Home > News > News in Brief: 15 August 2007

News in Brief: 15 August 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Iraq death toll from four suicide attacks hits 200. Rescuers dug through the muddy wreckage of collapsed clay houses in northwest Iraq on Wednesday, uncovering victims of four suicide bombings that Iraqi officials said claimed the lives of at least 200 people in one of the worst attacks of the war. The victims were members of a small Kurdish sect — the Yazidis — sometimes attacked by Muslim extremists who consider them infidels. (Globe and Mail)

Global share slump gathers pace. The worldwide slump in shares gathered pace today, with the FTSE 100 index tumbling 86 points to 6057.5 by 1.15pm – a fall of 1.4% – following heavy losses overnight in Asia and on Wall Street yesterday. And, according to a report in today’s Financial Times, American banks caught in the credit market upheaval have started refusing to lend money against hedge funds’ sub-prime credit portfolios. (Guardian)

Australia ‘to sell India uranium’. The Australian government has reportedly agreed to sell uranium to India on condition that inspectors are permitted to ensure it is used only for peaceful nuclear power generation. The government has not commented on the report, which appeared in The Australian newspaper on Wednesday. According to the paper, cabinet ministers agreed on Tuesday to allow uranium sales, even though India has not signed the international non-proliferation treaty (NPT). (Al Jazeera)

Iran Guards ‘join US terror list’. The US is preparing to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards force as a foreign terrorist unit, US media reports say. If confirmed, this will be the first time official armed units of a sovereign state are included in the list of banned terrorist groups. (BBC)

Abbas’s office denies publishing electoral law decree. President Mahmoud Abbas’s office has denied it has published a decree that makes changes to the current Palestinian electoral law. “The President has held discussions with groups from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on a draft of an electoral law, with the aim of publishing a presidential decree on the next elections,” Ahmad Daud, the director of Mr Abbas’s press office told AFP. “But this decree has not yet been published.” Earlier reports by AFP said it had seen the text of the signed decree by Mr Abbas that effectively excluded the rival Hamas movement ruling Gaza from future elections. (ABC/AFP)

Abbas decree excludes Hamas from elections. President Mahmud Abbas issued a decree on Wednesday that effectively excludes the rival Hamas movement ruling Gaza from future elections, further widening the gaping Palestinian divide. The Islamists immediately slammed the move as illegal and said an election cannot take place without the participation of their movement, which had swept to power after the last legislative poll a year and a half ago. The requirement makes it easier for candidates from Abbas’s Fatah party to run in the Gaza Strip, which has been under control of the Islamists since Hamas fighters overran forces loyal to the moderate president in mid-June. Following the bloody takeover, Abbas fired the Hamas-led unity cabinet, appointed one headed by the Western-backed economist, Salam Fayyad, and has refused talks with the Islamists. He has also vowed to call early general elections. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

Israel rejects calls to end isolation of Hamas. Israel attempted to damp down calls for moves to end the isolation of Hamas yesterday by warning that it would be a “huge mistake” to try to reconcile it with its rival Fatah. Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Foreign Minister, denounced calls for talks with Hamas by warning that “any compromise with terror, any compromise with these extremists” could undermine the new emergency government set up in the West Bank by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. (The Independent)

Guatemala: Labour Rights Mean Little in Maquila Factories. “We had no set punch out time. Sometimes we would work through the night until dawn,” said Everilda Yanis, who worked at an export garment factory in Guatemala that closed down in December 2006, leaving her and hundreds of co-workers in the street with no severance pay. Trade unionists, workers and activists described to IPS the constant violations of labour rights and precarious working conditions in the textile factories in tax-free industrial zones in Guatemala, known as maquiladoras or maquilas. here are currently 184 textile maquilas in this Central American country, 66 of which belong to South Korean investors. They employ a combined total of 70,000 people, 80 percent of whom are young women, according to a source with the Guatemalan Exporters Association’s (Agexport) Apparel and Textile Industry Commission (Vestex). (IPS)

UN urges rethink on biofuels. The world risks deeper ­poverty and greater environmental damage unless it ­fundamentally changes its bioenergy strategy, the United Nations’ top food and agriculture official has warned. Biofuel production, mostly of corn-derived ethanol in the US and rapeseed-derived biodiesel in Europe, doubled between 2000 and 2005, according to the IEA. In 2005, however, that was still just 1 per cent of global road-transport fuel. The problem for developing countries is exacerbated by food prices being pushed up by the biofuel industry’s rising consumption of crops.Corn prices this year reached an 11-year high of $4.30 a bushel while wheat prices last week rose to $6.96 a bushel, the highest since 1996. (Financial Times)

Much Talk But Little Substance at Afghan Assembly. Apart from a surprise admission that Pakistan has Taleban bases, long-awaited talks offer no solutions. he rhetoric was appropriately flowery, the protestations of brotherhood and mutual support predictable. But many see the “peace jirga” in Kabul as just another empty exercise in high-level diplomacy between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with little relevance to the very real problems at hand. Critics say the jirga or assembly was flawed from the start, with delegates hand-picked to follow the line of whichever government selected them, so that apart from the Afghan and Pakistani presidents, none of the real actors in the conflict was even represented. (IWPR)

India proposes collaborating with Israel on a new unmanned combat helicopter to counter Chinese C-802 missile. Israel’s outgoing Navy commander Maj. Gen. Dan Bashat discussed the project during his talks with his opposite number Adm. Sureesh Mehta in India last week, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Adm. Mehta estimated that the Indian Navy could use 40-50 helicopters of this kind. Although Indian-Israeli defense relations have been expanding for the past eight years, this was the first visit to New Delhi by an Israeli Navy commander. The helicopter project would be a revolutionary step for the Indian and Israelis Navies, providing them both with their first independent air arms. (DEBKAfile)

Germany Debates Boost in Afghanistan Troops. Germany is debating whether to send more soldiers to Afghanistan. Currently, the ISAF mission there enjoys broad support, but two other engagements seem likely to face resistance. German politicians said they would first decide whether to send more troops to Afghanistan after discussing the matter with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) there and NATO partners, and once the army has determined whether or not it has the capacity to expand. (Deutsche Welle)

Aceh still struggling two years on. Two years after the signing of the Helsinki peace agreement, justice is not being properly upheld in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province and prosperity remains an illusion for many Acehnese, activists said Tuesday. (Jakarta Post)

Nasrallah vows ‘colossal surprise’ if Israel attacks. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel on Tuesday against launching another war on Lebanon, saying any attempt to attack the country “will be faced with a colossal surprise likely to change the fate of the war and the region.” “You might say I am exercising a war of nerves … This is true yet my war of nerves is based on truthful facts and aims at avoiding any war,” Nasrallah told a massive rally in a televised address. Tens of thousands of Hizbullah supporters flocked to the Raya pitch in the southern suburbs of Beirut to celebrate the “divine victory” over Israel during the 34-day war last year. (Daily Star)

Netanyahu reelected chief of Israel’s Likud. Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected leader of the main right-wing opposition Likud party, almost 18 months after its crushing general election defeat. (Middle East Times)

Graft scandal hits Kirchner camp. Efforts by Argentina’s ruling party to launch an upbeat campaign to elect Cristina Fernández as president suffered an early setback on Tuesday as a leading opposition politician called for the resignation of a cabinet heavyweight accused of involvement in an alleged corruption scandal. (Financial Times)

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