Friday, June 4, 2010

FP morning brief 6/4

Obama cancels Asia trip to focus on oil spill

Top story: President Barack Obama has cancelled a planned trip to Asia and Australia to focus his attention on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the second time Obama has postponed the trip to Indonesia, Australia, and Guam, which was originally scheduled for March but was put off by the U.S. healthcare debate. The president is heading to the Gulf today to inspect the ongoing relief effort.

“President Obama expressed his deep regret that he has to postpone his trip to Asia that was scheduled for later this month,” said a White House statement. “The president looked forward to rescheduling so that he can visit both countries soon.”

Meanwhile, BP has reported some limited success in its latest attempt to contain the spill. The company placed a cap over the leaking well last night after slicing off the pipe with giant shears. Some oil is flowing up the pipe placed on the cap, but more is still escaping. The seal is not as tight as was hoped, after efforts to cut the pipe with a more precise blade failed. Between 21 and 46 million gallons of oil have escaped from the well since BP's rig exploded in April.

Gaza crisis: Thousands of mourners gathered in Istanbul for the funeral of the activists killed in the raid on a Gaza aid flotilla last weekend, as Turkish leaders continued to decry the botched Israeli operation. "Turkey will never forget this attack," said Turkish President Abdullah Gul. "The relations between Israel and Turkey will never be the same again."
A new activist ship, the Irish-flagged Rachel Corrie, continues on course to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza on Saturday.

Japan: The Japanese parliament has nominated Finance Minister Naoto Kan as the country's new prime minister. Kan has promised to honor the controversial deal with the United States over the U.S. Marine base at Okinawa that led to his predecessor Yukio Hatoyama's downfall.

Middle East
  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood announced that it will support former IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaredei's campaign for political change in Egypt.
  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a warning to his country's opposition ahead of the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election.
  • Turkey's Kurdish rebels have declared an end to their unilateral ceasefire.
  • The pope has left on a sensitive three-day trip to Cyprus, likely to be overshadowed by the murder of a Catholic bishop in Turkey.
  • G-20 finance ministers, meeting in South Korea, are expected to approve European plans to address the eurozone debt crisis.
  • Germany's government nominated Lower Saxony governor Christian Wulff to be the next president.
  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for an independent investigation of the killing of human rights activist Floribert Chibeya in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • At least 28 people have been killed in heavy fighting between Somali government forces and the al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.
  • Nigeria's parliament approved a constitutional amendment on succession rules aimed at avoiding a repeat of the crisis caused by former President Umaru Yar'Adua's illness last year.
  • Mexican President Felipe Calderon is pushing a plan to replace local police departments with state police.
  • The former dictator of Suriname has formed a coalition government with a rebel leader who once tried to oust him.
  • An immigration officer's killing of a migrant with a stun gun has prompted demonstrations on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
-By Joshua Keaing

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