African leaders have urged the Group of Eight nations to tackle spiking oil and food prices, warning the crisis threatens to aggravate an already desperate plight in the continent.

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The call comes as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd heads to Japan for the summit.

VIDEO: Rudd prepares for G8

VIDEO: G8 message: Don't waste food

VIDEO: Grim finding in biofuel report

The Group of Eight nations launched their key annual summit at a spa resort in northern Japan with a special session also attended by seven African leaders.

Riot police with shields blocked some 50 protesters who had camped out in meadowlands in drenching rain from getting anywhere near the plush hotel where the world's top leaders were meeting.

Inside, the 15 heads of government and state huddled to discuss aid and development in Africa, as G8 nations came under mounting pressure to live up to their promises to help.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the African leaders — from Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania — demanded action as the global food and fuel crisis has hit the continent's most vulnerable people the hardest.

“The African countries expressed their fears that many of the Millennium Development Goals will be more difficult to reach if commodity prices keep rising like they are at the moment,” she told reporters.

Food prices have nearly doubled in three years and set off riots in parts of the developing world, which are also being hit hard by record oil prices — a joint crisis that is the primary focus of G8 leaders in Japan.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the start of the summit, backed the African leaders and called on G8 nations to live up to their promises to double aid for Africa by 2010.

“The world faces three simultaneous crises — a food crisis, a climate crisis and a development crisis,” Ban told reporters. “The three crises are deeply interconnected and need to be addressed as such.”

Sources close to French President Nicolas Sarkozy said G8 officials were working through the night on the final declaration to be issued Wednesday, while the aid group Oxfam said negotiators were deadlocked on the issue of aid pledges to Africa.

Oxfam said the draft text of a separate communique on development does not include a reiteration of a promise by G8 leaders three years ago to provide 50 billion dollars extra in aid by 2010, half of it earmarked for Africa.

“We must see the $50 billion aid promise back in the communique,” said Max Lawson of Oxfam International.

Falling behind targets

The UN's flagging Millennium Development Goals were launched in 2000 and involve an eight-point action plan to reduce poverty and improve healthcare and education in Africa by 2015.

But G8 nations are falling behind on the goals and skyrocketing food and oil prices have aggravated the problem and aid groups fear G8 powers are backtracking on their commitment.

Aid groups accused some of the G8 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — of walking away from earlier commitments.

Zimbabwe also on agenda

G8 leaders also pushed for sanctions on Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe secured a sixth term last month in a widely condemned election in which his only rival dropped out citing violence.

“I care deeply about the people of Zimbabwe. I am extremely disappointed in the election, which I labelled a sham election,” Bush said after meeting with

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the head of the African Union.

A source close to France's president Nicolas Sarkozy said he would back a UN Security Council resolution tabled last week by the United States imposing sanctions on Mugabe's regime, which “tarnishes the image of all of Africa”.

Ban said he would press for movement in the fight against climate change.

“I hope the US ultimately should take (on) this leadership role. This is what the whole international community expects of the United States,” Ban told AFP in an interview.

The United States is the only major industrial nation to shun the Kyoto Protocol on reducing the emissions that cause climate change as it pushes for more commitment from developing nations.

Last year's G8 summit agreed that the leaders would “consider seriously” at least halving carbon emissions by 2050.

On the summit sidelines, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in their first face-to-face meeting that he wanted to normalise ties that fell to their lowest point since the Cold War last year.

“President Medvedev suggested that the two countries focus on returning bilateral relations to a normal state, to the level of a few years ago,” his diplomatic advisor, Sergei Prikhodko, told reporters.

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President Mahmud Abbas has hailed an “historic opportunity” for peace as Palestinians marked the third anniversary of the death of his iconic predecessor Yasser Arafat.

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In a speech before tens of thousands of people in the West Bank political capital of Ramallah, Mr Abbas said he considered an planned peace meeting a “historic opportunity to turn a new page in the history of the Middle East”.

The United States is expected to host the international meeting in

Annapolis, Maryland later this year aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process after negotiations led by Arafat collapsed in 2000.

Mr Abbas has vowed to continue through negotiations the struggle for a Palestinian state his predecessor led for nearly four decades, but on the third anniversary of Arafat's death Palestinians are more divided than ever.

The commemoration of Arafat's mysterious death in a Paris hospital on November 11, 2004 sees the Palestinian Authority which he set up in 1994 in control of only scattered, autonomous areas of the occupied West Bank.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which opposed Arafat's policies during his lifetime, seized power in the Gaza Strip in mid-June after routing security forces loyal to his successor and the secular Fatah party he founded.

Fatah rally planned

Fatah plans to hold a large rally in the Gaza Strip in honour of Arafat today, after Hamas-run police broke up several small demonstrations and arrested a number of Fatah supporters on the day of the anniversary.

Three demonstrators were shot and wounded in a clash with the police in the Gaza refugee camp of Nusseirat, medical sources said.

Mr Abbas once again called on Hamas to hand back control of the volatile coastal strip and reverse what he calls its “military coup,” accusing the movement of betraying Arafat's legacy.

“You will not hide the truth of what you have created, the establishment of an isolated entity controlled by a faction that rejects democracy and the values at the heart of our modern struggle,” he said.

Hamas — which opposed Arafat's policies during his lifetime and vilifies his successor Mr Abbas — nevertheless praised the former leader.

“We often agreed with the president Abu Ammar and we often disagreed with him, but in spite of this we consider him a symbol of the Palestinian nation,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP.

Hamas has consistently opposed the planned peace conference, warning President Abbas against making concessions to Israel on core issues of the conflict — borders, refugees, and the fate of Jerusalem.

But on Sunday Mr Abbas vowed to hold fast to Palestinian “national rights, which are guaranteed to us under international law.”

His remarks came amid reports that negotiations ahead of the meeting – for which there is still no fixed date — have stalled following disagreements over a joint document that is expected to form the basis of future talks.

Palestinians have called for a document that addresses the core issues while Israel prefers a looser declaration based on the 2003 roadmap plan.

The internationally drafted roadmap calls on Israel to remove some West Bank settlements in exchange for Palestinians taking over responsibility for security, but has made no progress in the past four years.

Although Palestinians revere Arafat as the father of their cause, many in Israel and the West blame him for the outbreak of the 2000 Palestinian uprising and the demise of the last round of peace talks.

“Just as despots on other continents were mourned in the years immediately following their passing but later it was understood that they were a national tragedy, I believe the same will be the fate of Arafat,” Mark Regev, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, told news agency AFP.

The precise cause of Arafat's death at the age of 75 remains a mystery.

Several Palestinian officials accused Israel of poisoning him but medical officials have never managed to confirm the cause of death.Read More →

An elderly shopaholic’s body was found ‘buried’ under a pile of clothes and other items more than a week after she went missing, an inquest has heard.

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Joan Cunnane’s home, near Manchester in the UK, was so crammed with purchases it took five visits to the house to find her, a court was told.

Friend Roy Moran said he last saw the 77-year-old when they had lunch together on Christmas Day, 2008.

Moran said he visited four days later and found a door ajar and the premises stacked from floor to ceiling with bric-a-brac.

He went to Cunnane’s house three times without seeing her, before police were eventually alerted on January 6.

Detective Inspector Kevin Dolan said the first search of her home was unsuccessful because of “the large amount of personal property and papers within”.

Police returned the following day to clear out the house and conduct a second search, and that was when Cunnane’s body was found in a bedroom “under a substantial pile of clothing and other items”, he said.

‘Death by natural causes’

Pathologist Philip Lumb said Cunnane died from bronchial pneumonia, and also had cancer. Coroner John Pollard recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

“I suspect she has probably collapsed and various items have fallen on her,” he said.

“There’s no evidence to suggest those items contributed to her death.”

Speaking outside the court, Moran said his friend’s house was “crammed to capacity with purchases”.

The extent of her compulsive shopping only became known after her death because she did not let visitors in the house.

Moran believed Cunnane’s obsessive shopping began about 16 years ago.

He said she would leave home early and return late because she was afraid of youths who had been loitering in the area, throwing stones and breaking garden furniture.

“It was unbelievable, things were stacked up to the ceiling and there were rows of things neatly stacked,” he said.

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GEORGE NEGUS: David, it is good to see you again.

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Last time we spoke it was on your territory, this time it is on ours. But welcome.

DR DAVID SUZUKI, ENVIRONMENTALIST: I am glad to be here.

GEORGE NEGUS: David, could we start with something that is particularly topical in this country at the moment? It was yesterday that Australia, it was said, was put on the path towards nuclear power after John Howard’s Government said construction of new plants, nuclear plants, could start within a decade. That was greeted with mixed feelings, to say the least, in this country. What was your reaction, as somebody who has got pretty strong views about these things?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: Well, my reaction immediately was thank God Mr Howard is finally admitting that climate change is real and that something has got to be done about it. I mean, here is a man in his fourth term in office and it has taken until now for him to take climate change seriously. And I think it is being driven by the current water crisis. So good, we are finally going to start to do something, and certainly something serious has to be done.

The question is whether it is to be nuclear. And I am not one who takes a knee-jerk automatic ‘no’ response to nuclear energy, but I think that if you’re going to seriously consider nuclear as an issue, then you have to answer some serious questions. First of all is cost. Show me that nuclear can be competitive with other forms of energy, including solar energy.

GEORGE NEGUS: Do you believe, David, if I can interrupt you there. And I want to hear those points because I know you do have a number of them. But do you believe that it is cost-effective? Because when the Minister involved, the Minister for Resources, Mr McFarlane, when this point was raised, he says that – eventually at least – nuclear power will be much, much cheaper than any of the other forms of power, including renewables.

DR DAVID SUZUKI: You know what, they used to tell us – the reason that we bought into nuclear in the first place – was it is going to be so cheap you won’t even have to monitor how much you’re using. It will be virtually limitless at very cheap prices. That’s turned out to be absolute nonsense. And I’d like to take an example of my own country. The largest province, Ontario, the industrial heartland of Canada, 40% per cent of its energy is nuclear energy, and the province has a $40 billion debt for their energy, 95% of it is because of the nuclear industry itself. This is not a cheap form of energy. So cost alone says these guys ought to seriously consider the history of nuclear energy around the world. It is not cheap.

Second of all, reliability. If you are going to go online with a very serious commitment to mega, mega energy sources like this, you want to be able to depend on it. History in Canada is they are breaking down all the time. There are leaks that develop, cracks that develop and then they go off the stream. And guess what, when they finally come back on to start deliver energy, it costs us millions and millions more dollars to get them back on stream. So that is cost and reliability – two big issues.

We live in a post-9/11 world in which terrorism is a very real possibility. Again, it has been shown again and again in Canada that terrorists could get into any of our nuclear plants with no problem. What do you do to ensure they don’t get in and either blow it up or steal radioactive material? That is going to cost you millions of dollars more. And finally what you do with the waste? And waste is usually the issue that is raised first. So I think there are four huge questions that are raised and until those are satisfactorily answered, I am amazed anyone would seriously say nuclear is what we should go for.

GEORGE NEGUS: In the past, David, you have actually said that the Howard Government’s position on climate change and on Kyoto was outrageous. You were appalled at their position, the position they have adopted. Why do you think this change of heart? You said because of our water problems in this country. John Howard says he believes strongly that nuclear power now has to be part of the equation in this search for an answer to climate change.

DR DAVID SUZUKI: Well, I find that statement so lacking in credibility. This is a man, for years and years, who has denied the reality of climate change caused by human beings even though his scientific community in Australia has been saying that for more than 15 years, that this is a serious issue and Australia is particularly vulnerable. So for this man, now having denied all these years, to suddenly come out and say nuclear is the only option, I don’t see how he has any credibility on this issue at all. I have no idea why suddenly nuclear’s on the agenda but I would think that anyone would say we have to look at our whole energy policy, look at how it relates to water, how it looks to many other issues – of sea level rise and so on – and then having had a major consideration, come up with a plan that we can commit to. I think the idea of nuclear is just not thought out very critically.

GEORGE NEGUS: To be fair to John Howard, he has said that he doesn’t believe nuclear power is THE solution but part of the solution. The Government does intend looking at in fact they are looking at renewable sources of energy as well.

DR DAVID SUZUKI: I’m getting very confusing signals from the Federal Government now because, OK, Mr Howard is finally admitting global warming is serious, we’ve got to do something, but his Minister of the Environment is saying, “Oh, we’re gonna meet Kyoto.” What’s going on here?

GEORGE NEGUS: So you don’t believe that they will meet their Kyoto target?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: I have no idea. He is talking about things that I have no idea because this government has been denying the need to meet any kind of target because it would destroy the economy. So where suddenly does it come out that Australia is going to meet the Kyoto target? Now, the Kyoto target for Australia, remember, is a much softer target than any of the other industrialised world, so has always been a mystery to me why there was a complaint that Australia was a special consideration. But if Australia is going to meet its Kyoto target, why not ratify? Kyoto is international law. When Putin of Russia signed and ratified Kyoto, it became international law. The United States was the only industrialised country to say no to Kyoto. We know they are outlaws but I am amazed that Australia..

GEORGE NEGUS: You have described George Bush as an international outlaw. Do you put John Howard in the same category?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: Well, he is. Obviously if Mr Howard is going to join Mr Bush and say no to Kyoto, he is saying no to what is an international law. Now, we know that Bush has been an outlaw. He said from the time he got in ‘no’ to any landmines treaty, ‘no’ to any dispute being settled in the world court, ‘no’ to any extension of nuclear test bans, ‘no’ to Kyoto. He clearly has said the US is going to go its own damn way and to hell with the rest of the world. I’m amazed that Australia would choose to be that kind of an international citizen.

GEORGE NEGUS: Is that one of your great frustrations – that most of the the time you are preaching to the converted, and the people you’ve been trying to convert – if you like, the John Howards of this world – don’t want to know?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: The frustration I feel is with the political process. You see, I understand the reality of politics. When you get elected to office your absolutely first priority is to get re-elected. That means whatever you do has to pay off in something you can brag about before the next election. The political vision is too short to really get involved in something as serious as climate change. And then it is compounded by the fact you’ve got to be worried about people that are going to vote. Children don’t vote. So the reality is politicians cannot pay attention to the needs of children because they are not voters. For that matter, future generations don’t even exist. They’re not even on the political agenda.

GEORGE NEGUS: David, in your autobiography you suggest that “it has been your lot to be a Cassandra or Chicken Little, warning about imminent disaster” – which you appear to be still doing. “But it gives me no satisfaction at all to think that my concerns may be validated by my grandchildren’s generation.” That is a very, very pessimistic, very doomsday view of things. Do you feel as though you’re a comparative success as an environmentalist or a comparative failure?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: Well, it depends on how you define success. The problem is we don’t know what the world would be like if environmentalists and Greenpeace and Bob Brown and all of us didn’t exist. We don’t know. But the reality is I have been doing this kind of thing since Rachel Carson, in 1962, published ‘Silent Spring’. And the warnings of the scientific community for over 40 years have been coming at us and we’re going in the wrong direction. Now, I don’t say this is inevitable. I operate only because I have hope. When I do things I always try to remember Nelson Mandela. If Nelson Mandela could hang in there for all of those years as the best years of his life went down the drain, then I don’t think anyone can say it is too late, we have to abandon hope. But I have also got a brain, I also listen to scientists and they’re telling us we’re heading down a very dangerous path.

GEORGE NEGUS: But you are still hopeful nevertheless. Of what? What are you hoping for?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: I have to. I have got children. I mean, the fact that Mr Howard is finally, rather late, but finally admitting climate change is serious, we have got to do something, that’s an incremental step. And that is what we have got to do, is keep working towards that. My prediction is the next election is going to be one in which the environment will be a major, major issue. He will not be able to avoid that. And that is a small step again. The environment is emerging around the world, again, to become the number one issue, as it was in 1988.

GEORGE NEGUS: It’s a awful way to put it but it is almost thanks to climate change, the environment is back on the political agenda. That is ironic isn’t it?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: It is very ironic. You know, I’ve use the metaphor – I feel like we’re in a giant car heading at a brick wall at 100 miles an hour and everybody is arguing about where they want to sit. It doesn’t matter who is driving, for heaven’s sake, someone’s got say, “Put the brake on and turn the wheel.” A few of us are saying that but we are locked in the trunk, and nobody hears us anyway.

GEORGE NEGUS: Does this autobiography mean it’s the end of the public road that you’re on, for David Suzuki, or are we going to have to put up with you for a few years yet?

DR DAVID SUZUKI: Well, if George Negus keeps inviting me back on the show, I guess I won’t be able to put a sock in my mouth and shut up.

GEORGE NEGUS: David, it is great to talk to you again.

DR DAVID SUZUKI: OK, thanks a lot.

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One can now only wonder what the Federal Government will have in store for Indigenous Australians and whether any real changes for the better will occur from such radical moves.

南宁桑拿

There’s no doubt it has highlighted the plight of Indigenous people in this country but the question remains as to whether this is a genuine long term commitment by the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough to address something Aboriginal people have been screaming out about for years or is it as many people suggest, an election stunt in order to point score with the Australian public or is it a land grab to take control of Aboriginal land for mining purposes and the dumping of nuclear waste?

These and many questions will be addressed in the up coming new series of Living Black. Returning on Wednesday 5th September at 6pm for another 13 week series, our intrepid Video Journalists are currently travelling the length and breadth of the country to bring you up to date and in depth coverage on the work of the Federal Government’s Emergency Indigenous Taskforce and the teams travelling into Northern Territory communities. We will also investigate child sexual abuse in Western Australian Aboriginal communities and how this is being tackled.

And in the lead up to the Federal election, the team will bring you stories on the issues facing Indigenous Australians today as well as good news on stories of achievement and success from Indigenous Australia.

Let me know what your views are on the Federal Government’s controversial moves and on the hot topics you think will emerge in relation to Indigenous affairs in the lead up to the Federal election.

Your comments are welcome here We’ll be publishing your thoughts throughout the week.

Mr Guy

Blackburn-North, Australia

Australians are matured now in politics and cannot be fooled any longer. First it was the Tempa issue and now Dr Anefi just for political gains.

Miss Jackie MacNamara

Townsville, Australia

It’s great to see the government interested in stopping child sexual abuse.

However land permits should be not included as part of the Intervention Plan into child sex abuse and are a convenient add-on in my opinion.

Another interesting point is that for years this issue has been continually raised and is only “addressed” (temporarily) when there is an upcoming election.

Mr Earl Morrall

Melbourne, Australia

Yes this problem had to be stop sooner or later its been going on to long its about time someone put a stop to this matter regardless of race or colour.

Mr Derek Denton

Melbourne, Australia

I think the proof of the interventions worth will be in the detail and how it is managed.

Your comments are welcome here We’ll be publishing your thoughts throughout the week.

Read More →

Jana

Wendt`s interview with Chile`s president-elect, Mr Ricardo Lagos.

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Dateline 23/2/00

Mr Lagos,

welcome to Dateline.

Thank you.

How important

as a symbol do you think it is that you have been elected the first socialist

President of Chile in 27 years?

Well, to some extent

you could say that probably a circle of history has been closed. I mean

President Allende died in the presidential palace. He was loyal to his

people and even though circumstances are absolutely different, I belong

to a coalition that is much broader than the coalition of President Allende.

. We learned the hard lesson that if you want to lead a country you need

a substantial majority.

Okay, and

so what difference will you make as a socialist president?

The world is different.

The world of 1970 was the Cold War. The world of the year 2000 is 10 years

or 11 years after the Berlin Wall came to an end. But then the other difference

I would say is that 30 years ago, to be socialist meant that the means

of production had to be in control of the state. Today, if you want to

explain why Mr Gates is so rich, its not because he owns the means of

production, he has this. And this means that today, to be a socialist

in this century, the 21st century has much more to do with

education and what kind of education are you going to provide for everybody,

rather than what`s happened with the means of production.

I`m sure there

are people in your party, or socialists around the world who will say

this is heresy. This is a move towards the centre, it`s not socialism

at all. What do you say?

No, I don`t think

so. I think that to be socialist means that you want to preserve freedom

with increasing degrees of equality. How are you going to get more equality,

how are you going to get a society that is much more equitable than the

one that we have today. We have a very uneven distribution of income in

Chile. I don`t want that. And I think that if Chile is going to be a developed

country, and we can do that in the next ten years, I want to have a more

equitable country.

Is it true

Mr Lago, that the biggest political stick that your right

wing opponents could beat you with is your association with the radical

socialism of Allende?

Well, there are some

people that remain in the past and they would like to present some kind

of a ghost. They don`t understand history, they don`t understand the

Sir, can I

ask you bluntly in a theoretical sense, do you think those Allende years

were a failure?

Well, let me put it

this way. I disagree with that, because during those Allende years, we

kept our freedom, congress was functioning, we had free press. It`s a

different story that probably the economic policy was not ruled in the

right way. We commit a lot of mistakes, but as I say the mistakes does

not justify the horrors of what came later.

But mistakes

they were?

Mistakes they were.

There is no question of that.

Back in 1988,

during a television appearance, you looked straight into the camera as

if you were addressing General Pinochet. You told him that Chile didn`t

want any more of the oppression and the assassinations and the torture.

It was such a bold move by you. What led you at that moment to that point?

The most difficult

question in 1988 was to convince to the Chilean people that it was possible,

through Pinochet`s legislation, to defeat Pinochet. I have a sense of

duty to all those thousands of Chileans that decided to sign to have a

party against Pinochet. So I addressed straight to Pinochet to demonstrate

to them that it was possible to defeat Pinochet.

That it could

be done?

That it could be done.

The young people didn`t want to. They thought it was not possible.

You said on

that occasion that you were speaking after 15 years of silence. Can you

give me an impression of what those 15 years of silence were like for

you?

Well, we are fortunate

enough because we were able to live in Chile since 1978. I was imprisoned

in a very short time – only three weeks. We have fear – for me, for my

family, my kids. It was not easy to live during those days.

What about

that period when you were at the University of Chile just after the coup?

What was that like?

Well I was expelled

from the University of Chile. I was professor, I was a very young professor

at the university. At the age of 25 I was member of the faculty at the

University of Chile. I was expelled right after the coup.

Were there

colleagues of yours that disappeared, who were taken away? Do you have

that experience?

I have a close friends

of mine that disappeared here in the presidential palace. The remains

of one of them was discovered four years ago, and we were able to bury

him, but two others of my friends it has been impossible to recover the

bones. When you are talking about the people that disappeared, you are

talking about at least 1,000 people that disappeared and you never know

where they are.

And that friends

of yours, you say, whose remains were recovered, do you know who was responsible

for his death?

No. I do not know.

Would you

like to know?

I know that he was

murdered two days after the coup. He was tortured. It was possible to

discover the kind of torture through the bones of his body, but I think

that also we should be able to look what we have ahead in our future.

I asked the

question I suppose, because you have said that the issue of the disappeared

people is a wound, I think you say, that won`t heal until Chile confronts

that problem. What tools will you as president need to tackle that problem?

I think it is important

to realise that this is a task for the judicial power. Those people that

disappeared, technically if you don`t discover their remains, it is an

open investigation for the tribunals.

You must need

the assistance of the military in getting to the bottom of this issue,

don`t you?

I think so.

How will you

set about persuading them to help you in this task?

If we want to be able

to look to the future, it is going to be necessary for those responsible

to recognise what happened. I know it is very difficult. I know that probably

with many of them, they say that some of them are in the ocean. It is

going to be necessary that somebody says “Look, the following people are

in the ocean.”

And the people

who are going to have to say this will surely come from the military,

right?

I do not know. There

are some people that are thinking the way that you are thinking, but this

is something that will have to be determined by the tribunals, not by

the president.

But, Mr Lagos,

you are going to have to do something, aren`t you, to compel people, if

they are in the military to help you with this, otherwise there will be

no peace for these people?

This is the reason

why the Minister of Defence has been able to set up a so-called dialogue

table and at this dialogue table you have lawyers from the human rights

issues, members of the military and they have been discussing several

ways to establish and to discover what has happened finally.

Of course

there are again critics in your own party who would say “There should

be no more dialogue with the military. The military is there after all

to serve the state. They should be told they must cooperate. Do you think

in those terms?

Well, I think that

it is necessary. Can you have two different sides. How are you going to

make possible for those two different sides to talk to each other. That

is the only way to be able again to see the future.

The issue

of General Pinochet himself. The medical report would seem to suggest

that he is unfit to stand trial. In view of that, what do you think should

happen to him?

No matter how sick

you are, in Chile you have to stand trial.

So, it is

technically possible, despite the fact that medical reports suggest that

he is not fit to stand trial, say in Spain, it is technically possible

for the General to be tried here in Chile?

Oh yes, because the

medical reasons are quite different in Chile than those medical reasons

that exist in Great Britain. In Chile, no matter how ill you may be, you

will stand on trial, unless somebody will certify mental illness, but

in that case you are going to be taken under custody or whatever of the

situation because you are mentally ill.

If the General

comes back to Chile – do you expect that to happen by the way?

Yes, I think so. I

think the General will be back in Chile very soon.

So if he does

come back and sees his days out here, without ever having been brought

to account for the crimes that took place under his term of office, will

that be a satisfactory close to all of this?

The question is, are

we going to be able, as Chileans, to solve in the right way this chapter

of Chilean history, or is it simply a question of the passing of the years.

It is a biological fact that all of us some day are going to die, and

therefore all of us that were part of what happened in that chapter of

Chilean history are going to pass away. I would rather prefer the other

way, that we are able to cope with our past.

If you are

in a way, talking about forgiving and forgetting, it`s necessary isn`t

it to know whom it is that you are forgiving, in other words who is responsible

and specifically what crimes it is that you are going to forgive?

I wonder if you are

going to know specific names. But at least, as somebody told me once,

if I`m going to pardon, I would like to know whom I am pardoning. In Australia

we have 30,000/40,000 Chileans living down there and most of them went

there because your country was generous enough to receive so many Chileans

that were unable to live in Chile because of political considerations.

Now those Chileans are living now in Australia. They would like to perceive

that at least somebody is going to be able to give them a word saying

“Look, those that sent you into exile, at least admitted their error.”

So, the resolution

in your mind now, as president-elect goes how? People responsible from

the military will be tried for their crimes?

I would say that this

is something that is going to be decided by the tribunal. What I should

guarantee is that the tribunals can perform their duties.

And you are

confident that they can, given the influence that the military still has?

I think the military

has to realise that the world is observing what we are going to be able

to do.

So, you think

the fact that the world will be watching will be sufficient caution for

the Chilean military?

No, I think that…I

tell to the Chilean people that I `m going to tell them the truth. If

I see any action, that means some interference in what the tribunals are

going to do, I will tell that straight to the Chilean people.

Okay, so that`s

step one of the solution to the problem, is step two General Pincohet

returning to this country and being seen to be held accountable in some

way?

If a tribunal say

what you have just said.

What about

you, do you want to see that happen as president-elect of this country?

Chilean people knows

what is my political evaluation of Pinochet`s dictatorship, what is my

moral evaluation of what happened in Chile. There is no question I was

an opponent to General Pinochet while he was in power. As a president

of the republic all what I have to do is allow the tribunals to do what

they have to do.

Do you think

there is a national consensus in this country of what is valuable in its

past, or are there as one commentator suggested, two competing versions

of Chile`s history?

Well, let me put it

this way. We are rather proud of our history up until 1970. In the centre

we have just one single history. We were a small country, with democratic

institutions and democratic traditions, we are able to elect our own presidents

during all last century, when many of our neighbours were in more difficult

times. Therefore we have some reasons to be proud of what we did in the

past, but then suddenly we have this confrontation. And it`s true, now

there are two different perspectives. I hope that we are going to be able

again, beginning in the new century, this century to have just one common

history.

Mr Lagos,

thank you very much for your time.

Thank you.

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An Air France plane that crashed in the Atlantic between Brazil and West Africa, killing all 228 people on board, hit the ocean intact, investigators say.

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A month-long probe into the June 1 disaster also found that defective air speed monitors on the Airbus A330 were “a factor but not the cause” of the crash, the worst in Air France’s history.

“The plane was not destroyed while in flight,” said Alain Bouillard from the BEA accident investigation agency as it released its first report on the loss of Flight 447 from Rio de Janiero to Paris.

“The plane appears to have hit the surface of the water in flying position with a strong vertical acceleration,” he said, adding that the Airbus came down in the water belly-first.

“The plane was intact at the time of impact,” Bouillard told a news conference at BEA headquarters in Le Bourget outside Paris.

There had been speculation that problems with the Airbus’ airspeed sensors, or pitot tubes, may have caused the plane to stall or fly dangerously fast, causing a high-altitude breakup.

Cause of crash still unclear

But investigators said that they had ruled out a mid-air breakup after carefully examining the 640 pieces of debris that have been recovered from the crash zone hundreds of kilometres off Brazil’s coast.

The airliner’s fin was discovered still attached to part of its base structure, further strengthening the view that the plane was all in one piece when it hit the water.

No inflated life jackets were found among the debris, said Bouillard, adding that “the passengers were obviously not prepared for an emergency sea landing.”

The lead investigator said the air speed sensors were “one of the factors but it’s not the only one” that led to the crash as the plane flew through turbulence.

“It’s a factor but not the cause.

“We are still some distance away from establishing the causes of the accident,” he said.

Inconsistent speed data

French investigators have focused on the air speed sensors which fed inconsistent readings to the cockpit shortly before it plunged into the Atlantic.

No distress call was received from the pilots, but there was a series of 24 automated messages sent by the plane in the final minutes of the doomed flight, investigators say.

The BEA, along with Airbus and Air France, have repeatedly said there is as yet no firm evidence linking the speed monitors to the crash of the jetliner.

Air France nevertheless has upgraded all sensors on its long-haul fleet as a precautionary measure after protests from pilots.

The BEA was reporting on its first findings even though an intensive deep-sea search for the plane’s flight recorders has yet to yield results.

Brazil decided on June 27 to call off the recovery operation but France has maintained its nuclear submarine, research vessel and other boats in the area on a final hunt for the black boxes.

Flight recorders still missing

The BEA has decided to continue the search for the flight recorders until July 10.

The homing beacons on the flight recorders emit signals for about one month after the crash and the BEA hopes that they will have a longer-than-usual shelf life.

French investigators complained that they had yet to see the results of autopsies being performed on the 51 bodies pulled from the disaster area, despite formal requests to Brazilian authorities.

The pilots of Flight 447 also failed to connect to the flight control center in Dakar, Senegal after leaving Brazil’s zone, which meant that search and rescue operations could have been launched earlier, Bouillard said.

People from 32 different countries — including 72 French citizens and 59 Brazilians — were aboard the Airbus A330 when it came down.

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Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has called an early ballot after declaring a state of emergency following violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in Tbilisi.

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Mr Saakashvili said elections due to be held in late 2008 would be brought forward in the wake of Wednesday's running battles on the streets of the capital.

“I took the decision that Georgian presidential elections will be held January 5,” he said in a televised address to the nation. “You wanted elections early. Have them even earlier.”

Opponents who had been calling for Mr Saakashvili to resign have claimed an early victory.

“Saakashvili has no chance of being re-elected,” said Tina Khidasheli, of the Republican Party. “Saakashvili is done, he's over – there's no doubt about it.”

'Attempted coup'

But the president's decision leaves a splintered opposition facing a tough election battle, with only eight weeks in which to campaign against the pro-Western leader.

Mr Saakashvili and his supporters have accused neighbouring Russia of involvement in the anti-government demonstrations which descended into violence on Wednesday, dubbing the incident an attempted coup.

Two opposition leaders, Tsotne Gamsakhurdia and Shalva Natelashvili, are wanted for allegedly spying for Russia and plotting the overthrow of the government, Georgia's deputy prosecutor general announced on state television.

Amid rapidly deteriorating relations between Georgia and its former ruler Russia, Mr Saakashvili repeated allegations that Moscow was fomenting unrest, describing the protests as “an attack on Georgian democracy.”

The country announced it was expelling three diplomats on spying charges, and Russia responded by expelling three Georgian diplomats from Moscow.

International criticism

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Georgia was teetering on the brink of “a serious human rights crisis.”

Mr Saakashvili has come under a barrage of international criticism since imposing a 15-day state of emergency in the wake of Wednesday's clashes, when police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators.

NATO, which has infuriated Russia by making Georgia a candidate member, condemned the violence and the emergency measures.

“The imposition of emergency rule and the closure of media outlets in Georgia… are of particular concern and not in line with Euro-Atlantic values,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said.

Violence 'unacceptable'

France said the violence was “unacceptable”, and the United States, which is Saakashvili's main outside backer, called for “constructive dialogue” between the government and opposition.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said “political differences should be resolved within the democratic institutions.”

Troops were on guard in Tbilisi on Thursday, and all private television stations ceased to broadcast news, while demonstrations were banned.

The president has said emergency rule could end soon but did not specify when.

The speaker of parliament, Nino Burdjanadze, a close Saakashvili ally, indicated it could happen as early as Friday.

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Commander of the Australian Overwatch Battlegroup, based at Tallil in Dhi Qar Province, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Websdane said the Australians' mission had been a success.

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“We have seen the responsibility for security transferred from the coalition forces to the Iraqi security forces. They have had some challenges along the way but we have been here to support them. And during this process we have also seen a gradual improvement in the security environment,” he told ABC radio.

Lt Col Websdane said the soldiers were now keen to go home.

“We all miss our families and miss Australia. We were obviously very keen to complete our mission and serve the full tenure and we have done that,” he said.

“All of my soldiers are very keen to ensure that we have given 200 per cent and that we can hand over the responsibilities we currently perform to the American battalion that is replacing us in June.”

The group is set to withdraw on June 28 in fulfillment of an election promise made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Lt Col Websdane said Anzac Day in southern Iraq would start today with a dawn service, followed by a traditional breakfast with fellow coalition members. This afternoon Australian and British troops play the final round of the Desert Ashes Cricket series.

Australian troops will also receive a modest beer ration.

Australian forces in southern Iraq have lost no personnel to enemy action.

But those in southern Iraq will remember those killed in Afghanistan, particularly Trooper David Pearce, who was a member of the Brisbane-based 2/14 Light Horse Regiment now serving in Iraq.

Lt Col Websdane said the Australians' mission for the past two years had been to support the transition of security in Al Muthanna and Dhi Qar provinces from the coalition to Iraqi authorities.

“They have demonstrated in the last couple of weeks that they have the capacity to take on security challenges themselves,” he said.

Lt Col Websdane since late last year there had been significant changes in the security environment.

“In the past six weeks we have essentially seen no attack on coalition forces through either indirect fire or improvised explosive devices,” he said.Read More →

Kosovo is marking the first anniversary of its declaration of independence on Tuesday, amid mounting tension as Serb politicians reassert Belgrade\’s sovereignty over the territory.

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“We appeal to citizens for a decent, solemn and of course peaceful celebration,” said Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Rame Manaj ahead of a day of modest festivities marking the Western-backed break from Serbia.

“The Kosovo government and the institutions of Kosovo have undertaken all the necessary measures for security of all celebrations which concerns marking the first anniversary of independence.”

In defiance of celebrations in Pristina, Serbian politicians have travelled by bus from Belgrade to the northern Kosovo town of Zvecan, which is controlled by Serbs, to attend a session of a rival Kosovo Serb parliament.

Manaj warned: “Every eventual provocation which can happen around Kosovo – I think about the northern part, in particular – will face reaction of the police of Kosovo.”

Kosovo\’s ethnic Albanian-dominated parliament in Pristina declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, marking the final chapter in the violent break-up of Yugoslavia.

Street parties, fireworks

Kosovo had been under UN administration since 1999 when, as a province of Serbia where ethnic Albanian guerrillas battled Serb security forces, it was wrested from Belgrade\’s control by a NATO air war.

Kosovo today is recognised by 54 nations including the United States, Japan and all but five of the 27 EU member states.

But Serbia – supported by China, India and Russia – rejects its independence, calling it illegitimate.

Last October, Serbia won UN General Assembly backing to challenge the legality of Kosovo\’s declaration of independence before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Torn between joy at breaking away from Serbia and the harsh realities of building a viable landlocked state in the Balkans, the government in Pristina has organised a relatively low-cost anniversary.

Planned festivities include a special morning session of parliament, street parties, and an evening concert for dignitaries followed by a large fireworks display outdoors.

In London, Britain said Kosovo had made “huge progress” in the past year, but reassured Belgrade that it recognises its interest in the welfare of Serbs who represent about 10 per cent of Kosovo\’s population of two million.

Obama\’s words of support

Foreign Secretary David Miliband went on to urge Pristina to “redouble its efforts to win the confidence of all communities,” as he expressed support to the ambitions of both Serbia and Kosovo to join the European Union.

Words of support also came from the new US president Barack Obama, in a letter to Kosovo\’s president Fatmir Sejdiu.

“The United States will continue to support multi-ethnic, independent and democratic Kosovo in its efforts to take a meritorious place as a full member of the community of the states,” Obama wrote, according to Sejdiu\’s office.

But Serbian President Boris Tadic said on Monday that Kosovo was far from independent, and that it was wracked by organised crime and human rights abuses.

“A year later, it\’s clear to everyone who wants to see the real situation in Kosovo that it\’s not a state,” Tadic said.

Serbs in Kosovo mostly live in the north, clinging to a few municipalities close to the Serbian border and the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, the scene of the worst violence in Kosovo during the past year.

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