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Wide Angle Blog
October 9th, 2009

President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” and particularly for his recent efforts towards nuclear disarmament.

Nearly 50 people are killed and more than 100 injured when a car bomb rips through the main market in Peshawar, Pakistan. The attack is the sixth the city has suffered in the past four months.

France arrests a researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) for purported ties to al-Qaeda.

Burma’s military government allows pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi  to hold rare talks with Western diplomats in what could be a sign of thawing relations.

France’s Louvre Museum will return five relics stolen from Luxor’s Valley of the Kings to Egypt.

October 8th, 2009

An explosion outside the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills at least 17 and wounds more than 60. The embassy has been attacked before — in July 2008, a suicide bomber killed 58 and wounded 141. American and Indian officials say that the Pakistani intelligence agency had a hand in the earlier attack.

German writer Herta Mueller wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Mueller, who was born in Romania, has written widely about oppression under Romania’s communist dictatorship.

The Nigerian militant group MEND vows to resume attacks after a 60-day ceasefire expires next week. MEND’s campaign of attacks on oil pipelines and kidnappings of oil company employees has cut oil production in the Niger Delta by about a third.

Iran blames the U.S. for the disappearance of an Iranian scientist reportedly involved in the country’s nuclear program. The scientist, Shahram Amiri, vanished during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June.

October 6th, 2009


One of the most wanted fugitives from the Rwandan genocide is arrested in Uganda. Idelphonse Nizeyimana, the former Rwandan intelligence chief, directly ordered and organized massacres during the genocide, and more recently was top commander of a rebel group causing terror in eastern Congo.

More that 250 people are killed and at least 25 villages destroyed in monsoon flooding in the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Turkish police use tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators protesting IMF and World Bank meetings in Istanbul. At least 50 people are arrested.

The United Nations closes all of its offices throughout Pakistan for an indefinite period following yesterday’s bombing of the U.N. World Food Program compound in Islamabad.

An Italian court begins reviewing a law passed in July 2008 that gives Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi immunity from prosecution. If the law is overturned, Berlusconi could face prosecution in a number of cases, including one for corruption.

October 5th, 2009

A suicide bomber strikes the U.N. World Food Program compound in central Islamabad, killing four Pakistanis and one Iraqi, all employees of the organization.

Ireland votes “yes” in a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, paving the way for the creation of an E.U. president. Ireland had voted “no” in a similar referendum last year, blocking the the implementation of the treaty, which requires unanimous approval.

Greece’s Socialists win a sweeping victory over the center-right ruling party in snap elections, bucking a European trend towards conservative government  exemplified most recently by Germany’s re-election of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Egypt’s highest Muslim authority says he will issue a religious edict against the wearing of the niqab, a full veil that covers a woman’s face. While headscarfs are widely worn in Egypt, the niqab is a growing trend associated with more radical Islam.

The Dalai Lama visits Washington this week but will not meet with President Obama — the White House postponed a planned meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader in an apparent attempt to gain favor with China in advance of a summit between President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, scheduled for next month.

October 2nd, 2009

Israel releases 19 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a video that shows an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas to be alive and in good health. Hamas calls the exchange a “triumph” of the armed resistance. None of the 19 prisioners has blood on her hands, and all were set for release within two years.

Ireland holds a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, an agreement aimed at strengthening the European Union by creating a full-time president and foreign-policy chief. The treaty must be unanimously accepted by all 27 member states. Ireland, which voted “no” in a similar referendum last year, is one of the last hold outs.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal of her most recent sentencing is rejected. The pro-democracy leader was convicted and sentenced to 18 additional months of house arrest for having allowed an uninvited American to stay in her home while under a previous house arrest.

The International Olympic Committee hears final presentations from the four cities competing to host the 2016 Summer Olympics — Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio de Janeiro. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama give an emotional speech on behalf of their hometown, Chicago. A decision is expected by 12:30 p.m. Eastern time.

October 1st, 2009

The death toll from two earthquakes which struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra yesterday reaches 1,100 and is expected to rise. Most of the casualties are in the city of Padang.

At rare talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers, Iran agrees to allow weapons inspectors into its newly disclosed nuclear plant, and both sides agree to continued negotiations.

The People’s Republic of China celebrates its 60th anniversary by parading military personnel and equipment through downtown Beijing and hosting an evening gala complete with fireworks in Tienanmen Square.

Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, forms a new coalition which brings together Sunni and Shia parties to represent “all Iraqis.”

September 30th, 2009

Hundreds of people are feared dead and several villages are destroyed when a tsunami hits the islands of Samoa and American Samoa.

The U.S. will withdraw 4,000 troops from Iraq by the end of October and is on track to withdraw all combat troops by September 2010, according to an advanced copy of an address that General Ray Odierno, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, is expected to give to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee today.

Israel plans to release 20 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a videotape that proves that an Israel soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants in 2006, is still alive.

Pakistani and Indian reports obtained by The New York Times show that ten months after terrorists killed 163 people in Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant organization behind the attacks, is still intact and determined to strike India again.

Talks between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers begin tomorrow in Geneva.

September 29th, 2009

More than 100 people are killed when security forces open fire on a crowd of pro-democracy demonstrators in the Guinean capital, Conakry. As many as 50,000 opponents of the military junta had gathered to protest amid speculation that the junta’s leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, would run in presidential elections next January. There are also reports of soldiers raping women in the streets of the capital.

Thirty Afghan civilians are killed when their bus, traveling on the dangerous main road from Herat to Kandahar, hits a roadside bomb.

An E.U. report is expected to conclude that Georgia started last year’s war with Russia by attacking separatists in South Ossetia, but that Russia had set the stage by encouraging separatists in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgian territories recognized as sovereign nations by only Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

After killing at least 240 people in the Philippines, Typhoon Ketsana moves on to Vietnam, where at least 32 people have died and 170,000 people have been urged to evacuate their homes.

September 28th, 2009

The Honduran military shuts down local radio and television stations loyal to deposed President Manuel Zelaya, who was overthrown in a military coup on June 28 and is now living in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

Iran test fires three missiles with range sufficient to strike Israel, parts of Europe, and American bases in the Persian Gulf, just days after the leaders of the U.S., France and Britain disclosed the existence of a secret nuclear plant in Iran, and only a few days before the first direct contact between Iran and the U.S. in decades, in talks between Iran and six major world powers scheduled to take place in Geneva on Thursday.

The Philippine government struggles to cope with the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana, locally known as Ondoy, which killed at least 140 people. With thousands of Filipinos still trapped by floods, the death toll is expected to rise.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is re-elected. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union will will almost certainly form a new governement with the pro-business Free Democratic Party, leaving behind the center-left Social Democrats who are part of the current governing coalition.

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