Home > News > News in Brief: 6 September 2007

News in Brief: 6 September 2007

Germany unravels ‘massive’ terror plot. Three suspected members of an al-Qaeda-influenced group nursing “profound hatred of U.S. citizens” have been arrested on suspicious of plotting imminent, massive bomb attacks in Germany, prosecutors said Wednesday. German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms said the three suspects, two of whom were German converts to Islam, had trained at camps in Pakistan run by the Islamic Jihad Union, a group based in Central Asia. They had obtained some 700 kilograms of hydrogen peroxide for making explosives. (Globe and Mail/AP)

Israel accepts order to change West Bank barrier. Israel’s Defence Ministry has pledged to respect a Supreme Court ruling ordering it to re-route a 1.7-kilometre section of its controversial “security barrier” inside the occupied West Bank. At Bilin the barrier dipped deep into the West Bank to carve off 60 per cent of the village’s farmland — land designated by Israeli authorities for the expansion of the nearby illegal Jewish settlement of Modi’in Illit. The Israeli army and Defence Ministry have repeatedly insisted the barrier’s route is designed only to prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks. Palestinians and human rights groups accuse the Israeli Government of orchestrating a “land grab”, which would effectively annex to Israel at least 10 per cent of the West Bank, including much of the best farmland. The court’s ruling does not, however, acknowledge the International Court of Justice’s 2004 ruling that Israel’s construction of fences, Jewish settlements and roads on seized land is illegal. (The Age)

Deadly clashes hit Somali capital. At least six people have been killed and many wounded in fighting between government troops and fighters in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The gun battles began early Wednesday morning, locking residents inside their homes.Since Ethiopian and Somali troops defeated the Union of Islamic Courts, a Muslim militia that briefly controlled the capital early this year, Mogadishu has seen a rapid rise in violence, including an increase in crime targeting civilians. (Al Jazeera)

Pakistan: ‘President’s two offices apparently end with term’. Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar of the Supreme Court said on Wednesday that President General Pervez Musharraf apparently could not hold two offices after his term as president expires, as the court heard a petition from the Jamaat-e-Islami challenging the ‘President to Hold Another Office Act 2004’. (Daily Times)

Iraqi police force should be scrapped: US report. The Iraqi National Police force should be scrapped and reorganized because of ethnic divisions in its ranks, a new US report said on Wednesday. “The National Police have proven operationally ineffective,” said the independent commission headed by retired Marine Gen. James Jones. “Sectarianism in its units undermines its ability to provide security; the (police) force is not viable in its current form,” the report said. “The National Police should be disbanded and reorganized.” (Khaleej Times/Reuters)

Zimbabwe’s food crisis deepens as leading bakery forced to shut. Zimbabwe’s main bakery said yesterday that bread shortages would worsen after closing one of its biggest outlets due to a lack of wheat, deepening a food crisis which a UN agency said was “acutely serious”. The closure followed the government’s recent admission that it could not afford to pay for wheat from Mozambique. Amid an economic crisis with runaway inflation and chronic food and fuel shortages, Robert Mugabe’s government had planned to buy 36,000 tonnes of wheat from its neighbour to ease the bread shortage. (Guardian)

Serbia threatens to use force if West recognizes Kosovo. Serbia is ready to use force to prevent Western nations from recognizing Kosovo as an independent state, a senior Serbian official warned Wednesday. Dusan Prorokovic, Serbia’s state secretary for Kosovo, outlined an array of tough measures to squeeze Kosovo – including the possible deployment of Serbian forces to the province, the sealing of its borders and a trade embargo – that he said Serbia was ready to take in the event that Kosovo’s Albanian-dominated government declared independence and was recognized by Western governments. (International Herald Tribune)

El Salvador: Two Cheers for Democracy (None for Politicians). Rafael Nieto, a barman in the Salvadoran capital, says that the institutions in his country do not work, lawyer Nelson Recinos maintains that “the normal thing here is to break the law,” and shopkeeper Ana Menjívar says the political parties “don’t represent the wishes of the people.” [A] study indicates that although an ample majority of Salvadorans interviewed prefer a government arising from “electoral democracy”, 53.4 percent are unhappy with their country’s political system. Six out of 10 Salvadorans interviewed expressed the opinion that political parties are “not at all” or “only slightly” democratic. (IPS)

U.S. Treasury considers new regulation of lending. Amid tightening credit, rising default rates on home loans and concerns that larger investors aren’t sufficiently scrutinized, a top Treasury Department official told Congress on Wednesday that his agency is reviewing rules with an eye toward greater regulation of the financial services sector. (McClatchy)

Global Scramble To Sell India Military Hardware. India is developing a military appetite to match its growing economic power, and defense contractors are scrambling to profit. As the country overhauls its largely Soviet-era military arsenal, it could spend as much as $40 billion over the next five years purchasing everything from artillery to submarines to tanks, analysts estimate. In particular, American defense contractors are now aggressively pursuing bids after decades of Cold War alliances and sanctions kept India off limits. In terms of “potential for growth, India is our top market,” said Richard Kirkland, the Lockheed Martin president for South Asia. India is positioning itself as a policeman of nearby waterways, particularly the Indian Ocean. “If you look at the rim from West Asia to Asia Pacific, that entire area accounts for over 70 percent of the traffic of the petroleum products for the whole world,” Sitanshu Kar, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said. “We have a role to play to ensure that these sea lanes are secure.” Under the administration of President George W. Bush, sanctions have been lifted and military ties have deepened. Joint exercises between the United States and India are at an all-time high. (India Defence)

Maliki’s own “new government” idea. Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with Ayatollah Sistani, and the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar puts this in the context of recent events. The paper says: For the first time since the start of the current Maliki government crisis, the Prime Minister admitted he plans to put together a new government of technocrats… Maliki met yesterday in Najaf with Ayatollah Sistani and he told reporters after the meeting that they discussed the possibility of a government based on technocrats, and not an emergency government, and he showed Sistani the names of persons he was proposing as ministers. (Missing Links)

Angry protests and riots shake central Santiago in Chile. Rioting shook Chile’s capital Santiago on Wednesday of last week during a day of protest called by the CUT, the main trade union federation. The march at the centre of the day of action was about 3,000 strong, with a significant presence of workplace delegations. (Socialist Worker)

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