Hackett’s News Hour

Golf in Sarajevo
A former frontline during the siege of Sarajevo has been transformed a decade later into a battlefield of a different kind, where bunkers no longer have anything to do with war.
Betanija hill, on the outskirts of the capital, which came under fire for 43 months during Bosnia’s inter-ethnic war, is now a playground for the nouveau-riche and flying golf balls rather than soldiers and tracer bullets.

One disadvantage they face is that the Betanija hill golf course boasts just four holes, not the standard 18.
The club enrolment fee and golf equipment costs about 1,000 euros (1,200 dollars), which is 10 times more than the average monthly wage in Bosnia, whose economy is still recovering from the devastating effects of the war.
The management of the four-hole golf course, which is five times smaller than standard links, plans to expand its grounds next year in order to be able to host international tournaments.

The club currently has a membership of about 100, many of whom are women. None of them aspires to playing professional golf but most count on a future of young talented players whose parents have money to spare.

Iran Abortions
Unofficial sources report of the death of Iranian girls under the age of 15 as a result of illegal abortion. The statistics show that out of every 10 under 16-year-old girls who seek an abortion, one loses her life. Moreover certain Internet sites report of an average of 15 foetuses being discovered per day in Tehran’s garbage. Most of the mothers that die are between 16-30. People seek abortion after an unwanted or illegal sexual relationship. These people usually have no way but to pay colossal sums of money and in search of this much money they may create other problems for themselves. The death of a woman in Tehran led the Police to an underground center, which was run by two women and a number of men. In only a 4-month period the center had carried out more than 70 illegal surgical operations. Annually 50 million abortion cases are reported in the world out of which 30 million are illegal.

Baghdad was invaded and went bust. About 600 miles west across the desert, Amman went boom. While some residents of the hilltop, sand-coloured capital are complaining, the government is happy with an influx of Iraqi cash to offset its $7 billion foreign debt. Real estate prices have at least doubled as Iraqis with satchels full of cash buy apartments and villas by the fistful. Former members of Saddam’s Baath Party climb out of long, black sedans and sidle into the fanciest restaurants. Russian women serve drinks to Iraqi truck drivers crowding belly-dancing joints before making the dangerous journey back to Baghdad. Now the country of 5.5 million reckons it has 400,000 Iraqis — or double that number, by unofficial estimates. One of them is Saddam’s eldest daughter, Raghad, who moved to Amman along with her younger sister, Rana, shortly after Baghdad fell two years ago and they can be seen shopping in the western-style shops with their coterie of bodyguards in tow. While Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister of postwar Iraq, owns a multimillion-dollar villa opposite the Israeli embassy. Villa prices have nearly doubled and range from $353,000 to $2.8 million, while apartment prices have tripled to $212,000. Official statistics show that 53% of foreign buyers are Iraqis, who spent $84 million on 1,147 homes between January and August of this year — a 137% jump from the same period a year ago. Iraqi investment — primarily in factories and import-export — has doubled to $92.5 million in one year. Jordan clearly has been overwhelmed. It briefly tried to close government schools to Iraqi children, but backed down under pressure from the Iraqi government, and also revoked fines imposed on Iraqis who overstayed their visas. The Interior Ministry says only 27,000 Iraqis in the kingdom have residency permits.


Iranian customs authorities are rejecting goods labelled ‘Arabian Gulf’. Iranian officials have not disclosed the reasons behind the decision but political analysts point to the different naming of the Gulf by Iran and GCC countries. Iran maintains the body of water must be officially called the ‘Persian Gulf’. GCC finance ministers are meeting to discuss the impasse

Just watching for trends….Female civil servants at Iran’s culture ministry and female journalists at the state newspaper and news agency must be out of the office by dusk to be with their families, a directive said. The directive did not specify what punishments women would face if they disobeyed the decree.

Oil rivals cocaine as one of Colombia’s principal exports. The Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline transports almost 20% of Colombia’s oil production. The pipeline originates in the Department of Arauca in northeast region of Colombia. It carries oil nearly 500 miles to the Caribbean port of Covenas. And it’s the most vulnerable and desirable target in Colombia for terrorists. The pipeline has been a principal infrastructure target for terrorist attacks by Colombia’s insurgent groups for many years. During 2001, attacks on the pipeline cost the Colombian government an estimated $500 million in lost revenues for the year. The United States agreed to assist Colombia in protecting the first 110 miles of the pipeline where most of the attacks were occurring. Since fiscal year 2002, the United States has provided about $99 million in equipment and training to the Colombian Army to minimize terrorist attacks along the first 110 miles of the line

Turkey and Israel are currently hammering out a deal to allow Israel to buy water from Turkey. Israel is keen on the deal because it knows that the Manavgat plant, which would pump the badly needed liquid is about to be privatized. In March 2004, Israel and Turkey signed a “political agreement” (rather than a commercial one,) according to which Israel will import 50 million cubic meters of drinking water per year from Turkey over a 20-year period. The water purchasing agreement did not set timetables, nor has the route of the pipeline been agreed. The agreement does not include a water price formula as well; however, according to estimations, the water price in the Turkish loading facility will be around 13-18 cents per cubic meter. Adding the transport cost, the water price is expected to be approximately 70-80 cents per cubic meter. Thus, the price of one cubic meter of water may amount to approximately one dollar

The “Golden Triangle” opium poppy planting area has been reduced from 160,000 hectares at its peak to 40,000 hectares today, thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries. In 2004, 80% of the amphetamine-based drugs seized worldwide were produced in the “Golden Triangle”. The so-called Golden Triangle area, located on the borders of several Mekong countries, including Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, is not only an internationally notorious drug production base, but is also blamed as one of the major drug sources for Chinese drug addicts.

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