International Papers

Open Skies


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In London, the Financial Times devoted its main front page story and its principal editorial Thursday to the European Commission’s approval of the planned alliance between American Airlines and British Airways and the partnership between United Airlines, Lufthansa, and the Scandinavian Airlines System. The editorial said, however, that this is “far from the end of the story.” Once the BA-AA deal is also approved by the British and U.S. governments, Europe should proceed to negotiate an “open skies” policy with the United States. “The U.S. has used ‘open skies’ agreements as a divide-and-rule tactic, to secure privileged access to the European market for its carriers,” the FT said. “Now that most EU members have signed up, they should have a strong incentive to support Brussels’ efforts to negotiate on their behalf a broader and more balanced deal, which would liberalise transatlantic aviation.” Meanwhile, air transport needs to be brought within World Trade Organization rules, the editorial added. The long-term aim should be “to get governments out of the airline business, other than to the extent required to ensure safety, essential infrastructure, and free competition.”

Tina Brown’s resignation from TheNewYorker to manage a new Miramax affiliate was the subject of a short editorial Thursday in the conservative London Daily Telegraph, which described her as one of Britain’s “most exuberant exports.” She “put life back into a dreary over-intellectual magazine that was little read and even less talked about,” it said. “She axed the interminable essays on African land reform, commissioned glitz, and went determinedly down-market in search of circulation–most successfully. … Tina knew how to inflame debate. She will be missed–by some, at least.”

The Guardian of London reported from India on a warrant issued by a court in New Delhi for the arrest of Rupert Murdoch for screening “vulgar” films on his Star Movies TV channel. The warrant was issued on the initiative of an obscure, self-appointed guardian of family values, a lawyer named Anil Goel, who had objected to four films–The Jigsaw Murders, Dance of the Damned, Stripped to Kill, and Big, Bad Mama–that were broadcast in November 1996, the newspaper said. The case is due to be heard Aug. 22.

In Russia, Izvestia said Thursday the “honeymoon” has ended between Russia and Iran because of serious disagreements over the division of the Caspian Sea. This is bad for the Russian diplomatic service, which has long regarded Iran as its key partner in the region and gone so far as to “risk its standing in the eyes of the international community by continuing to sell weapons to Iran and building nuclear power stations on its territory,” the paper said. But it concluded that a cooling of relations between Russia and Iran isn’t a bad thing in the long run, because cooperation with one of the world’s most hateful regimes is “unnatural.”

Financier Boris Berezovsky’ small-circulation NezavisimayaGazeta said Thursday that Russia might soon be “on the brink of total instability.” A “wave of people’s wrath” is already spreading across the country, it said, despite forecasts by analysts that mass civil unrest will not break out until the fall. Referring to protests by defense industry workers, miners, teachers, doctors, and energy sector workers, the newspaper noted that demonstrators outside the Defense Ministry in Moscow Wednesday paid no attention to attempts by government ministers and trade union leaders to appease them but continued to shout slogans such as “Send Yeltsin’s gang to trial.” Underestimating the present threat could be fatal not only for the government but also for the whole country, the paper added.

In Nigeria, the Post Express reported Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency of the northeastern state of Yobe has appealed to the state government to help meet the cost of burying armed robbers, lunatics, and unclaimed bodies. The head of the agency’s sanitation unit, Malam Adamu Bajob, said he has sometimes had to pay for such burials out of his own pocket. The cost is often high: Delayed release by authorities means the bodies are decomposed and require “extra burial materials.” Since the state stepped up its campaign against banditry, the agency has been burying an average of three such bodies a week, the newspaper said. In an editorial titled “Starr Should Not Tarry,” the Post Express cautioned the independent counsel not to “lose sight of the broader picture”: It said his office was created not only “to assure the unfettered investigation of charges against the highest government officials” but also to ensure “that a prosecutorial judgement be rendered in a timely manner.” And in the case of Clinton and Starr, “that time is rapidly approaching.”