News in Brief: Facebook Comes Under Fire for Privacy Measures and More …

Facebook has downplayed the significance of a company-wide meeting to deal with weeks of criticism over its privacy measures, reported the BBC. Since the introduction of features on the site that let third-party web sites post the personal views of Facebook users without their consent, a number of high-profile user have deleted their accounts. Several US senators have called on Facebook to rethink its privacy safeguards; the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a petition directed at Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder; and European data protection officials called the privacy changes “unacceptable.”


Protests in Thailand have escalated into violence as government troops fired live rounds at protesters, killing eight and wounding 101, reported AP. The turn into violence came after an Army general allied with the protesters was shot in the head by a sniper. Thai troops are attempting to regain control of the city center, which protesters who call themselves the “red-shirts” have turned into a camp. The protesters, who have had the water and electricity shut off to their camp, are calling for the prime minister to resign and hold new elections.

In nearby Indonesia, a militant plot to assassinate the president and kill foreigners has been foiled, reported the BBC. According to Indonesian security forces, the coup was planned for the Independence Day ceremony on August 17, and would be similar to the Mumbai attacks in 2008 in which militants took over hotels occupied by tourists. The announcement comes following the detaining of three suspected militants in a series of anti-terror raids.


The euro has slid to an 18-month low against the dollar as Nicolas Sarkozy threatens to withdraw France from the single currency, and fears grow around the probable success of the Eurozone bailout of Greece, reported The Guardian UK. The panic selling of shares caused share prices to plummet, and news that Spain’s underlying inflation rate turned negative in April for the first time on record contributed to the overall sense of unease. Sarkozy threatened to leave the euro to solicit “a compromise from everyone to support Greece,” placing particular pressure on Germany, which has been reluctant to support the bailout. “If at time like this, with all that is happening, Europe is not capable of a united response, then the euro makes no sense,” Sarkozy was quoted as saying in the newspaper El Pais.


The recount of 2.5 million votes in the Iraqi elections on March 7 has produced no evidence of fraud, reported Reuters. The recount was demanded by the predominantly Shiite electoral coalition of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, after they came two seats behind the cross-sectarian bloc led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. His Iraqiya coalition had strong support from Sunnis to gain 91 parliamentary seats compared to 89 for Maliki’s State of Law bloc. Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, the minority Sunni’s had significantly larger political and economic influence and this is still an issue of tension in Iraq’s sectarian politics.