Home > News > News in Brief: 21 November 2008

News in Brief: 21 November 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

Great game of hunting pirates. Under the rubric of the fight against sea piracy, an entirely different template of maritime activity is taking place by interventionist powers. The United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union have stepped out of the European theater and entered the Indian Ocean, as has India. Russia is seeking a reopening of its Soviet-era naval base in Aden. There is a strong suspicion a great game is unfolding. (Asia Times)

Russia: Navy Plans Pirate Patrol Near Africa. The Navy said Thursday that it would keep a presence off the coast of East Africa to patrol against Somali pirates. (Moscow Times)

The Lame-Duck Economy. There is, however, another and more disturbing parallel between 2008 and 1932 — namely, the emergence of a power vacuum at the height of the crisis. (New York Times)

The US, China, Japan and the Foundations for a New Bretton Woods. Because that order rests heavily on Asian export-led export growth strategies and the transfer of massive Chinese and Japanese trade surpluses that support the dollar’s role as the universal currency, any solution for the US and the international order will require the cooperation of the two Asian economic powers. (Japan Focus)

Almost Jules Verne: U.S. study seeks to describe the future. The risks of a nuclear weapon being used and wars being fought over dwindling resources will grow during the next 20 years as diminishing U.S. power, a shift of wealth from West to East, the rise of India and China and climate change reshape the world, a new U.S. intelligence study warned Thursday. (McClatchy)

Top Iraq Shiite cleric blasts lawmakers who have left on pilgrimage instead of voting on divisive US military pact. Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani, Iraq’s highest Shiite religious authority, on Thursday lashed out at lawmakers who had left on a pilgrimage instead of voting on a divisive US military pact. (Iraq Updates/Middle East Online)

Security Firms Told They Lose Immunity in Iraq. US officials on Thursday told scores of firms offering security in Iraq that their personnel will lose immunity from prosecution under a new US-Iraq security pact due to take effect in January. (Iraq Updates/Middle East Online)

India turns up energy diplomacy. Visits by senior Indian politicians to Moscow and Tehran underscore New Delhi’s determination to improve access to fuel resources. In both cases, the discussions indicate more energy will have to be spent before sought-after deals are secured. (Asia Times)

Gaza crossings remain sealed as Palestinian rocket hits Israeli town. The closure has caused shortages of basic goods and fuel for Gaza’s 1.4 million Palestinians. (Gulf News/Agencies)

UNRWA chief: Gaza on brink of humanitarian catastrophe. Gaza faces a humanitarian “catastrophe” if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main UN aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday. (Haaretz)

Israeli army raids agricultural aid office near Bethlehem. Israeli soldiers raided a municipal agricultural assistance office in the village of Tuqu, south of Bethlehem, on Thursday, local sources said. Israeli troops destroyed the interior of the office and seized farmers’ documents. (Ma’an)

Yesterday’s traitors. On the anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, Haaretz asked nine Israelis to comment on the state of the Israeli left. Their contributions were published on November 14, 2008. Uri Avnery’s contribution follows. (Gush Shalom)

A Consumer’s Paradise of War. In a nutshell, the Pentagon’s argument couldn’t be simpler or more red-bloodedly American: We have too much stuff to leave Iraq any time soon. In war, as in peace, we’re trapped by our own profligacy. We are the Neiman Marcus and the Wal-Mart of combat. Where we go, our “stuff” goes with us — in such prodigious quantities that removing it is going to prove more daunting than invading in the first place. (TomDispatch)

Summary of Salafist web sites – October-November. Salafist websites persist in their acute verbal offensive against Hezbollah, Iran and the Shi’i generally – but now with greater ferocity. (Conflicts Forum)

The Nuclear Mess – Where Does it Leave Syria? The UN nuclear investigation could be the new Hariri investigation for the “isolate-Syria” crowd. For several years the UN investigation into the Hariri murder gave neo-cons hope that they would be able to carry out regime-change in Syria on the cheap, by tripping up Syria’s leadership in a web of international sanctions, UN strictures, and legal snares. (Syria Comment)

Obama aides: Clinton nomination as secretary of state ‘imminent’. Hillary Clinton is to be nominated as secretary of state next week, according to Barack Obama’s aides. (Guardian)

VENEZUELA: Regional Elections Double as National Referendum. In Venezuela, where hardly a year goes by without elections, people will vote Sunday for governors in 22 of the 23 states, and for mayors in 328 of the 335 municipalities. The tough campaign leading up to the ballot has turned the exercise into a new referendum on President Hugo Chávez and his project of “21st century socialism”. (IPS)

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