Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday news round-up

The result ends a tumultuous phase in Egypt's politics, one characterized by maneuvering and unprecedented outspokenness. For a year, in the face of repeated crackdowns, opposition activists organized demonstrations to demand Mubarak's ouster. Judges futilely resisted the government's determination to handpick observers at the polling stations. Workers began to strike for better pay and safety on the job. Human rights groups pressed loudly for release of political prisoners. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic-based grass-roots organization that is banned from politics, joined in calling for democratization.

The Bush administration saw Egypt as ripe for reform as part of President Bush's campaign to democratize the Middle East. Though Mubarak has resisted Washington's calls to shelve emergency laws on the books for a quarter of a century, U.S. officials in Washington have endorsed his go-slow approach to altering Egypt's political system.

In circumstances as stage-managed and puzzling as his illness, Jacques Chirac left hospital yesterday seven days after his "little vascular accident"...His doctors have advised him against air travel for the next six weeks, meaning that he will be unable to fly as planned to New York next week to a global summit on world poverty and reform of the United Nations.

His performance yesterday left many questions unanswered. If the President's illness was temporary and minor, why did he stay in hospital for so long? Why was no picture, or television footage, of the convalescent President allowed? Why were the medical bulletins so circumspect? The rumours which flooded Paris were fuelled by the poor record of past presidents in admitting to serious ailments.

HANGZHOU, China, Sept. 10 -- A co-founder and senior executive of Yahoo Inc., the global Internet giant, confirmed Saturday that his company gave Chinese authorities information later used to convict a Chinese journalist now imprisoned for leaking state secrets.

The journalist, Shi Tao, was sentenced last spring to 10 years in prison for sending foreign-based Web sites a copy of a message from Chinese authorities warning domestic journalists about reporting on sensitive issues, according to a translation of the verdict disseminated by the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

SANTIAGO, Chile - Sept. 11 is dark day in Chile too: the anniversary of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's bloody military coup. And as in the past, it finds Chileans not just sad, but angry. Pinochet seized power Sept. 11, 1973, toppling democratically elected Marxist President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide during the military bombardment of the government palace.

The general went on to govern Chile for 17 years. During that time, 3,197 people were killed for political reasons, according to an official report prepared by the civilian government that succeeded Pinochet in 1990. More than 1,000 others — the "disappeared" — remain unaccounted for and were presumably murdered after being picked up by Pinochet's security forces.But while hundreds of former military officers are being tried on human rights charges, only a few have been convicted, including four generals. Pinochet himself has been indicted twice and still faces hundreds of lawsuits, but has been spared trial because of his poor health.