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1.30.11 ElBaradei: 'They stole our freedom' demands regime change

January 30 - Opposition figure tells crowds in Cairo: "What we've begun cannot be reversed"; Muslim Brotherhood throws support behind ElBaradei, gives him mandate to negotiate unity gov't. Speaking to protesters gathered in Cairo's central Tahrir Sqaure Sunday evening, opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei spoke to the crowds, and demanded regime change. Addressing protesters through what appeared to be a megaphone, ElBaradei said: "They stole our freedom, and what we have begun cannot be reversed. As we mentioned before," he added, "we have a key demand, for the regime to step down and to start a new era." ElBaradei arrived at Cairo's Tahrir Square Sunday evening, as crowds swelled by the thousands over two hours into a government-imposed curfew. He was met by chants of: "The people want the regime to fall," according to Reuters. ElBaradei spoke to the crowd gathered in the square for the sixth straight day but did not speak to reporters. Live television feeds from the square in central Cairo showed the opposition figure in the large crowds. Earlier Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood threw its support behind ElBaradei to hold proposed negotiations with the government in order to form a new unity government. [More>>jpost.com; See also

alarabiya.net, January 30, "Egyptians stockpile bread as food crisis looms"
: CAIRO - Unrest triggers black market and monopolies. As Egypt marks its sixth day of street demonstrations, the local markets move into a state of instability of its own. Anarchy and looting have spread in a fashion that is unprecedented in the recent history of the Arab world's biggest nation, raising fear of looming food crisis and shortage of domestic supplies. Khaled Mohammed, an Egyptian journalist, reported that a food crisis is looming with the ongoing instability. Since subsidized bread is a priority for over 70 percent of the population. Whereas most bakeries in Cairo found themselves stranded due to the lack of basic supplies; namely flour, and thus production was limited to baguette, which is not affordable for the majority of low and middle income families. Accordingly, families opted for other alternatives like rice and pasta...

1.30.11 Tunisian Islamist leader Ghannouchi returns home after 22-year exile

(AP) January 30 - After 22 years in exile, Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Islamist party Ennahda, was welcomed by thousands of supporters in Tunis' airport on Sunday. The Ennahda party intends to take part in Tunisia's post-revolution elections. The leader of a long-outlawed Tunisian Islamist party returned home Sunday after two decades in exile, telling The Associated Press in his first interview since his return that critics should not compare him to the father of Iran's Islamic Revolution and should accept that his views are more moderate. "Some Western media portray me like (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini, but that's not me," Rachid Ghanouchi told the AP after returning to his North African country, where thousands of people welcomed him at the airport, some shouting "God is great!" Ghanouchi and about 70 other exiled members of Ennahdha, or Renaissance, flew home from Britain two weeks after autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced from power by violent protests. [More>>france24.com]

1.29.11 Thousands of Egyptian protesters defy curfew in Cairo

January 29 - Crowds gather in capital rejecting Mubarak's promises of reform after days of clashes between protesters and police in which death toll reportedly reaches 90; military presence on streets, soldiers not intervening. A massive crowd of tens of thousands calling for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gathered in the streets and squares of downtown Cairo Saturday evening breaking a government imposed curfew, with protesters making clear they reject promises of reform and a new government offered by the embattled leader trying to hang on to power. Dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers fanned out across the city of 18 million, guarding key government building a day after large, violent confrontations emboldened the movement demanding a change of leadership. There was rampant looting across the sprawling city of 18 million and a growing feeling of fear and insecurity. [More>>jpost.com; See related stories,

thestar.com.my (Reuters) January 29, "Looters destroy mummies in Egyptian Museum - official" : CAIRO - Looters broke into the Egyptian Museum during anti-government protests late on Friday and destroyed two Pharaonic mummies, Egypt's top archaeologist told state television. The museum in central Cairo, which has the world's biggest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, is adjacent to the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party that protesters had earlier set ablaze. Flames were seen still pouring out of the party headquarters early on Saturday...

haaretz.com, January 29, "Mubarak swears in intelligence chief as Vice-President" : Omar Suleiman assumes position vacant for 30 years after cabinet forced to resign, while Muslim Brotherhood demands transfer of power. Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appointed his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his Vice-President in efforts to stem popular rage against his autocratic regime. Egyptian state television reports that Suleiman has already been sworn into office. The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition movement in Egypt called for Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner, AFP has reported. The Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned from running for elections for parliament, though some movement members candidate for parliament as independents. The Egyptian cabinet formally resigned on Saturday, at the command of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, following five days of violent anti-government protests. Mubarak addressed the country on Saturday for the fist time since the riots began, saying that he had no intention to resign...

france24.com , January 29, Top dissident ElBaradei says President Mubarak must go" : In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Egyptian Nobel peace prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei says protests will continue to intensify across the country so long as President Hosni Mubarak refuses to step down. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak "must go," the prominent Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei told France 24 on Saturday from Cairo. ElBaradei said there was a "consensus" in Egypt that the current regime was "dictatorial" and had "failed to deliver on economic, social or political fronts." "President Mubarak did not understand the message of the Egyptian people," ElBaradei said. "His speech was totally disappointing. The protests will continue with even more intensity until the Mubarak regime falls."...

cnn.com, January 29, "Egypt protests draw mixed reaction in region"
: ABU DHABI, UAE - Saudi Arabia slammed protesters in Egypt as "infiltrators" who seek to destabilize their country Saturday while an Iranian official called on Egypt to "abide by the rightful demands of the nation" and avoid violent reactions. Saudi King Abdullah called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and "was reassured" about the situation in Egypt, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. "During the call, the king said, 'Egypt is a country of Arabism and Islam. No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition,'" the news agency said. Saudi Arabia "strongly condemns" the protest, it said. Mubarak assured the Saudi king "that the situation is stable" and that the protests "are merely attempts of groups who do not want stability and security for the people of Egypt, but rather they seek to achieve strange and suspicious objectives."...

twitter.com: @#egypt RT great photos from streets of #Egypt http://tinyurl.com/6eaooyy

1.29.11 Jordan's opposition: Arabs will topple tyrants

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) January 29 - The leader of Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood has warned that unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple their "tyrant" leaders allied with the US. Hammam Saeed says Arabs have grown disgruntled with US domination of their oil wealth, military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and its support for "totalitarian" leaders in the region. Saeed did not specifically name Jordanian King Abdullah II a key US ally who has promised reforms in recent days in an apparent attempt to quell domestic discontent over economic troubles and a lack of political freedoms. Saeed spoke Saturday at a rally he and some 100 leftists held outside the Egyptian Embassy in Amman. The rally called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

1.29.11 New protests erupt in Yemen

January 29 - Activists calling for the ouster of president clash with government supporters in Sanaa. Dozens of activists calling for the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, have clashed with government supporters in Sanaa, the country's capital. Plainclothes police also attacked the demonstrators, who marched to the Egyptian embassy in Sanaa on Saturday chanting "Ali, leave leave" and "Tunisia left, Egypt after it and Yemen in the coming future." The chants were referring to the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia early this month and to continuing demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt. No casualties have been reported in the Yemen clashes. [More>>aljazeera.net]

1.29.11 Qaeda warns of "Christian-Shiite alliance"

DUBAI (AFP) January 29 - AQAP leader urges Sunnis to take up arms. An al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader warned Sunni Muslims of a rising "Christian-Shiite alliance" against them in an audio message released on jihadist forums late on Friday. Abu Sufyan al-Azdi called the participation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iran's former foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki at a conference on terrorism in Yemen "is the biggest proof of the Christian-Shiite alliance." "America and Iran became one alliance against the Sunni people in the area," added the Saudi AQAP leader, who was formerly imprisoned for six years at the US detention centre in Guantanamo, in a 16-minute audio message...The AQAP chief also warned Sunnis in Yemen that they risked being massacred at the hands of northern Shiite Zaidi rebels, also known as Huthis, and urged them not to be caught unprepared. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]

1.29.11 US demands release of diplomat in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) January 29 - The United States demanded the immediate release of an American arrested in the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis, saying Saturday that he is a diplomat who qualifies for immunity from prosecution and was illegally detained. The statement from the embassy raised the stakes in what could emerge as a major dispute between Pakistan and the United States. It also showed the shaky nature of ties between the two nations, a relationship Washington believes is crucial for success in Afghanistan and against al-Qaeda. Pakistani officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but prosecutors said Friday they would pursue murder charges. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

1.29.11 Five blasts rock Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, January 29 - A suicide bomber blew up a truck packed with 500 kg of explosives inside a tunnel in Pakistan's northwestern region, killing eight people early Saturday, while more than 25 people were injured in four other bombings across the country, officials said. The first bombing took place soon after midnight in the Kohat tunnel that connects the cities of Peshawar and Kohat. The blast targeting the Kohat tunnel, linking Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to Afghanistan, was carried out by a suicide car bomber, injuring five people. A second blast was carried out at a check-post outside the tunnel that killed seven people, including four security officials and two women, while 14 people were critically injured, Geo TV reported....Two back-to-back blasts later rocked the Bara market area of Khyber agency, Aaj TV reported. Local sources confirmed that a convoy of security forces was targeted in the blast, but the nature of the explosion could not be known, the report said. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See another story, thenews.com.pk, January 29, "Huge blast hits Quetta, injures seven."]

1.29.11 Bomber kills deputy governor in south Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) January 29 - A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle packed with explosives rammed into a car carrying the deputy governor of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province on Saturday, killing him and wounding three of his bodyguards, the Interior Ministry said. The attacker struck as the official, Abdul Latif Ashna, was being driven to work in the provincial capital, said a ministry spokesman, Zemeri Bashery. The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, condemned the killing and offered his condolences to the official's family. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

1.29.11 'Fatwa' issued against British home secretary

LONDON, January 29 - Several posters have come up in London, declaring a "fatwa" - or religious pronouncement - against home secretary Theresa May for the "abduction, kidnapping and false imprisonment" of several radical clerics. Scotland Yard has begun investigating after the "wanted-style" posters came up in Tooting in south west London, the Independent reported. A fatwa - a religious ruling in Islamic law - can be, but is not always, interpreted as an incitement to kill, the daily said. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police are aware of a number of posters in the Tooting area. We are liaising with the local authority to get them removed. We are also working to find out who put them up." Tooting MP Sadiq Khan said the posters were "offensive, divisive and unlawful." [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

1.28.11 British scientists 'invent artificial petrol' that could cost just 90p per gallon (and there's no carbon)

January 28 - A revolutionary synthetic fuel which costs just 90p per gallon and will run in existing cars could spell the end of sky-high prices at the pumps. With current petrol prices at 128.6p per litre, the new hydrogen-based fuel would offer much-needed respite for motorists. But critics argue that it will be years before it becomes widely available. As it is hydrogen-based, it produces no greenhouse gases at all so an added advantage is it could help nations slash the size of their carbon footprint . It is hoped the technology, developed in a top secret programme at an English laboratory, could spell the end of dramatic petrol price fluctuations. Cella Energy, which developed the new fuel, at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford, is confident that it will run in existing cars. Stephen Voller, chief executive of Cella Energy, told MailOnline he expected the fuel to be widely available in petrol station forecourts within five years.

He said: '"We hope to begin testing it with vehicle manufacturers next year and then to have it available for public use in three to give years." Motorists will be able to drive for 300 to 400 miles before refuelling. Mr. Voller is also optimistic that drivers will not need to modify their cars in order to use the fuel. "We have developed new micro-beads that can be used in an existing gasoline or petrol vehicle to replace oil-based fuels," he told website Gizmag. "Early indications are that the micro-beads can be used in existing vehicles without engine modification....The patented hydride consists of tiny micro-fibres - 30 times smaller than a single hair's width - which form a tissue-like material that is safe to handle in the air. Mr. Voller explained that the fuel is created by electro-spinning two chemicals together using nanotechnology.
[Full story>>dailymail.co.uk; For more details see cellaenergy.com article]

1.28.11 Thousands in Jordan protest, demand PM step down

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) January 28 - In 3rd day of protests, opposition supporters took to the streets in Amman to express their anger at rising prices, inflation, unemployment. Thousands of Jordanian opposition supporters took to the streets Friday in the country's capital demanding the prime minister step down and venting their anger at rising prices, inflation and unemployment. It was the third consecutive Friday of protests following Muslim prayers in Jordan, inspired by the unrest in Tunisia and rallies in Egypt demanding the downfall of the country's longtime president.

About 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan's main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organizations gathered in Amman's downtown, waving colorful banners reading: "Send the corrupt guys to court." The crowd denounced Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifai's unpopular policies. Many shouted: "Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians." Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai's ouster. King Abdullah II has promised some reforms, particularly on a controversial election law. But many believe it's unlikely he will bow to demands for popular election of the prime minister and Cabinet officials, traditionally appointed by the king.

1.28.11 Egypt protests: Curfew in cities as army deployed

January 28 - Egypt has extended its curfew to all cities as anti-government demonstrators in Cairo besiege key buildings, including the foreign ministry and the state broadcaster. The headquarters of the governing NDP party has been set ablaze. President Hosni Mubarak, facing the biggest challenge to his authority of his 31 years in power, has ordered the army onto the streets of Cairo. He is due to make a statement, his first since protests began on Tuesday. Across the country, tens of thousands of protesters turned out after Friday prayers and clashed with police. The curfew is now in effect, but live television pictures from Cairo continue to show large crowds on the streets. BBC Arabic correspondent Khaled Ezzelarab, in Cairo, says despite the curfew, demonstrators are surrounding the building of Egyptian radio and television and trying to break into it. The building is guarded by armed forces and the demonstrators are cheering for the army, while the latter is not getting into confrontations with the people, he says. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

1.28.11 FBI issues over 40 warrants for involvement in Cyber attacks

January 28 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation refused to elaborate Friday on the status of more than 40 search warrants the agency issued throughout the United States on Thursday, as part of an ongoing investigation into recent coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations.  An FBI spokesman refused to tell FoxNews.com whether arrests had been made or were expected, instead referring all questions back to a press release the agency issued late Thursday announcing the warrants.  The FBI also said that the United Kingdom's Metropolitan Police Service had executed search warrants that had resulted in five arrests. The suspects in custody are identified as young men from the central and souther England area, and range in age from 15 to 26. Targeted suspects are members of a group called "Anonymous," which coordinated cyber attacks against companies like PayPal, Visa and MasterCard after the companies had dropped support for WikiLeaks. "The FBI is working closely with its international law enforcement partners and others to mitigate these threats," said the agency in a statement. England, France, Germany and the Netherlands are also participating in similar investigations in their own countries.  [More>>foxnews.com]

1.28.11 Airport bomber converts by Russian imam: Report

MOSCOW (AFP) January 28 - Bomber connected to Islamists militant group. The man who has emerged as the initial suspect over the suicide bombing at Moscow Domodedovo airport lived in south Russia and was converted to Islam by an ethnic Russian imam, a report said Friday. Police reportedly honed in on Vitaly Razdobudko after connecting him with Islamist militant group Nogaisky Dzhamaat and a December 31 blast in Moscow where a would-be female suicide bomber accidentally blew herself up. Investigators said Razdobudko has been missing from his apartment in the southern resort town of Pyatigorsk in the Stavropol region since last November along with his wife and a newborn baby.

Razdobudko, 32, converted from Christianity and adopted Islam when he was a student in the local technical university. He was formally converted by a local imam in Pyatigorsk, a Russian named Anton Stepanenko, the report said. Stepanenko, whose Muslim name is Abdullah, was convicted of holding a man captive in 2006, and police found Wahhabist literature, audio and video materials, as well as a manual on explosives, in his home. He received a suspended sentence after the Muslim community, including the head of the Council of Muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin, spoke in his defense and wrote an open letter to then-president Vladimir Putin.

Razdobudko, who has already been branded "Russian Wahhabi" by the press, went missing two months after he was questioned about a blast in Pyatigorsk last August. He was not the suicide bomber who set off the blast in Domodedovo on Monday, RIA Novosti reported Friday. A video camera "clearly shows that it is a different person," a police source told the agency. Instead, it appears he is suspected of being a possible organizer, it added. A Russian Islamist organizer proselytized by a Russian imam could signify a trend already manifest in Europe and the United States of the spread of radical Islam among non-Muslims.
[More>>alarabiya.net; See also Maravot News Editorial note, September 5, 2008 "An interesting review of the Wahhabi sect."]

1.28.11 Afghan police: 9 die in Kabul supermarket blast

KABUL, Afghanistan, January 28 - A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Western-style grocery store on Friday in Kabul, killing at least nine people in what was the deadliest attack in the capital against a location frequented by foreigners in just over a year. Three foreign women and one child, whose nationality was not known, were among the dead, Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayub Salangi said. Six others were wounded, including two who suffered critical injuries, he said. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the attack was against a US based security contractor. "It was one suicide attacker," said Sayed Bashir, a member of the Ministry of Interior's criminal investigation team."We found the two legs of the suicide bomber." [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

1.28.11 LeT supplied grenades for 7 terror attacks in Bangladesh: Report

DHAKA, Bangladesh, January 28 - Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the Mumbai attacks, had supplied the grenades used in seven major terror attacks in Bangladesh in 2004 and 2005, including the one on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a media report said. "Any findings in the probe into a terror attack in the last decade have got to give clues to the other attacks, as it was the same group that used the same weapons to kill members of the same political party," the Daily Star reported quoting an investigation official who preferred anonymity. It said LeT sent 32 Arges grenades to Harkatul Jihad Bangladesh (HuJI) which were used in at least seven major terror attacks, six of them targeting the then opposition Awami League leaders including Hasina, while former Bangladeshi-born British High Commissioner in Dhaka Anwar Choudhury was the target of the seventh one.

"In carrying out the blasts, Harkatul Jihad al Islami had been aided by a powerful quarter, some of who were in state power (at that time)," the report said. Investigators unearthed these while trying to get to the source of the grenade used in the killing of Awami League leader and former finance minister SAMS Kibria. Officials concerned were not immediately available for comments on the report. But a senior official Criminal Investigation (CID) said they are expected to file a chargesheet against the suspects of the most gruesome of the attacks, the August 21, 2004 attempt on Hasina when 24 people were killed. The seven attacks killed 34 and injured over 400.

1.28.11 Taliban say foreigners were target of deadly supermarket blast

(Reuters) January 28 - A suicide bomb attack claimed by the Taliban rocked a supermarket in the embassy district of Kabul on Friday, killing at least eight people. The Taliban said the blast targeted foreigners. A suicide attack on a supermarket popular with foreigners killed eight people in the embassy district of the Afghan capital on Friday, the first major attack by the Taliban on civilians in Kabul in nearly a year. Three foreign women were among the dead, and six people were wounded, Kabul Police Chief Ayub Salangi said. A Reuters reporter saw the body of a child taken away from the gutted supermarket. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast and said they were targeting foreigners including the head of a security company. [More>>france24.com]

1.27.11 Financial crisis of 2008 avoidable, says US inquiry

January 27 - Regulators, politicians and bankers were to blame for the 2008 US financial meltdown, a report has claimed. The US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, tasked with establishing the causes of the crisis, said it was "avoidable." Its report highlighted excessive risk-taking by banks and neglect by financial regulators. Only the six Democrat members of the 10-strong commission, set up in May 2009, endorsed the report's findings. "The crisis was the result of human action and inaction, not of Mother Nature or models gone haywire," the report said. "The captains of finance and the public stewards of our financial system ignored warnings and failed to question, understand and manage evolving risks within a system essential to the well-being of the American public. Theirs was a big miss, not a stumble." The damning report criticized the extent of the financial deregulation overseen by the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan. It concluded that the crisis was caused by a number of factors:

  • Failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve's failure "to stem the tide of toxic mortgages"
  • A breakdown in corporate governance that led to "reckless" actions and excessive risk taking by financial institutions
  • Households taking on too much debt
  • A lack of understanding of the financial system on the part of policymakers
  • Fundamental breaches in accountability and ethics "at all levels".

It added that "collapsing mortgage-lending standards" and the packaging-up of mortgage-related debt into investment vehicles "lit and spread the flame of contagion." [More>>bbc.co.uk; See also:

nytimes.com, Jauary 27, "Financial crisis panel's report has stern warning on repeating collapse" : ...While faulting a range of regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the report was particularly harsh on the Federal Reserve. The findings emphasized the Fed's failure to act on a 2004 law that directed the agency to enact mortgage lending standards — which if put in place would have curbed the flow of toxic mortgages into the financial system. "The Federal Reserve was clearly the steward of lending standards in this country," said one commissioner, John W. Thompson. "They chose not to act. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York clearly could have reined in some of the large money-centered banks in New York.

On and on, regulators either chose not to act or turned a blind eye to what was going on. It's less about a particular individual than a systemic sense of deregulation and inaction by those in power." The findings represent a particularly harsh rebuke to Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman who retired in 2006, but his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, and Timothy F. Geithner, who was president of the New York Fed during the crisis and is now President Obama's Treasury secretary, were also criticized...

Maravot News article
1.26.11 Obama: "The future is ours to win" and editorial note "Misunderstandings on the scope of the US debt."

1.27.11 Iranian book celebrating suicide bombers found in Arizona desert

January 27 - EXCLUSIVE: A book celebrating suicide bombers has been found in the Arizona desert just north of the US- Mexican border, authorities tell Fox News. The book, "In Memory of Our Martyrs," was spotted Tuesday by a US Border Patrol agent out of the Casa Grande substation who was patrolling a route known for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs. Published in Iran, it consists of short biographies of Islamic suicide bombers and other Islamic militants who died carrying out attacks. According to internal US Customs and Border Protection documents, "The book also includes letters from suicide attackers to their families, as well as some of their last wills and testaments." Each biographical page contains "the terrorist's name, date of death, and how they died."

Agents also say that the book appears to have been exposed to weather in the desert "for at least several days or weeks."...Statements from US officials, including FBI director Robert Mueller, have raised serious concerns in recent years over "OTMs" — or illegal immigrants other than Mexicans — who have crossed the southwest border at alarming rates. Mueller testified before the House Appropriations Committee in March 2005 that "there are individuals from countries with known al-Qaeda connections who are changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and obtaining false Hispanic identities, learning to speak Spanish and pretending to be Hispanic."

1.27.11 UK police arrest WikiLeaks backers for cyber attacks

LONDON (Reuters) January 27 - British police arrested five young men on Thursday following an investigation into Internet activists who carried out cyber attacks against groups they viewed as enemies of the WikiLeaks website. "The arrests were related to recent 'distributed denial of service' (DDoS) attacks by an online group calling themselves Anonymous," London police said in a statement. Internet activists last month carried out a series of online assaults against institutions they viewed as enemies of WikiLeaks, temporarily bringing down the websites of credit-card giants Visa and MasterCard, and of the Swedish government. Several companies ended services to WikiLeaks after it angered the US authorities by publishing thousands of secret diplomatic reports.

Sweden wants to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain for questioning over sexual assault allegations. Officers from a specialist London police unit dealing with online crime detained the five males, aged between 15 and 26, in raids at homes in central and southern England. British police said they were working with counterparts in continental Europe and the United States in their investigation into Anonymous. Dutch police last month arrested two teenagers suspected of involvement in the online campaign. They face trial later this year. A DDoS attack consists of swamping the resources of a computer such as a server to make it unavailable to users. The maximum penalty in Britain for offences of computer misuse is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 pounds ($7,953).

1.27.11 American national kills three in Lahore

LAHORE, January 27 - An employee of the US consulate in this eastern Pakistani city opened fire and drove his vehicle at a high speed to evade an apparent robbery, killing three persons in a busy commercial area, police said. The firing by the US national identified by police as Raymond David, a member of the staff at the American consulate killed two men who were apparently trying to rob him. A third man on a motorcycle was killed when he was hit by David's vehicle as he attempted to leave the Mozang area of Lahore. David's car was intercepted by two alleged robbers, Lahore Police spokesman Niyab Haider said. "I opened fire in self-defence," David was quoted as saying by the spokesman. Haider said a pistol was recovered from the two men who allegedly tried to rob the US national. Superintendent of Police (Operations) Umar Saeed too confirmed the men who intercepted the American were armed. Police took David into custody after the incident though no case has been registered against him, officials said. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and directed officials to take action against the US national according to international conventions, TV news channels reported. Footage on television showed that the front windscreen of the US national's car was punctured by several bullets. The rear windscreen was shattered. Witnesses said they had seen the two armed trying to hold up the US national. They said they had then seen the American firing at the two men. The US national took photos of the two men after they fell to the ground on being hit by bullets, the witnesses said. [>indianexpres.com; Compare this report with a Pakistan media report:

thenews.com.pk, January 27, "American kills three in Lahore"
: LAHORE - Three people were killed when a US national opened fire on motorcycle riders and hit another with his car in an attempt to escape from the scene at Mazang Chowk on Thursday, Geo News reported. According to details, the man identified as Raymond David, reportedly a staffer of the US Consulate, opened fire at two persons riding a motorcycle, injuring them seriously. Both the injured were shifted to Services Hospital where they were pronounced dead. Another motorcyclist was also injured when hit by the speeding car of David who was escaping from the crime scene. The injured was rushed to Services Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds during treatment...

1.27.11 Protesters torch Egypt police post

January 27 - Police post in city of Suez burnt down as angry protests continue to erupt despite security crackdown. Angry demonstrators in Egypt have torched a police post in the eastern city of Suez, where violence between police and protesters has racheted up amid a security crackdown. Police fled the post before protesters used petrol bombs to set it on fire Thursday morning, witnesses told the Reuters news agency. Police in Suez responded to other demonstrators by firing rubber-coated bullets, water cannons and teargas. Dozens of protesters gathered in front of a second police post later in the morning, demanding the release of relatives who were detained during a wave of unprecedented protests that authorities have failed to quell since they began on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, activists calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who has served as Egypt's president for 30 years, clashed with police in the capital, Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday. While the situation had calmed later in the morning, the protests are likely to gather momentum with the arrival of Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, and a potential presidential rival to Mubarak. Responding to a reporter's question as he departed Vienna for Cairo, ElBaradei said on Thursday that he was ready to "lead the transition" in Egypt if asked.

1.27.11 Turkey demos against conservative government

ANKARA (AFP) January 27 - Police clash with students protesting in Turkey. Students demonstrating against Turkey's Islamist-rooted conservative government on Thursday clashed with riot police in Istanbul and Ankara. Police dispersed about 100 students in Ankara with tear gas and water cannon, with students responding by pelting police with stones. There was a similar confrontation in Istanbul where police also used batons to clear the students, television footage showed. The two demonstrations targeted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom the students accuse of refusing to engage in a dialogue with them. Students in Turkey have been staging demonstrations since November when 18 were sentenced to 15-month suspended sentences for demonstrating against Erdogan in 2008. [More>>alarabiya.net]

1.27.11 Protests in Rome against Pakistan's blasphemy law

ROME (AFP) January 27 - Human rights group call to abolish the law. Italian lawmakers and religious associations protested in Rome Wednesday against Pakistan's blasphemy law, calling for the release of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the legislation. Catholic and Jewish associations joined human rights group Amnesty International and representatives of the Pakistani community in Italy in a 100-strong demonstration in front of the Italian parliament. "We want this law to be abolished," Pakistani-born Joseph Philip told AFP, explaining that his uncle, a Catholic Bishop, had been killed for his religious beliefs. He said he had come to the protest along with 15 compatriots. Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old, Christian mother-of-five, was sentenced to death in November after Muslim women labourers who worked with her in the fields complained she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. [More>>alarabiya.net]

1.27.11 Tunisian foreign minister resigns ahead of cabinet reshuffle

(AFP) January 27 - Tunisia's Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane (pictured) resigned from the country's fragile interim unity government Thursday, as it struggles to negotiate the terms of an imminent cabinet reshuffle, according to state media. Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane has resigned his post in the interim unity government amid tense consultations over a cabinet reshuffle, the state news agency TAP reported on Thursday. "I have decided to renounce my functions of foreign minister and I wish success to those who will take part in the government during this period of transition," Morjane was quoted as saying in a written statement. US-educated Morjane was discredited because of his family links to ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and has been a leading member of the Constitutional Democratic Rally party, which has dominated Tunisia for decades. He was one of the eight ministers including Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi from Ben Ali's last government who stayed on in the new interim government after Ben Ali resigned and fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14. [More>>france24.com]

1.27.11 Yemeni protesters rally against long-time ruler

(AFP) January 27 - Yemeni protesters inspired by recent events in Tunisia rallied in the streets of Sanaa on Thursday to call for the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978. Thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in the capital on Thursday, calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to depart after being in power since 1978, AFP correspondents reported. "Enough being in power for (over) 30 years," chanted protesters in demonstrations staged by the Common Forum opposition in four different locations in Sanaa. They also referred to the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, saying he was "gone in just (over) 20 years." "No to extending (presidential tenure). No to bequeathing (the presidency)," they chanted, insisting that it was "time for change." [More>>france24.com]

1.27.11 Britain welcomes Russian ratification of New Start treaty

LONDON (RIA Novosti) January 27 - British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday he was "delighted" that Russia had ratified the New Start nuclear arms disarmament treaty with the United States. "I am delighted that the Russian Duma and Federation Council have joined their counterparts in the US Congress and ratified the New Start treaty. We can now look forward to the treaty's entry into force," Hague said in a statement. Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament gave their backing to New Start, which trims the number of nuclear warheads deployed by each country to 1,550. The US Senate ratified the treaty last month. [More>>en.rian.ru]

1.27.11 Baghdad car bomb hits mourners, 53 dead

(AFP) January 27 - A massive car bomb ripped through a funeral ceremony in a Shiite district of Baghdad on Thursday, killing 48 people in Iraq's bloodiest day in more than two months. The blast was the deadliest in a series of bombings Thursday that claimed 53 lives across the city, and is the latest in a spate of violence in the past 10 days that has killed more people than in November or December. The surge in attacks, mostly targeting majority Shiite Muslims, comes little more than a month after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki formed a national unity government, ending nine months of deadlock following elections in March. An interior ministry official said the car bomb, which exploded outside a tent where mourners were gathered for a funeral ceremony, killed 48 people and wounded 121. The blast, which took place at around 1:30pm (1030 GMT) in the Shuala neighbourhood, completely burned the tent and left pools of blood and scattered pieces of clothing and shoes, an AFP journalist said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

1.26.11 Citigroup bailout to make US taxpayers healthy profit

January 26 - US treasury about to record a healthy profit as it sells remaining stake in Citigroup, rescued for $45bn during the financial crisis. US taxpayers are likely to make a $12.3bn (£7.75bn) total profit on their bailout of financial group Citigroup, according to government officials. The US treasury expects to net $312.2m on Monday when it sells the rest of its stake in Citigroup. The government holds 465.1m warrants in Citi that entitle it to purchase common shares in the banking group. The warrants, which it is auctioning, represent the remaining part of the US government's $45bn investment in Citi during the financial crisis. Taxpayers are expected to end up with a $12.3bn profit on the bailout, made under the troubled asset relief programme (Tarp). The treasury sold its 34% stake of common shares of Citi last year. [More>.guardian.co.uk]

1.26.11 Deficit at $1.5 trillion, a postwar record

January 26 - The nation's budget deficit will widen to nearly $1.5 trillion this year, and the country faces "daunting economic and budgetary challenges," the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday as it released its most updated fiscal report. The budget office noted that “the deficits of $1.4 trillion in 2009 and $1.3 trillion in 2010 are, when measured as a share of gross domestic product, the largest since 1945 representing 10 percent and 8.9 percent of the nation's output.” The new deficit numbers effectively set the parameters of what is expected to be a fierce fight between Republicans and the Obama administration over fiscal policy. Congressional Republican leaders are calling for immediate steep cuts in spending, while President Obama in his State of the Union address called for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending, which would be a much more gradual approach. [More>>nytimes.com]

1.26.11 Obama: "The future is ours to win"

January 25 - President Obama appealed to his colleagues in Washington to put politics aside and make the long-term investments and reforms needed to put America back to work in his State of the Union address Tuesday. "The world has changed," Mr. Obama said. "The rules have changed." He said that while the new global economy presents the United States with evolving challenges, the nation remains "poised for progress." (watch the full speech at left) That progress, he said, will be measured "by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise."

"The future is ours to win," Mr. Obama continued. "But to get there, we can't just stand still... Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age." The president this evening put forward a plan to "win the future" that includes robust investments in innovation, reforms in education, government and tax reform, new efforts to repair the nation's infrastructure, and a plan to confront the nation's "mountain of debt." Full Obama Speech Text

...He hailed passage of the tax cut deal that he forged with Republicans late last year, which extended all of the Bush-era tax cuts and added nearly $900 billion to the deficit. Mr. Obama said that the deal will "grow the economy" and create jobs. "Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans' paychecks are a little bigger today," he said. "Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year." In a nod to Republicans who have called for deep federal budget cuts, Mr. Obama said he is proposing a five-year domestic spending freeze. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, he said, and require "painful cuts." The Defense Department has already agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars from its budget, he noted. However, he warned against overzealous spending cuts.

"Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine," he said. "It may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact." Furthermore, the president insisted that the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be allowed to expire after two years. "It's not a matter of punishing their success," he said. "It's about promoting America's success." As nations like China and India are growing and thriving on the world stage, the United States needs to "out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world," Mr. Obama said. "We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business." The president praised innovative businesses like Google and Facebook and called for a new "Sputnik moment."
[Full story with commentaries>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, January 26, "Al-Qaeda under most pressure since 2001: Obama"
: WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the United States had al-Qaeda on the run and vowed a relentless fight against the militants, from Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula. Nearly a decade since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Obama portrayed al-Qaeda as the top security threat facing the country in his State of the Union address, touting progress in efforts to counter the network. But in a speech devoted mainly to reviving the economy, Obama only briefly touched on terror threats and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than 140,000 troops are deployed. He said al-Qaeda's leadership was under more pressure in Pakistan now than at any time since the 9/11 attacks and that the US-led war in neighboring Afghanistan would deny the network sanctuary there.

"Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking," Obama said of al-Qaeda in Pakistan. "And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver and we will defeat you." Obama's reference to the Arabian Peninsula underscored the rising threat posed by al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, which has been blamed for recent plots against US targets. His vow to pile pressure on al-Qaeda comes after a dramatic increase in US unmanned drone strikes in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border. Missile attacks doubled in the tribal areas last year as the covert campaign was stepped up, with more than 100 drone strikes killing over 670 people in 2010, compared with 45 strikes that killed 420 in 2009....

Editorial note: "Misunderstandings on the scope of the US debt." Cutting $400 billion over ten years can be compared to the interest expense on the US Public Debt. Interest on the US debt in 2010 was $414 billion. Note, however, that the interest rate against the 13.6 trillion debt was about ~3%. If the interest rate returns to the levels experienced under George Bush II (~5%) interest on the projected Public Debt for 2011 (~15 trillion) would be ~$750 billion. (Click on chart for our discussion on the Public Debt, as summarized below.)

Halfway through his speech Mr. Obama said,

"Now, the final critical step in winning the future is to make sure we aren't buried under a mountain of debt. We are living with a legacy of deficit spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people's pockets. But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same..." (bold print not part of the speech)

Obama's comment is not really correct. The legacy of deficit spending "that began almost a decade ago" really began in the Reagan administration, under the concept called "Reaganomics" another term for "Deficit Spending."

Debt *
Deficit - / Surplus +
interest rate
Bush I
Bush I
+ 236.2
Bush II
Bush II
1.294 trillion
Obama 2010
tbd tbd

In other terms we can call it "running a government with a credit card" or "running a government without having to pay for it." Politicians and pundits since Reagan's time have referred to the debt as the "deficit," not knowing the difference between the two terms. They more often than not would point out that "we are passing the debt onto our children." They did not understand that the Public Debt carries a service charge each year (interest) that is linked to the Fed. When the Fed raises interest (usually to "fight inflation" but more probably to make bonds on the Public Debt more attractive rates are correspondingly raised on mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc. When this happened in 2008 mortgage holders were pummeled with escalating mortgage payments, causing them to lose their homes. Unfortunately, to combat the consequences of the defaults, that reached into all sectors of the financial arena, the US had no cushion, in terms of savings, thanks to the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations. As can be seen in the adjacent chart Reagan's Reaganomics tripled the debt during his 8 years; Bush I almost doubled the debt in 4 years and Bush II nearly doubled the debt once again in his 8 years in office. Note, for instance, how the deficits and interest are about the same amount for those presidents. Clinton retarded the Public Debt, ending his last few years in office with surpluses and leaving Bush II a $128 billion surplus.

Mel Copeland

1.26.11 Moscow airport bomb: suicide bombers were part of squad trained in Pakistan

January 26 - The two suicide bombers who carried out the Moscow attack were thought to be part of a suicide squad trained in Pakistan's al-Qaeda strongholds sent to the capital to target the city's transport system. Russian security services warned in December that there were two attack teams primed to carry out attacks, sparking fears there could still be terrorists at large who were prepared to carry out another attack. Intelligence sources said that one of the squads was likely to have established a base, at a house in Moscow, where the suicide belts to be used in attacks were assembled. Russian security sources said yesterday that a male and female suicide bomber from the Black Widow brigades had carried out the bombing together. The attack had been closely supervised by three accomplices, who had watched from a distance and are now being sought by the authorities.

A Russian security official said the bomb that ripped through Moscow's Domodedovo airport was carried by a woman who mingled in the crowd at arrivals. She then either set the bomb off herself or someone else detonated it using a remote-control device. An eyewitness said the woman had been dressed in black and had worn a veil, suggesting she may have been a 'Black Widow' suicide bomber from the North Caucasus region out to revenge the killing of her husband by Russian security forces. "The explosion occurred the moment the presumed female suicide bomber opened her bag," the security source told the RIA Novosti news agency. "The terrorist was accompanied by a man. He was standing beside her and (the blast) tore off his head."

1.26.11 Tunisia seeks Interpol's assistance to arrest Ben Ali and family

January 26 - Tunisia announced Wednesday that it is seeking Interpol's help to arrest ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his wife and several of his relatives. Meanwhile, protesters continued to clash with police in the streets of Tunis. Tunisia announced Wednesday that it has asked Interpol for assistance to arrest ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as protesters continued to face off against security forces in Tunis. Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi, and eight other family members, face accusations of illegal acquisition of assets and the transfer of funds into foreign accounts during Ben Ai's 23 years in power, Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi said in a press conference. Tunisian authorities announced that 33 members of Ben Ali's family had already been arrested in the country.

The justice minister also said the head of Ben Ali's presidential security force and five others were being investigated for instigating violence following his ouster. The justice ministry's announcement was intended "to reassure the population as to the government's determination to break from the past," FRANCE 24's special envoy in Tunis, Pauline Simonet explained. But there are obstacles standing in the way of the arrests. FRANCE 24's international politics specialist, Gauthier Rybinski, pointed to Saudi Arabia as one of those obstacles. "It is difficult to imagine Saudi Arabia, which just welcomed the president and his family, all of a sudden arresting them," Rybinski noted, adding that the arrest of dictators is rare.
[More>>france24.com; See other details,

alarabiya.net, January 26, "Tunisia issues arrest warrant for ex-leader & family" :
TUNIS - Interim government mulls Tunisia Cabinet changes....Tunisia's new interim government has worked to replace ministers who quit and weighed possible deeper changes to the Cabinet as protesters continued to complain that the old guard still holds too much power, as the US tries to press its advantage to push for democratic reforms there...

1.26.11 Egypt police arrest 860 protesters as anti-government riots escalate

(AP) January 26 - Tens of thousands of Egyptians turn out for largest protests country has seen in years, inspired by Tunisia uprising; Facebook, Twitter, and cellphones appear to be partially blocked. Egyptian security officials reported Wednesday that a total of 860 protesters have been arrested since anti-government protests broke out Tuesday. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have turned out for the largest demonstrations Egypt has seen in years, inspired by the recent uprising in Tunisia. They demanded President Hosni Mubarak's ouster and a solution to grinding poverty, rising prices and high unemployment. Egyptian anti-government activists continued to clash with police for a second day Wednesday in defiance of an official ban on any protests. Beefed up police forces on the streets quickly moved in and used tear gas and beatings to disperse any demonstrations. After nightfall Wednesday, more than 2,000 demonstrators were marching on a major downtown boulevard along the Nile when dozens of riot police with helmets and shields charged the crowd. It was a scene repeated throughout the day wherever demonstrators tried to gather. [More>>haaretz.com; See related story,

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, January 26, "Egypt president's son, family flee to Britain" : CAIRO -
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's son, who is considered as his successor, has fled to Britain along with his family, a US-based Arabic website reported. The plane with Gamal Mubarak, his wife and daughter on board left for London Tuesday from an airport in western Cairo, the website Akhbar al-Arab said. The report came as violent unrest broke out in Cairo and other Egyptian cities and hundreds of thousands of people reportedly took to the streets in a Tunisia-inspired day of revolt. The protesters want Egyptian government to end its 30-year state of emergency and pass a law preventing a president from serving more than two terms, and want the Interior Minister Habib al-Adly to resign...

1.26.11 13 arrested in terror cell behind US hiker's murder

January 26 - 4 Palestinians indicted for death of Kristine Luken; men part of terror cell responsible for series of murders, violence since 2009. Four Palestinians from villages near Hebron were indicted on Wednesday for murdering an American tourist in December in a forest near Beit Shemesh, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Jerusalem Police revealed on Wednesday. The suspects are central members of an independent terror cell in the West Bank that was responsible for two murders, two attempted murders, and at least one rape, as well as other incidents of theft and violence dating to as early as the summer of 2009. Thirteen men were arrested in connection with the terror cell following a month-long joint investigation between the Shin Bet, border police, special army units, and police, it was announced on Wednesday. Police were aware of the terror cell operating in the area for the past six months, but were only able to arrest the central members after a murder and stabbing attack in the Mata area in late December, when American Kristine Luken was killed and her hiking partner Kay Wilson seriously injured. Wilson survived the attack by playing dead, despite being stabbed 12 times and suffering from multiple broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a broken sternum. [More>>jpost.com]

1.25.11 US home prices slump again, hitting new lows

January 25 - The long-predicted double-dip in housing has begun, with cities across the country falling to their lowest point in many years, data released Tuesday showed. Prices in 20 major metropolitan areas fell 1 percent in November from October, according to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The index is only 3.3 percent above the low it reached in April 2009 and has fallen fell 1.6 percent from a year ago. "A double-dip could be confirmed before spring," the chairman of S.&P.'s index committee, David M. Blitzer, said. Eight of the 20 cities in the index fell to new lows for this cycle, including Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; Miami; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla. Only a handful of places — essentially California and Washington, D.C. saw prices rise. Analysts said the declines would continue even if they would be nowhere near as intense as in 2007 and 2008. [More>>nytimes.com]

1.25.11 Moneylenders are back in the temple: US churches face foreclosure crisis

January 25 - Wave of foreclosures has hit nearly 200 US churches in two years, with more to come. The house of God has become the latest victim of the property crunch, according to a survey. Nearly 200 US churches have had their properties seized by lenders since 2008 compared to eight in the two previous years and more are to come. Religious leaders were just as swept up by the property boom and bust as their parishioners, according to a survey by CoStar Group. During the years of feast religious leaders took advantage of easy credit to build bigger churches and cater to bigger, richer congregations. Now the years of famine mean smaller, poorer congregations but still facing the bills for the bigger houses of worship they built.

Foreclosure proceedings against US churches have more than tripled since 2007, when the recession took hold. All religious denominations have suffered as donations have declined. But the financial crisis has hit independent churches hardest because they lack well funded governing bodies capable of bailing them out. Last year Ebenezer AME, one of the biggest churches in the US, with a congregation of 10,000, ran into trouble with its lenders. Banks demanded the church cut expenses as it struggled to make its mortgage payments. An investigation by a Memphis, Tennessee, television station found hundreds of churches in the city fighting foreclosure. There are 200 churches in Atlanta alone facing foreclosure, according to Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of civil rights organization Rainbow/Push.

1.25.11 Clinton warns Hezbollah-backed government may alter US ties with Lebanon

(Reuters) January 25 - White House accuses Hezbollah of using 'coercion, intimidation, threats of violence' to achieve its political goals, after its candidate was tapped as Lebanon's new PM-designate. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that a Hezbollah-dominated government in Lebanon would affect the country's relations with the United States, which regards Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Hezbollah is on the official US blacklist of terrorist groups, a designation that carries various financial and travel restrictions. "A Hezbollah-controlled government would clearly have an impact on our bilateral relationship with Lebanon," Clinton told reporters in an appearance with Spain's visiting foreign minister. "Our bottom lines remain as they always have been," Clinton said. "We believe that justice must be pursued and impunity for murder ended. We believe in Lebanon's sovereignty and an end to outside interference."...Clinton said Washington was monitoring moves to form a new government in Lebanon, where Hezbollah-backed politician Najib Mikati has been named prime minister in a move that shifts the balance of power in the country toward Iran and Syria. [Full story>>haaretz.com]

1.25.11 Thousands call for Mubarak to resign in coordinated protests across Egypt

January 25 - Police clashed with protesters in the streets of Cairo and other cities Tuesday as thousands of Egyptians demanded that President Hosni Mubarak resign. As in Tunisia's revolt, Facebook and Twitter were crucial to coordinating the protests. Inspired by the successful popular revolt in Tunisia earlier this month, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in Cairo and other cities on Tuesday, clashing with police as they voiced their anger at the poverty and corruption that have plagued their nation during President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule. Police fired tear gas and sprayed water cannons as protesters carrying Egyptian flags and chanting anti-government slogans hurled stones and broke down police barriers. Street marches were reported in cities across the country, including Alexandria, Mansura, Tanta, Aswan and Assiut.

As in Tunisia, social networking sites have been crucial to coordinating the demonstrations across multiple cities and in keeping up the momentum. Reports surfaced Tuesday afternoon that access to Twitter in Egypt had been blocked. But in the days prior to the protests, messages about the anti-government activities in Egypt were posted at a frenetic pace on both Twitter and Facebook, the latter of which counts roughly five million users in the desert nation. The sites have also been a vehicle for expressing anxiety, caution and scepticism about the protests, and about a possible crackdown by Egyptian authorities.

1.25.11 Terrorists exploit security loophole in deadly Moscow airport blast

January 25 - Terrorists have attacked Moscow's Domodedovo airport, staging the attack where it is most vulnerable, in the open-access international arrivals lounge. Anyone can just walk in, and that's precisely what the terrorists did, exploding the device among the crowd of people who had come to welcome their loved ones home. Initial reports suggested that the blast had been intended to take place on board an airplane but that, for some reason, it detonated late, after landing. That sounds unbelievable and illogical (since then the possibility has been firmly ruled out). The reality, it turned out, was much simpler and infinitely more terrible. The suicide bomber entered the airport quite freely.

After 9/11 in the United States and subsequent terrorist attacks in other countries, airports across the world introduced strict security measures for departing passengers and aircraft. But they have done little or nothing to ensure the safety of those coming to welcome their friends and loved ones home, at least that's the case in Russian airports. Anyone can enter the arrivals lounge carrying anything they like. The metal detectors positioned near the entrances are either switched off (as was the case in Domodedovo, according to eyewitnesses) or there is nobody to monitor them. As a result, people bypass them; my colleagues and I have seen this happen more than once.
[More>>en.rian.ru; See related story,

alarabiya.net (AFP) January 25, "Moscow bomber woman tied to suicide group: report"
: MOSCOW - The suicide bomber who killed 35 people at Moscow's Domodedovo airport is believed to be a female and may have been part of a group dispatched by militants in the Northern Caucasus to bomb the capital, reports said Tuesday. The Kommersant daily, citing its own sources, said the Russian special services became aware of the risk of an attack when a small building on the site of a Moscow sports club was completely destroyed by an explosion late on Dec. 31. It said that the explosion was caused by a woman from the Northern Caucasus who had accidentally blown herself up due to carelessness with explosives. "Militant leaders had dispatched women to carry out an attack on the night of New Year," it said. "But one of them exploded her charge prematurely." "It is not excluded that she did not come to Moscow alone but with several groups of suicide bombers. And a second woman blew herself up yesterday," said the paper...

1.25.11 16 killed in suicide blasts in Lahore, Karachi

ISlAMABAD, January 25 - At least 16 people were killed and more than 80 injured in Pakistan's eastern and western cities of Lahore and Karachi on Tuesday when two suicide bombers detonated their strapped explosives minutes before reaching their intended targets of Shia mourning processions. The first explosion occurred in Lahore at a busy intersection of Urdu Bazar, when a young attacker blew himself up, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 70. The wreckage of a white car having government's green number plate could be seen at the scene. Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack. Talking to media, spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Azam Tariq said, "We claim responsibility for the suicide attack on police in Lahore." [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

1.25.11 Abbas welcomed home as hero; Qatar denounced

RAMALLAH (Reuters) January 25 - President Mahmoud Abbas got a hero's welcome on Tuesday from thousands of Palestinians who denounced the Qatari regime and its Al Jazeera television channel for accusing their leader of selling out to Israel. Supporters burned posters of the Emir of Qatar, who an Abbas aide said had approved Al Jazeera's broadcast of leaked Middle East negotiation documents, as well as Israeli flags with Al Jazeera's name sprayed inside the blue Star of David. "We will go to Jerusalem, a million martyrs strong," the crowd of over 3,000 chanted, in a rousing endorsement for Abbas using a famous slogan not heard since the days of his more charismatic predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

"The Palestinian principles ... have not and will not change and the first of them is that East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine," Abbas said to cheers from supporters from all over the occupied West Bank. He said Al Jazeera had used "fake" documents in its bid to convict Abbas's Palestinian Authority of cowardice and duplicity in confidential talks with Israel over concessions it would make for a peace treaty and a Palestinian state. "No one in the world can make us give up on a centimeter of our land, the issue of the refugees or the issue of Jerusalem," Abbas told the people. Their rally was "the most important response to what Al Jazeera alleged," the president said. [More>>thestar.com.my]

1.25.11 The Palestine Papers: Deep frustrations with Obama

JERUSALEM, January 25 - Obama pressured PA negotiators to restart talks and refused to honour one of the Bush administration's key promises. It was all smiles in late September 2009, when Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, shook hands at the United Nations. Barack Obama, the US president, brought the men together for a trilateral meeting that he hailed as a chance to revive stalled talks between the two sides, an opportunity to "move forward." In reality, there was little reason for optimism, and Obama knew it: Less than a week before the handshake, Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority (PA), told a senior Obama adviser that a trilateral meeting would be ruinous for the PA. "It's like having a gun to my head, damned if you do and damned if you don't," Erekat told David Hale. Erekat also warned that Obama's failure to secure a complete settlement freeze from the Israeli government would damage the credibility of the young administration, a suggestion Hale abruptly dismissed. [More>>aljazeera.net]

1.24.11 'Explosive' leak reveals Palestinian concessions on Jerusalem and refugees

January 24 - While Palestinian officials have long maintained that Israeli settlement construction was non-negotiable, leaked documents obtained by Al Jazeera show Palestinian negotiators agreed to concede tracts of Jerusalem to Israel. In what the British daily The Guardian is calling the “biggest leak of confidential documents in the history of the Middle East conflict,” documents released by the Arabic Al Jazeera TV station Sunday show that Palestinian negotiators were prepared to compromise on the status of Jerusalem and on Palestinian refugees, two of the thorniest issues that have dogged the Mideast peace process for decades.

The first of four programs dedicated to the cache of thousands of documents obtained by Al Jazeera and shared with the The Guardian revealed that in 2008, Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed to accept Israel's annexation of all but one of the settlements built in East Jerusalem after it was captured in the 1967 war. Palestinian concessions also included a compromise on the so-called "right of return" of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars, the documents revealed. Reporting from Jerusalem Monday, FRANCE 24's Gallagher Fenwick said the details revealed in the “Palestine Papers” — as the documents have been called — were explosive and potentially damaging for the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank.

"When you know how important East Jerusalem is to the Palestinian people, when you talk to Palestinians on the street, that certainly is a shocking revelation," said Fenwick, predicting that the Palestinian Authority would have to resort to extensive damage control measures to repair their image among the Palestinian people. "They’re going to have a hard time explaining this to their public, especially since the Palestinians are already distrustful of the Palestinian Authority," said Fenwick.
[More>>france24.com; See related stories,

jpost.com, January 24, "View: What Al-Jazeera calls the 'Napkin maps.'

jpost.com, January 24, "FM on leaked papers: Radical Islam is the true threat"
: LONDON - Lieberman says Hamas, not settlements, are the biggest danger to the PA in meeting with British counterpart; Hague says occupation, "illegal settlements" are "eroding international support for Israel." Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to "The Palestine Papers" in a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday, saying that radical Islam, not Israel, is the biggest threat to the Palestinians. "The central problem of the Middle East is not settlements, but rather the extreme Muslim radicals that threaten regional stability," Lieberman said. "The recent events in Tunisia, Algier, Lebanon and Iraq are not connected to the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The true threat to the Palestinian Authority's leadership is not Israel, but Hamas and Jihad."..

guardian.co.uk, January 24, "Palestine papers: Browse the documents" :

aljazeera.net, January 24, "Introducing The Palestine Papers" : Al Jazeera has obtained more than 1,600 internal documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations date from 1999 to 2010. The material is voluminous and detailed; it provides an unprecedented look inside the continuing negotiations involving high-level American, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials. Al Jazeera will release the documents between January 23-26th, 2011. They will reveal new details about:

  • the Palestinian Authority's willingness to concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, and to be "creative" about the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount;
  • the compromises the Palestinian Authority was prepared to make on refugees and the right of return;
  • details of the PA's security cooperation with Israel;
  • and private exchanges between Palestinian and American negotiators in late 2009, when the Goldstone Report was being discussed at the United Nations.

1.24.11 Women keep wary eye on Tunisian revolt

TUNIS (AFP) January 24 - Tunisian women are watching warily should the popular revolt that ousted the authoritarian president also unravel women's rights bolstered by his secular regime in this predominantly Muslim country. "I'm scared of the return of the Islamists," said Sonia, a 35-year-old government official who declined to give her last name, as the long-banned Islamist movement Ennahdha prepares to enter the newly-freed political scene. "They'll impose a new culture that is totally alien to us like the fundamentalist dress code," said Sonia, referring to the Muslim headscarf worn by some but by no means all women in the north African state. It's a fear backed by little substance so far — except for some talk on chat shows and warnings on Tunisian Facebook pages. Ennahdha, itself, has said it will respect the country's laws. [More>>alarabiya.net]

1.24.11 Moscow bombing: Carnage at Russia's Domodedovo airport

January 24 - A bomb attack at Moscow's Domodedovo airport has killed at least 35 people and injured more than 100 — many of them critically, officials say. Investigators say the explosion, which happened in the arrivals hall, was caused by a suicide bomber. President Dmitry Medvedev vowed that those behind the attack would be tracked down and punished. He ordered increased security across Russia's capital, its airports and other transport hubs. Mr. Medvedev also called an emergency meeting with officials and also postponed his planned departure for this week's World Economic Forum at Davos. The airport — the busiest serving Russia's capital — is 40km (25 miles) south-east of the city centre. Footage from mobile phones showed the arrivals area filled with smoke, with bodies strewn across the floor. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See also en.rian.ru, January 24, "Death toll from terrorist act in Domodedovo Airport hits 35."]

1.24.11 Tough times for men and women in blue

January 24 - As police in Florida prepared for the funeral of two Miami-Dade County police officers gunned down in the line of duty, shots rang out Monday in St. Petersburg, on the other side of the state. Two other officers fell dead and a federal marshal was wounded. Follow updates on CNN and affiliate WFTS-TV. On any given day, such violence against police officers would be disturbing. But the fatalities capped a particularly violent 24 hours in the United States for the men and women in blue. Eleven police officers were shot. "It is a very disturbing trend for all of us," said Hal Johnson, general counsel for the Florida Police Benevolent Association. "Florida has never seen a streak like this. I don't think anybody has." [More>>cnn.com]

1.24.11 Bombings strike Iraqi pilgrims

BAGHDAD, January 24 - Deadly attacks against religious pilgrims continued in Iraq on Monday, with three car bombs exploding in Karbala, where as many as 10 million marchers are expected for one of the most sacred holidays on the Shiite calendar. The explosions, which began with two nearly simultaneous blasts in the early morning, killed as many as 30 people and wounded more than 100. At least 85 Shiite pilgrims have been killed in Karbala in the past week. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The attacks led to a flurry of theories and recriminations. Some Iraqis speculated they were meant to undermine confidence in security before the Arab League Summit, which is scheduled to be held in Baghdad in March. Others offered conspiracy theories involving foreigners and Saddam Hussein loyalists. [More>>nytimes.com]

1.24.11 Doctors fleeing Pakistan due to fears of extortion, target killings

KARACHI, Pakistan, January 24 - Medical professionals including top doctors are fleeing Pakistan or have gone underground due to threats by extortionists, even as 10 medics have been killed in target killings in recent months in Karachi. According to a report around 50 medical professionals have gone into hiding after getting chits or phone calls from extortionists who have threatened to kill them if they didn't comply. The fears in the medical community are genuine because since May last year 10 doctors have been killed in target killings. In Karachi, since 2000, at least 85 doctors have been gunned down in targeted attacks, usually carried out by two men on a motorcycle. The Pakistan Medical Association said it had got reports of doctors closing down their clinics and fleeing some areas and some had even left jobs at state owned or private hospitals after getting threats from extortionists. [More>>indianexpress.com]

1.24.11 Iran hangs two for involvement in vote unrest

TEHRAN (Reuters) January 24 - Iran executed two members of an exiled opposition group on Monday who it said were involved in turmoil after the disputed 2009 presidential election, the official IRNA news agency reported. It said Jafar Kazemi and Mohammadali Hajaghaie were members of the Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (MKO) and had filmed and distributed footage of huge opposition protests that erupted in Iran after the vote. "Two members of the Monafeghin (hypocrites) group ... were hanged early today," IRNA reported, citing a statement by the prosecutor’s office. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

1.23.11 Egypt: Al-Qaeda group bombed Christian church

January 23 - Egyptian officials have accused an al-Qaeda-linked terror group based in Gaza of carrying out a New Year's Day suicide attack that killed 21 people and sparked riots. On January 1, Christian worshipers in the port city of Alexandria were targeted by a bomber as they emerged from a church service. It was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt in more than a decade and prompted rioting in Cairo and other cities. Authorities were quick to blame al-Qaeda for the bombing, but also pointed to "foreign elements" as the government has persistently denied the terror group has a significant presence in Egypt. Interior minister Habib al Adly said there was now strong evidence to suggest the Gaza-based Army of Islam was behind the attack. He added the jihadist group, which has links to al-Qaeda, had enlisted locals to help plan and carry out the suicide bombing.

Reports said at least five Egyptians have been detained in connection with the attack and have told security officials how they were contacted by the Army of Islam. "If elements of the Palestinian Army of Islam, linked to al-Qaeda, thought they had hidden behind elements that were recruited, we have decisive proof of their heinous involvement in planning and carrying out such a villainous terrorist act," Mr. al Adly said. The organization rejected the accusation. "The Army of Islam has no relation, whether close or distant, to the attack on the Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt," said a spokesman for the group, who gave his name as Abu Muthanna
. [More>>news.sky.com]

1.23.11 US drone kills four suspected militants in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, January 23 - Tribesmen demonstrate against continuous drone strikes. A US drone aircraft fired two missiles targeting a vehicle and a house in the North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border, killing at least four militants, local intelligence officials said. "The US drone hit a car immediately after it parked outside a house. Four militants have been killed," an intelligence official in Miranshah told AFP, adding that the vehicle was completely destroyed and the house badly damaged. "Preliminary reports said all of them were local militants but we are trying to get more information," he added. There was no independent confirmation of the incident as the remote area is off limits to journalists.

Militants often dispute official accounts of such incidents. The unmanned aircraft launched the missiles in Datta Khel, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of North Waziristan's main town of Miranshah and a frequent target of the strikes, officials said. The area close to the Afghan border is a key battleground in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda...The identities of those killed in the strike were unknown, but the village is controlled by fighters loyal to the powerful militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
[Full story>>alarabiya.net; See also

cnn.com, January 23, "Pakistanis protest drones as 12 die in strikes"
: ISLAMABAD - Pakistani villagers protested Sunday in at least two locations against missile strikes that they believe come from unmanned US aircraft, as at least 12 suspected militants were killed in three separate strikes. In the city of Peshawar, several thousand people turned out to protest the drone strikes and changes to the country's blasphemy laws. The protest was organized by Jamat-e-Islami, a religious political party with national influence. In Mir Ali, in North Waziristan, hundreds of protesters chanted, "Anyone who is a friend of the US is a traitor," among other slogans against Washington and the Central Intelligence Agency...The militants in the second attack were riding on a motorcycle near Datta Khel when they were hit by a missile from the unmanned drone, officials said. In the third incident, a suspected drone fired two missiles at an alleged militant compound and vehicle near the village of Razmak in North Waziristan....

1.23.11 Girl 'electrocuted' in the name of family honor

ISLAMABAD, January 23 - Pakistan PM takes notice of the case and top police officials to investigate. A 22-year old woman was allegedly electrocuted by her relatives on the orders of a 'panchayat' — a council of village elders — in the name of family honour in Pakistan's province of Punjab, a newspaper reported yesterday. Officials here said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had taken notice of the report and told the police to investigate and submit their findings urgently.

According to the report, Saima, of Basti Hakra village in Bahawalpur district, allegedly eloped with a man who worked in Karachi and her parents brought her back on Friday and electrocuted her at night after the 'panchayat' ordered her execution. It said police learnt of the incident on Saturday when she was about to be buried. Saima's relatives claimed she had committed suicide by taking pesticides, but a post-mortem examination arranged by the police suggested that the young woman was either electrocuted or burnt with boiling water or both, report said. "There are signs of torture and burns on her neck, back and hands which are most probably caused by electrocution," said the police official, The family had gone to a local court in a bid to stop the autopsy but their plea was rejected by the judge and the post-mortem was carried out, the report added Zahoor Rabbani, from Bahawalpur district in east Pakistan where the alleged killing took place. He was speaking to Reuters by telephone.

1.23.11 Opening statements to begin Monday in Arizona 'honor killing'

PHOENIX, January 23 - Opening arguments are set to begin in Phoenix on Monday in the trial of an Iraqi immigrant accused of killing his daughter because he allegedly believed she was too Westernized. Faleh Hassan Almaleki is accused of what prosecutors say was an October 2009 "honor killing" over his daughter's behavior. He will go to trial after failing to reach a plea deal with prosecutors. Police say Almaleki, 50, crashed his Jeep Laredo into his 20-year-old daughter, Noor Almaleki, and her boyfriend's mother, as the two walked in a parking lot of a state Department of Economic Security office in Peoria, a Phoenix suburb. The mother lived, but Noor was in a coma for two weeks before she died from her injuries. Almaleki faces life in prison if a 12-member jury finds him guilty. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident. The case caused nationwide outrage after prosecutors deemed it an "honor killing" because Almaleki had said his daughter dishonored his family and became too Westernized. [More>>foxnews.com]

1.23.11 Yemen arrests anti-government activist

January 23 - Fresh protests in Sanaa after Tawakul Karman charged with demonstrating without permission. Yemen sparked a new wave of protests today with the arrest of a female activist who led student rallies against the government in the capital last week. Inspired by the ousting of Tunisia's president, Tawakul Karman led two protests at Sanaa University, criticizing autocratic Arab leaders and calling on Yemenis to topple President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Police stopped Karman on her way home early today and charged her with organizing unlicensed demonstrations without permission, said her husband, Mohamed Ismail al-Nehmi, who was with her. "I have no accurate information about her whereabouts," Nehmi said. "Maybe at the central prison, maybe somewhere else, I don't know."

Several hundred students gathered outside Sanaa University demanding her release. Riot police clashed with two TV cameramen filming the protests and confiscated their cameras, a witness said. One was briefly arrested. About 60 policemen armed with shields and batons prevented the crowd from marching towards the general prosecutors' office, the witness said. Karman, a member of the Islamist party Islah who heads the Yemeni activist group Women Journalists Without Chains, had called on Yemenis to support the Tunisian people. The overthrow of the Tunisian president has shattered the image of oppressive, military-backed Arab rulers as immune to popular discontent.

1.23.11 Policeman among eight killed in Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD, January 23 - Car bombs and explosions killed eight people, including a policeman and two teenage boys, in and around Baghdad on Sunday, the latest in a spate of attacks indicating an apparent spike in unrest. The six blasts, which occurred between 7:00am (0400 GMT) and around 10:30 am, came after a series of explosions in the past week killed at least 116 people over a three day period, breaking a relative calm that had settled after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki formed a new government a month ago. One car bomb on Sunday targeted a police patrol in Al-Alam neighbourhood of southwest Baghdad killing two people, one of them a policemen, and wounding eight people, among them four police, the official said.

Another vehicle packed with explosives was detonated on Abu Nawas street, on the banks of the Tigris river which snakes through the capital, leaving one person dead and six people wounded. And in the north Baghdad neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah, a car bomb struck a bus carrying pilgrims, according to the interior ministry official. One of the pilgrims was killed and eight were wounded in the 10:00am (0700 GMT) blast. In a separate car bomb attack, four people were wounded, including a policeman, in the commercial Karrada district in the centre of Baghdad. And on a main road in the town of Taji, 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of the capital, a bomb-filled vehicle was blown up, killing two people and wounding four. Also north of Baghdad, two teenage boys were killed when a roadside bomb targeting an anti-Qaeda militiaman exploded in the town of Tarmiyah, police First Lieutenant Nashat Sarhan said.

1.23.11 Earth 'to get a second sun'

January 23 - And, according to a report, the most stunning light show in the planet's history could happen as soon as this year. Earth will undoubtedly have a front row seat when the dying red super-giant star Betelgeuse finally blows itself into oblivion, the Daily Mail quoting the Australian website news.com.au. reports. The explosion will be so bright that even though the star in the Orion constellation is 640 light years away, it will still turn night into day and appear like there are two suns in the sky for a few weeks. The only real debate is over exactly when it will happen. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

1.23.11 Brazil's landslide death toll reaches 806

SAO PAULO (Reuters) January 23 - Authorities continue to scour the mud for the hundreds still missing. The death toll from floods and landslides that devastated a mountainous region near Rio de Janeiro has reached 806, state authorities said on Sunday, as rescue teams scoured the mud for the hundreds still missing. The disaster now ranks as the second-worst recorded in Brazil's history, according to United Nations data published in the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper on Saturday, eclipsed only by a meningitis outbreak that killed 1,500 people in 1974. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]


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