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September 16th, 2009
World Links: New Japanese Leader May Pull Out of Afghanistan, World Bank Warns of Climate Catastrophe

Japan’s parliament names Yukio Hatoyama as the country’s new prime minister, formalizing the first change of government by a political party with a solid majority in half a century. Hatoyama immediately announces his cabinet, which includes a new defense minister who strongly opposes the country’s military support for the U.S. in Afghanistan, making it likely that Japan will withdraw its naval ships from the war there early next year.

Afghan election officials begin preparations for a second round of voting to determine last month’s controversial presidential election marred by allegations of large-scale rigging in favor of Hamid Karzai. The second round will take place in five weeks only if Karzai’s share of the vote – which currently stands at 54% – falls to less than 50 percent. With 10 percent of ballots currently under scrutiny, this appears increasingly likely.

The World Bank says development efforts in poorer nations will be derailed without a huge increase in funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. The bank warns that the increase in global average temperatures will still result in shrinking levels of G.D.P. for many African and Asian countries and lead to a global health catastrophe.

Kenyan authorities begin to move residents out of Africa’s largest slum – the Kibera settlement in Nairobi. Officials expect the clearance of about one million people to take up to five years. The first people to move will be housed in 300 new apartments. Prime Minister Raila Odinga says new ground is being prepared for a “modern, low income residential estate with modern schools, markets, playgrounds and other facilities.”

A senior United Nations official begins a visit to Sri Lanka for two days of talks about the slow pace of release of Tamil refugees. Many are still detained in government-run camps four months after the end of the war. The U.N. official may also press for a probe into human rights abuses during the final stages of the military’s victory over Tamil rebels.

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