Home > News > News in Brief: 20 October 2007

News in Brief: 20 October 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Attempt on Bhutto Adds to List of Shadowy Attacks. ‘Jaanisar-e-Benazir’ (bodyguards ready to die for Benazir) proclaimed the white t-shirts sported by Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) workers responsible for security around the convoy of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto as she returned to Pakistan on Thursday, after almost nine years of self-exile. At least 50 of the jaanisars perished in the twin suicide bomber blasts unleashed, soon after midnight, on Bhutto’s slow-moving armoured truck. With a death toll of at least 140 dead and over 500 injured, the attack was one of the worst in Pakistan’s political history — one that is peppered with mysterious, unresolved assassinations and bombings. (IPS)

Dow Jones tumbles on credit fears. The Dow Jones, the main US share index, saw shares plummet more than 360 points by the end of the week, amid concerns over the state of the US economy. (BBC)

Syrians Disassembling Ruins at Site Bombed by Israel, Officials Say. Syria has begun dismantling the remains of a site Israel bombed Sept. 6 in what may be an attempt to prevent the location from coming under international scrutiny, said U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the aftermath of the attack. (Washington Post)

Blackwater to be phased out of guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Troubled military contractor Blackwater USA is likely to be eased out of its role of guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq in the aftermath of a shooting last month that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, U.S. officials said Friday. While no decisions have been finalized, Blackwater’s role in Baghdad is likely to be taken over by one of two other contractors who provide security for the State Department in Iraq, the officials said. They are Triple Canopy and DynCorp International. (McClatchy)

Damascus keen on opening ties with Lebanon. Damascus: Syria says it is ready to open diplomatic ties with Leb-anon once the current government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has been replaced by a more friendly administration. (Gulf News)

America’s fraying alliance with Turkey. Turkish-American relations are in crisis. But the House resolution declaring the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide is only one cause — and that’s just a sideshow. Turkish-American relations have been deteriorating for years, and the root explanation is simple and harsh: Washington’s policies are broadly and fundamentally incompatible with Turkish foreign policy interests in multiple arenas. No amount of diplomat-speak can conceal or change that reality. (LA Times)

Turks warned against crossing Iraqi border. The president of Iraqi Kurdistan says any Turkish incursions will be met with force. Massoud Barzani denied that members of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, are being given shelter in the region, the BBC reported. (UPI)

PKK threatens to hit Turkey’s oil pipelines if attacked. Turkey’s tough stance has helped propel global oil prices to historic highs this week. Pipelines from Iraq and from Azerbaijan cross eastern Turkey, which hopes to become a major energy bridge between producer countries and Western markets. (Today’s Zaman)

Turkey to meet at polling stations for referendum. [Sunday] Turkish citizens will once again flock to the polling stations for a referendum to approve or reject a reform package that includes constitutional changes such as the election of the president by a once-renewable five-year mandate and by popular vote. Though the referendum process has recently entailed several difficulties and the leaders of the opposition parties announced to be against the idea of a referendum, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has managed to keep the referendum on track and persuaded the Supreme Election Board (YSK) not to halt the process. (Today’s Zaman)

Australia may review uranium offer to India. Australia has hinted it may consider withdrawing its offer of uranium sales to India if [Indo-US Nuclear] deal with the United States were to fall through. (The Hindu)

Iran nuclear chief unexpectedly resigns. Iran on Saturday announced its top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has unexpectedly resigned at a time of growing tension with the West over the Islamic republic’s controversial nuclear programme. (AFP)

Afghanistan says no proof Iran arming Taliban. Afghanistan said on Friday it had no evidence the government of Iran was behind a shipment of weapons to Taliban insurgents. The commander of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan said on Thursday a shipment of hi-tech roadside bombs intercepted in Afghanistan on Sept. 5 had originated in Iran and it was difficult to conceive Tehran’s military did not know about it. “Iran is our neighbour, is our friend and Iran has had major role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said during a visit to the western city of Herat on the border with Iran. (Today’s Zaman)

Somalia ‘investigates’ WFP head. Somali PM Ali Mohamed Ghedi has said the head of the World Food Programme in the country, who was arrested by troops on Thursday, is under investigation. (BBC)

Sudan: Negotiations to save national unity government fails to reach solution. Talks to resolve a standoff in Sudan’s national coalition government adjourned on Thursday without agreement, prolonging the crisis threatening a fragile peace agreement that ended two decades of war. (Gulf News/Reuters)

2 Leaders Back Blair as European Union President. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain endorsed Tony Blair on Friday to be the first to fill a recreated European Union presidency, even as critics questioned how a leader from a nation deeply skeptical of the European Union could serve in the role. (New York Times)

Guatemala Union Heads Killed Despite US Trade Deal. Masked gunmen dumped a Guatemalan banana picker’s bullet-ridden corpse yards from fields of fruit bound for the United States, a grim reminder of the risks of organizing labor in the Central American country. Marco Tulio Ramirez, killed last month, was the fifth Guatemalan labor leader murdered this year. Activists say the deaths show promises to protect labor rights under a U.S. trade pact have changed little at a time President George W. Bush is pressing for similar deals in other Latin American nations with bad labor records. (Truthout/Reuters)

U.S. Air Force officers relieved of duty over loose nukes. A six-week probe into the mistaken flight of nuclear warheads across the country uncovered a “lackadaisical” attention to detail in day-to-day operations at the air bases involved in the incident, an Air Force official said Friday. Four officers — including three colonels — have been relieved of duty in connection with the August 29 incident in which a B-52 bomber flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The plane unknowingly carried a payload of nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. (CNN)

IMF to give poor nations more votes. The International Monetary Fund has sought to respond to anger in developing countries at the institution’s dominance by rich western nations by promising an increase in voting rights for the world’s poorest nations. Admitting that the IMF had to “address the issue of its own legitimacy”, its outgoing managing director, Rodrigo de Rato, said the package of reforms would go beyond the deal struck in Singapore a year ago. (The Hindu)

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