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News Headlines & Trends

01.25.10 Iran's top security official to visit Russia

TEHRAN (RIA Novosti) January 25 - A top Iranian security official will arrive in Russia on Tuesday for a three-day visit, Iran's IRIBNews reported on Monday. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili is due to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other officials and discuss bilateral relations, regional and international issues, the news agency said on its web site. It added that Jalili would be accompanied by Ali Bagheri, deputy for foreign policy and security maters. The report could not be immediately officially confirmed. Mediators from the Iran Six, which includes Russia, are currently discussing the transition from talks to new sanctions in response to Iran's refusal to fold its controversial nuclear program. Iran, which is already under three sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, recently announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. Western powers suspect it of pursuing an atomic weapons program. The Iran Six are Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany. [More>>en.rian.ru]

01.25.10 Islamic extremism probed at UK school

LONDON (AP) January 25 - Officials to investigate whether university's Islamic Society contributed to radicalization of students. The British university attended by the man alleged to have attacked a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day said Monday it would investigate whether there was anything at the school that could push students toward extremism. Some security experts criticized the leadership of University College London after it emerged that Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab served as the leader of the school's Islamic Society in 2007. The university had previously said it would investigate, and it announced Monday that its inquiry would examine whether there were "conditions at UCL that might contribute to the radicalization of students."

Media and counterterrorism experts have highlighted an anti-war conference organized by Abdulmutallab entitled "The War on Terror Week," which explored the Muslim concept of Jihad. Many also noted that the Islamic Society had recently extended an invitation to Birmingham-based cleric Abu Usamah, who was secretly filmed in 2007 disparaging women as "deficient" and calling on believers to kill gays and crucify apostates. In an interview with the AP late last month,..In a statement, University College London Provost Malcolm Grant said his university had a legal obligation "to guarantee freedom of speech on campus within the law."
[Full story>>cbsnews.com]

01.25.10 US proposes direct, but low-level, Mideast talks

(Reuters) January 25 - President Mahmoud Abbas is studying a US proposal for talks between the
Palestinians and Israel at a level below full-scale negotiations between their leaders, a Palestinian official said on Monday. The proposal is the latest idea by US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell to bring about a resumption of peace talks that have been frozen for 13 months. Palestinian sources familiar with Mitchell's weekend round of diplomacy said he had proposed confidence-building measures that would improve conditions in the Palestinian territories. Israeli officials, noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had on Sunday welcomed unspecified "new ideas" for talks from Mitchell, said their government stood ready to take part in US-mediated discussions with Palestinian officials.

The confidence-building steps cited by Palestinians as areas they would be keen to discuss included the transfer of authority from the Israeli army to the Palestinians in more of the West Bank's territory, the removal of some Israeli checkpoints and release of a number of Palestinian prisoners...Core issues include the future borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and fate of Palestinian refugees.
[Full story>>haaretz.com]

01.25.10 150,000 Haiti quake victims buried, government says

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) January 25 - More than 150,000 Haiti quake victims buried; food reaches survivors, but 'we need more.' The truckers filling Haiti's mass graves with bodies reported ever higher numbers: More than 150,000 quake victims have been buried by the government, an official said Sunday. That doesn't count those still under the debris, carried off by relatives or killed in the outlying quake zone. "Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble — 200,000? 300,000? Who knows the overall death toll?" said the official, Communications Minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue. Dealing with the living, meanwhile, a global army of aid workers was getting more food into people's hands, but acknowledged falling short. "We wish we could do more, quicker," said UN World Food Program chief Josette Sheeran, visiting Port-au-Prince. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

01.25.10 Asian leaders attend Afghan summit

January 25 - Turkish, Afghan and Pakistani leaders are to gather in Istanbul for a regional security summit that focuses on Afghanistan, followed by meetings with the Iranian vice-president and the Chinese foreign minister. The summit on Monday brings together Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president; his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai; and Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president. David Miliband, the British foreign minister, Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the Russian deputy prime minister are also expected to attend. The summit will pave the way for an international conference on Afghanistan to be held in London on January 28, entrusted with setting a timetable for transferring responsibility for some areas to Afghan government control. [More>>aljazeera.net]

01.25.10 US must shift strategies in Afghanistan: Soviet war veterans

MOSCOW (AFP) January 25 - The United States is repeating the mistakes that the Soviet Union made in Afghanistan, Russian veterans say, convinced the USSR's disastrous near decade-long war there harbors deep lessons for Western forces. "It is now (nearly) nine years since the coalition invaded Afghanistan and nothing has changed," said retired Lieutenant General Ruslan Aushev, 55, who served five years in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation there from 1979-1989. However, Aushev, who was made a Hero of the Soviet Union after being wounded on his third Afghan deployment, admitted that NATO and US troops face a fiercer enemy today than did Soviet troops.

Then, the Red Army untrained for the mountainous terrain found themselves bogged down in an unwinnable guerrilla war against Mujahedeen Islamist fighters backed financially and militarily by Washington. "Today, the situation is more complicated. The Mujahedeen were more moderate than the Taliban, who are radical. In our era, there were no suicide bombers," said Aushev, who now heads the Afghan veterans committee. Major General Makhmud Gareyev was a former deputy chief of the Red Army general staff and a top military adviser to Afghan President Najibullah, who was overthrown by Islamic insurgents in 1992 and hanged by the Taliban four years later. After the Soviet pullout in 1989, Gareyev stayed behind to support the Kremlin's client regime.
[>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related report,

cnn.com, January 25, "US intelligence briefing: Taliban increasingly effective"
: WASHINGTON - A December 22 briefing, prepared by the top US intelligence official in Afghanistan and obtained by CNN, maps out the strategy and strength of the Taliban and their allies in Afghanistan, and concludes that the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is increasingly effective. The briefing, which warns that the "situation is serious," was prepared by Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn last month. His assessment is that the Taliban's "organizational capabilities and operational reach are qualitatively and geographically expanding" and the group is capable of much greater frequency of attacks and varied locations of attacks. According to the unclassified briefing, the insurgency can now sustain itself indefinitely because of three factors:

• The increased availability of bomb-making technology and material;
• The Taliban's access to two major funding streams, one from the opium trade and the other from overseas donations from Muslim countries, which reach the Taliban by courier or through a system of informal banks known as "hawalas" that operate across much of the Islamic world; and
• The Taliban's continuing ability to recruit foot soldiers based on the perception that they "retain the religious high-ground," and factors such as poverty and tribal friction...

01.25.10 Yemen wants more help to tackle terror

January 25 - Yemen's foreign minister has told Sky News that a "new approach" is needed to deal with terrorism as he admitted al-Qaeda is a threat in his country. Abu Bakr al Qirbi denied his country was a failed state but admitted it was at risk of becoming one. He also said that foreign military forces were not needed in Yemen because it "makes things worse and complicates things for the country itself and the fight against al-Qaeda." With its poor standard of living, Yemen has proved a fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaeda and there could be hundreds of the group's fighters there. Mr. al Qirbi said Yemen needs help with building its infrastructure, such as education and health services, and not just cash from donors. He said this would help combat the threat from radicalization as poverty would be tackled alongside it. [More>>news.sky.com]

01.25.10 Baghdad bombs kill 36, Chemical Ali hanged

BAGHDAD (Reuters) January 25 - Suicide bombers attacked three hotels used by foreigners in the heart of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 36 people and raising questions about government pledges to keep Iraqis safe before a March election. The car bombs wounded at least 71 people as Iraq executed the man known as "Chemical Ali" under Saddam Hussein for his use of poison gas against minority Kurds. The hanging of Ali Hassan al-Majeed for crimes against humanity was a high-profile step in the Shi'ite-led government's prosecution of Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime and was likely to fan controversy six weeks before the March 7 parliamentary poll. The latest in a series of major attacks in Baghdad could be a political setback for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has built his reputation on pulling Iraq out of war. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

01.25.10 Pakistan reluctant to fight Afghan militants: Report

WASHINGTON, January 25 - Suspicious of deepening ties between India and the United States, Pakistan is reluctant to plunge into war with Afghan militants and even high-profile visits of US officials have failed to win over a military and civilian establishment in Islamabad, a media report said. The recent visit of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke could not convince Pakistan to go ahead full throat in its war against terrorism. "One major obstacle, analysts said, is the close relationship between the United States and India," The 'Washington Post' on Monday reported in its dispatch from Islamabad. "India-Pakistan relations are mired in mistrust, with India suspecting Pakistan of colluding in a terrorist attack in Mumbai in late 2008, and Pakistan suspecting that India uses Afghanistan to launch anti-Pakistan subversion," it said. [More>>indianexpress.com]

01.25.10 27 militants held in tribal areas

PESHAWAR, January 25 - Security forces on Monday apprehended 27 suspected militants during ongoing search operation in Bajaur Agency, Khyber Agency and Dir District. On the other hand, life is returning to normalcy in the Kurram Agency, where Tul-Parachinar road has been partially opened. A convoy of 30 vehicles today reached Parachinar amid security cover of Frontier Corps. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, January 25, "11 militants killed in Kurram Agency" 
: PARACHINAR - Eleven militants have been killed while 7 were injured in a security force's action in Kurram Agency. According to sources, 6 security men sustained injuries when militants from Zangi area attacked a security check post in Taindo area of central Kurram. The security forces repulsed and targeted suspected militants hideouts in Zangi area with the help of gunship helicopters, killing 11 militants. A military operation has been underway in central Kurram against the militants for the past two months in which a number of militants training centres and camps have been destroyed. [end]

01.24.10 Haiti says 150,000 bodies recovered in capital

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) January 24 - US, Brazilian troops hand out food in Cite Soleil. The confirmed death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake has topped 150,000 in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area alone, the communications minister said Sunday, with many more thousands dead around the country or still buried under the rubble. Communications minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue told The Associated Press that the figure is based on a body count in the capital and outlying areas by CNE, a state company that has been collecting corpses and burying them in a mass grave north of Port-au-Prince. It does not include other affected cities such as Jacmel, where thousands are believed dead, nor does it account for bodies burned by relatives. The United Nations said Saturday the government had confirmed 111,481 bodies; all told, authorities have estimated 200,000 dead from the magnitude-7.0 quake, according to Haitian government figures cited by the European Commission. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]

01.24.10 Watchdog group: Iran unrest 'full-blown rights crisis'

DUBAI, January 24 - Iran's postelection unrest is a "full-blown human rights crisis," a watchdog group said Sunday, calling on Tehran to free government critics detained during the crackdown. Thousands of peaceful protesters, including students, lawyers and prominent human rights activists have been detained following the June presidential election. That has made Iran's reaction to political dissent "a human rights disaster," New York-based Human Rights Watch said in its annual report on violations and abuses worldwide. SLIDESHOW (Warning: GRAPHIC): Photos From the Violent Clashes

Human Rights deputy Middle East director Joe Stork described the "systematic and brutal targeting" of protesters and government critics by security forces. He said it marked "the worst crackdown" in the Islamic Republic in decades, and called on Tehran to release whose who were captured in peaceful protests or otherwise demonstrating their right to free expression.
[More>>foxnews.com; See also hrw.org]

01.24.10 Taliban kill 7 in Pakistan's tribal belt for 'spying' for US

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, January 24 - Taliban militants killed seven people in Pakistan's restive tribal belt after accusing them of spying for the US, even as a roadside bomb targeted a security forces convoy in the country's northwest leaving a soldier dead and two others injured today. Bodies of five of the seven men killed were found on Sunday morning in Kum Sarobi, 35 kms south of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal agency, where army conducted an operation against militants holed up in an Afghan settlement two days ago, local media reported.

The sixth body was found in Kutab Khel area, 10 kms southeast of Miranshah, while another was spotted at Haisore village of Mir Ali subdivision. Pieces of papers found near all the bodies said that other "US spies" would meet the same fate. The Taliban have killed dozens of people in Pakistan's tribal belt over the past two years on charges of spying for US forces based in Afghanistan. There have been reports that tribesmen have been paid off by US forces to plant electronic chips that help pilot-less spy planes to home in on targets, including Taliban-held compounds.
[>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,

foxnews.com, January 24, "Suspected US drone crashes near Afghan border" :
PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A suspected US drone crashed in Pakistan's lawless tribal area near the Afghan border Sunday, a rare mishap for a program Washington has increasingly relied on to kill Taliban and al-Qaeda militants, said intelligence officials and a local resident. Local tribesman in North Waziristan were congratulating each other for shooting down the drone, said resident Saudur Rehman. But the Pakistani army rejected similar claims after a drone crashed in neighboring South Waziristan in 2008, saying it was a technical problem...The crash occurred around 6pm in the Hamdhoni area of North Waziristan, some 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) northwest of the main town of Miranshah, said two intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. [Full story>>foxnews.com]

thenews.com.pk, January 24, "2 militants killed in operation Rah-e-Nijat: ISPR report": RAWALPINDI - At least 2 terrorists have been killed during operation Rah-e-Nijat in last 24 hours, while 3 army soldiers were injured. According to the ISPR, in Jandola sector, terrorists fired with small arms on security forces near Janata, which was effectively responded. Armed forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation at Tank and killed 2 suspected terrorists. On Shakai sector, forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] [at] Ghani Khel near Chelwesti, Shrawuna Punga, Biland Khel, Manzai, Gaura Sar near Nanu, Tanai, Tiarza Fort and Torwam Bridge and apprehended 7 suspects while [a] huge cache of arms and ammunitions were recovered.

Meanwhile, militants fired with small arms on security forces at Shrawuna Punga near Biland Khel, resultantly 3 soldiers were injured. On Razmak Sector, forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation near Pash Ziarat and cleared [a] number of compounds. Moreover, terrorists fired with small arms on security forces check post Grid Station and PTCL Post near Miranshah, which was effectively responded. On the other hand, during operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat and Malakand, security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] at various areas near Doghalgai and recovered [a] huge cache of arms and ammunitions. Three terrorists voluntarily surrendered to security forces at Charbagh and Tutan Banda. [end]

01.24.10 Al-Qaeda trains woman suicide bombers: Report

LONDON, January 24 - Al-Qaeda in Yemen has trained a group of woman suicide bombers with 'non-Arab' appearance to attack Western targets, including airliners and power stations, US officials have warned. Details of the bombers emerged just hours after Britain raised the UK threat state to "severe" amid fears that al-Qaeda was planning a wave of attacks against western targets, 'The Sunday Telegraph' reported. The woman suicide bombers, who may be travelling on Western passports, have been prepared for their missions by al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen responsible for the botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up a US airliner, it said.

US officials quoted by the paper as saying that airliners and all forms of transport could be targeted as well as sports stadia, ports and power stations. The report came as Foreign Ministers from across the world, including External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, are preparing to meet in London this week for two conferences to discuss the threat of terrorism in both Yemen and Afghanistan. But official sources insisted that there was no specific intelligence which suggested that either conference was a potential target. [>indianexpress.com]

01.24.10 Bin Laden warns US of more attacks

January 24 - Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, has warned Barack Obama, the US president, that there will be further attacks on the United States unless he takes steps to resolve the Palestinian situation. In an audio tape obtained by Al Jazeera on Sunday, the world's most wanted man also praised the Nigerian accused of a failed attempt to blow up an airliner heading for Detroit on Christmas Day. "The message I want to convey to you through the plane of the hero Omar Farouk [Abdulmutallab], reaffirms a previous message that the heroes of 9/11 conveyed to you," Bin Laden said.

"America will never dream of living in peace unless we live it in Palestine. It is unfair that you enjoy a safe life while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly. America will never dream of living in peace unless we live it in Palestine. It is unfair that you enjoy a safe life while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly. Therefore, with God's will, our attacks on you will continue as long as you continue to support Israel," bin Laden said.
[More>>aljazeera.net; See other details,

khaleejtimes.com (AFP) January 24, "Bin Laden blaims Christmas bombing, warns of further attacks"
: ...Al-Qaeda's franchise in Yemen, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), had claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day plane attack and analysts said bin Laden through his latest statement is stressing that he is still in overall control of the network. Intelligence officials, military analysts and other experts have long believed he is holed up along the remote mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and have hinted that groups such as AQAP could be operating autonomously. Washington has accused AQAP of training Abdulmutallab, who had spent some time in Yemen.

The US administration is putting pressure on Yemen to clamp down on al-Qaeda militants in the impoverished country, and an international meeting to discuss combating militancy in Yemen will be held on January 27 in London. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in London Sunday that the Christmas Day foiled attack marks a "new phase" in al-Qaeda's campaign against the West. "The heart of the al-Qaeda senior leadership remains on the Afghan/Pakistan border," Miliband said...

01.24.10 Anti-Chavez channel is taken down

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) January 24 - A cable-television channel critical of President Hugo Chavez was yanked from the air early Sunday for defying new government regulations requiring it to televise some of the socialist leader's speeches. Venezuelan cable and satellite TV providers stopped transmitting Radio Caracas Television, an anti-Chavez channel known as RCTV, after it did not broadcast Chavez's speech Saturday to a rally of political supporters. "They must comply with the law, and they cannot have a single channel that violates Venezuelan laws as part of their programming," Diosdado Cabello, director of Venezuela's state-run telecommunications agency, said Saturday. The telecommunications agency "doesn't have any authority to give the cable service providers this order," RCTV said in a statement. "The government is inappropriately pressuring them to make decisions beyond their responsibilities." RCTV switched to cable in 2007 after the government refused to renew its license for regular airwaves. Chavez accused the station of plotting against him and supporting a failed 2002 coup. [More>>nytimes.com; See also

bbc.co.uk, January 24, "Venezuela TV channels taken off air"
: The Venezuelan government has taken six cable television channels off the air for breaking a law on transmitting government material. The privately owned RCTV International, openly opposed to President Hugo Chavez, is one of those affected...

01.23.10 UN: Haiti government calls off search and rescue

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haitia (AP) January 23 - Haiti's government has declared the search and rescue phase for survivors of the earthquake over, the United Nations announced Saturday, saying there is little hope of finding more people alive 11 days after much of the capital was reduced to rubble. The statement from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs came a day after an Israeli team reported pulling a man out of the debris of a two-story home and relatives said an elderly woman had been rescued. Experts say the chance of saving trapped people begins diminishing after 72 hours, but one mother still missing her children said it's too soon to give up. "Maybe there's a chance they're still alive," said Nicole Abraham, 33, wiping away tears as she spoke of hearing the cries of her children — ages 4, 6 and 15 — for the first two days after the Jan. 12 quake. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

01.23.10 Egypt accuses terror suspects of links with al-Qaeda

CAIRO, January 23 - Egyptian police said that the 25 suspects, including two Palestinians, have set up a terror group aiming to kill Christians and foreigners in Egypt. A group, accused of killing four Egyptian Christians in Cairo, has forged links with al-Qaeda and the Palestinian movement Hamas, according to Egyptian police. They said that the 25 suspects, including two Palestinians, have set up a terror group aiming to kill Christians and foreigners in Egypt. The defendants will go on trial on February 14, before a state security court, on charges of planning terror attacks. The group, known as the Brigade of Loyalty and Exoneration, was behind the killing of four Egyptian Christians in a raid on a jewelry shop in the Cairo area of Al Zeitoun more than a year ago, police said. They added that the prime defendant in the case, identified as Ahmad Al Sharawi, had links with leaders in Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, who had asked him to collect information about Israeli tourists in Sinai. [More>>gulfnews.com]

01.23.10 Venezuela oil 'may double Saudi Arabia'

January 23 - A new US assessment of Venezuela's oil reserves could give the country double the supplies of Saudi Arabia. Scientists working for the US Geological Survey say Venezuela's Orinoco belt region holds twice as much petroleum as previously thought. The geologists estimate the area could yield more than 500bn barrels of crude oil. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

01.23.10 Sarkozy: 'Israel may act against Iran'

January 23 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy assessed that Israel "would not stand by while Iran develops nuclear weapons," Al Hayat quoted sources close to the French leader on Saturday. "Israel might take action to prevent the Iranian regime, which wants to wipe it off the map of the world, from obtaining a nuclear bomb," Sarkozy reportedly explained to visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri. According to Saturday's report in the London-based Arab daily, Sarkozy told Hariri that France had proof that Teheran was working to develop a nuclear bomb. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report. n related news, Sarkozy called Friday for harsh sanctions against the Islamic republic to pressure Teheran to enter negotiations over its nuclear program. [More>>jpost.com]

01.23.10 Terror attack in Britain is 'highly likely'

January 23 - The threat to the UK from international terrorism has been raised from substantial to severe - meaning an attack is "highly likely." Announcing the move last night, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said although the threat had increased there was no intelligence to suggest an attack was imminent. But he urged people to be vigilant. He added it was not specifically linked to the Christmas Day plane bomb plot or any other incident. Mr. Johnson said: "The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) has...raised the threat to the UK from international terrorism from substantial to severe. [More>>news.sky.com]

01.23.10 Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) January 23 - Afghanistan prepares Taliban reintegration plan. Pakistan is reaching out to "all levels" of the Afghan Taliban in a bid to encourage reconciliation in its war-torn neighbor, Pakistan's foreign ministry said on Saturday. "We are trying to reach out to them at all levels and all of us would like that our efforts should bring some results but at this point in time it is very difficult to say," ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said of Pakistan's efforts. The Afghan government is preparing a reintegration plan with the Taliban that targets lower to mid-level Taliban fighters but has not focused on more senior leaders of the insurgency. Basit said it was important that there be reconciliation at all levels and that Pakistan was helping in this regard. He declined to give any details. [More>>alarabiya.net]

01.23.10 29 killed in clashes, suicide attack in Pakistan

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) January 23 - Militants ambushed Pakistani security forces at checkpoints in two regions close to the Afghan border Saturday, sparking gunbattles that left 22 insurgents and two troops dead, officials said. Elsewhere in the northwest, a suicide bomber killed a police officer and three passers-by, part of a relentless wave of violence by al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents also blamed for attacks on US and NATO troops across the frontier in Afghanistan. Government officials Mohammad Yasin and Mohammad Naseem said two troops were wounded in the clashes at checkpoints in the Orakzai and Kurram tribal regions. They said a search and clearance operation launched afterward also seized 25 suspected insurgents.

The force commander in Kurram, Col. Tausif Akhtar, said troops had cleared six villages of Taliban fighters. Many militants fleeing a Pakistani military offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan have ended up in the two regions, where they have often targeted government forces. Washington has welcomed the military campaign but is pushing the Pakistani army to do more to target the Taliban blamed for violence across the border in Afghanistan, especially those based in North Waziristan. The Pakistani army has said it is too taxed to launch another operation right now.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, January 23, "Ashura blast: 4 alleged terrorists nabbed"
: KARACHI - The intelligence agencies have arrested 4 alleged terrorists from Bin Qasim Town on charges of involvement in deadly blast in the middle of Ashura procession in Karachi last month. Sources said, the arrested include a mastermind, Qari Ahmed and his three accomplices, all of whom have links with the banned Jundallah organization. Jundallah is accused of carrying out a number of terrorist activities in the country including the attack on the convoy of former corps commander Karachi. [end]

01.23.10 Taliban kidnap Afghan district police chief

ASSADABAD, Afghanistan (AFP) January 23 - Taliban militants attacked a police patrol in eastern Afghanistan early Saturday, capturing a district police chief and two other officers, police said. The patrol, which included Jamtullah Khan, the police chief of Shaigal district in Kunar province, on the border with Pakistan, was attacked after midnight, provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee told AFP. "Taliban abducted the district police chief along with two other policemen," he said. It is the first abduction of a police chief by militants, Zemarai Bashary, Afghanistan's interior ministry spokesman, told AFP. Hundreds of Afghan businessmen, foreign journalists, politicians, aid and construction workers have been kidnapped in the past by militant groups or criminal gangs. Most of the abductions have criminal motives or are carried out in a bid to secure release of fellow fighters from Afghan jails. [>arabtimesonline.com ; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, January 23, "2 US soldiers killed in Afghanistan"
: KABUL - Two US soldiers were killed by an improvised bomb in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force announced. ISAF did not give details of where the incident occurred but the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar are Taliban strongholds and the most dangerous regions in the country. In total, 35 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year. US military deaths in Afghanistan doubled in 2009 to 317, compared to 155 the previous year. The majority of foreign troop deaths are caused by improvised roadside bombs. [end]

01.23.10 Bodies of 20 Saudi soldiers found on Yemen border

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, January 23 - On Thursday, Saudi Arabia said its army lost 113 troops including Lt. Col. Saeed Matuq Al Omari, a paratrooper and a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War. Saudi Arabia's assistant defense minister said on Saturday that the bodies of 20 of the 26 soldiers reported missing were found on the border, raising the toll for the fight against Yemen's Shi'ite rebels to 133. Prince Khaled Bin Sultan told reporters that the bodies were found after "liberating" areas around Dokhan mountain, a strategic high point in the rugged border region. He said six soldiers are still missing. [More>>gulfnews.com]

01.23.10 'Illegal' Saudi women's gym shut: media

January 23 - Health authorities in Jeddah have shut down an "illegal" women's fitness centre attached to a hospital, closing one of the few venues where Saudi women are able to exercise, local media said on Wednesday. Although health officials have repeatedly blamed the high rates of heart disease and diabetes in the kingdom on poor diets and lack of exercise, health authorities said women's fitness centres were not allowed. "Anyone who violates regulations governing the running of health facilities would be punished severely because this involves people's health," Jeddah health official Muhammed Abdul Jawad told the English-language Arab News...While gyms for men in the gender-segregated conservative Islamic society are permitted, women's health clubs are forbidden, despite a clear demand shown by a surge in underground facilities in the past two years. [Full story>>independent.co.uk]

01.23.10 Saudi schoolgirl sentenced to 90 lashes after assaulting headmistress

January 23 - A schoolgirl in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 90 lashes and two months in prison for assaulting her headmistress after a confrontation over a cell phone, sparking an outcry from a government-sponsored rights group. Saudi Arabia's National Society for Human Rights said it is surprised by the verdict and called for the punishment be reconsidered, according to statement by the group. The verdict was handed down by a court in the eastern province city of Jubail as a punishment for the 13-year-old who allegedly assaulted her headmistress. Saudi daily newspaper, Al-Watan, which first reported the sentence, said the girl struck the headmistress on the head with a glass after a confrontation over the confiscation of the girl's camera-equipped cell phone. [More>>cnn.com]

01.23.10 Austrian thrill-seeker to jump of 23 miles

VIENNA, Austria (RIA Novosti) January 23 - An Austrian extreme parachutist will become the first person to break the sound barrier by jumping down from an altitude of 36.5 kilometres (22.68 miles) in a hot-air balloon, local media said on Saturday. Felix Baumgartner, who earlier leapt off the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taiwan's largest city and crossed the English Channel in free fall, intends to set a new world record in a 35-second free fall, being equipped only with a helmet and a costume to protect him from pressure changes, papers said. Baumgartner, the 40-year-old Salzburg native, believed he would develop a speed of 1,300 km (808 miles) per hour in 30 seconds, media reports said. [More>>en.rian.ru]

01.22.10 Reports: 120 al-Qaeda suspects detained in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) January 22 - Turkish police on Friday rounded up 120 people suspected of links to the al-Qaeda terror network in simultaneous pre-dawn raids in 16 provinces, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. It was not clear if Friday's detentions would amount to a major blow to homegrown Islamic militants allegedly affiliated with al-Qaeda. Turkey has carried out similar raids against alleged al-Qaeda suspects in the past year. The arrests follows another raid on suspected militants in the cities Ankara and Adana last week in which police rounded up and interrogated some 40 people and reportedly seized documents detailing al-Qaeda activities. Twenty-five of them were charged with membership in a terrorist organization while the rest were released. Those detained Friday include a faculty member of the Yuzunci Yil University in the eastern city of Van, who is suspected of recruiting students at the campus and other people through the Internet and of sending them to Afghanistan for training, Anatolia reported, citing unnamed police officials. The suspect was identified by his initials M.E.Y. only. Anatolia said other suspects included some local leaders, university students, and people believed to be spreading al-Qaeda propaganda. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

01.22.10 Guantanamo group of 47 'should be held indefinitely'

January 22 - A task force on the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay has advised that 47 inmates should be held indefinitely without trial, officials say. It is thought to be the first time that officials have given a figure for those who might be held without charge. Some 35 prisoners have been recommended for prosecution through trials or military commissions. The news came as the deadline US President Barack Obama had set himself for closing the prison camp passed. The task force, led by the US justice department, recommended that while 35 people could be prosecuted, 110 could be released either now or at a later date, unnamed officials said. The other nearly 50 detainees are considered too dangerous to release, but cannot be tried because the evidence against them is too flimsy or was extracted from them by coercion, so would not hold up in court. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

01.22.10 Search-and-rescue phase nears end in Haiti

January 22 - Haiti will declare an end to its search-and-rescue mission for earthquake victims on Friday, government sources tell CBS News. Some US search-and-rescue (SAR) teams will continue to operate, including at the Hotel Montana. SAR teams have not rescued any survivors in more than 24 hours, reports CBS News. The focus now shifts to keeping earthquake victims alive, as hopes fade for finding survivors among the ruins. Six US search and rescue teams remain in the country, but they are conducting final sweeps through Port-au-Prince using search dogs and sonar equipment. Once operations have finished, the US will leave behind its search-and-rescue equipment as a donation to Haiti's SAR teams, CBS News reports.

Within days, the government will move 400,000 people made homeless by Haiti's epic earthquake from their squalid improvised camps throughout the shattered capital to new resettlement areas on the outskirts, a top Haitian official said Thursday...Meanwhile, the US government is tackling repairs to Haiti's heavily damaged main port. There's still no way of telling how long before ships can dock there and unload supplies in large quantities. So, on the 10th day after the devastating quake, the struggle continues to get food, water and critical supplies where they're most needed. As it is, scavengers have been seen rampaging through collapsed shops. And a US charity reports that stick-wielding quake victims have made off with about 50 tons of rice, oil, beans and salt.

01.22.10 Comment: Internet - New shot in the arm for US hegemony

BEIJING, January 22 - The Internet originated on American soil. In 1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Defense Department established the world's first testing packet-switched network (PSN) to connect four universities on US soil. The world saw a remarkable expansion of the scale and number of Internet users from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. In September 1989, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was founded with a grant from the US Department of Commence to administer the Internet terminal server. Over the past 40 years, the US has been dominating the world Internet as the core technique holder with an inherent advantage of being the cradle of the Internet.

There are 13 terminal servers in the world to keep the Internet running, with a master server and nine of the 12 secondary servers stationed in the US. In terms of technique, the network of a country will disappear from the world Internet if its domain name registry is blocked or deleted from the terminal server. This kind of conduct is not legally binding with the law of any country except ICANN. In April 2004, Libya was unseen on the Internet for three days after the collapse of the domain name registry of the country "LY" caused by a domain administration dispute.

Concerns about the US monopoly of the domain name server (DNS) system grew among other nations as much as their reliance on the Internet for issues ranging from politics and the economy to defense and the general society. Years ago, there was a proposal that the Internet be administered by the United Nations or under international cooperation. The European Union insisted that the World Wide Web is an international resource that should be jointly managed by all nations. Some developing countries pointed out that at the early stage of Internet development, developed countries seized large amounts of domain names, leaving a limited few for them, and demanded a share with the US over Internet administration. American officials opposed the suggestion.

The US Defense Strategy Review in March 2005 stated that Internet space should have the same priority as continental, marine, aerial and outer space jurisdictions for the US to maintain a decisive superiority. A statement from Washington on June 30, 2005, made it clear that the US government would maintain its control over the DNS indefinitely; stating that a transfer of its management to UN or international cooperative models would impede the free flow of information, lead to easy manipulation of the Internet and make global supervision more difficult.

In an attempt to thwart the World Summit on the Information Society held in Tunis in November 2005, then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote to then European Union president and British foreign minister that her government in Washington backed Internet administration and coordination by ICANN (an alleged NGO which is actually a quasi-government organization with the US Department of Commerce). Rice said management by private corporations would guarantee the safety and stability of the Internet, while the alternative choice of an inter-government mechanism would be an obstacle to Internet development. At the same time, the US Congress passed a bill by a vote of 423 to zero urging a manifesto by the White House that American control over Internet is inviolable. US Rep. John Taylor Doolittle, a Republican from California, said the United States invented the Internet and described it as a gift to the world based on American taxpayers' money. He said he opposed any move to transfer the country's control to the UN.

01.22.10 Pakistan armed forces 'tried to oust President'

January 22 - Military still 'calling the shots' in political and judicial process, report reveals. Pakistan's powerful military has actively worked to undermine efforts by the elected government to improve human rights in the country, according to a new report. It also tried to destabilise the elected government, and force out President Asif Ali Zardari. In a damning critique of the military establishment, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the armed forces had opposed efforts to end its intervention in the political and judicial process. It had also resisted attempts to locate some of the scores of people who were "disappeared" in the restive province of Baluchistan during the years of General Pervez Musharraf's rule. "The Pakistani military continues to subvert the political and judicial systems in Pakistan," said Ali Dayan Hasan of HRW.

"After eight years of disastrous military rule and in spite of the election of a civilian government, the army appears determined to continue calling the shots in order to ensure that it can continue to perpetrate abuses with impunity," he said. The travails of Baluchistan represent one of Pakistan's darker but seldom-told narratives. General Musharraf's regime responded to a long-active independence movement with swift brutality. A veteran leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, was assassinated and untold numbers of suspected activists were either jailed without process or else disappeared. Considered an ally in America's "war on terror," General Musharraf's actions were overlooked or even helped by the West. [More>>independent.co.uk]

01.22.10 US to supply 'Shadow' drones to Pakistan: Defence officials

ISLAMABAD (AFP) January 22 - The United States plans to provide Pakistan with a dozen unarmed drone aircraft that will help bolster its military as it takes on Taliban militants, US defence officials said. (Watch Video) Details of the drones emerged late Thursday during a visit to Pakistan by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was asked in an interview with Pakistani television if Washington would supply Islamabad with the unmanned aircraft. "There are some tactical UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that we are considering, yes," Gates said. Defence officials in his delegation afterward confirmed funds had been set aside to secure 12 Shadow aerial drones for Pakistan. The Shadow drones, smaller than the armed Predator and Reaper aircraft, are about 11 feet (three metres) long and have a wing-span of 14-feet, with sensors and cameras feeding video images back to operators on the ground. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

01.22.10 Eight militants killed in SWA, Swat operations: ISPR report

WANA, Pakistan, January 22 - Pakistan army have killed 3 militants in South Waziristan and 5 in Swat during the last 24 hours in the ongoing military operations there. According to ISPR, terrorists fired with small arms on security forces at Siplatoi Post on Jandola Sector in South Waziristan which was effectively responded. On Shakai Sector, security forces conducted search and clearance operation at Chelwesti, Wana and apprehended 2 suspects and recovered [a] cache of arms and ammunition. During the sanitization of [the] area around Serwekai, 10 compounds were cleared.

On Razmak Sector, security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation near Pash Ziarat, Machis near Miran Shah. During [the] encounter, 3 terrorists were killed, 1 injured and 2 were apprehended. Security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation in village Qalandar and cleared 50 compounds. In the continuing operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat–Malakand, security forces conducted [a] search and clearance operation in Jukhtai near Fatehpur, during [an] encounter with terrorists, 5 terrorists were killed.

Security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] at Madyan, Nagwa, Balo Khan near Bhai Kalle, Karakar check post and apprehended 8 suspected terrorists. Security forces conducted search and clearance operation[s] [at] Doghalgai near Biha, Sambat near Matta, Damghar near Kanju, Zulmkot near Thana and recovered [a] huge cache of arms and ammunition. As many as 30,317 Cash Cards have been issued to displaced families of Waziristan.

01.22.10 Bomb threat forces plane to land in north Greece

ATHENS (Reuters) January 22 - A passenger plane travelling from Germany to Turkey made a safe emergency landing in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Friday after the pilot received a bomb threat on his mobile phone, Greek officials said. The plane, a Turkish SunExpress aircraft with 69 passengers on board, landed at 1558 GMT and Greek security officials were searching the aircraft before allowing it to resume its journey to Izmir from Stuttgart, Germany. "Someone called the pilot on his mobile phone and threatened him," Greek air traffic controller Panagiotis Hatzakis told Reuters. "The incident was most likely a hoax," he said. "But the pilot was right to land for precautionary reasons." [>khaleejtimes.com]

01.22.10 Netanyahu on Mitchell-Abbas meet: Stop wasting time

January 22 - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday called on the Palestinian Authority to "stop wasting time talking about how to enter the peace process," following a failed meeting between the US Mideast envoy and the Palestinian Authority president regarding a restart of peace talks. George Mitchell was unsuccessful in luring Mahmoud Abbas back to peace talks with Israel, as Abbas stuck to his insistence that an Israeli settlement freeze come first. A statement released by the Prime Minister's office reiterated the government's readiness to enter into peace talks with no preconditions.

"The Palestinian Authority are the ones that are preventing the re-launch of the peace process with their preconditions that they have never asked before from any previous Israeli government," the statement said. "The Prime Minister calls on the Palestinian Authority to sit at the negotiating table and discuss ways to promote security, peace, and prosperity for the two people." The three-hour meeting Friday between Abbas and Washington's envoy, George Mitchell, came a day after Time magazine published an interview with Obama in which the president acknowledged he may have overestimated his ability to revive negotiations.

01.21.10 Haiti quake victims fill mass graves

January 21 - Earth-movers carve out graves, workers haunted by gruesome images of bodies piled in their thousands. Workers are carving out mass graves on a hillside north of Haiti's capital, using earth-movers to bury 10,000 earthquake victims in a single day while relief workers warn the death toll could increase. Medical clinics have 12-day patient backlogs, untreated injuries are festering and makeshift camps housing thousands of survivors could foster disease, experts said. "The next health risk could include outbreaks of diarrhea, respiratory tract infections and other diseases among hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in overcrowded camps with poor or nonexistent sanitation," said Dr. Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

The death toll is estimated at 200,000, according to Haitian government figures relayed by the European Commission, with 80,000 buried in mass graves. The commission now estimates 2 million homeless, up from 1.5 million, and says 250,000 are in need of urgent aid. Getting help in is still a challenge. Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of the US Southern Command running Haiti's airports said Thursday that 1,400 flights are on a waiting list for slots at the Port-au-Prince airport that can handle 120 to 140 flights a day.

01.21.10 Sour words on Mideast peace as Obama admits setbacks

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) January 21 - Israel and the Palestinians belittled each other's commitment to peace as US President Barack Obama admitted on Thursday he had underrated the difficulty of reviving deadlocked Middle East negotiations. As his envoy George Mitchell began a fresh attempt to get the two sides talking to each other, Obama told Time Magazine: "This is just really hard ... and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high."

Obama said his administration had underestimated the internal political constraints preventing bold peace moves by either camp and 2009 had ended without the kind of breakthrough he set out to achieve at the start of his term. "Moving forward, though, we are going to continue to work with both parties to recognize what I think is ultimately their deep-seated interest in a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and Palestinians have sovereignty and can start focusing on developing their economy and improving the lives of their children and grandchildren," the president said. In an inauspicious start to his first diplomatic shuttle of 2010 after a dozen fruitless visit last year, Mitchell flew into a war of words with each side accusing the other of cynicism.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had on Wednesday "imposed further conditions on negotiations and announced Israel's intention to continue its occupation" of the West Bank whatever happens.
"Benjamin Netanyahu has said 'No' to a settlement freeze, 'No' to sharing Jerusalem, 'No' to the 1967 borders, 'No' to the rights of Palestinian refugees. Now he wants to retain the Jordan Valley," Erekat said in a statement. He was referring to a comment by Netanyahu that Israel would retain military control around any future Palestinian state that included the West Bank. [More>>thestar.com.my; See other details,

jpost.com, January 21, "Obama: Expectations of Mideast progress were 'too high' " : Getting the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to negotiate, or even to agree to the framework in which negotiations will take place, "is just really hard," US President Barack Obama said in an interview with Time magazine published Thursday, as the president was completing his first year in office. An unnamed senior Israeli official was quoted by Channel 10 as saying hours after the interview was published that Israel warned the Americans that their Middle East strategy would not bear fruit. Obama admitted that the administration "overestimated our ability to persuade [both sides] to [negotiate] when their politics ran contrary to that. Both sides - the Israelis and the Palestinians - have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies, were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation," Obama told the magazine...

khaleejtimes.com (AP) January 21, "New Israeli demand hinders US peace mission" : Washington's Middleast envoy faced a new obstacle on Thursday as he launched his latest attempt to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks:  Israel wants to keep troops on the West Bank's border with Jordan even if a deal is reached. Palestinians rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand, made just before US envoy George Mitchell arrived in Israel on Wednesday. Mitchell has been laboring without success for a year to get both sides back to the negotiating table, and Netanyahu's new demand made his mission even more formidable. Netanyahu said Israel must maintain a presence "on the eastern side of a prospective Palestinian state" to keep militants from using the territory to launch rockets at Israel's heartland. The eastern side of such a state would be the part of the Jordan Valley that lies in the West Bank. Saeb Erekat, a confidant of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called the demand "absolutely unacceptable."...

01.21.10 Iran denies its minister shook hands with Isreli counterpart

(Reuters) January 21 - Iran on Thursday denied reports a minister exchanged a rare handshake with his Israeli counterpart at a tourism fair in Spain, a state news agency said on Thursday. The Israeli and Iranian tourism ministers were introduced at a reception hosted by the Spanish king in Madrid and shook hands, a spokesman for Israel's Tourism Minister Stas Mezeshnikov said earlier. Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization denied any such gesture had been made, ISNA news agency reported. "The rumor, with certain aims, about a meeting between Iranian and the occupying regime's (Israeli) officials is a baseless rumor based on the imagination of an ill-minded British media," said the statement carried by ISNA. "We stress again that Islamic Republic of Iran will never acknowledge a state under the name of Israel and considers permanent confrontation with such a regime to be its duty," it said. [More>>haaretz.com]

01.21.10 Pakistan snubs US over new Taliban offensive

January 21 - Pakistan's army has said it will launch no new offensives on militants in 2010, as the US defence secretary arrived for talks on combating Taliban fighters. Army spokesman Athar Abbas told the BBC the "overstretched" military had no plans for any fresh anti-militant operations over the next 12 months. Our correspondent says the comments are a clear snub to Washington. The US would like Pakistan to expand an offensive against militants launching cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Defence Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for his first visit since US President Barack Obama took office last year.


The one-day trip comes at a crucial time in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, with the US planning to commit 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Mr. Gates was expected to tell Pakistan that it could do more against top Taliban leaders operating in its territory, some of whom are alleged to have close links to Pakistan's ISI intelligence service. The Pakistani army launched major ground offensives in 2009 in the north-west against Pakistani Taliban strongholds in the Swat region, last April, and in South Waziristan, last October. The militants have hit back with a wave of suicide bombings and attacks that have killed hundreds of people across Pakistan. In the capital, Islamabad, on Thursday, Maj. Gen. Abbas, head of public relations for the Pakistan army, told the BBC: "We are not going to conduct any major new operations against the militants over the next 12 months. The Pakistan army is overstretched and it is not in a position to open any new fronts. Obviously, we will continue our present operations in Waziristan and Swat."

01.21.10 Obama moves to limit 'reckless risks' of big banks

WASHINGTON, January 21 - Declaring that huge banks had nearly brought down the economy by taking "huge, reckless risks in pursuit of profits," President Obama on Thursday proposed legislation to limit the scope and size of large financial institutions. The changes would prohibit bank holding companies from owning, investing, or sponsoring hedge fund or private equity funds and from engaging in proprietary trading — what Mr. Obama called the Volcker Rule, in recognition of the former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul A. Volcker, who has championed the restriction. In addition, Mr. Obama will seek to limit consolidation in the financial sector, by placing curbs on the growth of the market share of liabilities at the biggest firms. An existing cap, put in place in 1994, put a limit of 10 percent on the share of insured deposits that can be held by any one bank. That cap would be expanded, officials said, to include liabilities other than deposits. Both changes require legislation by Congress, and Republican leaders, as well as the banking industry, signaled on Thursday that they would resist the proposals. [More>>nytimes.com]

01.21.10 Clinton backs 'unfettered internet'

January 21 - Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has called for an unfettered worldwide internet and urged global condemnation of those who conduct cyber attacks. Her call for internet freedom comes as China seeks to contain tension with the US over the hacking and censorship of Google, the world's leading search engine. "We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas," Clinton said in a major address on Thursday that cited China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt among countries that censored the internet or harassed bloggers.

Countries that build electronic barriers to parts of the internet or filtered search engine results contravene the UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of information, she said. Describing the growing internet curbs as the modern equivalent of the Berlin Wall, she said: "A new information curtain is descending across much of the world." Addressing concerns about cyber spying in China that have prompted Google Inc, the internet search company, to threaten to quit that market, Clinton said: "Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's networks can be an attack on all."

01.21.10 A giant leap for British salmon

January 21 - Remarkable comeback in South Wales, where coal pollution turned rivers black. The rivers of the South Wales coalfield once ran black with mining waste and were so polluted in places that no life could survive. But, in one of the most remarkable environmental turnarounds Britain has ever seen, a 20-year effort to clean them up has paid off — salmon have returned to all of them. Watercourses such as the Ebbw, the Rhymney, the Taff and the Rhondda, whose names for many people are still redolent of a blighted landscape of pitheads and slag heaps, now have salmon running up them from the sea to spawn. The revolution has been brought about by 20 years of work by the Environment Agency, local authorities and angling clubs, in the wake of the collapse of the South Wales mining industry at the end of the 1980s.

It is part of a significant improvement in water quality across England and Wales, continuing for nearly two decades, which has seen salmon coming back to once heavily polluted rivers such as the Thames, the Mersey and the Tyne. But the return of the "king of fish" to the South Wales valleys, confirmed by the Environment Agency, is perhaps the most extraordinary ecological recovery of all...The industrial sector's loss has become the environment sector's gain. The whole network of once-polluted coalfield rivers, ranging from the Ebbw in the east, through the Rhymney, the Taff (with its tributaries the Cynon and the Rhondda) and the Ely, to the Ogmore, the Llynfi and the Afan at Port Talbot in the west, now have salmon in them, said the Environment Agency's head of fisheries, Mat Crocker.
[Full story>>independent.co.uk]

01.21.10 No religious reason for child brides: Saudi cleric

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, January 21 - Case of Aisha should not be used to justify child marriage. A senior Saudi cleric said the Prophet Mohammed's marriage to a nine-year-old girl some 14 centuries ago cannot be used to justify child marriages today, a Saudi newspaper reported Thursday. The comments by Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie, a member of the Council of Senior Ulema (scholars), followed the marriage of a 11-year-old girl to a man 68 years her senior. Manie told Okaz newspaper that circumstances are different today from when Islam's Prophet Mohammed married young Aisha. Aisha's marriage "cannot be equated with child marriages today because the conditions and circumstances are not the same," Manie said.

The sheikh spoke as the case of a girl in the city of Buraidah, in al-Qasim province, marrying a man estimated to be 80 years old, sparked new criticism of Saudi Arabia not having a law banning child marriages. According to a report last week in Al-Riyadh newspaper, the girl was given in marriage by her father against both her and her mother's wishes. The newspaper reported that the marriage was sealed by a dowry payment and had been consummated. The father, who took 85,000 riyals (more than $22,000) in dowry, defended his decision to marry off his 11-year-old daughter even though his wife vehemently objected. "I don't care about her age," he told the paper. "Her health and her body build make her fit for marriage. I also don't care what her mother thinks."

01.21.10 Al-Qaeda, offshoots rebuilding in Pakistan, Yemen, Africa

WASHINGTON, January 21 - While the United States successfully disabled al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9 /11; the terrorist organization and its offshoots are rebuilding in Pakistan, Yemen and Africa, a top American intelligence official has said. "While we disabled al-Qaeda's training and financing mechanisms in Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks, it is clear that al-Qaeda and its offshoots are rebuilding in Pakistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa," Robert S. Mueller, Director Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said on Wednesday. Appearing before a Congressional Committee, Mueller said US also face threats from home grown extremists, those who live in the communities they intend to attack, and are often self radicalized and self trained.

"We also face threats from individuals who travel abroad to terrorists training camps in order to commit acts of terrorism overseas or to return home to attack America. And these threats continue to change and evolve as extremists are now operating in new sanctuaries around the world, as al-Qaeda and its offshoots are rebuilding in Pakistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa," he said in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee..."Last year's cases demonstrate the diversity of new threats we face, some involve self radicalized terrorists influenced by the Internet or their time in prison, others receive training or guidance from known terrorists organizations abroad, either in person or over the Internet. And the targets of these attacks range from civilians to government facilities to transportation infrastructure and to the military both in the United States and overseas," he said.
[Full story>>indianexpress.com]

01.20.10 Dutch MP on trial for 'hate speech'

January 20 - Geert Wilders, a right-wing Dutch MP, has appeared in an Amsterdam court on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims. The Freedom Party leader is standing trial after a court overruled a decision by the public prosecutor, who had argued Wilders was protected by the right to free speech. Wilders is being charged over his 2008 film Fitna, which urged Muslims to tear out "hate-filled" passages from the Quran and juxtaposes images of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US with quotations from the text. Writing on his website before the trial on Wednesday, the MP said he would "remain combative and still convinced that this political process will only lead to an acquittal." His supporters have staged demonstrations outside the court, holding banners saying "Freedom Yes," arguing that his prosecution would be an assault on freedom of speech. An anti-racism group has also responded to the trial by placing 100 comments from Wilders online to back up its allegations that the MP is guilty of inciting immigrant hate and discrimination.


Fitna is an Arabic word which has numerous meanings including "sedition" and "temptation", and appears in the Quran. Its release prompted protests in Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and Afghanistan, while Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, described the film as "offensively anti-Islamic." Wilders has previously sparked outrage over other anti-Islamic comments in the media, including calling for a ban on the Quran and comparing the book to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Wilders has become one of the Netherland's leading politicians, with his party emerging last year as the country's second-largest party in the European Parliament. Recent polls have also indicated the Freedom Party stands a chance to become the largest in the Dutch Parliament in national elections due in May 2011. If convicted, Wilders would face a maximum sentence of 15 months.
[>aljazeera.net; See other details,

timesonline.co.uk, January 20, "Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders on trial for anti-Muslim stance" :
The Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders was greeted with applause from the public gallery as he faced court for the first day of his landmark trial on charges of inciting racial hatred against Muslims. Mr. Wilders, 46, sat impassively as his lawyer argued that the leader of the Freedom Party, which made big gains at last summer's European elections, had made his critical remarks about Islam in his role as an elected Member of Parliament. Bram Moszkowicz said that Mr. Wilders had a mandate to speak out against what he saw as the Islamization of the Netherlands and argued that he had not discriminated against a specific national group, saving his attacks for the ideology of political Islam.

Around 200 supporters of Mr. Wilders had travelled from as far as Cologne in Germany to hold up placards declaring that free speech was under assault by Islam and by the politically correct. The case is being watched as a test of the limits of political tolerance in the Netherlands after years of relaxed immigration policies which have seen the Muslim population rise to around 1 million out of 16 million. "This case is about more than Mr. Wilders," Mr. Moszkowicz told Amsterdam District Court this morning. "It touches us all. It is such an important and principled question that could have far-reaching consequences."

Mr. Wilders faces a 70-page charge sheet covering five counts of breaking Dutch law on incitement and discrimination against Muslims in more than 100 public statements, for example by likening the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and calling for an end to the "Islamic invasion." The alleged offences include Mr. Wilders' film Fitna, which shows images of 9/11 and beheadings interspersed with verses from the Koran. It ends with a the controversial Danish cartoon of the prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb as a turban. At one point there was laughter in the public gallery when Mr. Moszkowicz tried to insist on his client's right to have the entire charge sheet read out in court. The chief prosecutor refused saying that his voice would not hold out that long and the panel of four judges settled for a summary which still lasted almost 20 minutes...

spiegel.de, January 20, "Hatred trial in Amsterdam: Has Geert Wilders broken the law?" : The trial of Dutch populist right-wing politician Geert Wilders begins on Wednesday in Amsterdam. His inflammatory anti-Muslim statements are well known. But are they illegal? Rumor has it that Geert Wilders, the leader of the populist right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV), hopes to call Mohamed B., the man who killed Theo van Gogh, as a witness in his trial which starts this Wednesday. Probably to establish the connection between the Koran and violence that Wilders assumes. The prosecution, however, will focus on the Dutch criminal code, particularly the two articles the politician is alleged to have violated: Articles 137(c) and (d). Wilders is charged with slandering a group and inciting hatred, and discrimination on the basis of race or religion. He has targeted Muslims on the basis of their religion, the prosecution will argue, and non-Western migrants or Moroccans on the basis of their race. The trial is expected to last months.

What exactly is Geert Wilders being charged with?

The case against him involves 21 pages of quotes drawn from interviews, newspaper articles, websites and a description of Wilder's anti-Islam film "Fitna." It was initially dismissed by the public prosecutor's office which saw no chance of winning a conviction. The prosecutor consulted with its own expert think-tank on discrimination and two independent professors. All recommended against prosecution, stating that Wilders' public statements would prove insufficient to win a conviction

Don't politicians enjoy extensive freedom of expression?

Certainly. They cannot be prosecuted for what they say in parliament or local councils. But outside parliament, politicians are basically just citizens. There, they are governed by the normal limitations to freedom of speech established in Article 7 of the Dutch constitution and in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Broadly interpreted, that states that freedom of opinion is a characteristic of democracy, including opinions that are "disturbing, shocking or hurtful." Limits to that freedom can only be enacted by law and in situations where they are "urgently needed in a democratic society," To prevent people's (religious) feelings from being hurt for instance.

Where does the judge place the limits?

The judge examines whether a statement is "unnecessarily offensive" in relation to social discussion. Judges then carry out a "contextual examination": who says it, what he says, and what is the origin of the statement. Politicians, artists, columnists, imams and other professional participants in public debate get extra leeway...

Related articles, Maravot News, 1.18.10:

01.17.10 Muslim group Minhaj-ul-Quran issues fatwa against terrorists ;

01.16.10 Lonely trek to radicalism for terror suspect and related comments, i.e., "Confusion on the Koran.":

Maravot News 12.04.08, article 12.01.08 Muslims condemn Mumbai attacks, worry about image and Editorial note: "Confusion over the teachings of the Koran" ;
Maravot News 11.30.08 article
11.29.08 Malaysia government sued over seized Christian CD's Editorial note, "Confusion on the Islamic faith" :
Maravot News 9.07.08, article 9.05.08 Saudi cleric says celebrating birthdays un-Islamic and Editorial note, "An interesting review of the Wahhabi sect" and related links:
Maravot News 4.09.09 article
4.07.09 US Muslims urge Obama to focus on civil rights Editorial note: "Confusion over the teachings of the Koran." (reprinted from Maravot News 12.04.08) :

01.20.10 Oil-rich nations fall far short in Haiti donations

January 20 - What do Alyssa Milano, Sandra Bullock, Lance Armstrong, Gisele Bundchen, the country of Senegal and — very possibly — you have in common? All — including you — have donated more funds to the Haitian relief effort than oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran. That's right ... if you personally have donated money to help the earthquake-stricken people of Haiti, then you have contributed more money than the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose combined dollar donation is a big fat zero. As Haiti slowly recovers from last week's earthquake, nearly $400 million has been donated by countries, individuals and organizations to the devastated nation, according to United Nations documents.

But the goodwill has been far from balanced. India, which has one of the world's largest gross domestic products, has donated $1 million, a figure matched or eclipsed by much smaller economies like the Czech Republic ($1.1 million), Botswana ($1.1 million) and Senegal ($1 million). And those donations have been matched or topped by individuals like Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The United States leads the way among developed nations with $114.5 million donated as of Wednesday, according to the UN That's more than 28 percent of the $397 million donated to rebuild the impoverished Caribbean nation. The United Kingdom and France are next with more than $30.9 million and $16.8 million donated, respectively. Australia ($13.4 million) and Italy ($8.7 million) round out the top five donating countries. Another $951 million has been pledged from other nations.

01.20.10 Boy, 5, alive after 8 days under rubble in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, January 20 - A 5-year-old boy was pulled alive from a collapsed home Wednesday, eight days after a 7.0-magnitude quake devastated Haiti. The boy's mother was killed, and his father is missing. It was unclear whether the boy — named Monley — had access to food and water, but doctors attributed his survival to resilience and the strength of his young body. The boy was taken to a hospital. Doctors said he had no broken bones but was suffering from severe dehydration. The Haitian government said it has recovered 72,000 bodies since last week's earthquake. However, the Pan American Health Organization, which is coordinating the health-sector response, has offered a preliminary estimate of 200,000 dead.

Three other quakes in the last 100 years have had greater death tolls — one in China in 1920 that killed an estimated 200,000 or more, another there in 1976 that left 255,000 people dead and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which caused about 228,000 deaths, the USGS said. Meanwhile, a 5.9-magnitude aftershock rocked Haiti on Wednesday morning just as much-needed medical aid via a US Navy ship reached the country.

01.20.10 Afghans forced to pay billions in bribes

LONDON, January 20 - Half of all Afghan adults paid at least one bribe to a public official over the course of a year to cut through red tape or get help with poor service, the UN said Tuesday in a report that documents the extraordinary depth of corruption in Afghanistan. Afghans paid nearly $2.5 billion in bribes worth almost a quarter of the country's GDP in the 12-month period ending last autumn. The average bribe cost $160 a hefty sum in a country with a per capita income of nearly $500, according to the report, based on interviews with thousands of people across Afghanistan. Most of those surveyed said they could not expect a single public service without paying favors. Many felt it was "normal" to pay extra for services, better treatment or avoiding fines.

Bribes were requested and taken by politicians, prosecutors, tax officers
anyone with even the most modest level of power to yield, from the humblest clerk at the office in charge of driver's licenses to, by many accounts, the highest levels of government. Most of the payments went to police, judges and other local officials, but Afghans were also asked to bribe teachers in public schools and doctors and nurses in government hospitals. The report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime comes as the US and its partners develop plans to bolster President Hamid Karzai so he can restore public trust and turn back a resurgent Taliban. American officials have long maintained that public outrage over government corruption and inefficiency has driven many Afghans into the ranks of the insurgents. [More>>arabtimesonline.com]

01.20.10 Netanyahu demands Israeli presence in West Bank

(AP) January 20 - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel must have a presence in the West Bank to stop rockets from being imported even after a peace agreement is achieved, the first time he has spelled out such a demand. He said the experience of rocket attacks from the Lebanese and Gaza borders means Israel must be able to prevent such weapons from being brought into any future Palestinian entity in the West Bank. "We cannot afford to have that across from the center of our country," he told foreign reporters Wednesday in Jerusalem.

"In the case of a future settlement with the Palestinians, this will require an Israeli presence on the eastern side of a prospective Palestinian state," he said, without elaborating. Until recent months, Netanyahu hesitated to refer to the concept of a Palestinian state and has not outlined how much, if any, of the West Bank he would be willing to give up. "We are surrounded by an ever-growing arsenal of rockets placed in the Iranian-supported enclaves to the north and to the south," he said, referring to Lebanon and Gaza.

01.20.10 Flights from Yemen to be banned in anti-terror move

January 20 - Direct flights from Yemen to the UK are to be banned and full body scanners will be deployed at Heathrow from next week, Gordon Brown announced today. A new “no fly” list will also be used to ban terror suspects from boarding flights to the UK as part of a package of measures to improve security following last month's failed Detroit plane bombing, he said. The list will be complemented by a larger list of people who will be subject to enhanced security checks before boarding a plane to Britain. In a statement to MPs, Mr. Brown promised greater cooperation between international security agencies to share information on suspects. He also confirmed that direct flights from Yemen operated by Yemenia Airways have been suspended until security has improved. Yemenia had been operating two flights a week from Sanaa to London Heathrow, via Cairo.

The Prime Minister warned that "a number of terrorist cells" were "actively" seeking to target Britain. Yesterday Mr. Brown received a briefing on the latest intelligence at a meeting of the National Security Committee and also spoke to President Obama about the threat. Mr. Brown told the Commons: "The failed attack over Detroit on Christmas Day signalled the first operation mounted outside Arabia by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This is the Yemen-based organization with close links to the al-Qaeda core in Pakistan. And we know that a number of terrorist cells are actively trying to attack Britain and other countries."
[More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related stories,

alarabiya.net, January 20, "36 citizens in Yemen may pose threat: report"
: WASHINGTON / UNITED NATIONS - Some US citizens suspected of training in al-Qaeda camps in Yemen, including dozens who converted to Islam in prison, may pose a serious threat to the United States, a report by a US Senate committee said as the Security Council added the Yemen-based al-Qaeda wing to a UN blacklist. Two groups of Americans based in Yemen are causing concern for US counter-terrorism experts in the Gulf region, according to the report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. The report was prepared for release at a committee hearing on Wednesday on al-Qaeda and Yemen.

Most worrisome is a group of up to 36 former US criminals who converted to Islam in prison and arrived in Yemen in the past year, ostensibly to study Arabic, the report said. Some members of the group have disappeared and it is feared they were "radicalized in prison and traveled to Yemen for training," the report added. Another group includes nearly 10 non-Yemeni Americans who traveled to Yemen, converted to Islam, became fundamentalists and married Yemeni women so they could stay in the country, the report said. This last group of people "fit a profile of Americans whom al-Qaeda has sought to recruit over the past several years," and most reside in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, the report said...

france24.com (Reuters) January 20, "UN Security Council slaps sanctions on al-Qaeda's Yemeni wing" : A UN Security Council committee has slapped sanctions on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), adding the names of its two Yemeni leaders, Nasser al-Wahayshi and Qasim al-Raymi, to a UN blacklist. A UN Security Council sanctions committee on Tuesday added al-Qaeda's Yemen-based wing and two of its leaders to a UN blacklist, which US envoy Susan Rice said would help efforts to weaken the group. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its two leaders, Nasser al-Wahayshi and Qasim al-Raymi, who were among 23 militants who escaped from a Sanaa jail in 2006, now face mandatory global asset-freezes and travel bans, she said. "Today's actions strengthen international efforts to degrade the capabilities of AQAP," said Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations...

01.20.10 Muslim-Christian clashes kill 460 in Nigerian city

JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) January 20 - The death toll after four days of clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs in the Nigerian city of Jos and nearby communities has topped 460, according to a mosque official and human rights activists. Six military units and hundreds of police were stationed throughout Plateau state's capital city in central Nigeria to enforce a 24-hour curfew on Wednesday. While the violence had subsided, streets were deserted and many businesses remained closed in Jos, which has been the scene of similar bloody sectarian clashes in recent years. The relative calm has allowed mosque officials to retrieve more bodies from neighborhoods just outside Jos.

"We found more than 200 bodies gathered at the mosque in Kuru Gada Biu and 22 more at Mai Adiko," said Muhammad Tanko Shittu, a senior mosque official organizing mass burials, who had earlier estimated the death toll among Muslims at 177. US-based Human Rights Watch put the number of Christian dead at 65. Official police figures were significantly lower with 35 people dead, 40 injured and 168 arrested since Sunday. "More troops have come in and the situation is now under control. But there are still many hoodlums dressed in fake police and military outfits causing havoc," said Gregory Yenlong, spokesman for the Plateau state government.

01.20.10 Key commander among 5 militants killed in Mohmand

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, January 20 - Five terrorists including a key militant commander were killed in Mohmand Agency during the last 24 hours while 30 suspects were arrested from Kurram Agency and Dir. According to Frontier Corps Media Cell, peace committee of Mohamand Agency killed 2 militants and apprehended 2 others in an action in Khewazai area. Militant commander Ghulam is among the killed. A suspected women belonging to Azad Kashmir area of Mandi Bazar has also been nabbed. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story,

timesofindia.indiatimes.com (Reuters) January 20, "Pakistani politician wounded in blast: Police" : PESHAWAR - A Pakistani politician was among four people wounded on Wednesday when a bomb exploded on a road as he driving by in the city of Peshawar, police said. The politician, Aurangzeb Khan, is a member of an ethnic Pashtun-based party that is part of the ruling coalition and vehemently opposed to the Taliban and its Islamist allies. [end]

01.20.10 Non-stick chemical linked to thyroid disease

January 21 - A chemical used to make non-stick coatings for saucepans and as a stain and water repellent for carpets and fabrics has been linked with thyroid problems in adults. Scientists who tested the blood of 4,000 US adults between 1996 and 2006 for the presence of the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found the 25 percent with the highest levels had twice the incidence of thyroid problems. PFOA has been produced for 50 years and is used in a wide variety of materials. It is thought to enter the body in the diet or as dust breathed in through the lungs. Animal studies have shown that the chemical can affect thyroid function, which is essential for maintaining heart rate, regulating body temperature and supporting other bodily functions.

Researchers from the University of Exeter, who conducted the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, said they had demonstrated an association but had not proved causality. "Our results highlight the need for further research," they said. Reaction from other experts was sceptical. Ieuan Hughes, professor of paediatrics at the University of Cambridge and chair of the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in the Environment, said the evidence for the link was "tenuous."

01.20.10 Vietnam puts 4 democracy activists on trial

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (AP) January 20 - A human rights lawyer facing a possible death sentence testified Wednesday that he broke Vietnam's subversion law, saying he had been influenced by Western ideas about democracy and freedom while studying in the United States. Le Cong Dinh, one of the country's best-known lawyers, is among four activists accused of working with Vietnamese exiles to promote a multiparty democracy in Vietnam, which the ruling Communist Party considers treason. Three of the four defendants in the trial, which began Wednesday morning, could be sentenced to death by firing squad. The fourth, who is being tried as an accomplice, could face 15 years imprisonment. The trial comes as factions jockey for power in advance of next year's Communist Party congress, and some observers have speculated that the current crackdown on dissent is connected to the upcoming political transition. Vietnam has convicted 10 other democracy activists in the last three months.

None of them is better known than Dinh. In addition to handling high-profile human rights cases, he once represented Vietnamese fish farmers fighting an unfair trade complaint brought by US catfish growers. During closing arguments at a 2007 human rights trial in Hanoi, Dinh made a highly unusual public plea for freedom of expression. Prosecutors said the defendants on trial Wednesday had committed "an extremely serious" national security crime by joining the outlawed Democratic Party of Vietnam and collaborating with overseas Vietnamese groups dedicated to ousting the communists. They were prosecuted under Article 79 of Vietnam's criminal code, which prohibits "carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration."

01.20.10 200,000 still held inside North Korea prison camps

January 21 - Some 200,000 people are still confined at political prisoners’ camps in North Korea, the National Human Rights Commission said yesterday. The state-run agency released the statistic after an official survey and analysis. It was the first such announcement from the commission. The analysis was based on research done by from the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, a corporation established in 2003. In a press release, the commission said the North has operated camps since the late 1950s, and their number had climbed to 13 by the late 1970s. But after a series of shutdowns and mergers, only six camps are currently running. At all the camps, except some areas within a Yodok camp in South Hamgyong province, a mountainous northern county, the prisoners are confined permanently.

The camps are managed by guards and officials who take full advantage of the prisoners’ labor capabilities and issue rankings to top inmates in order to heighten their loyalty, the report said. The punishments have become more severe since the recent forced repatriation, according to the commission. In the early 2000s, prisoners were disciplined simply as political prisoners, but guards have altered the types and degrees of penalties according to the background of the prisoner. "Love, happiness and enjoyment are words that you cannot even imagine in the camps," said Shin Dong-hyuk, 27, a former prisoner who defected to South Korea in 2005. "Inmates were disciplined with only a limited number of words and sentiment. Prisoners were treated like slaves."

Shin was born inside the Yodok camp in 1982 because two of his father's brothers had defected to the South during the Korean War (1950-53). He said until his defection, he had never seen the world outside the camp, but had been forced to watch his mother and older brother openly executed in November 1996. His grandfather and father, who were arrested on charges of treason, had their property confiscated and were confined in another prisoner camp.


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