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02.19.05 No bribe, no soup
Editorial note: Saturday's turkishpress.com had an article about a soup commercial being pulled off Turkish television channels because of Bulgaria's sensitivity to a bribe-taking policeman being featured in the ad. Apparently Turkish travelers through Bulgaria complain they are robbed and forced to pay bribes to police. In the exchange of the bribe, a person asks a policeman for directions and the policeman responds, "money for soup," a local phrase for a bribe. While the commercial did not identify in its presentation that the policeman was Bulgarian, apparently the essence of the "money for soup" practice is Bulgarian.
In today's world there are so many people complaining I lament in the press the trouble of responding. Alas, the song of the weary has no ear.
02.19.05 Pilgrims die in wave of attacks
Feb. 20, 5:21am Sydney AT least 35 people have been killed in another day of suicide and bomb attacks in Iraq that marred the holiest Shiite Muslim day of Ashura for the second year running. In Baghdad, at least 27 people died, including 19 in a suicide attack on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims, and 109 were wounded, a government source said. An American soldier was also killed in the capital, the US military said. In the most lethal blast, in Baghdad's Aden square, a suicide bicycle bomber attacked the bus carrying pilgrims from a mosque in the north of the city, according to the government source. Another 40 people were wounded in that attack. [theaustralian.news.com.au from news.com.au; see also reuters.com: Insurgents targeted Shi'ite Muslims in a series of suicide strikes and bombings across Baghdad Saturday, killing 30 people and wounding around 130 on the holiest day of the Shi'ite religious calendar.]
02.19.05 Egyptian doctors remove baby's second head
BENHA, Egypt (Reuters) Egyptian doctors said they removed a second head from a 10-month-old girl suffering from one of the rarest birth defects in an operation Saturday. Abla el-Alfy, a consultant in pediatric intensive care, told Reuters at the hospital in Benha, near Cairo, that Manar Maged was in a serious but improving condition after the procedure to treat her for craniopagus parasiticus a problem related to that of conjoined twins linked at the skull.
02.18.05 Congressman George Miller (D. California) says Social Security funding US deficits
SAN FRANCISCO, California, Feb. 18 In an interview on KTVU's Mornings on Two (Fox News), San Francisco, host Ross McGowan was told by Congressman George Miller that the US government has been taking money out of Social Security funds to reduce the deficit on the National Debt. The National Debt is moving from $8.2 trillion to $10 trillion. The annual deficit (shortfall between US income and US outlays) for 2004 was about $435 billion, ~$321 billion of which was interest on the 2004 $8.2 trillion debt. Apparently the true deficit published by the Office of Management and Budget does not reflect the borrowing from Social Security funds Congressman Miller noted in his interview with McGowan Friday. Nor does the projected 2005 deficit based upon President Bush's 2005 Budget accurately reflect the deficits that will be added to the debt needed for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (~$82 billion), etc. Miller pointed out that the US government stole from Social Security funds prior to the Clinton administration but the Clinton administration paid back some of those funds, only to have the funds tapped again under the present Bush administration. While Corporate executives who falsify Balance Sheets (the US Budget is a Balance Sheet) go to jail in the United States for the illegal practice, such standards of honesty cannot be accounted to the administration of George W. Bush or his father's, George H. W. Bush's administration. To view charts on the US debt click here or click on the charts on the sidebar.
02.18.05 Malaysia moves up five rungs to 16th in pool of 60 world economies
Feb. 18 MALAYSIA moved up five rungs in world competitiveness last year, taking 16th place in a pool of 60 economies. Malaysia was behind Austria (13), Switzerland (14) and the Netherlands (15), but ahead of Norway (17) and New Zealand (18). The top four economies were the United States, Singapore, Canada and Australia. [More>>thestar.com.my]
02.18.05 Dozens killed in bomb attacks aimed at Iraq's Shiites
BAGHDAD (AP) Feb. 18 Four explosions ripped through Baghdad on Friday, killing at least 28 people and injuring dozens on the eve of Shiite Islamıs most important holiday, officials said. It was the deadliest day since Iraqıs landmark elections last month.
02.18.05 Bush demands Syrian pullout as investigation begins
BEIRUT, Feb. 18 US President George W. Bush delivered a stark warning to Syria telling it to withdraw its troops from Lebanon as pressure intensifies on Damascus and the Lebanese government in the wake of Monday's assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri. His warning came hard on the heels of comments from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said that while the U.S. favors diplomacy to resolve its differences with Syria, the use of military force has not been ruled out. The international hardening of attitudes toward Syria came at the same time as the Hariri family demanded an international commission to investigate his murder, intensifying its estrangement from the Lebanese government. [More>>dailystar.com.lb]
02.18.05 US, China agree on North Korea nukes
SEOUL, South Korea, Feb. 19 The United States and China agree that North Korea must end its nuclear ambitions and resolve the standoff through six-nation talks, Washington's top envoy on the issue said Friday, as efforts to restart the negotiations gained momentum. Reviving the stalled talks has taken on greater urgency since North Korea's explosive but unconfirmed declaration last week that it has become a nuclear power. The talks involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
02.18.05 Japan to join US policy on Taiwan
TOKYO, Feb. 17 The United States and Japan will declare Saturday for the first time in a joint agreement that Taiwan is a mutual security concern, according to a draft of the document. Analysts called the move a demonstration of Japan's willingness to confront the rapidly growing might of China. The United States has long focused attention on the Chinese government's threat to use military force against Taiwan if the island, which China views as a renegade province, moves toward independence. Until now, Japan has been content to let the United States bear the brunt of Beijing's displeasure.
02.18.05 Iran, Russia move on nuclear deal
MOSCOW, Feb. 18 Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, he is convinced that Iran is not trying to develop nuclear weapons and says Russia will continue cooperating with Iran on its nuclear program, Russian media reported. Putin, who met at the Kremlin with Iran's security chief Hasan Rowhani Friday said, he would visit Iran soon. "The latest steps taken by Iran have convinced us that Iran does not intend to produce nuclear arms," Putin said. "In this context, we will continue cooperation with Iran in all areas, including the nuclear energy field," Putin said [More>>jang.com.pk]
02.18.05 Rosatom heads visit to Tehran to help in resolving many Iran problems
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) Feb. 18 The visit to Teheran on February 26 by Rosenergoatom chief Alexander Rumyantsev will be a stride to resolve problems concerning Iran, State Duma international committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev told the RIA Novosti press conference on Friday. To quote: "Rumyantsev's upcoming visit will be a stride in untying knots which have emerged in connection with Iran".
02.18.05 India seeks oil fields in Kazakhstan
ASTANA, kazakhstan, Feb. 18 India on Friday sought stakes in four Kazakhstan oil fields, including the giant Kashagan and Kurmangazy oil fields, and offered to build Kazakh-China pipeline and petrochemical plants in the former Soviet Republic to boost trade and economic ties with central Asia. ONGC Videsh Ltd, the foreign arm of India's flagship Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, wants a stake in Tengiz and Kashagan oilfields and hugely prospective Kurmangazy and Darkhan exploration blocks and offered its technical expertise in exploration and production (E&P) In nine others, including Akku and Shetusy.
02.18.05 Iranian foreign minister to visit India
NEW DELHI (India News) Feb. 18 Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi will pay a three-day visit to India from Sunday during which he will co-chair an India-Iran Joint Commission meeting with External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh. During the visit, Kharrazi will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, address the India-Iran Joint Business Council and deliver a lecture on the "Importance of Indo-Iran relations and their role in the region" at the Indian Council of World Affairs.
02.18.05 Pakistani oil diplomacy at a crossroads
Feb. 19 M. K. Bhadrakumar examines a possible conundrum Pakistan may be facing over the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline: "The Indian cabinet decision on February 9 authorizing the Petroleum Ministry to commence negotiations over the US$4 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project poses a dilemma for Islamabad that goes beyond the issues of energy security or trade ties with India. A Hobson's choice faces Islamabad: it has to balance public opinion on cooperation involving Iran and India with Washington's approval of the project.
02.17.05 Thirty kilos of plutonium missing from British nuclear site: report
LONDON (AFP) Feb. 17 Some 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of plutonium, enough for seven or eight nuclear bombs, are listed as "unaccounted fo" at the British nuclear site at Sellafied, a newspaper said Thursday. The annual audit of nuclear material at all of Britainıs civil nuclear installations is expected to reveal that the quantity of plutonium was classified as "material unaccounted for" last year, The Times said. British Nuclear Fuels, which operates the plant at Sellafield in northwest England, is expected to dismiss the figures as a "paper loss" and an "accounting issue," according to the newspaper. But independent experts were worried about the disclosure. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; see also timesonline.co.uk, " MP's demand explanation for 'lost' plutonium."]
02.17.05 Allawi's party warns possible successor over Iran ties and role of Islam in state
FEb. 17 The secular party of Iraq's outgoing Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on Wednesday warned the religious Shiite now tipped to succeed him over his ties to Iran and the role of Islam in the state. On Tuesday, sources in the coalition that won the Jan. 30 elections and that is backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said it had chosen interim vice president and Dawa party leader Ibrahim Jaafari as its candidate for prime minister.
02.17.05 Radar details large Titan crater; gives close-up of Enceladus
Feb. 17 Cassini flew by Titan on February 16, getting several close-up shots including a crater 273 miles in diameter. Today it sent back an image of the surface of Saturn's moon, Enceladus.
02.17.05 Bush: Iran must not develop nukes
Feb. 17 (AP) President George W. Bush on Thursday addressed the issue of Iran's possible nuclear armament, declining to offer his full endorsement of Europe's negotiations to get Iran to halt its suspected nuclear weapons program. He said the United States and Europe share the goal that Iran must not develop a nuclear weapon. Still, he left it up in the air whether he fully supports Europe's approach. "I look forward to ... discussing strategies, ways forward with the Europeans to make sure we continue to speak with one voice, and that is Iran should not have a nuclear weapon and how to work together to make sure they don't," Bush said. [More>>Jerusalem Post]
02.17.05 Nuclear fuel deal with Russia imminent, Iran says
TEHRAN, Feb. 17 Russia will sign a deal with Iran next week to start nuclear fuel shipments for the Russian-built reactor there, an Iranian official said on Thursday. The United States, which accuses Iran of secretly working to develop nuclear weapons, has long called on Russia to avoid supplying the Islamic state with nuclear fuel.
02.17.05 Mahathir: America may use Israel against Iran
LONDON, Feb. 17 (IranMania) Former Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamad predicted Wednesday that the United States might use Israel as a proxy to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, the official Bernama news agency reported. "North Korea, however, would be spared an attack over its nuclear program partly because it is not a Muslim country," said Mahathir, a fierce critic of Israeli and US policies who retired in 2003 after leading Malaysia for 22 years, AFP reported.
02.17.05 Darfur described as living hell
Feb. 17 Sudanese officials and Darfur rebels have met for talks after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called earlier for firm action to end a conflict he described as near hell on earth. Annan urged the UN Security Council to take immediate steps to stop the violence in Darfur, which has killed at least 70,000 people and displaced two million. "Darfur's people are living in hell," said Chadian President Idriss Deby at the start of the Darfur talks in Chad's capital N'Djamena, which were also attended by international mediators and African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare.
02.17.05 Bush picks Negroponte for Chief of Intelligence
WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 President Bush today named John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq who built a 40-year diplomatic career in some of the world's most troubled corners, to be the first director of national intelligence. The nomination, announced at a news conference, fills the final, major vacancy in the administration's second term national security team.
02.17.05 Thailand plans crackdown on Islamic schools that support rebels
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) Thailand will crack down on Islamic schools that support or harbor rebels in the three southernmost provinces, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said, without saying what measures the government will take against the schools. More soldiers will be sent to villages that are suspected of harboring Islamic separatists, Thaksin told reporters today in the Be Tong district of Yala province, 1,080-kilometer (675 miles) south of the capital, Bangkok. "Some Islamic schools have channeled money from the government and donators for purchases of explosive equipment for making bombs,'' Thaksin said. ``We will deal with those schools in a harsher way.'' [More>>bloomberg.com via yemendaily.com]
02.17.05 The US being sidelined by the world
Feb. 17 Michael Lind writes in his chinadaily.com.cn article, "The new US century is over," a view that points out the new arrangements being made among nations in the opening of the 21st century. These new arrangements as made evident for those tracking Maravot News Trends reflect in essence economic and cultural agreements that do not include the United States. George W. Bush's outreach, both verbally and materially, can be reduced to belligerence. Where he has not sent troops he has sent insults. His message has been, "America doesn't need you," as he has snubbed in essence the EU, all of the nations with strong Moslem populations, and China and India. Most of the world has seen a complete change in the persona of the American people, from that of a free, just and strong nation to that of an aggressor whose actions and words cannot be trusted. Americans need to read what other media around the world are saying about them. For perceptions often become reality and the reality of the moment is that the major players in this world the EU, China, India, Russia, several South American nations, the Central Asian Republics, etc. are forming a new economic and political world independent of the United States. In effect they are forming trading blocks and exchanges that have been designed to block out the United States. The affects of this new world order are measured in the source of products being diverted from the US to the partners of the new world order, currencies shifting away from the dollar and towards the euro. The US may find itself as an 'also ran' in the era being formed. George W. Bush's policies emphasizing the application of raw military power to achieve dominion are like those of the Soviet Union, Lind points out. He's got a point there, since we have illustrations throughout history that show how mighty powers like the Soviet Union that lasted only 70 years have been brought down by economic undermining. China is changing and very active in forming economic and political bonds.
02.17.05 Expert: China overtakes US as world's top consumer
Feb. 17 China has replaced the United States as the world's top consumer, eclipsing the world's richest economy in consumption of four of the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities, a global environmental think tank said.
02.17.05 China's endangered Panda expands habitat
Feb. 17 China's endangered panda is migrating into forest areas restored by the government, the re-discovery of its dung in northern Shaanxi province indicates. Scatologists identified the panda droppings in the region's Qinling mountains where it lived 30 years ago, while locals have reported sighting animals resembling the bear, Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday. The reappearance of the panda in the western parts of the Qinling mountains was attributed to recent efforts by the government to restore the region's natural habitat, the report said.
02.17.05 China plans nuclear talks with North Korea
Feb. 17 China planned weekend talks with North Korea over the nuclear crisis amid US hopes that Beijing would bring new pressure on Pyongyang to rejoin negotiations, official sources said on Wednesday.
02.17.05 Abu Sayyaf militants arrested in southern Philippines
ZAMBOANGA, Feb. 17 Police have arrested two Al-Qaeda-linked Filipino militants in the southern Philippines, officials said on Thursday. Police acting on a tip-off raided a house on the outskirts of this southern port city and arrested Abu Sayyaf member Najid Tajid, who put up no resistance, national police investigation chief Vidal Querol told reporters. He said Tajid is a suspect in the 1999 abductions of Roman Catholic priest Roel Gallardo and several students at a Roman Catholic school on the island of Basilan. A second Abu Sayyaf member, Jubail Sahibul, was arrested in a Zamboanga suburb last week, military spokesman said. [[jang.com.pk]
02.17.05 Heavy weapons may be used in special [antiterrorist] operations
ROSTOV-ON-DON (RIA Novosti) Feb.17 Presidential plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District Dmitri Kozak has said that antiterrorist special operations with the use of heavy weapons will be repeated if necessary.
02.17.05 Philippines has the potential to lead global call center industry
Feb. 17 According to a Canadian market research firm Thursday, the Philippines has the potential to overtake market leader India in the global call center industry. This could take place as early as 2008. The call center industry accounted for 79.14 percent of the $147 million invested in ICT investments in the Philippines in 2004, XMG principal analyst Eugene Talasch told the forum.
02.17.05 Hotel car bomb kills five
NARATHIWAT, Thailand, Feb. 17 One day after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra threatened to withhold development funds from the deep South, a car bomb exploded near the Marina Hotel in the entertainment district of Sungai Kolok last night killing at least four people and injuring 37 others. The blast followed fierce criticism which followed the prime minister's plan to stop giving money from development funds to southern villages classified as ``red zones'' plagued with violence. But the prime minister stood firm saying decisive action was needed and he would not allow a single inch of Thailand to be separated even ``if blood covers the land''. Police Lt. Nawin Ninwanit, duty officer of Sungai Kolok district police station, said the bomb was planted in a Nissan NV pick-up truck parked by the Marina Hotel in Soi Sawasdi, about 50 metres from the police station. [More>>bangkokpost.net; see turkishpress.com update: YALA, Thailand (AFP) A car bomb exploded outside a hotel in southern Thailand, killing five people and injuring up to 40 just two hours after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cut short a trip to the restive region, officials and police said. The blast in the southern border town of Sungai Kolok was the deadliest single bombing in a campaign of violence that has gripped the Muslim-dominated deep south for the past 13 months and claimed about 600 lives.]
02.17.05 Qatar rejects Pakistan's demand for more gas
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 18 Qatar has refused to commit to increasing the volume of gas it will export to Pakistan through the proposed $1.88 billion Gulf-South Asia Pipeline (GUSA) project. Pakistan wanted an increase from the original 1.6 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas per day to over 2 Bcf per day. A meeting of officials of the Pakistani and Qatari governments and Crescent Petroleum was held at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources on Wednesday. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, second deputy prime minister of Qatar, and Amanullah Khan Jadoon, Pakistanıs minister for petroleum and natural resources, attended the meeting.
02.17.05 China sees CIA warning 'on China's military efforts'
Feb. 17 The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency changed the tone of his predecessors in the annual assessment about China on Wednesday, warning China's military modernisation is tilting the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait and increasing the threat to US forces in the region.
02.16.05 CIA, FBI warn panel of top threats to US
WASHINGTON (AP) Feb. 16 Al-Qaida and associated groups top the list of threats to the United States, leading government intelligence officials told Congress on Wednesday in a grim assessment that also highlighted Iran's emergence as a major threat to American interests in the Middle East. Despite gains made against al-Qaida and other affiliates, CIA Director Porter Goss, in an unusually blunt statement before the mostly secretive Senate Intelligence Committee, said the terror group is intent on finding ways to circumvent U.S. security enhancements to attack the homeland. "It may be only a matter of time before al-Qaida or other groups attempt to use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. We must focus on that," Goss said. [More>>Associated Press]
02.16.05 Syria and Iran to form "common front"
02.16.05 Kyoto Protocol on climate change comes into force
TOKYO, Feb. 16 The Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, entered into force Wednesday, seven years after it was adopted at a U.N. conference in Kyoto in 1997. The pact, known officially as the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, took effect at midnight Tuesday in New York, where the United Nations is headquartered, or 2 p.m. Wednesday Japan time. The occasion of the inauguration of the world's first attempt to control climate change was marked around the world. In Bonn, Germany, the secretariat of the U.N. framework convention and civic groups will jointly hold a commemorative event. [More>>kyodo.co.jp]
An interesting chart and discussion that compares solar radiation cycles from 12,000 B.C. to present is at www.maravot.com/Banquet3.html. The movements and traditions involving the Etruscans (listed among the Sea Peoples) and the Indo-European peoples that moved into India with their Rig Veda are explored here.
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