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KUALA LUMPUR (AFP), March 15 A gang of 35 pirates armed with machine guns and rocket launchers seized a fully-laden gas tanker in the Malacca Strait at the weekend, a piracy watchdog reported Monday, rekindling fears of a terrorist attack in the vital waterway. The ship has been released but the captain and chief engineer were kidnapped and the pirates are demanding a ransom, Noel Choong, regional manager of the Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), told AFP. The 1,289-tonne Indonesian-owned MT Tri Samudra was carrying a cargo of methane gas from Samarinda in Kalimantan province on Borneo island to Belawan on Sumatra island when it was boarded in the early evening on Satuday, Choong said.
03.14.05 Iraqi government talks at impasse as eight killed in attacks
BAGHDAD, March 14 Talks on forming Iraq¹s government were at an impasse on Monday over Kurdish demands on the ethnically-divided city of Kirkuk and their Peshmerga fighters, as violent attacks killed at least eight people.
03.14.05 Thousands rally against Syria in Beirut
March 14 Hundreds of thousands of people have rallied in central Beirut in the largest anti-Syrian protest in Lebanon since the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Flag-waving crowds from across Lebanon gathered in Martyrs'
03.14.05 Israeli wall to engulf Jerusalem
March 14 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has approved the final route of the illegal barrier around Jerusalem that will include Jewish settlements in parts of the West Bank, officials said. The decision means the illegal barrier will engulf the whole city of Jerusalem and encompass Palestinian lands envisaged for a future state, including Arab east Jerusalem, the intended Palestinian capital.
03.14.05 WWF warns melting of Himalayan glaciers, water crisis looming
GENEVA (Xinhuanet) March 14 The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned Monday that global warming is spurring the melting rate of glaciers in the Himalayan region, and will cause water shortage for people in China, India and Nepal. The WWF said in a new report that the glaciers are now retreating at an average rate of 10 to 15 meters per year. It "will first increase the volume of water in rivers, causing widespread flooding," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the WWF's Global Climate Change Program, in a statement. "But in a few decades, this situation will change and the water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive economic and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal and northern India," she added. As water flows from the glaciers dwindle, the energy potential of hydroelectric power will decrease, causing problems for industry. Crop yields will also be affected due to reduced irrigation. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
03.14.05 Recovery workers discover more tsunami corpses in Indonesia
JAKARTA (AP) March 15 Recovery workers pulled 300 more bodies from debris left by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami that hit Aceh province, bringing Indonesia's death toll to 126,296, a government agency said Monday. The missing tally fell to 93,837, the National Disaster Relief Coordinating Board said. Most of those still unaccounted for are feared dead, but can't be legally declared so for a year.
03.14.05 Russia backs China on anti-secession law involving Taiwan
MOSCOW (PTI) March 14 Russia today expressed understanding' at the passage of anti-secession law by the Chinese parliament allowing use of force in case Taiwan moves further toward independence. "The Russian side considers the Taiwan issue as China's domestic affair. We understand the reasons which made the Chinese National People's Congress pass this law," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said. "The law outlines the key priority of the Chinese government peaceful methods of the country's unification within the framework of the 'one state two systems' policy and readiness to take maximum goodwill efforts for this purpose," Yakovenko said. [More>>Press Trust of India; to read the Anti-Secession Law adopted March 14, 2005 go to chinadaily.com.cn; See also, "Taiwan condemns China's anti-secession Law, lawmakers torch flag," newkerala.com]
03.14.05 Chinese Premier to visit India to resolve boundary dispute
BEIJING (PTI) March 14 Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today announced that he will visit India soon with a three-point agenda, including enhancing bilateral ties to strategic levels and to seek a "fair" resolution to the vexed boundary issue on the basis of "mutual accommodation and accommodation of reality". Speaking at his annual customary press conference at the end of the 10-day session of the Chinese parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), Wen stressed that China and India were not rivals but friends. [More>>Press Trust of India]
03.14.05 Darfur death toll tops 180,000
March 15 More than 180,000 people had died in the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region in the past 18 months, the United Nations said today. On average, at least 10,000 people had died each month over that period, said Jan Egeland, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs. The UN had previously said at least 70,000 people had been killed in Darfur. Last week, Mr. Egeland said that figure was out of date, without giving a new estimate. [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
03.12.05 update; 03.11.05 US warns of possible bomb threat at World Trade Center in Jakarta
WASHINGTON / JAKARTA, March 11- The US embassy in Jakarta warned on Friday of a "possible bomb threat" at the World Trade Center Mangga Dua in northern Jakarta between March 11-14. In a statement posted on its Web site and circulated to US citizens in Indonesia by e-mail late on Friday afternoon Jakarta time, the embassy said: "Americans in Jakarta should avoid the area surrounding this facility." The one-paragraph warning did not offer any details on what prompted the alert or who might be behind such a threat. An embassy spokesman in Indonesia declined to elaborate. "We do not discuss specifics."
03.12.05 China intends to build energy-efficient and environment-friendly society in China
3.12.05 Taking a path that is certainly the opposite of the Bush administration, President Hu Jintao of China, in a meeting Saturday, stressed the importance of building an energy-efficient and environment-friendly society in China. Hu Jintao said that the comprehensive implementation of the "scientific concept of development," the further adjustment of China's economic structure and the transformation of economic growth methods are essential to ease pressure on population, resources and environment for the comprehensive, coordinated and sustained socio-economic growth in China. [More>>CRI online]
03.12.05 US plans to deploy troops in East Europe
SOFIA (Xinhua) March 11 The United States will form an East Europe Brigade to be based in Bulgaria and Romania, a Bulgarian newspaper reported on Friday. Gen. James Jones, the top commander of US and NATO forces in Europe, have told the US House of Representatives that the new brigade would be made up of 5,000 troops and several logistic teams, the Bulgarian newspaper 24 Chasa said. Jones said he had discussed the issue of military bases with Bulgaria and Romania and had inspected possible sites during his visit to the two countries in January. The newspaper said that the general was interested in renting an army base, two air bases, a missile launching base and a naval base from Bulgaria. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
03.12.05 'Stronger' US action if Iran does not end nuclear weapons ambitions: Cheney
WASHINGTON (AFP) March 12 The United States will pursue "stronger action" if Iran does not abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview Friday. The statement comes as Washington announced it would drop objections to Iran joining the World Trade Organization to support efforts by Britain, France and Germany aimed at persuading Tehran to end its suspect nuclear program. If the Iranians are interested only in civilian nuclear power they can acquire reactor fuel from several different commercial sources, Cheney said in an interview with Fox News. [More>>newkerala.com]
03.12.05 US says North Korea need not completely disarm before reaping benefits
March 12 WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said that North Korea need not completely dismantle its nuclear weapons arsenal before receiving benefits under an aid-for-disarmament proposal offered to the Stalinist state. "I don't think anyone is asking DPRK to completely disarm ... and only then will the United States and other members of the six-party process give them benefits," senior State Department official Evens Revere said Friday. "That's not the explanation we provided to the DPRK," he said, referring to Pyongyang's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
03.12.05 No US pressure over gas pipeline: PM
ISLAMABAD March 12 Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Saturday denied the United States has been putting pressure on Islamabad over a planned trilateral gas pipeline involving Pakistan, Iran and India. "There is no pressure on us," the prime minister told reporters when asked whether the United States, which has already reportedly conveyed its concern to India over the project, had also raised the matter with Islamabad.
03.12.05 Iranian Foreign Ministry regards US statement on Iran's membership in WTO as change of strategy
TEHRAN (RIA Novosti's Nikolai Terekhov) March 12 Official spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Hamid Reza Asefi regards the recent statement of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the lifting of restrictions on Iran's membership in the WTO as "a would-be change of strategy." According to Mr. Asefi, "Dr. Rice's statement on Washington's consent to Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization is a would-be change of US policy on Iran and our negotiations with the European Union."
03.12.05 President of Kazakhstan proposes Union of Central Asian states
March 12, (unedited text; note that Kazakhstan is at the center of Euro-Asian oil supply and pipeline routes) Message of our President is discussed in many states of the world. It inspired most of famous politicians and authoritative analysts. For example, the Kyrgyz leadership reacted onto the proposal of Nursultan Nazarbayev to found a Union of Central Asian states and introduce in future common currency. Turkey also supported this idea. The editor-in-chief of the "Turkish Daily News" considers that integration plan of the Kazakhstani President is a single possible mechanism to bring back the former importance to Central Asia and it can help the region to make a technological progress and supply with economic security. According to a new Prime Minister of the Ukraine, Yulia Timoshenko, Kazakhstan¹s success deserves a special attention. Japan also considers our Republic to be a leader in Central Asia. The text of message was published in Georgia, and President Saakashvili promised to send a written response on it. Most of politicians and businessmen of Israel say that under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev Kazakhstan reached noticeable success. Director of British center of political sciences published an article where he noted a democratic style of the message. The author of the article welcomes the orders of the President to improve juridical security of elections, continuation of decentralization of power, simplification of bureaucratic procedures and increase of effectiveness in fighting corruption. The Bulgarian leader also wished success to our President in this. General prosecutor of Azerbaijan described Nursultan Nazarbayev as a far-seeing politician who has a great authority in the international circles and the first Azeri Vice Premier stressed that reforms that are conducted under the leadership of Nazarbayev, enter absolutely new level. These are only some of comments on the February message of Nursultan Nazarbayev to the Kazakhstani people. [More>>khabar.kz]
03.12.05 'EU not insisting that Tehran abandon uranium enrichment'
VIENNA, March 12 EU negotiators are not insisting that Iran abandon uranium enrichment, and talks between Iran and the 25-member bloc are focusing on how Tehran can give other guarantees that its nuclear program is peaceful, a senior Iranian negotiator said Saturday.
03.12.05 Seven killed in Iraq, including foreign trucker as Afghans arrested
MOSUL, March 12 Three Iraqi policemen were gunned down in Mosul and a foreign truck driver killed near Baiji on Saturday as three Afghans allegedly on their way to fight in the northern city were arrested in Baghdad. The policemen, including an officer, were gunned down by assailants aboard a vehicle in the Al-Sukar neighborhood on Mosul¹s northern side, said Mohammed Fathi, a local police commander. He said the attack happened at about 1:00pm (1000 GMT), and a medic at a city hospital said the men were hit in the head and abdomen. The attacks come two days after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shiite funeral in the city killing 47 and wounding 81. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
03.12.05 Indian firm clinches Oman oil deal
March 13 India's largest private sector company has signed a deepwater oil exploration and production agreement with the government of Oman. Reliance Industries said on Saturday that the deal is for exploring oil in block-18 off the Batinah coast in the Gulf of Oman, spreading across 18,000sq km(6,8950sq miles). "Reliance will be the operator of the block with 100% working interest," the company said in a statement. With a presence in Oman and with its other overseas projects, the company is now active right across the petroleum value chain, from upstream to refining to retailing, it said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
03.12.05 Leaders of Iran, Venezuela blast US again
CIUDAD BOLIVAR, Venezuela, March 12 Visiting Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez turned up the heat Saturday on the United States in the final day of Khatami's three-day visit. At the opening of a tractor factory in Ciudad Bolivar, 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of Caracas, Khatami urged Venezuela and other countries pressed by Washington to "be strong" and "reject their threats to invade us."
03.11.05 Fatwa issued against bin Laden
March 12 Spain's leading Islamic body has issued a religious order declaring Osama bin Laden to have forsaken Islam by backing attacks such as the Madrid train bombings a year ago. The Islamic Commission of Spain timed its "fatwa" to coincide with the first anniversary of last year's attacks, which killed 191 people and were claimed in the name of al-Qaeda in Europe.
03.11.05 Russia says it will not sell arms to Pakistan
MOSCOW, (PTI) March 11 Russia has made it clear that it has not supplied arms to Pakistan in the past and will not do so in the future. "We do not have military-technical cooperation with Pakistan and will not have it," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. Responding to the West's concerns over Russian arms supplies to Syria, Iran and some other countries, he said "there are cases, when Russia does not like the military-technical cooperation of the Western countries with individual nations, including Pakistan." [More>>Press Trust of India]
03.11.05 Indian women want comfortable clothes
BANGALORE, March 12 Spoiled for choice with easy-to-wear Western-style clothing, Indian urban women are discarding the traditional Indian sari en masse. Top fashion gurus say the sari, a long strip of cloth with one end wrapped around the waist to form a skirt and the other draped over the shoulder or covering the head, is fast being cast aside in favour of skirts, dresses, tops, jeans and trousers. Long the bedrock of Indian attire, the sari was seen as a dress for all seasons _ be it in the home or at the office, weddings or parties. The only differentiation was in the texture, fabric and the heavy embroidery. But with Indian markets opening up, typical Western clothing and Indian alternatives such as the salwar kameez (a long shirt worn with loose pants) and kurti (a short tunic) have flooded fashion stores. [More>>bangkokpost.net]
03.11.05 Muslim women are finally demanding equality
March 12 Kamal Nawash reports: Something wonderful is happening in America. For the first time in 1400 years a woman will lead the prayers for a mixed gender congregation.
03.11.05 US will back European efforts on Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) March 11 The Bush administration will support European diplomatic efforts to end Iran's purported nuclear weapons ambitions by offering modest economic incentives to the Tehran regime. The administration agreed to drop objections to Iran's eventual membership in the World Trade Organization and agreed to allow some sales of civilian aircraft parts to Tehran, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.
03.11.05 British-sponsored commission calls for doubling world aid to Africa
March 11 A panel chaired by British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for the international community to spend an extra 25 billion dollars (19 billion euros) a year for the next three to five years to finance urgent reforms in Africa. In a far-reaching report coinciding with Britain's chairmanship of the G8 group of leading industrial countries, the multinational Commission for Africa labelled widespread poverty and economic stagnation on the continent "the greatest tragedy of our time." "Africa requires a comprehensive 'big push' on many fronts at once," it said, listing corruption, security issues, education, AIDS and health measures and fair trade as major priorities. [More>>asianewsnet.net]
03.11.05 India, Brazil, South Africa talk trilateral cooperation
CAPETOWN, South Africa (IANS) March 11 India, Brazil and South Africa are holding talks here to step up cooperation in a wide array of sectors ranging from trade to defence under a new initiative for forging a unique trilateral south-south alliance.
03.11.05 India, Brazil, South Africa talk trilateral cooperation
NEW YORK, March 11 Special UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen will give Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an ultimatum when they both meet Saturday in Damascus, threatening him with political and economic isolation if he does not withdraw his troops quickly and completely from Lebanon, an international media said, quoting UN and US officials.
03.11.05 NATO meets in Kazakhstan to open up routes for expanding role in Afghanistan
March 11 "....We also discussed with the foreign minister the expansion of NATO¹s activities in Afghanistan, in western countries, and the importance of establishing routes via Kazakhstan for the purpose of reinforcing our acting military there," said Robert Simmons, NATO Secretary General¹s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia. According to the meeting¹s participants, negotiations on this issue will be continued until the sides come to a mutually beneficial decision. [More>>khabar.kz]
03.11.05 Crucial Shiite-Kurdish deal struck in Iraq
March 11 Iraq's clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance and a Kurdish coalition have struck a deal that will allow a new government to be named when the National Assembly convenes next week, officials in both political groups said Thursday. The announcement came hours after a suicide bomber struck a Shiite mosque during a funeral in the northern city of Mosul on Thursday, killing as many as 30 people and wounding dozens as a fresh wave of violence swept through Iraq.
03.11.05 Egypt slams Bush claims on Democracy
WASHINGTON, March 11 Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu al-Gheit disputed Thursday U.S. President George W. Bush's contention that democracy is catching on in the Middle East.
03.11.05 Syrian troops pull out of most of north Lebanon
BEIRUT, March 11 As almost all Syrian troops left northern Lebanon on Friday, the United Nations called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to present a timetable for the full withdrawal of his army and intelligence officers from Lebanon. The Syrian withdrawal weakens 29 years of solid military presence and underlines Syria's diminishing role in its small neighbor. A day ahead of his meeting with the Syrian leader, United Nations envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said Friday that the UN expects Syrian President Bashar Assad to produce a timetable for the full withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence officers from Lebanon. [More>>haaretzdaily.com]; See separate story, "Assad tightens grip in Lebanon," Jerusalem Post]
03.11.05 Prosecutors claim Jackson on brink of bankruptcy
SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) March 11 Michael Jackson is more than $300 million in debt and faces a looming financial crisis brought on by his "spendaholic" ways, a prosecutor in the entertainer's child molestation case said on Friday.
03.11.05 Howard Kurtz editorial: "Regulating Cyberspace?"
March 11 The Federal Government, it appears, needs more things to regulate, including censorship of internet reporting, including blogs. Kurtz offers a survey of the problem: ...What about the heavy hand of government regulation? The Federal Election Commission, as you may have heard, is considering slapping some restrictions on political bloggers following a federal judge's ruling on some McCain-Feingold litigation.
02.19.05 'Dog-Deer' clan seen as common Chinese ancestor relates to European Paleolithic Lion-Deer
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