Weekly Briefing

Nigeria, Haiti, and Asia's missing women.

Nigeria: massacres

For the second time this year, villages near the city of Jos have erupted in violence. Hundreds were killed as men armed with guns and machetes descended from the nearby hills to Dogo-Nahawa, Zot and Ratsat, exacting revenge for the January riots.

Once a tourist destination, Jos has suffered repeated violence since 2001, which has divided its Christian and Muslim residents. But while Jos's troubles have a religious dimension, the politics of scarcity matter more, as people compete for resources. Relatively minor events - cattle thefts, appointments to local government - have been catalysts for hundreds of murders.

Nobody has been brought to trial, and retribution now seems even more unlikely. President Umaru Yar'Adua has just returned after several months
of absence due to illness; the acting leader, Goodluck Jonathan, has plenty to deal with.

Haiti: the aftermath

Two months after the earthquake that reduced much of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, to rubble, US troops are pulling out. The immediate disaster may be under control, and many are relieved that humanitarian efforts will now be led by the UN. But with half a million people in tents,
and the rainy season due to begin, Haiti's stability is still at risk.

Medical staff are seeing more victims of violent attacks - gunshot wounds and rape in particular. Infrastructure is vital. "It's all about having electricity," Alison Thompson, a nurse, told Australia's ABC News. "Electric light in one village is equivalent to 40 policemen. So whenever that goes down, the rapes go up."

Burma: elections

Burma is to hold an election this year - its first in two decades.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, has expressed his wish for the country to move towards an electoral system that is "credible, inclusive and transparent". So far, this looks like a vain hope.

The government has set five new, dispiriting election laws. Among them is the rule that the election commission will be chosen by the military government, and that its decisions will be final. Then there was the news that the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi - who won the 1990 election by a landslide but has spent most of the past 20 years incarcerated - has been barred from joining a political party, and so cannot run.

But just in case Burmese voters were in any doubt, Than Shwe, the junta leader, has made it clear that they should make the "correct choices".

Asia: missing women

Gender-based discrimination in Asia has produced a legacy of 96 million "missing" women, a UN report has found. Millions have died as a result of limited access to health care and food; millions more are never born, due to the practice in some areas of aborting female foetuses.

Asian women's political representation and employment are also among the world's lowest, although a survey of such a vast region inevitably returns varied results. In India, for example, a new law ensures that a third of parliamentary seats go to women.

Economics is also a focal point. Despite some Asian countries' success in recent years, women's lack of participation limits growth. The disappearance of women is a scandal; but so is their invisibility.

Belgium: 3D paper

Perhaps inspired by the success of films such as the multiple Oscar nominee Avatar, on 9 March the Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure made its 3D debut, with free 3D glasses. "This is a trial," explained the editor, Hubert Leclercq, although it wasn't clear what for: there are "no further plans" to use the format. Bigger advertising revenues and a better-than-usual print run must have been pleasing, but two months is a long time to spend on one issue. And as Avatar's Oscar failures in non-technical categories shows, such efforts only get you so far.