The Teheran Times covers the ongoing controversy about the Presidential election results in Iran. “The Guardian Council has agreed to recount certain ballot boxes,” the paper says. “The Council will try to proceed in a way which helps to gain the confidence of candidates and supporters.” It also quotes one of the most influential men on the Council Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi who says there is “no winner in divisions”. The international press is far more critical of proceedings. “Iran recount pledged as anger swells,” reads this headline in The Australian. The photo shows hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters in Azadi Square yesterday. The front page of The Guardian in the UK focuses on the Government crackdown on the opposition and the media. Foreign journalists not based in the country were ordered to leave. The French Catholic paper la Croix has quite a negative feature on Ayatollah Khamenei, one the key figures in this election fiasco. The role of Supreme Guide is intended to allow for a political space for elected representatives, the paper says. Khamenei is meant to be impartial. In supporting Ahmadinejad, he has rocked the delicate balance of powers in Iran, says la Croix. Another key figure in all this is Barack Obama with many wondering how he will respond. David Ignatius writing in The Washington Post says he should continue with the line he took in his Cairo speech two weeks ago, speaking directly to the Muslim public. “He would be making a mistake if he seemed to meddle in Iranian politics,” he says.
In the African press, there is coverage of yesterday’s funeral in Gabon for Omar Bongo. Le Pays, a paper in Burkina Faso, is very complimentary of Bongo in its obituary for the deceased Gabonese President. For four decades he maintained peace in his country where civil wars reigned elsewhere. “What is better, an autocrat who maintains peace or a democrat who adds fuel to fire?” asks the paper.
In today’s Mail and Guardian in South Africa, there is a front page exposé of illegal mining in the country. “There will always be a demand for gold in the black-market,” says one young 22 year old miner called Mahabe. Recently, 85 men died in an illegal mining accident so, now more than ever, there is a focus on the lives of these people in South Africa. Many are migrants from Mozambique and Limpopo, hired at the hostels where they stay. When 60 or 80 are gathered they are sent underground for up to three months at a time. “The longest I’ve been underground is eight months,” says Mahabe. Communication with the surface is done by walkie-talkie. As if their treatment isn’t bad enough, miners pay inflated amounts for things like cigarettes. Instead of 200 South African Rands, they often pay 400 for their cigarettes to be sent down to them. There are often fights underground, with miners being killed due to competition for spots or simply because of rivalry.
From the mines of South Africa mines to the train stations of Germany where gold is also in demand if a little easier to access… The Financial Times reports that gold vending machines are soon to be installed in airports and railway stations across the country. Airport shoppers will be able to buy a gram of gold for 30 euros in machines typically used to sell snacks. Interest in gold has soured in Germany an elsewhere due to the financial crisis with an ever greater fear that money held in dollars and other currencies will not hold its value. The paper explains that Germans have long preferred to hold personal wealth in gold for historical reasons. The owner of “Gold to go” says, “They have lost everything twice”.
From gold to gambling... The British paper, The Independent reports that Russian casinos and slot machine halls across the country will be forced to close their doors from next month onwards. In their place will be just four Las Vegas style gambling zones. Gambling has been a very visible part of Russian life since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Poker could be classified as a sport as a means of getting around the new law. Authorities are expecting a sharp rise in poker sports clubs from the 1st July! In one casino in Moscow called the Shangri-La, there are mixed feelings about the new law. One man asking not to be named so his fiancée doesn’t discover his gambling habit says, “I can’t wait for the 1st July,” before tossing another $200 on to the table. “It’s so easy to lose your money. I will be good not to have the temptation.”