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03.16.07 Rove is linked to early query over dismissals
WASHINGTON. March 16 Karl Rove, the senior presidential adviser, inquired about firing United States attorneys in January 2005, e-mail messages released Thursday show. The request prompted a Justice Department aide to respond that Alberto R. Gonzales, soon to be confirmed as attorney general, favored replacing a group of "underperforming" prosecutors. The e-mail messages, part of a larger collection that the Justice Department is preparing to turn over to Congressional investigators, indicate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, had considered replacing prosecutors earlier than either has previously acknowledged.
03.16.07 Confession confirms expert view that al-Qaeda never recovered from KSM's arrest
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) March 16 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's capture four years ago didn't shut down al-Qaeda or bring the Americans to Osama bin Laden. But if his mega-confession is to be believed, his arrest was a crushing blow to bin Laden's plans for even more deadly attacks in the wake of 9/11. His expertise was never replaced and his absence has contributed to the group's transition from a fear-inspiring attack force to a hate-filled voice on the Internet, urging others to wage terror against the West.
03.16.07 For US and Sadr, wary cooperation
BAGHDAD, March 16 US troops are conducting security sweeps in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City for the first time in three years, part of a revamped plan to pacify the capital. Yet the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has not risen up to fight them, despite U.S. raids on militia members' homes and growing Sunni attacks on Shiites. "Until now, our leader has ordered us to keep quiet," explained Ayad al-Khaby, a local official in Sadr's organization. "This is in order for the security plan to succeed." [More>>washingtonpost.com]
03.16.07 This winter tops records as warmest
March 16 The Northern Hemisphere had the warmest winter temperatures since records began 128 years ago this year, according to US scientists. The combined land and sea surface temperature between December and February was 0.72C (1.3F) above average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. It said that a record-warm January was responsible for pushing up the average winter temperature to its highest since records began in 1880. During the past century, global temperatures have risen slightly each year, with the ten warmest years recorded from 1995, the agency said. That combined with an El Nino, which is a periodic warming of surface ocean waters in the Pacific, had caused the record temperatures. [More>>timesonline.co.uk See independent.co.uk] and (Reuters) cnn.com]
03.16.07 Putin to sign long-delayed oil pipeline deal in Athens
ATHENS (AFP) March 15 Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to sign Thursday a long-delayed agreement with Greece and Bulgaria to build a 900-million-dollar pipeline to carry Russian oil from the Black Sea to the Aegean. The signature of the agreement with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Bulgarian PM Sergey Stanishev will bring to an end 14 years of talks on building the 280 kilometre-long (175 mile) pipeline between the Bulgarian port of Burgas and the port at Alexandroupolis in Greece. [More>>turkishpress.com]
03.16.07 Abducted Afghan 'killed' by Taliban
March 16 One of the two Afghans kidnapped with an Italian journalist last week has been killed by his Taliban captors, according to Italy's ANSA news agency. "His throat was slit at 7:00am (0230 GMT) because he was confirmed to be a spy for foreign military forces," according to Ibrahim Hanifi, quoted by ANSA. The dead man is thought to be the driver of Daniele Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for La Repubblica. [More>>aljazeera.net]
03.16.07 Market blast wounds in 9 Guwahati
GUWAHATI, India, March 16 A bomb strapped to a bicycle exploded in a crowded market in insurgency-torn Assam on Friday, wounding nine people, a senior police officer said. The blast in Guwahati was likely planted by United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) rebels, who have stepped up violence in the oil- and tea-rich state in the past few months. "Two of the injured are in a critical condition," S.N. Singh, senior superintendent of police, said. On Thursday, ULFA militants carried out at least five blasts across the state. One rebel was killed when the explosives he was carrying went off, and four civilians were wounded. [More>>expressindia.com]
03.16.07 North Korea hopes to become responsible country
March 16 Officials of six countries start discussion on regional peace and security. North Korea hopes to become friends with the United States and Japan and become a responsible member of the international community, the North Korean officials said at a nuclear negotiations working group in Beijing yesterday. The comments came during the group's discussion of Northeast Asia's peace and security system, South Korean sources said. But the comments came after the North Korean side repeatedly emphasized that there are remains of the Cold War era in the Northeast Asian region, and that the arms race was still going on, the sources said while wishing to remain anonymous. Working groups to implement the pact are meeting in Beijing this week ahead of a full session of the six-nation talks Monday. [More>>koreaherald.co.kr]
03.16.07 Indonesian man dies of bird flu health ministry
JAKARTA (Reuters) March 16 A 32-year-old Indonesian man has died of bird flu, bringing the death toll in the country from the virus to 65, a health ministry official said on Friday. The man died at Persahabatan hospital in the capital Jakarta on Thursday morning, Ahmad Prihatna, an epidemiologist at the health ministry's bird flu information centre said by telephone. The man kept a pet bird in his house, the official added. [>thestar.com.my ; See also (Reuters) khaleejtimes.com]
03.15.07 Iran president calls UN resolution 'torn paper'
TEHRAN (Reuters) March 15 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday dismissed any new UN sanctions resolution as "a torn piece of paper" that would not stop Tehran's nuclear work, the official IRNA news agency reported. "Issuing such torn pieces of paper ... will not have an impact on Iranian nation's will (to obtain nuclear technology)," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as telling a rally in central Iran. US, British, French, German, Russian and Chinese diplomats at the United Nations have reached a tentative deal on imposing fresh sanctions on Iran and hope to introduce the measure at the Security Council on Thursday, providing their governments agree. An earlier sanctions resolution passed by the Security Council in December was derided by Ahmadinejad in similar terms. [More>>thestar.com.my]
03.15.07 Pacific allies to enlist India
TOKYO, March 15 Australia has been approached to dramatically upgrade its three-way security arrangements with Japan and the US to include India in a four-way security agreement that would encircle China. The Japanese Government and US Vice-President Dick Cheney are keen to include the growing economic and military power of India in the already enhanced "trilateral" security arrangements, locking together the three most powerful democracies of the Asia-Pacific region.
03.15.07 Maoist rebels kill 53 police in India
RAIPUR, India (AFP) March 15 Maoist rebels in central India have killed 53 policemen in one of the worst ever attacks of their 40-year-old insurgency, officials said on Thursday. A large group of rebels hurled grenades, petrol bombs and fired indiscriminately at a jungle security post in Rani Bodli village in Chhattisgarh state, one of several parts of the country in the grip of a left-wing rebellion. "Thirty-seven special police officers and 16 personnel of state police died in the attack," Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh told AFP. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
03.15.07 Wholesale inflation surged in February
WASHINGTON (AP) March 15 Inflation at the wholesale level surged in February, pushed higher by a big jump in energy prices and the largest increase in food costs in more than three years. Wholesale prices rose by 1.3 percent last month, the biggest increase since last November, the Labor Department reported Thursday. And even more worrisome, prices outside of the volatile food and energy sectors also showed a bigger-than expected increase of 0.4 percent last month. Toy prices rose at the fastest rate in more than two decades. Financial markets have been roiled in recent days by worries that growing troubles with lenders who specialized in subprime mortgages loans offered to people with weak credit or low incomes could drag down the overall economy. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]
03.15.07 India leads in salary hike in Asia Pacific: Survey
NEW DELHI (PTI) March 15 India has demonstrated a double digit growth in salary hike for the fourth year running, the highest in Asia Pacific region, with global HR consulting firm Hewitt Associates forecasting an average 14.5 per cent wage hike in 2007. "Salaries in India continue to rise and will most likely reach the same levels as more developed economies in Asia in the future," Sharad Vishvanath of Hewitt Associates told reporters while presenting the Hewitt Salary Increase Survey. Globalization and increased competition for talent pool are forcing companies to dish out more in terms of incentives and compensation to attract high quality professionals and retain them, Vishvanath said. Interestingly, locally owned organisations are awarding higher salary hikes than multinational companies in India. [More>>expressindia.com]
03.15.07 Russia set to produce motor bio-fuel
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) March 15 Russia will soon launch the production of environmentally friendly motor bio-fuel, the agriculture minister said Thursday. Alexei Gordeyev said Russia is building a plant to produce bio-ethanol from grain in the West Siberian city of Omsk, and another rapeseed bio-diesel refinery is expected to be constructed in the country's west, Gordeyev said. Russia will be able to export the fuel to Europe, where environmentally friendly bio-fuel must by law constitute 5.75% of motor fuel as of 2010, the agriculture minister said. Gordeyev also said that large Russian cities must introduce measures aimed at using environmentally clean fuel. [More>>rian.ru]
03.14.07 Chief suspect admits plotting 9/11 attacks, Bali bombing
March 15 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has confessed to plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US and the 2002 Bali bombing at a closed-door hearing at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The chief suspect and al-Qaeda operative publicly claimed responsibility for the first time for the attacks and a multitude of terrorist attacks and plots in a statement read by a US military officer representing him at the hearing. "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z," the statement read in Sheikh Mohammed's name said, according to the transcript. The Pakistani also claimed responsibility for a host of other terrorist attacks and plots, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, according to the transcript of Friday's hearing. [More>>theaustralian.news.com]
03.14.07 North Korea committed to disarmament pact IAEA
BEIJING (Reuters) March 15 North Korea is committed to a disarmament pact reached in February but wants sanctions lifted first, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday on his return from a trip he said had cleared the air. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in Beijing that his visit, the IAEA's first to the reclusive communist state in more than four years, had opened the way to a normal relationship. [More>>thestar.com.my]
03.14.07 Pentagon describes some Iraq violence as "civil war"
WASHINGTON (Xinhua) March 14 The Pentagon has done something it never did before describing some violence in Iraq as "civil war" in a report released Wednesday. Assessing Iraq situation in the last quarter of 2006, the report said "some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly descriptive of a 'civil war.'" It painted a bleak picture of Iraq's reality, saying the last quarter of 2006 was the most violent period since 2003, with some 1,000 attacks per week. The report noted that while most of the attacks were targeting US forces and its allies, most casualties were Iraqis. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
03.14.07 Interior Ministry: 'One-tenth of Russia under criminal control'
MOSCOW, March 15 A leaked speech given by Russia's most senior policeman has revealed that almost one-tenth of the world's largest country is under the control of organized crime groups who often face little or no official resistance. According to Rashid Nurgaliyev, the head of Russia's Interior Ministry, the Russian mafia is alarmingly well established in Moscow, St. Petersburg, the south of the country, and in Siberia. "This problem poses a threat to the state, society and the economy," he warned, adding that more than 3.8 million crimes were registered in 2006, up by 8.5 per cent on 2005. [More>>independent.co.uk]
03.14.07 Suicide bombings in Iraq leave 10 dead
BAGHDAD, March 14 Suicide bombers struck a market in northern Iraq and an Iraqi military checkpoint in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people, while an Iraqi general warned extremists that they will be "smashed under the foot of the Iraqi people" if they resist efforts to end the violence in the country. In the worst attack, a man wearing an explosives belt strolled into an outdoor market in Tuz Khormato, 130 miles north of Baghdad, and blew himself up. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
03.14.07 Nine killed in attack on bus in Thailand
BANGKOK (Indo-Asian News Service) March 14 Suspected Muslim militants fired on a public bus on Wednesday, killing nine people and critically injuring two others in southern Thailand, police in Yaha district said. The shooting occurred at 10 am on the highway between Betong and Hat Yai in Yaha district. A security alert had been issued for March 13-15 warning that the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist group will strike, coinciding with the anniversary of BRN's inception. [>hindustantimes ; See more details, aljazeera.net, March 14, "Eight killed in Thailand bus attack."]
03.14.07 Oil exploration to be launched in Mediterranean
ANKARA, March 14 Turkish Petroleum Corp. (TPAO) will begin prospecting oil in the shallow waters of the Mediterranean, particularly around Antalya, Iskenderun and Mersin, announced DG Osman Saim Dinc. Speaking to A.A correspondent, Dinc said that an international tender process will be launched this month. "We hope to see foreign partners beside us in July or August. Oil exploration will start this year," he stated. According to Dinc, TPAO will conduct seismic works in deep waters of the Mediterranean, particularly in the seabed off Antalya, west of Cyprus and off Egypt, this spring and summer. [More>>turkishpress.com]
03.14.07 Gonzales rejects calls to quit
March 14 Attorney General Alberto Gonzales rejected growing calls for his resignation Wednesday as scores of newly released documents detailed a two-year campaign by the Justice Department and White House to purge federal prosecutors. Gonzales acknowledged his department mishandled the dismissals of eight US attorneys and misled Congress about how they were fired. He said he was ultimately to blame for those "mistakes" but stood by the firings. [More>>cbsnews.com ; See related stories, latimes.com, March 14, "E-mails detail White House tactics behind firings." and thenews.com.pk, March 14, "Bush defends attorney general Gonzales."]
03.14.07 Eleven killed in clashes over India industrial hub
KOLKATA, India March 14 At least 11 people were killed in Indiaıs West Bengal state on Wednesday after police fired on opponents of a planned industrial park in the worst day of unrest yet over a key government economic reform. All the dead were villagers, senior police officer Raj Kanojia said, and several died in hospital from injuries received when a crude bomb they had prepared exploded prematurely. Twenty people had been arrested, he said.
03.14.07 Afghan warlords form political party
KABUL (AFP) March 14 Commanders from the anti-Soviet resistance, ex-communist leaders, and other strongmen from Afghanistan's decades of war are banding together in a political group, spokesmen said Wednesday. The multi-ethnic United National Front, still to be formally launched, "is to fill the vacuum for a powerful, strong, and broad-based political party," spokesman Mustafa Kazimi said. "We have had lots of political parties emerging over the past five years but they've had no major achievements."
03.13.07 Viacom sues Google's YouTube in copyright case
LOS ANGELES (Xinhua) March 13 US entertainment giant Viacom sued Google and its subsidiary video sharing website YouTube Tuesday for copyright infringement on "a massive scale," seeking more than one billion dollars from the Silicon Valley company. The suit, which was filed in New York on Tuesday morning, alleges that YouTube has posted on its site more than 160,000 unauthorized clips of movies and TV shows from Viacom's cable networks. It also sought an injunction barring Google and YouTube from further copyright infringement...."YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others' creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google," said a Viacom statement.
03.13.07 Bush slammed for 'abuse of power'
March 14 US Democrats have called on the president to disclose his role in the sacking of eight federal prosecutors as Alberto Gonzales, the attorney-general, conceded errors but refused to resign over accusations that the dismissals were politically motivated. The resignation of Gonzales's chief-of-staff served to heighten suspicions of abuse of power. Charles Schumer, a senator, said: "The president must clarify his role in this whole matter. The cloud over the US attorneys, the cloud over the justice department, is getting darker and darker, and only the president can dispel it," he said.
03.13.07 Mortgage report rattles markets
March 14 A national survey showing a soaring number of homeowners failed to make their mortgage payments in the last quarter of 2006 rattled lawmakers in Washington and the markets in New York yesterday, as the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 2 percent, or nearly 243 points. The report, which sent every stock market indicator tumbling when it was released at noon, revealed that the problems in the market for "subprime" mortgages loans made to home buyers with blemished credit histories might be spilling over to the broader mortgage industry, analysts said.
03.13.07 Lebanon blames bus bombings on Qaeda-linked group
BEIRUT (AFP) March 13 Members of an Al-Qaeda-linked Palestinian splinter group have admitted carrying out last month's deadly Lebanon bus bombings, a government official told AFP Tuesday. But the Fatah-Islam group swiftly denied any involvement and accused the government of trying to pave the way for an offensive against the dozen or so camps in Lebanon, which house more than half of the country's nearly 400,000 Palestinian refugees. [More>>turkishpress.com]
03.13.07 Scrutiny increases for a group advocating for Muslims in US
March 14 With violence across the Middle East fixing Islam smack at the center of the American political debate, an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments has emerged as the most vocal advocate for American Muslims and an object of wide suspicion. The group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, defines its mission as spreading the understanding of Islam and protecting civil liberties. Its officers appear frequently on television and are often quoted in newspapers, and its director has met with President Bush. Some 500,000 people receive the groupıs daily e-mail newsletter.
03.13.07 Ethiopia hostages freed
March 13 A kidnap ordeal for five British embassy hostages has ended after they were released nearly two weeks after going missing in Ethiopia. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced the group had been handed over to the authorities in neighbouring Eritrea. She said the hostages were understood to be "broadly" in good health. Mrs Beckett praised the efforts of British officials and political leaders to secure their release. However, she said there was still concern for Ethiopians who were captured at the same time. [More>>sky.com]
03.13.07 Several dead or wonded in kabul blast
KABUL, March 14 A massive explosion in the Afghan capital Kabul early Wednesday caused several casualties, police said. "So far we have recovered seven to eight bodies most of them dead, some of them in a coma," district police commander Abdul Rahman Rahimi told foreign news agency. He said the blast was caused by an explosion of gunpowder in a gun shop, but an intelligence officer said earlier a bomb was to blame for the blast in the centre of the capital, near the presidential palace and government offices. [>thenews.com.pk ; See more details at khaleejtimes.com (AFP) March 14, "At least six dead in kabul blast."]
03.13.07 Some Russian nuclear experts start leaving Iran
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) March 13 Some Russian specialists who came to Iran to build the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the country's south are starting to leave the Islamic Republic, the Russian nuclear power agency said Tuesday. "We have registered an outflow of specialists from Iran, and some subcontractors are refusing to supply equipment for the NPP," press secretary Sergei Novikov said. The Russian Nuclear Power Agency said Monday the $1 billion Bushehr facility that Russia is building in southern Iran would not go into service in September as planned and nuclear fuel would not be supplied to the NPP in March because the Iranian side had delayed financing by two months. [More>>rian.ru]
03.13.07 Bird flu detected in vaccinated Egypt flocks source
CAIRO (Reuters) March 13 Egypt has detected bird flu in chickens and ducks from reportedly vaccinated flocks in a sign that inoculation procedures in the most populous Arab country may be lacking, an animal health official said on Tuesday. The official, who closely follows bird flu in Egypt, said chickens and ducks from vaccinated household flocks and on poultry farms had tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus this year in 12 locations, and eight of the infections were detected this month. "We have outbreaks in vaccinated chickens in many places," the official told Reuters, asking not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press. "This puts a question mark on vaccination procedures ... It is dangerous." He said all but one of the vaccinated flocks where infections occurred were in the hard-hit Nile Delta, where most of the country's 24 human cases have been concentrated. The country has the largest number of human cases outside of Asia. [More>>thestar.com.my]
03.13.07 White House: Ex-aide wanted all US attorneys canned
WASHINGTON (AP) March 13 The chief White House lawyer floated the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys at the start of President Bush's second term, but the Justice Department objected and eventually recommended the eight dismissals that have generated a political firestorm two years later. The long-simmering feud erupted with the new revelations, causing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to cancel a planned trip Tuesday to Syracuse, New York, amid calls from Congress for his ouster. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday that then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers raised with an aide to Gonzales the prospect of asking all chief federal district prosecutors to resign in 2004 as a logical way to start a new term with a new slate of U.S. attorneys.
03.13.07 Working group on denuclearization of Korean Peninsula to hold first meeting
BEIJING (Xinhua) March 13 The working group on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will hold its first meeting on March 17 in Beijing, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang here on Tuesday. The meeting will precede the sixth round of the six-party talks which will begin on March 19, Qin said. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei will head the working group, said Qin at a regular press conference. During the last round of talks, the six parties adopted a joint statement, and later reached consensus on the initial steps to implement the joint statement. The steps included establishing five working groups, which will discuss the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, DPRK-US relations, DPRK-Japan relations, the economic and energy resources cooperation, and peace and security of northeast Asia. Qin said, he hoped all the working groups will report to the meeting of chief envoys on March 19. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
03.13.07 Three suicide attacks in volatile Afghan south
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Retuers) March 13 Three Taliban suicide bombers killed themselves along with a policeman and an Afghan civilian and wounded a dozen people in separate attacks in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, officials said. The Taliban have stepped up operations in their old heartland ahead of an anticipated spring offensive against government and Western forces. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for all the three attacks. [More>>thestar.com.my]
03.13.07 New gorge formed after West Sumatra quake
march 13 A new three-kilometer long gorge, similar to the famous Sianok Gorge in Bukittinggi, has been formed in the wake of last week's earthquake in West Sumatra. The gorge is located at Jorong Batu Lipai, Tanah Datar regency, some 90 kilometers north of Padang. Bustami Sidi Sutan, a local resident, told The Jakarta Post a succession of five hills in the area were slit open during the March 6 temblor. "There was a thunderous sound and the hills started to part. I was so scared. The low-lying paddy fields and streams were covered in debris," said the 50-year-old man. The hills are visibly white, with the rock core now being exposed. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
03.12.07 Baghdad reeling from bomb attacks
BAGHDAD (AFP) March 12 The Iraqi capital was reeling on Monday from devastating bombings which killed 41 people and exposed the limits of a month-old security sweep through Baghdad by Iraqi and US forces. The US military also reported the deaths of five more US troops in Iraq, three of them in action and two in non-combat incidents. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
03.12.07 Iraqi minister accused of $1 billion heist
March 12 A former Iraqi defence minister whose 10 months in office coincided with the disappearance of more than $US800 million ($1 billion) from the ministry's coffers is living openly in Amman and London despite a warrant for his arrest. Hazem al-Shaalan, a small businessman in London until Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003, rose in a year to take one of the most important jobs in the interim government that ran Iraq from 2004 to 2005.
03.12.07 UN team accuses Sudan of War Crimes
GENEVA (AP) March 12 The Sudanese government has orchestrated war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur and resisted international attempts to intervene, according to a report Monday from a high-level U.N. human rights team that was itself barred from the restive region by Sudanese officials. The team, headed by Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams, urged stronger UN Security Council intervention, sanctions and criminal prosecution. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
03.12.07 Russian scientists considering animal-to-human transplants
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) March 12 Russian specialists are studying the possibility of animal-to-human transplants, organ cloning and the creation of hybrid organs, a leading researcher said Monday. "We are currently working on the possibility of xenotransplantation i.e., transplantation of organs from animals to humans. We are also studying the possibility of cloning organs and creating hybrid organs..." [More>>rian.ru]
03.11.07 Blix: US held 'Witch Hunt'
March 12 Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector, has accused America of conducting a "witch-hunt" in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. He was speaking exclusively to Sky News as part of our in-depth survey of Iraq. All this week Sky's Inside Iraq series is focusing on how the country and its people are coping with the aftermath of the invasion - and looking at what the future holds. Our teams on the ground will be bringing the latest developments, interviews with key players and ordinary Iraqis and expert analysis on the bigger picture.
03.11.07 Military ties with Turkey, peace mission for Kurds, could pose dilemma in the long term, experts say
March 11 Military ties with Turkey, peace mission for Kurds could pose dilemma in the long term, experts say. Korea's deepening military ties with Turkey and its peace mission in Kurdish northern Iraq could become a dilemma for Seoul given the historical enmity between the two regional foes, experts say. Korea has been stepping up efforts recently to increase its arms exports to Turkey, while at the same time deploying troops in northern Iraq to help Iraqi Kurds as part of a U.S. led international coalition. The Defense Ministry is seeking to sell its newly developed tanks, code-named XK-2, to Ankara, participating in a bid under which the Turkish military plans to produce more than 1,000 tanks in partnership with a foreign defense contractor.
03.11.07 Suicide bomb attack in Casablanca wounds three
CASABLANCA, Morocco, March 11 A suicide bomb attack in a Casablanca Internet cafe wounded three people and killed the bomber, a Moroccan official said on Monday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which took place Sunday evening.
03.11.07 Australian Muslims to launch political party
SYDNEY (AFP) March 12 Australiaıs Muslims plan to form a political party to defend their interests, the countryıs top Islamic cleric has announced. The controversial mufti of Australia, Sheikh Taj Aldin Al Hilali, wants to put a stop to politicians using the Muslim community as a ³political football², his spokesman Keysar Trad said Monday. Hilali, who last year outraged many Australians with his views on women, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday that he expected the party to be up and running by the end of the year.
03.11.07 Al-Qaeda's no. 2 slams Hamas for agreeing to unity government
March 11 Al-Qaeda deputy head Ayman al-Zawahiri sharply criticized Hamas on Sunday for agreeing to respect past accords with Israel as part of the national unity government agreement sponsored by Saudi Arabia in Mecca. According to an audio recording broadcast on Al-Jazeera, minutes before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas ended their meeting in Jerusalem, Zawahiri blamed Hamas for having "fallen in the swamp of surrender."
03.11.07 Missing Iranian general was Western spy: report
LONDON (AFP) March 11 A former Iranian deputy defence minister who disappeared from Turkey last month had been spying on Iran for Western intelligence since 2003, a newspaper reported Sunday, citing Iranian sources. The Sunday Times said Ali Reza Asghari, who once commanded the Revolutionary Guards, was recruited by a foreign intelligence officer during an overseas business trip around four years ago.
03.11.07 Iraq attacks kill 46
BAGHDAD (AFP) March 11 At least 46 people were killed in a spate of attacks across Iraq Sunday, including 19 Shiite pilgrims who died in a car bombing as they returned from a religious festival, security officials said. The car bomb targeted the pilgrims in Baghdad's downtown Karrada district as they arrived from Karbala in central Iraq, which Saturday played host to several million Shiite pilgrims for the festival of Arbaeen. Ten pilgrims were also wounded in the attack.
03.11.07 Halliburton to move its HQ from Texas to Dubai
March 11 Halliburton, the global oil services group once headed by Dick Cheney, Americaıs Vice-President, is to shift its headquarters from Texas to Dubai in a move redolent of the changing balance of power in the worldıs oil industry. Dave Lesar, chief executive, said that Halliburton would retain an office in Houston but open a new corporate headquarters in the fast-growing Gulf financial centre. The chairman, president and chief executive will all be based there.
03.09.07 Russia, China balk at many proposed bans on Iran
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) March 9 Major powers are considering proposals for sanctions on Iran's nuclear ambitions that include penalties against Tehran's Revolutionary Guards as well as the Tehran's state-owned Bank Sepah. But in a working paper of provisions for a second U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution, seen by Reuters on Thursday, Russia and China raised objections to many of the measures. One key element they agreed to was an arms embargo on any weapons Iran would be allowed to export..."There is no resolution to address yet," Alejandro Wolff, a US ambassador told reporters. "We were just taking stock on where were." [Full story>>thestar.com.my]
03.09.07 Bush and Chavez on rival tours in bid to win Latin American hearts and minds
March 9 As George Bush arrives in Uruguay tonight as part of a five-nation Latin America tour, his verbal sparring partner, Hugo Chavez, is scheduled to hold a rally 30 miles away across the River Plate in Argentina. The George and Hugo show is poised to start again. It is unlikely that either will have anything particularly pleasant to say about the other. Despite their symbiotic relationship based on fossil fuel Venezuela is the fourth largest supplier of oil to the US Mr Bush and Mr Chavez are engaged in a battle for influence in Latin America. For once it is the US that is running second, with a predominance of countries in the region headed by left-wing leaders.
03.09.07 US report to fault F.B.I. on subpoenas
WASHINGTON, March 9 The Justice Departmentıs inspector general has prepared a scathing report criticizing how the F.B.I. uses a form of administrative subpoena to obtain thousands of telephone, business and financial records without prior judicial approval. The report, expected to be issued on Friday, says that the bureau lacks sufficient controls to make sure the subpoenas, which do not require a judgeıs prior approval, are properly issued and that it does not follow even some of the rules it does have.
03.09.07 Democrats offer 2 plans for pullout
March 9 Senate and House Democrats yesterday announced competing legislation that for the first time would set deadlines to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq by fall 2008 provoking a veto threat from the White House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her chamber's measure, which accelerates the timetable for a pullout if the administration fails to certify that Iraq has met certain benchmarks for progress, will be attached to the nearly $100 billion in supplemental spending that President Bush is seeking this year for fighting in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
The House bill calls for US troops to start pulling out of Iraq by March 2008 and complete the withdrawal within 180 days, or by September lessthan two months before the elections for president, the House and a third of the Senate. [More>>washtimes.com ; The complexity of the issues involved is revealed in an interesting video interview, "Problems funding a withdrawal of US troops," by Tina Richards March 8, of House Appropriations Chair David Obey (Dem., Wisc.)]
03.09.07 Official: room for terrorist activities shrinking in Xinjiang
BEIJING (Xinhua) March 9 The room for terrorist activities has been shrinking in northwest China's Xinjiang as "the number of good people is increasing and bad people decreasing," said Ismail Tiliwaldi, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, here on Friday. The chairman made the remarks on the sidelines of the parliament's annual session, in response to a question on terrorist activities in Xinjiang.
03.09.07 Six killed in separatist attacks in India
GUWAHATI, India, March 9 Five people were shot dead in a bakery and another person killed by a bomb in separate late night attacks by militants in India's restive northeast, officials said Friday. Gunmen burst into the bakery in a village 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Imphal, capital of the tiny state of Manipur, late Thursday. "The unidentified militants entered the bakery and fired indiscriminately on a group of workers killing five on the spot," police official A. Singh told French news agency by telephone. "Investigations are on and security forces have since launched a hunt to nab the rebels," the police official said. Manipur, situated on the border with Myanmar, is home to as many as 19 separatist groups with demands ranging from independence to greater autonomy. [>thenews.com.pk]
03.09.07 India, Iran, Pakistan ready to start gas pipeline construction
NEW DELHI (RIA Novosti) March 9 India, Iran and Pakistan are ready to start building a natural gas pipeline that will supply Iranian gas to India and Pakistan on a common branch with a capacity of 110 million cubic meters per day. Citing Pakistan's Oil and Gas Ministry, Indian media reported Friday that construction of the Pakistani section will begin by September 2009. Pakistan will complete construction of its 655-kilometer (400-mile) section, worth $2.6 billion, by 2011, and the pipeline will be put into operation in 2014. Iran has already started preparatory work to build a 1,100-kilometer (690-mile) section, worth $4 billion, which will later be connected with the Pakistani section. India said in February it is also ready to begin work on its own 344-kilometer (215-mile) section, worth $0.6 million soon. [More>>rian.ru]
03.09.07 Iran offers Russia cash to unblock nuclear plant
MOSCOW (Reuters) March 9 Iran offered Russia more money on Friday to overcome construction delays at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power station. The United States has been pushing Russia to stop building the Bushehr plant in southwest Iran because it suspects Tehran will use the atomic know-how to make nuclear weapons. The Russian contractor building the plant said Iran owed about $50 million in missed payments and construction would be delayed as a result. Russia had been due to deliver the first nuclear fuel this month. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
03.09.07 Report: Missing Iranian official can prove Tehran-terror link
March 9 The Iranian former deputy defense minister who disappeared in Turkey last month left his country with documents that prove that there is a link between the Iranian military establishment and terror groups including Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, the pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday. A former colleague of Ali Reza Asghari, 63, told the newspaper, which is published in London, that the document also cites groups such as the Mahdi Shi'ite militia operating in Iraq. Asghari, a retired general in the elite Revolutionary Guards, went missing in what may have been a Western intelligence operation. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said in an unsourced report that he was involved in Iran's nuclear program. If so, he would be a major asset for Western or Israeli interrogators. [More>>haaretz.com]
03.09.07 Congo official in uranium scandal
March 9 A minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo has said that his top nuclear research official is part of an international network to illegally mine and export uranium. Sylvanus Mushi accused professor Fortunat Lumu, the commissioner general for atomic energy, on Friday of illegally dealing in the country's mineral resources. Mushi, the minister of scientific research, said: "It was a group of people coming from all over the world ... who completely ignored Congolese authority and law with the goal of getting their hands on very sensitive materia uranium and other radioactive minerals..It was a criminal network." [Full story>>aljazeera.net]
03.09.07 Kidnapped Britons 'unharmed and safe'
March 9 A group of British diplomats kidnapped last week in the remote northern Ethiopian province of Afar are "safe and well," the Ethiopian Government said today. But Seyoum Mesfin, the Foreign Minister, said that he could not reveal the whereabouts of the five Westerners seized by gunmen in the Danakil desert implying that their release has not yet been secured. Mr. Mesfin was speaking after an Afar community leader, Ismael Ali Gardo, told Reuters that the five four Britons and a Frenchwoman and eight Ethiopians kidnapped with them were "unharmed and safe" and in the hands of separatist rebels who were holding them over the Eritrean border. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
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