This is the News

December 5, 2008

In case you weren’t paying attention, it’s not all good.

From Reuters:

Spanish industrial output registered a record fall in October, reinforcing expectations Spain will suffer more than other developed economies as its housing boom collapse coincides with global slowdown.

Production at factories and mines in Spain fell a far higher than expected 12.8 percent year-on-year in October as the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy headed towards what economists forecast will be its worst recession in 50 years in 2009.

“This shows we’re in for an almighty adjustment in the Spanish economy,” said economist Dominic Bryant at BNP Paribas, who estimates Spanish growth will drop over 1.8 percent next year. “I’m not aware that any country has figures as bad as this.”

From the Guardian:

Turkey has witnessed an alarming upsurge in police violence and brutality fostered by a “culture of impunity” and a government-inspired contempt for human rights, campaigners said today.

In a damning report, Human Rights Watch said complaints against police for excessive force had risen sharply since the start of last year while the number of officers convicted had dropped. 3,339 people complained about police ill-treatment in 2007 – up from 2,854 the year before – but only 48 of those led to convictions.

…In one instance, Feyzullah Ete, a 26-year-old factory worker and father of two, died after being kicked in the chest by a plain-clothes officer who had demanded to see his ID in a children’s play area.

From the BBC:

Five Iraqis, including a child, have been injured by a landmine while trying to cross the border dividing northern Cyprus from the rest of the island.

The island is split between the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot north and the Greek south.

The five were part of a group believed to have been smuggled onto the island in order to claim political asylum.

…The five injured Iraqis were abandoned at a hospital in the Cypriot town of Larnaca…

From the Guardian:

Riot police forcibly evacuated a house filled with dozens of Jewish settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron yesterday in the most public showdown between the government and the increasingly violent settler movement for more than two years.

…In Hebron, masked settlers set Palestinian trees ablaze and attacked buildings. The Israeli military declared the southern West Bank a closed military zone, setting up roadblocks to prevent more settlers descending on the city.

The building, dubbed the House of Peace by the settlers and the House of Contention by the Israeli press, was home to 15 settler families, but their numbers had swelled as supporters poured in.

And from the Times:

Israel is drawing up plans to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and is prepared to launch a strike without backing from the US, it has been reported.

Officials in the Israeli Defence Ministry told the Jerusalem Post that while they prefer to act in consultation with the US, they were preparing plans that would allow them to act in isolation.

“It is always better to coordinate,” a senior Defence Ministry official told the newspaper. “But we are also preparing options that do not include coordination.”

From the IHT:

Nepal’s government has agreed to release nearly 3,000 children who were recruited by communist rebels to wage the country’s insurgency, a U.N. official said Friday.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal agreed to discharge 2,975 minors, who have been living with thousands of other former combatants in U.N.-monitored camps since a 2006 cease-fire, said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for children and armed conflict.

…The former rebels, formally known as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), gave up their armed rebellion in 2006 and joined a peace process. They contested May 2008 elections for the country’s lawmaking Constituent Assembly and emerged as the largest political party…Their leader is now the prime minister of a coalition government that was set up in August.

And from the Times of India:

At a time when Maoist affiliated women’s rights activists have been opposing beauty contests in the country, a gays’ beauty pageant was held in Western Nepal’s tourist hub Pokhara.

The All Nepal Women’s Organisation (Revolutionary) in Nepal had, earlier, launched a campaign against beauty contests forcing the Indian joint venture Dabur Vatika to withdraw its sponsorship from the proposed Miss Nepal 2008 contest, which is now in limbo.

But the group did not oppose when Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities (FSGM) organised the “Miss Beauty and Brain Pageant” in a jam-packed city hall of Pokhara.

From the BBC:

A Malaysian man has been stabbed to death for refusing to stop singing and hand over the microphone at a karaoke bar, police say.

Abdul Sani Doli, 23, reportedly angered some of the customers when he hogged the stage at the bar in Sandakan town on eastern Borneo island.

Witnesses said he was attacked, and the fight spilled out on to the street.

From the BBC:

At least 300 girls in south-western Kenya have fled from home and sought refuge in churches in a bid to escape forced female genital mutilation (FGM).

The girls, some as young as nine, are at two rescue centres in rural Nyanza province, police told the BBC.

Female circumcision is banned in Kenya, but remains common in some areas where it is considered to be part of a girl’s initiation into womanhood.

The traditional ceremonies take place between November and December.

From DPA:

Over 90,000 civilians who fled heavy fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo are unaccounted for, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said Friday.

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said that the agency had taken advantage of a lull in the fighting to enter the Rutshuru area, 80 kilometres north of the Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

The UNCHR team found that three UNCHR-run camps for internally displaced in the area – Nyongera, Kasasa and Dumez – had been forcefully emptied and destroyed…Three other makeshift camps were found to be empty.

From the Guardian:

Auto sales in Brazil plunged for the second straight month in November as a severe credit crunch and a slowing economy kept many consumers out of showrooms, leaving the auto industry braced for a tough 2009 in one of its key growth markets…Sales of new cars and trucks fell 25.7 percent last month to 177,800 units from October, when sales had slumped 11 percent, the national automakers’ association Anfavea said on Thursday.

… “The crisis hit much faster and harder than we were expecting,” said Jackson Schneider, Anfavea’s president. “2009 is still a question mark.”
Exports also fell sharply in November, dropping 23.1 percent from the previous month to $1 billion.

From the Boston Globe:

The Colombian government insists that paramilitary gangs are extinct. Try telling that to Antonio Domingo, a poor Afro-Colombian who was rousted from his home in the dead of night in August and told to leave town or be killed.

Antonio, 30, who declined to give his last name for fear of reprisal, said armed and uniformed fighters who identified themselves as members of a paramilitary force called the Black Eagles gave residents minutes to leave San Jose, their Pacific Coast hamlet.

“We had furniture, chickens, yucca and plantains, but lost it all,” said Antonio, interviewed at a camp for displaced people outside this port town in the southwestern state of Narino. “They killed a friend of mine in front of us for no reason, maybe to make a point.”

From the BBC:

Rising unemployment and the economic slowdown could cause massive social turmoil in China, a leading scholar in the Communist Party has said.

“The redistribution of wealth through theft and robbery could dramatically increase and menaces to social stability will grow,” Zhou Tianyong, a researcher at the Central Party School in Beijing, wrote in the China Economic Times.

“This is extremely likely to create a reactive situation of mass-scale social turmoil,” he wrote.

From the Telegraph:

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) said the [UK]Government’s policy of recycling as much as possible is failing to help the environment because materials are being dumped in landfill or shipped to developing countries.

Ian Arbon, author of the report, said local authorities have no duty to track where recycling goes once it is sold onto waste contractors. Therefore a “colossal amount” is ending up in China where there are few environmental restrictions to stop it being burnt as cheap fuel.

“People would be very angry if they knew the recycling they have carefully sorted was going to China,” he said.

From the AP:

Iranian state radio says police are confirming that a militant group active in Iran has killed all 16 police officers it abducted in June.

The Friday report quotes deputy police chief, Gen. Hossein Sajedinia, as saying the kidnapped troops have all “been martyred two weeks after their abduction.”

Shortly after the abduction, the Sunni Muslim Jundallah group said it had executed two of the officers and threatened to kill the remaining 14 unless imprisoned members of the group were released.

From the Chicago Tribune:

On the campaign trail, Sen. Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to “end the war” in Iraq.

But as he moves closer to the White House, the president-elect is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.

…Publicly at least, Obama has not set a firm number for that “residual force,” though one of his national security advisers, Richard Danzig, said during the campaign that it could amount to between 30,000 and 55,000 troops. Nor has Obama laid out any timetable beyond 16 months for troop drawdowns.

From Bloomberg:

Canadian employment fell by the most since 1982 in November, led by manufacturing, a sign the world’s eighth-largest economy is falling victim to a global recession.

Employers shed a net 70,600 workers, almost three times as many as economists anticipated, after a gain of 9,500 in October. The unemployment rate rose to a two-year high of 6.3 percent from 6.2 percent the month before.

The figures come a day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended Parliament to prevent being toppled by opposition parties who say he hasn’t done enough to help an economy that may have already slipped into recession…

From Reuters:

Tanzanian coffee prices slumped at this week’s auction, dragged down by falling prices in New York and lower demand ahead of the holiday season.

The state-run Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) said 49,940 60-kg bags were offered for sale and 37,149 sold. At last week’s auction, 38,508 60-kg bags were offered, with 36,541 sold.

From AFP:

Ghana, which is running short of forests to chop down, is about to turn to the dead trees underneath its Lake Volta as a new source of exotic timber, one of its top export earners.

Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest artificial lakes, is expected to yield millions of dollars worth of timber in what is set to be Africa’s biggest-ever underwater logging of what was thought to be lost forests.

Experts say Ghana’s forest cover has shrunk to about a quarter of its 1960 size due to over-logging and poaching. Underwater logging is seen as a novelty in the quest to save the west African nation’s overland forests.

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