Home > News > News in Brief: 10 December 2009

News in Brief: 10 December 2009

A brief list of news clippings for the day:

Poor nations at Copenhagen claimate summit outraged by leaked memo. The Copenhagen climate summit has been thrown into disarray after developing countries said the current plans for a deal on global warming condemned millions of people to ‘absolute devastation.’ The row broke out after a draft text of a deal prepared by the Danish government was leaked and published online by The Guardian. The draft agreement has been criticised by campaigners who have argued that it risks alienating poor nations. The proposal has been interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on carbon emissions for developed and developing countries – meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much. (openDemocracy)

Crapshoot in Copenhagen. In the Maldives, the cabinet strapped on scuba gear and met under water to emphasize the risk of global warming to their island nation. In Nepal, the ministers put on oxygen tanks and conducted their business high up on Mt. Everest to focus attention on the impact of climate change on the world’s highest peak. President Obama won’t show up until the end of the Copenhagen confab. But no one is expecting him to make a major splash. Obama has said that he can’t go further than what Congress is willing to do. The bill in front of the House calls for a 17% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 levels by 2020. “This works out to a 4% cut from 1990 levels, the standard baseline for measurement, and yet scientists have calculated that the major industrialized nations need to cut their emissions by 40% to have any hope of getting us on a path back towards safety…” (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Canadian general says military knew of abuse risk. Canada’s top general says there is evidence that a prisoner captured by the military in 2006 and handed over to Afghan authorities was abused. Gen. Walt Natynczyk’s disclosure contradicts Defense Minister Peter MacKay’s repeated insistence that not a single case of torture of detainees could be proven. The revelation raises questions about whether Canada violated international law by continuing to transfer prisoners to Afghan custody after it had evidence of abuse. (AP)

Iraq: Al-Qaeda claims deadly Baghdad bombings. Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the deadly bombings which killed at least 127 people and injured around 500 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad on Tuesday. The message, posted to extremist websites on Thursday, also promised more deadly attacks. (AKI)

Yemen’s proxy war that isn’t. The conflict in Yemen initially started off as a local affair between the country’s Sunni-dominated central government and Shia rebels in the north, known as the Houthis. It now has a regional dimension that pits two regional powerhouses against each other: Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran. But for all the hype and conspiracy theories that abound, there is no significant Iranian support for the Houthis, despite Yemeni and Saudi protests… The Houthis require no military training from outside, given that most members have been through the state military service system, and require no arms, with weapons coming from a black market that underwent a boom after the 1994 Yemeni civil war. The Yemeni government did say it had seized an Iranian-crewed vessel containing weapons near the Houthi stronghold in the north. Yet its failure to parade the seizures made it difficult to confirm and verify its claims. (Guardian)

Iraq elections adjourned till March 7. Iraq Presidency Council decided to adjourn the date of legislative elections in Iraq till March 7 instead of March 6, the date set by the Independent High Electoral Commission on Tuesday. (Alsumaria)

Sri Lanka: power and accountability. Sri Lanka’s government prosecuted a brutal military campaign from mid-2008 to spring 2009 to inflict a final defeat on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eilam (LTTE / Tamil Tigers) after twenty-six years of war. Many thousands of civilians died amid the horrors of this last battle. (openDemocracy)

Jailed Fatah chief emerges as Palestinian presidential contender. Marwan Barghouti, the senior Fatah leader who could be set free in a prisoner swap with Israel, appears to be already testing the waters for a possible bid to succeed the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. In an interview yesterday in al-Quds newspaper, the charismatic leader criticised his rival for relying on negotiations alone in dealing with the Jewish state and said he is considering standing as a candidate if an agreement is reached to hold presidential elections. (The Independent)

Gates: U.S. will be in Afghanistan beyond 2011. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates ended a two-day trip to Afghanistan on Thursday, telling a group of Afghan soldiers that America will maintain a presence beyond the troop pullout set to begin in 2011. “While we hope to transfer power in July 2011, we will have a large number of forces here for some time beyond that,” Gates told the group at Kabul International Airport. “This is the first time in Afghan history when foreign forces are here to help, and we intend to be your partner for a long time.” (CNN)

China unveils its new worldview. Beijing has released a five-pronged foreign policy vision, signaling it is ready to play a bigger part on the global stage. Most notable on the ambitious agenda are the twin theories of “shared responsibility and enthusiastic participation”, which imply that China will acquit itself in a way that it feels is commensurate with its quasi- superpower status. (Asia Times)

Afghanistan: Exemplary models of governance. Corruption in the country has reached such a scale that Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank executive and presidential candidate, says that a senior Karzai adviser told him that one government minister made $25 million in a single year, and a northern governor, $75 million. Two of Karzai’s brothers — Mahmoud Karzai and Ahmed Wali Karzai — and relatives of at least one governor, Gul Agha Shirzai, and the country’s defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, have either earned money with questionable tactics or been awarded lucrative Western contracts with little fair competition. They have been helped by their relatives’ political clout and suspicious bidding practices. (Angry Arab / Foreign Affairs)

Reviewing the fleets. OVER 80% of world trade by volume is carried on ships. Greece and Japan dominate ship owning with over 30% of the world tonnage. However, their ships rarely fly the flag of the home countries, choosing instead “flags of convenience”. Panama is the favoured country for Japan; while Greece prefers the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus; Liberia’s flag flies on many German vessels. Just 15 countries control 80% of the world’s merchant ships. And that fleet’s tonnage grew by 6% in 2008 as new ships ordered before the financial crisis hit the waves. (The Economist)

AFGHANISTAN: More Questions Than Answers. In a speech at West Point, the U.S.’s most famous and prestigious military academy, Obama laid out how he will send 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, in addition to thousands more from allies like Britain. The forces are to be divided into two groups: one, including a large contingent of U.S. Marines, will fight the insurgency head-on, with a special focus on the south of Afghanistan. The other group will focus on training Afghan security forces, increasing the strength of Afghan National Army and Police to 400,000 strong. (IPS)

EU parliament members denied entry into Gaza. The European parliament demanded Wednesday that Israel explain why it prevented a delegation of MEPs from travelling to the Gaza Strip despite initially authorizing the visit. “Israel had yesterday afternoon granted final permission for all members of our delegation to travel. However, some three hours later entry for all members of the delegation was rescinded ‘on security grounds’, without further explanation,” it said in a statement. (The Daily Star)

US a step closer to Tehran sanctions. While a United States deadline nears for a breakthrough on Iran’s nuclear program, the US Congress is pushing through legislation imposing tough economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The bill has raised fears it will alienate the Iranian people and key international allies, while its timing may derail the US’s attempts at engagement. (Asia Times)

On Syria border: No sign of Saddam loyalists. Iraq’s border with Syria runs for hundreds of miles through barren land patrolled by a relative scattering of security forces. But despite claims about exiled Saddam Hussein loyalists sneaking across to disrupt Iraq’s upcoming elections, the only evidence around one key outpost is faded slogans of Saddam’s banned Baath Party painted on the wall of a decaying grain elevator. (AP)

General Discusses Exercise in Africa. The largest U.S. Defense Department-sponsored exercise in Africa this year yielded many important lessons, the commander of U.S. Army Africa said yesterday. Army Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett III discussed Natural Fire 10 — a multinational partnership that brought together troops from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States — during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable. (US Department of Defense)

Lebedev: Central Asian leaders dissatisfied with Russian TV content. Some leaders of Central Asian countries express dissatisfaction with content of the Russian TV programs, Sergei Lebedev, Executive Secretary for the Commonwealth of Independent States said Wednesday at the European and Asian Media Forum in Moscow. (24)

In India 97,000 kids are AIDS positive. The highest was in Andhra Pradesh with 22,559 children testing positive for the disease followed by 21,835 in Maharashtra and 15,082 in Tamil Nadu. (Times of India)

Pakistan: New Zardari strategy to face NRO charges. While not wholeheartedly defending the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) inside the Supreme Court, President Asif Ali Zardari and his advisers have decided to forcefully fight their case outside the court… So far, the proceedings on the NRO have been one-sided as nobody, not even any of its beneficiary, has shown willingness to defend it. The court is unlikely to review the public rejoinders issued outside the court to the points stressed during the arguments unless these were brought to its notice. The source said that the president and his team would aptly respond whenever efforts would be made to malign, weaken or damage his position in any way. (The News)

Pakistan: Cabinet reshuffle delayed until SC ruling on NRO: Gilani. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said reshuffling of federal cabinet would be done after the decision of court on National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)… Gilani dispelled the rumours of government’s instability and said, ‘We have been given the mandate of five years and others should wait for this term to complete.’ (Dawn)

Iran’s subsidy bill to be sent back to Majlis. Iran’s Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei says the supervisory body has found problems with a bill that is aimed at reforming the country’s subsidy system… The bill aims to lift subsidies that the government has placed on key consumer goods such as fuel and redirect the allocated funds to low income Iranians. (Press TV)

Obama defends war as he accepts Nobel peace prize. President Barack Obama evoked the cause of a just war on Thursday, accepting his Nobel Peace Prize just nine days after sending 30,000 more US troops to war in Afghanistan but promising to use the prestigious prize to ‘reach for the world that ought to be.’ (Dawn)

Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: 2009-12. DJ Elliott is a retired USN Intelligence Specialist (22 years active duty) who has been analyzing and writing on Iraqi Security Forces developments since 2006. His Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle is an open-source compilation that attempts to map and detail Iraqi units and equipment, as their military branches and internal security forces grow and mature. (Defense Industry Daily)

FLIR to Supply Surveillance Systems to Middle East/North African Customers. FLIR Systems received a $6.7 million contract to supply infrared multi-sensor surveillance systems to unidentified customers in the Middle East and North Africa. (Defense Industry Daily)

Just Say No to Mega-Media Marriages. It’s a bad marriage—the kind that makes you want to run down the aisle yelling, “Stop the wedding!” The planned union between Comcast and NBC Universal (NBCU) spells disaster: it paves the way for a new era of mega-media consolidation that reaches across content creation and distribution, wielding enormous power over TV and Internet content. (In These Times)

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