Home > News > News in Brief: 19 December 2007

News in Brief: 19 December 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

In S. Korea, Lee Wins Landslide Victory. Lee Myung-bak, a former construction boss known as “the bulldozer,” won a landslide victory Wednesday in South Korea’s presidential election, promoting a brand of pro-American, pro-business politics that voters here were eager to buy. The principal premise of Lee’s campaign was that he alone had the right stuff to make South Korea even richer — and fast. He promised to make it the world’s seventh-largest economy within 10 years. He also promised to reduce taxes and raise incomes. (Washington Post)

Mbeki era closes as ANC elects Zuma. The South African President’s world crumbled around him last night after his party rejected his spirited bid to cling to power. Members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) voted Thabo Mbeki out of the leadership of the party by a fairly wide margin of 724 votes in favour of his nemesis, Jacob Zuma, who is now on course to succeed him as president of the country. Mr Mbeki and his allies lost the positions of president, deputy president, national chairperson, secretary general, deputy secretary general and treasurer general in a clean sweep to Mr Zuma’s allies. (The Independent)

Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of C.I.A.Tapes. At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials. The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged. (New York Times)

Kurds demand more power, oil wealth. Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq have threatened to withdraw support from the Baghdad Government if demands for federal power sharing and a fair share of the oil wealth are not met. Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of Kurdish northern Iraq, said that Iraq’s Shiite-led coalition Government, which relies on Kurdish MPs to survive, must be changed if it does not transfer powers to his region. Under Iraq’s new constitution, three northern provinces were granted autonomy from Baghdad to form a Kurdish regional government. Clauses guaranteed rights over oil revenues and a referendum over disputed areas, including the strategic city of Kirkuk. (The Age)

Angry Kurdish president won’t meet with Rice. The president of Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government refused to meet Tuesday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, charging that the United States had given Turkey the “green light” to attack separatist Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq. Turkey has long complained that guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, have been given shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PKK seeks to form an independent Kurdistan from parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, and it enjoys broad support in Kurdish Iraq. Turkish fighter jets on Sunday bombed reputed PKK positions, killing at least three people, wounding eight and displacing about 300, Kurdish leaders said. The PKK said five of its members were killed and two were injured. On Tuesday, about 500 Turkish soldiers moved into northern Iraq, occupying the villages of Kaya Retch Binwak, Janarok and Gelly Resh, not far from the Turkish border, according to local border guards. (McClatchy)

Too Late, Billboards Show a Way. The Serbian government has began an unusual billboard campaign to mobilise its people under the slogan ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ ahead of crucial developments that might lead to independence of the southern, ethnic Albanian populated province. The southern Serbian province Kosovo, populated by two million ethnic Albanians, but cradle of the first Serb medieval state, is sailing towards independence. It has been under United Nations (UN) administration since 1999. Serbia fiercely opposes the independence, even though only some 100,000 Serbs live in Kosovo, mostly in the northern areas. (IPS)

Welch surprises Lebanon again with another visit. U.S. State Department envoy David Welch made another unscheduled return to Beirut and went into a meeting with Parliament majority leader MP Saad Hariri. Welch , who surprised Lebanon last Saturday with an unscheduled visit left Lebanon last Sunday around noon time after meeting with Army chief General Michel Suleiman and headed to France via Cyprus. Before leaving Lebanon Welch stressed on the “importance of holding the presidential election”. (Ya Libnan)

Picture of Secret Detentions Emerges in Pakistan. Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, apparently trying to avoid acknowledging an elaborate secret detention system, have quietly set free nearly 100 men suspected of links to terrorism, few of whom were charged, human rights groups and lawyers here say. (New York Times)

Belgium to form a temporary government. Ministers in Belgium attempting to end the country’s constitutional crisis have agreed to form a temporary government. The linguistically-divided country has been without a government since June and the deadlock has fuelled fears the 177-year-old nation could be split into two regions. Two Dutch-speaking and three French speaking parties will form an emergency government in an attempt to tackle the issues that have been neglected in more than six months of political standstill. A recent opinion poll showed a large majority of Belgians wanted the country of 6.5 million people to stay together. (Telegraph)

Ahmadinejad takes part in the Hajj. He is the first Iranian leader to take part in the annual Muslim pilgrimage. Ahmadinejad is attending the Hajj at the invitation of King Abdullah, the Saudi king. Ahmadinejad’s appearance is seen as a sign of warming relations between the two countries. (Al Jazeera)

EU raises fishing quotas. European Union fisheries ministers decided Wednesday to allow fishermen to catch more threatened fish like cod in 2008 against the recommendations of scientists and environmentalists. (Globe and Mail)

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