International News Roundup

Seán McGandy

Putin in no Russ to leave

Vladimir Putin has confirmed his candidacy for the 2012 Russian presidential race. Despite his 40% approval rating in the nation’s polls, the Russian Prime Minister is believed to have agreed a “role swap” with current Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

Jackson Trial Continues

Conrad Murray, ex-personal physician to Michael Jackson, underwent the second week of his manslaughter trial in connection with the singer’s death. Defence Attorney Ed Chernoff, told the downtown Los Angeles court that Jackson was “involved in certain acts to end his own life.” Murray denies all charges of manslaughter both voluntary and involuntary.

Pirates Strike Again

Marie Dedieu has become the latest reported Somali pirate hostage. The 66 year old French woman was captured during cross fire between her abductors and the Kenyan navy on Manda Island, Lamu. Manda Island is an hour south of where last month British publishing executive David Tebutt and his wife Judith were taken hostage. David died from a gunshot to the chest but it’s still believed that Judith remains alive and under captive. The captures are significant as they are the first occasions where Somali pirates have stepped ashore to claim their hostages.

Self Confessed “Mr Squeaky Clean” Hides Skeletons

Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election bid suffered a further blow this week. A leading sate prosecutor and close associate of the French president was summoned before judges on Wednesday as part of investigations into an alleged dirty tricks campaign where senior state intelligence agencies are said to have illegally obtained detailed phone records. Records are believed to include those of Le Monde’s Investigations editor Gérard Davet. Sarkozy’s office denies any involvement.

Dali Lama joins the party

The South African government has come under fierce attack by international Human Rights groups after it was accused of attempting to block Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dali Lama, from attending the 80th birthday celebrations of fellow Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu. The former archbishop Tutu accused his government of “shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure.” It is believed Beijing are wielding their economic and political power in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the man they claim to be a separatist leader.

ECB Warns Italy

A letter issued to Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, from the chairman of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet and his successor Mario Draghi, was this week published in Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. The letter sheds light on the exorbitant economic power the ECB holds over Italy. It details the terms and conditions of the ECB’s intervention to prop up Italian government bonds which have recently come under market attack. “The pressing action by the Italian Authorities” as requested in the letter could range from government cuts to the large-scale privatisation of local public services. Neither of which have, at time of writing, been mentioned by the Italian government.

Bahrain Courts Controversy

A military court in Bahrain has sentenced 20 doctors and nurses to jail terms of up to 15 years. The medical workers were accused of conspiring to overthrow the monarchy during the anti-government protests earlier this spring. The sentencing has provoked widespread international condemnation and is likely to re-open the debate as to whether Formula One should be allowed to return to Bahrain.

Merkel Succeeds

The German parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strengthened European bailout on Thursday. Chancellor Angela Merkel managed to avert a potential backbench rebellion carrying the Bundestag by 523 votes to 85. Despite the victory it is believed that 76% of German adults are opposed to the measures that will increase the size of the European rescue fund from €440bn to €750bn of which the German exchequer will be expected to contribute €211.

Collision Carnage

260 passengers were injured following the collision of two trains on the Shanghi underground. Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported of several passengers suffering head wounds. The collision has led to widespread criticism of China’s aggressive expansion of its transportation structure.

Shotgun Sheilas                                                                         

It was announced in Australia this week that servicewomen could be made to serve alongside their male counterparts on the frontline in Afghanistan. The Australian Government has taken steps to remove all gender barriers in the military. The nation’s defence minister Stephen Smith hailed the measures as a “significant and major cultural change.” Australia joins a small list of countries including, Italy, France Germany, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand and Israel who have removed military gender restrictions.

Police Cuts

America’s military is facing cuts of $1 trillion over the coming decade. The figure eclipses the total UK defence budget for the same period. Republican sceptics have estimated that defence spending would be at its lowest point as a percentage of national expenditure since the end of the Second World War. Admiral Mike Mullan, recently retired Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned the White House and Congress that such cuts would be catastrophic to America’s status as the world’s policeman.

Trouble In Gaza

The chief of Al-Jazeera’s Kabul bureau, Samer-Allawi, was detained by the Israeli military and forced to admit his ties to Hamas when visiting his family on the west bank. He was convicted by military court of “conspiracy to provide a service for an outlawed organisation.” Allawi stated that the whole arrest episode was a “charade aimed at extorting Al-Jazeera” and that he was not the target.  Hamas won an election in Palestinian territories in 2006 and gained control of Gaza the following year. The organisation is outlawed by Israel, the US and the EU.

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