A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, August 13, 2009.
The French capital Paris has seen a second night of violence by demonstrators, who have blamed police for the death of a motorcyclist on Sunday.
On Sunday night youths in the eastern suburb of Bagnolet, set 29 vehicles alight and threw stones and petrol bombs at police. Monday night was “relatively calm” according to Samira Amrouche, spokeswoman for the regional administration, the authorities having depolyed 40 vans of riot police only 8 vehicles were burnt.
The motorcyclist, a pizza deliveryman, was killed when he fled police attempting to examine his documents, dying when he was struck by a pursuing police vehicle according to the youths,however in the police version his death was a result of him crashing into barriers.
The current violence has echoes of the unrest in 2005, with again dissaffected youths of Arab and black descent venting their anger and frustration.
- “Paris suburb youths fight police” — BBC Online, August 11, 2009
- “Plea for calm after Paris violence” — Press Association, August 11, 2009
The leaders of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) met in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday and Monday. The leaders of the three countries (Barack Obama of the United States, Felipe Calderón of Mexico, and Stephen Harper of Canada) promised to work together on swine flu, organised crime and green issues.
Despite disputes in a number of areas remaining unresolved, the three leaders succeeded in presenting an amiable Three Amigos image. The three leaders expressed solidarity, and an understanding of each others position.
The unresolved issues include the buy American clauses in the US stimulus package, tit for tat reprisals by the Mexican authorities over Canadian visa restrictions on Mexican travellers, and the US ban on Mexican trucks from crossing the border.
Risking the ire of human rights activists back home President Obama expressed support for President Calderón’s war against drugs saying he had “great confidence” in the Mexican authorities.
- An. “Canadian and Mexican leaders fail to reach agreement on visas” — Xinhua News Agency, August 11, 2009
- An. “North American leaders wrap up summit, joint statement embodies cooperation” — Xinhua News Agency, August 11, 2009
- Tanya Huntington Hyde. “Ignoring Mexico’s human rights abuses” — The Guardian, August 11, 2009
- “Border ban angers Mexico truckers” — BBC Online, August 09, 2009
Mexican Federal Police (Policía Federal) have foiled an alleged plot to assasinate the President of Mexico Felipe Calderón. Acting on intelligence gathered over a year the Federal Police arrested five drug cartel members on Sunday and publicly paraded their captives and a number of weapons ,including automatic rifles, on Monday. Speaking during a summit of North American leaders Calderón played down the threats on his life, saying that the cartels are being destroyed by his policies.
Some 11000 have died since President Calderón’s took office in 2006 and made the war on drugs a cornerstone of his administration.
- “Drug cartel allegedly plotted to kill Mexican leader” — CNN, August 11, 2009
- “Mexican police foil drug cartel plot to kill president” — August 11, 2009
- Julie Watson. “Mexico: Suspect plotted to kill president” — Associated Press, August 10, 2009
Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced by a court in Burma to a further three years of house arrest for violating the terms of her previous sentence. However her sentence was immediately commuted to 18 months on the orders of Burmese head of state Senior-General Than Shwe out of respect for her father General Aung San and out of a desire for “national reconciliation”.
The period of her arrest will prevent Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in the general elections scheduled for 2010. The sentence was immediately condemned by Western leaders, and breaking from their usual silence, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) through its current chair Thailand issued a statement expressing disappointment. The ASEAN statement and talk of further European Union and United States sanctions are unlikely to have any impact on Southeast Asian country given the support of India and China.
The Chinese issued a statement calling for the world to respect Burmese sovereignty and laws, and is seen as an indication that China, a veto power will not support any United Nations actions.
John Yettaw whose unauthorised visit led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s prosecution has himself been sentenced to seven years imprisonment, four of which will be for hard labour.
- “Asian regrets at Suu Kyi verdict” — BBC Online, August 12,2009
- Li. “Myanmar gov’t gives reasons to commute Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentence” — Xinhua News Agency, August 12, 2009
Four employees of the Rio Tinto Group have been formally arrested in China on charges of bribery and using improper practises in its negotiations with Chinese companies. The Chinese accuse the men of improperly learning the negotiating position of Chinese companies wishing to buy iron ore, and through this charging 700 billion yuan (US$102.46 billion) more then they would otherwise have been able to
The four were initially held on espionage charges and have been held since early July. The formal charges allows the Chinese authorities to hold the four a further seven months as it prepares its case against them. Their arrests followed the collapse of an attempted by Chinese owned Chinalco to raise its stake in the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto Group to 18%.
- Anne Barrowclough. “Rio Tinto China executives charged with bribery” — The Times, August 12, 2009
- “Watchdog on secrets: Rio caused “huge loss”” — Xinhua News Agency, August 10, 2009
- “A souring relationship” — The Economist, August 10, 2009
Michael Jackson will be the star of a film to be released on October 28, some four months after his death. The film will be primarily cut from footage of Jackson rehearsing for the series of concerts that would have taken place at the O2 in London, but will also feature interviews with Jackson’s family and friends.
The film becomes possible after AEG Live, the promoter of the O2 concerts, reached an US$60 million agreement with Columbia Pictures for over 100 hours of footage of Jackson preparing for his swan song.
“He was the architect of ‘This is it‘, and we were his builders…” said Kenny Ortega, Jackson’s collaborator on the project “…it was clear that he was on his way to another theatrical triumph.”
- Rosie Swash. “Michael Jackson film gets October release date” — The Guardian, August 11, 2009
- “Michael Jackson rehearsal film set for worldwide cinematic release” — New Musical Express, August 11, 2009