Daily Archives: October 22, 2006

Darkness Spreading Over Russia

Washington Post | Oct 21, 2006

With Anna Politkovskaya’s killing a light went out, and with the rising crackdown on dissidents that is reminiscent of the Soviet period, a darkness is now spreading over Russia.

Nothing that has happened since the contract-style murder on October 7 of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya shakes the suspicion that this heinous act was arranged by people tied to the Kremlin, which despised her relentless reporting about the brutal war in Chechnya. If Putin’s callous dismissal of Politkovskaya as an “extremely insignificant” writer whose work nonetheless damaged Russia’s reputation was not enough, the acts of the Russian authorities since the murder all point ominously to an escalation of attacks on human rights defenders and critics of Russian policies in Chechnya.

A report just released by Human Rights First lists a number of these acts: Death threats against Lidia Yusopova, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on human rights in Chechnya; news reports over state-controlled television tying Timur Aliev, the editor of the newspaper “Chechen Society,” to the terrorist recently killed terrorist Shamil Basayev, thus placing his life in danger; the violent dispersal in Nazran, Ingushetia, of a peaceful vigil memorializing Politkovskaya; and the investigation and threatened closure of the Nazran-based NGO Mashr, which supports relatives of those who have “disappeared” in the conflict.

Putin on alleged rapist Israel President: “We all envy him”

 EITB 24 | Oct 19, 2006

“Say hello to your president. He really surprised us…,” Putin said to Olmert as reporters were being ushered out of the room just after the two men got down to their talks in the Kremlin.
Vladimir PutinRussian leader Vladimir Putin showed his taste for sharp humour when he met Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Moscow Wednesday, with an apparent ironic jab at the rape allegations swirling around the country’s president.

“Say hello to your president. He really surprised us…,” Putin said to Olmert as reporters were being ushered out of the room just after the two men got down to their talks in an ornate reception room in the Kremlin.

According to the information posted on The New York Times’ Web site, Putin said that Katsav “turned out to be quite a powerful man. He raped 10 women. I never expected it from him. He surprised all of us. We all envy him.”

Earlier this week, Israeli police recommended that President Moshe Katsav be charged with rape, aggravated sexual assault and misconduct after women who once worked for him filed complaints.

Katsav has denied any wrongdoing but the scandal has rocked Israel and sparked calls for his resignation.

Putin, who was praised later at a news conference by Olmert as a “world-famous leader,” proved a tricky interlocutor, giving no ground to demands from the Israeli prime minister that Moscow take a tougher stance toward its ally Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

The Russian leader, renowned for his salty language, sometimes has made foreign guests uncomfortable in the past.

Immigrants Sending $45 Billion Home

Washington Post | Oct 19, 2006

Immigrant workers are sending more money than ever to their families in Latin America, but two new studies show that only a small portion of the billions of dollars directed there has gone to economic development.

A report released yesterday by the Inter-American Development Bank estimates that immigrants living in the United States will send $45 billion to family members this year, representing a steady increase from about $2 billion in 1980.

The Last King Of Scotland, a film about the brutal dictator Idi Amin, opens in the US September 27th

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In an incredible twist of fate, a Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) on a Ugandan medical mission … all » becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world’s most barbaric figures: Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). Impressed by Dr. Garrigan’s brazen attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed Ugandan President Amin hand picks him as his personal physician and closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered and fascinated by his new position, he soon awakens to Amin’s savagery – and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda alive…


The Last King of Scotland – Review

Cinema Blend | Oct 19, 2006

Whitaker, who is better known for his subtle skills as a character actor, explodes onto the screen with a powerful energy that drives the film and doesn’t stop for a single frame. Everything from the broad strokes to the nuances of his leading performance create an amazing picture of a man who began with the best of intentions but descended to unimaginable depths under the weight of a pressure that was too much to bear. In the span of less than two hours, Whitaker succeeds in taking you from wanting to hug and cheer for Amin, to despising him for his atrocious and unspeakable acts against innocent people.


The real horror of cinema’s new bogeyman

Sunday Herald | Oct 22, 2006

Idi Amin is often remembered as a crazed buffoon. As a new film about him opens, Fred Bridgland warns us not to forget his awful brutality
The Last King Of Scotland, a “factional” film about Idi Amin, the Caligula of 20th-century Africa, opened last week to generally rave reviews from the critics.

If he had not been a member of the Kakwa tribe in Uganda’s far northwest near the Congo border, Amin made it clear he would have liked to be a Scot.

“I like Scots best because they are the best fighters in Britain and do not practise discrimination,” said the former trainee cook in the King’s African Rifles, who was taught to play the bagpipes by Willie Cochrane, the regiment’s pipe major.

He wore a kilt and tartan glengarry and named four of his sons Campbell, McLaren, McKenzie and Mackintosh. He had a spell of military training in Stirling and, bewitched by Scottish kitsch, declared:

“If the Scots want me to be their king, I will.”


UK to consider using prison ships

The Age | Oct 22, 2006

Britain is to consider using prison ships as a way of tackling the growing crisis of overcrowding in jails, according to media reports yesterday.

Home Secretary John Reid has advertised for contractors to provide ships that could house up to 800 prisoners in England and Wales as the prison population neared its capacity of around 80,000 inmates.

“What he’s (Reid) determined to do is to ensure we’ve got sufficient prison places, and obviously, he’s looking at a number of ways of doing that and a prison ship is one possibility,” Home Office minister Vernon Coaker told the BBC.