8 December 2005 Edition

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News in Brief

Zapatista evolution

The Zapatista Front for National Liberation has disbanded to allow for the creation of a civil, left-wing political movement. The most prominent public figure in the armed section of the movement will next month initiate a tour of Mexico in an alternative to the Presidential election campaign.

Double standards

In 1995, the Pentagon denounced the use of white phosphorus — a variant of napalm that ignites on contact with oxygen causing horrendous burns to human beings — by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish population of northern Iraq as the use of a banned chemical weapon. Now that it has been discovered that the US Army used the same substance in the siege of Fallujah, the Pentagon has decided that the same white phosphorus is not a chemical weapon.

Pinochet arrested

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is facing a new investigation that may lead to his prosecution. After courts decided not to continue with cases related to human rights abuses during his reign of terror, it seems that tax evasion and corruption may be the key that will lock his cell. Justices Carlos Cerda put Pinochet under arrest after questioning him on four different occasions and deciding that he is mentally sound to face trial.

AIDS' silent victims

Every minute a child dies from AIDS. One reason for the failure to reduce the number of babies under two years of age dying from the pandemic is that pharmaceutical companies won't produce retroviral drugs for children. On 1 December, Save the Children and MSF — Doctors without Frontiers — denounced the manner in which children have become the silent victims of the industry's disinterest.

A seat for Rosa Parks

In New York, the 5,000 buses that travel around the city are to keep a seat reserved for Rosa Lee Parks, the Black American woman who defied segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat to a white man and so ignited the Civil Rights Movement in the USA.

Big Brother is watching you

Civil liberties in Europe suffered again as Ministers for EU member states agreed that details of phone calls and electronic communications of citizens can be kept by security agencies for anything between six months and two years. The new EU directive must now go before the EU Parliament. If approved, it will allow security services to have access to information about calls, text messages and internet data, but not exact call content.

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