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November 17, 2009
Today: Somalia’s corruption and a lost Nabakov novel

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

CHINA: U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged cooperation between the two countries on a range of issues including the climate change and nuclear safety in the Korean peninsula and in Iran. However, both leaders have not refrained from pointing out remaining differences between the two nations.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea has promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below expected levels in 2020. The announcement is expected to put pressure on other developed nations to fight global warming more aggressively.

GUINEA: Recruits for Guinea’s military junta are being trained by South African and Israeli military officials according to the news agency AFP. Witnesses claim to have seen the training exercises in a town south of the capital Conkary.

Man using a vuvuzela at a soccer game

SOMALIA: Somalia is once again the world’s most corrupt country. In Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index which measures perceived levels of public sector corruption, Somalia took the lowest spot with a score of 1.1 out of 10.

SOUTH AFRICA: The noisy South African vuvuzela trumpet is under attack again, this time by Japan. The Japanese Football Association President has requested the trumpet be banned from next years World Cup saying its loud noise limits communication with players, coaches, broadcasters, etc. The vuvuzela is a common instrument used by South African soccer fans.

GERMANY: A 90-year-old former Nazi SS member was charged Tuesday with 58 counts of murder in the deaths of forced Jewish laborers in Austria.

SPAIN: Pirates have released a Spanish vessel with 36 crew members which they had held for 6 weeks, according to Spain’s prime minister.

FRANCE: A Frenchwoman who was kept in Iranian prison after allegedly “provoking rioters” during Iran’s post-election protests appeared in Iranian court on Tuesday, and then returned to the French Embassy, where she has been permitted to remain since August.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Czechs mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution today, which lend to the end of Communist rule in the former Czechoskovakia. Thousands of people in the capital Prague are celebrating with with reenactment of a student protest.


A British security software firm says Russian criminals are making millions off the H1N1 flu epidemic by selling fake flu drugs over the Internet. The firm, Sophos, intercepted web sites and hundreds of millions of fake pharmaceutical span adverts, many of which are based in Russia.

A Russian human rights campaigner has been killed with a bullet shot to his head, as he entered his apartment building. The 26-year-old, Ivan Khutorsky, reportedly campaigned actively against neo-Nazi groups.

Vladimir Nabokov’s last unfinished novel “The Original of Laura” goes on sale today in London and New York. Nabokov had made his wife promise to burn the manuscript after his death, but she refrained from doing so, leaving it to their son Dmitri to decide its fate.

The Russian Orthodox Church is considering severing ties with the Evangelic Church in Germany, after the latter elected its first female leader last month. The Orthodox Archbishop reportedly said the church could not maintain a dialogue with a church headed by a woman.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the death in a Russian prison of a lawyer for the investment fund Hermitage Capital. The lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was jailed a year ago on tax evasion charges. At a court hearing this past September, he complained of inhumane conditions at the prison and of being denied medical treatment.

EL SALVADOR: The Yaqui indigenous group in Mexico has finally won the battle to get back the remains of some of their lost heroes, held in the storage of New York’s American Museum of Natural History for more than a century.

ARGENTINA: Argentina has granted its first marriage license to a gay couple, both men HIV positive.

GUATEMALA: Forty percent of Guatemala’s elderly are living in a state of poverty.

PALESTINE: The European Union said that it is “premature” for the Palestinians to try to have the UN recognize an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza.

ISRAEL/SYRIA: French president Nicolas Sarkozy says his country is ready to mediate between Syria and Israel and warns that extremists could benefit from a continued deadlock in the Mideast peace process.

SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia‘s government has said that all military activities have ceased on its southern borders with Yemen.

EGYPT: Amnesty International warned in a report out today that Egypt must take immediate steps to ensure there is no repeat of a 2008 rockslide that killed more than 100 residents of a Cairo shantytown.

IRAN: Iran’s nuclear envoy denied that the IAEA tour of its recently revealed uranium enrichment site has turned up any evidence that the Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

ISRAEL: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned today that Iran’s nuclear program posed a threat not just to Israel, but to the entire world.

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