World News Sunday

Burma's Suu Kyi tells followers not to give up hope
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has urged thousands of her supporters not to give up hope, a day after her release from house arrest.
The BBC 14 November 2010
"There is no reason to lose heart," she told a crowd outside the headquarters of her NLD party in Rangoon.

Ms Suu Kyi was released by the military when her sentence ended on Saturday.

World leaders and human rights groups have welcomed her release. She has spent 15 of the last 21 years either under house arrest or in prison.

On Sunday, Ms Suu Kyi's car was surrounded by a large crowd of supporters as it approached the NLD's headquarters.

People chanted "We love Suu", amid thunderous applause.

Shooting star show's brilliant history
Leonid meteor storm has made deep and terrifying impression on Americans
By Joe Rao
The Leonid meteor shower is back this month and poised to hit its peak next week. But there's a long history associated with the annual skywatching event.
It all began on the night of Nov. 12, 1833, when the Western Hemisphere unexpectedly came under attack by a firestorm of shooting stars that were reportedly silent, but overwhelming filled the sky.
During this historic display, which was seen under clear skies across the eastern United States, an estimated 240,000 meteors were observed.


Karzai wants U.S. to reduce military operations in Afghanistan

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, November 14, 2010; 12:52 AM

KABUL- President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that the United States must reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in Afghanistan and end the increased U.S. Special Operations forces night raids that aggravate Afghans and could exacerbate the Taliban insurgency.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Karzai said that he wanted American troops off the roads and out of Afghan homes and that the long-term presence of so many foreign soldiers would only worsen the war. His comments placed him at odds with U.S. commander Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has made capture-and-kill missions a central component of his counterinsurgency strategy, and who claims the 30,000 new troops have made substantial progress in beating backthe insurgency.

Just an ugly lump of rock? Not quite. It happens to be worth $1bn
US court sifts six claimants' murky tales about the discovery, sale and theft of the world's biggest Emerald
By Guy Adams in Los Angeles Sunday, 14 November 2010
There is a touch of the Indiana Jones about the case in which Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Kronstadt is hearing evidence. Its back-story reads like the script to a Hollywood movie, and the value of its outcome, which by some estimates could be as much as $1bn, puts it easily into blockbuster territory.

At stake is the ownership of the Bahia Emerald, a vast uncut gem embedded in a block of grey rock. It weighs 840lbs(341kg) or 180,000 carats, which is roughly the same as a small horse. Currently, it sits in a locked room at the CitySheriff's Department.


Ireland's young flee abroad as economic meltdown looms
Many young people are seeking to emigrate rather than face a life of hardship as the republic lurches towards financial collapse
David Sharrock in Dublin
The Observer, Sunday 14 November 2010

Student Niamh Buffini works hard and plays hard. As Ireland's No 1 taekwondo martial arts practitioner – she is rated 12th in the world – her ambitions include winning Olympic gold for Ireland.

But by the end of this month her future will have been decided by forces not just beyond her control but seemingly those of her government also. Ireland is on the cusp of insolvency. Some economists argue that it already is.

Buffini will soon learn if her fees at the Institute of Technology in Tallaght, south Dublin, have climbed beyond her means. Her father is a self-employed builder, which has recently become a euphemism for "unemployed".

Sergei Magnitsky: family remember Russian lawyer one year after his death
The case of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who died in prison, is being brought to the attention of MPs this week, a year after his death
By Andrew Osborn, Moscow 6:00AM GMT 14 Nov 2010
In the eyes of his supporters, he was a martyr in the fight against corruption, who paid the ultimate price for his dogged pursuit of one of Russia's biggest-ever tax scandals.
In the eyes of the Kremlin, though, Sergei Magnitsky was a criminal himself, whose death while waiting trial in a "dungeon-like" prison merited no further investigation.
Now, exactly a year after he was found dead in a filthy, squalid jail cell, Mr Magnitsky's mother and colleagues are to mount a brazen challenge to Moscow's official silence with a specially commissioned documentary to be shown to British parliamentarians on Tuesday.

Middle East

Allawi's Sunni-backed bloc returns to parliament after walkout
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki now has until late December to form a cabinet, a process expected to be nearly as difficult as agreeing on who would be prime minister.
By Sahar Issa, Correspondent / November 13, 2010
Iraq averted a new political crisis Saturday when the head of the main Sunni-backed bloc ended a walkout and returned to parliament, paving the way for the formation of a new government.
Ayad Allawi, head of the secular Iraqiya bloc, had walked out of the first session Thursday along with dozens of party members to protest what they said was the breach of an agreement to lift a ban on three of their members accused of Baathist ties.

“Iraqiya will take an active role in a government that will work towards real national participation within the agreements that we reached with the other political blocs,” Haider al-Mullah, a spokesman for Iraqiya, told reporters at parliament.

Israel to debate US settlement deal
US offers incentives for a 90-day building freeze in West Bank, but the proposal does not include East Jerusalem.
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2010 0
The US has offered Israel an incentive package to reinstate a 90-day moratorium on West Bank settlement building, in an effort to revive stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, diplomatic sources said.

The proposed moratorium, which would not include building in occupied East Jerusalem, is to be discussed in Israel's weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The potential freeze would cover future construction as well as works that were undertaken since September 26 when the previous 10-month government moratorium expired, sources said.

The US promised Israel it would not ask for an additional settlement freeze after the 90-day period and that they would back up the proposed moratorium with security measures, the sources said.


Exclusive: Afghanistan - behind enemy lines
James Fergusson returns after three years to Chak, just 40 miles from Kabul, to find the Taliban's grip is far stronger than the West will admit
Sunday, 14 November 2010
The sound of a propeller engine is audible the moment my fixer and I climb out of the car, causing us new arrivals from Kabul to glance sharply upwards. I have never heard a military drone in action before, and it is entirely invisible in the cold night sky, yet there is no doubt what it is. My first visit to the Taliban since 2007 has only just begun and I am already regretting it. What if the drone is the Hellfire-missile-carrying kind?

Three years ago, the Taliban's control over this district, Chak, and the 112,000 Pashtun farmers who live here, was restricted to the hours of darkness – although the local commander, Abdullah, vowed to me that he would soon be in full control.

Bangladesh strikes after eviction
Shutdown called by opposition closes schools and businesses after former prime minister was forced to leave her house.
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2010
A nationwide general strike has emptied the streets of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, and other cities a day after a suicide bombing killed three people and clashes between polioce and protesters injured more than 100 others.

Businesses and schools across the country were closed on Sunday as a result of the shutdown called to protest against the eviction of Begum Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The strike halted almost all transportation in Dhaka, a city of about 12 million people, just as the majority-Muslim country begins to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday.

A police officer in Dhaka's city centre told the Reuters news agency that the strike, the first of its kind since 2007, had so far gone peacefully, but that the police were prepared for trouble.


The doctor who heals victims of Congo's war rapes
Gynaecologist Denis Mukwege operates in a war where sexual assault is used as a weapon
Alex Duval Smith in Bukavu
The Observer, Sunday 14 November 2010

Deep in the eastern Congo, in the thick of a conflict that plumbs the depths of human cruelty, one doctor in a single-storey hospital is keeping hope alive. Gynaecologist Denis Mukwege draws his strength, he says, from the indomitable spirit of the most weakened of victims – women raped in a calculated act of war who arrive, "broken, waiting for death, hiding their faces", at his hospital. "Often they cannot talk, walk or eat," he says.

A 14-year war that is, in effect, a continuation of the genocide that took place in neighbouring Rwanda has become a "gynocide", in which rape is used to tear the bonds of a community apart and facilitate access to mineral wealth.

Latin America

Haiti: Where is the UN? Where is the help?
Thousands may be dead as scale of cholera epidemic is underestimated
By Nina Lakhani Sunday, 14 November 2010
Thousands of Haitians infected with cholera could be suffering and dying without any help as aid agencies warn they are overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster. The official death toll of 800 is widely regarded to be a "serious underestimate", as only cases confirmed by the national laboratory are being counted. Thousands may already be dead.

Across the impoverished nation, the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières has set up makeshift hospitals on the streets and in car parks, as its doctors and nurses try and cope with the daily influx of sick patients.

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