News Headlines & Trends
01.15.06 New Zogby Poll shows majority of Americans support impeaching Bush for wiretapping
January 15 By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,216 US adults from January 9-12. The poll found that 52% agreed with the statement:
"If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
43% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.
Says Fertik, "The American people are not buying Bush's outrageous claim that he has the power to wiretap American citizens without a warrant. Americans believe terrorism can be fought without turning our own government into Big Brother," said AfterDowningStreet.org co-founder Bob Fertik. "Recently White House spokesman Scott McClellan cited a Rasmussen poll that found 64% believe the NSA 'should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects.' Of course, that is exactly what Congress authorized when it created the FISA courts to issue special expedited secret warrants for terrorism suspects. But Bush defied the FISA law and authorized warrantless wiretaps of Americans, which has outraged Americans to the point that a majority believe Congress should consider Bush's impeachment.
"Bush admits he ordered illegal warantless wiretapping, but says it began in response to 9/11 and was limited to a small number of calls to or from Al Qaeda. But recent reports suggest wiretapping affected a much larger number of Americans, and a report in Friday's Truthout says the wiretapping began before 9/11."
"The upcoming Senate hearings on White House wiretapping could be as dramatic as the Watergate hearings in 1973. A majority of Americans already believe Congress should look into grounds for impeachment, yet we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in the Corporate Media. If Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping long before the terrorist attack on 9/11, then Americans will realize that George Bush came into office determined to shred the Constitution and take away our rights." [More>>afterdowningstreet.org]
01.15.06 Capsule of comet dust lands back on Earth
DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah, January 15 After a seven-year, 2.9 billion-mile round trip, NASA's Stardust space capsule floated down to a landing in the Utah desert early Sunday, bringing back interstellar dust and comet samples that scientists hope will yield clues to the origins of the solar system...The Stardust mission came to a climax in the middle of the night, starting with the sample return capsule's release from its mothership when it was 69,000 miles (110,000 kilometers) away from Earth. The shuttlecock-shaped capsule streaked through the atmosphere at about 29,000 mph (46,000 kilometers per hour), representing the fastest re-entry of any human-made probe...The cosmic samples were gathered in 2004 from Comet Wild 2, a frozen body of ice and dust believed to have been formed billions of years ago. The Stardust spacecraft used a tennis racket-sized collector mitt to snag the particles in a porous material and stored them in the capsule...[Full story>>msnbc.msn.com ; See also msnbc.msn.com January 3, 2004 story, "Stadust probe snaps close-up of a comet."]
01.15.06 Iraq al Qaeda sets up insurgent umbrella body Web
DUBAI (Reuters) January 15 Al Qaeda in Iraq and some other militant groups have set up an umbrella body to coordinate their fight against US-led forces and the Iraqi government, according to a Web statement posted on Sunday. The Mujahideen Council aims to confront the "crusaders and their rejectionist (Shi'ite) and secularist followers who have seized Baghdad," said the statement attributed to al Qaeda, the Army of the Victorious Sect and four less known Sunni Muslim groups.
The council, which does not include leading groups such as the Army of Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army in Iraq, said it "welcomes anyone desiring (Islam's) victory to join." The statement's authenticity could not be verified. It was posted on a Web site often used by insurgents, which subsequently carried messages from the council claiming responsibility for attacks in recent days. [More>>thestar.com.my]
01.15.06 Death of journalists in Iraq near Vietnam toll
January 15 Draped from head to toe in a black abaya and wearing a hijab, or scarf, on her head, Jill Carroll hoped to pass unnoticed through the streets of Baghdad. She was proud to be a foreign correspondent it was "all I ever wanted to be," she wrote but in Iraq it is a job best kept under wraps. Carroll, a 28-year-old American freelance for The Christian Science Monitor, was abducted in Baghdad last weekend when gunmen ambushed her car and killed Allan Enwiyah, her Iraqi translator. Al-Qaeda posted a statement on the internet claiming responsibility for her kidnapping but her fate remains unknown.
The days when journalists plastered the word "press" in bold capital letters on their car windscreens for protection have gone. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Iraq war has claimed the lives of 60 reporters in two years, only six fewer than the number of journalists killed in 20 years of fighting in Vietnam. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
01.15.06 Police nab four suspected terrorists in Central Java
January 15 The police antiterror squad, Detachment 88, has arrested four suspected terrorists on Friday; three in Semarang, another in Klaten, both in Central Java. Police said that those arrested in Semarang had links with the country's most wanted-terrorist, Noordin M. Top. In two separate operations in Semarang, the police managed to arrest Joko, Wahyu and Ardi Wibowo. Joko and Wahyu were arrested minutes after they finished their Friday prayers at a mosque on Jl. Singa Dalam, Semarang. Joko is the owner of a West Sumatran-style restaurant, Selera, not far from the mosque, while Wahyu worked as an employee at the restaurant.
According to police, Noordin used the restaurant and its second floor as a physical training space for terrorists. Meanwhile, Ardi Wibowo, a resident of the Sendang Mulyo housing complex in Semarang, was arrested in a separate operation on Friday night. Police confiscated a computer from a house belonging to Ardi's father in Genuk Baru, Semarang. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
01.15.06 Bomb attack kills Canadian soldier, two Afghans
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) January 15 A Taleban bomb attack on a convoy of Canadian troops killed a Canadian soldier and at least two Afghans in the heart of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Sunday, officials said. Canadaıs Prime Minister Paul Martin, speaking at the start of an election campaign trip to Laval, Quebec, said one Canadian soldier had been killed and three wounded. Afghan police and doctors earlier said that at least two Afghans were killed in the attack. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
01.15.06 E.ON plans gas co-op with Iran
(AFP) January 15 German energy giant E.ON plans to work with Iran on gas projects, despite opposition from Europe and the US to Tehran's nuclear activities which may come to a showdown at the UN Security Council. "We cannot deny that Iran has the second largest gas reserves in the world," E.ON boss Wulf Bernotat told the financial newspaper, Handelsblatt, according to an advance copy of an interview to be published Monday. E.ON has been looking into cooperating in the Nabucco gas pipeline project which is still at the negotiation stage. The pipeline would deliver gas to Europe from Iran via Turkey. [More>>chinabroadcast.cn]
01.15.06 Update, 01.14.06 North Korea's Kim rumoured visiting China market zone
GANGZHOU, China (Reuters) January 14 Speculation that secretive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is touring far southern China increased on Saturday as a closely guarded motorcade left a luxury hotel where he is rumored to be staying.
A convoy of about 30 cars left the White Swan Hotel in central Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, at 8 a.m., and may have been headed for Shenzhen, the commercial hub Neighboring Hong Kong, according to local rumours and foreign reports.
Police guarding the Guangzhou hotel refused to comment. But the Wuzhou Guest House, a state-run hotel where Shenzhen receives many official guests, said it was taking no bookings for Saturday amid signs of tight security in that area. Shenzhen is a "special economic zone" founded by China's late leader, Deng Xiaoping, in 1979 to pioneer market reforms, and the Chinese government holds it up as a model of successful economic transformation. [More>>thestar.com.my ; January 15 update, koreaherald.co.kr, "Speculation rises over Kim's summit with Hu" : As North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is reportedly paying a clandestine visit to China, speculation is rife about his possible summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, which experts say would focus on Pyongyang's economic reforms. Over the weekend, Kim was believed to have toured southern China, including Shenzhen, the communist country's model of a market economy just across the border from Hong Kong. Hu also reportedly visited a Taiwanese investment zone in Xiamen, a coastal city northeast of Shenzhen and an hour-long flight from Guangzhou. Hu's rushed visit to southern China is believed to meet with Kim's...Evaluating how useful and practical Kim's visit is, Jeung Young-tae, director-general of the research council on unification affairs at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said North Korea needs to learn a lesson from "a good economic model from China." Jeung said it is "clear" that Kim is showing efforts for economic reform in the North...
See related article, nytimes.com, January 15, "[South] Koreans find prime property near the DMZ."]
01.15.06 'Zawahiri was not here'
PESHAWAR, January 14 Osama bin Ladenıs second-in-command, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, was invited to a village in the Bajaur area but was not present there when aeroplanes, in a CIA-supported operation, hit three houses on Friday and killed 18 civilians, official sources said. "There is no indication that he (Zawahiri) was there," a senior official said. "Probably there was an intelligence botch- up." Most of the victims of the air strike on the houses at the foothills of Damadola village, about 25km to the northeast of Bajaur regional headquarters, Khaar, were women and children.
A source said the operation was launched on the basis of an intelligence report that Al-Qaeda No-2 was amongst the few invited to a dinner in one of the three houses at the night of the attack. Besides Zawahiri, the source said, two local clerics, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad and Maulvi Liaqat, both wanted for harbouring foreign militants, had also been invited to the feast. Incidentally, it was Faqir Mohammad who delivered a fiery anti-Pakistan and anti-US speech at the collective funeral of the civilians killed in the Friday action. The clerics left the village at around 12.30am and the air strike came at around 3.15am.
The source said the intelligence reports indicated that the Egyptian surgeon (Zawahiri) had been visiting Bajaur for about a year and security agencies had been trying to keep an eye on his movement over the past few months. Another reason for Zawahiriıs visit to the Bajaur village was to meet his family, the source said. "Bin Ladenıs deputy is married to a woman from Mohmand tribe who, with her children, lives with her father in the border area between Bajaur and Mohmand tribal regions," the source said. [More>>dawn.com via expressindia.com]
Editorial note: This report from dawn.com discloses information not carried by the major western news media linked on this page. The facts in this story show the probability of Zawahiri visiting his relatives in the home(s) hit by the drones. Two clerics who are known to have harbored and defended al-Qaeda were in the houses a few hours before the strike. This story implies that someone tipped the "foreigners" off and the villagers are not being honest about the fact that they appear to have been harboring al-Qaeda, because al-Qaeda family members live in the area. That the CIA had been monitoring the village over a year, that drones had flown over the village for several days before the strike, indicates probable observation of al-Qaeda operatives. Someone ought to point out to the protesting Pakistanis the truth of the matter, and the government of Pakistan should take a more active part in ferreting al-Qaeda operatives out of the villages that have been harboring them. Though Pakistan has caught many al-Qaeda, for some reason Zawahiri and Bin Laden elude them, in spite of the fact that the CIA apparently has known where al-Qaeda family members live. That the CIA knew for a year the whereabouts of these family members and the Pakistani government is reflecting an ignorance of the details is curious.
01.14.06 Pakistan hiding Al Qaeda?
January 14 There are too many inconsistencies in the airstrike on Damadola. I think Musharaff is not playing with a full deck of cards. In the following story one might wonder how the Pakistani official knew the target was not at the house : the star.com.my : QaedaNo. 2 away during attack-Pakistan official."l
[Re:>>thestar.com.my : ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A US airstrike on a Pakistani village targeted al Qaeda's second-in-command, U.S. sources knowledgeable with the strike said, but it was not certain that Ayman al-Zawahri was there. Pakistani officials said Zawahri was not at the scene near the Afghan border where a strike on Friday killed at least 18 people, including women and children. Residents said three houses were destroyed. But US sources familiar with the operation cast doubt on Pakistani claims that Zawahri was not among the dead, saying it was too early to determine his fate...]
01.14.06 Pakistani officials claim Zawahri not present in airstrike area
DAMADOLA, Pakistan (AP) January 14 A US air strike that killed at least 17 people in a Pakistani border village targeted Al Qaedaıs No. 2 Ayman Al Zawahri, but the suspect wasn't there, Pakistani officials said on Saturday. Two senior Pakistani officials told The Associated Press that the CIA had acted on incorrect information in launching the attack early Friday in the northwestern village of Dalamoda, near the Afghan border. Citing unnamed American intelligence officials, US networks reported that Al Zawahri, Osama bin Ladenıs top lieutenant, could have been at a compound targeted in the attack or about to arrive.
"Their information was wrong, and our investigations conclude that they acted on a false information," said a senior intelligence official who has direct knowledge of the investigations launched by Pakistan to look into the attack. His account was confirmed by a senior government official who said al-Zawahri "was not there." Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subjectıs sensitivity.
...An AP reporter who visited Damadola about 12 hours after the attack saw three destroyed houses, hundreds of yards apart. Villagers had buried at least 15 people, including women and children, and were digging for more bodies in the rubble.
...US and Pakistani officials told NBC news that US predator drones had fired as many as 10 missiles at Damadola in the Bajur tribal region of northwestern Pakistan. ABC quoted anonymous Pakistani military sources as saying al-Zawahri could have been among five top Al Qaeda officials believed killed.
...The second Pakistani intelligence official told AP the remains of some bodies had "quickly been removed" from Damadola after the strike and DNA tests were being conducted, but would not say by whom. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com ; See Pakistani current articles at jang.com.pk, "Pakistan protests missile attack in Bajaur agency" etc.]
01.14.06 Bolton blasts UN's 'map without Israel'
January 14 US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton sent a letter to Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan complaining that a map that omitted Israel was hung at an annual UN meeting. In the letter, written on January 3, and revealed on The New York Sun on Friday, Bolton wrote: "It was entirely inappropriate for this map to be used. It can be misconstrued to suggest that the United Nations tacitly supports the abolition of the state of Israel."
"Given that we now have a world leader pursuing nuclear weapons who is calling for the state of Israel to be 'wiped off the map,' the issue has even greater salience," he stressed.
The convention, which was attended by Annan, was conducted on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held on November 29 - the anniversary of the 1947 date when the UN ended the British mandate over Israel, a move which effectively led to the establishment of the Jewish State six months later. [More>>Jerusalem Post]
01.14.06 Shop until they drop: UK stores shocked by conditions in their Chinese factories
January 14 Martin Hickman, independent.co.uk, reports: Clothes and toys on sale in Britain's high streets are made by Chinese workers forced to endure illegal, exhausting and dangerous conditions, according to a new study. It will increase the pressure on retailers to monitor the conditions in which their products are made.
A three-year investigation into booming export factories for companies such as Marks & Spencer and Ikea discovered the human cost of China's "economic miracle." It found an army of powerless rural migrants toiling up to 14 hours a day, almost every day. Many were allowed just one day off a month and paid less than £50 a month for shifts that breached Chinese law and International Labour Organisation rules. Despite evidence of the shocking working conditions, cheap clothes, toys and increasingly electronic goods from the sweatshops are on sale in British shops with household names, including those with ethical buying policies. [More>>independent.co.uk]
01.14.06 NASA mission will explore Solar System's frozen edge
January 14 For more than four decades, humans have been sending out spacecraft to explore the known planets of the solar system. At long last, it is time to visit the last planet. On Tuesday, a powerful Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket is scheduled to send a spacecraft called New Horizons on a journey to the dim outer reaches of the Sun's realm for the first close-up look at Pluto. If successful, the mission will complete the initial exploration of the nine planets that defined the solar system at the beginning of the space age.
The three-stage Atlas will hurl the spacecraft away from Earth at a record 36,000 miles per hour, fast enough to pass the Moon in nine hours - compared with two and a half days for an Apollo mission - so that it can reach Jupiter in just 13 months. A gravity assist from the giant planet, which also will serve as a test bed for New Horizons' seven instruments, is to speed the craft on to Pluto. Once near its target, in 2015, the spacecraft is to conduct about five months of studies..[More>>nytimes.com]
01.14.06 Belgium reports suspected case of human form of bird flu
BRUSSELS (AFP) January 14 A person has been hospitalized in Brussels with suspected bird flu, after visiting a region of Turkey hit by the disease, Belgian authorities have said. "It is a suspected case, the diagnosis of bird flu is not confirmed for the moment," Inge Yooris, a member of a government committee on bird flu, told AFP. The unidentified person hospitalized had returned Thursday from a trip to Turkey. [More>>turkishpress.com]
01.13.06 Update, 01.12.06 Gene tests show bird flu virus is evolving
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Genetic tests of samples taken from Turkish victims of the bird flu virus show it has made a small change but probably not enough to make it more dangerous yet, researchers said on Thursday. The mutation is one that would be expected in a highly changeable virus, the experts said, and is one that would be predicted to eventually allow it to cause a pandemic. [More>>thestar.com.my ; Uodate January 13, timesonline.co.uk, "Victims of Turkish bird flu had a mutated virus strain" : The bird flu virus that has killed three people in Turkey has acquired a mutation that could make it more dangerous to people, although it is still far from capable of causing a pandemic. The first genetic analysis of H5N1 virus samples from two of the three Turkish victims has revealed one change that may make it easier for human beings to contract the virus directly from birds. However, a similar mutation was observed in Hong Kong in 2003 and in Vietnam last year, and did not lead to a significant increase in infections. Scientists said that the virus had a long way to go before it evolved the capacity to be passed from person to person, the key to a pandemic....]
01.13.06 Maryland sets a health cost for Wal-Mart
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, January 12 The Maryland legislature passed a law Thursday that would require Wal-Mart Stores to increase spending on employee health insurance, a measure that is expected to be a model for other states. The legislature's move, which overrode a veto by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, was a response to growing criticism that Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, has skimped on benefits and shifted health costs to state governments. [More>>nytimes.com]
01.13.06 Eighteen killed in Pakistan air strike
January 13 Aircraft from Afghanistan have fired two or three missiles into a village stronghold of pro-Taliban Islamists in Pakistan, reportedly killing about 18 people. The incident in Bajaur tribal region on Friday came days after Pakistan lodged a strong protest with US-led forces in Afghanistan, saying cross-border firing in the nearby Waziristan area last weekend killed eight people.
A resident of Bajaur, which borders Afghanistan's insurgent-troubled Kunar province, said the explosions were caused by firing from unidentified aircraft on the village of Damadola. Shah Jehan, a shopkeeper who lives about 2km from the village, said: "According to our information, 18 people have been killed." Major-General Shaukat Sultan, the military spokesman, said he did not know the cause of the blasts, but said: "People heard explosions and as a result there were a number of casualties. My information is that 11 to 14 people have been killed." A Pakistani intelligence official said two aircraft had come in from Afghanistan and fired two or three missiles. [More>>aljazeera.net]
01.13.06 Lebanon arrests 13 Al Qaeda suspects sources
BEIRUT (AP) January 13 Lebanese security forces have arrested 13 suspected members of Al Qaeda on charges of weapons possession, security and judiciary sources said on Friday. They said investigations were underway to determine whether the suspects -- seven Syrians, three Lebanese, one Saudi, one Jordanian with Lebanese nationality and one Palestinian -- had carried out or were planning to launch attacks. The arrests are believed to have taken place some two weeks ago, the sources said.
Al Qaeda has rarely launched attacks in Lebanon, although it has used allied factions to recruit scores of volunteers among Lebanese and Palestinian refugees who went to Iraq to fight. One of the Al Qaeda hijackers in the September 11 attacks in the United States was a Lebanese national.
A foiled attempt to bomb the Italian embassy in Beirut in 2004 was blamed on a small militant group with links to Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for firing three Katyusha rockets from south Lebanon into northern Israel on December 27. There has been no independent confirmation that the Sunni Muslim militant group was behind that attack. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
01.12.06 Deficit could top $400 billion
WASHINGTON, January 13 Driven by the cost of hurricane relief, the federal budget deficit is expected to balloon back above $400 billion for the fiscal year that ends in September, reversing the improvements of 2005, a White House official told reporters yesterday. But some budget analysts cautioned that the estimate should be considered more of a political mark to inform the coming budget debate than an economic forecast. This is the third straight year in which the White House has summoned reporters well ahead of the official budget release to project a higher-than-anticipated deficit. In the past two years, when final deficit figures have come in at record or near-record levels, White House officials have boasted that they had made progress, since the final numbers were below estimates.
"This administration has a history of overestimating the deficit early in the year, lowering expectations, then taking credit when it comes in below forecast," said Stanley E. Collender, a federal budget expert at Financial Dynamics Business Communications. "It's not just a history. It's almost an obsession." [More>>washingtonpost.com]
01.12.06 Deadly moles hit over 50's
MELBOURNE, Australia, January 13 One-in-three new moles detected on older Australians at high risk of skin cancer turn out to be deadly melanomas, an Australian study has found. Dermatologist John Kelly and colleagues at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, studied 309 patients, with at least one risk factor for melanoma, over three years. They were all patients aged 16 and older 168 women and 141 men who attended his private consulting rooms.
Using photographs of a patient's skin to detect changes over time, the researchers found new moles which appeared in patients aged 50 and over were 30 times more likely to be melanomas than those in younger people. However, Associate Professor Kelly said the older patients only developed about one-tenth as many new moles as those under 50. He said when changes in existing moles were detected in the over-50s, they were seven times more likely to turn out to be melanomas than the younger patients. [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
01.12.06 Bird flu detected in 11 cities across Turkey
ANKARA (Xinhuanet) January 12 The Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Thursday that bird flu has been confirmed in 11 cities and over a dozen others may also have been affected. The ministry said in a statement that bird flu was detected in eastern cities of Igdir, Erzurum, Agri, Erzincan, Bitlis and Van, southeastern city of Sanliurfa, central cities of Ankara and Yozgat and northwestern cities of Bursa and Istanbul.
Eastern cities of Mus and Elazig, northeastern cities of Kars, Rize, Ardahan, southeastern city of Diyarbakir, eastern city of Elazig and Mus, southern cities of Isparta and Osmaniye, western cities of Izmir and Aydin and central cities of Karaman, Sivas and Konya may also have been affected, it added. At least 11 of Turkey's 81 provinces have reported outbreaks of bird flu, and Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey with a population of some 12 million, is the western most point where the virus has been found since it resurfaced in Turkey last month. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
01.12.06 Hamza 'preached of duty to kill non-believers'
January 12 The Muslim preacher Abu Hamza exhorted his followers to murder non-believers as part of their duty to Islam in inflammatory lectures recorded for distribution around Britain, the Old Bailey was told. The cleric, 47, who faces 15 charges ranging from soliciting murder to reproducing material designed to stir up racial hatred, was also said to have also possessed an 11-volume "manual for terrorism" which detailed how to make explosives and conduct assassinations.
The prosecution told the opening day of Mr. Hamza's trial that under the guise of a respected communal leader, or sheikh, the defendant "preached murder and hatred" over a period of years at locations including the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London. The court heard that when police arrested Mr. Hamza in May 2004, some 15 months after the Finsbury Park Mosque was closed, they discovered nearly 3,000 copies of video and audio recordings of public and private lectures given by the cleric. In these sermons, it was claimed that the preacher provided a lifestyle "blueprint" which made it clear that the murder of non-Muslims was as much part of the Islamic faith as a halal diet and eschewing alcohol...The encyclopedia, in Arabic, was found on a bookshelf in the preacher's home. It was alleged the books contained detailed descriptions of how to make bombs and explosives, "dog fight" combat and the use of handguns. It also described "hitting" famous targets and symbols of the West, including Big Ben and "large congregations of people at Christmas." [Full story>>indekpendent.co.uk]
01.12.06 Global warming: Today's news of the world Climate change is killing off amphibians
January 12 Global warming has triggered the decline of hundreds of species of frogs and toads by helping a deadly skin infection to spread across the world. Scientists believe they have found the first clear proof that global warming has caused outbreaks of an infectious disease that is wiping out entire populations of amphibians. The dramatic decline of the 6,000 species of amphibians was first identified in 1990 and one theory for the loss was the spread of a devastating skin infection caused by a fungus.
A study by an international team of researchers has now linked the spread of a species of chytrid fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis with a rise in tropical temperatures associated with global warming. The scientists believe the average temperatures of many tropical highland regions, which are rich in endemic species of frogs and toads, have shifted to become perfect for the growth of the fungus.
Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa of the University of Alberta in Canada, one of the authors of the study, published in the journal Nature, said the analysis firmly linked climate change with the demise of many frogs and toads. "With this increase in temperature, the fungus has been able to increase its niche and wipe out large populations of amphibians," he said. The rapid loss of amphibians - frogs, toads, newts and salamanders - has led to about one- third of them, some 1,856 species, being classified as threatened. Hundreds more face extinction. [More>>independent.co.uk ; See related article, reuters.com, "World's largest weland under threat in Brazil."]
01.12.06 East Timor strikes it rich with gas and oil pact
January 12 Australia and East Timor signed a treaty today to share billions of dollars in revenues from oil and gas reserves that could transform the economy of the world's poorest nation. The treaty ends an acrimonious dispute over the sharing of proceeds from oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea between northern Australia and the island of Timor. But the two countries have agreed to shelve for 50 years an even more difficult decision on the maritime boundary between them, which involves ownership of significant mineral deposits.
Under today's agreement, East Timor's share of the revenues from a major gas and oil project, dubbed Greater Sunrise, should rise from $6 billion (£3.4 billion) to $10 billion (£5.7 billion) over the next 20 years. It could earn as much as $14.5 billion (£8.2 billion) under the deal. The agreement means that East Timor will receive more than 90 per cent of the government revenues from an area near its coast known as the Joint Petroleum Development Area while other revenues are split equally between the two governments. [More>>timesonline.co.uk ]
01.12.06 Oil sands promise plentiful energy
January 12 Canadian oil sands production will be the biggest contributor to new global crude oil supply by the end of the decade as conventional global reserves are depleted, CIBC World Markets has predicted. And in an energy market where state-owned firms control a major portion of global daily production, the oil sands deposits provide one of the few remaining growth opportunities for investors, Jeff Rubin, the bank's chief economist, said on Tuesday. "All of the net increase in oil production this year is expected to come from non-conventional sources," Rubin said in a release.
"While deep-water oil is the primary source today, we forecast that Canadian oil sands will become the single biggest contributor to incremental global supply by 2010." Canadian oil industry officials say recoverable western Canadian oil sands reserves equal roughly 175 billion barrels - putting it in second place to Saudi Arabia in terms of oil reserves. [More>>aljazeera.net]
01.12.06 New area in Alaska arctic opened to drilling
WASHINGTON, January 12 The Bush administration has opened nearly half a million acres of federal land in northeastern Alaska to oil drilling a move blasted by environmentalists but praised by industry, which notes the area is in a long-designated petroleum reserve. The Interior Department on Wednesday said it would allow oil development in virtually all of the wetlands surrounding Lake Teshekpuk in the northeast corner of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The lake region includes one of the most important molting areas in the Arctic for wild geese and areas sought out by caribou herds for calving. The lake is the biological ³heart² of the region, said Dora Nukapigak, a resident of the Inupiat village of Nuiqsut, the community closest to Teshekpuk. The lake is about 80 miles east of Point Barrow, Alaskaıs northernmost point. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
01.12.06 Iran's removal of IAEA seals legitimate Russian foreign Minister Lavrov
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) January 12 The removal the UN's nuclear watchdog's seals at Iranian nuclear facilities is not a violation of international law, the Russian foreign minister said Thursday. "The seals were removed in the presence of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who must accept an invitation from a country to be present at such operations," Sergei Lavrov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. Iran announced Tuesday that it was resuming nuclear research after a two-year hiatus and had removed the seals at its nuclear facilities. The international community reacted with caution to the move with several countries expressing alarm.
Russia, which has previously consistently defended the Islamic Republic's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and is helping to build an $800-million power plant in the country, said it was disappointed with the step. Lavrov said Russia had never ruled out referring the Iranian "nuclear file" to the UN Security Council, although Moscow believed "it was necessary to use every opportunity under the IAEA format."
Iran's resumption of nuclear research will be discussed next week during a London meeting between a trio of European Union nations France, the United Kingdom and Germany Russia, the United States and China, the minister said.
The US has long suspected Iran of pursuing a secret weapons program and has insisted that the country's "nuclear file" be referred to the UN Security Council, which has the right to impose sanctions if it finds Iran to be in breach of its international commitments. [More>>rian.ru ; See related story, bbc.co.uk, "EU calls for UN action over Iran" : Foreign ministers from the UK, France and Germany have said the time has come for Iran's nuclear issue to be dealt with by the UN Security Council. They called for an emergency session of the UN's nuclear watchdog, which can refer Iran to the council and lead to possible sanctions. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice backed the move, saying Iran had crossed an "important threshold." It comes after Iran resumed nuclear research after a two-year freeze...]
01.12.06 Death toll reaches 371 in Hajj stampede
MINA, Saudi Arabia: The Death toll climbed to 371 and around 1000 persons injured from a stampede at the procession symbolizing the stoning of the devil during the annual hajj pilgrimage. Amongst the martyred pilgrims majority is from Pakistan, India and Egypt, according to latest reports. The Health Ministry of Saudi Arabia has confirmed that at least 354 pilgrims been martyred in the stampede. According to eye-witnesses, according to local time the incident came to happen at around 1:15 p.m. The incident occurred as thousands of Muslim pilgrims rushing to complete a symbolic stoning ritual during the hajj tripped over luggage Thursday, causing a crush in which at least 354 people were killed, the Interior Ministry said. [More>>jang.com.pk ; See more details, Khaleejtimes.com, (Reuters) "At least 345 pilgrims killed in Haj crush" : At least 345 Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death on Thursday during a stoning ritual on the last day of the Haj, the worst tragedy to beset the sacred ritual in more than a decade. "So far, the number of confirmed deaths is 345 and the number of injured in hospital is 289," Health Minister Hamad bin Abdullah Al Manei told Saudi state television, adding that many had been discharged. The pilgrims were crushed at the eastern entrance of Minaıs disaster-prone Jamarat Bridge as they jostled to perform the stoning between noon and sunset in Mina, a narrow valley near the holy city of Makkah.
"It was like the road of death there," one pilgrim said, describing women fainting and people elbowing and pushing to get closer to the wall where pilgrims direct their stones.
Some 2.5 million Muslim are performing the Haj this year, and the death toll was the worst since 1,426 people were killed in a stampede in a tunnel in Makkah in 1990. Thursdayıs crush intensified as many pilgrims scrambled to pick up belongings lost in the heavy crowds, officials said.
"Immediately after noon, there was severe overcrowding among the pilgrims that led to many falling and dying," Manei said. Many pilgrims insist on following Prophet Mohammadıs example of stoning after noon prayers instead of staggering the ritual throughout the day as some clerics recommend. Bodies covered in white shrouds littered the Jamarat area, as medics tended to the injured on stretchers. The bodies were driven away in ambulances and refrigerated trucks. "The people who died were trying to get onto the bridge to do their stoning. But a wave of people came from the (other) direction trying to get off the bridge. Thatıs when people died," said Egyptian Amr Gad....The pilgrimage has been marred by stampedes in the past, and some of the worst have occurred in Mina. In 2004, some 250 pilgrims were crushed to death at Jamarat Bridge. A decade earlier, 270 were killed in a similar stampede. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]
05.21.05 British lawmaker: Iraq war was for oil
LISBON, May 21 Adam Porter reports: Labour politician and former UK environment minister Michael Meacher has slammed Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush for starting a war, he says, to secure oil interests.
Speaking on Friday on the sidelines of the fourth International Workshop on Oil and Gas Depletion in Lisbon, Portugal, Meacher, a member of the British parliament, said: "The reason they attacked Iraq is nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, it was nothing to do with democracy in Iraq, it was nothing to do with the human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein."
..."It was principally, totally and comprehensively to do with oil," Meacher continued. "This was about assuming control over the Middle East and over Iraq, the second largest producer and also over Saudi Arabia next door.
"It was about securing as much as possible of the remaining supplies of oil and also over the Caspian basin, which of course is Afghanistan." [More>>aljazeera.net; See also gregpalast.com, article March 17, 2005, "Secret US plans for Iraq's oil."
Editorial note: For articles relating to Bush's lying to Congress and the American people with regard to his war on Iraq and other complaints that relate to his abuse of power see:
08.09.05 Understanding terrorists' use of the Koran what constitutes extremist activity
August 9 (Maravot News, Mel Copeland) A trend in combatting terrorism has to do with what constitute's extremist activity, including teachings by immams, publication of books and retail book stores, etc. Statements like (8.09.05) Bakri Mohammed's, "...it would be 'against Islam' for him to inform the police of any terrorist attacks that he knew were being planned in Britain..." are better understood through an examination of modern scholastic trends in reinterpreting the Koran. See:
08.07.05 Inside the sect that loves terror with Editorial note: An interesting site by an Islamic scholar defines what "kuffar" (disbelievers) means. His site, renaissance.com.pk Arguments and Rational details the Koran's verses and traditional and modern applications of the verses dealing with disbelievers: identifying them, punishing them, preaching to them and "'displaced directives." His argument refers heavily to Old Testament verses that set the foundation for verses of the Koran involving the punishment of disbelievers...
08.07.05 UK to deport 500 Muslim extremists and article, "Diary of British jihadi unearthed in Pakistan," ...the diary wonders how Muslims can live in London, the "vital organ of the minions of the devil," now that the "kufr," or unbelievers, have transformed the world into "a battlefield for the Muslims."
6.17-05 Federal Debt not a concern of the press
SAN FRANCISCO, June 17 Update. While the Federal Reserve continues to increase interest rates, the Exponentially rising Federal Debt is not being reported. What is not being reported is the fact that interest rates are tied to the US National Debt. This year the deficit is expected to exceed $420 billion, and interest on the debt which exceeds $8.2 trillion, is about $1 billion per day. Because the annual deficits are financed via the bond market, and because the amount of the bonds being sold exceeds demand, it is necessary to raise interest rates to attract investors in the US bonds financing the US debt. This routine of increasing debt on an exponential scale was experienced under the administration of George H. W. Bush. I predicted increasing interest rates "to sell bonds" in my conversation with Wm. F. Buckley Jr. at that time, in 1993, and I have repeated the prediction with regard to the current Bush administration's excesses and need to sell more bonds to finance the extraordinary deficits. The rate increases will continue in order to sell the overabundant US bonds. In a few words, George Bush's debt is causing your mortgage rates to increase, and they will continue to increase until the US assumes fiscal responsibility. Click here for details on this trend.
Postscript: If the EU adopts the practice of allowing large budget deficits, the consequence places a strain on the world bond market, since that market is already flooded with US bonds to the tune of some $9 trillion. Those who are allowing budget deficits also own some of the US debt. It's not a good situation, heralding a world economic collapse. That Greenspan has not reigned in the Bush administration on the US debt is a travesty.
Rising interest rates began with a Federal Reserve declaration of the "fear of inflation": WASHINGTON, March 22 The Federal Reserve raised new worries about inflation on Tuesday, setting off alarms in the stock and bond markets that the central bank might drive up interest rates faster than investors had been expecting. The Fed nudged up short-term interest rates for the seventh time in the last year, raising the federal funds rate on overnight loans between banks to 2.75 percent from 2.5 percent. It restated its intention to keep raising them at a "measured" pace in the months ahead.
But in a departure from previous declarations, the central bank said there were rising inflationary pressures beyond those tied directly to the recent jumps in oil prices. [More>>nytimes.com]
Historical trend on the New Orleans debacle
(2) The name, Allah, in Arabic is an expression of surprise. It is not unusual for the God of the Bible to be known by many names. Jewish Midrash quotes passages in the Old Testament (Torah) that cite as many as seventy names of God (and more). But they can all be reduced down to one name.
(5) The Law of the Locrians: "In the legislation of the Locrians, the proposer of a new law, with a halter round his neck, to be instantly tightened if the public assembly did not, on hearing his reasons, then and there adopt his proposition." [Mill, On Liberty, 2.475].
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