US Backed War In Somalia- Worse Than Darfur

It must be bad when the International Herald Tribune actually mentions US involvement-

United Nations officials said that Somalia has higher malnutrition rates, more current bloodshed and many fewer aid workers than Darfur, which is often publicized as the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis and has taken clear priority in terms of getting United Nations-backed peacekeepers.

The relentless urban combat in Mogadishu, between an unpopular transitional government — installed partially with American help — and a determined Islamist insurgency, has driven waves of desperate people up the Afgooye road, where more than 70 camps of twigs and plastic have popped up seemingly overnight.

The people here are hungry, exposed, sick and dying. And the few aid organizations willing to brave a lawless, notoriously dangerous environment cannot keep up with their needs, like providing milk to the thousands of babies with fading heartbeats and bulging eyes.

United Nations officials working on Somalia are trying to draw more attention to the country’s plight, which they feel has fallen into Darfur’s shadow. They have recently organized several trips, including one on Monday, for journalists to see for themselves.

But unlike Darfur, where the suffering is eased by a billion-dollar aid operation and more than 10,000 aid workers, Somalia is still considered mostly a no-go zone….recent surveys indicate the malnutrition rate is 19 percent, compared with about 13 percent in Darfur, with 15 percent being the emergency threshold.

United Nations officials now concede that the country was in better shape during the brief reign of Somalia’s Islamist movement last year. “It was more peaceful,” Laroche said. “And much easier for us to work. The Islamists didn’t cause us any problems.” 

Besuited Scum

Corporate lawyers helping rich people get richer-

Newly qualified solicitors at London’s top firms have seen salaries rise by 16 per cent in the past 12 months, with many now hitting £64,000 a year, according to the specialist legal recruitment company, Hughes-Castell. A decade ago, a newly qualified lawyer could have expected to earn £25,000 a year. But now they can earn double that through their basic wage, and many firms also top up the salaries with so-called “golden handcuffs” of more than £10,000 for their newest recruits when they sign up. The law firm Slaughter and May announced a 2.3 per cent rise for its newly qualified lawyers this month, taking their salaries to £65,000. The US firm Reed Smith Richards Butler recently announced a rise to £63,000.

And the Indy’s handy cut out and keep comparison, ain’t capitalism grand?

Part-time nursery nurse: £7,500 – £10,400
Regional newspaper reporter: £10,000
Fashion model: £10,000 – £15,000
Teaching assistant: £11,000 – £14,000
Full-time shop assistant: £13,000 – £16,000
Library assistant: £15,000
Soldier: £15,700
Electrical engineer: £17,000 – £27,000
Paramedic: £19,195
Civil service administrator: £19,387
Nurse: £19,683
Nursery manager: £20,000
Teacher: £20,133
Police constable: £20,397
Junior doctor: £20,741

Philippines Calling For Suu Kyi’s Release

 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo told her allies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Monday night that the Philippine Senate would have “extreme difficulty” ratifying the group’s landmark charter unless Burma (Myanmar) moved onto the path of democracy and freed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ms Arroyo served the notice on the eve of the signing of the ASEAN Charter and hours after the United States criticized the 10-nation group over its handling of military-ruled Burma.

This is mostly from US pressure and a mooted ‘free trade’ (shudder) deal as ASEAN looks to be taken as a serious player (plus a bit rich coming from Arroyo) There are great machinations here and US/China dynamics at work. The 88 Generation Students Group have this to say-

we urge ASEAN, as a vital stakeholder and significant actor to clearly reject the SPDC’s sponsored roadmap to democracy, and take on a stronger role in pressuring the military regime to start a genuine dialogue process towards national reconciliation. In addition, we ask ASEAN to stop its financial support and economic cooperation with the SPDC, and instead work with the UN, US, EU and other countries to resolve the crisis in Burma. If the military regime continues to ignore the international community’s efforts and fail to produce tangible outcomes, we would also like you to consider the suspension of the SPDC from ASEAN. 

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