Home > News > News in Brief 16 August 2007

News in Brief 16 August 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Iraq: Over 500 Yezidis Killed in Sinjar Blast. The toll of the bombings that struck Yezidi villages in the area of Sinjar, west of Mosul, yesterday has risen to over 500 dead, al-Jazeera reported, making it the deadliest terrorist attack in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. In addition to the staggering human cost of the bombings, the attack will no doubt have tragic consequences on the Yezidi community, which numbers less than a million adherents worldwide; and will contribute to the flight of Yezidis from Iraq. The Yezidis (who are ethnic Kurds) are among the oldest communities in Iraq, a country that has been gradually losing its vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities at an alarming rate since 2003. (IraqSlogger)

Global Markets Tumble Amid Mortgage Crisis. Stocks in Asia continued their downward spiral today amid the widening fallout from the United States’ subprime mortgage crisis. The decline was led by shares in South Korea, as local investors returned from a national holiday there and joined the stampede by foreign investors trying to sell. Across Europe, markets were also sustaining heavy losses in early trading. And markets in the United States were expected to open lower again today. The South Korean benchmark stock index suffered its biggest decline in more than five years today, falling nearly 7 percent late in the afternoon in Asia after an initial 10 percent plunge that forced the Korea Exchange to suspend trading for 20 minutes. Shortly after the open in Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was down about 2 percent to 5,982.60; in Frankfurt, Germany, the Dax Index was down about 2 percent to 7,299.79; and markets in Stockholm, Madrid and Milan were also down about 2 percent. (The New York Times – may require free login)

Zimbabwe crisis tops Africa summit agenda. Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, today received a rapturous welcome from fellow southern African leaders at a regional summit that will discuss the crisis in his country. Mr Mugabe, widely criticised in the west for wrecking his Zimbabwe’s economy and brutalising his political opponents, was cheered and applauded before the talks began. The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, is due to report on his efforts to mediate between Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. (Guardian)

Iraq’s deputy oil minister, four others kidnapped from government compound. More than 50 gunmen dressed in Iraqi security forces uniforms and using 17 official vehicles broke into an Oil Ministry compound in eastern Baghdad Tuesday and abducted a senior deputy of the oil minister, and four other officials, a ministry spokesman and police said. Five Britons were seized May 29 in a similar raid on Iraq’s Finance Ministry, not far from the oil marketing facility. They were taken by gunmen wearing police uniforms and have not been found. (International Herald Tribune/AP)

Venezuela head outlines changes. President Hugo Chavez has presented his plans for changes to Venezuela’s constitution, including an end to the presidential term limits. Current rules mean Mr Chavez is unable to seek re-election and will have to step down when his term ends in 2012. His plans, to be put to a national referendum, also increase presidential control over municipalities and states. (BBC)

US to scrap N-deal if India tests nukes. The US will scrap a landmark deal to export civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India if New Delhi conducts an atomic weapons test, the State Department said on Tuesday. The statement came as the two governments gave different interpretations of the controversial nuclear deal’s recently adopted operating agreement, also known as the 123 agreement. (Daily Times)

US nuclear deal with India draws more fire. On Monday, just two days before India celebrated 60 years of independence, its Parliament was disrupted as some members tried to shout down Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He was defending the nuclear-technology deal he negotiated with the United States against critics, some within his own coalition, who claim the deal will give the US too much leverage over Indian policy. (Asia Times)

Hamas detains Palestinian attorney general. Hamas detained the Palestinian attorney general in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the highest-ranking Palestinian Authority official to be seized by the Islamists ruling Gaza, witnesses said. Members of Hamas’s Executive Force detained Ahmed al-Mughani and his bodyguards after besieging his office in Gaza City and then driving off with the men, they said. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

Nigerian prison conditions ‘appalling’: Amnesty. Conditions in Nigerian prisons are appalling with “forgotten inmates” locked away for years without trial simply because their files have been lost, Amnesty International said Wednesday. “The circumstances under which the Nigerian government locks up its inmates are appalling. Many inmates are left for years awaiting trial in filthy overcrowded cells with children and adults often held together,” the rights group said. (IC Publications/AFP)

Iraqi PM announces new coalition. Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, has announced a fresh alliance of moderate Shias and Kurds, saying Sunni moderates have refused to join. Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera’s Iraq correspondent, said: “The new alliance gives them the ability to continue passing legislation. However without Sunni representation … it could increase sectarian violence.” (Al Jazeera)

US To Sustain Current Surge Of Forces In Iraq Till Spring. The head of the U.S. army says the military can sustain the current surge of forces in Iraq until next spring without changing deployment policies. But the general says it will take longer than that to create a stable society in Iraq. (Turkish Weekly)

John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG) Completes Exercise Valiant Shield 2007. The eight-day exercise conducted off the coast of Guam, tested the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly bring together joint forces in response to any regional contingency. Valiant Shield, the largest joint exercise in recent history, brought together more than 20,000 Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Air Force Airmen to participate in operations consisting of 30 ships and 280 aircraft. Along with JCSSG, Nimitz and Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Groups also participated in Valiant Shield. (Navy newsstand) :: There is talk of these war games having been a simulation of an attack on Iran. Kitty Hawk was last stationed around Japan, but Stennis and Nimitz were recently in the Persian Gulf area. USS Stennis and Nimitz are two of the three carrier strike groups that had recently been assigned to the Persian Gulf area. It’s highly unusual and suggestive of a war footing to assemble such a large number of carrier groups in one region. ::

Terror Label for Guard Corp Entrenches US-Iran Enmity. The White House’s decision to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organisation could deal a double blow to efforts to utilise diplomacy with Iran to stabilise Iraq. (IPS)

Israel, U.S. formally sign new defense agreement. Israel and the United States signed Thursday the Memorandum of Understanding on the new American defense package for Israel. Under the new aid agreement, the U.S. will transfer $30 billion to Israel over 10 years, compared with $24 billion over the past decade. The aid deal signed at represents a 25 percent rise in U.S. military aid to Israel. (Haaretz)

Uribe Prepared to Sign Agreement with ELN. The Colombian government has essentially opened up its exploratory talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) to civil society representatives, while saying it is “willing” to sign an initial agreement with the rebel group. If the proposal is successful, it could mean the release of as many as 200 kidnap victims held by the guerrillas. (IPS)

More than 600,000 hungry in Somali ‘bread basket’. The Food Security Analysis Unit, which groups several relief agencies, published an assessment of nutrition in Somalia’s Lower and Middle Shabelle region late on Monday. “Nutrition … has deteriorated dramatically since March in the … region, (which is) generally the most resilient and the bread basket of the country,” the report said. This was partly owing to poor rains, and partly to disruptions in trade caused by a conflict that has killed hundreds since the Ethiopia-backed interim government ousted Islamists from Mogadishu in December, sparking an insurgency. The report estimated inflation in the past three months to be roughly 40 to 60 percent. (Hiiraan)

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