Home > News > News in Brief: 9 October 2007

News in Brief: 9 October 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Senator Urges U.S. To Pursue Agreements During Moscow Talks. Bush administration officials should push for new pacts with Russia during a round of high-level talks this week in Moscow on a number of fronts, including shrinking the availability of nuclear weapons and collaborating on European missile defense sites, a top Republican senator said. (Defense News)

Burma minister to meet Suu Kyi. Myanmar’s junta appointed an official liaison yesterday for contact with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, amid intense international pressure for talks with the country’s pro-democracy movement. (The Independent/AP)

In Baghdad, elusive electricity is rare delight. Before the war, Baghdadis got 16 to 24 hours of power a day, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington research center. Brookings said that in September they got 7.6. In Baghdad, whether you’re awake or asleep, electricity seeps into nearly every moment of life, because of its absence, its sudden appearance or the noise and smoke as thousands of private generators create it. City blocks often have two or three small operators running generators that power dozens of homes and shops for a few hours a day. Tangles of hundreds of multi-colored wires from the generators to customers are lashed haphazardly to every available pole and sometimes even trees: an electrician’s nightmare. (McClatchy)

Iraq Says Security Firm Kills 2 Women. Private security guards escorting a convoy of four vehicles through central Baghdad killed two women on Tuesday, the Iraqi government and police said. There was no indication who was responsible or what had triggered the incident, but it came the same day the government demanded U.S. security firm Blackwater pay families of 17 people killed in a shooting last month $8 million each in compensation. (New York Times/Reuters)

India Looks to Join Red Flag Aerial War Games. India wants to join multinational war games in the U.S., billed as the world’s toughest aerial drill, officials said Oct. 6. The event, code-named “Red Flag,” will be staged next January with participants drawn from NATO members and other U.S. military allies. (Defense News)

Left parties likely to pull the plug on India govt. With the government stating clearly that India would not compromise its position over the much contentious civilian nuclear deal, the Congress party firmly indicated yesterday that next general elections could be held as early as February-March, 2008. The odds favouring early polls has piqued the Communists, as they are now most likely to announce their decision to withdraw support to the multiparty United Progressive Alliance coalition. (Khaleej Times)

Turkey prepares for raids into Iraq. Turkey is preparing for a possible incursion into northern Iraq as the government says it is willing to take all necessary measures against Kurdish separatists it suspects of hiding there. The decision by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, follows a series of deadly attacks by the rebel PKK group on Turkish security forces. (Al Jazeera)

Iran reopens border with Kurdistan as standoff with U.S. continues. Iran opened its border with the Kurdistan region of Iraq again Monday after closing it for two weeks in retaliation for the U.S. military’s arrest of an Iranian man in a Kurdistan hotel. U.S. military leaders are adamant that the man, previously identified as Mahmoud Farhadi, is a senior leader of the elite Iranian Quds Force who coordinated the flow of arms and money to anti-U.S. insurgents in Iraq. They said there was no question that he’s a senior Iranian agent and no question of releasing him. He was arrested Sept. 20. Kurdish and Iranian leaders had maintained that he was a businessman who had traveled to Iraq with an invited trade delegation. Kurdish officials have said that the loss of trade had idled 30,000 workers whose jobs depend on cross-border commerce, costing the region’s economy $1 million a day. (McClatchy)

Iranian students clash with police during protest against Ahmadinejad. About 100 students staged a rare protest yesterday against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling him a “dictator” as he gave a speech marking the beginning of the academic year at Tehran University. The protest prompted scuffles between the demonstrators and hardline university students loyal to Ahmadinejad, who ignored chants of “Death to dictator” and continued his speech on the merits of science and pitfalls of Western-style democracy, witnesses said. (The Independent)

‘Dozens dead’ in Sudan Darfur raid. At least 40 civilians were killed in a Sudanese air and ground assault on the Darfur town of Muhajiriya, according to the rebel group that controls the area. (Al Jazeera)

250 killed as Pakistani troops battle border militants. Tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians are fleeing a town on the border with Afghanistan following three days of fighting which has killed up to 250 people, locals and military officials said today. (Guardian)

Swiss Fury at Foreigners Boiling Over. Gruesome assault on Angolan janitor dramatizes the surge in racism and xenophobia as country confronts a difficult social transformation in midst of parliamentary campaign.Today, more than one in five people living in Switzerland are foreign-born, the second-highest percentage among countries in Europe. One of the world’s oldest democracies is at the center of Western Europe’s most divisive political debate: to embrace an increasingly globalized, multicultural society or to retreat into social isolation in an effort to preserve eroding traditional identities. (Washington Post)

2 Tajiks, One Chinese Man Hospitalized After Attacks. A group of unidentified assailants knifed two Tajik men in the stomach in an underpass in southern Moscow, a law enforcement source told Interfax on Monday. Police were attempting to determine whether the attackers were members of an ultranationalist youth group, the source said. (Moscow Times)

India, U.S. to Sign C-130J Deal Soon: Indian AF Chief. India soon will finalize its plans to purchase six Hercules C-130J cargo aircraft from the U.S. “Contracts will soon be signed for six Hercules C-130Js,” Air Chief Marshal Fali Major, commander of the Indian air force, said in his Air Force Day address at Hindon Airport near here. The Lockheed Martin-built C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop cargo aircraft that can move troops quickly across long distances. Lockheed Martin is also in the race to sell India 126 multirole combat jets. (Defense News)

Israel Signals Shift on Jerusalem Split. Two senior Israeli politicians, including the prime minister’s closest ally, talked openly Monday about dividing Jerusalem, signaling a possible shift in Israeli opinion about one of the Mideast’s most contentious issues. The ideas raised by Vice Premier Haim Ramon still fall far short of Palestinian demands to establish their capital in all of the city’s eastern sector, annexed by Israel after the 1967 Mideast War. (Washington Post)

Israel seeks talks with Hamas, while Hamas prepares new round of resistance. Head of Hamas’ politburo and leader-in-exile Khaled Mash’al said on Tuesday, during a meeting in Mecca, that Israel seeks negotiations with Hamas, but Hamas has refused and is in preparation for a new round of resistance. (Ma’an)

Costa Rica ‘supports’ US trade deal. Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president, has declared victory in a vote to decide on whether the country should agree to a free trade deal with the United States. Partial results showed that with 73 per cent of votes counted, just over 50 per cent of voters said ‘yes’ to the agreement, while 47.5 said ‘no’, the supreme electoral tribunal said. Turnout was around 60 per cent, with tens of thousands of Costa Ricans voting. (Al Jazeera)

Peru: New Census to Make Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Count. The Peruvian state will repay a longstanding debt to indigenous people in the country’s Amazon region by including them in a national census in a way that pays attention to their particular social, economic and cultural characteristics. But experts say this is only a first step. Since Peru’s independence in 1821, 10 national censuses have been carried out, but only once, in 1993, was specific information gathered about ethnic and multicultural aspects of the population, even though international guidelines require it. (IPS)

Canada: Native Way of Life Vanishing into the Clear-Cut. As the Ontario election draws to a close on Wednesday, a long-running land rights battle continues in the east-central Canadian province between First Nations groups and mining and logging interests that have been granted concessions to exploit the resources in a vast boreal forest known as Grassy Narrows. (IPS)

U.S. Democrats seem ready to extend wiretap powers. Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency. (International Herald Tribune)

Ethiopian president calls for military buildup to counter Eritrea. Ethiopia’s president called on lawmakers Monday to boost the country’s military in the face of what he called a growing threat from neighbor and longtime rival Eritrea. Last month, Ethiopia said it was considering terminating a peace agreement with its rival Eritrea, accusing its neighbor of breaching the terms of the deal that ended a bitter and bloody border war almost seven years ago. (Hiiraan/AP)

Benazir may acquire foreign security cover. PPP chief Benazir Bhutto is likely to acquire a foreign security detail as President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has done, since threats to her life have assumed worrisome proportions with her return to Pakistan just 9 days away. (Daily Times)

Lebanon’s ruling majority protests Nasrallah speech. As the ruling majority continues to lash out at the latest speech by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah hinting at electing a president based on popular vote, there are contradictory reports on when the actual president gets elected. (Daily Star)

European finance ministers put monetary pressure on China. Failing to find unity over the euro’s strength against the dollar, European finance ministers sought instead to put pressure on China, urging it to allow the yuan to appreciate against other global currencies. (International Herald Tribune)

From cocaine to plutonium: mafia clan accused of trafficking nuclear waste. Authorities in Italy are investigating a mafia clan accused of trafficking nuclear waste and trying to make plutonium. (Guardian)

Saudi king issues rules for succession council. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah issued rules on Monday guiding the conduct of a body set up last year to regulate political succession in the world’s biggest oil exporter. The Saudi throne has passed from one brother to the next since the death of Abdul Aziz Ben Saud, the founder of the state. With many of his 44 sons now dead or aging, power could soon move onto the next generation, his grandsons. (Jordan Times/Reuters)

US stages its first national security and air maneuvers simulating responses to terrorist and radiological “dirty bomb” attacks. TOPOFF 4 taking place between 15 and 20 October will set off fake radiological dispersal devices (RDD) or “dirty bombs” in Oregon and Arizona as well as Guam. Vigilant Shield conducted by the Northern American Aerospace Defense Command will exercise its ability to mobilize resources for aerospace defense and control, maritime warning and coordination of air operations in a disaster area over North America. (DEBKAfile)

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