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The Chart Showing the National Debt above is still valid: "The debt to the penny," publicdebt.treas.gov.
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August 1996

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Relevant Works by Mel

The Romance of Anais, an Arthurian-style tale written 1996 describing how Bush got us in the mess in Iraq with a short commentary on the
Chang-an cheat
Tapestry of One – on the creed of Buddha,
Duty & Profit, Nov. 1994
Against Leviathan, Jan. 1993
Immoral Coercion, Dec. 1994
Philistia Triumph thou
because of me
, Dec. 1993
Quest for Human Dignity, July 1994
What Price Justice? Sept. 1992

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News Headlines & Trends

02.13.07 ABC News journalist, Diane Sawyer, files confused interview and report – a missed opportunity?

February 13 (Mel Copeland, Maravot News, editorial note) – What began as a promising interview of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turned to confusion in the reports filed Monday and Tuesday by ABC News journalist Diane Sawyer. Monday, Sawyer inquired about the Iranian program to recruit suicide bombers, citing a source she could not identify. Ahmadinejad answered, " I think that you should check your source..." leaving Sawyer with no ability to get an answer to her question. She knew beforehand, we can only presume, that she was going to ask the question and she should have been prepared, knowing that the program was announced by the head of the Revolutionary Guard. There have been several news reports (recorded and in Maravot News archives) since July 2005 that have documented the activities of the Revolutionary Guard's "Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison" (Gharargahe Asheghane Shahadat, in Persian). To assist ABC in the inquiry Maravot News emailed information through Kevin Keeshan, News Director, ABC7 News, San Francisco, to be delivered to Sawyer for follow-up on the question.

There was no follow-up question or comment on the issue by Sawyer on her report filed February 13. Instead she filed a report that began with a question by Ahmadinejad, "But you've come here in the disguise of politician, I guess." Sawyer answered, "No, I am a journalist, solely a journalist." (See abcnews.go.com February 13, "Exclusive: Iranian president says he's ready to cooperate on nukes, calls holocaust an 'excuse.')

Sawyer's interview turned to the nuclear weapons issue. Ahmadinejad repeated a position that he had expressed on earlier occasions: "We are opposed to any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. We believe that the time is now over for nuke weapons. It is a time for logic, for rationality and for civilization..."

Ahmadinejad has frequently argued using the word "logic" as a means of settling differences and Sawyer should have been prepared for that expression. She should have known that she was meeting a man who believes he is logical and enjoys conversations that, we would presume, obey foundations of logic. Instead of getting answers to her good questions she received and filed ambiguity from the president. The conversation then turned to the Holocaust issue and Ahmadinejad answered with his logic, "Well, one of the methods used for concealing the truth is diverting a topic," and he switched the conversation, like a cat playing with a mouse, to the issue of Palestine, where he asked:

"..why for the excuse of the Holocaust we have an illegitimate government in Palestine? Why in the name of Holocaust we allow people to occupy the land and make refugees and kill children? There are the questions that must be answered by American politicians, not to divert the attention."

Ahmadinejad had begged the question whether he would be willing to visit the Auschwitz Holocaust Memorial or review the documents from Nuremberg, and as with the other questions he had dodged, he left the interview without much substance. Ahmadinejad had complained about Sawyer doing work that belongs to men, not women, and, said Sawyer, he refused to shake her hand in the beginning of the interview. The rest of Sawyer's report covered cultural aspects of Tehran.

Sawyer's report seems to have had a mixed and particularly confused objective. Her political questions were posed with emotion and drilling to some extent, and it is apparent that she was pressing him to confess the things of which she had come to accuse him. He responded accordingly, wondering whether she was on a political mission.

While I applaud the fact that Sawyer took the mission, I lament that she went too unprepared. Again, she should have known the president believed he was a man of logic, so she should have gone to Tehran prepared for it (He sent President Bush a personal letter, appealing for a conversation based on logic). There is an irony in the interview: George W. Bush invaded Iraq based upon the belief that he was waging war against the suicide bombers who attacked us on 9/11. Sawyer asked a question relating to Iran's suicide bomber program and blew it. We in the West who may have Iranian suicide bombers living next door to us, waiting for a go-ahead from Ahmadinejad, might have watched the president squirm if Sawyer had asked the right question.

Finally, after turning the interview from the Holocaust to the rights of Palestinians, Ahmadinejad expressed another point he has used in the past, advocating "free and democratic" processes. In the interview (we get back to logic) Ahmadinejad had already responded to the issue of Iran supplying weapons to Iraqis, saying that such an accusation should be determined in a court of justice. When the issue of the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Court came up, Sawyer lost an advantage she could have had, had she followed up his evasive answer with a rebuttal, i.e., "but Nuremberg was a court of justice..." which he would, by his own criteria, have had to accept. (We doubt that he would argue that Iranian Courts are the only courts that are just.). And this leads us to the final point Ahmadinejad made: "Let the Palestinians decide for themselves as what to do in their relations with Israel, etc." Hopefully someone will take him up on that issue.

The Sawyer interview was a political discussion. Sawyer should have been there to ask the president of Iran either about his family / cultural affairs or political affairs, but not mixing the two issues. Lacking answers from the president on the political questions she ended up filing a cultural report on Iranian dress, Iranian women's rights, traffic, and rugs. She met Ahmadinejad with burning questions and missed an opportunity to get hot answers, all of which, based upon Ahmadinejad's logic, relate to the Holocaust. Here again, had Sawyer been prepared, she would have known that "holocaust" means "whole burnt offering," something of which the president of Iran is ignorant, but evidenced at Nuremberg.

02.13.07 US general says no evidence Iran giving arms to Iraqi fighters

JAKARTA (AP) February 13 – A top US general said Tuesday there was no evidence the Iranian government was supplying Iraqi insurgents with highly lethal roadside bombs, contradicting claims by other US military and administration officials. General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said US forces hunting down militant networks that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and that some of the material used in the devices were made in Iran. That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this, Pace told reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers. [More>>haaretz.com ; See also washingtonpost.com and a related story, nytimes.com, February 13, "Skeptics doubt US evidence on Iran action in Iraq" : Three weeks after promising it would show proof of Iranian meddling in Iraq, the Bush administration has laid out its evidence — and received in return a healthy dose of skepticism. The response from Congressional and other critics speaks volumes about the current state of American credibility, four years after the intelligence controversy leading up to the Iraq war. To pre-empt accusations that the charges against Iran were politically motivated, the administration rejected the idea of a high-level presentation, relying instead on military and intelligence officers to make its case in a background briefing in Baghdad.

Even so, critics have been quick to voice doubts. Representative Silvestre Reyes of Texas, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that the White House was more interested in sending a message to Tehran than in backing up serious allegations with proof. And David Kay, who once led the hunt for illicit weapons in Iraq, said the grave situation in Iraq should have taught the Bush administration to put more of a premium on transparency when it comes to intelligence. "If you want to avoid the perception that youıve cooked the books, you come out and make the charges publicly," Mr. Kay said...

02.13.07 NATO forces kill 22 Taliban in southern Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) February 13 – NATO and Afghan forces have killed 22 Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan during battles near a besieged dam and a remote town that was captured by the militants, officials said. The police chief of Helmand province said that up to 15 militants were killed Monday when British troops backed by helicopters and Afghan forces tried to clear rebel strongholds around the hydroelectric dam in Kajaki district. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement that it did not have casualty figures for the insurgents but added that there were no ISAF, Afghan, or civilian casualties.

"More than 300 ISAF troops, supported by the Afghan National Army, cleared a large area near Kajaki containing around 60 compounds, which has been the site of regular enemy mortar attacks over the past two months," it said. The British Royal Marines and Afghan troops engaged in close fighting and came under heavy small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire while clearing the "well-fortified and high-walled" compounds, it said.
[More>>metimes.com ; See related story, aljazeera.net, February 13, "Taliban seize second district" : NATO has confirmed to Al Jazeera that the Taliban has seized a second district in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Qari Yousef, a Taliban spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Taliban fighters were holding captive 33 police officers after taking over Washir – a remote desert area in the northwest of Helmand – the day before. A spokeswoman for the NATO-led ISAF force told Al Jazeera: "I can confirm that Washir district centre is in the hands of the Taliban..."

02.13.07 Bus explosions in Metn province, Lebanon, claim innocent lives

February 13 – Three people were killed and at least 20 others wounded when two explosions ripped through two minibuses traveling on a highway Tuesday in the Ain Alaq town in the northern Metn province, police and Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) sources said. The explosions come at a time tensions were running high with the Hizbullah-led Opposition holding an open-ended protest in downtown Beirut, and on the eve of the second anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A mass rally had been planned for Wednesday in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut to commemorate the 2005 anniversary of Hariri's slaying. The 9:15 a.m. blasts occurred on a road in Ain Alaq, some 20 kilometers northeast of Beirut and just south of the town of Bikfaya, the ancestral home of the Gemayel family, a prominent political Christian family in Lebanon. Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated last November.

Television footage showed at least one bus torn apart and ambulances carrying away people. Blood was pooled in several places near the bus wreckage. State-run National News Agency (NNA) said earlier as many as 12 people were killed. But police sources and LRC officials said three people, including an Egyptian man, were killed and 20 others were wounded.
[More>>naharnet.com ; See also khaleejtimes.com]

02.13.07 Suicide truck bomber kills 18 near Baghdad college

BAGHDAD (Reuters) February 13 – A suicide bomber driving a small truck rigged with explosives blew up near a Baghdad college on Tuesday, killing 18 people in an attack that came just a day after bomb blasts ripped apart two crowded city markets. The attacks came despite a new crackdown by US and Iraqi forces aimed at clamping down on the daily bombings and shootings that have made the city one of the most dangerous places in the world. The operation is in its opening phase.

Police said the bomber detonated in a parking lot between the College of Economic Sciences, a private university in western Baghdad's residential Iskan district, and a large foodstuff warehouse belonging to the Trade Ministry. The blast in the mainly Shi'ite area set cars ablaze and destroyed a nearby home. Police said some members of the family were among the dead, but a witness said only one girl died. The attack, which also wounded 40 people, followed devastating bombings at two markets on Monday that killed at least 77 people and maimed scores.

02.13.07 'Iran is keeping enrichment to low levels' : Iran FM

TEHRAN, February 13 – Iran is enriching uranium to a low level only, the foreign minister said on Tuesday, amid suggestions that imposing a limit on the process could break the deadlock in its standoff with the West. "The level of enrichment for nuclear fuel is generally defined as being between 3,5 percent and five percent," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters after meeting his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah. "We define our enrichment as being within the necessary ceiling to make fuel for our civilian nuclear power stations," he added. Mottaki's comments came after chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said on his weekend visit to the Munich security conference Iran could accept a limit on its enrichment as a guarantee it was not seeking nuclear weapons. [>thenews.com.pk]

02.13.07 North Korea to get 500,000 tons of heavy oil for shutting down reactor

BEIJING, February 13 – Marathon talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program secured a major breakthrough on Tuesday with a joint agreement on the first steps towards disarmament, envoys said. Following 16 hours of grueling negotiations that finished at 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday (1800 GMT Monday), envoys said China had circulated a draft joint statement outlining the initial actions Pyongyang would take to end its nuclear drive and the economic rewards it would receive in return.

US chief envoy Christopher Hill described the draft agreement as "excellent," and said he hoped China would be able to release a confirmed accord following one final round of meetings on Tuesday. Sources said the deal involved North Korea disabling its five-megawatt Yongbyon nuclear reactor and other atomic facilities within the next two months.

In return it would receive alternative energy equivalent to one million tons of heavy fuel oil each year. The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said the North would get an initial aid supply worth 50,000 tons of heavy oil after it shuts down the reactor and allows international inspectors. North Korea would get an additional 950,000 tons upon completing that first step and agreeing to disable its nuclear facilities, it said. Left for later discussion would be what to do with the atomic weapons the North now is believed to possess - a half-dozen or more by expert estimates.

02.13.07 Moscow demands clarification from US over remarks about Russia threat

MOSCOW, February 12 – Russia has demanded an explanation from the United States over Defense Secretary Robert Gates' remarks, which suggested that Russia was being identified as a potential threat, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Russia has asked the United States to clarify whether Gates' remarks represented the official position of the US administration, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin in a statement. On Feb. 7, Gates addressed a committee meeting of the US congress, suggesting that Russia poses a potential threat to US security. He said: "We don't know what's going to develop in places like Russia..., in North Korea (DPRK), in Iran and elsewhere." Kamynin said Russia had noticed what Gates had said, which were among a series of recent remarks by the US military and intelligence officials that has greatly bewildered Russia.

Over the past few days, there have been a series of verbal battles between the United States and Russia. Addressing a high-profile security conference in Munich, Germany on Saturday, Putin condemned the United States for "almost uncontained" use of force. He said the United States "has overstepped its national borders in every way" and is fostering a new global arms race.

In response, Washington immediately dismissed Putin's accusations as false. In a statement later on Saturday, White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "We are surprised and disappointed with President Putin's comments. On Sunday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov justified Putin's accusations against the United States after the security conference in Munich. Ivanov said that Putin's remarks were simply "a reminder" of the fact that the United States is breaking its promises it made a decade ago that NATO would not move any closer to Russian borders.

02.12.07 Iranian president denies arming Iraqi militants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) February 12 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied on Monday that Iran is supplying sophisticated weapons to Iraqi militants and said peace would return to Iraq only when US and other foreign forces leave. "The US administration and (US President George W.) Bush are used to accusing others," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with US television network ABC. US-led forces in Baghdad on Sunday showed off what US officials termed "a growing body" of evidence of Iranian weapons being used to kill their soldiers.

The officials showed journalists fragments of what they said were Iranian-manufactured weapons and said that those at the "highest levels" of Tehran's government were involved in arming Iraqi militants. Ahmadinejad said the fact that US-led forces in Iraq were "showing some pieces of papers" and calling them documents did not prove anything. "There should be a court to prove the case and to verify the case," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through an interpreter.

A senior US defense official said 170 coalition forces had been killed by Iranian-made roadside bombs known as explosively formed penetrators that had been smuggled into Iraq. Pressed on the accusation of Iranian involvement, Ahmadinejad accused the United States of trying to hide it's "defeat" in Iraq by pointing fingers at others. He said peace and security would return to Iraq only when foreign forces leave.
[More>>thestar.com.my ; See more details at:

telegraph.co.uk, February 12, "US presents 'evidence' that weapons from Iran are being used in Iraq."

abcnews.go.com, February 12, "Exclusive: Iranian president ducks charges that Iran is arming Iraqi insurgents."

xinhuanet.com, February 11, "Magazine says US provocates Iran for possible war."
: The United States has been trying to provocate [provoke?] Iran for a possible war with the Islamic country, the Newsweek said in a report on Sunday, citing a former White House official. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something (America) would be forced to retaliate for," Hillary Mann, the Bush administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs, was quoted by the magazine as saying..

msnbc.msn.com (Newsweek) February 19 issue, "Blowup? America's hidden war with Iran." : ...Some view the spiraling attacks as a strand in a worrisome pattern. At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs. U.S. officials insist they have no intention of provoking or otherwise starting a war with Iran, and they were also quick to deny any link to Sharafi's kidnapping. But the fact remains that the longstanding war of words between Washington and Tehran is edging toward something more dangerous...

Editorial note:
Ahmadinejad challenges Diane Sawyer to check her facts on the Iranian organization dedicated to suicide bombing. In Diane Sawyers' interview of Ahmadinejad the president responded, " I think that you should check your source because people say different things. One of the interior ministry officials from Iran said that all of these terrors are done by American forces, and that was an official. He had an official position in Iraq." (See abcnews.go.com) Maravot News has been tracking this story since 2005. Here is a comment I asked to be delivered to Sawyers in Iran, that we phoned and sent to abc "Good Morning America" through the local San Francisco television station abc7 news at 8:45am SF time:


Per our conversation:

Email to abc news Good Morning America -Diane Sawyer
February 12, 2007

Please tell Diane Sawyer in Iran to pursue the Iranian suicide bomber's story with Ahmadinejad. I (Maravot News) have been tracking this story for several years. The head of the Revolutionary Guard, etc. has been talking about their suicide bomber program–

iranfocus.com, Tehran, Iran, Jul. 22, 2005 – http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2944

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 22 – A military garrison has been opened in Iran to recruit and train volunteers for "martyrdom-seeking operations," according to the garrisonıs commander, Mohammad-Reza Jaafari.

Jaafari, a senior officer in the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), told a hard-line weekly close to Iranıs ultra-conservative President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the new "Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison" (Gharargahe Asheghane Shahadat, in Persian) would recruit individuals willing to carry out suicide operations against Western targets.

The full text of the original interview in Persian can be seen on the weeklyıs website at www.partosokhan.ir/283/page08.pdf .

"The Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison has been activated and we will form a Martyrdom-seeking Division for each province in the country, organised in brigades, battalions and companies to defend Islam," Jaafari told the weekly Parto-SokhanŠ

There were many articles involving the Reolutionary Guard's activites in recruiting and training suicide bombers.
Mel Copeland

02.12.07 Putin's blast from the past

February 13 – IF the US administration didn't have enough to worry about, given the state of the world, it spent much of the weekend wondering whether Moscow had declared another Cold War. On Saturday, Vladimir Putin delivered the most aggressive verbal assault on the US and its European allies that a Russian leader has made since the Cold War ended 16 years ago. In a speech to the annual Munich Security Conference that evoked memories of the days when the two superpowers threatened to wipe out each other and much of the world, Putin attacked what he called the illegitimate US foreign policies of recent years.

In unusually brusque and undiplomatic language, he said the US had "overstepped its boundaries in every sphere," had fuelled a new nuclear arms race and was aggressively destabilising the Middle East. This was more than just another blunt recitation of the supposed crimes of the Bush administration. Speaking to an audience that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European leaders and Americans, Putin attacked NATO.

He said the inclusion of former Soviet satellite states in the Atlantic military alliance had destabilised Europe and threatened Russia. "Against whom is this expansion directed?" he asked. Not since Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the table at the UN in 1960 has an international meeting heard such an icy blast from Moscow's leadership.

02.12.07 At least 90 killed on day marking Golden Mosque attack

BAGHDAD February 12 – Five explosions ripped through central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 90 people, amid memorials marking last year's attack on a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra, police said. More than 190 people were wounded in the bombings, sandwiched around a commemoration on the anniversary of the attack on Al-Askariya Mosque, also known as the Golden Mosque. The February 2006 bombing is blamed for sparking an eruption of sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. It has been a year since the attack, according to the Islamic calendar. [More>>cnn.com ; See also aljazeera.net, February 12, "Scores killed in Baghdad blasts" : Twin car bombs in central Baghdad have killed up to 120 people and wounded more than 150. The blasts on Monday shattered the mainly Shia area on the first anniversary of the bombing of the Al Askari mosque in Samarra, north of the capital...

02.12.07 Pincus reveals Fleischer as leak source

February 12 – Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus testified in court this morning that then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, not I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was the first person to tell him that a prominent critic of the Iraq war was married to undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame. Testifying as the first defense witness at Libby's perjury trial, Pincus for the first time publicly disclosed the confidential source inside the White House who told him in 2003 that the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV worked at the CIA on matters relating to weapons of mass destruction.

Fleischer testified last month as a prosecution witness that he mentioned Plame only to two reporters – John Dickerson, then of Time Magazine, and David Gregory of NBC News – during a trip that President Bush took to Africa over the next few days. Pincus, who covers national security and intelligence issues for The Post, told jurors that he was at his newsroom desk on Saturday, July 12, 2003 when he had a telephone conversation with a source for a story he was preparing about a trip Wilson took to Niger on behalf of the CIA to explore reports that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from the African nation for its nuclear weapons program.

02.12.07 'Hundreds of Taleban massing to attack dam'

SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (Reuters) February 12 – At least 700 Taleban fighters have crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan to destroy a key dam, a major source of electricity, a provincial governor said on Monday. "We have got confirmed reports that they are Pakistani, Uzbek and Chechen nationals and have sneaked in," Helmand Governor Asadullah Wafa told Reuters by telephone. The dam, Kajaki, has seen major fighting in recent weeks between the Taleban and NATO forces. [>khaleejtimes.com]

02.12.07 Japanese whaling ship collides with environmental group's vessel

SYDNEY, February 12 – A Japanese whaling ship and a vessel of an environmental group collided in the Antarctic Ocean off New Zealand on Monday, the Japanese Fisheries Agency and the conservation group said, with both sides blaming each other for the incident. The accident caused damage to both the 860.25-ton whaler Kaiko Maru operated by the Institute of Cetacean Research and the Robert Hunter of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the agency and the environmental group separately said. Sea Shepherd said the Robert Hunter was left with a 30-centimeter gash in its hull after the collision in the late afternoon. The Robert Hunter and the Sea Shepherd flagship Farley Mowat had chased the Japanese vessel into a patch of ice after seeing the ship following a pod of whales, Alex Cornelissen, captain of the Robert Hunter, said. However, the Japanese government denied that the Kaiko Maru, which is engaged in what Japan calls research whaling, had struck the Robert Hunter, claiming it was the other way around. [japantoday.com ; See other details, seashepherd.org, February 12, "Sea Shepherd saves whale pod from whalers."]

02.09.07 Clashes at Jewish-Muslim holy site in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AFP) February 9 – Israeli riot police armed with stun grenades stormed Jerusalemıs Al Aqsa mosque compound and clashed with Palestinian stone throwers at the most contested religious site in the Holy Land on Friday. Fifteen Israeli policemen and at least 20 Palestinians were wounded in protests against nearby Israeli repair work, which Arab leaders charge endangers the mosque, as smoke and explosions flared after Muslim prayers.

Some 200 police stormed the compound where they clashed with hundreds of protestors who threw stones and shouted Allah Akbar, God is Greatest, before around 150 rioters barricaded themselves in the holy Al Aqsa mosque. The site, venerated by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and by Jews as the location of their ancient temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, is a notorious flashpoint where violence has periodically flared. "Approximately 200 police entered inside the Temple Mount. There were several hundred protestors, 150 (rioters) went inside the mosque," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP stressing that the troubles were over. "Police carried out dialogue with Muslim representatives for those youngsters to leave. Police have taken a step back. Things are quiet and calm."
[More>>khaleejtimes.com ; See also haaretz.com, February 9, "Rioters leave Temple Mount peacefully after clashes."]

02.09.07 Russia willing to help NATO stabilize Afghanistan situation

SEVILLE (RIA Novosti) February 9 – Russia is interested in helping NATO forces stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, the defense minister said after an informal Russia-NATO Council meeting. "We will of course never send our servicemen there, but everything else is open for discussion. This includes our efforts to alleviate Afghanistan's debt to Russia," Sergei Ivanov told journalists on Friday in the southern Spanish city of Seville. The minister said Afghanistan's current debt to Russia is $10 billion. [More>>rian.ru]

02.09.07 Report: Iraqi Sunni insurgent group offers cease-fire

LONDON (Xinhua) February 9 – A significant Iraqi insurgent group has for the first time proposed the terms of a cease-fire that would allow American and British troops to leave the country they invaded in 2003, a British newspaper reported on Friday. "Discussions and negotiations are a principle we believe in to overcome the situation in which Iraqi bloodletting continues," AbuSalih Al-Jeelani, one of the military leaders of the Iraqi Sunni Islamic Resistance Movement, said in a statement that was passed to The Independent. "Should the Americans wish to negotiate their withdrawal from our country and leave our people to live in peace, then we will negotiate subject to specific conditions and circumstances." said Al-Jeelani, whose group also calls itself the "20th Revolution Brigades," a military wing of the original insurgent organization. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

02.09.07 Rice confronted over Iran evidence

Februaary 9 – Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, has been confronted in congress over the US administration's failure to provide firm evidence for Iran's alleged nuclear weapons development. Ron Paul, a Republican congressman, said: "Unproven charges against Iran's nuclear intentions are eerily reminiscent of the false charges made against Iraq." Paul said "unproven accusations of Iranian support for the Iraqi insurgency" were also serving as a pretext for "escalating our sharp rhetoric towards Iran. Pressed for proof of dramatic claims of Iranian involvement in Iraq, the administration keeps promising that they are compiling it." [More>>aljazeera.net]

02.09.07 Sea Shepherd activists clash with Japanese whalers in Southern Ocean

SYDNEY, February 9 – Two anti-whaling activists went missing for more than seven hours and two Japanese seamen were injured after a violent clash in Antarctic waters early Friday. In an ugly confrontation, two ships from the Sea Shepherd conservation society, the Farley Mowat and the Robert Hunter, allegedly threw 6 liters of butyric acid onto the decks of the Japanese whaler Nisshin Maru. The Sea Shepherd ships then used motorized inflatable boats to try to disrupt the whaler's activities. But the chase ended abruptly after one of the inflatables, carrying two activists, an Australian and American, went missing in heavy fog. Speaking to Kyodo News from aboard the Robert Hunter, Jonny Vasic, Sea Shepherd international director, said the men had finally been found by the Farley Mowat after seven hours and were in good health. [More>>japantoday.com]

02.09.07 Bird flu resurfaces among poultry in southeast Turkey

ANKARA, February 8 – Bird flu has been detected among poultry in a village in the southeastern Turkish province of Batman, with experts still examining whether it is the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, the agriculture ministry said Thursday. "There has been no finding so far to suggest that humans in the region may have been infected," ministry spokesman Osman Bengi told AFP. A nationwide action plan of measures to prevent the possible spread of the virus has been activated amid renewed warnings to people not to keep poultry outdoors, the ministry said. [More>>turkishpress.com]

02.07.07 Scrapping medium-range ballistic missiles a mistake – Ivanov

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) February 7 – Russia's defense minister said Wednesday that the country's commitment not to deploy medium-range ballistic missiles was a mistake. Speaking at a session of the lower house of parliament, Sergei Ivanov said the Russian leadership has committed a number of mistakes in the past that have weakened the country's defense capability. "The gravest mistake was the decision to scrap a whole class of missile weapons - medium- range ballistic missiles," Ivanov said, adding that dozens of countries currently possess these weapons. "Only Russia and the United States do not have the right to have such weapons, although they would be quite useful for us," the minister said.

The former Soviet Union and the US signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) December 8, 1987. The treaty eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles). By the treaty's deadline of June 1, 1991, a total of 2,692 such weapons had been destroyed, 846 by the US and 1,846 by the Soviet Union.

...Sergei Ivanov's regrets about scrapping intermediate-range missiles coincide with renewed US plans to deploy elements of its anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow strongly opposes the deployment of a missile shield in its former backyard in Central Europe, describing the plans as a threat to Russian national security.
[Full story>>rian.ru]

02.07.07 Pallets of US cash sent to Iraq before handover

WASHINGTON (Reuters) February 7 – The US Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said on Tuesday. The money, which had been held by the United States, came from Iraqi oil exports, surplus dollars from the UN-run oil-for-food program and frozen assets belonging to the ousted Saddam Hussein regime. Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But thatıs exactly what our government did," the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq. On Dec. 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially "the largest pay out of US currency in Fed history," according to an e-mail cited by committee members. It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 28...Democrats led by Waxman also questioned whether the lack of oversight of $12 billion in Iraqi money that was disbursed by Bremer and the CPA somehow enabled insurgents to get their hands on the funds, possibly through falsifying names on the government payroll.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

02.07.07 Palestinians unite to fight Temple Mount dig

JERUSALEM, February 8 – (Article by Abraham Rabinovich) An Israeli archaeological dig beside Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the third holiest site in Islam, has provided leaders of feuding Palestinian factions with a common rallying cry that may help them pull back from the edge of civil war. Leaders of Hamas and Fatah, meeting in Mecca in a bid to establish a unity government, yesterday condemned the excavations, which they said threatened to undermine the al-Aqsa Mosque. "I appeal to all our Palestinian people to be united and rise up together to protect al-Aqsa," said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

Fatah threatened to end the ceasefire with Israel that has prevailed for the past few months if the excavations proceed. The excavations have brought condemnation from the Arab world. Jordan's King Abdullah called the dig "a dangerous escalation that will not help in the efforts being undertaken to restore the peace process."

But Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the excavations did not endanger the holy places and accused Israel's enemies of exploiting "every opportunity to stir ... radical emotions." Described by Israeli archaeologists as a routine "salvage dig," the excavations are part of an Israeli project to build a pedestrian bridge to one of the Temple Mount's entrances. Before any construction project is carried out in Israel, archaeologists are permitted to excavate the site. The location of the bridge, in the heart of ancient Jerusalem, makes it a prime archaeological area.

The Temple Mount is an artificial platform whose construction 3000 years ago is attributed to King Solomon, who built the first Israelite temple. It was expanded 1000 years later, but the temple that stood then was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. For centuries, Orthodox Jews refrained from entering the Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, for fear of treading on the site of the temple's forbidden Holy of Holies. Instead, an outer wall of the Mount, known today as the Western Wall, became the focus of Jewish worship. In the 7th century, the Arabs captured Jerusalem and built al-Aqsa Mosque atop the Mount, which they called Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary.
[>theaustralian.news.com.au ; See also metimes.com , February 7, "Israel arrests Islamic movement chief in Jerusalem"

haaretz.com, February 7, "Jerusalem court bans Islamic movement leader from Old City for 10 days."

Maravot News, March 24, 2005, "Temple Mount Controversy."

02.07.07 Twenty-two in Iraq bomb blasts

BAGHDAD, February 7 – Twenty-two men including a US soldier were killed Wednesday in different attacks and bomb blasts, while 36 corpses were retrieved from various parts of the capital. A US helicopter was also destroyed here. According to police, an Iraqi woman and a police official were killed and three other officials were injured in a roadside car bomb in the capital. Another woman and two Iraqis were killed in Mosul in firing attacks. In Faluja also, mortar attacks caused four people including two women lose their lives. Besides, 36 corpses were recovered from Mehmoodiya, Yousufiya and Shirqat, who were tortured to death. Iraqi defence ministry confirmed the death of 14 suspected resistance fighters and the arrest of another 13 militants. US troops verified the crashing accident of US helicopter. [More>>thenews.com.pk ; See also nytimes.com, February 7, US copter crash in Iraq kills 7."]

02.07.07 US warns citizens in Indonesia on threat from cats

JAKARTA (Reuters) February 7 – The US embassy warned its citizens in Indonesia on Wednesday that the country's wild and stray cats may carry the deadly bird flu virus and should be avoided and that care needed to be taken with pet cats. Most known cases of humans getting the H5N1 virus have involved contact with chickens or other infected birds. But last month experts called for closer monitoring of other animals after Indonesian scientists found it in cats near poultry markets.

"There have been confirmed reports that wild and stray cats have been shown to carry H5N1," the embassy said in a notice sent to Americans in Indonesia via e-mail. "While there have been no documented cases of feline-to-human transmission of H5N1, it is important to avoid contact with wild and stray cats, and to ensure that domesticated cats do not eat or interact with sick or dying poultry," the embassy said.

Wild and stray cats are ubiquitous in Indonesia's capital Jakarta, a sprawling city with 12 million people in the metropolitan area. Indonesia has had the highest number of fatalities of any country in the world from the bird flu virus, accounting for 63 deaths out of the global total of 166 over the past four years.
[More>>thestar.com.my ; See related story, thejakartapost.com, February 7, "Floods recede, but Jakarta told to stay on guard" : JAKARTA (AP): Deadly floods that have swamped the Indonesian capital since last week began receding Wednesday, but much of the city remained under filthy water and officials warned that more rain could trigger fresh flooding. Many residents returned home to clean up their filthy houses and dry out belongings.

"The water is all gone, but the smell is awful," said Fifa, an18-year-old woman as she removed bits of wood and other rubbish from her house in downtown Jakarta under bright, sunny skies. "But at least we can get back to normal now," said Fifa, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name. The death toll from the floods – which at their peak forced some 340,000 people from their homes – rose to at least 50, the health ministry. Most of the fatalities were due to drowning or electrocution...

02.07.07 Motoring letter bomb campaign hits Government HQ, injuring workers

February 7 – Fears of a sustained letter bombing campaign against motoring organisations appear to have been confirmed today after a seventh attack in three weeks injured three women at the Governmentıs motoring headquarters in Swansea this morning. John Reid, the Home Secretary, has described the attacks as ³worrying² and Assistant Chief Constable Anton Setchell, the police officer in charge of fighting domestic extremism, has been appointed to coordinate the investigation.

At Prime Ministerıs Questions today, Tony Blair expressed sympathy to all those caught up in the "traumatic" attacks and said they were being investigated "very closely." The latest blast happened in the postroom of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea. It is the fourth attack in five days. All the previous letter-bombs have been sent to companies with links to speed cameras and forensic science services. One woman was taken to hospital suffering from burn injuries to her hands while two others were treated for injuries "relating to the noise of the detonation." A spokeswoman for South Wales police said that the "small letter-type explosion" occurred at 9.23am.

02.06.07 G.O.P senators block debate on Iraq policy

WASHINGTON, February 6 – Republicans on Monday blocked Senate debate on a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bushıs troop buildup in Iraq, leaving in doubt whether the Senate would render a judgment on what lawmakers of both parties described as the paramount issue of the day. The decision short-circuited what had been building as the first major Congressional challenge to President Bush over his handling of the war since Democrats took control of Congress last month, and left each party blaming the other for frustrating debate on a topic that is likely to influence the 2008 presidential and Congressional races.

At issue is a compromise resolution drawn up chiefly by Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, that says the Senate disagrees with President Bushıs plan to build up troops and calls for American forces to be kept out of sectarian violence in Iraq. The deadlock came after Democrats refused a proposal by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, that would have cleared the way for a floor fight on the Warner resolution in return for votes on two competing Republican alternatives that were more supportive of the president.

02.06.07 Suicide bomber killed, three officials hurt in Islamabad airport blast

ISLAMABAD, February 6 – A suicide bomber blew himself up after opening fire at the Islamabad International airport Tuesday, killing himself and injuring three security officials, report said. An accomplice of the attacker has been detained by the police, who opened fire at security officials before the other detonated himself up. According to details, the attackers were heading towards the airport in a taxi and opened firing when security staffers tried to stop them, which injured three airport security officials. One of the attackers suddenly blew himself up while the other two including the taxi driver have been arrested by law enforcement agencies. It was learnt that countrywide airports have been put on high alert while Islamabad airport has been completely sealed soon after the incident. [>thenews.com.pk]

02.06.07 Iranian diplomat snatched in Iraq, Tehran blames US

BAGHDAD (Reuters) February 6 – Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms kidnapped a senior Iranian diplomat in Baghdad, Iraqi and Iranian officials said Tuesday, and Tehran blamed the US military and demanded his immediate release. "We are dealing with this as a kidnapping," an Iraqi government official said. The official said the diplomat, the second secretary at the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, was snatched in the central Karrada district Sunday by 30 gunmen wearing the uniforms of a special Iraqi army unit that often works with US military forces in Iraq. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini blamed U.S. forces for the kidnapping of Jalal Sharafi, saying it was carried out by a group attached to Iraq's Defense Ministry "which works under the supervision of American forces." [More>>haaretz.com ; See also turkishpress.com (AFP) February 6, "Gunmen snatch Iranian diplomat in Baghdad" : ...The New York Times, quoting Iraqi officials, said security forces had captured several suspects after pursuing their vehicles through the streets of Baghdad. The men captured were Iraqis with defence ministry identification which raised "serious questions about whether government forces themselves were involved in the abduction," it said.

The abduction could increase tensions between Iran and the United States after US forces last month raided an Iranian office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil and arrested five Iranians. The men, who are still in US custody, are accused of supporting the insurgency in Iraq. Washington has also suggested that Iran may have been behind an attack on US troops in the shrine city of Karbala that left five dead...

02.06.07 Kirkuk Arabs face relocation

February 6 – An Iraqi government committee has decided to relocate tens of thousands of Arabs currently living in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk. The Iraqi Higher Committee for the Normalization of Kirkuk ruled that Arabs descended from those who moved to the city after 1957 would be returned to their original home towns and given compensation. Rosh Siddiq, a Kurdish official familiar with the work of the committee, told Al Jazeera that the decision to move the – mainly Shia – Arabs to towns in central and southern Iraq had been taken earlier this week.

"The committee will allot them a lot of land and pay 25,000 US dollars [per household] as compensation," he said. The decision will now be sent to the Iraqi cabinet for approval. The decision will only apply to Arabs who arrived in Kirkuk during the "Arabisation" campaign of Saddam Hussein's government; a move that seems certain to anger the Arab settlers.

"Kirkuk is Iraqi land and it's for all Iraqis, I will never leave," Khalaf al -Housouni, an Arab who moved to Kirkuk in 1990, told Al Jazeera. During the rule of Saddam Hussein thousands of Arabs were moved to the city and thousands of Kurds were made to leave. Mohammed Khalil, a member of the Arab Republican Union which represents Arabs living in Kirkuk, told Germany's Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency: "We refuse these new decisions and consider them a form of forced migration."

02.06.07 Second mail bomb blast

February 6 – There are fears that a "disgruntled motorist" is sending letter bombs after two people were injured when an "item of mail" exploded at offices in Wokingham. The incident came just a day after a similar incident in central London. The company targeted in the second attack, Vantis, describes itself as an "accounting, business and tax advisory group." Sky News has revealed that Vantis acts as accountant for a company involved with speed cameras. Crime correspondent Martin Brunt confirmed that the company represents Speed Check Services and said the letter could have been addressed to that organisation, rather than to Vantis. He said: "It is beginning to look as though this is the work of a disgruntled motorist or motorists." [More>>sky.com]

02.06.07 Two more Indonesians have bird flu, new Pakistan case

JAKARTA (Reuters) February 6 – Two more Indonesians were confirmed to have bird flu on Tuesday and Pakistan reported its first case in a year after finding the deadly virus in a small flock of chickens near the capital Islamabad. Concern has grown since the H5N1 virus flared again in Asia in recent months, spreading through poultry flocks in South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. A chicken is seen at a poultry shop in Jakarta February 5, 2007. Two more Indonesians were confirmed to have bird flu on Tuesday and Pakistan reported its first case in a year after finding the deadly virus in a small flock of chickens near the capital Islamabad. The H5N1 virus has spread into the Middle East, Africa and Europe since it reemerged in Asia in 2003 and outbreaks have now been detected in birds in around 50 countries. [More>>thestar.com.my ; See related story, khaleejtimes.com, February 6, "Egyptian teenager dies of bird flu."]

02.05.07 Bush sends Congress $2.9 trillion budget plan

February 5 – President Bush sent to Congress a $2.9 trillion budget plan that would dramatically increase military spending – including an extra $245 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – but squeeze federal health care programs and most domestic agencies to achieve his goal of eliminating the deficit by 2012. The proposal seeks to make permanent tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 at a cost of $374 billion over five years. And it would slice nearly $96 billion over five years from Medicare and Medicaid, the government's health care programs for the poor and the elderly. The proposal would also Democrats, who control Congress for the first time since Bush took office, quickly attacked the proposal.

"The president's budget is filled with debt and deception, disconnected from reality, and continues to move America in the wrong direction," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said in a statement. "This administration has the worst fiscal record in history, and this budget does nothing to change that. It clings to the same misguided policies: costly tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthiest, cuts in domestic priorities, and more fiscal irresponsibility."
[Full story>>washingtonpost.com]

Editorial note: See related Maravot News chart on the National Debt and Bureau of the Public Debt – "Interest Expense on the Debt Outstanding." Interest paid on the National Debt for 2006 was
$405.9 billion. In simple terms the National Debt accrues interest – paid to the rich and central governments who own US bonds that fund the debt. Interest on the National Debt exceeds $1 billion per day. The Bush administration has doubled the US National Debt since Bush entered office. By comparison, his predecessor, President Clinton, actually reduced the "deficit" and paid down the National Debt through a "pay as you go, no deficit" plan. (The Republican Congress introduced the plan which they dumped when President G. W. Bush entered office.) In reviewing the National Debt Chart one will see that Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush introduced the fiscally irresponsible policy of escalating the US National Debt to pay for their giveaway programs to the rich. Every billion dollars Bush wishes to cut from the budget is countered by each billion dollars he pays towards interest on the National Debt. Our interest expense exceeds the cost of the Iraq War.

Mel Copeland

02.05.07 Iraqis fault pace of US plan of attack

BAGHDAD, February 5 – A growing number of Iraqis are saying that the United States is to blame for creating conditions that led to the worst single suicide bombing in the war, which devastated a Shiite market in Baghdad on Saturday. They argued that the Americans had been slow in completing the vaunted new American security plan, making Shiite neighborhoods much more vulnerable to such horrific attacks...In advance of the plan, which would flood Baghdad with thousands of new American and Iraqi troops, many Mahdi Army checkpoints were dismantled and its leaders were either in hiding or under arrest, which was one of the planıs intended goals to reduce sectarian fighting.

But with no immediate influx of new security forces to fill the void, Shiites say, Sunni militants and other anti-Shiite forces have been emboldened to plot the type of attack that obliterated the bustling Sadriya market on Saturday, killing at least 135 people and wounding more than 300 from a suicide driverıs truck bomb.
[Full story>>nytimes.com]

02.05.07 Insurgents may have new anti-aircraft weapon

February 5 – American military commanders in Iraq have been forced to adopt new security tactics in the wake of a fresh threat from insurgents after it was confirmed that all four US helicopters that have crashed there in the past two weeks were brought down by ground fire. The crashes raise concerns that insurgents, who have proved highly innovative in warfare, have acquired new weaponry. Twenty Americans, including 16 soldiers and four civilians working for a security company, died in the crashes.

In the deadliest incident 12 soldiers died on January 20 when their Black Hawk came down near Baquba, northeast of Baghdad. In each case, reports from witnesses suggested that the craft were shot down. Yesterday this was confirmed by Major General William Caldwell, the senior US military spokesman. "We have had four helicopters shot down ... it appears they were all the result of some kind of ground fire," he said. "Obviously, based on what we have seen, we are already making adjustments to our tactics and techniques, as to how we employ our helicopters."

02.05.07 Al-Sadr aide killed in Iraq

February 5 – Iraqi and US forces have killed a top official of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's organisation in a raid on his home north of Baghdad. While security forces said Khadhim al-Hamadani, a "rogue leader" of the al-Mahdi Army, was killed while fleeing, an al-Sadr official said he was "assassinated." Iraqi police said al-Hamadani had been the leader of al-Sadr's political office in Diyala province and was shot when he tried to flee. But Abdul-Mehdi al-Matiri, an official in al-Sadr's political office, said he had been stabbed with a bayonet. The US military said in a statement on Monday that al-Hamadani had reportedly been responsible for attacks on US and Iraqi troops and was believed to have "facilitated and directed numerous kidnappings, assassinations and other violence." [More>>aljazeera.net]

02.05.07 Woman hurt in office parcel bomb explosion

February 5 – A woman suffered minor injuries today after a parcel bomb exploded at an office in central London. Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism unit was investigating the "small explosion" at the offices of the Capita Group, a business out-sourcing company which runs London's congestion charge system among other services. The female employee was taken to hospital by ambulance and police set up a cordon around the address in Victoria Street, less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament. A Scotland Yard spokesman said it was too early to say who may have been behind the incident. [More>>independent.co.uk]

02.05.07 Terrorist shootout in Delhi

February 6 – Police have sealed off the centre of New Delhi after a shootout with a group of al-Qa'ida-affiliated terrorists who have been linked to attacks on India's Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi. The Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) terrorists, cornered close to Connaught Place, the hub of the capital's central business district, were carrying a potent cache of RDX explosives, detonators, timers and hand grenades, as well as cash in US dollars and Indian rupees.

Police believe that the four militants – from the same organisation that attacked Parliament House in New Delhi in 2001, coming within a whisker of killing top government ministers – were intent on launching assaults against strategic targets in the city. They said they were linking the arrival of the militants to a letter received, inexplicably, by the station master of the Old Delhi railway station in the name of JEM, al-Qaeda, and Lashkar-e-Toiba. The letter, according to reports yesterday, warned of attacks on the home of India's pre-eminent political leader, the Italian-born Catholic Sonia Gandhi, who lives in a guarded compound just a few blocks from Connaught Place.

02.04.07 New blasts rock Baghdad as carnage kills 130

BAGHDAD (AFP) February 4 – Further bombings shook Baghdad Sunday, a day after a massive blast ripped through a crowded market killing 130 people in the second deadliest attack in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. The latest series of roadside bomb attacks killed at least 15 people, including four policemen, security sources said. The attacks, which follow a week of intensive bombings of mainly-Shiite areas, come ahead of an impending massive security operation by a combined US-Iraqi force to stabilize the violence-wracked Iraqi capital.

Security sources said Saturday's blast, which also wounded more than 300 people, was caused by a suicide bomber who blew up his Mercedes truck in Baghdad's central Sadiriya market in a mainly-Shiite district. Iraq's embattled Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki quickly blamed the attack on Sunni Arab followers of executed former president Saddam Hussein.

02.04.07 Vice President's shadow hangs over trial

February 4 – Testimony Points Out Cheney's Role in Trying to Dampen Joseph Wilson's Criticism. Vice President Cheney's press officer, Cathie Martin, approached his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on Air Force Two on July 12, 2003, to ask how she should respond to journalists' questions about Joseph C. Wilson IV. Libby looked over one of the reporters' questions and told Martin: "Well, let me go talk to the boss and I'll be back."

On Libby's return, Martin testified in federal court last week, he brought a card with detailed replies dictated by Cheney, including a highly partisan, incomplete summary of Wilson's investigation into Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction program. Libby subsequently called a reporter, read him the statement, and said – according to the reporter – he had "heard" that Wilson's investigation was instigated by his wife, an employee at the CIA, later identified as Valerie Plame. The reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, was one of five people with whom Libby discussed Plame's CIA status during those critical weeks that summer.

02.04.07 War in Iraq propelling a massive migration

AMMAN, Jordan, February 4 – ...As the fourth year of war nears its end, the Middle East's largest refugee crisis since the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948 is unfolding in a climate of fear, persecution and tragedy. Nearly 2 million Iraqis – about 8 percent of the prewar population – have embarked on a desperate migration, mostly to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The refugees include large numbers of doctors, academics and other professionals vital for Iraq's recovery. Another 1.7 million have been forced to move to safer towns and villages inside Iraq, and as many as 50,000 Iraqis a month flee their homes, the UN agency said in January.

The rich began trickling out of Iraq as conditions deteriorated under UN sanctions in the 1990s, their flight growing in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion. Now, as the violence worsens, increasing numbers of poor Iraqis are on the move, aid officials say. To flee, Iraqis sell their possessions, raid their savings and borrow money from relatives. They ride buses or walk across terrain riddled with criminals and Sunni insurgents, preferring to risk death over remaining in Iraq...
[More>>washingtonpost.com ; See related story, nytimes.com, February 4, "Iraq's shadow widens Sunni-Shiite split in US."]

02.04.07 Taliban warn of bloody spring as US takes NATO reins

KABUL (Reuters) February 4 – The Taliban promised a spring offensive of thousands of suicide bombers as the United States, doubling its combat troops in Afghanistan, took over command of the 33,000-strong NATO force in the country on Sunday. As US General Dan McNeill took over the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO said the Taliban leader in a southern district was killed on Sunday as part of an offensive to recapture the key town of Musa Qala from the rebels. The Taliban warns 2007 will be "the bloodiest year for foreign troops," saying they have 2,000 suicide bombers ready for an offensive when the winter snows melt in a few months.

"We have made 80 percent preparations to fight American and foreign forces and we are about to start war," Mullah Hayatullah Khan, a 35-year-old black-bearded guerrilla leader, told Reuters at a secret base in the east on Saturday. Khan says the 2,000 are just 40 percent of fighters preparing to become suicide bombers, a tactic almost unheard of here until last year as militants copied Iraq. "Now there is great enthusiasm for suicide attacks among the Taliban and these attacks will increase," he said.

02.04.07 Al-Qaeda tells Britiish cells to carry out wave of beheadings

February 4 – Islamic terror cells in Britain have been instructed to carry out a series of kidnappings and beheadings of the kind allegedly planned by the nine terrorist suspects arrested in Birmingham last week. The "strategic" assassination instruction was issued by Al-Qaedaıs leaders in Pakistan and Iraq to dozens of their followers in this country. It was uncovered by MI5 last autumn, senior security sources say. As a result police are on standby for multiple attempts by terrorists to kidnap and then behead people across Britain. MI5 is conducting a counter-terrorism surveillance operation to prevent such an attack. The alleged attempt to kidnap and behead a Muslim soldier or soldiers in Birmingham was just the first of a series of planned attacks, security sources say. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]

02.04.07 Discovered: Britain's very own Colosseum

February 4 – Archaeologists have discovered that what had been thought to be a relatively small, down-market amphitheatre in Britain was in fact a top-of-the-range, though admittedly more intimate, version of Rome's famous gladiatorial arena. Indeed, this British Colosseum – in Chester – may well have been built as a replica of the one in Rome, possibly on the orders of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, who was in Britain at the time. Although it was much smaller than the Colosseum, its outer wall appears to have had a blind arcade of 80 arches, giving it a superficially similar appearance to the one in Rome. If the archaeologists' calculations are correct, Rome and Chester were the only places in the Roman world to have amphitheatres with that number of arches. [More>>independent.co.uk]

02.04.07 Pyongyang to demand fuel oil at nuclear talks

February 4 – North Korea is demanding up to 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil a year in exchange for freezing activity at its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon, Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported yesterday. The newspaper reported that North Korea is also likely to repeat demands for a lifting of US financial sanctions and to be taken off the list of terrorist sponsor countries when the six-party talks reconvene later this week. The paper cited Joel Wit, a former US State Department official who coordinated the Agreed Framework in 1994, and David Albright, president and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security. The two had visited North Korea last week and met North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan.

Quoting the American officials, the newspaper said the North Korean delegation will agree to freeze its nuclear related facilities in Yongbyon and allow the return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to recommence surveillance as the first stage of denuclearization at the upcoming six-party talks this Thursday.

02.04.07 After the flooding, the blame game begins

JAKARTA, Indonesia – February 4 – As hundreds of thousands of Jakartans struggled with the cold and damp, officials on Saturday were quick to muster the culprits behind another year of severe flooding. Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso placed the blame on villas in Puncak, West Java, while State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar insisted the floods were caused by excessive development in the city's water catchment areas. Rachmat said that local authorities had been overzealous in issuing building permits for Jakarta's designated water catchment zones. "Many ignore the (city) spatial plan, especially the authorities that hand out permits, even though they clearly violate environmental impact analyses," Rachmat said. [More>>thejakartapost.com ; See also thestar.com.my, February 4, "Indonesia floods kill 20, nearly 200,00 homeless."]

02.04.07 Lab disaster may lead to new cancer drug

WASHINGTON (Reuters) February 4 – Her carefully cultured cells were dead and Katherine Schaefer was annoyed, but just a few minutes later, the researcher realized she had stumbled onto a potential new cancer treatment. Schaefer and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York believe they have discovered a new way to attack tumors that have learned how to evade existing drugs. Tests in mice suggest the compound helps break down the cell walls of tumors, almost like destroying a tumor cellıs 'skeleton.' The researchers will test the new compound for safety and hope they can develop it to treat cancers such as colon cancer, esophageal cancer, liver and skin cancers. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]


09.11.05 When a nation lacks a competent leader it invites disaster – the legacy of Bush
08.13.05 "Using force the George W. Bush way – Bush's crusade"
11.25.04 Why the Crusade & Jihad?


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