Home > News > News in Brief: 5 August 2007

News in Brief: 5 August 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Voting Starts in Lebanon By-Elections. The vote is being seen as a key test of support among the deeply divided Christian community. Campaigning ahead of the polls has raised tensions in Lebanon which remains deeply divided since last November’s resignation of six cabinet ministers from the opposition paralyzed government decision-making. The election to replace Eido in Beirut is virtually guaranteed to be won by the candidate of the ruling majority. However, it is the vote for Gemayel’s seat in the Metn region, a Christian stronghold northeast of Beirut, that has the country in suspense. Observers say that the election outcome will be an indicator as to which way the Christian camp is leaning ahead of presidential elections to replace President Emile Lahoud by a November 25 deadline. (Al-Alam)

Maliki is out on his feet. Thirteen out of 37 ministers in Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s cabinet have walked out, and more are likely to follow soon. This leaves him with no Sunnis, and no representatives of “kingmaker” Muqtada al-Sadr. Maliki’s days are clearly numbered, and already candidates are positioning themselves to take over the premiership, with secular Shi’ite Mahdi al-Hafez an early front-runner. (Asia Times)

Congress yields to Bush on spying. The Democratic-led US Congress has yielded to George Bush, the president, and approved legislation to temporarily expand the government’s power to conduct electronic surveillance to track foreign suspects without a court order. (Al Jazeera)

Turkey, Greece and Italy sign gas pipeline deal. Turkey, Greece and Italy signed Thursday an agreement on constructing a pipeline to bring natural gas from central Asia to European markets by 2011. The pipeline network would include a 212-kilometer (132-mile) undersea connection from Greece to Italy, and is expected to carry 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year into Greece, most of it for re-export. (Turkish Weekly)

Russia warns it will reject any extra gas demand from Turkey. Turkey’s largest natural gas provider, Russia, has warned state-owned Turkish Pipeline Company (BOTAŞ) to refrain from demanding more gas than the amount specified in a supply contract between the two countries, according to Energy Ministry officials, leaving Turkey with the threat of yet another natural gas crisis looming on the horizon. (Today’s Zaman)

US Want To Come To A Conclusion On Kosovo Issue By December 10. The US administration hopes the Kosovo status will be settled shortly after unveiling the report by the Contact Group and the international “troika” considering the course of the Belgrade-Pristina talks, planned for mid-December. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said that negotiators on the future of Serbia’s breakaway province of Kosovo will report to him by December 10, an indication the tortuous talks may end by then. (Turkish Weekly)

Pakistan opposition leader freed. Pakistani opposition leader Javed Hashmi has been released from prison, a day after the Supreme Court ordered his release on bail. (BBC)

US strike on Taliban heightens tension as Afghan leader heads for Camp David. Conflicting claims over a devastating air strike in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where thousands of British troops are fighting the Taliban, are overshadowing talks today and tomorrow at Camp David between the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, and President George Bush. (The Independent)

Abbas and Olmert to meet in West Bank. Palestinian officials said that President Mahmoud Abbas and the prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, would meet Monday in the West Bank city of Jericho. It would be the first meeting of the two leaders in Palestinian territory. (Herald Tribune)

Amazon Fruit Gatherers Face Biofuel Dilemma. The babaçú, an abundant native palm tree in the eastern Amazon and in the north and northeast of Brazil, has great potential for the production of “biodiesel” and biomass fuel, but the women who make their living from gathering its fruit fear the loss of their traditional source of income. (IPS)

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