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Wide Angle Blog
September 14th, 2009

Three men who planned to blow up seven transatlantic flights leaving from London are sentenced to life in prison by a British court, concluding the biggest counterterrorism investigation in British history. The plan, which involved using liquid explosives hidden in beverage bottles to bypass airport security, was broken up by security agencies in 2006.

A trade dispute between China and the U.S. heats up, as China files a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization over tariffs the U.S. has placed on Chinese tire imports. The Chinese government also took steps towards imposing its own tariffs on U.S. exports of chicken and automotive products.

Iran agrees to begin talks with six major world powers on October 1st, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterates that Iran’s “inalienable rights” to a nuclear program are not on the negotiating table.

Nearly 20 women and children are suffocated and killed in a stampede while waiting in line for free flour handouts in Karachi, Pakistan.

Norwegians vote in what is expected to be a close race between the ruling left-leaning government and right-wing opposition parties opposed to the country’s high taxes and liberal policies on immigration.

September 9th, 2009

Flash flooding leads to the deaths of at least 29 people near Istanbul, Turkey, as the area struggles with its heaviest rainfall in 80 years. Many stranded drivers wait for rescue teams after flooding blocks a major highway.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown helps initiate a raid on Taliban fighters in Afghanistan that frees New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell. The journalist and his interpreter, who was killed in the raid, were kidnapped on Saturday. Britain offers to host an international conference on Afghanistan to set targets for transferring security responsibilities from foreign forces to Afghan authorities.

The only son of the late president Corazon Aquino announces he will run for president of the Philippines in next year’s election. Benigno Aquino III adapts his mother’s signature color of yellow when he reveals his candidacy.  Current president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is in her final term and cannot run again.

Three days after China’s government proclaims coal mine safety to be a priority, a gas explosion at an unlicensed mine in central China kills at least 35 workers and traps 44. Officials respond by arresting and suspending 13 officials and mine managers.

Japan’s new ruling Democratic Party finalizes a deal to form a coalition with two small parties whose help it needs to pass laws quickly. The Democratic Party of Japan needs the backing of the Social Democrats and the conservative People’s New Party to maintain control of the nation’s parliament. The coalition is set to launch next week.

September 8th, 2009

Partial results for last month’s presidential election in Afghanistan give incumbent Hamid Karzai 54 percent of the vote, enough to win in a single round without a run-off. But the country’s Electoral Complaints Commission orders a partial recount of the ballots because of evidence of fraud, such as an “exceptionally high number” of votes cast in a polling station “in relation to the number of ballots available.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her government “deeply regrets” any loss of innocent life in Friday’s controversial air strike by U.S. jets that was ordered by German commanders, but calls on critics to withhold judgement until full details of the incident are known. At least 60 villagers may have been killed in the attack on two stolen oil tankers near Kunduz, according to the watchdog group Afghan Rights Monitor.

Three British Islamic extremists are convicted by a jury in the U.K. of plotting to kill thousands of people using liquid bombs on seven transatlantic flights. The 2006 plot included a plan to commit suicide attacks using explosives disguised as soft drinks.

Several days of torrential rains and flooding displace 600,000 people in 16 West African nations. Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ghana and Niger are among the worst hit as the flooding cuts off electricity and causes the closure of hospitals. Pumps to remove water from flooded areas are in short supply.

A Sudanese journalist is released from jail after she was convicted of “dressing indecently” by wearing trousers. Lubna Ahmed Hussein was imprisoned after she refused to pay a $200 fine because she did not want to “give the verdict any legitimacy.” Her colleagues paid the fine on Monday.

Two employees of a Walmart in China are arrested for allegedly beating to death a woman accused of shoplifting. The August 30 attack in the city of Jingdezhen occurred outside the woman’s home after she refused to show a receipt to the employees. She died three days later.

September 4th, 2009

NATO airstrikes targeting two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan kill more than 90. Reports indicate that while Taliban fighters were killed, villagers invited by the Taliban to remove fuel from one of the tankers were also among the dead and severely burned.

North Korea announces that it is in the final stages of enriching uranium. If confirmed, the process would allow the country to add uranium-based nuclear weapons to its current stockpile of plutonium bombs. Analysts say the announcement may be aimed at pushing the U.S. to open up direct talks with North Korea.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces plans to build hundreds of new settlements in the West Bank in advance of a moratorium on new construction planned for early next year.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suspends $30 million in American aid to Honduras. Clinton’s decision comes in response to a refusal by the leaders of a June 28 coup to return ousted President Manuel Zelaya to power.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zanawi, Africa’s lead negotiator to the December climate summit in Copenhagan, threatens to boycott the talks if any proposed deal fails to protect the continent from the effects of climate change.

September 3rd, 2009

Ali Bongo, son of former Gabon President Omar Bongo, is declared the winner of Gabon’s presidential election. Riots break out in several cities after the announcement, and major opposition candidate Pierre Mamboundou is seriously wounded in clashes with police.

The Iranian parliament votes to approve Marzieh-Vahid Dastjerdi as Minister of Health, making her the first female cabinet minister in the history of the Islamic republic. The parliament rejected two other women candidates put forward by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Members of a drug gang are suspected of executing 17 people at a drug rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, near the U.S. border. Mexican drug gangs have recently started targeted rehabilitation centers that they say protect members of rival groups.

Tens of thousands of members of minority ethnic groups gather in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi to protest random syringe attacks against dozens of people. The attacks have raised ethnic tensions in a city where riots killed 197 mainly Han Chinese in early July.

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis calls for early elections, which he says are needed to deal with fallout from the global financial crisis. The move comes just two years after 2007 elections brought Karamanlis to power.

September 2nd, 2009

A suicide car bomber kills 23 people, including Afghan’s deputy spy chief Abdullah Laghmani, at a mosque in the provincial capital of Mehtarlam, east of Kabul. The Taliban have taken responsibility for the blast.

Iraqi government figures indicate that August was Iraq’s deadliest month in over a year, with nearly 400 civilians dying in violent attacks. Two massive truck bombings at Iraqi ministries were responsible for more than a hundred of those deaths. Over 1,500 civilians were also wounded in bomb and mortar attacks in August.

In a statement posted to the Current TV website, journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee explain the events surrounding their arrest and sentencing to 12 years hard labor for illegally entering North Korea. The journalists say they entered the country briefly but were on Chinese soil when apprehended by North Korean soldiers. The two were released on August 4th after the intervention of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

An earthquake measuring magnitude 7.3 kills over 32 people and damages over 1,300 homes on Indonesia’s main island of Java.

A member of an Islamic sect responsible for an uprising that killed 700 in northern Nigeria tells reporters that he trained in Afghanistan. If confirmed, the link would be the first to connect Nigerian and Afghan Islamists.

September 1st, 2009

Turkey and Armenia agree to re-establish diplomatic ties and reopen their borders. Relations between the two countries have been strained for decades over the mistreatment and death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under Turkish rule during World War I.

The Iranian government offers an updated nuclear proposal ahead of talks in Frankfurt, Germany by members of the U.N. Security Council. The five countries and Germany are meeting Wednesday to discuss Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

Libya celebrates the 40-year anniversary of the military coup that brought Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to power. The celebrations come amid widespread controversy over the early release of Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person ever convicted in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

A court in Guatemala sentences an ex-paramilitary officer to 150 years for the disappearance of six civilians during the country’s 36-year civil war. The officer is the first person to be jailed for complicity in such disappearances, which a U.N. truth commission estimates at over 45,000 civilians from 1960 to 1996.

The North Korean government relaxes restrictions on border traffic with South Korea. Officials in Pyongyang had severely limited the flow of South Korean workers to the Kaesong industrial estate in the North to protest the policies of South Korea’s conservative government.

Pakistani troops kill 15 Taliban militants in fresh fighting in the Swat Valley. The army began an offensive in April that it claims has killed over 2,000 militants. It estimates that 312 soldiers have died in the fighting.

August 31st, 2009

The Democratic Party of Japan wins over 300 seats in Japan’s House of Representatives, ending the reign of the Liberal Democratic Party. Before Sunday’s elections, the LDP held a majority in the Lower House every year since its inauguration in 1955. Yukio Hatayama, president of the 11-year-old opposition DPJ, is expected to become the next Prime Minister of Japan.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe contracts the AH1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu, during a trip to a summit of South American leaders in Argentina. Uribe is responding well to treatment and is expected to recover.

Three different candidates for the presidency of Gabon, including the son of former President Omar Bongo, declare victory in Sunday’s election. The winner will become president of Africa’s fourth biggest oil producer and second biggest wood exporter.

In an indication of softening national support one month ahead of Germany’s general election, the Christian Democratic Union party of Angela Merkel loses control of two states in Sunday’s state elections. The CDU retains a 15-point opinion poll lead over its closest rival, the Social Democrats, for the national election.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces growing internal opposition over his cabinet minister choices. His selection of Ahmad Vahidi as defense minister has also sparked international controversy. Vahidi is wanted by Argentina for a 1994 bombing that killed 85 at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

August 27th, 2009

The Irish and South Africans mourn the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, calling him a “comrade and a friend in the fight for liberation.” Prominent Canadians pay tribute to Ted Kennedy as a longstanding ally, and note his refusal to invade Iraq. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praises Kennedy as “the voice of the voiceless and the defender of many defenseless people.”

Thousands gather in Tehran to mourn the death of a leading Iraqi Shi’ite cleric and politician, whose passing may intensify political turmoil ahead of Iraq’s national elections. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim headed the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shi’ite parties. Several car bombs erupt in Baghdad ahead of the return of his body to the city for a funeral procession there.

The outgoing head of the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur defends his soldiers against persistent criticism of their effectiveness, and insists they have ended the massacres that long plagued the Sudanese region.

Hours after Taiwan’s president announces a planned trip by the Dalai Lama to Taiwan, Chinese officials say they oppose the visit. China accuses him of advocating independence for Tibet. The Dalai Lama is expected to visit some areas in southern Taiwan that were hardest hit by Typhoon Morakot.

Afghan officials delay releasing further results from the nation’s disputed presidential election, and analysts expect the contest to undergo a second round. With 17 percent of votes counted, President Hamid Karzai leads his main rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, by about 43 percent to 34 percent. The final tally is expected in late September.

China launches a national organ donation system in a bid to shake off its dependence on executed prisoners as a major source of organs for transplants and as part of efforts to crack down on organ trafficking. The system will mainly be operated by the Red Cross Society of China, and begins as a pilot project in 10 provinces and cities.

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