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Wide Angle Blog
August 25th, 2009

Afghanistan’s election commission says President Hamid Karzai and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah both have roughly 40 percent of the nationwide vote for president with 10 percent of ballots in. The commission plans to release partial results each day for the next several days, and final results will be ready next month.

Four U.S. soldiers operating under NATO are killed in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan, making the 2009 death toll for foreign forces in Afghanistan the highest since the war began nearly eight years ago.

Negotiations to exchange an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for hundreds of jailed Palestinians are advanced by German involvement. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in London for talks with his U.K. counterpart Gordon Brown to discuss the Middle East peace process.

An Iranian prosecutor calls for “maximum punishment” of a senior reformer for acting against national security, in the fourth mass trial of moderates after Iran’s disputed election. Saeed Hajjarian, disabled by an assassination attempt in 2000, is accused of fomenting unrest and having contacts with British intelligence.

South Korea fails to send its scientific satellite into orbit after launching its first rocket into space. The rocket successfully lifted off from the country’s launch pad on the southern coast but failed to put an attached scientific satellite into the target orbit.

Chinese President Hu Jintao makes his first trip to Xinjiang after last month’s deadly ethnic riots. At the same time, there is confusion about how many rioters will face criminal charges and when their trial will start.

August 24th, 2009

Afghanistan prepares to release partial results from a hotly contested election marred by allegations of massive fraud. Both President Hamid Karzai and his chief rival claim the lead. Officials warn that the final outcome could be affected by investigations into the claimed abuses.

The top U.S. officials in charge of North Korea policy and nuclear talks announce plans to travel to Pyongyang next month for the first bilateral nuclear negotiations between the two countries. The news follows Sunday’s state funeral for former President Kim Dae-jung, a Nobel laureate who was revered for his dedication to human rights and peace on the Korean Peninsula during his tenure from 1998 to 2003. The funeral prompted a meeting between officials from the North and South in which North Korean officials called for “progress in inter-Korean relations.”

Conservative officials in Iran snub President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by appointing the man he fired from the post of intelligence minister as the country’s state prosecutor. Iran also confirms it will cooperate with United Nations inspectors seeking to access its nearly complete nuclear reactor.

The release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, comes under the scrutiny of Arab press commentators who question whether the decision to release the cancer-stricken prisoner was motivated by Western business interests in Libya. Scottish officials are also under scrutiny from their fellow lawmakers, and Americans launch an international campaign to stop consumers buying Scottish products.

Fire-fighters beat back wildfires in the suburbs of Athens, forcing thousands to flee and putting the government on the defensive before a pending election. The main opposition leader referred to the fires as an “unprecedented ecological catastrophe.”

August 19th, 2009

Senator Jim Webb

This past weekend, Senator Jim Webb (D) of Virginia became the first senior U.S. politician to meet with the leader of Burma’s military government, General Than Shwe. Webb also managed to visit with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and secured the release of John Yettaw, the American jailed for swimming to the house where Aung San Suu Kyi lives under house arrest.

In this audio interview, WIDE ANGLE senior multimedia producer Lauren Feeney speaks with Maureen Aung-Thwin, director of the Open Society Institute’s Burma project and guest on this week’s episode of WIDE ANGLE, about the significance of Webb’s trip to Burma.

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August 19th, 2009

Two massive truck bombs strike Baghdad, killing 95 people and injuring almost 600. The bombings targeted the Foreign and Finance Ministries and are the most devastating attacks in Iraq since American forces handed over security to Iraq in June. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

North and South Sudan sign a peace agreement aimed at bolstering a fragile 2005 peace deal. That agreement brought an end to the 22-year civil war that resulted in the deaths of up to 1.5 million people. The peace has recently been threatened by ethnic clashes resulting in hundreds of deaths this year.

Gen Miguel Maza Marquez, former head of Colombia’s secret police is arrested for complicity in the 1989 assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.

Georgia withdraws from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The move is in response to Russia’s incursion into Georgia last August to stop an assault against the breakaway South Ossetia region.

South Korea suspends the launch of its first space-bound rocket due to technical problems just minutes before lift-off. If the launch is ultimately successful, South Korea will become the 10th nation to place a spacecraft into orbit from its own soil.

August 18th, 2009

A suicide attack on a NATO convoy in Kabul kills 10 people, including U.N. staff members and a NATO soldier. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, 10 civilians are injured in a rocket attack in Jalalabad, three Afghan soldiers are killed by a suicide bomber in Uruzgan province, and a roadside bomb kills two U.S. soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban are claiming responsibility for all of the attacks.

Israeli government officials say that Israel has stopped issuing permits to build in the West Bank. The move comes in spite of Israel’s refusal to agree to an official freeze on settlements requested by the U.S.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung dies at a Seoul hospital at the age of 85. Dae-jung will be remembered for surviving multiple assassination attempts and a death sentence while an opposition leader and for his efforts to reunite North and South Korea.

Eight people are arrested by Russian police for hijacking the cargo ship Arctic Sea. The suspects include four Estonians, two Latvians and two Russians. They were detained without incident when the missing ship was found and boarded by Russian naval forces yesterday.

Nigerian police detain hundreds of members of an Islamist sect in the state of Niger. The arrests come after 800 people were killed three weeks ago in clashes between security forces and the Islamist sect Boko Haram in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

August 17th, 2009

A truck driven by a suicide bomber detonates at a police station in Russia’s southern province of Ingushetia, killing at least 20 and injuring more than 138.  The bombing is the most violent incident to occur in the province since hundreds of gunmen killed 90 people in a 2004 attack.

Aghanistan’s presidential campaign concludes at midnight tonight. Afghans go to the polls to select their next leader on Thursday. The election will also determine over 3,000 provincial council seats.

The Mexican government replaces 1,100 custom officials with new officers who have undergone thorough background checks. The move is aimed at reducing corruption to stem the flow of illegal drugs into and out of the country.

The missing Russian cargo ship “Arctic Sea” is found 300 miles off the coast of Cape Verde with all 15 crew members alive. The disappearance has sparked speculation that the ship’s actual cargo is more valuable than the timber listed on its manifest.

An attack by Somali militants on a U.N. outpost in Southern Somalia is repelled. Three attackers were killed in what officials believe was an attempt to kidnap aid workers.

The U.S. Peace Corps suspends its volunteer program in Mauritania due to security concerns. It has been operating in the northwest African country since 1967.

August 14th, 2009

U.S. Senator Jim Webb flies to the Burmese capital of Naypidaw to meet with Senior General Than Swhe, the leader of Burma’s military regime. Webb is the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet with the military junta in over a decade.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concludes her 11-day Africa trip with a visit to the tiny nation of Cape Verde. Emphasizing good governance, Clinton visited seven nations during the longest foreign trip of her tenure.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou raises the death toll estimate from flooding and mudslides caused by Typhoon Morakot from 100 to 500.

Violence flares in Russia’s Caucasus region as four policemen are killed by separatists in Chechnya’s capital of Grozny. The attack comes a day after four policemen and seven women are killed by Islamic separatists at a bath house in neighboring Dagestan.

All schools in Mumbai, India close for a week as the number of H1N1 cases rise.

August 13th, 2009

The European Union extends sanctions against the Burmese government after the sentencing of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to 18 months house arrest. The assets of the judges involved in sentencing Suu Kyi will be subject to freeze and the judges banned from traveling within the E.U.

Officials in Taiwan warn hundreds of villagers to flee an area feared to be in imminent danger from upstream mud lakes caused by Typhoon Morakot.

British officials are considering the compassionate release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi who is suffering from terminal prostate cancer. Two hundred and seventy people died when Pan Am flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Twenty three Philippine soldiers are killed during an assault on a major stronghold of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. Thirty members of Abu Sayyaf are killed in the operation; initial reports indicate that one of the dead may be Khair Mundos, a member of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah for whom the U.S. has offered a $500,000 bounty.

Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani survives a Taliban ambush in Aghanistan’s Kunduz province. 14 civilians are also killed in two seperate roadside attacks as Taliban-related violence surges in advance of next week’s presidential elections.

August 12th, 2009

Listen now:

In May of 2009, a bi-partisan group from the U.S. House of Representatives urged President Obama to lift the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba. They argued that it has failed to achieve its objective of regime change, and that the U.S. is missing out on major trading opportunities as countries from around the world sign up to do business with the island nation.

Critics counter that allowing trade and tourism to Cuba won’t make it more democratic. They point to Cuba’s poor labor practices and human rights record as a reason for keeping the embargo in place.

Is it time to end the trade embargo against Cuba or are there legitimate reasons for keeping it in place? Join WIDE ANGLE correspondent Aaron Brown on Blog Talk Radio as he moderates a discussion with representatives from both sides of the debate.

Phil Peters (left) is Vice President of the Lexington Institute, author of the blog The Cuban Triangle, and has testified before Congress to advocate for a relaxing of the trade embargo against Cuba.

Mauricio Claver-Carone (right) is a lobbyist for the anti-Castro U.S.-Cuba PAC, author of the blog Capitol Hill Cubans, and a fervent supporter of maintaining the current trade embargo.

We want to hear what you think. Call in and join the discussion LIVE, Thursday, August 13th at 11:00 a.m.  EST. The number to call is (718) 506-1351.

To send us your questions in advance, leave a comment below. You can also send your question via Twitter using #VictoryIsYourDuty. If you miss the radio show, visit our site after the debate to hear it online.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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