Home > News > News in Brief: 9 December 2009

News in Brief: 9 December 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

YEMEN: Population of biggest IDP camp doubles. The population of Yemen’s main camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) has doubled over the past few weeks as fighting between Houthi-led rebels and government forces continues, according to officials. “We now have about 20,000 IDPs in al-Mazraq 1 camp [northern Yemen] and the camp is very overcrowded. We have about 1,000 families [about 7,000 individuals] in the reception area alone,” Mai Barazi, a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) team leader in Harrad (about 20 minutes’ drive from the camp) in Hajjah Governorate, told IRIN. (IRIN)

Russia: Medvedev’s New Security Vision. In June 2008, President Dmitry Medvedev first floated the idea for a new, broader structure for European-Atlantic security. The Kremlin turned the idea into a concrete proposal Nov. 29 when its web site posted a 14-article draft document titled “The European Security Treaty.” Under the motto of “From Vancouver to Vladivostok,” Medvedev’s treaty attempts to encompass, among others, NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Not surprisingly, the West has reacted to the security treaty skeptically at best. At worst, many in the West interpret Medvedev’s proposal as an attempt to restore its lost global influence, if not its empire. (Moscow Times)

India-Russia civil nuclear agreement practically sealed. India and Russia have practically sealed the framework agreement on an omnibus nuclear energy agreement and bridged differences on the price to refurbish aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov) that will project the country’s naval power in the Indian Ocean for at least two decades, said highly placed government sources. (The Hindu)

The security architecture of the Euroatlantic space needs to change. The security architecture of the Euroatlantic space needs to change. Last year’s conflict in the Caucasus vividly demonstrated both the current system’s nascent but developing, instability, and its fragility. The potential for a just and sustainable security architecture in the spirit of the Charter of Paris and a Europe united has been compromised over the post cold war years by the failure to establish a link of trust in relations between East and West, between Russia, the U.S. and its NATO allies. (RIA Novosti)

Will Copenhagen Catalyze a Movement? The struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not only a struggle against corporate polluters. It is a struggle for the hearts and minds of the American people who are constantly being distracted from the life and death questions of war and global warming by “reality” shows, football, and the search for bargains. It is a struggle to help the American people recognize that in living more simply so that others can simply live, we can grow our souls instead of a polluting, life threatening economy. Movement building today requires actions that can bring about this kind of radical value shift or transformation. (In These Times)

Case Studies. Here’s the evidence for the contentions in The Real Climate Scandal. In 1991 the Western Fuels Association, National Coal Association and Edison Electric Institute set up a group called the Information Council for the Environment (ICE). Its founding documents were leaked. The text has been made available online by the scientist Naomi Oreskes[1]. The strategy was spelt out in a document produced by the Western Fuels Association: to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”[2]. ICE was given $510,000 to test its messages in key markets, all of which happened to be the homes of members of the Energy and Commerce or Ways and Means Committees of the US House of Representatives. (Monbiot)

Israeli MPs pass referendum bill. The Israeli parliament has passed the first reading of a bill requiring a referendum to approve a pullout from annexed east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. At least 31 members of parliament were absent from the voting on Wednesday, 68 were in favour of the bill, 22 were against and one abstained. The bill requires that any peace agreement reached between the Israeli government which entails an Israeli withdrawal from annexed territories must first be approved by a 61-MP majority in the 120-member parliament. (Al Jazeera)

Nanotech market. The global market for nanotechnology was valued in 2007 at $135bn. Research and development in this field keeps growing, and many promising applications are already at the laboratory stage. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Kosovo: Russia and US adopt opposite views on independence. The United States and Russia on Tuesday took opposite positions regarding the independence of Kosovo in arguments before the International Court of Justice. At the request of the United Nations general assembly, the court is assessing the legality of its unilateral declaration of independence, which Serbia opposes. (AKI)

Pakistan: Militant toll reaches 589 in South Waziristan operation. Security forces have killed 589 terrorists in the ongoing military operation in South Waziristan. Meanwhile, 79 troops have also lost their lives while fighting militant groups hiding in the area. (Dawn)

US secures drones market. The global market for drones was worth around £4.4bn in 2009, the lion’s share of which (70%) went to US companies such as Northrop Grumman and General Atomics. Northrop Grumman is the manufacturer of the Global Hawk, a long-endurance drone capable of 36-hour surveillance flights. General Atomics makes the Predator. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Drones command the skies. The US is planning a future in which pilotless drones do the killing, remotely controlled. It looks and plays like an Xbox game, but it’s for real. It may not defeat its intended enemies, thoughTwo Hellfire missiles from a US drone hit Laddah, a village in a remote part of South Waziristan in Pakistan very early in the morning of 5 August this year. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Kuwait opposition MPs file motion for non-cooperation against Premier. Ten opposition MPs filed on Tuesday a “motion for non-cooperation” against the premier Nasser Mohmmad Al Sabah. The motion, if passed, would still need to be sent to the emir who decides to either sack the premier, or dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. (Alsumaria)

Comment & Analysis: The economics of Iraq oil investment. Why the world’s largest oil companies have reversed their earlier position that the oil ministry’s terms for major development deals were not profitable enough. (Iraq Oil Report)

Official electoral coalitions list released. Iraq’s electoral commission releases the official listing of coalitions standing in the March 7 national election, which will be a tense vote and contentious attempt to form the next government. (Iraq Oil Report)

Japan’s economic growth slows threatening recovery. Japan’s economy grew at a dramatically slower pace than previously thought in the three months to September, in a further sign that the country’s fledgling recovery is already running out of puff. The economy grew at an annualised pace of 1.3% from July to September, drastically down on an earlier estimate of 4.8%, the cabinet office said today. (Guardian)

Official: Ankara Doesn’t Need NATO Nukes. [Ibrahim Kalin, chief foreign policy adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister] reiterated that “Turkey wants a nuclear-free Middle East, and this applies to Iran as well as other countries suspected of having nuclear bombs.” This is a very sensible position, but — since the two powers in “the region” that have nuclear weapons are Israel and NATO — it also provided an opening to ask about where Ankara was on those U.S. nuclear weapons believed to be stationed at Incirlik Airbase in Turkey. (Arms Control Wonk)

Afghanistan: The Results of the Strategic Review, Part Iand Part II. Today, the House Armed Services Committee meets to receive testimony on ‘Afghanistan: Results of the Strategic Review.’ Our witnesses today are: the Honorable Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense; Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Honorable Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. (Afghanistan Conflict Monitor / US House of Representatives)

Dubai markets fall on debt worries. Share prices on Dubai’s stock market have fallen to their lowest level in almost a year, a day after the country’s investment arm lost a New York luxury hotel in a foreclosure auction. (Al Jazeera)

India: US team lobbies for Nuclear-liability bill. Members of the US Commercial Nuclear Mission (USCNM) are lobbying hard to facilitate the passing of the Indian Nuclear Liability and Damages Bill (NLDB) during the current session of Parliament. Expected to be tabled in the Lok Sabha in the next few days by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the bill seeks to cap the level of compensation at $450 million in the event of an accident and makes the operator, which in this case is the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPC) and the Indian companies, who will in all eventuality be running these plants, pay the compensation amount. (Asian Age)

VSD to Provide Patrol Boat Training Systems to Iraqi Navy. VSD, a Virginia Beach, VA-based subsidiary of QED Systems, received a $23 million contract from prime contractor Swiftships Shipbuilders to provide the Iraqi Navy with training and training systems. (Defense Industry Daily)

Up to $18.7M in Military Sealift Command Ship Overhaul Work. The mission of the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) is to support US forces by delivering supplies and conducting specialized missions across the world’s oceans. (Defense Industry Daily)

Tajikistan: The Tablighi Jamaat members are brought to trial in Dushanbe. The members of Tablighi Jamaat Islamic group are brought to trial in Dushanbe. BBC reports that 56 citizens of Tajikistan were detained during the prayer in one of the mosques of the capital city. (Ferghana)

Yemen’s afternoon high. The average Yemeni spends one quarter to one third of his income on qat. Three quarters of the population devote four to six hours daily to buying and chewing the leaves, consumed in the later afternoon after the day’s main meal. Although qat has no nutritional value, a third of Yemen’s agricultural land — double the acreage of a decade ago — is devoted to it. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Who needs Nafta? The North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), now 15 years old, is returning to the forefront of the economic debate. Barack Obama began this by talking about it during his election campaign. He has always expressed a wish to renegotiate the Nafta treaty, which he claims is responsible for heavy job losses in the US. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

The (Many) Problems with the Iran Sanctions Bill. It now appears that the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), Howard Berman’s sanctions bill targeting Iran’s refined petroleum sector, is likely to come up for a vote in the near future… Sanctions proponents’ reasoning is based on the rather dubious belief that if the U.S. starves the Iranian civilian population of resources they will blame their own government rather than ours. (Lobelog)

Japan to Give a Plan on Okinawa Base. Japan’s prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, said Wednesday that he wants to present concrete proposals to President Obama next week in hopes of ending a growing rift between his new government and Washington over an American military air base in Okinawa. (New York Times)

EU eyes bigger role in Mideast peace. Israeli leaders are breathing a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday, a day after European Union(EU) foreign ministers agreed not to accept a Swedish proposal on the future of Jerusalem. Stockholm suggests that East Jerusalem become the capital of any future Palestinian state. However, meeting in Brussels, the EU ministers softened the wording of the policy statement. The EU believes that there should be two capitals in Jerusalem but their demarcation should be determined by the parties through negotiations. The European deliberations not only cause concern for Israel, which sees Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, but also leave analysts wondering what impact this policy statement will have and what role the EU sees for itself in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. (Xinhua)

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