Home > News > News in Brief 22 August 2007

News in Brief 22 August 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Lawyers release second Haneef interview. Lawyers acting for Dr Mohamed Haneef have released the transcript of their client’s second interview with the Australian Federal Police, saying they want the public to read the material for themselves. Dr Haneef’s Brisbane lawyer Peter Russo said the full 366-page transcript was being made public at Dr Haneef’s request. “He wants all of the matters raised with him by Federal Police and his answers to those questions put into the public arena, because of the continuing attempts being made to slander his name by innuendo and selective release of information by Government and Federal Police spokespeople,” Mr Russo said in a statement. Yesterday, Federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews was forced to defend his decision to cancel Dr Haneef’s work visa on character grounds after a Federal Court judge over-ruled Mr Andrew’s decision. The full transcript of Dr Haneef’s second interview – conducted through the afternoon of Friday 13 July into the early hours of Saturday 14 July – has been released by posting on the Ryan & Bosscher Lawyers web site at http://www.ryanbosscher.com.au. (The Age)

Bush distances himself from the ‘non-functional’ Iraqi government. President George Bush referred publicly to the growing US frustration with Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, yesterday, but said the Iraqi people would have to decide whether to continue supporting him. His remarks fell short of the glowing endorsement Mr Maliki is accustomed to receiving from the US President and followed demands by the powerful Democratic Senator Carl Levin for the Iraqi Assembly to throw out Mr Maliki. Senator Levin is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and his comments on Monday that the Maliki government is “non-functional” sent shockwaves trough the political establishment. (The Independent)

Iraqi PM lashes out at U.S. critics. Iraq’s prime minister lashed out Wednesday at U.S. criticism, saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and that his country “can find friends elsewhere.” Mr. Bush on Tuesday said he was frustrated with Iraqi leaders’ inability to bridge political divisions. But he added that only the Iraqi people can decide whether to sideline Mr. Maliki. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Monday that Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, should be ousted and replaced with a less sectarian leader. (Globe and Mail)

Shipments of EU-funded fuel to Gaza power plant resume. The European Union resumed funding for fuel shipments to Gaza’s main power plant Wednesday, a Palestinian official said, after Brussels received assurances that revenues from selling the fuel would not be diverted to Hamas. (Haaretz)

Student riots spread in Bangladesh. At least 50 people have been injured in Bangladesh as a violent student protest, that began at Dhaka University, spread across the capital and the country. The clashes with police continued on Wednesday despite an apology from the interim government and the closure of an army camp at the university gymnasium, one of the sutdent demands. In the capital, students from half a dozen colleges and universities took to the streets in support of their colleagues at the Dhaka campus, the largest in the country who boycotted lectures for the third consecutive day. (Al Jazeera)

Democracy Rally Held in Myanmar. In a rare public demonstration in Myanmar, hundreds of people marched today in the country’s largest city to protest steep increases in fuel costs that have driven up the prices of transportation and commodities, according to witnesses and news reports. The protesters in Yangon dispersed after being confronted by a militant youth group organized by the government that apparently took some of them away in cars. (New York Times)

Arab school stirs storm in New York City. New York City residents, Jewish community divided over opening of public Arab school in city. New York City’s first ever public Arab school is set to open its doors in two weeks, amidst much debate and controversy. The Khalil Gibran International Academy will receive funding from the NYC municipality and will be temporarily run by a Jewish woman, Danielle Salzberg, an educator and senior program officer with the nonprofit New Visions for Public Schools. Earlier this month the school’s original principal, Debbie Almontaser, resigned after she failed to condemn the use of the highly charged word “intifada,” an Arabic term for the Palestinian uprising against Israel. (ynet)

Japanese PM keen on strengthening relations. The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, on Tuesday called for further deepening of ties between Japan and India as he formally launched the India-Japan Partnership Forum floated by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries to strengthen strategic relations between the two countries through political, economic, academic, social and cultural interactions. (The Hindu)

Iran agrees timetable to clarify nuclear drive. Iran Wednesday was hoping an agreement with the UN atomic agency to clarify its contested nuclear program would save it from further sanctions, but the United States warned the deal was insufficient. (Middle East Times/AFP)

Fatah al-Islam seeks Lebanon truce. Fatah al-Islam fighters battling the Lebanese army in a refugee camp have asked for a ceasefire to allow their families and remaining civilians to be evacuated. The army, which continued to fire artillery shells into Nahr al-Bared overnight, said it would not agree to a formal truce, but would halt the bombardment to allow people to leave. (Al Jazeera)

Taleban renews death threats against hostages. Taleban militants who have been holding 19 South Koreans for more than a month renewed a threat Wednesday to kill them if their demands are not met. A purported rebel spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, said some of the captives were sick and they were also suffering from lack of proper food. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

Russia eyes Czech for top IMF job. Russia is backing former Czech central bank head Josef Tosovsky to lead the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Finance Ministry said. The move comes after former French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn was nominated by the European Union, increasing competition for the post. The new successor will take up the role in October when Rodrigo Rato leaves. (BBC)

For Aborigines, help feels like a tightening grip. Last week, [the Australian] Parliament passed the Northern Territory Emergency Response Bill. Among other measures, it requires welfare recipients to spend half their income on food, fines them if their children do not attend school, bans alcohol and pornography in Aboriginal areas and clears the way for the government to purchase five-year leases on Aboriginal town land. The catalyst for the legislation was a report prepared for the Northern Territory government this year that uncovered widespread sexual abuse and neglect of children in indigenous Australian communities. But the legislation goes far beyond the direct protection of children. Critics call it a return to the paternalistic policies that disenfranchised the country’s Aboriginal population in the past. They note that the problems it is designed to address are not unique to indigenous communities and argue that the fact that it applies only to them makes it racist. The government, they say, would not dare curtail the rights of white Australians in the same way. (International Herald Tribune)

Australian Navy Chief, Indian Officials Discuss 5-Nation Exercise. Within a month of Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson’s visit to India, Canberra has dispatched its Navy chief here for talks with senior Defence Ministry officials. Royal Australian Navy Vice Adm. Russell Shalders primarily will be discussing the modalities of next month’s naval exercise involving the U.S., Singaporean, Japanese, Australian and Indian navies. Two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, the nuclear-powered Nimitz and conventionally-powered Kitty Hawk, will join the multinational exercises in September, hosted by the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise will be the biggest in which the Indian Navy has ever participated. The venue will be the waters between the coastal city of Visakhapatnam and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. At least 20 warships from five nations will participate, including U.S. Navy submarines. Though Australia and India officially have denied any move to build a quadrilateral alliance with military objectives, sources say the naval exercise will pave the way for a strategic arrangement among Australia, Japan, the United States and India that would evolve into a military alliance in another 10 years. (Defense News)

Somalia: Security Council Extends African Mission, Plans for Possible UN Force. The Security Council today voted unanimously to extend the African Union-led mission in Somalia by six months while approving continued contingency planning for a possible United Nations peacekeeping operation in the war-ravaged country. (allAfrica)

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