Home > News > News in Brief: 20 October 2009

News in Brief: 20 October 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

US: Presidential Power Grows – Will You Love Every Future President? Presidential power has been on a pathway of expansion beyond what the Constitution outlined, and what a government of, by, and for the people requires, since George Washington was president. That expansion, which hit the highway after World War II, got a turbo boost during the co-presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Some of the new powers that those two stole from Congress, the courts, the states, and us the people are being abused less severely in this new age of Obama; others, more so; but far more crucially, in a pattern followed by recent presidencies, all are being maintained, if not expanded, and thus more firmly cemented into place for future presidents to use. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you are likely to strongly oppose some major decisions of some future presidents. So it shouldn’t be hard to envision some pretty undesirable consequences that might flow from presidential power that increasingly approaches the absolute. (TomDispatch)

GAO on US Defense Contract Audit Agency, 2009: Uh-Oh… On Oct 15/09, the US Congress’ GAO audit office published report #GAO-10-163T, “Defense Management: Widespread DCAA Audit Problems Leave Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Vulnerable to Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Mismanagement.” (Defense Industry Daily)

Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai ‘to accept’ ruling of election commission. Afghan President Hamid Karzai will accept the final ruling of electoral authorities, his spokesman said on Tuesday after a report into election fraud rejected many ballots. Mr Karzai’s share of the vote in the August 20 election is expected to have fallen below the 50 per cent needed for outright victory, following an investigation by the Election Complaints Commission (ECC) into fraud. If the findings of the ECC report, released late on Monday, are accepted by the IEC, Afghans may have to vote in a second round run-off between Mr Karzai and his nearest rival, Abdullah Abdullah. (Telegraph)

AFGHANISTAN: Virtually no safety net for war victims’ families. Despite having one of the largest war victim populations in Asia, Afghanistan does not have a law on how to deal with hundreds of thousands of war widows, orphans and disabled. (IRIN)

Pakistani troops raid Taliban hideouts in South Waziristan. On the third day of a major ground and air offensive to root out Islamist insurgents, officials said, the army faced pockets of stiff resistance that included rocket fire. But they said they were making progress, killing 18 fighters in a tribal region that Pakistan says is home to plotters of a recent series of deadly domestic assaults. The United States considers South Waziristan a haven for militants attacking international forces in Afghanistan and planning attacks overseas. (Washington Post)

Twin blasts in Islamabad university; 5 killed, 40 hurt. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up near simultaneously at a prestigious Islamic university in the Pakistani capital on Tuesday, killing at least five persons and injuring over 40, the latest in a series of deadly terror attacks that have rocked the country. (Indian Express / AP)

China opens a new front in Kashmir. China, by issuing residents from Indian-administered Kashmir visas different from those given to Indians from other parts of the country, is treating the disputed area as a sovereign entity. This is a surprising departure from Beijing’s traditional policy of leaving the Kashmir issue to India and Pakistan to resolve. Delhi suspects a hidden agenda. (Asia Times)

Iran puts relations with Pakistan to test. Iran has put its ties with Pakistan to test by demanding from Islamabad the extradition of those individuals who had masterminded Sunday’s suicide bombing which killed some of the top commanders of its elite force. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused “certain officials” in Pakistan for the blast which killed 42 persons, including two top ranking officers of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). (The Hindu)

Iran will do business but not with France. Diplomats involved in the Vienna talks on the possible export and processing of Iran’s uranium have confirmed that Iran does not want France to be part of any formal agreement. Their objection is based on their experience of being a 10% shareholder in a uranium enrichment plant in Drôme, Eurodif, that dates back to 1975 – the Shah era. The investment was made to provide Iran a steady supply of enriched uranium, but that supply has been denied to Iran under UN sanctions. (Guardian)

Saudi-Iranian hostility hits boiling point. Escalating tensions between Riyadh and Tehran may have played a role in Sunday’s suicide strike that killed seven senior commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as well as 42 other people in Iran’s southeast. Riyadh is concerned that Iran’s growing power will erode Saudi pre-eminence in the region, and the Saudis might have a vested interest in disrupting the United States-Iran nuclear talks. (Asia Times)

Israeli drive to prevent Jewish girls dating Arabs. A local authority in Israel has announced that it is establishing a special team of youth counsellors and psychologists whose job it will be to identify young Jewish women who are dating Arab men and “rescue” them. The move by the municipality of Petah Tikva, a city close to Tel Aviv, is the latest in a series of separate – and little discussed – initiatives from official bodies, rabbis, private organisations and groups of Israeli residents to try to prevent interracial dating and marriage. In a related development, the Israeli media reported this month that residents of Pisgat Zeev, a large Jewish settlement in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, had formed a vigilante-style patrol to stop Arab men from mixing with local Jewish girls. (The National)

Meetings move Iraq closer to next oil field auction. Representatives from 44 of the world’s largest oil companies have concluded two-day meetings here with the Iraqi Oil Ministry, hashing out a rough draft of the contract on which the companies will base their bids for 10 oil projects in December. (Iraq Oil Report)

Russia to assess new U.S. missile shield from national security perspective: Medvedev. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would evaluate the revised U.S. missile defense plan in eastern Europe from the perspective of Russia’s national security, the Itar-Tass news agency reported on Monday. (Xinhua)

UN investigates as more explosions reported in southern Lebanon. No injuries have been reported, according to UN spokesperson Michele Montas. “Preliminary indications are that these explosions were caused by explosive charges contained in unattended underground sensors which were placed in this area by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), apparently during the 2006 war,” she told reporters in New York. (UN News Centre)

Piracy remains a concern, maritime panelists explain. In reality, only one-third of 1 percent of all seagoing vessels are attacked by pirates, but the threat of an attack remains constant, particularly in certain waters. (Hiiraan)

Azerbaijan seeks to derail Turkey-Armenia deal. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Friday said Turkish terms for buying Azerbaijani gas were unacceptable and that Baku is considering other routes for shipping its gas to Europe. The statement came amid deep Azerbaijani anger at a thaw in Turkish-Armenian relations and prompted Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to assure Ankara that its close support for Baku remained unchanged. (The News)

Turkey: Relations Between Ankara And Israel Becoming Chilly. The once-vital relationship between Turkey and Israel is going through a distinctly frosty period. The chill began after the invasion of Gaza earlier this year, which Ankara criticized harshly. But now ties between the two Middle East allies are diving further and some experts are wondering if the relationship is coming to end. Concern was first raised in mid-October after Turkey indefinitely postponed annual military exercises, reportedly because of Israel’s planned involvement. The exercises — air force maneuvers dubbed Anatolian Eagle — were also to have included the United States, Italy and other NATO countries. The other participating states reportedly pulled out of the exercise after learning of Israel’s exclusion. (EurasiaNet)

Iraqi PM meets US Secretary of State. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki headed on Monday to the US leading a senior delegation of ministers, economists and businessmen to attend the Investment Conference due on October 20-21. During his visit, Iraqi Prime Minister is due to meet with US President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Al Maliki met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and discussed bilateral relations and the latest developments on the Iraqi and regional scenes as well as removing Iraq from UN Charter Chapter VII. (PUK Media)

Arab League chief eyes Egyptian presidency. The head of the Arab League indicated in an interview published Tuesday that he may consider running for Egypt’s presidency in elections scheduled for 2011. (Haaretz)

Somali Shabaab rebels say they shot down U.S. drone. Somali insurgents shot down a U.S. drone aircraft flying over the southern port of Kismayu on Monday and were searching for the wreckage, an insurgent spokesman said. (Hiiraan)

Somali groups urged to join talks. Somalia’s president has called on armed groups in the country to enter into a dialogue with the government for ending decades of fighting in the African nation. (Al Jazeera)

IMF defends lending policies. A report by a Washington-based think-tank criticizes the International Monetary Fund for failing to anticipate the global downturn and for recommending pro-cyclical policies based on bad data and over-optimistic assumptions in response. The IMF has hit back, saying it is certainly not its policy to harm already poor economies. (Asia Times)

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