Somalia: Hazardous Waste

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August 9, 2006: Ethiopia sent its foreign minister to Baidoa to help the Transitional Government work out there differences. An agreement was worked out, and a new cabinet will be appointed. That, and several thousand Ethiopian troops camped outside Baidoa, has kept the Islamic Courts forces at bay. The Islamic Courts have their factions as well, although the Islamic Courts are still more popular than the Transitional Government. Many parts of Somalia are still basically lawless, and everyone knows that the Islamic Courts bring a form of law and order with them. The problem is that the Islamic Courts are still dominated by warlords, who now have religious leaders as allies. The warlord still have the guns, all the religious leaders have is moral authority. At the moment, moral authority is popular, but the guns are still ultimately more powerful.
August 4, 2006: In Mogadishu, the Islamic Courts have set up a film censor, to determine which films can be shown. There are hundreds of impromptu theaters in Somalia, where entrepreneurs use digital projectors, powered by a portable generator, to project DVDs or electronic film files (often taken from pirated collections found on the Internet) onto the inside, or outside, walls of buildings. A small admission is paid, thus providing entertainment for many Somalis. The Islamic Courts want to prevent the showing of "un-Islamic" material.
August 3, 2006: Increased patrols by foreign warships, and anti-pirate attitudes by the Islamic Courts gunmen who now control most of the Somali coast, has led to a sharp drop in pirate activity. Although there have been a few attempts, no ships have been captured by pirates this Summer. Last year, 45 ships were taken. But the crackdown was already having an impact before Summer. For the first six months of 2006, only four ships were captured. In fact, much of the decline was attributable to the publicity the attacks were getting, and warnings to ships to stay far off the Somali coast. However, some foreign ships still work off the coast, after making financial arrangements with two gangs, "Somali Coastguards" and "National Volunteer Coastguards", who run a protection racket along most of the coast. Pay the gangs a fee, and you can fish (tuna is popular) or dump hazardous cargoes (that many industrial nations pay to have removed to "somewhere else".) Several hundred foreign ships have made deals with the pirates.

 

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