October 24th, 2007 13:50 EST
The World as it's happening TODAY
ANKARA, Turkey. In what appears to be a prelude to a full military conflict, Turkish air fighters have bombarded Kurdish settlements in neighboring Iraq. According to various sources, at least 34 people could have been killed during the night air raid, supported by the Turkish artillery. The long-time animosity between Ankara and Kurds, who inhabit both Turkey and Iraq, was inflamed last Sunday when Kurdish rebels ambushed and killed 12 Turkish soldiers and kidnapped eight more. Despite the conciliatory voices from Turkey's main partners – the United States and the European Union – the nationalist government in Ankara is growing rapidly restless with the Kurdish minority that has been trying to curve out an independent country. With the present chaos in Iraq, this prospect may not sound as unrealistic as it used to only four years ago, before the American invasion.
MOSCOW, Russia. Russians may have forgotten the Soviet gloomy reality, but the old system has not forgotten about them. In response to the public clamor, President Vladimir Putin has decided to freeze certain food prices at October 15 level. Among the products controlled by Kremlin economists are bread, cheese, and eggs – the mainstay of Russian meals. The government has said that the price control will be in effect until the end of 2007, with a possibility of an extension. Many foreign experts suggest that the Soviet-like move aims not as much at alleviating Russian stark poverty, but at improving the chances of Putin's party in the forthcoming parliamentary election scheduled for December this year.
SAN DIEGO, CA, USA. It's been the fourth day of a firestorm blitzkrieg that has burned almost 650 square miles, becoming the worst, after Hurricane Katrina, natural disaster in US recent history. According to the Associated Press, the flames have consumed roughly 1,300 buildings, forcing 500,000 people to flee their households and seek refuge at hotels and local schools. Despite their large numbers, firefighters seem unable to combat the violent force, magnified by a prevailing and strong wind. But as Governor Schwarzenegger praises the rescue efforts, some accuse the state government of neglect that had led to inadequate numbers of equipment to fight fires. Hopes rise, however, as weather forecasts predict the wind to slow down today and early tomorrow.
MOGADISHU, Somalia. Five people have been killed and 16 more wounded after a bomb exploded in the capital's main square. It's been yet another violent incident since the Ethiopia-sponsored government ousted Islamic authorities earlier this year. In the country, portrayed by the famous Black Hawk Down movie, there has been no functioning government since 1991 when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown by warlords. A US military operation that was to prevent Somalia from falling apart ended in a debacle, with world news programs broadcasting thugs humiliating the corpses of American marines on the streets of Mogadishu. When Islamic forces disarmed warlords and took control over most of the country, the U.S. called Somalia a terrorist state and tacitly backed Ethiopia in its efforts to reinstall the old government.
DARFUR, Sudan. It seems that no good news can come from this war-ravaged region. The Islamist Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has joined six other rebel groups which will not participate in a peace conference held this coming weekend in Libya. Although the reasons given by JEM are not clear, it is suspected that personal ambitions have again won over the need to form a coalition government. Both the United Nations and the African Union have been trying to gather as many warring factions as possible for the Libyan meeting, arguing that the conference may be the last chance to end the civil war. In a long and troubled history of the conflict between black tribes and the Arab administration, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and over a million placed in numerous refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring countries.
BEJING, China. The communist leadership has a reason to celebrate today. For the first time in the country's history, Chinese scientists have managed to launch a moon orbiter, indicating China's plans to put a man on the only natural Earth's satellite in a nearby future. The Chang'e One – named after one of heroines of Chinese mythology – is expected to probe the lunar surface for one year, laying the groundwork for a new period in the Chinese space program. The liftoff was broadcast by the national television with a short delay in order to have enough time to edit the picture in case the start was unsuccessful. To add the luster to the event, a number of prominent Chinese politicians gathered, together with hundreds of tourists who paid up to $150 to watch the Chang'e One soaring up into the cloudless sky. Apart from scientific gains, the probe becomes a symbol of China's rising political and economical power, similar to the launch of the Soviet sputnik in 1957 that sparked the space race between the USSR and the United States.
NEW DELHI, India. While champagne corks popped in Beijing, the world largest democracy recorded a similar success. This time, however, the destination was less spectacular but no less important. Agni-I – a ballistic missile capable of transporting nuclear warheads – was successfully launched today and reached the distance of 420 miles, enough to destroy all major targets in Pakistan. The two neighbors have been waging wars against each other since they won independence from Great Britain, the main reason remaining the disputed region of Kashmir. In April, India staged a test of Agni-III, a missile with a range of over 1,800 miles which crashed in China.
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