Home > News > News in Brief: 1 June 2009

News in Brief: 1 June 2009

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A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Legal Flaws Could Twist Election Result. When Lebanon heads to the polls Jun. 7 to decide whether the Hizbullah-led opposition alliance will unseat the ruling Western-backed coalition, voter anonymity could be compromised by shortcomings in the 2008 parliamentary election law. (IPS)

Lebanese elections: Key players. (Gulf News / AP)

West Bank: 6 people die in inter-Palestinian clashes. In the West Bank, 6 people were killed when a force affiliated to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas entered a haven used by Hamas fighters. Eyewitnesses and security officials said that clashed erupted when police surrounded a house in Qalqilia town in West Bank where Mohammad Al Samman, a high rank official in Hamas was hiding with his deputy Mohamad Yassin. (Alsumaria)

U.S. Gives Absolution to Its Allies. A couple of years ago, Robert Gates, then George W. Bush’s secretary of defense and now President Barack Obama’s, complained and complained and complained about the inadequate, second-rate efforts of America’s NATO allies in trying to turn around what had the looks of a losing battle in Afghanistan… It’s June 2009 and this just in from Oslo, where the NATO Parliamentary Assembly met last week: absolution. For the first time in years, said one of those attending, Denis MacShane, a Labor member of Parliament and a former minister of state for Europe in the British government, no Europeans got their heads banged “for not dying and refusing to pull their weight.” Could that be, he was asked, because the war in Afghanistan was now fully, nonblushingly America’s, even Obama’s? (New York Times)

Doubts over Maliki’s anti-graft crusade. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of his trade minister at the weekend as part of an anti-corruption campaign that the government says will take nearly 1,000 officials to task over rampant graft levels. But some Iraqis say the drive is not objective and mostly aimed at attracting voters ahead of next year’s elections. (Asia Times)

Iran shuts its border with Pakistan. Iran has closed its border with Pakistan at Taftan and informed the Pakistani government about its decision… Iran had closed the border partially on Thursday after a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in Zahedan, but ordered complete closure on Saturday… The Iranian move has caused suspension of trade through the area. (Dawn)

Iran arrests group accused of instigating unrest. A group of people accused of promoting sectarian violence in Iran’s southeastern city of Zahedan have been arrested, police said on Monday. (Gulf News)

Iran defuses homemade bomb on airplane. Security personnel defused a homemade bomb found on an aircraft during a domestic flight in Iran late on Saturday, Iranian media said, two days after a mosque bombing killed 25 people in the country’s southeast. The incident occurred less than two weeks before the Islamic Republic holds a presidential election in which the conservative incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, faces a challenge from reformers. (Daily Star)

Pakistan Fighting Militants on 2 Fronts. The army said Monday that 18 militants had been killed in clashes in the Swat valley and the South Waziristan tribal region over the past 24 hours as part of Pakistan’s expanded campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. (New York Times)

Rebel leader tightens grip after South Ossetia poll. Elections in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia appear to have secured the grip of its separatist leader, nine months after it was at the center of a war between Russia and Georgia. (Deutsche Welle)

General Motors declares bankruptcy – the biggest manufacturing collapse in US history. America’s biggest carmaker, General Motors, declared itself bankrupt today in a legal filing at a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan, kicking off the biggest industrial insolvency in US history. GM filed for Chapter 11 protection against its creditors’ demands at 8am local time after racking up losses of $81bn (£50bn) over four years, putting a veteran bankruptcy judge, Robert Gerber, in charge of the future of 235,000 employees worldwide. (Guardian)

China, The Impeccable Affair and Renewed Rivalry in the South China Sea. Developments in the South China Sea during the first quarter of 2009 reinforced several trends that have been apparent over the past two years. First, the Spratly Islands dispute has once again come to dominate Sino-Philippine relations, despite attempts by Beijing and Manila to move beyond it. Second, China has adopted a more assertive posture toward its territorial and maritime boundary claims in the South China Sea than at any time since the late 1990s. (Japan Focus)

US-Syria relations: time to hit the reset button? The U.S. policy towards Syria is predicated on defining Syria as a weak and undemocratic pariah state. The Bush White House formalized the process by creating the axis of evil club. Though Syria was not a formal member of the club, Cheney may have thought of Damascus as part of a “nexus”, a term that the VP preferred according to Mr. Gellman. ((Syria Comment)

Is Halliburton Forgiven and Forgotten? Or How to Stay Out of Sight While Profiting From the War in Iraq. Halliburton has been doing work in war zones since the early 1960s, when it acquired the construction company Brown & Root and was tasked by the Pentagon with building the infrastructure for the Vietnam War. Back in those days, it was vilified as “Burn & Loot.” After more than three decades in news obscurity, in March 2003, with the invasion of Iraq, it suddenly returned to national attention. After all, not only had its former CEO been beating the public drums for an invasion, but its subsidiary KBR (the old Brown & Root) had been given a vast, open-ended, multi-billion dollar contract to build and maintain the new infrastructure of bases that the U.S. military was rushing to construct in that country. More than six years later, KBR has taken in over $31 billion for a variety of services to the U.S. military, notably in the field of logistics, and the money continues to flow in… (TomDispatch)

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