The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 10

Page 10 Sunday, September 21, 2014
Foreign news
Manila, Philippines (AFP)
- Thousands of people
displaced by floods triggered by tropical storm Fung-
Wong returned to their mud-caked homes in the
Philippine capital Saturday, as the death toll from the
disaster rose to five, officials said.
Heavy rains paralysed the sprawling metropolis
of more than 12 million people and nearby regions on
Friday, with roof-high floods chasing 83,000 people from
their homes, according to the National Disaster Risk
Reduction and Management Council.
“We have no choice but to come back. We can’t afford
to rent an apartment,” butcher’s wife Lovi Barbosa, 35,
told
AFP
as she attempted to remove dirt from the floor
of her home near a still swollen creek.
She said she and her five children, aged between two
and 10, spent a sleepless night sat on the cold floor outside
a tyre repair shop because the local school was already
full of similarly displaced neighbours.
Three weeks’ worth of rain swamped the region
on Friday, state meteorologists said, as the eye of the
relatively weak storm brushed past the northern tip of
the main island of Luzon, more than 400 kilometres (250
miles) away.
The stateweather service said Fung-Wongwas forecast
to hit Taiwan on Sunday.
Many of the areas hardest hit by floods, such as
Barbosa’s neighbourhood, are shantytowns illegally
occupying the banks of rivers and other waterways.
“Generally, the floods have already subsided. People
are starting to return to their homes,” Alexander Pama,
executive director of the disaster council, said Saturday.
The bad weather left five people dead and one missing,
he told a news conference.
The stormitself causedpower outages across northern
Luzon, while rough seas left a small ferry off the central
port of Cebu badly damaged on Friday, Pama added.
Navy rescuers along with nearby commercial ships
retrieved 31 people from the stricken vessel, Philippine
Navy spokeswoman Commander Marineth Domingo
told
AFP
.
An average of 20 typhoons or major storms hit the
Philippines each year, killing hundreds and bringing
misery to millions.
Super Typhoon Haiyan, bringing the strongest winds
ever recorded on land, left 7,300 people dead or missing
across the central Philippines in November last year.
In September 2009, Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped a
month’s worth of rain across Manila in just six hours,
unleashing the worst flooding in the capital in four
decades and killing more than 460 people.
Five years ago, the environment movement was in its
heyday as politicians, actors, rock stars and protestors
demanded a looming UN summit brake the juggernaut of
climate change.
Then came crushing, disappointment.
Over-burdened with demands, its draft agreement a
minefield of discord, the ballyhooed Copenhagen summit
of December 2009 turned out a flop.
Far from hammering out a historic treaty to slash
greenhouse gases, nations squabbled and nitpicked for
12 solid days.
At the last minute, leaders from a few dozen big
countries cobbled together a face-saving compromise --
a hazy vow to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius
(3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) -- and activists were distraught.
Now, after a long spell in the wilderness, campaigners
are looking to another UN climate summit, in New York on
Tuesday, to haul their cause back to centre stage.
The goal is a fresh attempt at the global pact. Based on
the 2 C goal, negotiations would conclude in Paris at the
end of 2015, and the deal would take effect from 2020.
“The situation today is a window of opportunity,” said
Sebastien Blavier of Greenpeace France. “We are getting
the machine back on line.”
“This is the right time,” said Mark Kenber of The Climate
Group. “We are moving out of recession and the evidence,
the science, is more certain every day.”
This Sunday -- if activists’ hopes are realised -- will see
100,000 people marching on the streets of New York to
demand radical climate action.
Two thousand other climate-awareness events are
being scheduled around the world, including marches
in Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin, Melbourne, Bogota and
Delhi, according to campaign group Avaaz.
The initiative has been backed by a roster of celebrities
such as the actors Susan Sarandon, Emma Thompson
and William Shatner, musicians Peter Gabriel and Brian
Eno, and soccer star Lionel Messi.
Strategic rethink
With lots of noise and a sprinkling of glitter, it all sounds
like a return to the glory days.
But among many campaigners, there’s a big difference
in expectation and in strategy compared with 2009.
Much of the old thinking has been ditched and tactics
have been pruned or reworked.
After the Copenhagen fiasco, some of the most
prominent green groups began to shift much of
their campaign resources away from the glamour of
international diplomacy, say insiders.
Instead, they worked on building awareness at the
level of cities, regions and countries, and doing more to
enlist the support of business rather than shunning it.
Underpinning this change was a hard-won awareness:
a “top-down” approach is infeasible if a planetary-wide
deal takes too long to reach and gives only meagre
results.
Other tools were needed, ranging from coaxing carbon
cuts from corporations to agitating for bike lanes and
better public transport in cities, went this thinking.
“Governments still play a crucial role and we will
continue to push delegates to deliver on national action
and an international treaty,” said Jamie Henn of 350.org,
one of the most visible groups in 2009.
“But we are not waiting for them to lead. People
everywhere are fighting fossil-fuel projects to prevent
more emissions, as well as beginning to implement
solutions that they need to see at local level,” he told
AFP
.
Alden Meyer, a veteran analyst with the US group
the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said activists
could draw from a deeper well of public awareness
compared with the past.
Storms, droughts or wildfires were now part of the daily
US news diet, raising questions about what is happening
to the weather system.
“In the US, there is tremendous interest and growing
awareness,” he said. “People know it’s a real issue now,
not something that will happen in 30 years or only affect
Bangladesh.”
“There are millions of people who have directly seen
the impact, are concerned and beginning to mobilise,”
said Henn. “The treaty is important, but the treaty is only
one part that needs to get done.”
(AFP)
London, United Kingdom (AFP)
- Brit-
ain’s press on Saturday heaved a sigh of
relief over Scotland’s decision to stay in the
United Kingdom, but any thoughts of trium-
phalism were extinguished by concerns
about the upcoming constitutional battle
triggered by the campaign.
While Scotland’s papers carried front-
page photographs of Scottish National Par-
ty boss and independence champion Alex
Salmond, the constitutional fights ahead
dominated England’s papers such as the
Independent, which ran the headline: “Dis-
united Kingdom”.
The Daily Mail
front-page demanded
“English votes for English laws” while the
Guardian’s headline declared: “Now the
battle moves to England”.
Despite a surge in nationalist support in
the final two weeks of the Scottish cam-
paign, the “No” camp secured 55.30 per-
cent of the vote in Thursday’s indepen-
dence referendum against 44.70 percent
for the “Yes” camp. Worried by the prospect
of a nationalist victory, British Prime Minis-
ter David Cameron made last-ditch promis-
es to give more powers over tax, spending
and welfare to the devolved government
in Edinburgh, but then vowed more rights
for English voters when the result was de-
clared.
But negotiations are unlikely to go
smoothly, with Westminster’s three parties
are in disagreement over how much pow-
er should be devolved, and also whether
English voters should be compensated
similarly.
“This is no time for triumphalism,” warned
the Financial Times
editorial. “Scotland’s
rejection of secession is not the end of
Britain’s constitutional debate. A new set-
tlement is needed.” The business paper
stressed that the settlement had to de-
cide what role Scottish MPs should play at
Westminster and whether there be greater
devolution within England.
“The Union is safe, but it was a close-run
thing,” said
the Daily Telegraph
. “For now,
we should celebrate the referendum result
and hope that the divisions the campaign
caused can be quickly healed, though that
may be hard to achieve.
“Cameron’s statement that England must
have the same deal as Scotland has pro-
found consequences for governance in the
UK,” added
the centre-right
publication’s
leading article.
It predicted that the United Kingdom
would in future “be less a union and more
a federation” but noted that the intense
campaign had focused voters “on the in-
estimable value of the precious commod-
ity we possess and which mercifully re-
mains intact.” Centre-left broadsheet
The
Guardian
agreed that the whole political
system underpinning the union needed to
be changed, given 45 percent of Scottish
voters wanted out, but suggested they may
have voted on more personal grounds.
“We should not kid ourselves... the griev-
ances that animated this campaign were
above all material rather than constitution-
al,” said its editorial.
“The economic model which dominates
the lives of Scots is broken. Nationalism
offered an escape, but it was one with too
many risks. “Yet the economic model is
still broken and is still at the root of discon-
tents that should unite England, Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland, not force them
apart,” it concluded. Scotland’s papers
were meanwhile still focusing on the de-
feat, with
the Telegraph
headline reading:
“Salmond throws in the towel”, in reference
to the SNP boss’ announcement that he
would quit following defeat.
The Times
in Scotland declared it “The
end of a dream”.
New Delhi, India (AFP)
- India’s
new prime minister has dismissed
Al-Qaeda’s plan to set up a South Asia
branch, saying it was “delusional” to
think the country’s Muslim minority
would follow orders to wage jihad in
the region.
“They are doing injustice towards
the Muslims of our country,” Naren-
dra Modi said in an interview with
CNN
broadcast on Friday.
“If anyone thinks Indian Muslims
will dance to their tune, they are delu-
sional. Indian Muslims will live for In-
dia, they will die for India -- they will
not want anything bad for India.”
It was Modi’s first reaction to Al-
Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s
announcement this month that the
group would set up a new operation
to take the fight to India, which has a
large but traditionally moderate Mus-
lim population, as well as Myanmar
and Bangladesh.
Millions of Muslims fled India for
what is now Pakistan in 1947 when
the British Empire partitioned the
two countries at independence, and
tensions persist between those who re-
main and the Hindu majority.
Indian Muslims have also been the
victims of violence led by Hindu ex-
tremists. Hundreds died during the
2002 Gujarat riots, at a time when
Modi was the state’s chief minister.
But there have been relatively few
reports of young Indian men leaving
to fight Islamist causes abroad, which
experts say is because local grievances
have kept them at home.
Freetown, Sierra Leone (AFP)
Western militaries
readied aid missions Friday to help Africa’s Ebola-hit
nations battle an epidemic which has sparked killings
in panicked southern Guinea and forced a nationwide
shutdown in Sierra Leone.
The United States said a 3,000-strong contingent of
troops due to deploy to Liberia would help train health
workers, while Germany and France unveiled plans
to send military transport planes to help contain the
spread.
The announcements came after Sierra Leone
launched a nationwide three-day shutdown to contain
the deadly spread of an Ebola epidemic described by
the UN Security Council as a threat to world peace.
The outbreak has killed more than 2,600 people in
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year, cutting
a swathe through entire villages at the epicentre and
prompting warnings over possible economic catastro-
phe from the World Bank.
Minsk, Belarus (AFP)
- Kiev and pro-Russian sepa-
ratists on Saturday signed a deal creating a demilita-
rised zone in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine after fresh
talks aimed at ending a brutal five-month war.
Face-to-face talks began on Friday evening in the
Belarussian capital of Minsk and ended seven hours
later with an agreement to create the buffer zone and
withdraw all foreign fighters and weapons from the
area.
“We have signed a memorandum,” said Ukraine’s
former president Leonid Kuchma, who was Kiev’s rep-
resentative at the meeting.
Dhaka, Bangladesh (AFP)
-Police in Bangladesh
said Friday they had arrested the head of a banned
Islamist group suspected of planning attacks in the
country, and that he had made contact with the Islamic
State organisation. A police spokesman said the lead-
er of the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)
group, Abdullah Al Tasnim, and six others were ar-
rested early Friday in raids in Dhaka. “Tasnim has es-
tablished communication with the Middle East’s ISIS
Islamic militants,” Monirul Islam told
AFP
.
UK intact, but
constitutional
battles loom
Young pro-union supporters celebrate as referendum voting results are announced
at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland
(AFP)
Philippines picks up pieces
after storm leaves five dead
Heavy rains have paralyzed the Philippine capital
Can UN summit revive
climate issue?
Baghdad, Iraq (AFP)
-France mounted
its first air strike to beat back the Islamic
State group in Iraq on Friday, even as ji-
hadists across the border in Syria seized
dozens of Kurdish villages in a lightning
offensive.
More than a decade after Paris fa-
mously refused to back the US-led in-
vasion of Iraq, France became the first
nation to join America’s campaign of air
strikes targeting the Islamic State (IS) in
the war-torn country.
“This morning at 9:40, our Rafale
planes carried out a first strike against a
logistics depot of the terrorist organisa-
tion,” President Francois Hollande said.
French defence ministry sources said
two jets dropped laser-guided GBU-12
bombs in the Mosul area. They said “a
lot of ammunition”, vehicles and fuel re-
serves were destroyed.
Kurdish military spokesman Halgord
Hekmat identified the location as Tal Mus,
between the city of Mosul and Zumar.
France, as well as Britain, had already
sent aircraft into Iraq’s skies for surveil-
lance missions.
US aircraft have carried out 178 strikes
since August 8 but President Barack
Obama has been keen to build a broad
international coalition. At the United Na-
tions Security Council in New York, US
Secretary of State John Kerry brought
together 35 countries --including Washing-
ton’s traditional foe Iran, to bolster support
for the campaign against the jihadists.
Western militaries scramble
to aid Ebola-hit West Africa
Liberians arrive under the rain at the Medicines Sans
Frontiers Ebola Treatment Centre in Monrovia. Liberia
has been hit hard by the Ebola epidemic. (
AFP
)
India’s Modi says Al-Qaeda South Asia plan ‘delusional’
The Indian Premier said the threat from Islamist extremist groups was a crisis against humanity, not a crisis against one country or one race
Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi (
AFP
)
France mounts Iraq strikes as jihadists advance in Syria
Bangladesh police arrest banned
Islamist group’s leader
Kiev, rebels ink deal creating buffer zone
Compiled by
Ravi Nagahawatte
(AFP)
Quetta, Pakistan (AFP)
-Baluch separatist leaders on
Friday called on Pakistan to follow in Britain’s footsteps
by holding a referendum similar to Scotland’s on grant-
ing independence to the insurgency-wracked province.
Scots rejected independence in a vote that left the
centuries-old United Kingdom intact despite a surge in
nationalist support in the final fortnight of the campaign.
Asked whether a similar poll should be held in Balu-
chistan, Dr Bashir Azeem, secretary general of the out-
lawed Baloch Republican Party, told
AFP
: “The Baluch
have been struggling against the excesses and tyranny
of Punjab-dominated establishment of Pakistan for de-
cades.” Punjab is Pakistan’s most populous and influ-
ential province.
“If a fair referendum is conducted after creating an
atmosphere for it, providing the opportunity to Baluch
population for deciding their future, it is welcomed,” he
added.
Resource-rich Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan’s
four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants
have long complained they do not receive a fair share
of its gas and mineral wealth. Rebels began their fifth
insurgency against the state in 2004, with hundreds of
soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.
But rights groups allege security forces are also re-
sponsible for picking up non-militant separatists, includ-
ing academics and students, torturing them and dump-
ing their bodies on the streets.
The current insurgency gained in intensity after the
2006 killing of 79-year-old Baluch leader Nawab Akbar
Khan Bugti, a revered figure for many rebels.
Baluchistan separatists
demand Scots-style vote
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