Argentina: Children march against hunger, poverty

“They arrived as always, singing and holding hands. They entered the Plaza de Mayo as if they were playing,” according to the web site of the CTA, Argentina’s central labor federation. Some 400 children and teachers arrived May 18 in Buenos Aires from Misiones, 2,400 miles to the north. Their message: “Hunger is a crime.”

The National Movement of the People’s Children sponsored the 11-day march, joined by Víctor De Gennaro, a leader of the CTA.

Sociologist and lead organizer Alberto Morlachetti told the waiting thousands in the plaza that “two-thirds of our population are poor,” including 9 million children. He denounced a government favoring “big economic groups.”

“We say without hesitation that capitalism inevitably corrupts,” he said.

Morlachetti said children march for happiness, not to be happy: “Like the birds, they sing so that dawn will come, not because dawn has come.”

Japan: Peace constitution in jeopardy

On May 11, Japan’s major parties obtained approval from an upper-house parliamentary commission for a bill establishing procedures for revising Japan’s constitution. In a statement, the Japanese Communist Party protested the lack of a public hearing on provisions that allow for as few as 10 percent of the population to amend the constitution while excluding 5 million public service employees, including teachers, from the process.

Critics charge that the proposed changes introduced by the government of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo are aimed at facilitating a revocation of Article 9 of the constitution, which presently prohibits foreign wars. Protests mounted after Abe left an offering at the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan’s military past. Opponents say that he stubbornly refuses to distance himself from an aggressive military ideology that once sought “a holy war to liberate Asia.”

Iran: CIA destabilization plans come to light

ABC News reported May 22 that President Bush has approved CIA proposals for operations aimed at destabilizing Iran’s government.

Among other tactics, the CIA will purportedly undertake to track and interfere with the flow of money going toward nuclear materials and missile equipment. While the president’s action, reported to congressional intelligence committees, apparently leaves out authorization for “deadly force,” U.S. warships, warplanes and missiles still remain poised to strike.

Analysts quoted at noted that anti-Iranian groups both inside and outside Iran are presently being used in a “proxy war” against Iran. Washington, for example, supports the Jundullah group, which carries out raids from bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is training “hundreds of men” for anti-Iranian operations. Iranian authorities recently nabbed 10 of them found to be carrying $500,000, maps and surveillance equipment.

Kenya: Global warming causing sea damage

Marking the International Day for Biological Diversity and noting the problem of climate change, May 22, Kenyan environmental officials pointed to damage caused by warming ocean temperatures. Inter Press Service quoted Ali Mohammed of the section on Coastal and Marine Programs: “Fish are disappearing. Coral reefs, which are like the rainforest of the sea, have been seriously affected.”

Scientists say that high temperatures cause expulsion of algae and consequent bleaching and death of coral reefs. That sequence was found to have occurred in association with the “El Nino” weather pattern of 1998, when ocean temperatures rose significantly. Adverse effects in Kenya included reduced biological diversity and decreased fish stock.

Some 70 percent of Kenyan coastal communities rely on fisheries for income, which is down sharply despite rising prices. Marine-based tourism, the source of two-thirds of Kenya’s tourist income, is off also because of reef destruction. Tourism is second only to agriculture as the country’s source of foreign income.

Great Britain: Child poverty on the rise

Barnardo’s, a British child-help agency, released a report May 23 calling upon the British government to add 3.8 billion pounds ($7.5 billion) to child support services to reach its goal of halving child poverty by 2010.

Director Martin Narey said, “Barnardo’s witnesses every day the impact on children and families of living in grinding poverty. We should be ashamed that 3.8 million children are living in poverty in the UK.”

The report, titled “It doesn’t happen here,” draws attention to the special vulnerability of Pakistani and Bangladeshi families in Britain.

The Guardian (UK) newspaper quotes Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, as saying the campaign against child poverty is “the government’s most inspiring promise,” which, if not fulfilled, will result in the “maiming” of still more families.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (atwhit