World comment on President Yeltsin's appointment of the little- known Vladimir Putin to run his government
THE ENTIRE Russian nation has received another confirmation today that President Yeltsin's actions in public are too clearly motivated by personal considerations. It would have been justified only if Mr Stepashin had been an outrageous figure. A replacement such as Putin is shocking only days after the recent successes of Stepashin's government. (Alexander Privalov)
YELTSIN'S HABITUAL sacking of prime ministers has made Russian politics a farce and helped to accelerate its economic decline. Whether Ukraine likes it or not, the world financial markets see it through the prism of Russia. If it is bad in Russia, then it must be bad in Ukraine.
Who wants to invest in a nation beset with instability and conflict? What can Ukraine do to deflect the blows from Russia? It should make the world aware that its political system is more stable than Russia's and that, in its eight years of independence, it has not had any armed political or ethnic conflict. Unless Ukraine makes a determined effort, it will always be tarred with the same brush as Moscow.
BORIS YELTSIN'S imagination seems boundless. Less than three months after dismissing Yevgeny Primakov and nominating Sergei Stepashin, Yeltsin is now replacing Stepashin with the even lesser-known Vladimir Putin, whom he has touted as future President. It seems farcical that the Russian people - only 2 per cent of whom opinion polls show support the President - have no choice other than to accept Yeltsin's protege.
Granted, Russia has many problems, but surely its most pressing one is an inability to free itself peacefully from Tsar Boris and his "Family".
RUSSIA'S PRESIDENT Boris Yeltsin must enjoy starting a week with Draconian personnel change. He has surrounded himself with men who have made their careers in security or political police administration. If they are respected not for their political and managerial prowess, but for their inclination to take control of government machinery as the President wants, there cannot be much hope of their injecting new vigour into the Russian government. Yeltsin, in poor health, seems to presume that the decisive power of his authority comes from the way he demonstrates it by shuffling personnel.
IS BORIS Yeltsin at heart a tsar, or at least a caudillo who would manufacture any old pretext to override the constitution and thus hang on to power? Or is he at heart a democrat, who fears that if he does not take action Russia will descend into authoritarianism when he leaves the presidency next year?
His latest little sensation is consistent with either view. If Mr Yeltsin treats his governments as playthings, to ben plucked from the toy cupboard and petulantly thrown away, he can hardly be surprised if the others regard him as a brattish autocrat.
The New York Times
THESE ARE strange and dispiriting times in Moscow. By sacking yet another prime minister Boris Yeltsin invites parody at the very moment when his country desperately needs stability. President Yeltsin and his evanescent governments seem increasingly irrelevant to the lives of most Russians, a sorry picture for a man who did much to free his nation from the stranglehold of Communism. Russians can only wonder what Mr Yeltsin's next surprise will be.
Thank you, Sun and Moon
The countries in the path of the moon's shadow express their feelings about losing two minutes of daylight
AUGUST 11, 1999 had always been a very special day in my personal calendar. Clearly, it was a lovely eclipse. There was a dark disc of the Moon and around it the glorious corona - the Sun's atmosphere, together with masses of red glowing gases known as prominences. I looked up - nothing but cloud. It was infuriating to know that the spectacle in nature was there and I could not see it. Inevitably there was disappointment, but all the same I have never had an experience like it. It was something not to be forgotten. It's not easy to describe it. I suppose "eerie" is the best adjective I can select. There will be other eclipses in other parts of the world. I look forward to South Africa in June 2001. But I fear I will not now see a total eclipse on British soil unless, of course, I live to the advanced age of 186. Let's hope so. (Patrick Moore)
IT WAS just as expected and described - just a bit more beautiful, more weird and more unreal. In the end, indescribable. Guinea-pigs went to sleep, sparrows were silent and even the last 99th of the Sun's crescent was strong enough to throw shadows over us. As the black wolf of the sky digested the planet of mother Earth completely, as the daylight came true and Venus was blinking at this point, we wished that the wonder could be with us a bit longer than just for two minutes - this wonder of the flickering corona around the black-painted disc of the Sun, which not many can enjoy with the naked eye. Sun and Moon, thank you. And thank you also for paradoxically putting an end to the eclipse and everything that is connected to it. The preliminaries had a flavour of unbearability.
YESTERDAY LIFE in Turkey was at a standstill in an amazing way. At 14:00 hours we all took to the surrounding roofs and fields and poured out on to the pavements. As for myself, I was among those who took to the roofs, and as far as the eye could see from the roof of the newspaper many other roofs had similarly filled up. But in Ankara we were disappointed. The 96 per cent eclipse that took place in the capital was not fully dark. In fact we took note of the fact that our shadows had not even vanished. The Sun took the shape of a crescent and only a very small strip of it was visible. In spite of this, everywhere looked just as it would on a cloudy day. Stars were not visible. Where there was a full eclipse it must, of course, been more impressive. While talking with friends we said "This shows that even this little of the sun is enough". (Emin Colasan)
The Times of India
DARKNESS AT noon notwithstanding, the Sun or Surya or Sol or Apollo - whatever one might wish to call it - stands at the centre of the universe in the splendour of eternal immobility. The earth stands deposed, cast out into the darkness of the firmament, there to prance and spin at the behest of a mute god of fire. The Vedic tradition alludes to light being seen and heard - svar and svr imply "to shine" or "to sound"; surya and sura are coincident with the atman. While people will rush to look at the blush of the sun today, the Atharva Veda advises us to look at the spiritual Sun, "not the sun whom all men see, but that whom few know with the mind". Wallace Stevens echoes this sentiment:
"You must become an ignorant man again/ And see the sun again with an ignorant eye/ And see it clearly in the idea of it."
The sun becomes vision and enters the eye.
In this age of spectacular man-made wonders we often take nature for granted. But there was no ignoring the momentous event when millions took to the streets to show our appreciation for one of the planet's most impressive phenomena. Clouds may have obscured the vision for many but the enormity was not lost on us.
THERE ARE those who believe the fuss made about this event [the eclipse] was excessive and who cannot wait for things to get back to normal. To which one can only reply that the ability to marvel at something extraordinary - however easy it may be to explain it in strictly scientific terms - remains a feature of human intelligence. It is an aspect of the child in everyone, something that must be preserved at all costs.
CHARLES KENNEDY'S ELECTION
The British press responds to the election of Charles Kennedy as leader of the Liberal Democrats
West Highland Free Press
AS LEADER, with all of the extra attention that will bring, Charles Kennedy will no longer be able to spout such meaningless waffle as "the Liberal Democrats is an anti-establishment party" (tell that to Roy Jenkins). As leader, Charles Kennedy must concentrate his mind and discipline his abilities as never before. Simon Hughes has, after all, tasted blood - and the West Highlands does not want to lose its only party leader too soon.
MR KENNEDY has given many clues to the future; the trouble is that they cancel each other out. At his enthronement he declared that Lib Dems must distinguish themselves from Labour: "That difference is needed now more than ever." Yet, in minutes he was talking about areas on which he might co-operate with Government. He can't expect the electorate, or his party faithful, to be anything other than confused.
AT THE next election, most voters are likely to conclude Mr Blair has indeed tried to govern as New Labour, mixing the pursuit of social justice with pragmatic economic management. There will be no need for anyone to vote for Mr Kennedy or his team of invisible politicians. The Third Way will have conquered the third party. (Edward Heathcoat Amory)
MR KENNEDY'S downplaying of the Lib-Lab pact is mere window dressing. The significant, unstated, alliance is on Europe and, in that battle, Blair, Kennedy, Clarke and their respective stooges cannot be allowed to succeed.
THE STRENGTH of Simon Hughes' showing is a clear indication of the depth of resistence to Lib-Labbery within the party. Kennedy recognised that and signalled it with rhetorical jabs at New Labour. His tilt at the authoritarianism of the Government may prove fruitful. Somehow the new man has to keep up that offensive, making his party distinct, yet simultaneously inch closers to a Government which represents the Lib Dems' only real chance of national influence. We wish him the best of luck.
CHARLES KENNEDY leads a party which is more united and confident than the others. Good luck, Charles. We will enjoy working with you to build that fair and open society for which we stand. (Chris Rennard)
LOS ANGELES SHOOTINGS
The US press reacts to an attack on Jewish children at a community centre
Los Angeles Times
THE CAMERAS and satellite dishes have barely left the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills. The confessed culprit, Buford O Furrow Jr, has turned himself in. Yet conclusions are already being drawn that betray an ignorance of the implications of the tragic incident of Tuesday morning.
The message to be drawn from Furrow's rampage is not that extremists are about to overtake America, or that Jewish and other minority institutions ought to become fortresses, or that hate crimes are on the rise, or that anti-Semitism is increasing. The message is these attacks are acts of violent desperation on the part of those who are not succeeding in swaying the world to their views. What we must never do is allow them to dictate how we run our lives and view the world. (David H Leher)
Dallas Morning News
THIS NATION must begin viewing violence not as random mayhem, but a multi-faceted public-health crisis. Hate is a public-health issue when racist ideology becomes seed for murder. Crateloads of firearms are public health issues when they are all too easily available. Feelings of dislocation from community, church and family are public health issues because they provide dangerous fodder for troubled minds.
CONFLICT IN THE SUBCONTINENT
Indian and Pakistani press comment on tensions following the shooting down of an aircraft
THE PROVOCATION was from Pakistan and no global observer is ready to believe - irrespective of Islamabad's fervent wishes - that the Indian Air Force suddenly developed a fit of aggression and shot down a Pakistani aircraft flying harmlessly.
ALL OUR past wars with India have been fought for no purpose. We have suffered humiliation as a result, and in one of these, lost half the country. It is time we realise that war is serious business, made more serious by the acquisition of a nuclear capability. Spending our meagre resources on the well-being of our people and not on building a powerful war machine will bring strength and prosperity to Pakistan. An economically strong Pakistan with a prosperous population and stable democratic institutions, is the best guarantee for the survival of the country. It is also a guarantee that Kashmiris will strive to join Pakistan. (Air Marshal M Asghar Khan)
WAR OR a warlike situation is nothing new for India and Pakistan. In a nuclearised environment, it is difficult to see anybody winning a decisive victory in a large war. Fatigue, attrition, truce and talks are the most likely outcome of even another all-out war. Through their surprisingly mature handling of the crisis, the leaderships of both countries have demonstrated in the past few months that they understand this.Would they now let things slip out of their hands and allow escalation against their better judgement? (Shekhar Gupta)
Tributes to the television sports presenter after her long struggle against and eventual death from cancer
TO VIEWERS and colleagues, Helen Rollason was the perfect professional. But behind the scenes she was devoted to another role - as proud mother. Her love for teenage daughter Nikki drove Helen to defy her cancer to the very end.
Those who worked with Helen paid tribute yesterday to her TV skills.But to Nikki and John - the ex-husband who remained such a good pal - she will also be remembered as a superb mum.
GIVEN THREE months to live, Helen Rollason battled on for another two years. To inspire others and promote understanding, she let her public share her fight. She spoke of her disease matter-of-factly and she concealed her suffering. Most moving is the tribute from the colleague who saw her crying with pain before she did her last Six O'Clock News.TV presenters come and go and only a very few leave a lasting impression. The memory of Helen Rollason's courage will not fade.
BRAVE HELEN Rollason impressed millions throughout the United Kingdom with her remarkable courage in a fight against cancer and there will be great sadness at her untimely death at the age of 43. Helen Rollason fought her battle with dignity and the sterling qualities she demonstrated over two very difficult years of illness were an example to us all.
HELEN ROLLASON touched the nation with immense courage, a refusal to give up hope, and a public smile that defied the fear and pain she must have felt. Of course there are thousands suffering from cancer. The difference is that, through her position as a national television presenter, she was able to help others face up to a future with cancer. Everything she said or did was stamped with an "it's not the end of the world - life is still there to be lived" message. Despite desperate attempts to find a cure, cancer remains one of the most dreaded words in the English language. Helen did as much as anyone in recent times to help others live with it.
Sydney Morning Herald
THE PRIME Minister's revised, third version of a new preamble for the Constitution will not be the last word on the subject. But it has discarded much of what has been found politically unviable in the last draft. It has also removed all trace of Mr Howard's attempt in March to insert a polemic against political correctness. If anything, some will say, it has swung the opposite way, with its new reference to "our responsibility to protect our unique national environment". The draft released in March was made with the help of the poet Les Murray. In the latest version, the most striking change is the removal of all mention of "mateship". The mateship reference was Mr Howard's cherished contribution to the March version and its deletion, he said yesterday, has made him very sorry.
JAMAICA'S LOVE affair with the parrot fish is contributing to a rapid depletion in fish stock within coastal waters. Alongside the snapper, the parrot fish commands pride of place among seafood on most tables islandwide. The problem is that the parrot fish is a front-line agent in the cleaning of the reef, an important element towards sustaining underwater life, including the fish stock. "The parrot fish is the main reef cleaner. It cleans algae off the reef," explained Michael Callen, scuba manager at Breezes Golf and Beach Resort in Runaway Bay, St Ann. "So in eating so much parrot fish, we are directly contributing to the demise of the reef in Jamaica."
The Cairo Times
PANIC BROKE out in the northern Cairo suburb of Shubra Al Kheima on 6 May when a she-goat gave birth to a kid that was half-human, the opposition daily Al Ahrar reported on 8 May. The goat's owner, shepherd Hassan Shedid Hassan, had heard a great disturbance in his goatpen, and dashed out to help his animals. In the pen, however, he found that one of his flock had given birth to a stillborn monstrosity. "The lower part carried features of a human child, and the upper part had obscure features," the newspaper reported. News spread through the neighbourhood, and the police were brought in to investigate. Al Ahrar ran a photo of the hybrid's hindquarters, which resembled the hindquarters of an ordinary goat.Reuse content