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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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3.10.08 Suicide bomber kills 5 US soldiers in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) March 10 - A suicide bomber blew himself up among US soldiers in central Baghdad on Monday, killing five and wounding three in the worst single attack on US forces in the Iraqi capital in nearly a year. The US military said in a statement that the blast, which also wounded an Iraqi interpreter, hit the soldiers while they were on foot patrol. Iraqi police said at least nine Iraqis were wounded. The military blamed the attack on a suicide bomber. Police, citing witness accounts, said the soldiers had been walking in a main street in the upscale Mansour district when a man wearing an explosives vest walked up to them and blew himself up. [More>>thestar.com.my; See related story, independent.co.uk, March 10, "Female suicide bomber kills Iraq tribal head."]

3.10.08 Iran students put bounties on Israel leaders

TEHRAN (AFP) March 10 - Iranian hardline students have offered rewards totalling a million dollars for the "execution" of three Israeli military leaders over the deadly strikes on Gaza, the student news agency ISNA reported on Monday. The group is even encouraging Iranians to donate their kidneys to increase the bounties on the heads of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Mossad spy agency director Meir Dagan and military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin. The rewards were announced by the Justice Seeking Students Group on Sunday at a ceremony in Tehran entitled "setting the bounty for the revolutionary execution of the designers of state terrorism," ISNA said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

3.10.08 Arabs campaign for women to 'take off the veil'

DUBAI, March 10 - A group of Arabic websites and blogs have launched an international campaign against the Muslim headscarf (hijab), arguing the move is a response to what they see as “intellectual terrorism” practiced by strict Islamic groups and individuals. The campaign is called "Take Off The Veil," and was launched March 8, 2008 to coincide with International Women's Day.

"My hair is not a sex symbol that I should be ashamed of, and my body is not a stage for men's fantasies. I am a noble human being with my hair and body," Dr. Elham Manea, one of the campaign's leaders, wrote on the participating websites. Manea, a professor of Yemeni descent and who works in Switzerland, said she believes the headscarf was never part of Islam and chose International Women's Day for the campaign as she views the headscarf as a symbol of women's oppression and to warn women deceived by Islamists into putting "this rag on their heads.

3.10.08 Advertising sent to cellphones opens new front in war on spam

March 10 - The spam messages that have long plagued e-mail inboxes are now finding victims through a much more personal route: the cellphone. Text messages are the latest tool for advertisers and scammers to target consumers. But unlike junk e-mail that can be deleted with the click of a button, text-message spam costs money for the person who receives it and chips away at the mobile phone's aura of privacy.

...More than 1 billion text messages are sent every day in the United States. US consumers are expected to receive about 1.5 billion spam text messages this year, up from 1.1 billion last year and 800 million in 2006, according to Ferris Research, a San Francisco market research firm. Those are conservative figures; some estimates are far higher. Verizon Wireless said it blocks more than 200 million spam text messages every month, and cellphone companies are ramping up efforts to shut them out by taking spammers to court and by using more sophisticated filters. [Full story>>washingtonpost.com]

3.09.08 Wanted al-Qaeda leader released on bail

SANAA, Yemen (AFP) March 10 - Senior al-Qaeda figure Jaber al-Banna, who has a $US5 million ($5.4 million) US bounty on his head, walked free from an appeal hearing in Yemen overnight after being granted bail on his own recognizance. Banna, who has joint Yemeni-US citizenship and was handed a 10-year jail term in absentia last year, is one of 36 convicted militants who are appealing prison sentences of between two and 15 years.

He surrendered to Yemeni authorities in December after negotiations lasting several months. There has still been no word of what deal, if any, was struck. Banna made his first court appearance at the opening of the appeal on February 23 when he was allowed to walk free without any bail conditions at all.

..Washington suspects Banna of providing material support to al-Qaeda and has offered a reward of up to $US5 million for his arrest. He is one of a number of al-Qaeda suspects who have been the subject of arguments between Sanaa and Washington...Yemen, al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's ancestral homeland, is one of the world's poorest countries despite its proximity to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
[Full story>>news.com.au]

3.09.08 Britain shivers as US hits recession

March 9 - America's economy is definitely in recession, economists say, amid growing fears that the credit crunch is entering its most dangerous phase. Figures on Friday showing a second successive monthly fall in US employment sealed the question of whether America had entered its first recession since the 2001 downturn.

The US lost 63,000 jobs in February, said the Department of Labor, amid the fastest fall in private-sector jobs in five years. The decline, which followed a 22,000 drop in January, the first fall in more than four years, surprised many economists who had been expecting a slight rise. Manufacturers and construction companies led the decline as they absorbed the costs of the housing slump. [More>>timesonline.co.uk ; See related story, nytimes.com, March 9, "Downturn tests the Fed's ability to avert a crisis."]

3.09.08 Solar energy firms leave waste behind in China

GAOLONG, China, March 9 - The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn't believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word. This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.

In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It's a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production — silicon tetrachloride — is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

3.09.08 Pakistan rivals join to fight Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, March 9 - The leaders of the two major political parties, in an unexpectedly strong show of unity against President Pervez Musharraf, agreed Sunday that they would reinstate judges fired by the president and would seek to strip him of crucial powers. The power sharing deal, announced by Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the largest party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Nawaz Sharif, the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, represented another tough challenge to the already waning authority of Mr. Musharraf, a favorite ally of the Bush administration.

The two men, appearing at a news conference together in the resort area of Bhurban, said they would seek to remove the president's power to dissolve the Pakistani Parliament and his power to appoint the chiefs of the military services. Together, the two parties control just shy of two-thirds of the Parliament after an election last month in which Mr. Musharraf's party was routed. [More>>nytimes.com]

3.09.08 UK makes camera that 'sees' under clothes

LONDON (Reuters) March 9 - A British company has developed a camera that can detect weapons, drugs or explosives hidden under people's clothes from up to 25 metres away in what could be a breakthrough for the security industry. The T5000 camera, created by a company called ThruVision, uses what it calls ‘passive imaging technology’ to identify objects by the natural electromagnetic rays-known as Terahertz or T-rays-that they emit.

The high-powered camera can detect hidden objects from up to 80 feet away and is effective even when people are moving. It does not reveal physical body details and the screening is harmless, the company says. The technology, which has military and civilian applications and could be used in crowded airports, shopping malls or sporting events, will be unveiled at a scientific development exhibition sponsored by Britain's Home Office on March 12-13. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

3.09.08 Bird flu strikes new Bangladesh district

DHAKA, March 9 - Bird flu has spread to another district in Bangladesh despite massive culling by authorities to control the outbreak, officials said on Sunday, bringing the number of affected districts to 47 out of 64. The new case of the avian influenza was found in Brahmanbaria, in the east of the capital Dhaka, livestock officials said. They added that the spread of bird flu had slowed in the previously affected areas in recent weeks.

Nearly 1.25 million birds have been culled since the virus was first detected in March 2007, threatening the impoverished country's growing poultry sector. Industry officials said bird flu had caused losses of about 45 billion taka ($650 million) to the poultry sector, which accounts for 1.6 percent of gross domestic product.

3.09.08 US fails a fourth time to hit al-Qaeda suspect in Somalia

March 9 - A US missile strike in Somalia, aimed at a man described by the Pentagon as a "known al-Qaeda terrorist", succeeded only in hurting six civilians and killing three cows and a calf, the IoS has learned. At least one Tomahawk missile was believed to have been fired from a US submarine off the Somali coast on Monday. It hit a shack in the small town of Dobley, four miles from the Kenyan border. Dobley is one of several towns and villages in southern Somalia that are now under the administration of Islamists connected to the former Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which briefly controlled most of southern and central Somalia in 2006.

The attack was the fourth known strike by the US inside Somalia since it backed Ethiopia's invasion of the country in December 2006. All have been aimed at men Washington believes to be responsible for terrorist attacks in East Africa. None has been successful. Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, the target of Monday's attack, is wanted in connection with the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed at least 224 people. [More>>independent.co.uk]

3.09.08 China: Terrorists targeted Olympics

March 10 - Chinese police killed alleged terrorists plotting to attack the Beijing Olympics, while a flight crew managed to prevent an apparent attempt to crash a Chinese jetliner in a separate case just last week, officials said Sunday. Wang Lequan, the top Communist Party official in the western region of Xinjiang, said materials seized in a January raid in the regional capital, Urumqi, had described a plot with a purpose "specifically to sabotage the staging of the Beijing Olympics."

...Wang said the group had been trained by and was following the orders of a Uighur separatist group based in Pakistan and Afghanistan called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM. The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by both the United Nations and the United States. East Turkestan is another name for Xinjiang.
[Full story>>thejakartapost.com]

3.07.08 Economy lost 63,000 jobs in February

March 7 - The economy unexpectedly shed 63,000 jobs in February, the government said on Friday, fueling fears of a recession as manufacturers and construction companies cut their work forces amid the continuing housing crisis. It was the fastest falloff in the labor market in five years, and the report raised anticipation on Wall Street that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates again later this month. Some investors are now predicting a more drastic cut of a full percentage point. [More>>nytimes.com]

3.07.08 Bombs reported to kill 4 in Mosul

BAGHDAD (AP) March 7 - Bombings in the northern city of Mosul, an al-Qaeda in Iraq stronghold, killed at least four people and wounded 46 on Friday, officials said, while relatives mourned the victims of an attack that killed 68 in a Baghdad shopping district. The carnage was a grim reminder of the continuing danger in Iraq, which nonetheless has seen major security gains in the last half-year. An extremist detonated an explosives-laden car outside a police station's front gate in Mosul, killing at least three and wounding 32, authorities said. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]

3.07.08 Ex-banking CEO's defend pay in subprime mess

NEW YORK, March 7 - Two high-profile former Wall Street CEOs and the head of the nation's largest home lender defended their oversized pay packages to Congressional lawmakers Friday, arguing that recent reports grossly exaggerated their compensation in some instances. In testimony prepared for the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform, Countrywide Financial's (CFC, Fortune 500) founder and CEO Angelo Mozilo, former Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) Chairman and CEO Stanley O'Neal and ex-Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) chief Charles Prince argued that their pay was was determined through an independent assessment process, and was tied directly to the performance of the company.

"In short, as our company did well, I did well," Countrywide's Mozilo said. Mozilo reportedly stood to collect a windfall of $115 million dollars after his firm agreed in January to a yet-to-be completed $4 billion sale to Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500). After facing heavy criticism from lawmakers, Mozilo forfeited $37.5 million in payments tied to the deal. [More>>cnn.com]

3.07.08 Hamas claims responsibility for Jerusalem shooting attack

March 7 - Hamas claimed responsibility for Thursday's shooting attack at the Mercaz Harav religious school in Jerusalem that killed eight people, a Hamas official said on Friday. Ala Abu Dahim, 25, from the village of Jabal Mukhbar, was shot and killed during the massacre. Several residents of Jabal Mukhbar said he had been a driver at the yeshiva he attacked. His family set up a mourning tent Friday and hung green Hamas flags outside their home. "The Hamas movement announces its full responsibility for the Jerusalem operation. The movement will release the details at a later stage," the official said. [More>>haaretz.com]

3.06.08 Times Square bombing caught on tape

NEW YORK, March 6 - Security camera footage shows a person approach a Times Square military recruiting office and ride away on a bicycle shortly before a bomb damaged the building Thursday morning. Authorities consider the bicyclist a possible suspect in the bombing, which occurred about 3:45 a.m. and caused no injuries. The video, shown by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, shows the person approach the station on the bicycle, get off and walk up a metal ramp to the door. After about a minute, the person returns to the bike and rides away. Less than two minutes later, a bright flash and a cloud of white smoke signal the explosion. [More>>cnn.com]

3.06.08 Avoid Bush's Mideast policies, report says

March 6 - The Bush administration's attempt to reshape the Middle East after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has not only failed but has also deepened existing conflicts and political instability, according to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The result is a "new" Middle East, though different from what was anticipated. This new Middle East is one in which the threat of nuclear proliferation and sectarianism will pose a serious challenge to the next US administration, argue the authors of the report, published late February.

The tensions between Syria and Lebanon, Palestine and Israel and the influence of Iran in Iraq have also been exacerbated by the confrontational policies of the George W. Bush administration, the report titled, "The New Middle East" stated. If the US government wants to restore its credibility, the study said, it should first recognize that the use of military power in Iraq and Afghanistan were counterproductive and that today Iraq is a collapsed state that depends on the presence of American troops to survive. "The invasion of Iraq broke the balance of power that existed in the area," said Marina Ottaway, director of the Carnegie Middle East Program and one of the authors of the report. "Bush was worried about the Iranian influence and to some extent he has himself to blame for eliminating the major power that kept that balance."

...Rather than attempt to present new findings in the report, the experts instead focused on an analysis of how the US-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent policies of Bush's government worsened chronic conflicts that affected the Middle East, according to Ottaway.
[Full story>>metimes.com ; See also carnegieendowmnet.org for full text of "The New Middle East" and related story, washingtonpost.com, March 6, "No need for lawmakers' approval of Iraq Pact, US reasserts."]

3.06.08 US towns issue warrants to arrest Bush, Cheney

WASHINGTON (Reuters) March 6 - Voters in two Vermont towns on Tuesday approved a measure that would instruct police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," local media reported. The nonbinding, symbolic measure, passed in Brattleboro and Marlboro in a state known for taking liberal positions on national issues, instructs town police to "extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them." Vermont, home to maple syrup and picture-postcard views, is known for its liberal politics. [More>>alarabiya.net]

3.06.08 Brutal land where homosexuality is punishable by death

March 6 - The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, did not bat an eyelid when he asserted at New York's Columbia university that there were no homosexuals in Iran. He was not joking either. He had been asked about the execution of gays in Iran. "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he said. The statement drew howls and boos from his audience. One human rights expert who watched the debate last September described the words as a sick joke, because homosexuality carries the death penalty in Iran.

According to Amnesty International, more than 200 people were executed last year in Iran, although the exact number of gays is difficult to determine because the accusations are often bound up with other charges. Proving a sexual act has happened is difficult because it requires four male "righteous witnesses" to confirm the transgression. Lesbian sex is punishable by 100 lashes, with the death penalty being imposed after the fourth offence.

Two men were publicly hanged in the northern town of Gorgan for homosexual acts in November 2005. In July 2006 two youths were hanged for homosexuality in north-eastern Iran. In the most controversial case, in December a 20-year-old Kurdish Iranian, Makwan Mouladzadeh, was hanged for allegedly raping three boys when he was 13, despite a judicial review having been ordered and, according to Human Rights Watch, his accusers withdrawing their statements. Mr. Mouladzadeh had also withdrawn his "forced" confession [More>>independent.co.uk]

3.06.08 Eight killed when terrorist opens fire in library at Jerusalem yeshiva

March 6 - Eight people were killed and nine others were wounded Thursday evening when a terrorist entered a crowded library at a Jerusalem yeshiva and opened fire. The head of the Zaka emergency service described the scene after the shooting as "like a slaughterhouse." Three of the wounded in the attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood were serious condition, and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem.

The other six were lightly hurt and taken to Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center. One of the wounded is 15 years old. Magen David Adom emergency medical service declared the incident a "multiple casualty event." Jerusalem District police chief Aharon Franco said the terrorist entered the religious school, pulled out an automatic weapon and began firing in every direction. The gunman was shot twice by a student at the yeshiva who crawled out onto an adjacent roof, before being killed by an Israel Defense Forces soldier.

3.06.08 US/Iraqi raid kills 11 in northern Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) March 6 - US and Iraqi forces killed 11 suspected insurgents and detained 44 others in raids targeting al-Qaeda in central and northern Iraq, the US military said Thursday. Three Iraqi troops were killed in one of the operations. The Tal Afar Special Weapons and Tactics team, made up of U.S. forces and Iraqi SWAT teams, on Sunday targeted a cell responsible for assassinations and bombing attacks in the Tal Afar area in Iraq's Ninevah province, the military said in a statement.

During the raid, several fighters opened fire on the Iraqi and US troops, killing the three Iraqi soldiers and wounding three others. The US-Iraqi team killed nine suspected insurgents. Three Iraqi civilians were wounded and treated at the scene and eight suspected cell members were detained for questioning, including two who were wounded and evacuated to a military hospital for treatment, the military said. During the operation, the team found bomb-making materials, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, rifles, grenades, a landmine and ammunition, according to the statement. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org; See related article, cbsnews.com, March 6, "Over 50 dead in Baghdad market explosions."]

3.06.08 Israeli Embassy bomb plot suspected

(AP) March 6 - Philippine authorities have arrested three Middle Eastern terrorists suspected of involvement in a plot to bomb the Israeli and US embassies in Manila, officials said Thursday...Ermita refused to provide details, but two senior Filipino security officials told The Associated Press that investigators were verifying intelligence information that the three may have been involved in an active plot to bomb the US, British, Australian and Israeli embassies in Manila. Authorities believe the three may have links with the Indonesia-based terror group Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent southern Philippine-based group blacklisted by Washington. [Full story>>jpost.com]

3.06.08 Home foreclosures hit record high

March 6 - Foreclosures reached an all-time high during the fourth quarter of last year as the mortgage crisis worsened, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data released today. During the quarter, 2.04 percent of all outstanding mortgages were in foreclosure, and .83 percent of loans entered the foreclosure process, according to the report. A year earlier, just 1.19 percent of loans were in foreclosure.

The spike was driven by declining home prices and was most pronounced in California and Florida, which accounted for 30 percent of the foreclosures started during that period, Doug Duncan, the association's chief economist, said in a conference call with reporters. It will take time to work through the overbuilding in those states, Duncan said. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

3.06.08 Official: Iraq, China nearing oil deal

BAGHDAD (AP) March 6 - Iraq and China are close to re-signing a $1.2 billion oil deal that was called off after the 2003 U.S. invasion, an Iraqi Oil Ministry official said Thursday. Iraq sits on more than 115 billion barrels of oil, the world's third-largest reserves, but violence and sabotage have crippled efforts to use the resource to fund the country's reconstruction. As security improves, Iraq is trying to bring in foreign companies to help increase crude output from the current 2.5 million barrels a day to 3 million barrels a day by the end of 2008, and 4.5 million barrels a day by the end of 2013.

Saddam Hussein's government signed a deal with the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. to develop the billion-barrel al-Ahdab oil field, despite UN sanctions that barred direct dealings with Iraq's oil industry. Beijing was waiting for the sanctions to end when the US invasion overthrew Saddam. The two countries restarted talks in October 2006.

"We are expecting that the next round of discussions, due to be held in April, will finish the negotiations," the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information. The field could produce an estimated 115,000 barrels a day, the Iraqi official said. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]

3.06.08 Major arms dealer arrested in Thailand

BANKOK, March 6 - One of the world's most notorious arms dealers, suspected of supplying weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and of pouring huge arms shipments into Africa's civil wars with his own private air fleet, was arrested by Thai authorities in a hotel here on Thursday. His capture was prompted by a tip-off from the United States in connection with the procurement of weapons for the Colombian FARC rebels.

The Justice Department said that federal prosecutors in New York would unseal criminal charges against the arms dealer, Viktor Bout, 41, and one of his associates later Thursday, charging them with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Such a step would mean that American prosecutors think Mr. Bout would probably be brought to the United States to stand trial.

Mr. Bout, who is wanted by the police in many countries, is a former Soviet Air Force officer. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, he built a network of air cargo companies in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the United States, according to the United States Treasury. [More>>nytimes.com; See also rian.ru, March 6, "Russia may request extradition of 'merchant of death' from Thailand."]

3.05.08 The other side of Barack Obama

March 5 (Article by Gabor Steingart) - Hillary Clinton is back: With triple victories on Tuesday night the fight for the Democratic nomination is tighter than ever. And her opponent's camp is fighting off a wave of negative publicity...The question now is: Will the extraordinary love affair between the young Senator from Chicago and the Democratic voters last? Or was the spell broken on Tuesday night? Will the voters turn back to her? Or will his charm offensive once again display its power?..First of all: He is possibly not the man he pretends to be...It is not clear if Rezko introduced Obama to his Iraqi financial backer when he was in Chicago on a visit. He was part of Saddam Hussein's circle and was handed down a suspended sentence in the French Elf scandal. Obama says he has "no memory" of ever meeting him...The media has begun to take an interest in what the Chicago Sun dubs the "Teflon Obama." [Full story>>spiegel.de]

3.05.08 Terror 'how to' book released by al-Qaeda

KABUL, Afghanistan (UPI) March 5 - Al-Qaeda has released a Pashto-language terror training manual in Afghanistan with explicit details on how to wage the insurgency. Existence of the training manual was uncovered by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which monitors Islamic media. According to MEMRI, the Pashto-language newspaper Wrazparana Wahdat reported that the 144-page tactical guide called "Training Lessons," which explicitly details how to wage a militant operation against coalition forces, has been released...the manual is the third al-Qaeda jihad training publication allegedly from a series. [Full story>>metimes.com ; See related story, memri.org, March 5, "Islamist website allegedly under pressure from US intelligence." : The Islamist website http://www.al-farooq.net (currently hosted by SoftLayer Technologies Inc., Dallas, TX, USA) claimed in a message to its subscribers posted February 27, 2008, that U.S. authorities had contacted both the website administrator and its U.S. host to pressure them to remove jihad content, saying that if they do not, the site will be shut down. The authenticity of the message could not be validated by MEMRI...While the site no longer includes designated jihad sections, it is still saturated with jihad-promoting material...

3.05.08 Clinton: This may be headed to a joint ticket

March 5 - The morning after primary wins in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island, Hillary Clinton said she would consider being part of a Democratic "dream ticket" that would include both her and presidential rival Barack Obama. "That may be where this is headed," she told the CBS Early Show during a marathon set of appearances on the network morning news shows. "But of course we have to decide who is on the top of ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me." [More>>politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com ; See related story, nytimes.com, March 5, "Clinton wins in Texas and Ohio; McCain is in as G.O.P. choice."]

3.05.08 US challenges Iran with tough questions

VIENNA, Austria (AP) March 5 - The United States on Wednesday challenged Iran to end its state of nuclear denial and explain why it had diagrams showing how to shape fissile uranium into the shape of warheads and other experiments linked to atomic arms research. European nations struck a similar tone, urging Teheran at a 35-nation board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency to heed UN Security Council demands to curtail its nuclear program and cooperate with agency efforts to probe its alleged atomic arms experiments.

The calls appeared to fall on deaf ears however, with Iranian officials insisting they would not suspend uranium enrichment — the key Security Council Demand — and dismissing US and other intelligence on their purported weapons program as fabricated. In its criticism of Iran, Gregory L. Schulte, the chief US delegate to the IAEA, listed intelligence from Washington and its allies that the agency is trying to verify...{More>>jpost.com]

3.05.08 Vatican and Muslims to establish permanent dialogue

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) March 5 - The Vatican and Muslim leaders agreed on Wednesday to establish a regular official dialogue to improve often difficult relations between the two religions. A joint statement said the first meeting of the "The Catholic-Muslim Forum" will take place on Nov. 4-6 in Rome with 24 religious leaders and scholars from each side.

It said the themes of the first session would be "Love of God, Love of Neighbor," "Theological and Spiritual Foundation," and "Human Dignity and Mutual Respect." Pope Benedict will address the group, the statement said. The announcement was made at the end of a two-day meeting at the Vatican with five representatives of a group of more than 200 Muslims who had signed an unprecedented appeal to the pope to begin a dialogue.

...The Vatican side at the preparatory meeting that ended on Wednesday was headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Muslims were led by Sheikh Addal Hakim Murad, also known as Timothy J. Winter, president of the Britain's Muslim Academic Trust and included Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, vice-president of the Italian Islamic Religious Community.
[Full story>>thestar.com.my]

3.03.08 Warren Buffett declares America in recession

March 3 - Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, today declared that the United States was in a recession as he withdrew an offer to bail out the increasingly troubled bond insurance industry. Mr. Buffett, the world's third-richest man, said that "from a commonsense standpoint right now we're in recession," despite the fact America had yet to report two consecutive quarterly falls in gross domestic product, the technical definition of a downturn. He conceded that the economic environment was "nothing like '73 or '74," when the US was in recession and inflation reached 12.1 per cent, but he said that investors should not rule out the possibility of a severe downturn.

Evidence that the recession in residential construction has spread across America's entire building industry emerged today after official numbers showed a sharp slowdown in public and corporate projects. Construction spending overall in January dropped 1.7 percent, far worse than Wall Street's expectations of a 0.7 percent decline. However, for the first time in two years, non-residential and public sector building — which includes new hospitals and office blocks — shrank 1.2 percent. [More>>timesonline.co.uk ; See related stories,
timesonline.co.uk, March 3, "[UK] Manufacturerers raise prices at record rate." and
nytimes.com, March 3, "Oil prices pass inflation-adjusted record." :
Setting an all-time record, oil prices rose to nearly $104 a barrel on Monday morning, exceeding their inflation-adjusted high reached in the early 1980s during the second oil shock...

3.03.08 Dozens arrested in Saudi Arabia

March 3 - Police in Saudi Arabia have arrested 28 people they accuse of seeking to regroup al-Qaeda's network in the country. A ministry of interior statement said the detainees had used a recording from Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda's second-in command, to help raise money from Saudi citizens.

Al-Zawahri is quoted in the recording as saying: "The bearer of this message is one of our trusted brothers, therefore please give him your donations for hundreds of the families of captives and martyrs in Pakistan and Afghanistan." The statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said preparations by the suspects had "reached an advanced stage." They included attempts to find hideouts for their cells, forging travel documents and launching an internet campaign to spread their "deviant ideology."
[More>>aljazeera.net; See more details,
alarabiya.net, March 3, "Saudi arrests 28 as al-Qaeda tries to regroup." and related story, metimes.com, March 3, "Europe, very much on al-Qaeda's radar."]

3.03.08 32 killed, 51 injured in Iraq violence

BAGHDAD (DPA) March 3 - At least 32 people were killed and 51 injured in acts of violence across Iraq, including twin bombings targeting security forces in Baghdad, while US troops found a mass grave containing 14 bodies, Iraqi and US officials said Monday. In the deadlier of the Baghdad bombings, at least 15 people were killed and 35 injured.

A suicide bomber driving a car detonated it near a checkpoint jointly manned by police and members of the Awakening Councils in Midan in central Baghdad's Bab Al Muadham district, Major-General Qasim Atta, the spokesman for the city's security operation, told the Voices of Iraqi (VOI) news agency...In south-east Baghdad, another suicide bomber driving a car attacked a checkpoint manned by the Iraqi army in Ghadir district. Two civilians were killed and three wounded in the attack, Atta said. In yet another attack on Monday, gunmen in three vehicles shot dead a senior police officer from the city of Nasiriyah, Major- General Qasim Falih, and three security personnel in central Basra, police sources said. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

3.03.08 3 NATO soldiers wounded in Afghan blast

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) March 3 - A suicide car bomber attacked a government building protected by NATO and Afghan troops in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, collapsing a guard post and wounding three NATO soldiers inside, officials said. Two Afghan policemen were also wounded in the attack, said district chief Lutfullah Babakarheil.

The attacker rammed the explosives-laden car into the gates of the building in the Yaqoubi district of eastern Khost province, said Khost Gov. Arsallah Jamal. Babakarheil initially said the building was an American base. But Jamal said it was an Afghan government district building inside compound that also houses a unit of US soldiers. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]

3.02.08 Suicide bomber kills 44 in Pakistan, scores hurt

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) March 2 - At least 44 people were killed and scores more injured when a suicide bomber attacked a traditional tribal meeting in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, officials said. Pakistan is in the middle of a wave of violence blamed on al-Qaeda-linked militants based in tribal lands on the Afghan border and there have been three suicide attacks in as many days. Over 500 people have been killed in militant related violence this year alone.

A top government official in Darra Adam Kheil tribal region told Reuters the bomber detonated a device while tribal elders were holding an outdoor "jirga," or traditional meeting. "They were finalizing the formation of a committee of locals to take steps against miscreants and help the government," said Kamran Zaib, a government official. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also thenews.com.pk]

3.02.08 Five killed in bomb attack on Iraqi bus

BAQUBA, Iraq (AFP) March 2 - Five people were killed and four wounded when a roadside bomb ripped into a passing minibus in Iraq's troubled Diyala province, police said Sunday. Police Major Mohammed Al-Karkhi said the attack took place in the village of Al-Kheraiz, east of Baquba, the capital of Diyala some 60 kilometers (35 miles) north of Baghdad.

Separately, a police officer was killed in a roadside bomb attack while on patrol in Buhruz region, just south of Baquba, Karkhi said. The number of Iraqis killed in February rose by 33 percent over January, reversing a six-month trend of reduced violence, according to official Iraqi figures compiled by AFP. The US military said that by their count there was only a five percent increase. [>metimes.com]

3.02.08 US military kills al-Qaeda leader

BAGHDAD (AP) March 2 - A US military helicopter fired a guided missile to kill a wanted al-Qaeda in Iraq leader from Saudi Arabia who was responsible for the bombing deaths of five American soldiers, a spokesman said Sunday. US Navy Rear Adm. Gregory Smith said Jar Allah, also known as Abu Yasir al-Saudi, and another Saudi known only as Hamdan, were both killed Wednesday in Mosul. According to the military, al-Saudi conducted numerous attacks against Iraqi and US forces, including a Jan. 28 bomb attack that killed the five US soldiers.

In that attack, insurgents blasted a US patrol with a roadside bomb and showered survivors with gunfire from a mosque. The soldiers died in the explosion, the deadliest on American forces since six soldiers perished Jan. 9 in a booby-trapped house north of Baghdad.

Intelligence gathered in the Mosul area led the US military to al-Saudi, who was in a car with Hamdan. A precision helicopter strike killed both and destroyed their vehicle. US forces then confirmed the men's identities.[More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]

3.02.08 The £20bn food mountain: Britons throw away half of the food produced each year

March 2 - 20m tons of food is chucked out from homes and supermarkets, enough to meet half of Africa's food import needs. By Susie Mesure. Britain is throwing away half of all the food produced on farms, according to the starkest estimate yet of the amount of edible produce we waste.

About 20m tons of food is thrown out each year: equivalent to half of the food import needs for the whole of Africa. Some 16m tons of this is wasted in homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and food manufacturing. Much of the rest is thought to be destroyed between the farm field and the shop shelf. The total bill to the nation is estimated to be more than £20bn. The issue has come to the fore as supermarkets fight off criticism over billions of plastic carrier bags handed out free each year.

Lord Haskins of Skidby, a former government adviser on rural affairs and chairman of Northern Foods, said yesterday that tackling the mountain of food wasted in this country every year would help to preserve the environment and go some way towards feeding an expanding global population in the face of unprecedented food shortages. [More>>independent.co.uk]

3.02.08 Iranian leader arrives in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) March 2 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday his landmark visit to Iraq opened a new chapter in "brotherly" relations between the two countries, which were once bitter enemies. The Iranian president's trip is a historic one, the first since Iran and Iraq fought an eight-year war in the 1980s. The trip not only highlights his country's growing influence on its Arab neighbor in the post-Saddam Hussein era, but it also serves as an act of defiance toward the US, which accuses Iran of training and giving weapons to Shiite extremists in Iraq.

The Iranian leader went from Baghdad's airport to a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who gave him a red-carpet welcome. The two kissed four times on the cheek in the traditional fashion and a band played the two countries' national anthems. [More>>nytimes.com]

3.01.08 Suicide attack kills 2, injures 20 in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (DPA) March 1 - At least two people were killed and 20 injured in a suicide attack at a security convoy in north-west Pakistan on Saturday, as the police launched a probe into the bombing that left 42 people dead during the funeral on Friday, officials said. The suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into two paramilitary vehicles travelling near Khar, the main town in Bajaur tribal district that borders Afghanistan...

...The blast came a day after a suicide attack at a Muslim funeral prayer for Javed Iqbal, a deputy police superintendent,left 42 people dead and 81 injured in Mangora, a town in restive Swat Valley of the neighboring North-West Frontier Province. Iqbal himself had been killed Friday morning in a roadside bomb attack. No one has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. But local officials believe it was carried out by the followers of pro- Taleban cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, who is thought to be behind dozens of suicide bombings in the scenic valley since October 2007 when the Pakistani Army was sent to the area to flush out Islamic militants. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

3.01.08 Suspected female suicide bomber boss held

BAGHDAD (AFP) March 1 - US forces have detained the suspected leader of a cell recruiting female suicide bombers in the restive province of Diyala northeast of Baghdad, the military said today. The suspected militant was detained north of Khan Beni Sad in the province where a series of suicide bombings have been launched by women bombers. "The cell leader used his wife and another woman to act as carriers of his next suicide vest attack. Coalition forces stopped their plans,"' the military said. "High level intelligence led to the successful operation,"' it added. Diyala is one of the most dangerous regions in Iraq. [More>>news.com.au ; See related story, thestar.com, March 1, "Casualties rise in Iraq after Qaeda bombs."]

3.01.08 33 Palestinians killed during ongoing IDF raids in Gaza Strip

March 1 - Thirty-three Palestinians have been killed on Saturday and at least 40 have been wounded in an IDF operation meant to combat the ongoing Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli cities in the western Negev. According to Palestinian sources, at least 16 of those killed were civilians, including a baby reported to have been struck when a Palestinian rocket misfired, as well as two teenagers. Palestinian gunmen bombarded Israel with 40 rockets and mortar rounds by early afternoon, undeterred by Israeli troops backed by tanks and attack aircraft.

Five IDF troops were wounded during the operations, two lightly to moderately, and three lightly. In all, 63 Palestinians have been killed since clashes between Israel and Hamas terrorists sparked Wednesday when an Israeli student at Sapir College in Sderot was killed by a Kassam rocket. [More>>jpost.com; See related story, jpost.com, March 1, "3 hurt when Katyusha hits Ashkelon."]

3.01.08 Expert: Arctic polar cap may disappear this summer

OSLO, February 29 - The polar cap in the Arctic may well disappear this summer due to the global warming, Dr. Olav Orheim, head of the Norwegian International Polar Year Secretariat, said on Friday. The shrinking of the Arctic ice cap has been astonishing, Orheim said in an interview with Xinhua. "Ice sheet hit the historical low of 3 million square km during the hottest weeks last summer, while it covered 7.5 million square km on average before the year 2000," he said. "If Norway's average temperature this year equals that in 2007,the ice cap in the Arctic will all melt away, which is highly possible judging from current conditions," Orheim said. [More>>xinhuanet.com]


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


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