Gordon Brown wants the world to sit up and pay attention to the suffering in Niger. Photo credit: Downing Street

Below the radar: Underreported news from the week that was

Niger ‘dying in silence’

While the world looks elsewhere, a nation is dying in silence,” said ex-Prime Minster Gordon Brown in an Independent article, calling for urgent action to end the dire human suffering caused by severe famine and flood in the impoverished African country Niger. “Pakistan summons our urgent attention. But while floods have been destroying Pakistan, famine and floods have created an emergency in Niger,” stated Brown. “It has been doubly hit because bad crops last year have left people hungry and now rainfall this year has washed away stores of millet, sorghum and corn and washed away hope with it. Prices are so high for available food that people literally cannot afford to eat,” lamented Brown, who urged “we can prevent children dying painful, avoidable deaths” if we donate aid now. Foreign Policy reported that seven million Nigeriens – half the population – are facing starvation.

Deeper woes for trapped Chilean minors

As if it wasn’t bad enough to be trapped half a mile underground in a hot and damp chamber, it turns out the 33 Chilean minors submerged underground haven’t been paid their wages and may not have jobs when (and if) they all make it back to the Earth’s surface. “San Esteban, the small company which operates the gold and silver mine, says it has no money to continue paying their wages, let alone cope with the lawsuits that will inevitably arise from the ordeal. It is not even participating in the rescue, which is being run by Codelco, a state-run mining firm,” reported Guy Adams of The Independent. Somewhat unsurprisingly five of the minors are said to be suffering from depression.

Vicious thug set for promotion?

Given it’s a closed state, developments in North Korea are almost always “below the radar”. So it should come as little surprise that the issue of who shall succeed leader Kim Jong-il is cloaked in secrecy. But North Korea watchers are hearing rumblings that Dear Leader is lining up his third son to take up the reigns when he call it quits. According to The Chicago Tribune, third son Kim Jong-un fits the bill because he “specialises in thuggery and threats” and most resembles his father in “viciousness.” “One may have disqualified himself by travelling to Japan on a counterfeit passport, allegedly in an effort to visit Disneyland. Another has a reputation as ‘girlish,’” noted The Tribune. Kim Jung-il recently returned from a five-day visit to key ally China. It is unclear whether his Kim Jung-un travelled with his father but the Guardian speculated that he may have joined the trip under a false name.

Notting Hill safe

An underreported fact is that crime dropped at Notting Hill Carnival, west London’s three-day street festival, for the third year running according to the Metropolitan Police. In previous editions of the sometimes-rowdy street party trouble-makers settling scores have wreaked havoc, but this year reported crime fell by 31 percent. Boring as crime falling stories are (!), the BBC, though few others, bothered to hail the police and organizers. The BBC suggested that the arrest of over 100 people in the (peculiarly named) pre-carnival Operation Razorback clampdown helped ease trouble. Of the 142 arrests, 40 were for possession of cannabis.