Home > News > News in Brief: 14 November 2008

News in Brief: 14 November 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

Russia MPs back longer presidency. The Russian lower house of parliament has approved constitutional changes aimed at extending presidential terms from four to six years. (Al Jazeera)

Eurozone officially in recession. The eurozone has officially slipped into recession after EU figures showed that the economy shrank by 0.2% in the third quarter. (BBC)

Reengineering Finance. This weekend’s gathering in Washington of the G-20 industrial and developing economies, billed by some as the second coming of the historic Bretton Woods conference, seems likely to produce more modest ends. (CFR)

US determined to unlock Switzerland’s banking secrets. It is a world of encrypted laptops, unmarked mail and the briefest stops in multiple hotels. Accusations by US prosecutors this week shed a fascinating light on the allegedly cloak-and-dagger world of UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank. (Guardian)

Pakistan torn over its tribal areas. As in the Bajaur Agency tribal area, the Pakistani military is fighting a losing battle against militants in the Swat Valley. Militants are also streaming into the provincial capital of Peshawar, where this week they abducted an Iranian envoy. The top brass in Islamabad realize their troops face a long hard winter of attrition if they stay put, but pulling out is equally unpalatable. (Asia Times)

‘US drone’ fires on Pakistan target. At least 12 people have been killed in a missile strike said to have been carried out by a US drone in a Pakistani tribal region. (Al Jazeera)

Afghanistan abyss awaits Obama. The manner in which the United States and Britain have established a stranglehold on setting policy for the war in Afghanistan all but ensures that president-elect Barack Obama will lose his way and will never get anywhere near a settlement for the country – unless he is prepared to take some very bold decisions. Talking to Iran and Russia would be a start. (Asia Times)

UK may send 2,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Britain could send up to 2,000 more troops to Afghanistan if US President-elect Barack Obama asks allies for more help in the fight against the Taliban. (DAWN)

Hamas willing to accept Palestinian state with 1967 borders. The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Saturday his government was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The Hamas leader spoke at a meeting with 11 European parliamentarians who sailed from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip to protest Israel’s naval blockade of the territory. Haniyeh told his guests Israel rejected his initiative. (Haaretz)

Gaza City in darkness as Israel halts fuel shipments. Residents of Gaza City were without power Thursday after the Israeli military halted some fuel shipments because of ongoing rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinian sources said. (CNN)

Israeli lightly wounded as rocket barrage hits Negev. A barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the western Negev on Friday morning, leaving one Israeli lightly wounded. (Haaretz)

Israeli troops face abuse trial. The Israeli military has said it will try by court martial a number of soldiers in connection with the abuse of a blindfolded Palestinian man. (BBC)

Vision of Palestine at odds with the world. Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu grabs a green marker and jumps from his seat to sketch a map of the West Bank on a whiteboard. What emerges is not what the Palestinians and almost the entire international community have in mind, which is a contiguous Palestinian state that follows broadly the borders in place before the 1967 war and the Israeli occupation. Instead, Mr Netanyahu wants to see the West Bank divided into a collection of disconnected economic zones with dedicated business projects. (Financial Times)

Palestinian Factions Torture Opponents. Unity talks between the two main Palestinian political factions Hamas and Fatah failed before they even began this week following Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to release 400 Hamas prisoners held in PA jails in the West Bank. (IPS)

Turkey: Ataturk Documentary Stokes Culture War. In a country whose official ideology presents Ataturk as a larger-than-life figure, its portrait of a melancholic, hard-drinking man has sparked outrage among the secularists who see themselves as his ideological heirs. (EurasiaNet)

Turkey in free-fall. Turkey’s economic growth is slowing, interest rates are ruinously high and the government wants to splash out before elections next spring. That leaves little hope that the country’s stock market will pull out of its precipitous plunge for more than the briefest of breathers. (Asia Times)

How War Lords Stay in Business. A doctor in Mogadishu gives medicine to a man complaining of an upset stomach. ‘‘This medicine won’t work,’’ groans the patient, ‘‘I got sick after eating expired food; only an expired medicine will cure it.’’ (IPS)

EU and Russia back security summit plan. The European Union and Russia on Friday backed plans for a pan-European security summit next year to ease tensions raised by the Georgia crisis and a dispute over missile systems in eastern Europe. (Financial Times)

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