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November 3, 2009
Today: Myanmar, Finnish layoffs and music in Morocco

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

NORTH KOREA: North Korea said it has reprocessed 8000 spent nuclear fuel rods and extracted enough plutonium to add to its atomic stockpile. If reprocessed with chemicals, this would give the regime enough weapons-grade plutonium for at least one more atomic bomb, according to experts.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is sending a special mission to Pyongyang next week Envoy Jack Lang said today that European aid to North Korea in exchange for nuclear guarantees is on the table.

MYANMAR: The United States embarked on a new policy of engagement with Myanmar’s military government on Tuesday, sending two senior diplomats for the highest-level visit in more than a decade.

Representatives of African countries at UN climate talks in Barcelona boycotted meetings on Tuesday and demanded industrialized countries do more to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

SOMALIA: Three women’s organizations were ordered closed in the Somali town of Balad Hawa by the Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab. The chairman of the town said that according to Islamic law women should be at home taking caring of their children and not in the office.

TANZANIA: A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said that 85% of the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro had melted from 1912 to 2007 and could disappear entirely in 20 years.

FINLAND: Nokia Siemens Networks mobile phone manufacturer will lay off as many as 5,700 employees, as a cost-cutting move.

NETHERLANDS: Radovan Karadzic appeared at his trial in the Hague Tuesday, after having boycotted his trial for the previous three days.

FRANCE: November 1 marked the start of France’s yearly ban on housing evictions. Between November and March 15, French law makes it difficult for landlords to evict tenants who are unable to make rent payments.

The Lisbon Treaty has moved once step closer to adoption, following the Czech Constitutional Court’s ruling today that the treaty does not violate the Czech constitution.

Swine flu deaths in Russia continue to grow. Fourteen people have now died from the virus, and 3,122 cases have been confirmed, according to the Ministry of Health.

There are few bookstores left in Uzbekistan’s legendary city Samarkand, which used to be a literary mecca.



Photo: Flickr user Xiamara_ugajin

A Russian businessman and former KGB spy was gunned down near his Moscow apartment yesterday. Shabattai Kalmanovich, who served five years in an Israeli jail for spying, had been working as director of a central Moscow shopping center since 1994.

Twenty years after the fall of communism, opinions are mixed in Eastern Europe and Russia as to whether people are better off today, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Forum. People born shortly after the Berlin Wall’s fall were overwhelmingly more supportive of the move towards democracy and a market economy than older generations.

The New York Times reports on a “drunk tank” in a Moscow suburb, where people caught drinking are taken to sober up. Russians consumer 4.75 gallons of pure alcohol per person per year–more than double the level the WHO considers a “healthy threat.”

CUBA: Cuban purchases from U.S. companies are down 37% this year compared to last year.

HONDURAS: The Honduras Congress today will begin debating a plan that would restore ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. The deal was agreed to last week by representatives of Zelaya and the de facto government.

AFGHANISTAN: A day after wining the election by default, Al Jazeera English reports that Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai promises to create a government of national participation.

MOROCCO: At a time of strained relations between Jews and Muslims, Al Arabiya TV reports on a music festival in the Moroccan city of Essaouira is helping to break down political divides.

ISRAEL: According to Israel’s head of military intelligence Maj-Gen Amos Yadlin, the Palestinian group Hamas has test-fired a rocket capable of reaching the outskirts of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

JERUSALEM: The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports on a home take-over by Israeli settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

IRAN: Al Alam TV reports on Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is warning against the United States attempting to impose its will in any negotiations with Tehran.

PAKISTAN: Despite a Taliban spokesman denial, the Pakistani military is advancing in its offensive in tribal South Waziristan, according to Dawn TV.

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