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November 10, 2009
Today: Korean clash, Saudi strikes and endangered koalas

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

A North Korean sailor on the U.S.S. Pueblo, captured in 1968. Photo: Ben Piven.

KOREAS: A North Korean patrol ship exchanged fire with a South Korea naval vessel along their disputed western naval coast. The North Korean ship was badly damaged and retreated in flames. Both sides blamed each other for the incident.

JAPAN: Japan’s government has pledged five billion dollars in aid to Afghanistan over the next five years. The money will mostly go to civilian aid, infrastructure, job training and rehabilitation efforts for former Taliban soldiers.

AUSTRALIA: An environmental group wants the Australian government to categorize koalas as endangered.  The Australia Koala Foundation says the population of koalas has declined by 90% in the past two decades due to drought, over-development and disease.

LIBYA: Libya’s interior minister on Monday said that the country has reduced the number of  African migrants attempting to reach Europe illegally by sea by 90% through greater cooperation with Italy.

RWANDA: A Belgian court has ruled that the case against Ephrem Nkezabera, also know as the “Banker to the Genocide,” will go ahead despite his absence due to illness. Nkezabera is charged with helping to fund the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

SOMALIA: The United Nations is warning of significant displacement of Somalis due to heavy rains. The rains also make aid distribution even more difficult.

UK: Lloyds Bank has announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs by the end of 2010.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Czech officials said they would discipline soldiers for wearing Nazi symbols while in Afghanistan.

TURKEY: The Turkish government announced a plan to make peace with its Kurdish insurgents who have been waging a separatist battle for decades.

RUSSIA AND CIS: Swine flu cases in Russia have surpassed 4,500, and 19 people have died from the pandemic. In the far eastern Khabarovsk region, people working in shops, food services and the transportation sector are required to wear masks; those who refuse to comply will be fined.

Some 72 percent of Russians consider themselves happy, up from an all-time low of 42 percent in 1992, according to a poll conducted by the All Russian Public Opinion Research Center. The “happiest” respondents were young people living in the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russians today celebrate the birthday of Mikhail Kalashnikov, founder of the AK-47, who turns 90, and note the death of Nobel-prize winning physicist Vitaly Ginzburg, who helped develop the Soviet hydrogen bomb.

Russia’s security service caught fourteen members of an international prostitute ring. The ring, including citizens of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, recruited girls from the Russian provinces and sent them to Europe, where they were forced into prostitution.

Russia’s Constitutional Court held hearings yesterday on whether or not to reimpose the death penalty in the country. There is currently a moratorium on the death penalty, which expires on January 1.

Videos posted by a policeman from Novorossiisk have become a media sensation in Russia. Policeman Alexei Dymovsky posted the videos last week, in which he addresses corruption in the police and appeals to Prime Minister Putin to improve conditions for the demoralized force. In response, Dymovsky was fired from his post. He now faces three investigations, including one for slander.

BRAZIL: Israeli President Shimon Peres is set to arrive in Brazil for a visit on Tuesday, with Iranian President Ahmadinejad due to arrive on November 23. Both visits symbolize Brazil’s aspirations as an international mediator.

A report in Brazil’s leading daily newspaper Monday said that police in Rio de Janeiro had killed more than 10,000 people over 11 years, with most of the deaths reportedly coming when people “resisted arrest.”

CUBA: The U.S. State Department is criticizing the Cuban government for allegedly attacking three bloggers over the weekend.

MEXICO: The Mexican government has declared two areas in the Gulf Coast as disaster zones due to flooding from Hurricane Ida.

PAKISTAN: At least 30 people were killed and 50 injured in a bomb blast ripped through a busy traffic intersection in northwest Pakistan.

SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister said that his country’s military will continue its air assault against Yemeni rebels until they retreat from the two countries’ border. Also, a Saudi Arabian government adviser says the kingdom has imposed a naval blockade on northern Yemen’s Red Sea coast to try to prevent weapons and fighters flowing to Shiite rebels in the area.

ISRAEL: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that the Lebanese group Hezbollah currently possesses tens of thousands of rockets, some capable of reaching up to 185 miles within Israel.

LEBANON: Months after parliamentary elections, Lebanon‘s prime minister Saad al-Hariri formed a new Cabinet, which includes members of Hezbollah and its allies.

PALESTINE: Aides close to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said that he intends to resign and that other Palestinian officials would follow suit.

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