • Some of the Nile Basin countries, which include Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, say past treaties are unfair.
  • They want what they call an equitable water-sharing agreement that would allow for more irrigation and power projects.
  • Egypt, a mostly arid country that relies on the Nile for the bulk of its water needs, argues that upstream countries could make better use of rainfall and have other sources of water.

The Nile River Basin

  • The source of the Nile, the longest river in the world, is Lake Victoria.
  • It is comprised of the White and Blue Niles. It stretches from the Kagera river in Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.
  • Shared by 10 countries – Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – it runs 6,741km.
  • The overall population of these countries is over 300 million people. More than 160 million live along the Nile Basin.

and from wikipedia.org

  • The Nile is a major north-flowing river in Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world.
  • The Nile has two major tributaries, the White Nile and Blue Nile, the latter being the source of most of the Nile’s water and fertile soil, but the former being the longer of the two.
  • The White Nile rises in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, with the most distant source in southern Rwanda, and flows north from there through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda and southern Sudan, while the Blue Nile starts at Lake Tana in Ethiopia, flowing into Sudan from the southeast. The two rivers meet near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
  • The northern section of the river flows almost entirely through desert, from Sudan into Egypt, a country whose civilization has depended on the river since ancient times.
  • Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along the banks of the river. The Nile ends in a large delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

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THE UNITED NATIONS:  THE U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL:

  • The United Nations General Assembly established the Human Rights Council (HRC) on March 15, 2006 “to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.” The council replaced the UN’s Human Rights Commission, which had been created in 1946 with a similar mission. (from about.com)
  • According to human rights groups, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council is controlled by a bloc of Islamic and African states, backed by China, Cuba and Russia, who protect each other from criticism.
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson have criticized the council for acting according to political considerations as opposed to human rights.
  • The United States boycotted the Council during the George W. Bush administration, but reversed its position on it during the Obama administration. (from wikipedia.org)

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ISRAEL:  ON THE FISHING BAN IN THE SEA OF GALILEE

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Cabinet approved a fishing ban for the Sea of Galilee last month. Parliament must still approve the measure before it takes effect.
  • Israeli officials and scientists who study the freshwater lake hope the ban will allow the population of St. Peter’s fish, a local breed of tilapia popular with locals and tourists, as well as other species to regenerate their numbers.
  • In announcing the moratorium, Netanyahu said fishermen would receive financial support while game officials restocked the freshwater lake in northern Israel.
  • Scientist Ilia Ostrovsky, who studies the lake and serves on the committee overseeing aquatic populations, said the fishermen of the Galilee began using nets with smaller and smaller mesh over the years, catching more small fish to match the tonnage of big fish they caught in decades past.
  • In recent years, up to 80 percent of fish pulled from the lake were under legal size limits, he said.
  • The ban will bolster the population of fish in the lake, Ostrovsky said, but cautioned that it must be followed by more stringent enforcement of fishing laws.
  • The ban will put 200 licensed fisherman out of work, but tourism is unlikely to be affected.

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PHILIPPINES: IMELDA MARCOS (from wikipedia.org)

  • Imelda R. Marcos (born in 1929) is the widow of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, and is herself an influential political figure in the country.
  • Outside the Philippines she is often remembered for symbols of the corrupt extravagance of her husband’s political reign, such as having an extraordinary number of of shoes.
  • On February 25, 1986, Ferdinand Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii after his regime was toppled by the four-day People Power Revolution in EDSA.  He had ruled from 1965-1986. 
  • After the Marcos family fled Malacañang Palace, Imelda Marcos was found to have left behind 15 mink coats, 508 gowns, 1000 handbags and many pairs of shoes.
  • The exact number of shoes Marcos owned varies between accounts; estimates of up to 3000 pairs of shoes have been published, but Time Magazine later reported that the final tally was 1,060.

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KYRGYZSTAN: A Brief History (from the CIA World FactBook “Introduction” to Kyrgyzstan)

  • Kyrgyzstan became a Soviet republic in 1936 and achieved independence in 1991 when the USSR dissolved.
  • Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar Akaev, who had run the country since 1990.
  • Subsequent presidential elections in July 2005 were won overwhelmingly by former prime minister Kurmanbek Bakiev.
  • Over the next few years, the new president manipulated the parliament to accrue new powers for himself.
  • In July 2009, after months of harassment against his opponents and media critics, Bakiev won re-election in a presidential campaign that the international community deemed flawed.
  • In April 2010, nationwide protests led to the resignation and expulsion of Bakiev.
  • He was replaced by Acting President Roza Otunbayeva who called for new elections in six months time.
  • Continuing concerns include: endemic corruption, poor interethnic relations, and terrorism.

Read more on Kyrgyzstan from a previous article at studentnewsdaily.com/daily-news-article/kyrgyz-opposition-forms-interim-government.

Resources

EGYPT:  Watch a video on the Nile River controversy from July 2009 below:

 

 

ISRAEL:  Watch a video news report on the Sea of Galilee at BBC News at news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8679226.stm and a second video below: