Home > News > News in Brief: 17 December 2007

News in Brief: 17 December 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Four Bolivian provinces challenge their president. With only scattered skirmishes reported, four provinces in this country’s eastern lowlands celebrated proposals Saturday that would give their regions more government autonomy in a direct challenge to President Evo Morales. The governors’ just-written statutes give provincial governments more control over tax revenue, let them form their own police and grant them some powers now reserved for the country’s national government. Morales has called the statutes illegal and had put the country’s military on alert in case of disturbances this weekend. The constitution and the autonomy statutes must all be voted on in referendums before taking effect. (McClatchy)

U.S. reversal under pressure leads to climate deal. On the surface, the accomplishment of the two-week UN climate conference that concluded this weekend in Bali seems meager: Thousands of delegates representing nearly 200 nations agreed to talk more, laying out a “road map” for negotiations that will in theory produce a climate treaty by 2009. (International Herald Tribune)

Turkish Planes Strike in N. Iraq. Turkish warplanes pounded Kurdish villages deep inside northern Iraq on Sunday, killing one woman and forcing hundreds of villagers to flee their homes in the largest aerial assault from Turkey this year, Iraqi officials said. The early morning attack, confirmed by Turkey, renewed concerns of a major new front opening in the Iraq war. The Turkish military said the United States approved the airstrikes. A U.S. spokesman in the Turkish capital of Ankara denied that, saying the United States had only been informed in advance that the strikes would happen, the Reuters news agency reported. (Washington Post)

Russian uranium arrives in Iran. Iran has received its first uranium from Russia for use in the joint nuclear power plant being built in Bushehr, Russian officials said Monday. The site isn’t due to go into operation until sometime in 2008 and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Web site said Iran has signed guarantees the fuel can only be used at and for the Bushehr plant. Iran also agreed to return spent fuel to Moscow for processing. The plant is being built under the oversight of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency. (UPI)

All Eyes on Putin as He Starts a Visit to Belarus. President Vladimir Putin traveled Thursday to Belarus for a visit that will be watched closely for signs that the two neighbors are advancing toward a long-discussed merger. Last week, Ekho Moskvy radio quoted unidentified members of the Lukashenko administration as saying Moscow and Minsk had struck a deal under which Putin would become president of a Russia-Belarus union while Lukashenko would be speaker of its parliament. (Moscow Times)

Iraqis take control of Basra province. Four-and-a-half years after the Anglo-American invasion, Iraqi authorities have taken control of Basra province from British troops. Out of Iraq’s 18 provinces, Basra is the ninth to assume responsibility for its own security. Notwithstanding the pullback, 4,500 British troops are still stationed in Iraq. (The Hindu)

Palestinians Win Big Aid Pledge. Donors began committing funds from around the world Monday for the moribund Palestinian economy amid a renewed international push for a Palestinian state, with the European Union promising $650 million in 2008. Economists say it’s not enough for the donors to pledge aid and for the Palestinians to carry out reforms. The Palestinian economy will only recover, according to the World Bank, if Israel eases sweeping physical and administrative restrictions on movement in the West Bank and Gaza. (New York Times)

Power plays and political warfare in South Africa. South African President Thabo Mbeki gave what may have been the most important speech of his political career yesterday. It was classic Mbeki – erudite, opaque and fact-heavy. Today, the ANC is scheduled to finalize a list of candidates, and cast the ballots, with results expected tomorrow. Mr. Zuma leads the polls, and appears to have the support of thousands of delegates. As Mr. Mbeki left the stage yesterday, many Zuma supporters broke into an openly defiant chorus of “Zuma for president.” But Mr. Mbeki has his supporters, too. There has been private speculation here that he will, after the humiliation of yesterday’s defiant plenary, finally withdraw his candidacy and pledge support for an alternate candidate, but it is difficult to imagine a man of his legendary pride taking that step. (Globe and Mail)

Kyrgyz party wins absolute majority, OSCE critical. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s party won every available seat in the next parliament, early results showed on Monday after a weekend election sharply criticized by Western monitors and the opposition. The tiny ex-Soviet state, home to both U.S. and Russian military bases, has been volatile since Bakiyev came to power in 2005 when a string of violent protests triggered by a disputed election toppled his long-serving predecessor, Askar Akayev. (Reuters)

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