Separatist actions in Papoea scores success
The Indonesian province of Irian Jaya has taken a step in the direction
of autonomy. The Indonesian parliament has given the former Dutch
colony the right to have its own flag and national anthem. The province
has also been given the province permission to keep 70 per cent
of the profits from its own raw materials such as oil. Irian Jaya
was previously called Papoea.
Concern over the patent rights to medicines
The American Department of Health wants the German pharmaceutical
company Bayer to give up its patent rights to ciproflaxin. This
is an antibiotic that combats anthrax. This rare disease has been
spread recently in the US via anonymous letters. In the case of
a large-scale infection, the Health Department is afraid that sufficient
ciproflaxin will not be available and wants other pharmaceutical
companies to be able to manufacture the antibiotic.
Humanitarian organisations are watching this issue with considerable
interest. The patent rights to medicines have made items such as
aid inhibitors unaffordable for developing countries. The US has
been the one who fiercely defended the maintenance of these rights.
They have argued that this is the only way to continue paying for
the development of new medicines.
The British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is the first
company that recently granted a free license to a South-African
company for the production of three aids medicines.
Competition for Chinese state TV
The American company AOL-Time Warner may start broadcasting TV
programs in China together with media-tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Up
to now this market, which is worth billions, has been closed to
foreign media companies. Both companies have said that they will
start broadcasting the English language channel of the Chinese state
TV in the US. There is speculation about the manner in which the
companies succeeded in getting access to the lucrative advertising
market. Supposedly, both giants have toned down any news that was
too critical of Chinese human rights policy.
Dutch version of Indymedia
In 1999, American activists in the anti-globalist movement started
their own web site: Independent Media Center. Two years later there
are some 75 local 'Indys'. There is also a Dutch web site now. In
principle, anyone can place his uncensored story on the site using
text, image and sound. The founders hope that Indymedia.nl will
contribute to the diversity of the critique on society.
More information: Indymedia.nl
Stop light man DDR saved
The German action committee 'Rettet die Ampelmännchen' has
succeeded in keeping the stop lights from the DDR as part of the
cityscape. After unification the charming East German stoplight
figure was replaced by the formless stoplights from West Germany.
In part because of this, the 'Ampelmännchen' became a symbol
of West-German suppression. In some places in the former East Germany
the little guy is being returned to his proper place.
Take a look at the stop light man: Rettet
die Ampelmännchen Ost
VS Naipaul wins the Nobel prize
The 94th Nobel price for the Literature has been awarded to Vidiadhar
Surajprasad Naipaul (1932). Naipaul was born in Trinidad out of
Indian parents, and lives in England. His travel logs and novels
won him recognition because of the keenness with which the author
succeeded in portraying societies and cultures throughout the entire
Al Jazeera breaks CNN's monopoly
Only the Arabic news broadcaster Al Jazeera is still welcome in
the Taliban controlled areas in Afghanistan. The rest of the foreign
press has been evicted. This includes CNN, which was the single
most important supplier of images during the Gulf War. Now CNN is
dependent on Al Jazeera for images of this part of the world. The
broadcaster, constructed on the western model, was founded in 1996
in Katar. In contrast to many other Arabic media companies, Al Jazeera
operates largely independently.
The fraternal aspect of soccer
The Swedish parliament member Lars Gustafsson has nominated soccer
for the Nobel peace Prize. According to the politician the game
has brought people in contact with one another in a harmonious way.
The match between France and Algeria that was played in France in
October, could have been an example of such a cultural reconciliation,
but ended in fiasco. The two national teams had not played against
each other since Algeria's independence in 1962. Unfortunately the
match had to be stopped prematurely due to problems. Undoubtedly
this confirms Gustafssons' critics who claim that rather than creating
cross-border harmony, in fact soccer rouses nationalistic feelings.
Moreover, the Nobel Peace Prize went to Kofi Annan.
Turkish constitution modified
The Turkish parliament has modified its constitution on 34 points
in the hopes of becoming a member of the European Union. The Kurdish
language is no longer forbidden, and citizens are free to express
their opinions. However, critics contend that there is a gap between
the constitution and daily legal practice. Only if the latter is
modernised will the changes in the law have any real meaning.
Dutch politics can reject women
The United Nations Committee for the Prevention of Discrimination
against Women (Cedaw) has criticised the Netherlands. The National
Reformed Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Party or SGP) prohibits
women from becoming full-fledge party members. This is in conflict
with the United Nations Treaty regarding Women. The Dutch State
Secretary for Emancipation Cases, Verstand, does not want to plead
for a change in the law that would force the SGP to admit women.
She fears that this would cause the party to be banned.
More information: Cedaw
on The Netherlands, see 34
Rural entertainment in India
The Indian Minister of Health, Thakur, believes that his compatriots
have sex when they have no other form of entertainment. That is
why he is going to help pay for TVs for the Indian rural population.
He hopes that this measure will bring down the country's high birth
Sources: Het Financieele
Parool, Trouw, de Volkskrant,
Onze wereld, Indymedia.nl,