What follows is my "PDB" from my blog
, which is similar to what George Bush gets every day, except mine is all from public sources and is a bit longer than one double-spaced page.
I believe that the best electorate is an informed electorate, and that must include a knowledge of what's going on around the world. It is for this reason that I post the PDB on DailyKos.
I read approximately 50 newspapers every morning and report what I find there, with an emphasis on foreign or international events. You will however not find information about Iraq or the Israeli/Palestinian situation, the first because it is amply reported elsewhere and the latter because it is too contentious.
Events that I feel are well-covered elsewhere are not included for brevity.
Ok, let's see what the world has been up to in the last 24 hours :)
Just in English today again folks as my $(!@!* internet provider has decided to go nuts once again.
Over 10,000 "bar dancers" protested yesterday in Mumbai, India against the government's plan to outlaw their profession. "Bar dancers", unlike their western counterparts, do not dance nude or topless but instead remain fully clothed. For many young women aspiring to become actresses in the movie capital of the world, "bar dancing" is the only way to earn a living.
The rhetoric about nuclear weapons is heating up as yesterday Iran addressed the UN conference in New York:
"Iran is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology including uranium enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes," [Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal] Kharrazi said.
"Unilateral nuclear disarmament measures should be pursued vigorously," Kharrazi said. It was also "abhorrent that ... the dangerous doctrine of the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states and threats was officially proclaimed by the United States and Nato".
Kharrazi also attacked Israel, saying its assumed nuclear arsenal "has endangered regional and global peace and security".
"Israel has continuously rejected the calls by the international community ... to accede to the NPT," he said.
I hate to say this but Kamal is right... Israel, Pakistan and India are all not signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while Iran is. The NPT allows for the development of non-military nuclear power use and Iran is technically within its rights to do so.
Students at Nouakchott University in the capital of Mauritania greeted Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom with stones. Mauritania is only 1 of 3 Arab countries with full diplomatic relations with Israel.
More violence and instability in Somalia as a bomb killed between 7 and 15 human beings in Mogadishu just moments after "Prime Minister" Ali Gedi addressed a crowd. The security situation in the country is so poor that the "government" actually operates out of neighboring Kenya.
Increasingly, the population of Saudi Arabia is less ethnic "Saudi" and more other Arabs and Asians. Currently a third of all people living in the country are from somewhere else.
A former high-ranking official of the Invincible Taliban has been allowed to appear on Afghan TV to encourage members to accept a government officer of amnesty.
Meanwhile a spark of hope as "Haji" Malam, a top IT leader in Uruzgan Province has surrendered along with 40 of his men.
But the Invincible Taliban engaged U.S. forces in "heavy fighting" in Zabul District, killing 1 American.
In embattled Togo, the courts have officially certified the dictator's son Faure Gnassingbe as the winner of the presidential elections while thousands of people continue to flee the country. The UN is reporting there are now 18,500 Togolese refugees registered in neighboring countries, an increase of 2,000 in just 24 hours:
One 15-year-old boy
, Amouzou Akwei, recounted the horrors that had forced him to leave his hometown of Aneho, 45 km east of Lome. He first swam and then walked to the border with Benin.
"The soldiers came to our house and told us to go out and clear up the barricades of burning tyres with our bare hands. Some people accepted but we refused so they made us lie down on the scorching tarmac, and they kicked us and hit us with their batons and rifle butts," Akwei told IRIN.
"As we were running away, we bumped into another group of soldiers who started firing on us. One of my friends got a bullet in his head, but we didn't have time to stop. We ran and threw ourselves in the lagoon. The soldiers fired into the water but we kept on swimming until we got to the other side."
"I've come here with nothing. I've no idea where my parents are. I guess I'll stay here until things calm down back home," Akwei added.
The UN is reporting that four incidents of disgusting sexual depravity by its peacekeepers in Liberia have been confirmed:
"[There] girls as young as 12 years of age are engaged in prostitution, forced into sex acts and sometimes photographed by UN peacekeepers in exchange for $10 or food or other commodities"
Today the UN Security Council will meet to decide whether to send more peacekeepers to deeply troubled Cote D'Ivoire.
The American high prosecutor for the War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone is reporting that former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor is behind the assassination attempt earlier this year against Guinea's president Lansana Conte.
More violence and unrest in disputed Kashmir as unknown "militants" gunned down a town councilman and three policeman in Pattan.
A note of hope out of Algeria as strongman President Abdelaziz "Disco" Bouteflika wants to hold a referendum to give amnesty to the militants which have been fighting the government since 1992, when martial law was imposed after an Islamic party won the elections. At least 200,000 people have died in the fighting since then.
Buried in the same article is much more significant news. The people of occupied Western Sahara are considering renewing their struggle against Morocco if there is no "breakthrough" in peace talks:
Western Sahara's independence movement is considering resuming its armed struggle against Morocco if there is no breakthrough in UN-led peace talks in the next six months, its chief negotiator said yesterday. A frustrated Security Council on Thursday renewed a plea to Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement to end their decades-old dispute over the future of the desert land, which was seized by Morocco after colonial Spain left in 1975.
A UN peacekeeping mission, which has served for the past 14 years in the sparsely populated northwest African territory, was again extended for six months amid an impasse in one of Africa's longest-running conflicts.
"We gave 14 years to find a peaceful solution but the time has come to do something if nothing happens within six months," Emhamed Khadad, the Polisario Front's negotiator, told Reuters.
"We are ready to defend ourselves with military action but I hope a peaceful solution will prevail... The key element on whether we return to war depends on whether the UN can solve this issue," he said in a telephone interview from Tindouf.
Again, I remind you that George Bush will be in Republic of Georgia from May 9-10.
Earlier on May 9, he will be in Moscow, Russia along with 50 other heads of state to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2. It looks like about a billion police officers will be on duty, making the event one of the most secure in recent memory.
Meanwhile a spate of violence in Chechnya has left 4 soldiers and 2 police officers killed in fighting with "rebels" in Grozny and Serzhin-Yurt.
Only in the Russian language, but I see that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is now stating that Moscow will need "at least four years" to pull out from its bases in Georgia, one in Batumi (Adjara) and one in Akhalkalaki (primarily an ethnic Armenian region).
Norway has suspended funding for aid projects in fun-loving Azerbaijan after that country tried to make two of its humanitarian organizations pay taxes.
The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, says the country is still 100,000 barrels per day short of its oil-producing target. Meanwhile Defense Minister Jorge Luis Garcia Carneiro is suggesting the CIA might be sabotaging production.
Meanwhile American SecDef Donald Rumsfeld told an audience on Tuesday that the U.S. "would not intervene" to remove Chavez from power, which was warmly welcomed by Chavez.
A congressional commission in Peru has declared that President Alejandro Toledo is "guilty" of electoral fraud. Despite being democratically elected in a landslide in 2001, Toledo remains the most unpopular president in the hemisphere with approval ratings around just 10%.
It looks like the opposition Conservative Party in Canada is close to getting a no-confidence vote passed in parliament which would dissolve the government of PM Paul Martin and force elections this summer.
Australia continues to be gripped by the kidnapping of one of their citizens in Iraq, with FM Alexander Downer personally appealing for their release.
Also out of Australia is the horrific case of an 16 year old boy who was abused and tortured by his employer:
The tribunal heard how, during Jake's two months with the Belmore company as an apprentice electrician two years ago, Mr Hundt had burned him with cigarettes, hogtied him, grabbed him on the crotch and repeatedly told him to "give me head".
"It was a first apprenticeship and I thought it was normal apprenticeship stuff," Jake said today.
He said he had heard tradesmen talking about what had happened to them during their apprenticeships.
"I just thought it was normal, hearing about old stories and stuff like that," he said.
Just a reminder that voters in Great Britain head to the polls this week. For a humorous look at the situation, click here.
Yesterday it was Oman and today I see that Kuwait has cracked down on Islamist "activists", accusing them of wanting to overthrow the government. As I said before, these oil-rich undemocratic states are absolutely paranoid of losing their grip on power and their extremely pro-Western politics is causing a lot of unrest and dissention in the population.
The jolly old country of Tunisia continues to crack down on journalists or anyone who even visits a "subversive" website, issuing harsh punishments for trifling offenses.
Jordanian PM Adnan "Can Can" Badran was in Syria yesterday to have a chat with President Bashar Assad.
Shortly thereafter, Lebanese interim PM Najib Mikati also visited Syria on his first visit outside of the country since being named to the post.
The squabbling between Peru and Chile continues after a former Ecuadorian general said that his country received weapons from Chile during its war with Peru in 1995. For my full story on the hijinks, see here.
Extremely bad news out of Indonesia as the government has confirmed a second case of polio.
Here's an odd story that needs more investigation - a spy drone plane has crashed in Nawabshah, Pakistan. Normally these types of planes are used for surveillance so the question remains, what was it doing over Nawabshah, which is nowhere near either Kashmir or the border with Afghanistan?
Meanwhile the amiable government in the capital of Islamabad used force to crush a march of journalists in front of the parliament house yesterday. Freedom House recently downgraded Pakistan's media from "Partly Free" to "Not Free". Aren't you glad they are a key U.S. ally?
Citizens in which European Union country work the most? If you said Greece, you would be right. Greeks work an average of 44 hours per week, which for me as an American seems to be bordering on lazy. In my old job I regularly worked 60 hours, with my all-time high being 84 in a single 7 day period!
Sometimes you've got to read independent sites to find information reported nowhere else. In this case I see that 100 protestors marched in front of the U.S. embassy in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, a repressive, dictatorial state that is a "key ally" in the "War on Terror(ism)":
Almost 100 protesters, largely women with children, formed a line at 11:30 a.m. along the street in front of the Embassy with placards demanding help from impoverishment, unemployment, unfair trials, and police tyranny. Some protesters demanded resignation of the government, President Islam Karimov, and Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev. A lot of protesters had come to the capital from rural areas, mostly from the Kashkadarja region.
Some blows were exchanged between the police and protesters at first. The police tried to detain a toddler - and found themselves attacked by a mob of enraged women throwing rocks. Embassy security kept its distance and local law enforcement agencies gave ground for a time. At noon, traffic along the central Tashkent thoroughfares continued, closely monitored by reinforced traffic police patrols.
Asked why the US Embassy was chosen, protesters replied that they could not count on the local authorities' goodwill or on help from Russia and nearby countries and therefore wanted to attract attention of the US Department of State, international organizations, and the media.
If you want to know the definition of "courage", you're looking at it. Criticizing the goverment of Uzbekistan often leads to long periods of detention as well as torture and death, even if you're a woman. As usual, the peerless Eurasianet also has an article on the protest.
It looks like tomorrow Italian PM Silvio Berluconi will address parliament about the shooting death of Nicola Calipari and he's likely to receive a harsh reception after the U.S. declared their soldiers "not culpable" in Calipari's death. You can read the Italian government's full report here (PDF) if you speak the language.
Yesterday I published a full article about how Latin America is increasingly becoming independent of U.S. influence. Today I see that Brazil has rejected American AIDS funding because its agenda goes against this Catholic country's culture:
Brazil yesterday became the first country to take a public stand against the Bush administration's massive Aids programme which is seen by many as seeking increasingly to press its anti-abortion, pro-abstinence sexual agenda on poorer countries.
Campaigners applauded Brazil's rejection of $40m for its Aids programmes because it refuses to agree to a declaration condemning prostitution.
The government and many Aids organisations believe such a declaration would be a serious barrier to helping sex workers protect themselves and their clients from infection.
The demand from the US administration, heavily influenced by the religious right, follows what is known as the "global gag" - a ban on US government funds to any foreign-based organisation which has links to abortion. This has resulted in the removal of millions of dollars of funding from family planning clinics worldwide.
Yesterday Pedro Chequer, the director of Brazil's HIV/Aids programme, said the government had managed to resist US pressure during negotiations on the Aids funding to focus on promoting abstinence and fidelity rather than condoms - another ideological battle being waged by the religious right. But the US negotiators insisted that the clause on prostitution had to stay.
"This would be entirely in contradiction with Brazilian guidelines for a programme that has been working very well for years. We are providing condoms, and doing a lot of prevention work with sex workers, and the rate of infection has stabilised and dropped since the 1980s," said Sonia Correa, an Aids activist in Brazil and co-chair of the International Working Group on Sexuality and Social Policy.
"The US is doing the same in other countries - bullying, pushing and forcing - but not every country has the possibility to say no."
Adrienne Germain, president of the International Women's Health Coalition, said: "The importance of the Brazilian government decision can not be overstated."
If you're a regular reader of FTS, then you know I scooped the Guardian in reporting on the antics of the increasingly power-hungry wife of Kenya's president Mwai Kibaki.
Today, Israel's Knesset (parliament) will debate a key provision of the Gaza disengagement plan - whether or not to allow 750 Egyptian soldiers to patrol the boundary with that country.
The fairly politically stable and democratic African nation of Botswana continues to reel from the scandal of an Australian professor who was ordered deported after he criticized Festus "For the Rest of Us" Mogae:
"They should say in what way I am a threat to national security," Good told the packed courtroom. "It seems that I am threat by what I say and write," he said.
"How does criticism of presidential powers represent a threat to the peace and tranquillity of Botswana?" said Good, a political science professor at the University of Botswana.
According to the Botswanan press, it seems like the public is rallying behind Professor Good.
The increasingly dictatorial regime in Zimbabwe has announced it will require students to attend mandatory courses in "patriotism" and "ideology".
South Africa continues to reel from the shocking shooting of popular actress Lindi Chibi by her boyfriend.
If you want to know what my country's insane and frankly useless paranoia after 9/11 is costing us, click here. Believe me, I worked with the DHS and the only thing they are "defending" is their own paychecks. Don't believe me? Read this story.
Not that local law enforcement and the FBI are any better, having wasted billions of dollars arresting people for possessing, selling or consuming a plant which has never killed anyone in thousands of years of use. Meanwhile alcohol continues to slay the innocent... (sigh)
I rarely report about Iraq but in this case I doubt it will get mentioned otherwise - a second Bulgarian soldier has died there, this time apparently after his vehicle crashed.
Der Spiegel has a very informative article on the souring relations between Germany and the United States.
A cargo aircraft with two people aboard exploded in mid-air over New Zealand for unknown reasons.
France continues to be shocked by a high-profile ongoing pedophile (child molestation) case.
If you want to know what life is like in Haiti, I recommend you click on the link to read an excellent report from an independent Montana newspaper.
And last but not least, I found this website which tries to show what the foreign press is saying about the United States on any given day. Check it out!