Posted by: wuworldnews | February 11, 2009

Sri Lankan Government Rejects Cease-fire

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Sri Lankan officials have rebuffed international calls for a peace treaty with the rebel group Tamil Tigers, claiming that it is very near to eliminating the remaining section of the group. The Tigers, whose ultimate goal is an independent state for people of the Tamil ethnicity, exist largely as a reaction to a lack of “government-financed development of schools, infrastructure, housing in the Tamil areas of the north …political autonomy,” and “Tamils being accepted into the military, the police and the civil service.” However, the group often resorts to violent tactics targeting civilians. While the Tigers are currently a uniformed group, they do employ both male and female suicide bombers in civilian clothing for political assassinations. Some fear that an elimination of their military capacity will cause the Tigers to increase their aggression against citizens, particularly in Sri Lankan capital Colombo. 

The casualties of the struggle extend to unarmed civilians. Aid organizations estimate that as many as 250,000 civilians may be trapped in the area in which the fighting is taking place, although Sri Lanka estimates that the number is closer to 100,000. There is much doubt as to whether the civilians are capable of leaving the region. One of the few hospitals in the area was recently shelled in the cross-fire, causing 14 deaths, as well as an evacuation of the  hospital. While it is unclear who attacked the hospital and to what degree the attack was intentional, it represents a clear violation of international law.

New York Times (1)/a>

New York Times (2)

CNN

Posted by: wuworldnews | February 11, 2009

Kyrgyz Air Base Closed to US

On Tuesday February 3rd, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan announced from Moscow his plan to close a US air base located in his country. The Pentagon press secretary described the base, the only one in Central Asia, as “hugely important” to US operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, NATO called the site “vital” to its efforts there. President Bakiyev cited economic reasons for the decision, accusing the US of not paying Kyrgyzstan enough money for the use of the base. Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev announced that Russia would give Kyrgyzsatn two billion dollars in loans, adding to their large Russian debt, and $150 million in aid. Kyrgyz officials deny any link between the Russian aid package and the decision to close down the base, which has long been a source of worry for the Russians due to the presence of American troops. The choice to close the base comes at a critical time for the US, as President Obama has pledged a strong increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

New York Times

BBC

Posted by: wuworldnews | February 11, 2009

Iraqi Woman Organized Rape, Recruited 80 Female Bombers

When Samira Jossam told female rape victims that the only way they could redeem themselves and gain admittance into heaven was by carrying out a suicide bombing, what these women did not know is that Jossam actually helped to arrange the very act that damned them to this fate. Iraqi officials arrested Jossam on January 21 for her involvement in the Al-Qaeda-backed group Ansar Al-Sunna. Called the “Mother of the Believers”, Jossam is suspected of recruiting 80 female bombers and

confesses training and sending off 28 female bombers. Although violence has decreased in Iraq, female bombings increased drastically from eight in 2007 to 36 in 2008, demonstrating Jossam’s vast influence on this demographic. Women are often allowed through checkpoints without being searched due to cultural customs of modesty, traditional robes providing convenient and inconspicuous hiding places for weapons or bombs. The Iraqi military is beginning to post women guards at checkpoints in response to this spike in female bomb attacks.

The Daily News

news.com.au

Posted by: wuworldnews | February 11, 2009

Qaddafi Named Chairman of African Union

On February 2nd, Libya’s President Muammar el Qaddafi became head of the African Union.  Since 1969 Qaddafi has ruled Libya; however, his ideals differ from those of previous democratic AU chairmen.  Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president stated, “In principle, we said the ultimate is the United States of Africa.  How we proceed to that ultimate – there are building blocks.”  Qaddafi seems to have omitted many building blocks from his plan.  His ultimate goal is to unify Africa into one whole with one currency and a powerful role in the global economy.  However, given Africa’s unstable politics since most of its countries gained independence, most leaders of the 53 nations that comprise the AU favor a slower approach to unification.  Nevertheless, many believe Qaddafi shows promise as a powerful leader.

New York Times

On Wednesday, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) accused Hamas of stealing aid intended for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza strip. UNRWA released a statement saying that Gaza policemen used armed force to remove “over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels” intended to help the hundreds of families hurt in the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict.

While Ahmed al-Kurd, the Hamas Welfare Minister, denies these claims, he implies Hamas is displeased with UNRWA’s recent affiliation with non-governmental organizations that inherently lack “neutrality and transparency.” An UNRAW spokesperson says their NGO involvement is an effort to bypass Israeli opposition to the transport of aid in the destroyed Gaza strip. Some claim Israel is too stringent in their admittance of aid to Gaza and Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad is in the process of creating alternate plans to deliver aid. Hamas’ dissatisfaction follows UNRWA’s employment of the Palestinian Authority, which falls under the leadership of the Fatah group, Hamas’s chief opposer. UNRWA’s accusation and Hamas’ rebuttal intensifies the growing dissent between Hamas and rival groups in the controversial and war-torn Gaza region and contested Palestinian territories.

New York Times

Reuters

Posted by: wuworldnews | February 11, 2009

Other Stories You May Have Missed

·        India’s High Court in Delhi announces it will take 466 years to clear the backlog of cases

·        Fires in Australia kill 180 people

·        Israeli election leaves no clear winner, a deal to share power is in the works

·        Iran says it would be willing to negotiate with the U.S.

Just six days after Monday’s collapse of Iceland’s coalition government, Johanna Sigurdardottir was named the interim prime minister until formal elections held in May. While Iceland is still primarily concerned with the state of its struggling economy, Sigurdardottir is now making worldwide headlines as the first openly lesbian head of government in Europe and as Iceland’s first female premier.

Following weeks of protests concerning rising unemployment due to a failed economy and declining currency, Iceland’s Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced the resignation of his coalition and moved the next elections forward two years to this May. Haarde will not be running for re-election as head of his Independent party due to treatment for a tumor on his esophagus. The collapse of the coalition between the Independent party and Social Democratic party follows the resignation of Iceland’s commerce minister due to October’s bank collapses and intervention from the International Monetary Fund. Current President Olafur Radnar Grimsson will now confer with the leaders of Iceland’s various political parties and then select the future ruling party. Until those elections however, Sigurdardottir will lead as head of the Social Democratic party. She was the failed coalition’s minister of social affairs and social security and has been a member of the Icelandic parliament for 30 years.

CNN

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BBC

New York Times

Posted by: wuworldnews | February 2, 2009

Bolivian Voters Ratify a New Constitution

In Bolivia, South America’s poorest country, voters approved a new constitution that would enact land reform, promote indigenous people’s rights, give Evo Morales (the current president) more power and allow him to run for a second term. The many indigenous groups in Bolivia backed the new constitution and exit polls show that it was approved with 60 support.  It will give the large indigenous population more political influence and it recognizes their spiritual practices and languages. The constitution grants autonomy to 36 indigenous areas and to opposition-controlled states. Morales also hopes to use the constitution to increase state control over national resources including gas reserves, agricultural land and the mining industry. This would enable him to tackle the social inequalities that have plagued Bolivia. In a separate ballot, about 80 percent of voters agreed to limit future landholdings to 12,000 instead of 24,000 acres. The opposition argues that the constitution was created to increase Morales’ power as it now enables him to stay in power until 2014. Other critics oppose the constitution’s acceptance of freedom of religion and accuse Morales of being anti-Catholic and sympathetic to the indigenous spiritualities and religions. Furthermore, many wealthy landowners fear that Morales will break up their large landholdings.

Associated Press

Reuters

Posted by: wuworldnews | February 2, 2009

Other Stories You May Have Missed

·        The African Union elects a new leader, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya

·        The Colombian FARC rebels release four more hostages

·        Economic woes cause massive unemployment in China, government estimates are now 20 million

·        Regional elections in Iraq show a greater turnout of Sunni voters

·        Israeli-Palestinian cease fires ends, violence resumes

Posted by: wuworldnews | February 2, 2009

Senate Reworks Economic Stimulus Plan

Last week, Obama’s bailout plan failed to reach the minimum votes required for it to pass in the Senate. The $819 billion economic stimulus package passed in the House, made up primarily of Democrats, however in the senate, not a single Republican voted in favor of the plan. The senate has shown a will to find some compromise due to the state of the economy. The adjustments proposed include tax cuts, aid to the housing market, and a reduction in spending provisions. Also, a policy to cap executive pay in banks that have received taxpayer aid may emerge as early as this week. These alterations have pushed the overall cost of the bill to $890 billion.  The extent to which the White House will compromise is yet to be seen.

            A major difficulty complicating economic proceedings is what to do with toxic funds. Although Bush Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson’s original idea of creating “bad banks” to buy toxic assets from “good banks” was quashed by Congress in September and October, the Obama administration is now looking at the possibility of instating this policy with certain reforms added to ensure that the government does not pay exorbitantly inflated prices for toxic assets (which would essentially be a handout from taxpayers to banks). Reforms in capital requirements for banks may also be considering, raising the amount of money a bank must have to lend during good financial times and lowering the amount necessary to lend during the hard times. Essentially, the Obama administration must sort through a quagmire of economic confusion in order to come to a solution, and hopefully they will make it through the sludge of toxic assets.

New York Times

New York Times (2)

New York Times (3)

New York Times (4)

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