Home > News > News in Brief: 27 November 2008

News in Brief: 27 November 2008

A brief list of news for the day:

Iraqi parliament approves pact to end U.S. occupation. A resounding majority of Iraqi parliament members on Thursday approved a security pact that calls for an end to the U.S. occupation by 2012, giving the measure a mandate of national unity that was considered critical for its long-term success. (McClatchy)

Afghan Leader Demands Plan For Foreign Forces’ Departure. Karzai’s comments came late Tuesday in a speech to a U.N. Security Council delegation visiting Kabul, the capital, this week. He accused the international community of failing “to fight the Taliban properly” since the U.S.-led war in the country began in 2001. (Washington Post)

Dozens Die in Mumbai Attacks. Gunmen attacked three luxury hotels, a hospital, a train station, a movie theater and other buildings in Mumbai late Wednesday, killing at least 100 people and wounding more than 300 in a rampage through India’s financial capital, police said. (Washington Post)

Army is preparing for final assault: Major General Hooda. As the battle against militants, who attacked prime multiple locations in Mumbai, raged on, Army today said it was preparing for a final assault to flush out the ultras holed up in the Taj hotel. (Times of India)

Who could be behind the Mumbai attacks? Witnesses say the attackers were young South Asian men speaking Hindi or Urdu, suggesting they are probably members of an Indian militant group rather than foreigners. (The Independent/Reuters)

Pakistan Tries To Clean Up ISI Image By Shutting Down Political Wing. The section of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate that is responsible for domestic spying on Pakistani politicians has been quietly been shut down. (EurasiaNet)

Next G-20 meet in London. The next summit of G-20 leaders to discuss the global economic crisis would be held in London on April 2, said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday. (The Hindu)

Gazans ‘struggling’ to feed their children – UN. UN officials slammed as inadequate limited basic supplies Israel allowed into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, saying the closures of recent weeks were forcing the territory’s population to live from hand to mouth. The UN Relief and Works Agency, which distributes food rations to half of the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million population, sent in 12 truckloads of supplies to the territory on Wednesday. (The Daily Star/AFP)

Georgia: The Risks of Winter. A failed war and a worsening economy present severe challenges to state authority in Georgia and make the need for serious reforms ever more urgent. (ICG)

Can Syria change its image? According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of the best-selling book The Black Swan, narratives are what the brain uses to store and index information and facts. Today the only narrative about Syria is the one presented by its detractors. Syria never presented the world with her own competing narrative. Many analysts and journalists are confused about what to make of Syria’s peace initiative toward Israel and the reforms carried out by President Bashar al Assad because they do not fit the established image of Syria. They usually doubt Syria’s intentions and explain its peace talks with Israel that are mediated by Turkey as a way for Syria to ease the western pressure on its government. (Syria Comment)

Iran sends second rocket into space. Iran has sent a second rocket into space to follow up on the success of its first launch in February, state television reported on Wednesday. It said the “Kavoshgar 2,” or Explorer 2, rocket “landed 40 minutes later with a special parachute after performing its functions.” (The Daily Star/AFP)

Iran says it runs more than 5,000 centrifuges. Iran now has more than 5,000 centrifuges operating and enriching uranium at the country’s central plant, the Iranian nuclear chief announced Wednesday, in Iran’s latest defiance of UN demands that Tehran halt the controversial program. (Today’s Zaman)

Who Rules the Pentagon? The new Secretary of Defense is odds on to be… the old secretary of defense, Robert Gates, a confidant of the first President Bush. Still surrounded at the Pentagon by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s holdovers, he has had a long career in Washington as a clever apparatchik. He has overseen the further growth of the bloated Pentagon budget and has recently come out for the building of a new generation of nuclear weapons. (TomDispatch)

EU parliamentarians remind Turkey of priority of reforms. The focus of talks between a visiting delegation from the European Parliament and senior governmental officials in Ankara has been the European Union’s doubts over Ankara’s performance in fulfilling the political sections of the Copenhagen criteria. (Today’s Zaman)

Egypt parliament warns of weapons spread in Sinai. A parliamentary commission has warned that the spread of weapons in the Sinai is threatening Egypt’s sovereignty, weeks after Bedouin kidnapped dozens of policemen during clashes. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

Iraq’s Oil: The Greatest Prize Of All? Iraq currently produces around 2.2 million barrels of oil a day – 300,000 b/d less than its average before the US invasion in 2003. Iraq pumped as much as 3.7m b/d before the war with Iran in 1979. Iraq was used as the “swing producer” in the middle east for a long period of time, with production throttled back and forth as demand required (Saudi Arabia and Iran were less amenable to this sort of manipulation). (The Oil Drum)

Space solar power and the Khyber Pass. If the military really wants to be able to operate for long periods of time without using vulnerable supply lines it will have to find a new way to get liquid fuel to its forward operating forces. This may seem impossible at first glance, but by combining space solar power with some of the innovative alternative fuels and fuel manufacturing systems that are now in the pipeline, and given enough time and effort, the problem could be solved. (The Space Review)

A Chance to Join the World. For most people, the where, what and who of Abkhazia are a blank. Physically, it is a 120-mile strip along the Black Sea’s eastern coastline. But for the past fifteen years, the place has been an international oubliette, isolated and gagged by sanctions. (London Review of Books)

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