"Laplandian" posts to Infoshop News, Jan. 26:
The government of Leningrad Oblast (Saint-Petersburg Region) is planning to expand the Ust-Luga Seaport, which is to become the largest seaport in Russia. According to the plan, all villages nearby the construction site are going to be demolished, and their population will be offered apartments in other areas. The villages Krakol'e and Luzhitsy, both located in the seaport area, are the only surviving compact settlement of the [Finnic] Votia nation. According to archaeological data, the Votians are the most ancient indigenous nation of Ingria [region], who became practically extinct after Stalinist dispersion to Soviet provinces far away.
The proposed 2,100-acre expansion of Canada-based Cameco's Crow Butte Resources uranium mine near Crawford in western Nebraska is meeting opposition from members of the Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Tribe, including proponents of commercial hemp cultivation as an economic alternative for the impoverished Pine Ridge Reservation, which lies just across the South Dakota line.
Turkey's government is expected to announce a reform of Article 301, the law against insulting "Turkishness" that has been used to prosecute writers who have addressed such issues as the Armenian genocide. The moves comes as a precondition for Turkey's acceptance to the European Union. (NYT, Jan. 25) Meanwhile, Turkish authorities blocked access to YouTube for six days after a court order in response to video clips allegedly insulting the country's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. (AP, Jan. 24)
Serbian and Russian officials have signed an energy deal they say will turn Serbia into a major hub for gas supplies to Europe and boost Russia's economic influence in the region. The deal was signed in Moscow, where Serbia's President Boris Tadic, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and other officials met President Vladimir Putin and their Russian counterparts. The agreement provides for the construction of a stretch of the South Stream gas pipeline in Serbia, including a major regional gas storage unit at Banatski Dvor. Under the deal Gazpromneft, the oil subsidiary of Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, acquires a 51% stake in Serbia’s top oil and gas company, Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS). The deal comes a week after Bulgaria joined the South Stream project, which is to have an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of gas. The pipeline is to carry Russian gas via Bulgaria and Serbia to Hungary, Austria and Italy.
French police Jan. 24 arrested accused ETA militant Eneko Galarraga near Bayonne. Police said Galarraga was not armed and did not resist. The Spanish news agency EFE said Galarraga, 27, has been wanted in Spain since 2002 when escaped to France after the breaking up of ETA's "Zelatu" commando. The Basque pro-amnesty organization Askatasuna denounced the "repression [of] Basque political refugees" and accused France of "backing the Spanish strategy against the Basque independence movement." (EiTB24, Jan. 24)
Joel Beinin of Jewish Voice for Peace writes from Cairo, Jan. 24:
About 3:00 AM on Wednesday morning Jan. 23, well-coordinated explosions demolished the iron wall built by Israel to seal the southern border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (the Philadelphi axis). Tens of thousands of Palestinians streamed across the border and entered the Egyptian side of the town of Rafah, which had been bisected by the wall, in search of food, gasoline, and other basic commodities which have been in short supply for many months in Gaza. The first wave of Palestinians to cross consisted of hundreds of women who were met with water canons and beatings by Egyptian security forces.
Hundreds of representatives of Venezuela's grassroots social movements met in the Southern Caracas barrio of El Valle this weekend, to hash out plans for the formation of the Revolutionary Grassroots Front of the South [Frente Popular Revolucionario del Sur]—a new united movement through which they hope to combat the growing bureaucracy within the Chavez government, and to push their own grassroots agenda.
A director of Colombian military intelligence and another officer implicated in a series of false attacks and a bombing that killed a civilian and injured 19 soldiers in Bogotá in 2006, attended the US Army School of the Americas, an examination of records shows. The Colombian Public Ministry is investigating Colonel Horacio Arbelaez, former director of the Army’s Joint Intelligence Center; Major Javier Efrén Hermida Benavides; and Captain Luis Eduardo Barrero for orchestrating placement of bombs in a Bogotá shopping mall and other sites in July 2006, on the eve of President Uribe's inauguration for his second term. At the time of the bombing and false attacks, they were attributed to guerrillas of the FARC. In most cases, the bombs were not detonated, but were denounced by the accused officers and deactivated to demonstrate the FARC threat and show military intelligence was doing its work. [Procuraduría General de la Nación, Oct. 12. 2006]