The piracy that has become rampant off the coast of Somalia is reported in the news almost daily, but the recent hijacking of the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star and its $100 million cargo brought unprecedented attention to the problem. A November 25 article in the British Telegraph newspaper featured an interview with the ship's chief engineer, a Briton, who told a reporter that the ship's crew had been well treated. The article also reported that the Sirius Star "is currently being held in waters off the lawless pirate-infested port of Haradheere, in central Somalia." The article also noted that the pirates, 10 days after the hijacking, had dropped their ransom demand from $25 million to $15 million, confirming that their motives were primarily economic and that — with negotiations bogged down — they would discount their goods to move them.
Three separate bomb blasts killed a total of 19 people in Baghdad during the Monday morning rush hour on November 24, with one attack killing 13 government employees on a bus on their way to work. In the worst of the three incidents, a so-called "sticky bomb" fastened to the side of a bus carrying a group of employees riding to their jobs at the Iraqi Trade Ministry exploded, causing a fire in which four men and nine women perished. Five other victims were treated at a local hospital.
Is the New York Times "airbrushing" history again? It would seem so. On Saturday, November 22, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko presided over a commemoration in Kiev of the 75th anniversary of the famine genocide of 1932-1933 that took the lives of 7-10 million Ukrainians. Known as the Holodomor (Ukrainian for "murder by hunger"), it is one of the greatest mass murders in history, and one of the cruelest. Joining President Yushchenko for the event were official delegations from 44 countries, including the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Macedonia, Georgia, Latvia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.
Thousands of people gathered in Baghdad's Firdous Square on November 21 to protest against a pact letting U.S. forces stay in Iraq until 2011. The current UN mandate authorizing the U.S. troop presence expires on December 31. Under the proposed Status of Forces Agreement, U.S. troops will withdraw from the streets of Iraqi towns and cities by June 30, 2009, and the remaining 150,000 would leave Iraq by December 31, 2011.
Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on November 19, that Israel will not attend the UN's World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in Geneva in April. She also urged other nations to follow suit, stating: "We call upon the international community not to participate in this conference, which seeks to legitimize hatred and extremism under the banner of the fight against racism."