International Papers

“Genetic Super Babies Storm”

{{Le Monde#2:}} of Paris led its front page Thursday on the tension between Europe and the United States over genetically modified (GM) crops. It reported that two French companies, the country’s leading animal feed and poultry producers, have formed a pact against GM soya seed imported from the United States. The companies, Glon-Sanders and Bourgoin, have put together a scheme with French farmers to exclude GM soya from the food chain. Le Monde said that even U.S. consumers are beginning to show anxiety about GM foods. “The American administration, which has collaborated with industry from the start to promote GM foods, seems to be in an uncomfortable position,” it said. “It is being less threatening toward Europe and Japan, which oppose these products.” In Britain, Thursday’s papers were largely dominated by Doogie, the GM mouse. The Daily Mail underscored not Doogie’s possible role in helping old people with memory loss but the risk that he might give rise to an elite race of high-IQ GM children. “Genetic Super Babies Storm” was its front-page splash.

{{Le Figaro#2:}} of Paris led Thursday on the Russian money-laundering scandal and the United States’ threat to oppose any further loans to Moscow by the International Monetary Fund. Many European papers dwelt on the harm the scandal may cause to the presidential ambitions of Vice President Al Gore. In a report from Washington Thursday, the {{Independent#2:}} of London said that “the risks to his presidential bid are considerable.” The Russian press blamed Western reporting of the scandal on U.S. Republican machinations against the IMF leadership and the Democratic Party. Tycoon Boris Berezovsky’s daily, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, said Wednesday that the foreign media are “engaged in killing the Russian state and Russian companies as possible economic partners.” Their campaign has two main purposes, it said: first, to find a pretext for the West to distance itself from Boris Yeltsin, whom it no longer needs as a bulwark against communism; and second, to dump Gore as a contender for the presidency.

As anarchy continued in East Timor, the {{South China Morning Post#2:}} of Hong Kong blamed Indonesia for the breakdown of law and order in the territory. In an {{editorial#2:}} Thursday, it said Indonesia should be made to pay “a very heavy price” if it continues to fail to deliver on the promises it made so confidently before the referendum. “All aid to Indonesia should be put on hold until it has brought the militia groups under control,” it said.

As Madeleine Albright arrived in the Middle East to join the tense Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, various commentators in the Arab press drew parallels between the current state of Arab politics and the indiscipline, score-settling, and violence that marred the two-week biennial Pan-Arab Games which ended Tuesday in Amman, Jordan. In Thursday’s Pan-Arab al-Hayat, Joseph Samaha described some of the scenes shown on television during the games: “One athlete assaults another. Football fans invade a pitch. A coach curses an administrator. A woman martial arts competitor attacks a referee. A bodyguard draws his pistol. A policeman fires tear gas. Fans wreck the seats in a stadium or hurl them on to the pitch. Players are bombarded with bottles. A number of people are wounded.” They showed, he said, that there are some people in the Arab world who refuse to lose–or even to draw–under any circumstances whatsoever.

The 30th anniversary of the coup in Tripoli, Libya, that brought Muammar Qaddafi to power was marked in {{La Repubblica#2:}} of Rome Wednesday by an interview with seven-time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti (now on trial in Italy for alleged connections with a Mafia murder), who said that while in office he was given false information about Libya by the U.S. intelligence services. On one occasion, an American envoy touring European countries to convince their governments of Qaddafi’s responsibility for a terrorist massacre at Rome’s Fiumicino airport in December 1985 offered as evidence the fact that the perpetrators were carrying Tunisian passports stolen from Tunisian workers in Libya. Andreotti replied that he knew for certain they were Algerian passports as they were in the possession of the Italian authorities. “Are you doubting the word of the president of the United States?” the unidentified envoy retorted. Andreotti said Qaddafi had once given him a copy of his Green Book and asked him to hand it on to President Reagan, which he subsequently did. “Reagan accepted it and said he would read it, but I don’t know if he ever did,” Andreotti said.

Among many features in the European press linked to the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II in Europe, {{Corriere della Sera#2:}} of Milan ran an interview Wednesday with British historian Denis Mack Smith, who said he has evidence that Mussolini warned Churchill of Hitler’s invasion plans in August 1939. Mussolini hated Hitler and wanted him to be defeated, Mack Smith said, but he eventually entered the war as his ally because he was frightened that the Germans would otherwise invade Italy.

An interview given to the New York Times by Prince Edward, the queen of England’s youngest son, brought down the wrath of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers Thursday. The prince, interviewed in Los Angeles where he was trying to drum up commissions for his TV production company, said he preferred doing business in America because in Britain “they hate anyone who succeeds.” The {{Times#2:}} of London accused the prince of letting Britain and its royal family down “with a casual insult” made all the more distressing by the fact that the interview was designed to promote his own commercial interests. “The Prince may feel it is appropriately ingratiating to tell his American audience that there is a ‘much greater openness and willingness to take us for what we are over here,’ ” the Times said in an editorial. “But does he pause to consider what effect such a dismissal of Britain will have, what outmoded stereotypes of a crabbed, cobwebbed, and unenterprising nation his words will perpetuate?”

Murdoch’s mass-circulation tabloid the Sun went further. In an editorial which both agreed with Prince Edward’s comments and excoriated him for making them. The Sun called him “a pampered, privileged young man who has achieved nothing, despite being born with a royal silver spoon in his mouth, despite all the undeserved advantages he has been handed.” Then, praising America’s classless meritocracy, it said: “Maybe Britain should have got rid of the royals too.” This statement perpetuated doubts about Murdoch’s attitude to the British royal family.

In Canada, the {{National Post#2:}} {{reported#2:}} Thursday on a commemoration ceremony for the 229 people who died last Sept. 2 when Swissair Flight 111 crashed in St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia. For the purpose of “adding to the closure” for the relatives of the deceased, a Mountie, Inspector Andy Arsenault, stepped up to the microphone to sing. “Love will be our legacy,” he sang. “When dreams get tossed, we’ll share the cost, and lay the roses on the rocks.”