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Published:November 19th, 2007 13:12 EST
News Update: November 19

News Update: November 19

By Krzys Wasilewski

AFRICA

KHARTOUM, Sudan- Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir incites to war against the people of Darfur, report news agencies. According to Reuters, the president was to have called on his sympathizers to “open training camps and to gather mujahideen not for the sake of war, but to be ready for anything.”

Although Bashir refrained from openly calling for a war, many rebel groups in Darfur take his words as an announcement of new fights. The president's speech comes only two weeks after all the main parties involved in the Darfur conflict met in Libya to work out a long-awaited peace accord.

President Bashir delivered his speech in front of hundreds of supporters of the Popular Defense Forces (PDF). In a decades-long war between the governmental forces and rebels in Darfur, the PDF has played an infamous role in destroying entire villages, raping women and attacking humanitarian workers.

AMERICAS

CLARION, Iowa, US- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said at a meeting with his sympathizers today, that the years he spent abroad made him more experienced in foreign policy than his rivals.

Obama's father came from Kenya and the candidate lived for four years in Indonesia. His words seem to be a response to Hillary Clinton's previous speeches in which she belittled Obama's experience in international politics. The Associated Press quotes the Illinois senator as saying, “A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs is not what I just studied in school. It's actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these other countries live.”

Obama is trying to portray himself as an established statesman regardless of his young age and only several years at the Capitol.

ASIA

DHAKA, Bangladesh- In the most severe storm to strike Bangladesh in more than 10 years, some 2,400 people have been killed. However, humanitarian agencies present in the country expect that the number of casualties may reach as high as 10,000. It remains unknown how many people had to flee their homes since access to the affected regions is limited due to the country's poor infrastructure.

Bangladesh is a country located between India and Myanmar. The territory of only 55,600 square miles is inhabited by more than 131 million people.

Tropical storms are nothing unusual in Bangladesh. In 1970 around 500,000 people perished after a powerful cyclone swept through the region. Since then, the country has experienced at least six other storms which have claimed more than 150,000 lives.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan- Pakistan's Supreme Court has decided that President Musharraf did not break the constitution by taking part in the presidential election, which was held last month.

Musharraf's opponents claimed that since he was the head of the armed forces, he had no right to run for president as the constitution clearly bans military individuals from the electoral process. However, Musharraf, who holds the title of general, resigned from the post of chief of the military shortly before the elections, remaining in charge of the army as the president. The Supreme Court's decision comes as little surprise since most of the judges were appointed personally by Musharraf.

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Negroponte has been in Pakistan to convince Musharraf to release his political opponents and secure parliamentary elections which are to be held on January 8, 2008.

EUROPE

BRUSSELS, Belgium- Thousands of people took to the streets of Brussels– the capital city of Belgium and the entire European Union– to prevent their country from collapsing. Although being one of the smallest countries in Europe, Belgium, with a population of 10 million people, is sharply divided between northern Flanders and southern Wallonia. Two different languages, two different cultures and two different interests have kept the Belgians at two different sides of the barricade since the country was created in the late 19th century. But it is only now in danger of a political break-up.

Political parties have been unable to form any ruling coalition for more than five months. The complicated political system of Belgium requires parties from Flanders and Wallonia to create a government together in order to sustain the equality of both regions.

DONETSK, Ukraine- As many as 100 people may have been killed in a gas explosion that occurred in a coal mine in the eastern city of Donetsk. So far, 69 bodies have been recovered, but 35 miners are still missing with slim chances of being found alive.

Almost 460 workers were at the mine at 3 A.M. when a massive gas explosion swept through the mine's underground corridors, blocking the escape of more than 100 miners. Sixty-five rescue teams were sent to the mine, but they managed to save only 28 people. Those who survived spoke about a huge cloud of fire and dust swallowing everything that it found in its way.

Cries and shrieks accompanied every name from the dead list that was read aloud. Relatives of those underground gathered at the mine first to await good news, and after several hours, to await any news since the mine authorities were unable to appropriately name the dead miners.

The coal mine produces 10,000 tons of coal every day and gives employment to almost 10,000 people. Donetsk, being the largest town in eastern Ukraine, is renowned for poor labor conditions and environmental pollution. Most of the industry belongs to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs who place profit over the security of the employed.

MIDDLE EAST

JERUSALEM, Israel- The Israeli government agreed to free 441 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of good will before the upcoming peace conference, organized by the Bush Administration. Although Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to stop the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the move may portend a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Also today, Olmert met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to work out all disagreements before the conference.

This conference may be the last chance for the Bush Administration to end its tenure with a serious diplomatic achievement. Bush's original plan– the Road Map– failed after the Palestinians relaunched their attacks on the Israeli territories.