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Wide Angle Blog
July 7th, 2009

At least 16 people die when an American drone missile strikes a Pakistani Taliban training camp in the Zangara area of South Waziristan. Three Uzbek militants are among the dead. Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud reportedly survives the attack on his military compound in the region where top Al Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding.

Eleven NATO soldiers, seven Americans, two Canadians and one Briton, die in four separate incidents in Afghanistan in two days. Ten deaths on Monday make it the deadliest day for the NATO and U.S.-led coalitions in nearly a year.

The day before the commencement of the 2009 Group of Eight (G8) Summit in L’Aquila, Italy ten people are arrested and at least thirty people are detained in an anti-capitalist protest. Rioters set fires and create roadblocks in the Italian capital of Rome.

Riots continue in the Chinese city of Urumqi as police clash with hundreds of Han Chinese who are wielding weapons. Police arrest 1,434 in connection with Sunday evening’s riot and impose a “comprehensive traffic control” for Tuesday night in order to prevent further ethnic violence between the Han Chinese and Muslim Uighurs that has already resulted in 156 deaths and at least 1,000 injuries.

July 6th, 2009

Long-standing ethnic tensions between the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group, and the majority Han Chinese cause the largest ethnic clash in China since March of 2008. At least 140 people are killed and at least 800 are injured after a riot on Sunday by about 1,000 Uighurs in a large market area in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region. Xinjiang Public Security Department reports the arrests of several hundred riot participants and witnesses describe an increase in security measures in downtown Urumqi.

U.S. President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign a joint statement that supports a “new, comprehensive, legally binding agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires on December 5, 2009.” The agreement requires both countries to reduce their strategic warheads to between 1,500 to 1,675 and warhead-delivering missiles to between 500 and 1,000.

Honduran authorities prevent ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya, traveling from Washington with United Nations General Assembly president Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann and a few advisers, from landing in the capital of Teguicigalpa. Zelaya lands in the capital city of El Salvador, San Salvador, after a stop in Managua, Nicaragua, to refuel and meet with allies Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. One Zelaya supporter is killed and at least eight people are injured in a confrontation with national soldiers on the tarmac in Tegucigalpa while awaiting the former president’s arrival, according to rescue officials.

Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, the head of Iran’s judiciary, calls for a suppression of Iranian television and Internet media that is critical of the government. Iranian state television quotes Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi as saying, in an address to the judiciary, “[t]hose who co-operate with such websites and television channels will face prosecution.”

Former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara dies at the age of 93. He is known mostly for his role in leading the U.S. into war with Vietnam. He also directed hundreds of military missions from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and increased the role of the defense secretary in domestic and international affairs.

July 2nd, 2009

India decriminalizes homosexuality. In the historic ruling, the Delhi High Court says that “the inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognizing a role in society for everyone.”

U.S. forces launch a major offensive to drive the Taliban out their stronghold in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

The U.N. elects Yukiya, Amano, from Japan, to replace Mohamed El Baradei as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency when Baradei steps down in November.

North Korea fires four short-range missiles amidst increased tension ever since the U.N. imposed sanctions after the country’s May 25 nuclear test.

June 30th, 2009

The U.S. military in Iraqi cities transfers official control to the country’s forces. Newly-dubbed “Sovereignty Day” is celebrated with parades, fireworks, and a nationally-televised speech from Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. A car bomb in the city of Kirkuk kills at least 27 people.

A Yemenia Airways plane en route to the island-nation of Comoros, located off the coast of Mozambique, crashes into the Indian Ocean. Rescue workers are searching for more survivors after a finding a young survivor among the Airbus A310-300 debris.

The annual inflation rate for the Eurozone, the area of the 16 European nations which use the Euro, turns negative for the first time since the introduction of the unified currency in 1999. Although the European Central Bank falls below its target annual rate, it does not plan to cut its borrowing amount.

Israeli senior ministers discuss temporarily halting construction of West Bank settlements hours before a planned meeting between Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak and U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell. In an interview with the New York Times, Barak states, “We should not isolate this issue of settlements and make it the most important one. It has to be discussed in the context of a larger peace discussion.”

Japan’s unemployment rate is the lowest in five years and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare states, “The severity of the (employment) situation is increasing further.” Japanese companies fearful of a slow national economic recovery are reluctant to hire workers despite fiscal improvements within the nation’s corporate and manufacturing sectors. In the Tokyo neighborhood of Koenji, Japanese youth denounce the lack of employment opportunities.

Sudan announces military preparedness for a possible incursion from Chad‘s armed forces. Tensions escalate between the neighboring countries in recent weeks after each nation accuses the other of supporting rebel troops.

June 29th, 2009

The president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, is arrested by the country’s military troups and exiled to Costa Rica after an ongoing conflict over a constitutional referendum between Zelaya and the country’s Congress and Supreme Court.

Former Argentinean President Néstor Kirchner, husband of the country’s current President Christina Fernández de Kirchner, resigns as leader of the Justicialist Party after losing his congressional race in Buenos Aires province. According to exit polls, President Fernández de Kirchner’s party could lose its majority control in Congress.

The police chief of Kandahar, Afghanistan, is killed in a gun battle with U.S.-trained armed guards from a private security company at the office of the provincial attorney general. At least 41 of the armed guards are arrested and ordered to face a military trial in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Five of nine Iranians employed by the British Embassy in Tehran are released after being investigated by the Iranian government. British foreign secretary David Miliband called the arrests “harassment and intimidation of a kind which is quite unacceptable.”

Albanian citizens vote in their seventh parliamentary election since the end of communist rule in 1992, with exit polls indicating victory for current Prime Minister Sali Berisha over Edi Rama, mayor of the Albanian capital of Tirana. The main foreign election observers, the Organization for Security and Cooperation report some campaign violations.

June 25th, 2009

Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi says on his website that he is under pressure to withdraw his complaint over the disputed re-election. Iranian authorities arrest 70 professors who previously met with Mousavi. The U.S. withdraws invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend U.S. Independence Day celebrations on 4th of July.

At least seven bombs explode throughout Iraq as a rise in violence continues ahead of the planned withdrawal of 133,000 U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by June 30.

Air France says the bodies of two crew members have been recovered from the crash of the passenger jet that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil. Rescue teams have found about 50 bodies so far from the flight.

The Chinese Health Ministry implements sharp restrictions on Internet access to medical research papers on sexual subjects as part of an “anti-pornography campaign” that may lead to a broader crackdown on freedom of expression. Google access is also blocked overnight in China.

Russia’s Supreme Court overturns the acquittal of four men accused of involvement in the murder of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and orders a new trial.

June 24th, 2009

Reformist Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi‘s wife says the country is in a “state of martial law.” Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vows the government will not give in to mass protests against the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Khamenei says President Obama sent him a letter before the election that called for an improvement in relations.

A US drone kills 45 at what authorities say is a “Taliban training centre” in the South Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan. A second drone strikes a funeral procession for those killed in the first raid. Former Afghan detainees at Bagram military base make new allegations that U.S. soldiers abused them.

North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Il, may be close to transferring power to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, who he has put in charge of the nation’s secret police. Analysts say he may lack support from the country’s elite, which could cause a power struggle.

Chinese authorities arrest prominent dissident, Liu Xiaobo, for alleged agitation activities aimed at subversion of government. Liu has been under “residential surveillance” since Dec. 8, the day before publication of a document he co-wrote calling for democracy in China.

The U.S. announces it will send an ambassador to Syria for the first time in four years as part of an effort to rehabilitate relations in the Middle East.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi denies paying female escorts for their company and says his accusers fabricated their stories in order to scandalize him.

June 22nd, 2009

Iranian riot police fire tear gas to break up a new opposition rally in the center of Tehran, hours after a stern warning to protesters. At least 24 journalists covering the unrest are arrested. The country’s highest electoral authority, the Guardian Council, acknowledges that “votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of people eligible to cast ballots in those areas.”

Four bombs explode in Baghdad, killing at least 20 in mostly Shia areas, and continuing a rise in violence throughout Iraq as U.S. troops prepare to pullout from urban areas there by the end of June.

Insurgents attack the convoy of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the president of Ingushetia, a tiny quasi-autonomous republic on Chechnya’s western border. Yevkurov is said to be in stable condition, but his country is less so as separtists and Islamic fundamentalists gain momentum.

North Korea warns in an editorial published in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper that it will strike at the US if it is attacked, noting it is “proud nuclear power,” and the US should “take a correct look at whom it is dealing with.” The Japanese newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun reports the country’s heir apparent Kim Jong-un is working as acting chairman of the National Defense Commission to support his ailing father.

A conservative leads the ongoing and controversial race to replace the U.K.’s House of Commons speaker who was ousted for excessive expense claims. Many Labour party members support the young Tory MP, John Bercow, and his campaign for “reform, for renewal, for revitalisation and for the reassertion of the core values of this great institution in the context of the 21st century.”

June 19th, 2009

Fourteen years into Liberia’s bloody civil war, Leymah Gbowee had had enough. Gbowee, a 33-year-old mother of five, spearheaded a movement of Christian and Muslim women who joined together to force the warring factions to the negotiating table.

Gbowee’s story, and the story of the thousands of courageous Liberian women who came together to bring peace to their shattered country, is chronicled in Pray the Devil Back to Hell a film by Gini Reticker and Abby Disney, which will kick off the upcoming WIDE ANGLE mini series, Women, War & Peace. The series challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are male domains, and places women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security in the post-Cold War era, where globalization, arms trafficking, and illicit trade have intersected to create a whole new type of war.

Tonight, Bill Moyers Journal profiles Gbowee and Disney. Check your local listings for air times, or watch online after the broadcast.

Here’s a preview of Pray the Devil Back to Hell:

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