The Guardian November 12, 2003


World briefs

LITHUANIA: A delegation of the Communist Party of Greece visited 
Lithuania at the end of October on the invitation of the 
Socialist Party of Lithuania. The delegation visited the 
imprisoned leaders of the Communist Party of Lithuania and held a 
meeting with the First Secretary of CC of CPL, Mikolas 
Buraliavitsious and the member of the Secretariat of CPL Giozas 
Kuolialis in prison. Mikolas Buraliavitsious has been imprisoned 
for ten years and Giuozas Kuolialis for five years. This has been 
the first visit by a foreign delegation to the Vilnius prison. 
The Greek communists pointed out that the two Lithuanian 
communist leaders had been initially accused of "treason" but the 
indictment collapsed during the trial. So they were sentenced 
retrospectively under other clauses endorsed after their arrest. 
The CPG delegation reiterated their solidarity with the 
communists and parties that face persecution. They demanded the 
immediate release of the imprisoned communists and the 
legalisation of the Communist Party during a press conference and 
meetings with officials.

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UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan said that in 2002, for the sixth consecutive year, developing countries had made a net transfer of financial resources of almost US$200 billion to other countries. Mr Annan, who spoke at the high-level dialogue of the General Assembly on financing for development, said such a situation lacked common sense. "Funds should be moving from developed countries to developing countries, but these numbers tell us the opposite is happening", he said. "Funds that could be promoting investment and growth in developing countries, or building schools and hospitals, are instead being transferred abroad."
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ISRAEL: Twenty-one per cent of the Israeli population 1.3 million people live below the poverty line, according to the Poverty Report released by the Social Affairs Ministry. The report based on National Insurance Institute figures, revealed that 1,321,000 people lived below poverty line in 2002, 618,000 of them children. A family is considered to be below the poverty line when its disposable income is less than half the average national salary of A$441.42 per month. The Social Affairs Minister said, "This information is extremely worrying and is, in effect, a warning sign for Israeli society. Those who attribute the poverty in Israel to the economic crisis are misleading the Israeli public", he went on to say. "The problem is in the dividing of national income. The alarming increase in the dimension of poverty has left the rich unaffected." The 2002 poverty report does not reflect the full impact of the recently implemented welfare cuts. Meanwhile one third of the Israeli budget is being spent on so-called defence.
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CHINA: Exports rose by 30 per cent between 2000 and 2002, while world trade stagnated, according to the WTO. China has become the fourth largest merchandise trader, counting the European Union as a single trader.

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