Home > News > News in Brief: 10 August 2007

News in Brief: 10 August 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Korean officials to meet Taliban. South Korean officials in Afghanistan have fixed a meeting with the Taliban, aimed at securing the release of 21 hostages held by the group. (Al Jazeera)

Musharraf, facing mounting domestic unrest, opts not to impose state of emergency. Pakistan needs to step up the hunt for al-Qaeda leaders believed holed up in its rugged and remote frontier areas close to Afghanistan and be ready to capture and kill them, U.S. President George W. Bush said yesterday. Gen. Musharraf, who had toyed in recent days with declaring a state of emergency to deal with the growing crisis in Pakistan, apparently decided at the last minute not to gather even more power in his office.Mr. Bush echoed the call for a return to democracy in Pakistan. (Globe & Mail)

Bush wants free and fair elections in Pakistan. US President George W Bush on Thursday urged President General Pervez Musharraf to hold free and fair elections in Pakistan. “My focus in terms of the domestic scene there is that he have a free and fair election, and that’s what we’ve been talking to him about and hopeful they will,” Bush said at a White House news conference, according to a transcript received here from the US Federal News Service. (Daily Times)

Share market nosedives. The sharemarket dived nearly four per cent today after extensive overnight losses across all of the major international markets. A late plunge sent the S&P ASX 200 down 3.7 per cent or 229.6 points to 5936, its biggest fall since September 17, 2001. The All Ordinaries retreated 222.5 points to 5965.2. (The Age)

Bush warns Iraq over ’warming’ ties with Iran; Baghdad on alert. Bush sternly warned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki Thursday against cozying up to Iran, amid what Washington sees as unsettling signs of warming Baghdad-Tehran relations. “If the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart to heart with my friend, the prime minister, because I don’t believe they are constructive”, said the US president. (The Jordan Times)

Sunni Rivals Prepare for Anbar Confrontation. A new round of provincial elections has not been scheduled yet, but the race is already heating up in Anbar Province as two opposed Sunni Arab political forces jockey for position and trade warnings over interference into the electoral process. (IraqSlogger)

Change on Iraq? Ask the Israelis. More than 20 Republican congressmen finished [a] trip [to Israel] this week, and some 20 Democrats will leave for Israel the day after tomorrow. A visit of 40 congressmen in Israel within the space of two weeks is no small feat, but Hoyer, speaking on Wednesday morning, insists that a tour of this kind is of “crucial importance” for them. Israel, he reminds all those who have forgotten, is “our most important ally and friend,” and its friends have to understand the challenges it faces from up close. At all the events attended by the congressmen, Israeli leaders always found time for them, including the president, the prime minister, the defense minister, the foreign minister, the head of the opposition and the military’s top brass. These 40 legislators are the ones who over the past few weeks supported additional funding for the Arrow missile, which is part of the budget for cooperation on combating terror within the framework of the Office of Homeland Security. They are also the ones who will vote on the $30 billion increase in the security budget to which the administration plans to commit itself over the next 10 years. (Haaretz)

Fatah form armed cells to fight Hamas in Gaza Strip, Israeli newspaper report. Fatah have formed armed cells to fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli newspaper has reported. According to Yedioth Ahronoth Fatah has between five and ten armed cells working against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, (Ma’an)

A President in denial, a ravaged nation denied hope. Thabo Mbeki’s stance on Aids has left South Africa with the world’s worst HIV epidemic. Yesterday, he silenced the woman fighting to end the suffering of millions. (The Independent)

Air Force Flexes Its Muscles with Exercise Over Pacific. Russian bombers have flown to the Pacific island of Guam for the first time since the Cold War during an Air Force exercise intended to show the nation’s resurgent military power, a top general said Thursday. Air Force Major General Pavel Androsov said two Tu-95 bombers reached Guam, home to a large U.S. military base, as part of an exercise this week. (Moscow Times)

Philippine clashes leave 50 dead. The Philippine government is deploying extra troops to the south after some of the bloodiest clashes with militants left more than 50 people dead. The military said it had lost 26 soldiers and killed around 31 militants in three days of fighting on the volatile island of Jolo. (BBC)

US is expanding its military presence in the Horn of Africa. American forces have established a network of outposts in Ethiopia and Kenya centered on a base in Djibouti. The United States has created an Africa Command to coordinate military activities. In January, US gunships blasted away at suspected Islamic terrorists in southern Somalia. These forays have continued as an Ethiopian force occupies Mogadishu, the Somali capital, to bolster the provisional government there. (Hiiraan/Boston Globe)

Heavy fighting breaks out in Mogadishu. At least four Somalis were killed on Friday as heavy fighting broke out in the capital Mogadishu between insurgents and the Ethiopian-backed government forces, police and witnesses said. (Khaleej Times)

Iraq Conflict Boosts Profits at BAE Systems. British defense firm BAE Systems said Aug. 9 that net profit rose by almost a third during the first half, boosted by strong U.S. and British orders amid the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. BAE Systems said that net profit climbed by 27.2 percent to 515 million pounds ($1.048 billion) in the six months that ended June 30, compared with the first half of 2006. (Defense News)

U.S. Might Sell Missiles to Taiwan. The Pentagon said Aug. 8 it has notified Congress of the possible sale of 60 Harpoon Block II anti-ship cruise missiles to Taiwan. The proposed deal was valued at an estimated $125 million, the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency said. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and economic security in the region,” the agency said. (Defense News)

Siniora, US ambassador Feltman discuss US aid for army. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora met on Thursday with US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman to discuss US assistance for the Lebanese Army. No comments were released after the meeting. (Daily Star)

Iraqi Kurdish parliament member blasts Iraqi PM Maliki for Ankara talks. Following the signing of an anti-PKK accord in Ankara by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki, Iraqi Parliament member Mahmut Osman, who is also a member of the Kurdistan Alliance Bloc, noted that the accord did not “reflect the views of the Kurdistan Regional Authority.” (Hurriyet)

Jordan yields poverty and pain for the well-off fleeing Iraq. The war has scattered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis throughout the Middle East, but those who came here tended to be the most affluent. Most lacked residency status and were not allowed to work, but as former bank managers, social club directors and business owners, they thought their money would last. It has not. Rents are high, schools cost money, and under-the-table jobs pay little. A survey of 100 Iraqi families found that 64 were surviving by selling their assets. (International Herald Tribune)

Floating Arctic ice shrinking at record rate. The area of floating ice in the Arctic has shrunk more than in any summer since satellite tracking began in 1979, and it has reached that record point a month before the annual ice pullback typically peaks, experts said. (International Herald Tribune)

Peru: Pollution Emergency Plan Instead of Real Action for La Oroya. Far from halting the source that is poisoning the Andean city of La Oroya, which is home to the Doe Run smelting complex, the Peruvian government ordered a contingency plan for the days when air pollution is worst, as if it were dealing with a natural disaster. The Contingency Plan for States of Alert will be presented Aug. 10 by the government’s national environmental council, CONAM, which approved it Jul. 18 to protect the 35,000 inhabitants of La Oroya from the sulphur dioxide, lead and cadmium emissions from the Doe Run smokestacks. (IPS)

British Ministry of Defence issues gag order on armed forces. New restrictions on blogs, emails, websites and text messages. Sweeping new guidelines barring military personnel from speaking about their service publicly have been quietly introduced by the Ministry of Defence, the Guardian has learned. Soldiers, sailors and airforce personnel will not be able to blog, take part in surveys, speak in public, post on bulletin boards, play in multi-player computer games or send text messages or photographs without the permission of a superior if the information they use concerns matters of defence. (Guardian)

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