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News in Brief: Release of House-Bound Burma Opposition Leader Anticipated, and More …

Release of House-Bound Burma Opposition Leader Anticipated

Release of House-Bound Burma Opposition Leader Anticipated

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning democracy leader who has been held under house arrest in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for 15 of the last 21 years may be nearing release. Under limits set in August by the leader of the military junta that controls the small southeast Asian country, her latest term of detention is set to expire Saturday. Amid rumors of her imminent release, pro-democracy supporters gathered near her home in anticipation, though the reports are unconfirmed, reported The New York Times.

Clinton Avoids Mention of Settlement Building at US-Israel Talks

In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton avoided mentioning Israel’s announcement just days before the talk with Clinton to build more than 1,000 settlement homes in occupied East Jerusalem, reported Democracy Now!. Clinton and Netanyahu met Thursday in an Obama administration bid to revive stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The politicians reportedly discussed US incentives for Israel to renew a partial settlement freeze, which included the offer of military equipment to Israel and a pledge to veto UN resolutions on Arab-Israeli peace for at least a year.

Nordic Countries Investigate Alleged U.S. Spying

A recent report on Norwegian TV alleges that personnel at the American Embassy in Oslo illegally spied on Europeans outside its embassy during a protest, and entered their names into a counterterrorism database. The report has led Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland to investigate allegations “that US embassies conducted surveillance inside the countries without permission from state authorities,” reported the BBC. In response, the State Department admitted that it runs a “counter-surveillance program in response to security threats to its embassies,” but insists that the program is legal.

Rep. John Shimkus Not Worried About Climate Change Because of God’s Promise to Noah

John Shimkus, the Illinois Republican in the House who hopes to be the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that he is not worried about global warming because of a promise made to Noah by God about 6,000 years ago. “I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God,” Shimkus told Politico, “and I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood.” Shimkus is competing against three other Republicans for the top spot on the energy committee, and Politico predicts that if he doesn’t get the chairmanship he could still be named chairman of a subcommittee.

Sunni Walkout Threatens Iraq’s Governing Agreement

The fragile political agreement between Iraq’s governing parties to return prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to power is in danger of unraveling as the largely Sunni Iraqiya bloc walked out of Parliament Thursday, alleging that their opponents had broken promises. The parliamentary vote went ahead without them, but observers fear that without the Sunni presence, the vote “could cause a national crisis.” Iraq’s recent elections were marred by a dispute about whether al-Maliki or his Sunni rivals won the most seats in Iraq’s March election. Sunni’s are the minority in Iraq, but were the leading religious group under Saddam Hussein, reported The Washington Post.

Pilots’ Union Encourages Opting-Out of Invasive Full-Body Scan

Two of the country’s largest pilots unions are advising their members to avoid the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) full-body scanners and instead opt for pat-downs. Union leaders say they are concerned that the repeated exposure to radiation could be harmful, and that the scans are invasive – one TSA agent dubbed the scanner “the dick-measuring device,” reported USA Today. “Our members are just absolutely outraged,” the president of the US Airline Pilots Association said.

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