Home > News > News in Brief: 11 September 2007

News in Brief: 11 September 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Objectives Largely Being Met, Petraeus Testifies. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus told Congress yesterday that the deployment of 30,000 more troops to Iraq has made enough progress that the additional combat forces can be pulled out by next summer, but he cautioned against “rushing to failure” with a larger and speedier withdrawal. In what some called the most anticipated congressional testimony by a general since the Vietnam War, Petraeus presented an upbeat picture of improving security conditions in Iraq and offered a grim forecast of the “devastating consequences” of a more rapid pullout. Petraeus said his forces “have dealt significant blows” to al-Qaeda in Iraq but warned that Iran is now fighting a “proxy war” against Iraqi and U.S. forces there. (Washington Post)

Bin Laden releases video on 9/11 anniversary. A new video featuring an introduction by Osama bin Laden was released today, exactly six years after the September 11 attacks in the US. During the 14-minute foreword to the film, the al-Qaida leader praised Waled al-Shehri, one of the hijackers on American Airlines flight 11 that hit the World Trade Centre in New York. (Guardian)

66 IDF troops wounded in Qassam strike on base. At least 66 Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded in the early hours of Tuesday morning when a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck an IDF basic training base near Kibbutz Zikkim, about 1 kilometer inside Israeli territory. While the rocket hit an empty tent used only in the daytime for administrative purposes, many soldiers were hit by shrapnel while sleeping in adjacent tents. (Haaretz)

Syria: IAF planes fired 4 missiles at Syrian targets on the ground. The Israeli warplanes that violated Syria’s airspace last week dropped live ammunition on Syrian soil, Damascus’ foreign minister said Monday, adding that Israel’s decision not to comment was “appropriate.” His Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, demanded a quick explanation from Israel over fuel tanks found near the Syrian border in the incident last Thursday, which he said involved violation of Turkish airspace by Israeli jets. Israel is still not commenting on the incident. “All countries in the region must show respect to all countries’ sovereignty and avoid acts that lead to tensions,” Babacan said. “Otherwise, tensions would be fueled, and peace and stability in the region might be harmed.” European diplomats who met with Moallem on Sunday in Damascus quoted him as saying that Israel’s decision not to comment on the incident was appropriate, given the circumstances. (Haaretz)

US mounts charm offensive for new Africa Command. The launch of a new U.S. military command for Africa is aimed at helping the continent to boost its own security and not at projecting American power or countering Chinese influence, a U.S. official said on Monday. Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, rejected what he called a series of “myths” surrounding October’s launch, also including the idea that it was linked to growing U.S. appetite for West African oil exports. (Hiiraan/Reuters)

Indian Parliament adjourned early. Parliament was adjourned sine die on a sombre note on Monday, four days ahead of the scheduled end of the monsoon session. “The highest public forum in this country has almost come to a standstill … which has raised questions about … parliamentary democracy and its future,” said Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee in his closing statement amid sharp exchanges between the Left and Bharatiya Janata Party members. The Speaker said an adjournment motion was taken up on the failure of the government to contain terrorist activities; 10 bills were passed, regrettably four without discussion; and several calling attention motions could not be discussed because of disruptions. (The Hindu)

India: Left considering early elections due to India-U.S. nuclear deal. Maintaining that the nuclear deal with the US would affect the sovereignty of the country, senior CPI(M) leaders said the party was not afraid of facing midterm elections to Lok Sabha in the event of operationalisation of the pact. Saying that the UPA Government was deviating from its independent policy and also NAM stance, Shankaraiah said CPI-M was ready to face elections to the Lok Sabha even if the party had to draw a blank against the present 44 seats. (The Indian Express)

Fatah al-Islam leader ‘not dead’. The leader of the Fatah al-Islam group was not among fighters killed by Lebanese troops at a refugee camp this month and may have escaped, Lebanon’s public prosecutor has said. Shaker al-Abssi was believed to have been killed fleeing Nahr al-Bared when troops seized control of the camp on September 2 after a 15-week battle. The fighting near Tripoli in north Lebanon killed more than 400 people and left the Palestinian refugee camp in ruins. Nahr al-Bared was home to about 40,000 before fighting erupted on May 20. (Al Jazeera)

Mugabe critic quits as archbishop. A prominent critic of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has resigned as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, after an adultery scandal. Zimbabwe’s state media in July published photographs of what it said was Pius Ncube in bed with a married woman who worked for his parish. His lawyers called the allegations an orchestrated attempt to discredit him. (BBC)

An Opportunity for Wall St. in China’s Surveillance Boom. Wall Street analysts now follow the growth of companies that install surveillance systems providing Chinese police stations with 24-hour video feeds from nearby Internet cafes. Hedge fund money from the United States has paid for the development of not just better video cameras, but face-recognition software and even newer behavior-recognition software designed to spot the beginnings of a street protest and notify police. Now, the ties between China’s surveillance sector and American capital markets are starting to draw Washington’s attention. (New York Times)

Mexican pipeline bombings heighten energy fears. Bombers attacked at least six oil and natural gas pipelines in Mexico’s southeastern state of Veracruz overnight on Monday, sparking concern that the energy sector of the second largest supplier of oil to the United States may be increasingly vulnerable to attacks from a fledgling Marxist rebel movement. The bombings, the second such series in as many months, happened at opposite ends of the oil-rich state, suggesting that the assailants had the capability to strike multiple targets at will. (McClatchy)

Opec close to agreement on output increase. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was on Tuesday close to agreeing a small increase in its production, as oil prices continued to trade near all-time highs. In New York, Nymex October West Texas Intermediate rose 41 cents to $77.90 a barrel, having earlier hit an intraday high of $78.32 – just shy of the all-time peak of $78.77 reached in August – on technical buying and reports of attacks on pipelines in Mexico. In London, Brent was 32 cents higher at $75.80. (FT)

Chinese inflation hits 6.5%, highest rate in nearly 11 years. Soaring food prices propelled Chinese inflation rate to the fastest pace in nearly 11 years, cementing expectations that the central bank will defy a global trend and keep raising interest rates. Consumer prices rose 6.5 percent in August from a year earlier after gaining 5.6 percent in July, the Chinese statistics bureau said Tuesday. The central bank and economists fear that surging prices for food, particularly pork, will start rippling through the economy as people expect further price increases and demand higher wages. (International Herald Tribune)

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