Home > News > News in Brief: 4 October 2007

News in Brief: 4 October 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations. When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations. But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency. The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures. (New York Times)

Iraqis to Pay China $100 Million for Weapons for Police. Iraq has ordered $100 million worth of light military equipment from China for its police force, contending that the United States was unable to provide the materiel and is too slow to deliver arms shipments, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said yesterday. The China deal, not previously made public, has alarmed military analysts who note that Iraq’s security forces already are unable to account for more than 190,000 weapons supplied by the United States, many of which are believed to be in the hands of Shiite and Sunni militias, insurgents and other forces seeking to destabilize Iraq and target U.S. troops. (Washington Post)

France approves migrant DNA tests. France’s Senate has approved a controversial law allowing voluntary DNA tests for would-be immigrants seeking to join family in France. Supporters of the move – part of a tough immigration bill passed by the lower house – say it will speed up the process for genuine applicants. They argue that 12 other European countries have similar rules. Critics have attacked the law as racist and question the use of genetics as a basis for citizenship. (BBC)

Korean leaders agree on economic projects. A day after engaging in direct talks for the first time in seven years, the leaders of South and North Korea agreed Thursday on economic projects intended to spur reform inside the North and to forge closer ties between the Koreas, and pledged to work toward a formal peace on the divided peninsula. (International Herald Tribune)

World Bank accused of razing Congo forests. The World Bank encouraged foreign companies to destructively log the world’s second largest forest, endangering the lives of thousands of Congolese Pygmies, according to a report on an internal investigation by senior bank staff and outside experts. The report by the independent inspection panel, seen by the Guardian, also accuses the bank of misleading Congo’s government about the value of its forests and of breaking its own rules. Congo’s rainforests are the second largest in the world after the Amazon, locking nearly 8% of the planet’s carbon and having some of its richest biodiversity. Nearly 40 million people depend on the forests for medicines, shelter, timber and food. (Guardian)

Iraqi Kurds sign four oil deals. The Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq has announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies. The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US. Both have been pressing the Kurds to hold off negotiations until national oil and gas laws for opening up Iraq’s energy wealth are in place. Development of Iraq’s oil reserves has been held up by disagreements between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities. (BBC)

Myanmar junta unplugs Internet. It was about as simple and uncomplicated as shooting demonstrators in the streets. Embarrassed by smuggled video and photographs that showed their people rising up against them, the generals who run Myanmar simply switched off the Internet. (International Herald Tribune)

Russia setting up ‘collective peacekeeping’ forces. On October 2 Russia’s Nikolai Bordyuzha, secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, told mass media that the CSTO is creating its own “peacekeeping” forces. The member countries are Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Bordyuzha outlined the political and military concepts underlying CSTO peacekeeping, to be approved at the organization’s October 6 summit in Dushanbe. (Eurasia Daily Monitor)

Northern Somalia fighters claim to capture Town. he breakaway republic of Somaliland says it has captured a disputed town after clashes with fighters from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region. Somaliland’s defense minister said Tuesday that his fighters have captured the town of Los Anod and killed six fighters from Puntland. The defense minster says Somaliland fighters wounded 20 Puntland soldiers and took 24 others prisoner. The Associated Press quotes Puntland’s deputy information minister as saying those claims are a “fabrication.” (Awdal/VOA News)

Bush veto strategy threatens Republicans. President Bush is putting his fellow Republicans on a collision course with the American people, forcing them to choose between guns and butter. In this newest example of a historic clash over priorities, Bush is asking Congress for $190 billion to keep financing the unpopular war in Iraq for another year and vowing to veto as early as Wednesday a bipartisan plan to spend an additional $35 billion over five years on health insurance for children. (McClatchy)

US wants to bring Colombia tactics to Afghan drugs war. The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, is resisting American pressure to authorise a major programme of crop spraying to eradicate the country’s massive opium crop amid warnings that it would lead to a rise in support for the Taliban. The plan has been strongly opposed by the British, who hold that it will make the task of the military in Helmand, the province which produces 50 per cent of the opium crop, much harder. (The Independent)

Lebanon awaits results of Hariri’s talks with Bush. Lebanon’s rival camps are awaiting the outcome of a meeting between the parliamentary majority leader, MP Saad Hariri, and US President George W. Bush in Washington on Thursday as it is expected to affect their efforts to agree on a consensus presidential candidate. Parliament is set to convene on October 23 to select a successor to President Emile Lahoud, who must step down on November 24. (Daily Star)

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