A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, August 9, 2009.
Indonesia is to carry out DNA tests on the body of a man killed in the Temanggung district of Central Java. The body is believed to be that of Noordin Mohammed Top. Born in Malaysia, Top is believed to have been behind a string of terrorist attacks in Indonesia since 2002, including the 2002 Bali bombings and the bombing of the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels this July.
After a 16-hour siege, Indonesia’s elite Detachment 88 stormed a building in Beji village that police intelligence officers believe was occupied by Top and his group.
In an unrelated police raid two would-be suicide bombers were also killed; the target of their truck bomb was believed to be a residence owned by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
- Suherdjoko & Dicky Christanto. “Terror suspects in shoot-out” — The Jakarta Post, August 8, 2009
- Xiong Tong. “Indonesian police to conduct DNA test on terrorist leader Top” — Xinhua News Agency, August 8, 2009
- Blomfield, Adrian. “Police foil plot to kill Indonesian president after raid on top terror suspect” — The Telegraph, August 8, 2009
Following a mass trial on August 1, at which critics of the Ahmadinejad regime were tried for sedition, Iran has on Saturday initiated a second mass trial of those it accuses of attempting to destabilise the Iranian state. Amongst the dozen accused are staff members of the British and French embassies and a French national. Both France and Britain have protested, with British officials calling the situation “completely unacceptable” and the French saying that the Iranian allegations were “absolutely baseless”.
In what have been described as show trials, opposition leaders have confessed to crimes against the state.
- “Iran holds 2nd protest-related court session” — CBC News, August 8, 2009
- “Embassy workers on trial in Iran” — BBC Online, August 8, 2009
- “French national on trial in Iran over post-election unrest” — Deutsche Welle, August 8, 2009
Great train robber Ronnie Biggs has been released from prison custody on compassionate grounds by British Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw. Biggs, aged 80, is suffering from pneumonia and is said to have just days to live.
His release comes on the day of his birthday and the 46th anniversary of the crime that made him infamous.
- “Freed Train Robber Ronnie Biggs Turns 80” — Sky News, August 8, 2009
- Burns, John F. “Britain’s Great Train Robber Freed” — The New York Times, August 8, 2009
Samantha Orobator, a British 20-year-old from Peckham, London has been returned to the United Kingdom to serve out the remainder of a life sentence for drug smuggling. Convicted in Laos of attempting to smuggle 680g of heroin, Orobator initially faced execution by firing squad, which she escaped only when she became pregnant.
The circumstances of her trial and the circumstances of how she came to be pregnant has led to human rights organisation Reprieve to call for the quashing of her conviction. However the British government has indicated that it will honour its prisoner repatriation agreement with Laos.
- Vorakhoun, Phonekeo. “Pregnant British prisoner returns home from Laos” — AsiaOne, August 8, 2009
- “Pregnant prisoner returns to UK” — BBC News Online, August 7, 2009
- Addley, Esther. “Ministers condemned for imprisoning pregnant woman after ‘sham trial’ in Laos” — The Guardian, August 7, 2009
In a move championed by its chief executive officer, Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation announced it will charge for online content across all its titles by the end of the year. News Corporation owns the publications The Times and The Wall Street Journal amongst other media interests.
The move comes after a collapse in advertising revenues and US$3.4 billion of losses in the fiscal year just ended. Murdoch explained “…quality journalism is not cheap” and said his plan will “save journalism”. He says he is confident that competitors will follow his lead.
- “News Corp tests charge-for-content policy at Sunday Times: report” — Agence France-Presse, August 7, 2009
- Golson, Jordan. “News Corp. Mogul Cries ‘Charge!’ for Online News” — Business Week, August 6, 2009
Buoyed by better then expected unemployment figures for July, President Barack Obama claimed on Friday that the United States economy is “pointed in the right’ direction and that “we’ve rescued our economy from catastrophe”.
His speech comes in the wake of Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicating that 200,000 fewer jobs were lost in July then in June.
- Brandon, Katherine. “The President On July Unemployment Figures” — Executive Office of the President of the United States, August 7, 2009
- Collinson, Stephen. “Obama says US economy saved from ‘catastrophe'” — Agence France-Presse, August 7, 2009
Five of Hong Kong’s six Disciplined Services continue to press the territory’s government for pay parity with the Hong Kong Police Force. Although industrial action is for the time being unlikely unions representing officers from correctional services, customs and excise, fire services, immigration and government flying services will hold a mass meeting later this month to put pressure on the government.
Similar rank and grade structures are used through out the six services, however despite the claim that customs and police officers having similar duties and workloads, a police officer will receive up to HK$7,900 more than a custom officer of the same rank.
- Wong, Adele. “Summer of strikes looks less likely” — The Standard, August 7, 2009
- Lee, Diana. “Customs officers seek pay parity with police” — The Standard, August 5, 2009
- “Customs officers demand pay parity” — RTHK, August 4, 2009
Social networking site Twitter is the unlikely victim of the ongoing hostility between Russia and Georgia. However, on the anniversary of the South Ossetian war, Russian hackers launched a mass denial-of-service attack aimed at silencing Cyxymu, a Georgian economics professor critical of Russia. In addition to Twitter other sites at which Cyxymu posted were also attacked, however being a smaller operation the attacks caused a complete outage of Twitter while the other sites were merely slowed.
- Bradley, Tony. “Twitter Continues to Battle DDoS Attack” — PC World, August 08, 2009
- “Pro-Georgian Blogger Target of Mass Cyber Attacks” — Voice of America, August 08, 2009
Pakistani intelligence service sources state that Hakimullah Mehsud leader of Fedayeen al-Islam has been killed in a fight for the leadership of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) an al-Qaeda ally.
The statement comes a day after public speculation of the death of TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud in a drone attack on the 5th of August. Baitullah and Hakimullah are cousins with Hakimullah serving as a deputy to Baitullah. The TTP is a coalition of disparate groups and without the charisma and leadership of Baitullah, appears to have fallen victim to internal feuding. According to sources Hakimullah Mehsud met with rival Taliban leader Waliur Rehman to determine the succession, word at the shura became heated and led to a gunfight that resulted in the death of Hakimullah and the serious wounding of Rehman.
Hakimullah had earlier issued statements denying Baitullah’s death.
- “TTP leader dead in succession fight?” — Dawn (newspaper), August 9, 2009
- Burke, Jason. “Taliban commander denies the death of Baitullah Mehsud” — The Guardian, August 9, 2009
- “Report: Taliban torn by feud after death” — UPI, August 8, 2009
Hurricane Felicia has weakened to a tropical storm, but residents of Hawaii are continuing to monitor the storm’s progress as it approaches the islands.
Tropical storm watches were posted for portions of the state, and some beaches have been closed in anticipation of high surf. Meanwhile, emergency supplies were selling rapidly at local stores: “Things are just flying out”, said Vicki Lebowitz, manager of The City Mill in Oahu.
The storm, once a Category 4 major hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, is expected to further weaken before making landfall on Hawaii.
- “Felicia weakens to tropical storm near Hawaii” — Yahoo! News, August 9, 2009
- Associated Press. “Hawaii to close beaches as Hurricane Felicia nears” — The Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2009