U.N. chief to press junta on cyclone aid
BANGKOK - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon heads to Burma today for the diplomatic challenge of a lifetime: persuading the ruling generals to let in a torrent of foreign assistance for cyclone victims.
He urged the junta yesterday to focus on saving lives, not on politics, after it refused an American proposal for U.S. warships to deliver relief supplies.
By the junta’s own count, at least 134,000 people are dead or missing from the May 2-3 cyclone. The United Nations says up to 2.5 million survivors are hungry and homeless, and worries are rising about disease outbreaks in the Irrawaddy River delta.
The isolationist regime is deeply suspicious of outsiders. The junta is antagonistic toward the United Nations over its lead role in international pressures to restore democracy, and sees the world body as a stooge of the United States and other Western nations.
Gitmo detainee boycotts trial
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - An Afghan detainee was dragged from his cell to his first pretrial hearing at Guantanamo yesterday, then refused to participate, telling the judge he felt “helpless.”
Mohammed Kamin joined a growing detainee boycott of the war-crimes trials at the Guantanamo Bay base in southeastern Cuba. The military judge, Air Force Col. W. Thomas Cumbie, said Mr. Kamin tried to bite and spit on a guard on the way to the courtroom.
Mr. Kamin is accused of placing missiles near U.S.-occupied areas in Afghanistan. He purportedly trained as an al Qaeda operative in 2003 and spied on American military bases before he was captured later that year.
He said the charges against him are lies.
Destruction feared with dam project
BRASILIA - The construction of a proposed dam on Brazil’s Xingu River will flood homes of 16,000 people, dry rivers and fuel logging, activists and tribal Indians warned yesterday as concern over Amazon destruction rises.