Home > News > News in Brief: 27 September 2007

News in Brief: 27 September 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Burma: Inside the saffron revolution. The inevitable happened sometime before noon. Close to the Shwedagon pagoda, the golden gleaming monument in central Rangoon that has been the focus of protest for nine days, at least 10 monks were beaten up by police as thousands once again defied the authorities and tried to enter the holy shrine. Next, the police fired tear gas at them, and scores of the men in saffron robes were arrested and dragged away. From then on things only got worse. By last night up to eight monks and civilians had, according to differing reports, been killed as the military regime finally resorted to violence to put down the soaring challenge to its rule. (The Independent)

Iranian President in Nuclear Theatrics. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad completed his three-day political theatrics in New York, drawing large crowds and angry demonstrators, he left the United Nations with a defiant warning: Iran will not be cowed by any new sanctions either by the United States or the European Union.Since 2003, when its history of reporting violations was revealed, Iran appears to have met reporting requirements. In a report last month, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei stated that his agency “is able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.” John Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy said that while the IAEA cannot now confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities — as experience with countries such as Japan shows — it is a challenging determination that takes considerable time and requires enhanced inspections not now accepted by Iran. (IPS)

Washington sees an opportunity on Iran. A year and a half after President George W. Bush told top aides that he feared he might be forced someday to choose between acquiescing to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and ordering military action, the struggle to find an effective alternative — sanctions with real bite — is entering a new phase. (International Herald Tribune)

Greenspan sees threat of ’70s-style inflation. An important point in Alan Greenspan’s much-hyped memoir has gone largely unnoticed: He acknowledges that global economic forces, more than Federal Reserve policy, kept inflation low and manageable for two decades. By global forces he means free trade, the rise of emerging, cheap-labor economies led by China and India and the benefits from information technology and the Internet. He warns that these forces — “globalization,” in shorthand — are weakening as they mature. He fears that could mean a gradual return to persistent 1970s-style inflation over the next 20 years or so. (McClatchy)

Pentagon Seeks $190B More For Iraq, Afghanistan. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sept. 26 asked Congress to approve nearly $190 billion more in spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In asking for the money, Gates said he was aware of the controversy surrounding the unpopular war. Since September 2001, Congress has appropriated $602 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (Defense News/Reuters)

Blackwater logs most shootings of firms in Iraq. The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials. Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said. (International Herald Tribune)

Iraq Insurgents Post First Video Clip In English. An Iraqi insurgent group announced Sept. 26 it had produced the first video clip in English that shows attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, and said it was intended to show Americans their troops are losing the war. The Islamic Front for Iraqi Resistance said it recently posted the 18-minute clip on the Internet (http://www.sms-2-us.com). The hard-hitting video shows roadside bomb attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq interspersed with numerous messages written in English and accompanied by Hollywood-style orchestral music. (Defense News/Reuters)

Sistani speaks of ‘pain’ in first talks with Iraqi VP. The spiritual head of Iraqi Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, expressed “pain” on Thursday at the violence in Iraq during a first meeting with the Sunni vice president, the latter said. The meeting between Sistani and Hashemi comes amid reconciliation efforts by religious and political leaders in the face of rampant sectarian violence that has killed thousands of people in nearly two years. The vice president heads the Iraqi Islamic Party, and is one of the most respected Sunnis in Iraq, while Sistani is the most influential Shiite cleric in the country’s majority Shiite population. (IC Publications)

Indian Army Expedition To Siachen Glacier Begins. A trekking expedition to the Siachen Glacier has begun, despite objections from the Pakistan Government. “The first of its kind expedition left for the Siachen Glacier on Tuesday,” army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Anil Mathur said. He said the 43-member team included civilians, men from the army, journalists and students from several military training schools. Mathur said it would take some 20 days for the trekkers to make the trip to the 6,300-metre (20,800-feet) high Siachen Glacier, a battlefield occupied by Indian and Pakistani troops since 1984. Pakistan and India launched a peace process in 2004 and the guns on the glacier have largely fallen silent, but Siachen remains a bone of contention in negotiations. Britain’s Royal Marines last week kicked off 25 days of joint high-altitude exercises with the Indian army in Ladakh. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each hold part of Kashmir but claim all of it. Kashmir has sparked two of their three wars since independence 60 years ago. (India Defence)

Defence Minister Anthony Favours Official Histories Of India’s Wars. Official histories could soon be written about the three wars the Indian armed forces have fought since Independence, with Defence Minister A.K. Antony Wednesday favouring the penning of these accounts. (India Defence)

165 Taliban killed in two battles in south, coalition forces say. Air and artillery strikes left more than 165 Taliban fighters dead in two battles in southern Afghanistan, the US-led coalition said yesterday. More than 100 insurgents were killed near Musa Qala, a town in Helmand province that British troops abandoned as part of a controversial peace deal last spring. (Guardian)

Lord Tapped To Lead USAF’s New Cyber Command. U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne announced that Maj. Gen. William Lord has been selected to lead the service’s fledgling Cyber Command. The Air Force announced plans in November to stand up the cyber organization. The new outfit is expected to become fully operational in October 2009. (Defense News)

USAF Officials: Chinese Satellite Strike Shows Need For Missile Shield. China’s decision to destroy an aging satellite with a missile launched from Earth was “irresponsible,” and — along with a July 4 North Korea missile test — proves the United States should move forward with controversial plans to build a missile shield, say U.S. Air Force officials. (Defense News)

Côte d’Ivoire: Leader Urges UN Assembly to Partially End Arms Embargo. The President of Côte d’Ivoire today called for a partial lifting of the arms embargo against his country, which in 2002 split between a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south, telling the General Assembly that the territory is now reunited. (allAfrica)

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