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WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 President Bush will seek deep cuts in farm and commodity programs in his new budget and will propose overall limits on subsidy payments to farmers, administration officials said Saturday. Such limits would help reduce the federal budget deficit and would inject market forces into the farm economy, the administration says.
Feb. 5 At least five foreign suspected militants have surrendered to the Kuwaiti security forces, the state media reports. An urgent bulletin on state TV said the men - two Saudis and three Jordanians - had been hiding in a house in Kuwait City's Sulaibiya area. The militants were surrounded by police as gunfire reportedly broke out. It is the fifth confrontation this year between police and militants believed to be planning terrorist attacks. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
2.05.05 Wreckage of missing plane found in Afghanistan
Feb. 5 The wreckage of an Afghan airliner missing for two days has been found in mountains near Kabul. All 104 passengers and crew were killed. The plane vanished from radar screens on 3 February shortly after it turned away from Kabul airport in a snowstorm, sparking a huge search operation by Afghan and international troops. Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal told RFE/RL the wreckage has been found, and that there were no survivors.
(Agencies) Feb. 5 Insurgents have killed 17 Iraqis and two US soldiers in a fresh wave of attacks, as partial returns from the elections show a Shiite alliance with ties to Iran rolling up a strong lead over pro-US prime minister Ayad Allawi. More returns from the voting for the 275-member National Assembly were expected to be announced today. They are expected to confirm a strong showing by the United Iraqi Alliance, which is endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric. [More>>guardian.co.uk; Reuters article 1:16pm ET says, "Insurgents have killed 21 Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers in recent assaults, showing there has been no respite in the fight against U.S.-led forces and their allies since Sunday's election. The Army of Ansar al-Sunna posted a video on its Web site on Saturday showing seven National Guards captured in an ambush near Baghdad on Thursday being shot as they knelt blindfolded.]
2.05.05 French protests over 35-hour week
Feb. 5 Thousands of people are taking part in demonstrations across France against the centre-right government's plan to reform the 35-hour week. Trade unions hope 300,000 people will take part in more than 100 marches. The unions held three days of strikes in the public sector last month, and believe there is a growing mood to challenge the government. The government says the 35-hour week has raised labour costs and kept unemployment high. The largest demonstration in Paris was headed by trade union leaders as well as by prominent figures in the opposition Socialist party. At least 12,000 protestors took to the streets in Toulouse, in south-west France, police said, although organizers said at least 20,000 took part. [More.>bbc.co.uk]
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (World News), Feb. 5 : Saudi Arabia said Saturday authorities have killed 92 suspected terrorists during the past two years, while 39 security officers were killed in clashes. Revealing the casualty toll for the first time since launching a crackdown on suspected terrorists in the kingdom two years ago, Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz said 213 security personnel were also injured in operations. He added material losses in the oil-rich kingdom were estimated at about $266 (one billion riyals). He said 52 planned terrorist attacks were aborted. But the minister did not present a civilian casualty toll of hundreds believed to have been killed and injured...[More>>newkerala.com]
Feb. 5 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top aide Dov Weisglass will head on Sunday to Cairo in order to finalize arrangements ahead of Tuesday's summit in Sharm e-Sheikh, hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and attended by Sharon, Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah.
Feb. 4 Ron Synovitz reports: Self-immolation by women in the western Afghan province of Herat continues to alarm officials and aid workers more than a year after a delegation from Kabul investigated the trend. The delegation determined that within just a few months, at least 52 women in the province had burned themselves to death -- often to escape an abusive marriage. Afghan doctors and officials say at least 184 woman brought to Herat's regional hospital are thought to have set themselves on fire during the past year -- and more than 60 have died as a result. The real number of self-immolation suicides and attempted suicides is likely to be even higher because only those brought to a hospital are being registered. [More>>Radio Free Europe]
BANDA ACEH, Aceh (Antara), Feb. 5 At least 1,057 school buildings were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in Aceh on Dec. 26, causing losses of about $21.85 million, an official said on Friday. Bustaman Aly, spokesman for the Aceh education office, said it would take a long time to repair and replace the damaged and destroyed schools.
Feb. 05 Freed terror suspect Mamdouh Habib allegedly trained with al-Qa'ida and its south Asian offshoot Lashkar-e-Taiba five times since 1998 and was at an advanced terror course in Afghanistan during the 9/11 attacks, the federal Government has claimed. At least three other alleged terrorists under detention have identified Mr. Habib as being present at several of the camps, including the al-Qa'ida graduate course he is accused of attending for two months from August 2001.
Feb. 05 About 880 slaves, said to have been abducted in southern Sudan by government-backed raiders, had been freed, but tens of thousands were still held in Darfur and elsewhere, a Swiss-based group said today. Christian Solidarity International said the Government had transported 607 freed slaves, mainly women and children, back to southern Sudan from northern Sudan, while CSI had helped free 273 slaves, mainly boys.
Feb. 4 One US soldier has been killed and seven wounded in a roadside bombing near the key northern Iraqi oil refinery town of Baiji, the US military said. One Task Force Danger soldier was killed and seven wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on a US combat patrol near Baiji, 200km north of Baghdad, said a statement on Friday. No further details were immediately available.
BAGHDAD, Feb. 4 Sunni political and religious leaders, who led the boycott of Sunday's parliamentary elections, are signaling a renewed desire to engage in the political process. The softening of formerly hardline stances may represent a major turning point in efforts to woo Iraq's former ruling minority, whose opposition to the new political order has fueled the country's violent insurgency and threatened prolonged instability.
WASHINGTON (PTI) Feb. 4 The United States has established contact with Nepal's new regime, unveiled by King Gyanendra after assuming power early this week, and started holding talks with its neighbours about the present conditions in the Himalayan Kingdom. "Deeply troubled" over the sacking of the Sher Bahadur Deuba government, Washington has also called for immediate restoration of multi-party democratic institutions under a constitutional monarchy.
Feb. 5 Nepal's new government told Maoist rebels to hold peace talks or risk "alternate steps" and imposed a ban on any criticism of King Gyanendra's seizure of power. The government's bid for talks came as it warned on the front-page of the state-run Nepali-language daily Gorkhapatra that any "writing or opposition to the royal proclamation ... has been prohibited for six months." Nepal's journalist federation swiftly defied the ban, branding Gyanendra's sacking of the government and its replacement with a 10-man loyalist cabinet a "coup against democracy". Tuesday's move had "destroyed all the remaining structures of democracy," the Federation of Nepalese Journalists said, adding its voice to global condemnation of Gyanendra's actions. [More>>asianewsnet.net]
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 4 Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Friday stressed the need for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in line with UN resolutions, Online news agency reports. On the eve of Kashmir Solidarity Day, Musharraf and Aziz reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to the Kashmir issue. "Pakistan's support for the just Kashmiri cause is based not only on the bonds of kinship, but accords fully with our obligations and responsibility under international law, the UN charter and principles and relevant Security Council resolutions," Musharraf said.
Feb. 4 Several dozen Egyptians have demonstrated against a fifth term for President Husni Mubarak. Thousands of police kept the protesters apart from tens of thousands of visitors attending the Cairo International Book Fair in the suburbs of the Egyptian capital on Friday. "Enough!" said one banner, in an apparent reference to Mubarak's 24-year rule and his expected decision to run again later this year. "No to the Renewal [of Mubarak's mandate]," the demonstrators chanted. "No to heredity," they said, referring to speculation that if Mubarak, 76, does not stand his eldest son Gamal will be anointed in his place. Under the Egyptian system, parliament will elect a single candidate for the presidency in May, whose name will then be put to a referendum in September. [More>>Al-Jezeera]
2.04.05 Another Thai takes wrath out on vehicle that is plagued
Feb. 5 Toyota Motor Thailand Co. is willing to continue talking with an irate customer about compensation for a vehicle he says is plagued with problems, and which he took to yesterday with a spade to draw media attention. The owner battered his vehicle in a high-profile protest, the second vehicle owner to take such action in two weeks.
2.04.05 Convienience stores may broker home loans in Japan
In Japan convenience stores and supermarkets will likely be allowed to start handling bank deposits and brokering housing loans later this year, according to a report released by a government panel studying deregulation of banking agents.
2.04.05 Japan's 1st case of human mad cow disease confirmed
TOKYO, Feb. 4 The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Friday it has confirmed Japan's first case of the human variant of mad cow disease in a Japanese man who died in December. The ministry suspects the patient in his 50s was infected with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in Britain where he had stayed for about a month around 1989 while the country was in the midst of an outbreak of mad cow disease.
LONDON, Feb. 4 Financial leaders from the Group of Seven major economies are set to start a two-day meeting here Friday, focusing on a weak U.S. dollar, high oil prices and developments in China's economy as possible risk factors to the world economy. While projecting sound global economic growth this year of nearly 4 percent, top financial officials from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are also expected to discuss the Asian tsunami disaster and development of Africa.
BEIJING Feb. 4 China and North Korea are planning to exchange high-level visits later this month, diplomatic sources and news reports said Friday, as focus fell on whether Pyongyang will agree to attend a fresh round of six-way talks on its nuclear ambitions. North Korean Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju is expected to visit China in late February, sources informed about relations between the two countries said. The trip is billed as part of a plan expressed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a visit to China last year to expose the North Korean leadership to China's economic policies, according to the sources.
2.04.05 Countries step up efforts for six-way talks
Feb. 4 Concerned countries are stepping up their diplomatic efforts to jump start six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, believing that US President George Bush's Wednesday pledge to strive for a peaceful settlement has brightened negotiation prospects. A senior Chinese official will visit Pyongyang after the next week's Lunar New Year holidays to discuss ways to resolve the nuclear issue, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said yesterday. And, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon will hold talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Feb. 14 to fine-tune measures to induce North Korea to return to the negotiation table, Chung, chairman of the National Security Council's standing committee, told reporters. Government officials and diplomatic experts agree the ball is now in North Korea's court to return to the multilateral nuclear talks...[More>>koreaherald.co.kr]
BEIRUT, Feb. 4 Road ministries of the islamic Republic, Russia and Azerbaijan will hold talks on connection of their railroads to one another in the next month, the ISNA news agency reported. Golam-Reza Shafiei, Iran's ambassador to Russia, said at a news briefing that implementation of this project would help the three countries boost economic growth. He added that Yevgeni Primakov, chairman of Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industries will pay a visit to Iran on Feb. 11-13. [dailystar.com.lb]
2.04.05 Afghan aircraft still missing
Feb. 5 A Boeing 737 plane carrying 104 people has gone missing in Afghanistan after failing to arrive in the capital amid heavy winter snow storms, officials said. An official from private Afghan company Kam Air said there had been no contact with the jet travelling from the western city of Herat to Kabul since late yesterday afternoon, when it had requested to land in Pakistan. "Yes the plane went missing. There were 96 passengers on board. The plane was going from Herat to Kabul," said Attila Kamgar, Kam Air's financial controller, adding he did not know the nationalities of those on the plane. [More>>asianewsnet.net]; as of 6:19pm ET the search was suspended for the night because of weather conditions. [More>>nytimes.com]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Feb. 3 A senior US Marine Corps General who said it was "fun to shoot some people" should have chosen his words more carefully but will not be disciplined, military officials said on Thursday. Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and is slated to be portrayed by star actor Harrison Ford in an upcoming Hollywood movie, made the comments at a conference on Tuesday in San Diego, California.
Feb. 5 Anyone who stole from the UN's oil-for-food program for Iraq must stand trial and the money be repaid to the Iraqi people, Iraq's human rights minister said on Friday. Bakhtiar Amin praised Thursday's report by Paul Volcker, the former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve charged with probing corruption in the program, and said it revealed that even UN dignitaries were not above robbing the poor for profit. "It shows that some so-called dignitaries had not an iota of shame in their bones, no conscience and no morals," Amin told Reuters in an interview. "They profited as parasites on the misery of an impoverished nation." [More>>dailystar.com.lb]
Feb. 4 Amman is proposing that a brigade of Palestinian soldiers trained in Jordan should deploy to the West Bank pending Israeli and Palestinian approval, Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Fawzi Mulki said in an interview published Friday.
LONDON (AP) Feb. 4 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that an attack on Iran over its nuclear program is "not on the agenda at this point." "We have many diplomatic tools still at our disposal and we intend to pursue them fully," Rice told a news conference after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. [More>>Jerusalem Post]
1.07.05 Sinclair Broadcasting to sue webloggers
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