Home > News > News in Brief: 24 September 2007

News in Brief: 24 September 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Myanmar anti-junta protests biggest in 20 yrs. Tens of thousands of people joined streams of Buddhist monks on marches through Myanmar’s capital on Monday in the biggest demonstration against the ruling generals since they crushed student-led protests nearly 20 years ago. Protests were also held in Mandalay, where 10,000 monks and people took to the streets, and in Bago, just north of Yangon. (Reuters)

Blackwater incident referred to Iraqi magistrate. Iraq’s Interior Ministry has completed its investigation of last weekend’s shooting incident involving Blackwater USA security guards and has referred the case to a magistrate to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, a spokesman said Friday. It’s unclear what would happen if the magistrate decided to press charges in an Iraqi criminal court. Khalaf said the Interior Ministry would push to have the Blackwater guards face charges in Iraq, but current law exempts foreign security companies and their employees from Iraqi jurisdiction. (McClatchy)

Feds probe Blackwater weapons shipments. The U.S. government is investigating whether private military contractor Blackwater USA, blamed for the deaths of 11 Iraqis in Baghdad on Sunday, has been shipping automatic weapons and military goods to Iraq without a license. Two former Blackwater employees have pleaded guilty in Greenville, N.C., to weapons charges and are cooperating with federal officials who are investigating Blackwater, which is based in the tiny town of Moyock in the northeastern corner of North Carolina. (McClatchy)

Graft in U.S. Army Contracts Spread From Kuwait Base. Pentagon inquiries into some $6 billion in contracts for possible corruption have resulted in the suicides of at least two officers among scores of suspects. (New York Times)

Yasuo Fukuda, a moderate, is chosen to lead Japan. Yasuo Fukuda, a mild-mannered political moderate known for his ability to build consensus behind the scenes, was chosen Sunday by Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party to become the country’s next prime minister. Facing one of its deepest crises in its half-century grip on power, the Liberal Democrats settled on Fukuda, 71. Fukuda, sometimes described as a foreign policy “dove,” has long emphasized the importance of building strong ties with China and the rest of Asia and represents a break from the nationalist Abe and his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. (International Herald Tribune)

Pakistan crackdown intensifies. Lawyers say that they will field a former judge as a candidate against Pervez Musharraf in presidential elections due on October 6 amid continuing political unrest. Wajih-udin Ahmad, a former supreme court judge, is the only person so far standing against Musharraf as the general seeks a second five-year term in office. The development comes amid the dismissal by the supreme court of two legal challenges to Musharraf’s re-election bid and the arrest by riot police of dozens of agitating opposition activists on Monday. (Al Jazeera)

Uncertainty hangs over Lebanon vote. Members of Lebanon’s anti-Syrian parliamentary majority demanded increased security in the run-up to their meetings on Monday, a day before the scheduled parliamentary session to elect a new president. Earlier on Sunday, Mohammed Fneish, a Hezbollah official, said that the group’s members would not attend if no agreement was reached beforehand on a candidate. (Al Jazeera)

India: Nuke Deal May Trigger Mid-Term Polls. As India’s coalition government tries to complete the controversial nuclear cooperation deal with the United States, it finds itself caught between domestic opposition to the agreement from its Left-wing allies and pressure from Washington to seal the deal. At stake is the survival of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which needs the support of the Left for a parliamentary majority. After a second round of talks between the UPA and the Left in a 15-member committee two days ago, the two sides seem no closer to reconciling their differences on the deal. (IPS)

Canada: Losing Water Through NAFTA. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada lost control over its energy resources. Now, with “NAFTA-plus”, it could also lose control over its freshwater resources, say experts. Canada’s water is on the trade negotiating table despite widespread public opposition and assurances by Canadian political leaders, said Adèle Hurley, director of the University of Toronto’s Programme on Water Issues at the Munk Centre for International Studies. A new report released Sep. 11 by the programme reveals that water transfers from Canada to the United States are emerging as an issue under the auspices of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). The SPP — sometimes called “NAFTA-plus” — is a forum set up in 2005 in Cancún, by the three partners, Canada, United States and Mexico. (IPS)

Kosovo bomb blast kills two. Two people were killed, and 10 were injured, after a bomb ripped through a shopping mall in the Kosovan capital, Pristina, today. The blast comes amid growing concerns over the future of the province, which remains officially part of Serbia following the 1999 Nato bombing campaign that forced the withdrawal of Serbian troops. Frustration is rising in Kosovo as the dream of independence – supported by the ethnic Albanians who make up 90% of the population – appears to slip away. The Kosovan prime minister, Agim Ceku, has lost all political credibility at home after putting his trust in the west – particularly the US – to deliver the prize of independence. (Guardian)

Tesco to investigate riots at Bangladeshi factories. Tesco has said it will investigate the circumstances of a series of violent demonstrations at factories in Bangladesh where workers have been protesting for higher wages and better working conditions. Britain’s largest retailer confirmed that the affected factories were owned by one of its suppliers, although the locations where the demonstrations took place were not involved in providing products to Tesco. It said, however, that it would look into what led to the demonstrations at the factories owned by the Nassa Group of garment manufacturers. Bangladeshi troops were called in after several thousand garment workers held fierce demonstrations on Saturday, protesting against the sudden closure of a factory in the Tejgaon industrial district of the capital, Dhaka. (The Independent)

Rebels raid Philippine police station, seize guns. Communist guerrillas wearing army uniforms stormed a police station in the southern Philippines, wounding two officers and carting off 18 weapons, officials said on Monday. Jaime Milla, a regional police chief on the island of Mindanao, said about 100 rebels, some of them in military uniforms, raided the station in Cantilan town on Sunday while four police officers were having lunch. (Khaleej Times/Reuters)

Mexico crime continues to surge. Federal crimes such as gangland-style murders and kidnappings reached record levels in Mexico during the first half of the year, a new report from Mexico’s Congress found, making Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries. (McClatchy)

Protesters greet Ahmadinejad on arrival in New York for UN talks. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, facing protests and tabloid headlines calling him “evil” and a “madman,” stirred debate Monday about free speech ahead of his appearance at Columbia University. (Globe and Mail)

Cheney mulled luring Iran into war with Israel: report. US Vice President Richard Cheney has considered provoking an exchange of military strikes between Iran and Israel in order to give the United States a pretext to attack Iran, Newsweek magazine reported in its Monday issue. But the weekly said the steady departure of neo-conservatives from the administration over the past two years had helped tilt the balance away from war. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

Mid-East summit to include Syria. Arab states including Syria – a bitter opponent of Israel – will be asked to a Middle East peace meeting in November, the US secretary of state has said. (BBC)

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