Home > News > News in Brief: 12 September 2007

News in Brief: 12 September 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Japan Prime Minister to Resign. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose year-old government has suffered a string of damaging scandals and a humiliating electoral defeat, has told ruling party leaders he intends to resign, an official said Wednesday. Abe, whose support rating has fallen to 30 percent, said he was stepping down because he lacked the power to rally people together. Word of Abe’s resignation comes after his scandal-scarred government lost control of the upper house of parliament to the resurgent opposition in July 29 elections. (AP)

Putin Hopes for Deal on U.S. Missile Plan. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sept. 10 he still hoped to reach a compromise with the U.S. over its plans to set up a missile shield in Eastern Europe. Moscow is unnerved by Washington’s plan to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, seeing it as a threat to Russia’s security. (Defense News/Reuters)

Russia unveils the ‘father of all bombs’. Russia’s military yesterday announced that it had successfully tested a lethal new air-delivered bomb, which it described as the world’s most powerful non-nuclear weapon. In what appears to be the Kremlin’s latest display of military might, officials said Moscow had developed a new thermobaric bomb to add to its already potent nuclear arsenal. (Guardian)

The air strike in Syria is a secret that cannot be kept. Both the Syrian and the Israeli leadership have been extraordinarily silent about this. According to European diplomats, the Syrians have made it clear that Israeli silence over the incident is “worthy.” It is still difficult to assess what the ultimate response of the Syrians will be, at least on the basis of the statements being made these past six days. On the one hand, the Syrians warn of the consequences and are angry that no one seems interested in condemning Israel’s illegal raid. On the other hand, they are not talking about the “strategic” target that was bombed in their territory – according to Lebanese press. If they admit it, this would be a troubling sign that they are weighing a serious response. (Haaretz)

Smuggling Thrives in Basra. Police and government officials are accused of taking a cut of the lucrative oil smuggling business run by clans and overseen by militia groups in the southern city of Basra. The lawless environment has allowed large quantities of oil to be smuggled into neighbouring Gulf countries. According to American oil expert Jerry Kiser, Iranians benefit from 300,000 barrels a day smuggled across the border from southern Iraq. (IWPR)

Tribes Sabotage Kirkuk Pipelines. Masked men infiltrate the village of al-Milih, 75 kilometres west of Kirkuk, and approach an oil pipeline that passes nearby. Under cover of darkness, they steal oil from an opening they drilled into the pipeline weeks earlier. Over a period of weeks, this scene is repeated nightly.Despite the presence of special oil ministry units, pipelines around Kirkuk are destroyed and hundreds of tonnes of oil stolen every day by tribe members from surrounding villages. (IWPR)

Iran: U.S.’s ‘Weak Points’ Spotted in War Zones. The new head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned Washington on Sept. 11 that Tehran has identified “U.S. weak points” in Iraq and Afghanistan and would give a decisive response to any attack, state broadcasting reported. (Defense News/AFP)

The ‘proxy war’: UK troops are sent to Iranian border. British forces have been sent from Basra to the volatile border with Iran amid warnings from the senior US commander in Iraq that Tehran is fomenting a “proxy war”.In signs of a fast-developing confrontation, the Iranians have threatened military action in response to attacks launched from Iraqi territory while the Pentagon has announced the building of a US base and fortified checkpoints at the frontier. (The Independent)

Guantanamo Detainees Tell of Abuses. Detainees flinging body waste at guards. Guards interrupting detainees at prayer. Interrogators withholding medicine. Hostility and tension between inmates and their keepers at the Guantanamo Bay prison are evident in transcripts obtained by The Associated Press. These rare detainee accounts of life inside the razor wire at the remote U.S. military base in Cuba emerged during Administrative Review Board hearings aimed at deciding whether prisoners suspected of links with the Taliban or al-Qaida should continue to be held or be sent away from Guantanamo. (AP)

Afghanistan’s Karzai urges Taliban to negotiate. Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged his Islamist Taliban foes to negotiate peace on Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The Taliban have said they will only talk to the government once there are no more foreign troops in Afghanistan — a non-starter given the 50,000 foreign troops Karzai wants to stay put for now. (Reuters)

India: Karat energy solution: collaborate with China. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, in his book to be released next week, couldn’t be more clear: the “first step” in stopping the Government on the “pro-imperialist path,” he says, is the “rejection of the nuclear deal.” Karat’s remarks are now in his book where the title gives the story away: “Subordinate Ally, the Nuclear Deal and Indo-US Strategic Relations.” On the energy argument of the deal, Karat, in the very first chapter, calls for an “Asian energy security grid” in which India needs to “collaborate” with China and Russia. (Indian Express)

Sierra Leone: Voters Await Results After Tense Election. Sierra Leoneans are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the second round of a presidential election which could see the ruling party deposed from office. (allAfrica)

UN nuclear chief walks out on EU speech on Iran: diplomats. UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei walked out on an afternoon session Tuesday of his IAEA to protest an EU speech which did not fully support his deal for new inspections in Iran, diplomats told AFP. But a senior European diplomat said the EU supported ElBaradei and had only reiterated the IAEA chief’s view that the timetable needs “Iran’s full and active cooperation.” The speech focused on Iran’s lack of cooperation, including its refusal to provide early design information on new nuclear facilities and called repeatedly on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. (IC Publications)

Philippines’ Estrada gets life. Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday after an anti-graft court found him guilty of plunder and barred him from holding public office again. (Reuters)

Liberia: Juvenile Justice System in Tatters. Four years after the end of Liberia’s brutal 14-year war, the juvenile justice system is barely functional. Its problems mirror the breakdown of the judicial system as a whole, which the UN says is one of the major threats to the stability of the country. (allAfrica)

Patients pay painful price in SAfrica’s ailing rural health system. In Mpumalanga, a northeastern province which covers an area of around 80,000 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) and is home to some 3.5 million people, there are a mere 550 doctors — a ratio of around 6,000 patients per doctor. Given only 44 of them are specialists, medics often have no choice but to refer patients hundreds of kilometres away to Gauteng province which contains the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. (IC Publications)

Lebanon holds its breath as time runs short. Lebanon is back in waiting mode as its braces itself for the ruling majority’s official reply to Speaker Nabih Berri’s initiative, which the speaker warned is the last initiative for internal reconciliation before the crucial date of presidential elections just two weeks away. Rumors of meetings behind closed doors and cancelled trips or returns have been plaguing the country with many expecting a showdown between the opposing camps through a live televised broadcast of the speaker’s response to whatever the ruling majority decides within the next 48 hours. (Daily Star)

Financial turmoil isn’t over, treasury secretary warns. Although a semblance of calm has returned to financial markets, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned Tuesday that the turmoil is far from over and there are no quick fixes as the financial sector corrects from a period of excesses. Credit-market turbulence and the housing slowdown are hurting U.S. economic growth, the treasury secretary acknowledged. But he said he didn’t believe that recession lurks around the corner. (McClatchy)

Soeharto win labelled outrageous. On Monday an Indonesian court announced that a government lawsuit to recover some of the funds siphoned off during his three-decade-long rule would proceed. Hours earlier Indonesia’s Supreme Court had ruled against Time magazine over a 1999 story detailing how “Soeharto Inc” had stashed $18 billion, and awarded him a $128 million defamation settlement. (The Age)

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