Committee to Protect Journalists
By Caty Weaver
Every year, the Committee to Protect Journalists releases a report
on the conditions faced by reporters around the world.
The report tells about killings and suspicious disappearances of news writers,
photographers, radio and television broadcasters and publishers. The report also
discusses actions by governments and other groups to repress the news media.
Two-Thousand-One was a dangerous year for reporters around the world. At least
thirty-seven were killed because of what they reported or because they were
working in dangerous situations. That is thirteen more deaths than the year before.
The report says conditions last year were very bad for reporters in Burma, Syria
and Columbia. Three reporters were killed in Colombia. And the Committee to
Protect Journalists says it still is investigating the suspicious deaths of five other
reporters in Colombia.
The Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists is Ann Cooper.
She says reporting about wars is dangerous. Eight reporters died last year covering
the war in Afghanistan. But, she says reporters generally face the greatest risk
when reporting about government wrongdoing in their own countries. She says
members of the press may be murdered because of the information they report.
That happened last year, she says, in Bangladesh, China, Yugoslavia and Thailand.
The report by the Committee to Protect Journalists also suggests increased efforts
last year to repress the media around the world. For example, the Committee says
there was a major rise in the number of reporters put in jail for doing their work.
The report says one-hundred-eighteen reporters were jailed last year compared to
eighty-one in Two-Thousand. China jailed thirty-five reporters, more than any
other country for the third year.
The report also discusses the way the terrorist attacks on the United States affected
reporting last year. It says some governments acted to interfere with or block
reporting about the attacks. Other governments used national security concerns as
an excuse to restrict the press after the attacks. The report notes the American State
Department’s unsuccessful attempt to stop the V-O-A from broadcasting part of an
interview with Taleban leader Mullah Omar.
The report always includes a list of those people it considers the ten worst enemies
of the press. Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei again is at the top of the list.
He is followed by Charles Taylor, the president of Liberia, and Chinese President
The Committee to Protect Journalists is based in New York. It was established in
Nineteen-Eighty-One to support freedom of the press internationally. It works to
defend the right of reporters to do their work without fear of punishment
By Cynthia Kirk
A new report says that the disease AIDS will cause a sharp drop in
life expectancy in fifty-one countries by the year Two-ThousandTen. A study by the United States Census Bureau was released
during the International AIDS Conference this week in Barcelona,
Spain. Experts say several nations are losing one-hundred years of progress in
extending the length of life of their citizens.
AIDS has killed more than twenty-million people around the world. Experts say
about forty-million people are infected with H-I-V, the virus that causes AIDS.
More than six-million people are infected in Asian countries. Most of them live in
India, China and Indonesia. AIDS is also spreading quickly in Russia, Latin
America and the Caribbean. But Africa has been hardest hit by the disease. Almost
thirty-million people are infected with the virus.
Seven countries in southern Africa now have life expectancies of less than forty
years. For example, in Botswana, life expectancy is thirty-nine years. By TwoThousand-Ten, it could be less than twenty-seven years. Mozambique is expected
to have a similar reduction in life expectancy. Lives would also be shortened in
other southern African countries. Without AIDS, officials say the average life
expectancy in southern Africa by Two-Thousand-Ten would have been about
There are also many more babies dying from AIDS in southern Africa.
Researchers say that in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, more
babies will die from AIDS by Two-Thousand-Ten than from all other causes.
American Census Bureau official Karen Stanecki says there soon will be more
deaths than births in southern African countries because of AIDS. She says as
adults die, millions of children will grow up without parents.
A United Nations report says about thirteen-million children have already lost one
or both parents to AIDS in eighty-eight countries. Most of these orphans live in
southern African countries. The report estimates that there will be at least twentyfive million AIDS orphans by Two-Thousand-Ten.
Some non-governmental organizations say that number is far too low. They say
there will be almost one-hundred-million orphans by Two-Thousand-Ten.
Carol Bellamy is the director of the United Nations Children’s Fund. She says
AIDS orphans face many problems, even if they are not infected. They are often
mistreated by the communities, forced out of school, and sometimes become
targets for illegal activities. She says girls are the group most at risk.
AIDS officials say ten-thousand-million dollars is needed each year for research,
treatment and care for people with AIDS. Yet, they say wealthy nations have
agreed to pay less than one-third of that amount.
UN Population Study
By Jill Moss
The United Nations Population Fund has released a new study on the condition of
the world’s population. The main idea of the report is poverty and its relationship
to population issues. It says that several steps need to be taken immediately to
reduce poverty by half by the year two-thousand-fifteen.
The first is to improve health care systems. In the world’s poorest countries,
people are expected to live just forty-nine years. One in ten children do not reach
their first birthday. The study says that poor health and poverty are linked.
The report also says that women are affected most by poor health care systems,
especially pregnant women. It says that better reproductive health can reduce
poverty and build economic growth. The report says family planning and helping
women avoid unwanted pregnancies are also ways to reduce poverty.
The study says that when given a choice, poor people in developing countries have
fewer children than their parents did. Smaller families have fewer expenses and
more chances to increase their earnings and savings.
Since nineteen-seventy, developing countries with lower birth rates and slower
population growth have had faster economic growth. They have had higher
productivity, more savings and more investment.
The report also notes that poor people are more at risk for the infection that causes
AIDS. This is because they lack the knowledge and power to protect themselves
against the disease.
The report says that investing in education, especially for women, can also reduce
poverty. Educated women have more choices in life and are more likely to send
their children to school. The study found that the right to an education has
improved over the past ten years. However, poor people in many developing
countries are still less likely to attend school. The report urges governments to
change this and make sure all citizens learn to read and write.
The U-N study also says that women and men should be treated equally. This
means that legal and human rights for women should be strengthened, as well as
their ability to earn money and speak out socially and politically.
The U-N report says that half the world’s population live on less than two dollars a
day. One-thousand-million people live on less than one dollar a day.
Air Pollution/Lung Cancer
By Cynthia Kirk
Researchers have completed a major study on the health effects of air pollution
common in many large American cities. The study shows that air pollution
increases the risk of death from lung cancer and other diseases. They say people
living in heavily polluted areas have a sixteen percent higher risk of dying of lung
cancer than people in less polluted areas. They say the risk is similar to that of
someone living with a person who smokes cigarettes.
The latest study involved five-hundred-thousand people in
more than one-hundred American cities. The researchers
examined their health records from Nineteen-Eighty-Two
information about air pollution in the cities where the
Researchers say the higher lung cancer risk is linked to pollution caused by small
particles of soot from coal-burning power centers, factories and motor vehicles.
Power centers built before Nineteen-Eighty produce about half the nation’s
electricity. However, they also produce most of the power industry’s dangerous
pollutants. These include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and soot.Air pollution
levels have decreased during the past twenty years because of better enforcement
of clean air laws. Yet levels of small particle pollution in major cities are at or
above pollution limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The E-P-A set new pollution limits in Nineteen-Ninety-Seven after studies showed
a link between small particle pollution and lung cancer. However, power
companies have taken legal action against the agency to delay the
restrictions.Environmental groups have long suggested that pollution from power
centers has led to a sharp increase in deaths from lung diseases. They have urged
action to either close the factories or force them to put in anti-pollution equipment.
The American Lung Association says the latest findings show the urgent need to
clean up aging power factories.
Experts who have spent years examining the links between pollution and
sicknesses generally support the latest study. The Environmental Protection
Agency says it will consider the research as part of its continuing study of air
quality rules on small particle pollution.
APEC Meeting and North Korea
By Caty Weaver
Leaders from many nations are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
conference in the holiday area of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
APEC was established in nineteen-eighty-nine as a trade
group for the nations of Asia and the Americas. It was
formed in reaction to the growing dependency among
economies of countries that border the Pacific Ocean. Its
goal was to support economic growth among those
countries and to create a sense of community. APEC has twenty-one member
economies. The combined population of APEC countries is about two-and-onehalf-thousand-million people. The countries are responsible for almost half of all
APEC foreign and trade ministers started talks earlier this week. On Thursday, the
foreign ministers approved a joint statement that promised to suppress the
financing of terrorism. The statement also promised to strengthen security for air
travel and shipping of goods.
President Bush and leaders of other APEC countries are meeting this weekend.
Reports say Mister Bush will be trying to gain support for his campaigns against
terrorism and its supporters and against Iraq. APEC leaders also are expected to
discuss the latest situation involving North Korea.
Earlier this month, the United States announced that North Korea had admitted it
is secretly developing nuclear weapons. The admission reportedly came during
talks between a high level North Korean official and an American special
diplomat. The diplomat reportedly had presented the official with American
intelligence evidence about the suspected weapons program.
A North Korean nuclear weapons program would violate an agreement between
the two countries. In nineteen-ninety-four, North Korea agreed to halt its suspected
weapons program. In exchange, the United States said it would provide North
Korea with nuclear power reactors and supplies of heating fuel.
North Korea says it does not believe the United States has honored the agreement.
Experts say North Korea considered the agreement a promise by the United States
to end hostile relations and establish normal relations. And, experts say that the
relationship between the two countries has worsened in the last two years.
North Korea says it wants new talks with the United States about the agreement.
On Tuesday, North Korean officials threatened to take strong action if the United
States would not agree to negotiations. However, North Korea did not say what
form such action would take.
The Bush administration has suggested that the issue can be settled through
diplomatic action. But, administration officials have not answered the call for
talks. They say the United States will decide what steps to take after APEC leaders
discuss the issue.
Global Summit of Women
By Cynthia Kirk
About six-hundred business, professional and governmental
leaders gathered in Barcelona, Spain, last week for the
Global Summit of Women. The three-day meeting dealt with economic
development for women around the world.
The Global Summit of Women brought together women from more than seventy
countries. The largest delegations this year were from Spain, the United States and
Several governments sent trade officials to the summit, including the United
States, Iceland and Canada. The American group was led by Assistant Secretary of
Commerce Maria Cino (SEE-no). Female business leaders and government
officials spoke at the meeting. They included vice presidents, deputy prime
ministers and ministers of employment, science and technology from several
The Global Summit of Women began in nineteen-ninety. It has been held every
year since nineteen-ninety-seven. The majority of women attending the meeting
are owners of small businesses. The meeting offers women a chance to increase
business and professional relationships and to exchange ideas. It aims to increase
women’s economic progress even though there are cultural barriers in many
The summit dealt with problems that women face in starting or expanding
businesses. It provided information in many areas. For example, the meeting
provided information about doing business on the Internet computer system and
developing effective Web sites. The women also discussed how to get financial
support for business owners and form important business alliances.
Other issues included how health crises and environmental concerns influence
business. The women discussed how to turn traditional activities into successful
modern businesses. And they also discussed how women can balance many
concerns in their lives, including work, family and health.
The director of the Global Summit of Women is Irene Natividad of the United
States. Mizz Natividad says in Europe, Canada and the United States, at least onethird of all small and medium-size businesses are now owned by women. And she
says eighty percent of small businesses in developing countries are owned and led
by women. Mizz Natividad says small businesses are an important part of every
free market economy.
Mizz Natividad says women are also an important part of every economy. Yet she
says many businesses fail to recognize the importance of women. She says women
must do more to gain economic equality.
She also called on women to do more to improve the education of girls and
women around the world, especially in science and math. She says this is
important for the new world economy.
Latin American Economic Crisis
By Cynthia Kirk
The International Monetary Fund has agreed to provide an additional thirtythousand-million dollars in loans to Brazil. I-M-F Managing Director Horst
Koehler announced the agreement Wednesday. Experts say the loan is designed to
ease growing concerns about Brazil’s financial markets.
The thirty-thousand-million dollar loan is the largest ever
given by the I-M-F. Financial experts say it shows the I-MF’s strong support for the economic program that Brazil is
following. Brazil already received a fifteen-thousand-million
dollar loan from the I-M-F last year.
Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America. But investors and bankers are
concerned about Brazil’s huge public debt. It is more than two-hundred-fiftythousand-million dollars. There also is concern about Brazil’s presidential election
in October. The two main candidates have sharply criticized the current
government’s support of I-M-F policies aimed at cutting spending, reducing
inflation and increasing free trade.
These concerns have weakened financial markets and caused a sharp drop in the
value of Brazilian money in recent weeks. The government has been forced to pay
interest rates of more than thirty-percent on what it borrows. Many fear that Brazil
may not be able to pay its huge debt.
The I-M-F loan agreement requires that Brazil keep its budget at three-pointseventy-five percent of its total economic production. And it must reduce inflation
during the next year and a half.
American Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill visited Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina
this week. Uruguay received an emergency loan from the United States Monday of
one-and-one-half-thousand-million dollars. The loan was made to help Uruguay
re-open its banks. They had been closed to keep people from withdrawing too
much money. On Thursday, the I-M-F agreed to extend its line of credit to
Uruguay so it could borrow more money.
Argentina, however, did not receive help this week. The American treasury
secretary said the Argentine government must complete more economic reforms
and improve its banking system before it can receive aid. Argentina has onehundred-forty-thousand-million dollars in government debt. And it owes large
repayments on past loans from the I-M-F and other international lenders.
About twenty-two percent of workers are unemployed in Argentina and more than
half the country’s thirty-six million people are poor. Until recent years, Argentina
was South America’s richest nation.
Argentines protested Mister O’Neill’s visit. They accused the United States and
the I-M-F of blocking badly needed aid. The United States is the largest and most
influential shareholder in the I-M-F.
Mister O’Neill said he wants to help negotiate an agreement between the I-M-F
and Argentina to pull the country out of a four year recession. .
Group of Eight Conference
By Cynthia Kirk
Last week, the heads of government of the Group of Eight held a three-day
meeting in Genoa, Italy. The members are the leading industrial nations --the
United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada--and also Russia.
The leaders met to discuss world trade and economic development. They also
discussed disease prevention, debt reduction, and other issues. Officials from
several developing countries including Nigeria, Mali, Bangladesh and El Salvador
were invited to take part in the conference for the first time.
During the talks, about one-hundred-thousand protesters demonstrated outside the
historic palace in Genoa where the meeting was held. They gathered there to
express their anger about world trade.
One person was killed during the protests. The Italian Interior Ministry says the
demonstrator was shot in an act of self-defense by a member of Italy’s national
Many protesters condemned the deadly use of force by the Italian police. The
Group of Eight leaders expressed sorrow for the death and urged demonstrators to
The protesters represented trade unions, environmental groups, farmers, and the
unemployed. Most shared a concern about the effects of international trade. Many
of the protesters believe world trade harms the people of poor countries. They say
major international companies are becoming wealthy while harming the poor and
Opponents of world trade want wealthy nations to reduce debt in developing
countries. They also called for better education in poor countries and more money
to treat diseases in Africa.
The Group of Eight leaders said world trade helps all people. They promised to
work to bring the poorest countries into the world economy. And they promised to
continue to deal with issues important to all areas of the world.
The leaders also discussed the worldwide AIDS crisis and other deadly diseases.
They agreed to provide more than one-thousand-million dollars to support efforts
to prevent and treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. These preventable diseases
kill millions of people each year. Most of the victims live in poor countries.
One of the most disputed issues at the G-Eight meeting was the Kyoto treaty to
halt the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. President Bush continues to reject the
treaty. He says it would harm the American economy. Other leaders said they
would work to put the treaty into effect.
At the end of the conference, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin
announced they would hold new arms talks. They said they want to link talks
about reducing nuclear weapons with American plans to build a missile defense
European Union Expansion
By Cynthia Kirk
The European Union has officially asked ten countries to
join the organization in Two-Thousand-Four. The leaders of
the fifteen current E-U member countries approved the
invitations at a meeting in Copenhagen last week. Danish
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen led the meeting. He called the decision, a
victory for liberty and democracy. He also said that, a new Europe is born.
Eight of the invited countries are in Eastern Europe. Until nineteen-ninety-one,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania were part of the Soviet Union. Poland, the Czech
Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia all had Communist governments. The
E-U also offered membership to Malta and the Greek-ruled part of Cyprus.
The planned expansion would be the largest in the E-U’s history. It would create a
community of more than four-hundred-fifty million people in twenty-five
countries. The expansion also would create an economy of more than ninemillion-million dollars. Such an economy would be close to that of the United
Intense negotiations took place at the Copenhagen meeting about the financial
terms under which new members will join. Candidates for E-U membership had
demanded more aid. Most of them are poorer than the average country in Western
Europe. They also have shorter histories as democracies and had problems with
dishonest governments. Many people in the invited countries did not fully support
efforts to join the E-U.
Poland is the largest of the ten candidate countries. It had threatened to sabotage
the expansion plans if it did not receive more aid. The agreement calls for the E-U
to provide more than forty-thousand-million dollars in aid to the new members.
The expansion is planned for May, Two-Thousand-Four. But first, citizens in each
candidate country must approve E-U membership in a series of votes expected
E-U members had hoped that a United Nations-negotiated agreement to end the
division of Cyprus would be signed during the Copenhagen meeting. Cyprus has
been divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since nineteen-seventy-four.
The E-U offered membership to the southern, Greek side of Cyprus. The Turkish
north could enter later if it agrees on terms to end the island’s division. Now, only
the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government will receive E-U
In another development, Turkey accepted an E-U decision to delay considering its
membership until December, Two-Thousand-Four, at the earliest. E-U leaders said
Turkey must make the political and human rights reforms necessary to begin talks
The United States supports Turkey’s efforts to join the E-U. The Bush
administration has been attempting to win Turkish support for possible military
action against Iraq.
Tobacco in Developing Countries
By Jill Moss
Tobacco smoking has long been considered an international health problem,
especially in developing countries. Health experts estimate that tobacco use causes
diseases that kill three-million people each year. Ninety percent of smokers begin
before age twenty-one. Sixty percent become smokers by age fourteen. Based on
these numbers, an international organization of anti-tobacco groups has released
new evidence against the tobacco industry.
The public activist organization Infact and several members
Transnationals wrote the report. It examines actions by the
tobacco industry around the world. The study says that
tobacco companies spend huge amounts of money fighting anti-smoking
legislation in developing countries. It says tobacco companies take serious steps to
make smoking as low-cost as possible. And it says tobacco companies target
For example, the report says tobacco companies give free cigarettes to young
people at music shows, dance centers and even in some schools. Tobacco
companies also give away clothes or other products showing their signs or logos.
The effect of these actions is an increase in young smokers. The report says the
total number of young smokers has increased by more than seventy percent in
developing countries during the last twenty-five years.
Anti-smoking activists also say tobacco companies try to market their products to
as many people as possible. For example, in India, cigarettes are sold individually
or in boxes of two or five. The price of these smaller boxes is much less than a full
box of twenty cigarettes. This makes it much easier for young people to get
The report comes as the World Health Organization begins new talks on an
agreement seeking to limit the use of tobacco. The document is called the
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Officials hope to have it finished by
The agreement will deal with tobacco marketing campaigns, the illegal transport
of tobacco, financial support for the tobacco industry and other issues.
Clearing Land Mines in Afghanistan
By Jill Moss
Each year, thousands of people are killed or injured by explosions from land
mines. This is a serious problem in many developing countries that are
experiencing war. Afghanistan is considered the most heavily land-mined country
in the world. Soviet forces fighting in Afghanistan placed most of the bombs
during the Nineteen-Eighties.
The United Nations estimates that as many as ten-million land
mines were buried in Afghanistan before the American-led war
against terrorism started. That number has increased. United States
military planes dropped unexploded cluster bombs in Afghanistan.
These bombs are especially dangerous because they look like games for children
to play with.
Now, the United States is helping Afghanistan remove these dangerous land
mines. It has employed a company based in Washington, D.C., called Ronco
Consulting Company. Ronco is sending an eleven-man team of experts to
Afghanistan to help remove the bombs. The team will also train Afghan officials
in mine removal techniques. They will start in Jalalabad, then move to four other
areas of the country.
Stephen Edelmann and Ronald Boyd started Ronco in
Nineteen-Seventy-Four. Since that time, the company has
worked on more than three-hundred projects in more than fifty
developing countries. About ninety people work for Ronco in
the United States. More than three-hundred people work for the company around
In recent years, Ronco experts have gone to several other countries to find and
remove land mines. The company uses metal sensing equipment and specially
trained dogs to find the buried bombs. It also helps countries create special picture
books for children. These books warn children about the dangers of land mines.
Human Rights Watch estimates that a single land mine costs between three and
thirty dollars to make. Yet, the cost of finding and removing a single bomb is
between three-hundred and one-thousand dollars. Although the cost is high, the
United States believes it is money well spent.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the United States will help rebuild
Afghanistan and bring hope to its people. He says that hope will begin with
clearing the country of land mines.
Child Nutrition Program
By Jill Moss
A new program has been launched to provide children in developing countries
with more healthy foods. Officials made the announcement this month during a
three-day special conference on children at the United Nations.
The new program is called “Global Alliance for Improved
Nutrition,” or GAIN. It aims to save at least two-thousandmillion children around the world from health problems
linked to the lack of healthy foods.
Eating foods that lack nutrients can lead to serious health problems. For example,
when pregnant mothers do not get enough nutrients, their babies may be born with
development problems. The baby’s brain might not grow to full size. A lack of
important vitamins and minerals in food causes many serious health problems
Many important people in both government and business are working on the
GAIN program. They include the richest man in America, Bill Gates. He started
Microsoft, the company that makes computer programs and operating systems.
Two years ago, Mister Gates and his wife Melinda decided to use some of their
money to create a private foundation in Seattle, Washington. The foundation is the
biggest not-for-profit organization in the world, with twenty-four-thousand-million
The Gates Foundation will give fifty-million dollars over five years to the GAIN
program. The money will be used to add vitamins and minerals to common foods,
such as oil, flour and rice.
Several large American food companies are also involved in the program. They are
Kraft Foods, Procter and Gamble, and H-J-Heinz. These companies manufacture
food products that are sold around the world. Through GAIN, the companies will
add extra vitamins and minerals to foods sold in poor nations. The companies will
also provide governments and small food producers with technology to improve
the nutritional value of foods eaten in local communities. Some of the added
nutrients include iron, vitamin A, iodine and folic acid.
The World Health Organization, several other U-N agencies and the World Bank
are involved in the GAIN project. So are the governments of Japan, Germany and
the United States. Organizers say the program is an investment in the future and
could save millions of lives.