Home > News > News in Brief: 12 December 2007

News in Brief: 12 December 2007

A brief list of new for the day:

Top Lebanese army general, four others killed in blast near Beirut. An early morning car bomb attack killed one of Lebanon’s top military generals and at least four others Wednesday as they drove through a Christian suburb of Beirut, putting even more pressure on the country’s delicate political situation, the military and state media said. (Haaretz)

Palestinians on strike in north Lebanon camp. Palestinians went on strike in north Lebanon on Tuesday in protest at the slow pace of efforts to restore living conditions in a bombed-out refugee camp, Palestinian officials said. Shops and schools in Beddawi camp, outside the port city of Tripoli, shut down in solidarity with refugees of nearby Nahr al-Bared where a deadly 15-week battle between Lebanese troops and Islamist terrorists ended on Sept. 2. (Ya Libnan)

Top military lawyer non-committal on waterboarding as torture. The chief legal officer responsible for military commissions at the Guantanamo Bay US prison, Brigadier-General Thomas Hartmann, has refused to say whether water-boarding is torture and whether evidence obtained using the controversial interrogation method would be used in future trials of detainees. During an often tense appearance before a US Senate Judiciary committee on Tuesday, General Hartmann insisted the military commissions process was working despite 470 of 775 Guantanamo Bay detainees having now been released without charge. (The Age)

Barzani rules out Kurdish state in key public appearance. Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani yesterday appeared before cameras for the first time after he came back from a mysterious trip abroad and assured that Iraqi Kurds did not seek independence by pressing for a contentious referendum on status of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Turkey as well as other neighbors of Iraq oppose a referendum which was originally slated to take place before the end of 2007. Barzani said the Iraqi Kurdish administration, which currently includes three provinces in northern Iraq, would respect any result from the referendum and insisted that the vote would be held eventually. (Today’s Zaman)

China: U.S. Mortgage Crisis a Global Problem. On the first day of high-level economic talks, Chinese officials turned the tables on their American counterparts, saying the subprime mortgage crisis that has shaken the U.S. economy and the weakening dollar are as much a problem for the global economy as Chinese exchange rates. (Washington Post)

Attack Puts N. Korean Laborers in Hospital. A group of young men wielding pipes and sticks attacked a group of North Korean laborers in the Moscow region, leaving four of the migrant workers hospitalized, authorities said Tuesday. There were around 20 attackers, and 17 of the 39 North Koreans in the camp at the time were treated for injuries. The number of North Korean migrant workers in Russia has risen steadily in recent years, with more than 21,700 legally working in 2006, RIA-Novosti reported earlier this year. But the use of North Korean labor in Russia has a history of disturbing parallels with slavery. State and regional officials told The Moscow Times in 2001 that some 10,000 North Koreans were working in Russia under the supervision of their country’s security forces and without legal protection. An Economic Development and Trade Ministry official interviewed at the time said Pyongyang was continuing a Soviet-era practice of servicing its debt to Russia by sending indentured servants to work for free in lumber camps across Siberia. The official, who asked not to be identified, said North Korea serviced some $50 million of its $3.8 billion debt this way in 2000. (Moscow Times)

Russia demands British Council closes offices. In a dramatic escalation to the diplomatic dispute triggered by last year’s murder of the ex-KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko, Russia’s foreign ministry demanded the closure of the British Council’s outlets in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg by the beginning of January. Britain immediately vowed to defy the order, setting the stage for a potential police showdown at the two offices in the new year — a course that the British embassy in Moscow warned could have serious consequences. (Telegraph)

Russia cherishes ties with India: Putin. Russia cherishes its strategic partnership with India as both have convergent global interests and share common responsibility for maintaining international security and stability, President Vladimir Putin said here on Tuesday. (The Hindu)

Over 50 Taliban Killed in 2 – Day Battle. Afghan soldiers backed by NATO air power killed more than 50 Taliban fighters during a two-day battle with militants who tried to attack a southern Afghan town near the one they were routed from this week, Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday. (New York Times)

Five die in fresh outbreak of violence in Mogadishu. An explosion followed by a 30-minute gun battle killed at least five people in the war-ravaged Somali capital Tuesday. Such violence has forced thousands to flee, and aid workers on Tuesday described severe malnutrition among those trying to escape the city. (The Daily Star)

Al Qaeda claims deadly Algiers bombings. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a double car bomb strike in Algiers on Tuesday that killed dozens of people as rescuers desperately worked through the night to find survivors. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

Canada facing wave of climate criticism. Canada is facing a further wave of criticism from its fellow negotiators at the Bali climate conference today as it seeks to block a European plan to set a target of up to 40 per cent for emission cuts. (Globe and Mail)

Italian truckers defy demand to end strike. Italian truckers defied a government demand to end a three-day-old strike on Wednesday, keeping in place road blockades that have dried up fuel supplies, closed factories and stopped food reaching the shops. The strike, in protest against high fuel costs and poor working conditions, meant supermarket shelves that are usually crammed with fresh fruit and vegetables were running bare, and most filling stations were closed. (Reuters)

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