Home > News > News in Brief: 27 March 2009

News in Brief: 27 March 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Presidents looking for answers. Chinese President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama have a lot to talk about when they meet for the first time next week, with Taiwan and Tibet, as always, featuring high on the agenda. Priority, though, will go to the global financial crisis, and any measures they agree on could well be determined by the personal relationship the leaders manage to strike up. (Asia Times)

A First Look At Obama’s New Afghan Policy. President Barack Obama’s new posture toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be unveiled tomorrow, codifies for the first time Iran’s role in regional diplomacy, emphasizes counterterrorism as the primary mission of U.S. policy, and includes a multi-modal surge of civilians and economic aid to both countries. (The Atlantic)

Remote Control Death. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become ubiquitous in Gaza’s skies in recent years and are key to the notion that Israel can use high-tech precision weaponry to distinguish between combatants and civilians. The facts, however, suggest that any weapon is only as discriminating as the people using it. (The Nation)

Suicide Bomber Strikes Pakistani Mosque, Killing 48. A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded Pakistani mosque during prayers, killing at least 48 people, a government official said. (RFE/RL)

Iran: Ahmadinejad Takes a Political Beating, but Retains Front-Runner Role. By any measure, March has been a horrendous month for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one that has seen him suffer a humiliating political defeat at the hand of parliament. It has been the type of month that can be ruinous for a presidential candidate. But in Iran’s murky political system, Ahmadinejad remains the overwhelming favorite to win reelection in June. (EurasiaNet)

Iran, NATO hold first direct talks since Islamic Revolution. Iran and NATO have held their first talks since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago, officials at the military alliance said Thursday, in a new sign of a thaw in Tehran’s ties with the West. At allied headquarters in Brussels last week, an Iranian diplomat and a senior NATO official had an “informal contact” focused on Iran’s neighbor Afghanistan, where the alliance is battling a Taliban-led insurgency. (The Daily Star / AP)

READY, AIM, FIRE … Japan on Friday began readying its costly ballistic missile shield, saying it would not hesitate to destroy any ballistic missile fired from North Korea if it – or its debris – looked like hitting the country. Similarly, South Korea has mobilized its premier warship equipped with the Aegis counter-missile guidance system. If Pyongyang does indeed let loose a Taepodong-2, the best thing that can happen in this tense situation is that the Japanese and South Koreans are way off target. (Asia Times)

Tough times for university students in Gaza. Many university students who lost relatives or whose homes were destroyed during the recent 23-day Israeli offensive are finding it difficult to cope, according to university officials and students. (IRIN)

China’s Way Forward? Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Hegemony and the World Economy in Crisis. As all nations strive to respond to the financial gridlock that began in the United States and quickly sent world industrial production and trade plummeting, there has been much discussion of the ability of the high-flying Chinese economy to weather the storm, of the prospects for the intertwined US and Chinese economies, even of the potential for China to rise to a position of regional or global primacy. The present article critically explores these possibilities. (Japan Focus)

Ghosts of US’s unilateralist past rise. Drawing comparisons to the faded Project for the New American Century, a newly formed neo-conservative foreign policy organization offers a flashback to the 1990s, when its predecessor staked out the aggressive foreign policy of the George W Bush years. For its formal coming out, it has chosen to push for a US military surge in Afghanistan. (Asia Times)

Atomic Agency Fails to Elect New Head. The stalemate on the second day of voting for the new International Atomic Energy Agency chief opened the field to new candidates. (New York Times)

India-Israel defence deal worth $1.4bn. In its biggest defence deal with India, Israel will provide its largest arms buyer an air defence system at a whopping sum of USD 1.4 billion. (Times of India)

The real meaning of Sarkozy. It may seem paradoxical to claim that a leader often labelled Bonapartist and authoritarian is in fact marked by political weakness rather than strength. But that’s exactly the present situation in France. Since he became president in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy has gained a reputation for activism and determination. If Barack Obama’s slogan has been “yes, we can”, Sarkozy’s is simply “yes, I can”. His “can-do” attitude is a façade. Behind it lurks an underlying political immobilism which belongs to the… (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Kyrgyz Opposition Rallies Nationwide To Protest Government’s Unfulfilled Promises. Several thousand people have gathered in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, as part of a series of opposition rallies across all of the country’s provinces to protest the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiev. (Turkish Weekly)

Baghdad Burning: The blogosphere, literature and the art of war. In an age of homogenized reporting, bloggers on both sides of the Iraq war are filling the void of personal coverage and challenging the narratives of war planners and mainstream media alike. Wayne Hunt traces this phenomenon with two case studies. (Arab Media & Society)

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