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October 22, 2009
Daily News Brief: Japan, Brazil and Tunisian Elections

Stories compiled by Mohammad al-Kassim, Channtal Fleischfresser, Connie Kargbo, Ivette Feliciano, Christine Kiernan and Gizem Yarbil and edited by Rebecca Haggerty.

CHINA: China’s economy expanded 8.9 percent in the third quarter, pumped up by easy credit and massive spending by the government even while the U.S., Japan, and Europe continue to struggle.  The rebound has been so rapid that some investors worry now about inflation.

JAPAN: Japan is unlikely to make a decision on the planned relocation of a major American Marine airbase before President Barack Obama visits next month, officials said Thursday.  The Washington Post reports how the new government in Japan is resisting U.S. pressure to make a quick decision as part of its efforts to redefine its policy towards the U.S.

ETHIOPIA:  Ethiopia has appealed for emergency aid to feed over 6.2 million drought-afflicted people. Ethiopia is experiencing one of it longest doughts in years. The appeal comes on the heels of the 25th anniversary of a famine that killed over 1 million people.

SOMALIA: Heavy fighting in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Thursday left over 20 people dead and more than 50 injured.

SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa’s finance minister anticipates a 2 percent decline in GDP for 2009.  After five years of strong annual growth the country is now suffering through its first recession in 17 years.

UK: The British Foreign and Energy & Climate Change Secretaries published an online map Thursday detailing the effects of a 7 degrees Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures, a so-called “doomsday vision.”

SWEDEN: Sweden has granted early release to the ex-Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic. She had served two-thirds of her 11-year sentence for persecution.

VENEZUELA: President Hugo Chavez seems to have lost support in Venezuela, with his popularity at 52.8%, down from 61% earlier this year.

MEXICO: Murders in Ciudad Juarez are at their highest level ever in 2009, with 1,986 homicides this year, compared with 1,171 last year.

BRAZIL: Rio’s police crackdown on drug gangs expanded this week beyond the original target area, bringing the total dead to 32 people.

PAKISTAN: A suspected Pakistani Taliban on a motorbike shot and killed a senior army officer and a soldier in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The independent Dawn TV is also reporting that the officer served as a deputy force commander of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). From South Waziristan and the ongoing fighting there between the Pakistani military and the local Pakistani Taliban, the Pakistan Observer newspaper reporter Tariq Saeed writes about a steady progress made by the government forces in the tribal region.

TURKEY: The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet is reporting that Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey introduced legislation calling on President Barack Obama to officially recognize the Armenian killings of 1915 as “genocide.”

IRAN: Iranian Press TV is saying that earlier this summer US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrook asked Pakistani officials to make the effort in bringing the Taliban leader Mullah Omar to the negotiating table.

The Iranian Arabic news channel Alalam is reporting on Iran’s response to the international draft of the nuclear deal proposed by the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA. Alalam quotes the Iranian ambassador to the UN agency saying that his country is studying the draft carefully.

ISRAEL: The liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting on a meeting that was held this summer in Cairo on nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East where representatives from Iran and Israel participated.

Israeli right-leaning newspaper Jerusalem Post is reporting that judge Richard Goldstone — who authored the report on the Gaza war — has challenged the U.S. administration to justify its claims that his findings are flawed.

TUNISIA: Tunisians will head to the voting boths this Sunday to elect a president. The online Saudi news site Middle East Online reports that the veteran president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, is almost assured of winning a sixth term.

PALESTINE: The independent Palestinian news agency Ma’an is reporting that Israeli warplanes bombed a weapons manufacturing site and a smuggling tunnel in Gaza. The daily Al Quds newspaper is reporting that former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has said that former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni warned the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to accept a deal offered by then-prime minister Ehud Olmert.

AFGHANISTAN: The daily English Khaleej Times which publishes out of the United Arab Emirates, reports on the challenges facing Afghans in the Nov. 7 run-off presidential election.

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