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April 2007





Editors' Notes

Pakistan Blog



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Uganda: The Asian Backlash

Fair Trade Coffee -- An Update

A Milestone

New Peril for Reporters in Afghanistan

Syria Revisited



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Uganda: The Asian Backlash

Downtown Kampala gets back to business after racially charged riots.

It was our second week in Uganda. My wife and I were heading back to the capital, Kampala, after two days in the beautiful Kibale Forest in the southwest of the country.

Approaching the city, our driver, Geoffrey, received a text message. Protests had erupted in the capital over the government's decision to hand over more than 7,000 hectares of the Mabira Forest Reserve to an Asian-owned sugarcane company, and things had turned violent.

What began as an environmental demonstration left three people dead, including a 25-year-old Indian man who was pulled off his motorcycle and stoned to death.

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Fair Trade Coffee -- An Update

We noticed a story in last Sunday's New York Times (April 22) that reported fair trade coffee deals were proving to be beneficial for farmers and forests in the impoverished Mexican state of Chiapas.

"In this coffee region, known as Jaltenango, on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre," reported Elisabeth Malkin, "the [fair trade] programs appear to be making a difference, farmers say. Higher prices for certified beans have trickled down to some growers, and certification has had an environmental impact."

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A Milestone

Soldier in Afghanistan.

The story from Afghanistan that aired on PBS April 10 marked the 25th broadcast episode of FRONTLINE/World.

Last week's episode of FRONTLINE/World, which aired April 10, was a milestone for us. It marked the 25th broadcast in our series which debuted back in May 2002. We have now aired 61 original stories, ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Our 25th episode was a typical broadcast in the sense that it featured three "stories from a small planet" of the sort that our viewers have come to expect: a tough, lead story about the fighting in Afghanistan; a repeat of our inspiring microlending story set in Uganda; and a new tale of a symphony conductor in Paraguay who has set up music schools to help poor children.

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New Peril for Reporters in Afghanistan

Poster of slain journalist, Ajmal Naqshbandi

A poster of murdered Afghan journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi distributed at a rally in Kabul on April 9.

Editor's Note: This weekend, while FRONTLINE/World reporter, Roya Aziz, was working on stories for our April 10 broadcast on Afghanistan, news broke of the beheading of Afghan reporter, Ajmal Naqshbandi, who was abducted by the Taliban in March. Naqshbandi was traveling with Italian reporter, Daniele Mastrogiacomo and their driver, Sayed Agha, when all three men were captured by the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand. The driver was found beheaded three days later, and the Italian journalist, after negotiations involving the Taliban and the Afghan government, was released. Until this weekend, the fate of Naqshbandi was unknown, despite protests and international pressure to secure his release. Here, Aziz reports on the fallout from Naqshbandi's death and about the increasing dangers faced by journalists and aid workers in the country.

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Syria Revisited

Bashar Al-Assad shakes hands with series editor Stephen Talbot.

FRONTLINE/World series editor Stephen Talbot shakes hands with the Syrian president during a reporting trip to the region.

Following her visit to Israel and Lebanon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Damascus, Syria, this week to hold talks with President Bashar al-Assad, a meeting criticized by President Bush, who told reporters, "Photo opportunities and/or meetings with President Assad lead the Assad government to believe they're part of the mainstream of the international community, when, in fact, they're a state sponsor of terror."

The White House has condemned Syria for interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs, for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, and for allowing Arab insurgents to cross the Syrian border into Iraq to fight U.S. troops. Yet, the Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by former Republican Secretary of State James Baker, has recommended that Washington engage both Syria and Iran in talks to reduce tensions in the Middle East.

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