Truthout | News in Brief (3)

The BBC, Reuters and AP reported that government troops in Krygyzstan fired on thousands of anti-government protesters, killing at least 17 people and injuring hundreds of others. The angry protesters were trying to seize the Central Asian republic’s main government building in Bishkek, the capital.

According to reports, at least ten government soldiers fired live rounds with automatic weapons from government headquarters toward the protesters.

Protesters seized government building in three other cities. In the western town of Talas, a mob of protesters beat up Kyrgyzstan’s interior minister, Moldomusa Kongatiyev, who died shortly afterward. They also stormed the state TV and radio headquarters, briefly taking them off air.

The protests come as anger escalates due to rising energy prices, and accusations against the nation’s president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, of failing to tackle corruption. Bakiyev himself came to power during a popular revolt in 2005.

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Reuters reported Wednesday that according to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, the mortgage crisis should not be blamed on it being easier for low-income people to get mortgages, but on Wall Street’s push to package the loans into securities, which had little transparency.
Testifying before a panel Congressionally appointed to investigate the causes of the financial crisis, Greenspan defended his legacy, saying, “The house price bubble, the most prominent global bubble in generations, was caused by lower interest rates but … it was long-term mortgage rates that galvanized prices, not the overnight rates of central banks, as has become the seeming conventional wisdom.”

Many blame prolonged low official rates from 2001 to 2003 for setting US house prices on fire and contributing to slackening standards for loans by banks and rating agencies.

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MSNBC and the BBC reported the Thai prime minister’s declaration of a state of emergency in Bangkok amid escalating anti-government protests.

Protesters briefly stormed Thailand’s Parliament building Wednesday as helicopters evacuated trapped officials and lawmakers scaled walls to get away. Known as “Red Shirts,” some of the protesters got as far as the second floor of the building, but then withdrew at the request of opposition lawmakers.

The state of emergency declaration would give sweeping powers to the security forces to tackle protesters, who are calling for the prime minister to resign and call elections. This is the fourth state of emergency in the capital since 2008.

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The New York Times reported a move toward nonviolent resistance by senior Palestinian Authority leaders. Men who once commanded militias are now joining unarmed protests, burning Israeli goods in public demonstrations and planting trees in areas of the West Bank that are officially off limits, in order to forge a third way of popular resistance.

“It is all about self-empowerment,” said Hasan Abu-Libdeh, the Palestinian economy minister, referring to a campaign to stop the purchase of settlers’ goods, as well as employment of Palestinians in settlers’ industries. “We want ordinary people to feel like stockholders in the process of building a state.”

The Guardian UK reported that Israeli authorities have allowed shoes and clothes into the Gaza Strip for the first time in three years. But Gazan businessmen say the goods are ruined, and that the tight economic blockade will not allow them to recover their costs.

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TIME and the Guardian UK reported a major shift in US nuclear weapons strategy, which included ruling out retaliation with nuclear weapons to attacks involving biological or chemical weapons. The Nuclear Posture Review also released Tuesday details how many nuclear weapons the US will continue to deploy across the world.

The Review, which has been published after a year’s work, reverses many of the policies introduced by the Bush administration. One of the major changes is a pledge not to develop any new nuclear weapons, a move strongly resisted by the Pentagon. However, there are still loopholes, which would permit the use of nuclear weapons against so-called rogue states such as Iran or North Korea.