Home > News > News in Brief 17 August 2007

News in Brief 17 August 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Odds grow for recession, but lenders hold the key. Whether Wall Street’s turmoil brings a sharp slowdown or a full-blown recession depends on three inter-related variables: how quickly banks resume lending to businesses and home buyers; whether the recession in the housing sector bottoms out or deepens; and whether falling home prices and a lack of lending combine to hit the consumer’s ability to spend. (McClatchy)

Wall St and London soar as Fed cuts rate. The Dow Jones and the FTSE each climbed sharply after the US Federal Reserve cut the discount rate 0.5% to 5.75%. (Times Online)

Musharraf’s candidacy in doubt. Pakistan’s Supreme Court is being cited as the major obstacle to another five-year term for U.S. ally Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Senior figures in Musharraf’s ruling party are warning that a newfound independence by the chief justice may result in a ruling that Musharraf’s nomination for president is unconstitutional. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has made it clear in speeches that he is determined to uphold the law that sets a limit of two consecutive terms for president. At issue is whether Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and subsequently won election in a 2002 referendum, has already served two terms. (UPI)

I’ll be elected before Oct 15 ‘at any cost’: Musharraf. President General Pervez Musharraf said here on Thursday that he would be re-elected from the current assemblies and in [military] uniform “at any cost” before October 15. (Daily Times)

Political Fallout of Indo-US Nuclear Deal Turns Severe. The United States-India nuclear cooperation agreement, tabled in India’s Parliament on Monday, has precipitated the worst-ever political crisis for the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPS) government since it was formed a little over three years ago. Although the existence of the ‘left-of-centre’ UPA government is not immediately threatened, it has clearly lost the support of the communist parties on this defining foreign and security policy issue. Support from the 59 members of parliament of the Left parties, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has been critically necessary for the survival of the UPA, which lacks a majority of its own in the 543-strong Lower House of Parliament. (IPS)

Chinese flocking in numbers to a new frontier: Africa. Over the last five years or so, … hundreds of thousands of Chinese have discovered the continent, setting off to do business in a part of the world that had been terra incognita for their compatriots. The Xinhua press agency recently estimated there were at least 750,000 Chinese working or living for extended periods on the continent, a reflection of burgeoning economic ties between China and Africa that reached $55 billion in trade in 2006, compared with less than $10 million a generation earlier. (International Herald Tribune)

Putin orders resumption of strategic bomber flights. Vladimir Putin today ordered the Russian air force to resume the cold war practice of long-range flights by strategic bombers. “We have decided to restore flights by Russian strategic aviation on a permanent basis,” the president told reporters at joint military exercises with China and four central Asian states in the Russian Ural mountains. Earlier this month, Russian air force generals said bomber crews had flown near a US military base on the Pacific island of Guam, causing US aircraft to be scrambled to track them. The meeting concluded with a thinly veiled warning to the US to keep away from the energy-rich and strategic region. (Guardian)

Fayad issues conditions for Palestinian peace deal. Hamas has to renounce “any and all” claims to govern Gaza before there can be any reconciliation between the Palestinian factions, Salam Fayad, the Prime Minister of the two-month-old emergency Palestinian administration in Ramallah, said yesterday. The tough conditions laid down by Mr Fayad will be taken as a clear rebuff for recent international calls for early dialogue between Fatah and Hamas in the wake of June’s bloody infighting when Hamas seized internal control of Gaza by force after 100 lives were lost in a single week. A group of European foreign ministers – including those from France, Italy and Spain – as well as the British Foreign Affairs Committee have urged such talks. (The Independent)

Lebanese helicopters pound besieged militants. Lebanese army helicopters pounded positions in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp on Thursday in a bid to quash Islamist militants who have been holed up there for close to three months. Aerial bombardments have become a prominent feature of the army’s campaign against the militants of Fatah al-Islam over recent weeks. Most of the 31,000 refugees for whom the camp was home fled at the start of the fighting which began on May 20 and which has killed more than 200 people, including 136 soldiers. It is not known how many Islamists have died. (IC Publications)

Standby Force to be Launched for Darfur. The South African Development Community (SADC) is to launch a Brigade on Friday, set to join the hybrid AU-UN force in Sudan’s Darfur region. The SADC Brigade of the African Standby Force will form part of the 26 000-strong African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) hybrid force, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad told reporters at the Union Buildings Wednesday. (allAfrica)

Sierra Leone: Opposition Leads in Early Election Results. Early results from Sierra Leone’s presidential elections show that opposition candidate Ernest Koroma has a narrow lead over his closest rival, Vice-President Solomon Berewa. Votes from one third of polling stations have been counted. Results released by the country’s National Electoral Commission at 15h00 on Wednesday credit Koroma, of the All People’s Congress (APC), with 46 percent, or 297,206 of the 643,777 votes counted so far. A candidate needs 55 percent of the vote to win outright. If the current trend continues, a run-off election will be scheduled for the weeks to come. (allAfrica)

Showdown over Thai constitution. Thailand goes to the polls on Sunday for the first time in more than a year to approve or reject a new constitution. A spirited campaign has turned on two arguments: a yes vote gets the country moving forward toward democracy; a no vote is a rebuke to the generals who seized power last September. (Asia Times)

Iraqi Sunnis slam new Shiite, Kurdish alliance. Leaders of Iraq’s disenchanted Sunni Arab community Friday slammed the new Shiite and Kurdish alliance formed to salvage Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s national unity government. On Thursday, President Jalal Talabani and Maliki announced the forming of the alliance, which brought together Shiite Dawa party and Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, and the Kurdish factions of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdish Democratic Party (PDK). (Middle East Times)

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