Home > News > News in Brief: 6 March 2009

News in Brief: 6 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

East Jerusalem Settlements Ratchet Up Tensions. As the fires of human misery continue to smolder in Gaza, the situation in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem is emerging as another potentially explosive issue in, and far beyond, the Middle East. (IPS)

MIDEAST: Suddenly, Home Was Gone. Dates in the calendar to mark the rights of women mean little to Manwa Tarrabin (56) and her two daughters. They have lost home, and any rights to it. (IPS)

Doctors struggling to treat Gaza war wounded. Mohammed Abu Shabah, aged 22, lies in al-Wafa rehabilitation centre in northern Gaza, paralyzed from the waist down after a missile fired by an Israeli drone on 11 January left pieces of shrapnel near his spine. Doctors at the centre, Gaza’s only rehabilitation hospital, fear removing them could lead to complete paralysis. (IRIN)

Obama’s Guantanamo? When it comes to offshore injustice and secret prisons, especially our notorious but little known prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, let’s hope the Obama years mean never having to complete that sentence. In the Bush era, those of us who followed his administration’s torture, detention, and interrogation policies often felt like we were unwilling participants in a perverse game of hide-and-seek. Whenever one of us stumbled upon a startling new document, a horrific new practice, a dismal new prison environment, or yet another individual implicated in torture policy, the feeling of revelation would soon be superseded by a sneaking suspicion that we were once again looking in the wrong direction, that the Bush administration was playing a Machiavellian game of distraction with us. (TomDispatch)

The Proceeds of Crime. The US and British governments have created a private prison industry which preys on human lives. It’s a staggering case; more staggering still that it has scarcely been mentioned on this side of the ocean. Last week two judges in Pennsylvania were convicted of jailing some 2000 children in exchange for bribes from private prison companies. (Monbiot)

Winds of change swirl in Pakistan. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has backed down over two controversial moves that were widely seen as an attempt to curtail his political opponents. This can be attributed to a more assertive army chief – fresh from a visit to the United States – and an emboldened prime minister. Zardari still has room to move, but the patience of military headquarters and Washington is wearing thin. (Asia Times)

Official Says Suspects Are Arrested in Cricket Attack. The governor of Punjab said Thursday that Pakistani police had made a number of arrests in the commando-style attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in the city of Lahore, but he offered no details, saying that a full report would be presented on Friday. (New York Times)

Blame and conspiracy theories follow Bangladesh mutiny. Tensions in the BDR, the paramilitary force that patrols Bangladesh’s border with India and Myanmar, had been simmering for months over troops’ demands for more pay, better conditions and a change in command structure. (Khaleej Times / AFP)

Kyrgyzstan Ends Air Base Agreements. Kyrgyzstan, which last month decided to close a U.S. military air base, on Friday canceled similar agreements with other members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. (New York Times / Reuters)

Afghan Supply Chain a Weak Point. The U.S. military is laboring to shore up a vulnerable supply chain through Pakistan and Central Asia as it seeks to expand the flow of supplies into Afghanistan by at least 50 percent to support an influx of tens of thousands of troops, according to defense officials and experts. (Washington Post)

Sanctions on the Table? John Kerry seems to have his finger on the pulse of US – Syrian relations. His visit to Damascus last month preceded improved relations. Kerry is now saying that the US can “loosen sanctions on Syria” in order to nudge along improved relations in the region. He continues to see improved ties with Syria as a means to isolate and weaken Iran, but believes this need not occure as a precondition. (Syria Comment)

Ankara says new NATO chief must be favored by all. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan suggested Turkey would not back Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to become the new secretary-general of NATO, saying the chief NATO official should be someone that has the trust of all member countries. (Today’s Zaman)

Canada to push for ‘super-envoy’ in Afghan region. NATO allies are lining up to appoint such super diplomats as the West’s strategy for Afghanistan shifts toward regional diplomacy, and fears for the future of Pakistan mount. (Globe and Mail)

US unemployment hits 25-year high. US unemployment has risen to 8.1 per cent, the highest level since December 1983, according to a US government report. (Al Jazeera)

North Korea fills the air with threats. Pyongyang has been “distinctly unhelpful” lately, according to Washington, and a new threat to fire on South Korean civilian passenger flights in its airspace may land North Korea back on the US’s terror list. The North’s audacious warning, and its preparations to launch a missile into orbit, have shifted focus from “six-party talks” to what North Korea will dream up next to create fear and consternation. (Asia Times)

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