01 Feb

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


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Kenji Goto's mother, Junko Ishido, speaks to reporters

Kenji Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, speaks to reporters after release of Isis video that purportedly showed his beheading. Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA

Mother of Japanese journalist beheaded by Islamic State leads tributes

As Japan condemns Kenji Goto’s apparent execution, newspapers issue special editions and father of other Japanese hostage praises Goto’s bravery

The mother of Kenji Goto has led tributes to the Japanese journalist, after Islamic State (Isis) released a video purportedly showing his beheading and carrying a warning that Japan was now a target for the militant group.

As newspapers issued special editions bringing news of Goto’s death, his mother, Junko Ishido, led the tributes to her son.

“Kenji has died, and my heart is broken,” she said. “I’m just speechless. It is my only hope that we can carry on with Kenji’s mission to save the children from war and poverty.”

The Isis video, called A Message to the Government of Japan, showed a militant who looked and sounded like the man with a British accent who has taken part in other Isis beheadings………………..

     . Isis video purports to show beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto


greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis dutch eroen Dijsselbloem eurogroup

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, right, had talks with his Dutch counterpart Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the Eurogroup of finance ministers, in Athens last week. Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi/EPA

Greece on collision course with Brussels after Merkel backs hardline debt stance

Germany will resist Greek efforts to do deals with individual creditor nations, even as Syriza finance minister heads to meet French counterpart

Angela Merkel has ruled out the prospect of Greece securing further debt cuts from its creditor nations, potentially putting the country’s new leftist government on a collision course with Brussels. The German chancellor’s uncompromising stance will not be welcomed in Athens, where the new ruling party, Syriza, insists that it will make good on its promises to halve the country’s €320bn (£240bn) debt obligations and scrap a range of swingeing budget measures that were imposed in exchange for the loans.

Athens is refusing to cooperate with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – the troika of institutions overseeing the loans, which total about 175% of Greece’s gross domestic product. Instead its new government is looking to meet with individual creditor nations as it seeks concessions that it claims are vital if Greece is to emerge from years of austerity.

However, such unilateral measures will be fiercely resisted by Germany, which is adamant that eurozone creditor nations must hold the line on Greece’s debt. When asked in a newspaper interview published yesterday whether there could be further concessions for Greece, Merkel said Athens had already been forgiven billions of euros by private creditors. “I don’t see a further debt haircut,” she said………………..


Podemos rally madrid

Tens of thousands march through Madrid in a show of strength for the leftwing party Podemos. Photograph: Andres Kudacki/AP

100,000 flock to Madrid for Podemos rally against austerity

Inspired by the leftist Greek election victory, support grows for new political order in Spain

Four years ago, Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square belonged to los indignados – an impromptu revolt of thousands, camping out for weeks and rallying against a political establishment felt to be out of sync with the people.

On Saturday, up to 100,000 people again filled the square, determined to show the world that 2015 would be the year that the change demanded by the indignados would come about.

Less than a week after Greece elected an aggressively anti-austerity government, the leaders of Spain’s own insurgent force, Podemos (We Can), urged supporters to take to the streets in a show of strength as it embarks on a tumultuous electoral campaign. “Tick tock, tick tock,” chanted thousands as they occupied the broad avenues of central Madrid, counting down to a year packed with municipal, regional and general elections. Just a year since its creation, Podemos has vaulted to the top of opinion polls, threatening to bring an end to the bipartisan political system that has governed Spain since the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975……………….



Buan Kham lost her lower right leg when a 500lb bomb her husband had stored beneath the house exploded. Photograph: Matilde Gattoni/Tandem Reportage

Laos: Thousands suffering from the deadly aftermath of US bomb campaign

Fifty years after US combat troops entered Vietnam, neighbouring Laos is still dealing with unexploded bombs from fierce air attacks

“If I had arrived 15 minutes later at the hospital, I would have died. I underwent 12 blood transfusions in order to survive.” Sitting in the living room of her wooden stilt house, 39-year-old Buan Kham slowly lifted her skirt to expose what remains of her right leg, amputated at the knee. “If I hadn’t gone to the capital, Vientiane, I would have lost both,” she added, caressing the deep scars running along her left thigh.

Less than a year ago Kham, from the rural village of Na Dee, became one of the 20,000 victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The weapons are a lethal legacy of the Vietnam war, which turned this poor, landlocked south-east Asia nation of 6 million into the most bombed country per capita in the world.

It is 50 years since the first US combat troops entered Vietnam in March 1965. During that notorious conflict, the US dropped more than 270 million bombs in Laos as part of a CIA-run, top-secret operation aimed at destroying the North Vietnamese supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh trail and wiping out its local communist allies.

One-third of the bombs failed to explode on impact and have since claimed an average of 500 victims a year, mainly children and farmers forced to work on their contaminated fields to sustain their families. Despite tens of millions of dollars spent, only 1% of Laos territory has been cleared so far………………….


Prosthetic arms on display at the COPE Visitor Centre, Vientiane. COPE is a local not-for-profit organisation providing access to prosthetic devices and rehabilitation services to people with disabilities. One third of its patients are UXO-related victims.

More Pictures



A religious zealot proselytizes against the theory of evolution in New York on Saturday, April 9, 2011.

A man in New York holds a placard denying evolution. Photograph: Frances Roberts/Alamy

Many Americans reject evolution, deny climate change and find GM food unsafe, survey finds

Study points to worrying gulf between the opinions held by scientists and the general public in the US on key issues

A major survey of US opinions has revealed that huge numbers of people reject Darwinian evolution, consider GM foods unsafe to eat, and doubt that human activity is warming the planet.

The report by the Pew Research Center in Washington DC was conducted with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and sought to compare the opinions of a cross-section of the US public with those held by the AAAS’s scientific members.

Published in the journal Science, the survey found that 31% of the US public believed that humans had existed in their present form since the beginning, with a further 24% stating that humans had evolved under the guiding hand of a supreme being. In contrast, only 2% of AAAS scientists said humans had not evolved in their time on Earth.

The proportion of the public who believed evolution had happened through natural processes, as described by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago, was only slightly greater than a third at 35%. The survey drew on phone interviews with 2,002 US adults chosen to be representative of the nation, and online questions of 3,748 US-based members of the AAAS………………..Perhaps the most contentious issue the survey touched on was climate change, where only half of the population agreed with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change view that climate change was mostly driven by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels. Nearly half said there was either no good evidence for global warming, or that the recent warming of the Earth was due to natural climate variability……………….


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