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Maravot News of the World
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kilometer: 0.6214 mile
meter: 39.37 inches
centimetre: 0.3937 inch
millimetre: 0.03937 inch
foot: 30.48 cm
Br. stone: 14 pounds
kilogram: 2.2046 pounds
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hectare: 2.471 acres
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Chart showing National Debt & Annual Deficits with Presidents. Democrat administrations are blue, Republican in Red. Green reflects projected Bush debt. Click chart for larger image.

2006 update (2.25.06)

The Chart Showing the National Debt above is still valid: "The debt to the penny,"
The debt projection for 2009 is now $10.3 Trillion. Deficit for 2006 is $435 Billion.
OMB Budget FY2007
Interest on Debt 2006
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Osama bin Laden fatwas.
This monster's own words will
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Definition of fatwa (fatwah)
Maravot News Comment




August 1996

Maps of interest
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Russia, Belarus & neighbors
Israel-Iraq & neighbors
Iran-Afghanistan-Pak.-India; Gulf of Hormuz oil lane Iran threatens to block
Kazakhstan & neighbors

Historical map of Israel. Figure 2 shows the area allocated to
Israel by the UN in 1948. Compare to Israel' s map below of its security wall.

Israel's Security Fence. Click on image for larger view or here for interactive link.

Middle East Watch

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xinhuanet (

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Daily Yomiuri (Japan)

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Kashmir Times
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Click on image for org. to impeach Bush & Cheney.

Relevant Works by Mel

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

Maravot News is not responsible for the content of any links
from this site.

News Headlines & Trends

03.24.07 Japan issues tsunami warning after quake

TOKYO, March 25 – Japan issued a tsunami warning Sunday along the west coast of the main island of Honshu following a strong earthquake, the meteorological agency said. [> ; See also, March 24, "Small Tsunami said to hit Japan."]

03.24.07 Iran says Britons confessed to territory violation

TEHRAN (Reuters) March 25 – Iran's military said on Saturday British naval personnel seized in the Gulf confessed to entering Iranian waters illegally, but Britain maintained they were detained inside Iraqi territory and demanded their release. Iranian forces captured 15 British sailors and marines on Friday at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which marks the southern stretch of Iraq's border with Iran. It sparked a diplomatic crisis at a time of increased tension over Tehran's nuclear standoff with the United States and other major powers.

Iran's ambassador Rasoul Movahedian arrives at the Foreign Office in London March 23, 2007. The semi-official Fars news agency said they had been transferred to Tehran to explain their "aggressive action," but this could not be confirmed. Fars also said the group included some women.
[More>> ; See also, March 25, "Iran 'to try Britons for espionage.' "}

03.24.07 Belarusians killed in Somalia plane crash after missile attack

MINSK (RIA Novosti) March 24 – Eleven Belarusian nationals were killed when a cargo plane was shot down by a missile during take-off in Somalia, Belarus-based Transaviaexport carrier said Saturday. The company spokesman said all 11 people on board, including seven crew members, were killed. The plane was downed Friday, after it had delivered equipment for Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

Last week, another Belarusian transport plane was attacked in the capital Mogadishu. The Il-76 airliner, which was carrying humanitarian cargo as part of a UN mission, was hit by a grenade or missile fired from a small boat while landing.
[More>> ; See more details, (AFP) March 24, "Rocket brings down cargo plane in Mogadishu."]

03.24.07 Suicide bombers strike in Iraq, killing dozens

BAGHDAD (Reuters) March 24 – Suicide bombers struck across Iraq on Saturday in a sharp upsurge in violence that killed more than 60 people, many of them policemen. In the worst attack, a man driving a truck packed with explosives blew it up outside a police station in Baghdadıs volatile southern district of Dora, killing 20.The blast sent a large column of smoke into the air and rattled windows kilometres away in the centre of the city.

Officers said the dead included 14 policemen and three detainees as well as three others working in the building. Another 26 were wounded. The blast caused major damage to the station, burying many victims in the rubble. Thousands of US and Iraqi troops are sweeping through Baghdad in a major operation to stem communal bloodshed. They have succeeded in reducing the number of sectarian shootings, but curbing daily car bombings has proved more difficult. US President George W. Bush is also sending more troops to the western province of Anbar, where Sunni Arab insurgents are exacting a bloody toll on Iraqi and US forces. The US military said a soldier was killed in combat there on Friday.

03.24.07 Deadly gun battle in Sudanese city

March 24 – Two policemen and eight members of Darfur's former rebel Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) have been killed in a gun battle near the capital, the interior minister has said. Al-Zubair Bashir Taha said the clashes began when a civilian opened fire on a group of SLM members in a residential neighborhood of Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. Taha told Al Jazeera that the situation in Omdurman has now been contained. [More>>]

03.24.07 Taliban kill 17 Afghan guards and drivers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) March 23 – Taliban militants attacked a convoy delivering supplies to foreign troops in southern Afghanistan Friday, killing 17 Afghan security guards and drivers, their commander said. Another four guards were missing in the ambush by about 100 Taliban in the southern province of Kandahar, the commander of the pro-government militia that had been guarding the convoy said. "Fifteen security guards and two truck drivers were killed in the attack," commander Abdul Manan said. [More>> ; See related story,, March 25, "Behind enemy lines with the Taliban of Helmand.": In this exclusive report for the 'IoS', three members of the Taliban waging war on British troops in Afghanistan tell Chris Sands why they feel they have no choice but to take up arms against the 'foreign invaders'

03.24.07 Security Council raises sanctions on Nuclear Iran

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 – The United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed Saturday to impose new, more stringent sanctions to press Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and rejoin negotiations over its nuclear program. All 15 members of the Security Council adopted the sanctions, Resolution 1747, which focuses on constraining Iranian arms exports, the state-owned Bank Sepah — which is already under Treasury Department sanctions — and the Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military organization separate from the nationıs conventional armed forces. [More>> ; See also,, March 24, "House creates obstacle in Iran President visa."]

03.24.07 Update, 03.23.07 Iran navy detains British soldiers

TEHRAN (AFP) March 23 – At least 15 British sailors are being detained by Iranian navy vessels in the Gulf. The British Ministry of Defence confirmed the detainment, adding that it was "urgently" seeking clarification from Tehran. Details of the incident remained sketchy. "The British government is demanding the immediate and safe return of our people and equipment," the Defence Ministry in London said, adding that the sailors had been detained after a routine boarding of a merchant ship in Iraqi waters. British military spokesman Major David Gell would confirm only that "we are chasing these reports and we are aware of an incident in the north of the Persian Gulf." [More>> ; See also: (AP) , March 24, "15 UK sailors detained by Iranian forces off Iraq coast.", March 25, "Analysis: Iranian President Ahmadinejad sends a signal"
: The border between Iraq and Iran on the Shatt al-Arab waterway has been in dispute for decades. Thus, the possibility that British Royal Marines were inside Iranian territorial waters when they were abducted should not be entirely discounted. But it would be naive to think that the incident in the Persian Gulf was coincidental – especially in view of its timing. The incident occurred a day before the United Nations Security Council convened to decide on further sanctions in view of Tehran's refusal to heed the international demand it cease its nuclear enrichment program. In response, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled his appearance before the Security Council, where he was supposed to present Iran's position.

The cancellation may also be the result of excessive caution on the part of Iran's rulers, particularly in view of the disappearance from Turkey of Ali Askari, former head of the Al-Quds Brigade, the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard. Askari most likely defected to the West about six weeks ago. The Iranians say he was kidnapped...

03.24.07 Russian riot police break up anti-Kremlin rally

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AFP) March 24 – Russian riot police arrested dozens of protestors trying to hold an anti-Kremlin rally in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on Saturday, months ahead of key national elections. Hundreds of police bundled the marchers, who were defying a ban on protests to demonstrate against the political stranglehold of President Vladimir Putin, into prison vans that were driven away from central Gorky Square. "Around 30 people have been detained, four or five of them were active organizers," Alexander Gorbatov, a spokesman for local police, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. [More>>]

03.24.07 Wide net cast for terrorism watch lists

March 25 – 1,000 New Names Analyzed Each Day for FBI Master File. Each day, thousands of pieces of intelligence information from around the world -- field reports, captured documents, news from foreign allies and sometimes idle gossip – arrive in a computer-filled office in McLean, where analysts feed them into the nation's central list of terrorists and terrorism suspects.

Called TIDE, for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the list is a storehouse for data about individuals that the intelligence community believes might harm the United States. It is the wellspring for watch lists distributed to airlines, law enforcement, border posts and U.S. consulates, created to close one of the key intelligence gaps revealed after Sept. 11, 2001: the failure of federal agencies to share what they knew about al-Qaeda operatives.

03.23.07 US refuses to give visa to Iran president for UN session – Tehran

TEHRAN (RIA Novosti) March 23 – American authorities have refused to issue a visa for the Iranian leader, who planned to attend a UN Security Council session expected to toughen sanctions against his country over its nuclear program, diplomats in Tehran said. The Iranian Foreign Ministry's announcement contradicts a Monday report by the U.S. State Department that the authorities had issued a visa for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other officials in his delegation.

"Despite media reports that U.S. authorities have promised to issue the visa for the Iranian president and other Iranian officials accompanying him, the president and his delegation have not received the visas," Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said. The 15-nation UN Security Council will meet Friday at 16:00 GMT for consultations to set the time for the vote, which is due March 24 on a new Iran resolution. Ahmadinejad planned to attend the session, which is expected to vote on a new resolution on his country, in order to "defend the Islamic Republic's right to peaceful nuclear technologies." [

03.23.07 RI seen to become 5th largest economy

JAKARTA, March 23 – A strategic group consisting of businesspeople, academics and government officials has set an ambitious target of transforming Indonesia into one of the world's major powers in the next 20 years. In a document called Indonesian Vision 2030, the group Indonesia Forum said the country would join the ranks of major economies after China, India, the United States and the European Union. It sets a target of reaching a per capita gross domestic product of US$18,000 by 2030.

The group assumed the country's economy would grow by 7.26 percent annually, with an annual inflation rate of 4.95 percent and a population growth rate of 1.12 percent. By the year 2030, Indonesia's population would reach 285 million, with a gross domestic product of US$5.1 trillion. The group also set a target of having at least 30 Indonesian companies among the 500 world-class companies listed each year by Fortune magazine.

03.23.07 Four killed in Baghdad car bomb attack

BAGHDAD, March 23 – A car bomb in a Baghdad car market Friday killed four people and wounded 19, a security official said. The bombing took place in east Baghdad's Al-Habibiyah district, the official said. The bombers struck a few hours after a double bomb attack wounded Iraq's deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubahyi. Six people were killed and 15 wounded in the attack on Zubayi. Insurgents have managed to carry out a spate of car bombings in Baghdad despite a massive security crackdown in the capital to curb insurgent and sectarian bloodshed. [>]

03.23.07 Nearly 70 Taleban killed in Afghan operation

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) March 23 – Afghan-led forces killed 69 Taleban in a major operation against rebel strongholds in southern Afghanistan, while seven police also died, the defence ministry said on Friday. Thursdayıs push through part of the southern province of Helmand was the first ³where foreign forces have not participated,² defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said. NATOıs International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it provided "flank protection, close air support and medical support." Azimi said the operation cleared three villages near the town of Gereshk. The fighting was over Thursday and troops were Friday involved in a "clean-up" which included assessing damage and looking for weapons. [More>> ; See also (AFP) March 23, "40 Taliban killed in Afghanistan clashes."]

03.23.07 Foreclosures force suburbs to fiight blight

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio, March 23 – In a sign of the spreading economic fallout of mortgage foreclosures, several suburbs of Cleveland, one of the nationıs hardest-hit cities, are spending millions of dollars to maintain vacant houses as they try to contain blight and real-estate panic. In suburbs like this one, officials are installing alarms, fixing broken windows and mowing lawns at the vacant houses in hopes of preventing a snowball effect, in which surrounding property values suffer and worried neighbors move away. The officials are also working with financially troubled homeowners to renegotiate debts or, when eviction is unavoidable, to find apartments. [More>>]

03.23.07 For YouTube, this is a test

March 23 – YouTube has suffered a one-two punch in the past two weeks. First, Viacom asked for $1 billion in a lawsuit against YouTube, saying the video Web site failed to remove copyright-protected clips. And yesterday, some of the most powerful businesses in Hollywood and on the Internet joined forces to create an online video site of their own, taking some of the Web's most popular videos with them. YouTube is at a critical juncture. Since it launched in December 2005, it has ridden a wave of popularity that led Google to buy it in a $1.65 billion deal last year. But now the site must figure out its relationship with major traditional media companies while also forging its business, which to date has relied on advertising posted alongside videos.

The partnership announced yesterday by NBC, News Corp., AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft creates a first-of-its-kind alternative to some of YouTube's most popular content: TV and movie clips and music videos that were often posted there without permission. Unlike YouTube, the new competitor – which says it will launch its Web site this summer – has proposed a wide offering of videos, borrowing the iTunes model of offering some files for free and others, in this case movies and TV shows, for a fee. Industry experts aren't ready to announce YouTube's demise but say the company needs to revamp its strategy quickly.

03.22.07 Three held over 7/7 bombs

March 22 – Three men have been arrested in connection with the London suicide bombings that killed 52 people on July 7, 2005. Two men, aged 23 and 30, were held at Manchester Airport as they were about to catch a flight to Pakistan. A third man, aged 26, was detained at a house in Leeds shortly afterwards. The three men were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000. [More>>]

03.22.07 Many dead in Afghan battle

March 22 – At least 28 Taliban fighters have been killed by Afghan security forces in the southern province of Helmand, according to Afghan officials. There were conflicting reports about the numbers of dead, with one police official in Helmand saying that 40 fighters had been killed. Officials in Helmand said Nato forces were involved, but Lieutenant-Colonel Angela Billings, spokeswoman for Nato forces, said she had no indication that Nato troops had taken part. [More>> ; See also, March 22 (AFP) March 22 – "About 40 Taliban killed in Afghanistan clashes."]

03.22.07 US struggles to avert Turkish intervention in northern Iraq

March 23 – The US is scrambling to head off a "disastrous" Turkish military intervention in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq that threatens to derail the Baghdad security surge and open up a third front in the battle to save Iraq from disintegration. Senior Bush administration officials have assured Turkey in recent days that US forces will increase efforts to root out Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) guerrillas enjoying safe haven in the Qandil mountains, on the Iraq-Iran-Turkey border. [More>> See related story,, 3.22.07, "Rice defends Turkey against Armenian lobby."]

03.21.07 Iraqi VP calls for talks with insurgents

BAGHDAD (AFP) March 21– Iraqi Vice-President Tarek Al Hashemi called Wednesday for talks with the country's insurgent groups, as the Pentagon claimed that Al Qaeda is using children as fodder in their brutal war in Iraq. Despite raging violence that killed 100 people in two days, Iraqis were celebrating the Kurdish Nowruz spring festival that fell a day after the nation marked the fourth anniversary of the US-led invasion. Hashemi, a Sunni, said in an interview with the BBC that militants, Al Qaeda excluded, were "just part of the Iraqi communities."

"I do believe there is no way but to talk to everybody," said Hashemi, who is due in Tokyo later Wednesday. All parties "should be invited, should be called to sit down around the table to discuss their fears, their reservations," he said, while adding that Al Qaeda was "not very much willing, in fact, to talk to anybody."

03.21.07 Environmentalists in uproar as Iceland pays the price for green energy push

KARAHNJUKAR, Iceland, March 21 – Europe's largest wilderness is paying the price of Iceland's decision to market cheap, "green," renewable electricity to the world, as a massive new smelter nears completion. Across a pool of oily water deep inside a rocky cavern carved into a mountain, two steel pipes stretch up into a black void. They rise as high as the Empire State Building. Within weeks these pipes will be connected to enormous turbines and some 40km (25 miles) away, the waters of a 57 sq km reservoir will be released.

The power station in the mountain is only part of the construction project being built in eastern Iceland. It is designed to provide electricity for an aluminium smelter operated by the American multinational, Alcoa. And while the generators may be hidden from view – the source of the energy certainly is not.

An hour's drive along the new asphalt road, which winds across a windswept plateau, you reach what was once one of the most isolated parts of an isolated country: Kárahnjúkar. The monochromatic scenery of black rock and white snow, under grey skies, was once dominated by a deep fissure in the earth – a canyon carved by the waters from Europe's largest glacier. Now that flow has dried to a trickle and this incredible natural feature is blocked by the massive concrete wall of a new dam. [

03.21.07 Sensing shift in Bush policy, another hawk leaves

WASHINGTON, March 21 – Among the hawks in the Bush administration, Robert Joseph long occupied a special perch. As the architect of much of the administrationıs strategy for countering nuclear proliferation, he helped engineer the decision to exit the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, worked secretly to squeeze Libya to give up its nuclear weapons program, and created a loose consortium of nations, now numbering more than 80, committed to intercepting illicit weapons at sea, in the air or on land.

But last month Mr. Joseph quietly left the State Department, where he was under secretary for arms control and international security, telling colleagues that, as a matter of principle, he simply could not abide the new agreement with North Korea that the Bush administration struck in February. Mr. Joseph has declined to talk publicly about why he left, but he told colleagues that he thought the deal would prolong the survival of a North Korean government he has publicly called "criminal" and "morally abhorrent" while failing to require it to give up the weapons it has already produced. In an interview, Mr. Joseph made clear that he ³does not support the policy² that President Bush has now embraced.

"The approach I would have endorsed was to continue to put pressure on the regime," Mr. Joseph added. He is among the last of the hawks to turn off the lights and walk away from an administration that many conservatives say has lost its clarity of mission...

03.21.07 Indonesian police catch terror suspect

March 21 – Indonesian police may have captured one of Indonesia's prime terror suspects, wanted for helping protect Bali bombings mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top. Indonesian officers from the Detachment 88 anti-terror squad, which Australia helped set up after the Bali bombings, killed one terror suspect and injured another during the ambush on a Yogyakarta street last night. The men are believed to be members of the network of prime terror suspect Abu Dujanah, wanted for helping protect Noordin Top – Indonesia's most wanted terrorist.

Noordin Top is blamed for sourcing the bombers and materials used in both the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings. It was unclear whether Dujanah, also known as Ainul Bahri, was among those involved in the shootout in front of a shop in the Depok sub-district of Yogyakarta, about 7pm (2300 AEDT) yesterday. However, Indonesia's Metro TV reported Dujanah, from west Java, was one of six people were arrested.
[More>> ; See related story,, March 21, "Militants get between 14 and 20 years for beheadings of school girls."]

03.20.07 Suicide bombers are crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan: Ban Ki-moon

UNITED NATIONS, March 21 – Suicide bombers and Taliban fighters are crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan, and Pakistan must take more action to stop the incursions, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. Reporting to the Security Council on Afghanistan, Ban said many attacks appeared to be financed abroad and insurgents in the country were emboldened by strategic successes despite the deaths of some fighters.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan during the past year to its most intense since US-led forced ousted the Taliban in 2001. Afghanistan and its allies say the Taliban's strength is partly a result of safe havens in Pakistan...Tom Koenigs, the U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan, said there had already been 27 suicide attacks this year with 80 percent of the victims civilians, while Ban's report showed at least four suicide bombers in January were not Afghans.
[More>> ; See related story,, March 20, "Militant clash in Pakistan leaves 46 dead."]

03.21.07 WWF lists 10 most endangered rivers globally

GENEVA, March 21 – Hoping to raise awareness about the state of the world's great rivers, the World Wide Fund for Nature on Tuesday released a report on what it called the 10 most endangered rivers — five of which are in Asia. The conservation group said that pollution, global warming and rampant development could destroy some of the world's most iconic rivers in the coming decades, threatening to wipe out thousands of fish species and cause severe water shortages. The Asia rivers on the list are the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus. Also on the list are Europeıs Danube, South America's La Plata, North America's Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Africaıs Nile-Lake Victoria and Australiaıs Murray-Darling. [More>> ; See details at (WWF)]

03.21.07 Freed reporter tells of murder

March 21 – Daniele Mastrogiacomo, the Italian journalist freed on Monday after being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, has described how he was forced to watch his chauffeur being decapitated. He was welcomed by his wife and two children after arriving at Rome's Ciampino's airport late on Tuesday on an Italian military plane. Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister and Ezio Mauro, the director of La Repubblica newspaper, also greeted him as he arrived. [More>>]

03.21.07 WWF lists 10 most endangered rivers globally

March 21 – With Iranian help, Hamas forces are expanding fast and getting more sophisticated weapons and training than do those under Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' control, according to the US security coordinator. US Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton said Hamas' growing military strength, if left unchecked, would erode Abbas' already limited ability to enforce any ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and increase the chances of Israeli military intervention. Dayton delivered his assessment in a series of closed-door briefings late last week to congressional leaders and staff, sources familiar with the discussions said on Wednesday. [More>>]

03.20.07 Terrorists given passports

March 20 – An al Qaeda terrorist who plotted to blow-up a train under the Thames and flood the London Underground managed to obtain two British passports. Dhiren Barot, who is serving at least 40 years, had also planned to pack limousines with explosives and detonate them in underground car parks. He has seven passports in his true identity as well as two under fraudulent names. A second terrorist who also got two passports under a false name is Salaheddine Benyaich, serving 18 years in Morocco for terror offences. Home Office officials say the pair's passports were on top of 10,000 given to bogus applicants last year alone. [More>>]

03.20.07 Black Tuesday for Chancellor

March 21 – Some of Britainıs highest-ranking officials said yesterday that they supported the devastating attack on Gordon Brown by Lord Turnbull, the former head of the Civil Service, who accused him of "Stalinist ruthlessness." The Times can disclose that Sir Gus OıDonnell, the current Cabinet Secretary, and other Whitehall heads are discussing Mr. Brownıs style of government and whether and how it might be changed if he enters No 10. The Chancellor delivers his last Budget today battered by the revolt by officials, fears of rising mortgages, the worst inflation figures since 1991 and with one poll suggesting that David Cameronıs lead would stretch to 15 points if Mr. Brown were prime minister. [More>>]

03.20.07 Bush and Senate clash in inquiry on prosecutors

WASHINGTON, March 21 – President Bush and Congress clashed Tuesday over an inquiry into the firing of federal prosecutors and appeared headed toward a constitutional showdown over demands from Capitol Hill for internal White House documents and testimony from top advisers to the president. Under growing political pressure, the White House offered to allow members of Congressional committees to hold private interviews with Karl Rove, the presidentıs senior adviser and deputy chief of staff; Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel; and two other officials. It also offered to provide access to e-mail messages and other communications about the dismissals, but not those between White House officials. [More>>]

03.20.07 Israel to snub foreign envoys who meet Hamas ministers

March 21 – Israel will snub foreign statesmen who meet with Hamas ministers, serving in the cabinet of the Palestinian unity government. Political sources in Jerusalem said on Wednesday that according to a government decision of April 2006, whoever meets Hamas ministers will not be invited to meet Israeli officials during that same visit. The decision is still in effect and will henceforth be applied in an effort to prevent international recognition of Hamas. However, Jacob Walles, US Consul General and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem, met on Wednesday with the Palestinian Finance Minister, Salam Fayyad, in Ramallah. [More>> ; See related story, (AFP) March 20, "New Palestinian government sparks flurry of diiplomacy."]

03.20.07 Former Iraqi VP buried in Awja

March 20 – Taha Yassin Ramadan, Iraq's former vice-president, has been buried in Saddam Hussein's home village of Awja in northern Iraq after being hanged. Iraq's government was reported on Monday to have requested that US officials hand over Ramadan to Iraqi custody before his execution for involvement in the killing of 148 Shia Iraqis during the 1980s. Witnesses said on Tuesday that Ramadan's body, wrapped in an Iraqi flag, was received as a "martyr" by hundreds of people in the northern town of Awja. Gunmen fired shots in the air to honour him. He had been hanged at dawn in Baghdad. He was buried near Saddam's sons and two aides hanged earlier this year, Awad al-Bander and Barzan al-Tikriti, outside the hall housing Saddam's tomb, as requested in his will. [More>>]

03.20.07 Afghanistan admits to Taliban 'prisoner exchange'

KABUL, March 20 – The Afghan government admitted Tuesday to exchanging Taliban prisoners for an Italian hostage as the United Nations and United States led criticism of any negotiations with "terrorists." The exchange that freed Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo Monday was "an exceptional measure" and would not be repeated, presidential spokesman Karim Rahimi told reporters as the criticism grew. [More>>]

03.19.07 Russia warns against interference in Iran

MOSCOW (Xinhua) March 18 – Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov on Sunday warned against using the dispute over Iran's nuclear program as a pretext for interfering in Iran's internal affairs. "We oppose attempts to use this issue as an instrument of pressure or interference in Iran's internal affairs,"Ivanov told the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a think tank that gathers Russian politicians, officials, experts and business leaders. Nonproliferation of nuclear weapons is a problem that concerns the world community as a whole, not just Iran, Ivanov said. However, he urged Iran to answer the questions that worry the world community. "We insist that these concerns be removed. If this issue is closed, Iran will have every right to develop peaceful nuclear programs," Ivanov said. [More>> ; See related story, ", March 17, Russia says US must engage Iran in Iraq solution."]

03.19.07 Sectarian killing in Iraq has stopped: Maliki

LONDON (AFP) March 19 – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki insisted sectarian killing had come to an end in his country, blaming ongoing daily violence on Al Qaeda in a television interview on Monday. ³I would say that the sectarian killing is over,² Maliki said, in comments to be broadcast Monday on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the United States-led and British-backed invasion of Iraq.

"It threatened the breakout of a sectarian war, but this has been ended by two factors — the first one is the national reconciliation on which we still insist. The second thing is the ability of the security services in arresting those who are provoking the sectarian unrest," he told ITV television, according to extracts released in advance of the broadcast. He added that Al Qaeda posed the "biggest threat" to Iraq and the Middle East.
[More>> ; See related stories,, March19, "Multiple blasts strike Kirkuk.' and (AFP) March 19, "15 killed as Iraqi oil hub bombed., March 19, "Voices from Iraq 2007: ebbing hope in a landscape of loss.", March 19, "For many Iraqis, hunt for missing is never-ending.', March 19, "Surge is 'so far, so good' ", March 19, "Rice says US has to 'complete the job.' "

03.19.07 Few Iraqis trust US forces four years into war

BAGHDAD (Reuters) March 19 – Only 18 percent of Iraqis have confidence in US-led forces, a new poll showed on Monday, four years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. With Iraq bogged down in sectarian violence that threatens to tip the country into civil war, US President George W. Bush announced a strategy shift this year and is sending some 26,000 reinforcements for a security crackdown focused on Baghdad. [More>>]

03.19.07 Bomber attacks US convoy in Kabul

March 19 – Several people have been wounded, including a child, after a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a US embassy convoy in Kabul. The attack, which happened on a main road often used by Nato and US-led troops, was the first suicide bombing inside the capital of Afghanistan this year. [More>>]

03.19.07 Military is ill-prepared for other conflicts

March 19 – Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for US troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior US military and government officials acknowledge.

More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a "death spiral," in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand.

03.19.07 Senator insists Bush aides testify publicly

WASHINGTON, March 19 – The Democratic senator leading the inquiry into the dismissal of federal prosecutors insisted Sunday that Karl Rove and other top aides to President Bush must testify publicly and under oath, setting up a confrontation between Congress and the White House, which has said it is unlikely to agree to such a demand. Some Republicans have suggested that Mr. Rove testify privately, if only to tamp down the political uproar over the inquiry, which centers on whether the White House allowed politics to interfere with law enforcement.

But Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, seemed to rule out such a move on Sunday. He said his committee would vote Thursday on whether to issue subpoenas for Mr. Rove as well as Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and William K. Kelley, the deputy White House counsel.

03.19.07 Father of abducted BBC journalist pleads for his release

(AP) March 19 – The father of a British Broadcasting Corporation correspondent abducted in Gaza a week ago appealed to his captors on Monday to free his son immediately. Graham Johnston said in a television appeal that his son, Alan Johnston, who has not been seen since March 12 when he left the BBC's office to drive to his Gaza City home, was a "friend of the Palestinian people." [More>>]

03.19.07 Afghan government more corrupt than Taleban

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) March 19 – Bribery and corruption are pervasive in Afghanistanıs current government, according to a survey released Monday that said most Afghans believe their leaders are more corrupt than the Soviet-backed government in the 1980s or the Taleban-run government in the 1990s. About 60 percent of respondents said the current administration is more corrupt than any other in the past two decades, said the report by Integrity Watch Afghanistan, an independent group.

"Over the last five years, corruption has soared to levels not seen in previous administrations," it said. Money can buy government appointments, bypass justice or evade police,ı while the government is unable or unwilling to seriously tackle corruption,ı it said. The group said it interviewed 1,258 Afghans for the study.

03.19.07 Royal gains ground as French presidential contest ignites

March 19 – The unpredictable French presidential race may be about to confound the pundits yet again. The Socialist candidate, Ségoléne Royal, written off by some commentators and struggling to hold together her campaign, regained ground in a batch of opinion polls over the weekend. The centrist candidate, François Bayrou, surging since early February, and neck and neck with Mme Royal last week, has begun to lose momentum and even fall back. Whether this represents another chance in the mood of a volatile, even perverse, electorate is unclear. With five weeks to go before the first round of voting, several opinion pools show roughly a similar pattern. M. Bayrou, running as a provincial outsider and "anti-Paris'' candidate despite a long career in national politics, remains only just behind the media-anointed major candidates, Mme Royal and the centre-right Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy. [More>> ; See

03.19.07 Korea seeks joint production of arms with India

March 19 – Korea will today propose joint production of military equipment with India in a bid to enter the fast-growing defense market, a Seoul official said. The two militaries are holding their first defense committee meeting today in Seoul to boost bilateral cooperation in the defense industry, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said yesterday. Korea will propose joint projects to build a range of arms and equipment, including 5,000-ton class convoy escort vessels, armored vehicles and K-9 self-propelled guns, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The two sides will sign a memorandum of understanding for guaranteeing the quality of their defense products and will discuss establishing a system to promote cooperation in defense technology, the DAPA said. [

03.19.07 Lower water level in New Zealand volcano's crater lake sparks volcanic eruptions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) March 19 – A drop in the water level in the crater lake at New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu volcano after a sudden outflow of mud and acidic water has led to fresh volcanic eruptions, a seismologist said Monday. Sensors detected four or five volcanic eruptions under the lake since it partially emptied during the mud flow, or lahar, volcano surveillance coordinator Brad Scott said. The lower water level in the lake has changed the balance between water and steam, "and that allows more steam to be produced," he said.

The phenomenon is common after a volcanic lake empties and the hydrothermal system under the lake adjusts to the lower weight of lake water, Scott said in a statement. The adjustment period can take several weeks, he said. "We're talking about eruptions that may dome up the middle of the lake by 15-20 meters (yards). It's like a geyser," he said...A lahar that tore down the same volcano in 1953 killed 151 people when it washed away a rail bridge, plunging a passenger train into the raging torrent of liquid mud. More than 60 lahars have been recorded in the Whangaehu Valley below the mountain since the 1860s.

03.19.07 French, others sue Tokyo government over Ishihara's 'insulting' remarks

TOKYO, March 19 – A group of French, Canadian and Japanese people led by a French language school head filed suit against the Tokyo metropolitan government on Monday demanding an apology and damages for Gov Shintaro Ishihara's "official" remarks in 2004 the group says are insulting the French language. Malik Berkane, the 47-year-old principal of the Tokyo school, and 20 other plaintiffs had sued Ishihara in 2005 over the same remarks, but the expanded group this time targeted his government as the governor began arguing in the ongoing trial hearing last fall that his remarks were not personal but official ones, the group said.

In the latest suit filed with the Tokyo District Court, the group of 74 plaintiffs is seeking 50,000 yen each in damages as well as an apology advertisement from the capital's government over Ishihara's remarks in October 2004 that "French is disqualified as an international language because it is a language which cannot count numbers."

03.19.07 Death of woman raises Indonesia's bird flu toll to 66

JAKARTA (AP) March 19 – An Indonesian woman died of bird flu on Monday, a health official said, raising the toll in the country worst hit by the virus to 66. The 21-year-old victim died after two weeks of hospitalization in the East Java town of Surabaya, said Nyoman Kandun of the Health Ministry, adding that she had a history of contact with infected chickens. The H5N1 strain of bird flu has prompted the slaughter of millions of birds across Asia since late 2003, and caused the deaths of at least 169 people worldwide, more than a third of them in Indonesia, according to the World Health Organization. [More>> ; See related story, the, March 19, "New bird flu outbreak in Thailand."]

03.16.07 Is the Iraq war a relative bargain?

NEW YORK (AP) March 17 – After four years, Americaıs cost for the war in Iraq has reached nearly $500 billion — more than the total for the Korean War and nearly as much as 12 years in Vietnam, adjusting for inflation. The ultimate cost could reach $1 trillion or more.

A lot of money? No question.

But even though the war has turned out to be much more expensive than Bush administration officials predicted on the eve of the March 2003 invasion, it is relatively affordable — at least in historical terms.

Iraq eats up less than 1 percent of the nationıs gross domestic product, compared with as much as 14 percent for Vietnam and 9 percent for Korea "I think itıs hard to argue itıs not affordable," said Steven M. Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a defense think tank in Washington, D.C. The problem, he and other budget analysts argue, isnıt so much the overall cost of the Iraq war. Itıs the way the government has chosen to pay for it...after four years the Iraq war is still being funded with supplementals. In December, congressional budget leaders from both parties sent a letter to President Bush asking him to start paying for Iraq through the traditional budget process. The administration has done that in its 2008 budget year request — but not before asking for another $100 billion supplemental to keep the war going through the end of this year.

Unusual payment method

For one thing, war funding for both Iraq and Afghanistan has come in the form of supplemental appropriations outside the normal federal budget process. Typically these "supplementals" are used to pay for unexpected emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina, and they receive much less scrutiny from Congress.

Paying on credit

...the war is being paid for with debt. Administration officials downplay the warıs cost and the growing defense budget, which will be larger by the end of this year than at any time since World War II...Joseph Stiglitz, Bilmes estimated that the real price of the Iraq war, when you add up spending to date, future costs and economic impacts such as elevated oil prices, is well over $2 trillion. [
Full story>>]

Editorial note: Interest on the US National Debt runs over $1 billion per day, assuming the current rate stays as is. China just raised her interest rate which will probably be followed by similar increases in the West. The National Debt of ~$9 trillion forces interest rates up and as the interest rate goes up so go rates in the home mortgage market which is currently in the news.

Mel Copeland

03.16.07 Iran's military warns US against 'stupid move'

TEHRAN (Reuters) March 17 – Iran's army commander has warned the United States and other Western powers not to make any "stupid move" over Tehran's nuclear work, and suggested they would be surprised by Iran's military response if they attacked. The comments by the commander-in-chief of the army, reported by newspapers on Saturday, were the latest in a series of defiant statements by Iran's leadership as the United Nations prepares to vote on new sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Iran is embroiled in an escalating dispute over its uranium enrichment, which Iran says is for fuel for power generation but the West suspects is aimed at making nuclear bombs. [More>> ; See related story,, March 16, "Iran held 'Nuclear War' conference" : Iran's Imam Hossein University held a conference last year "in the field of chemical, biological, and nuclear wars," Ynetnews has learned. In an announcement published on the university's website, which is no longer online, the university declared: "With the help of the almighty God, the third nationwide congress on the modern defensive wars in the field of chemical, biological, nuclear wars will be held in Imam Hossein University on 3rd &4th of January 2006." "The congress also will discuss the new types of bombs, such as: electromagnetic, air fuelled, graphite, laser and enfeebling bombs. The professors, researchers, scientists and other persons interested in the subject are welcomed to send the results of their researches or their scientific earnings to the conference bureau," the web page added.

Professor Raymond Tanter, of Georgetown University, is an expert on the Islamic Republic, and Chairman of the Washington-based Iran Policy Committee, comprised of former White House, Senate, and intelligence officials. He said it was surprising to see such a revealing announcement on the internet, and stressed that the conference was a part of the "accelerating research and development program of the Iranian regime. What is rather odd is that the regime would allow such information to be available on the worldwide web. And it is not surprising that the website of the Imam Hossein University is no longer accessible," Tanter told Ynetnews. The university has become the center for all of Iran's secret nuclear weapons research programs, Tanter explained, referring to Imam Hussein as the "nuclear weapons university..."

03.16.07 Iran is playing a growing role in Iraq economy

NAJAF, Iraq, March 17 – While the Bush administration works to stop Iran from meddling in Iraq, Iranian air-conditioners fill Iraqi appliance stores, Iranian tomatoes ripen on the windowsills of kitchens here and legions of white Iranian-made Peugeots sit in Iraqi driveways. Some Iraqi cities, including Basra, the southern oil center, buy or plan to buy electricity from Iran. The Iraqi government relies on Iranian companies to bring gasoline from Turkmenistan to alleviate a severe shortage. Iraqi officials are reviewing an application by Iran to open a branch of an Iranian bank in Baghdad, and Iran has offered to lend Iraq $1 billion. [More>>]

03.16.07 Plame says administration 'recklessly' revealed her

March 17 – Valerie Plame, the former CIA officer at the heart of a four-year political furor over the Bush administration's leak of her identity, lashed out at the White House yesterday, testifying in Congress that the president's aides destroyed a career she loved and slipped her name to reporters for "purely political motives." Plame, breaking her public silence about the case, contended that her name and job "were carelessly and recklessly abused" by the government. Although she and her colleagues knew that "we might be exposed and threatened by foreign enemies," she said, "it was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover."

...Her presence on Capitol Hill was part of a hearing called to examine the White House's handling of classified information, but it largely allowed committee Democrats to flog President Bush and his aides with her testimony. They also accused the White House of a national security violation and of failing to conduct an internal investigation of the leak, as Bush once promised. The panel's chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), portrayed Plame as a hero betrayed by her government. "They made you collateral damage," Waxman said. "Your career was ended. Your life may have been in jeopardy, and they didn't seem to care."
[Full story>> ; See also, March 17, "Plame Wilson: Leak severely hurt US intelligence."]

03.16.07 Protesters claim Egypt has become police state

CAIRO, March 17 – Riot police and others in plain clothes fought protesters in Cairo's central Tahrir [Liberation] Square this week as government opponents denounced constitutional amendments which they claim will turn Egypt into a police state for ever. It could be the dissidents' last opportunity to protest. On Monday, parliament delivers its final vote on the amendments – in effect a rubber stamp – then the nation will be invited to endorse them through a popular referendum.

The exercise is seen by many as a farce: the government claims that about 30 per cent of the electorate turns out to vote, but one of Egypt's most prominent activist bloggers said the figure was closer to 2 per cent. In either case, the passing of the referendum is a foregone conclusion. The most sweeping change to Egypt's constitution in 35 years will then be law. Once the amendments become law, core rights of the citizen enshrined in the present constitution will be gone. Many of those rights are already honoured more in the breach than the observance, as Egypt has been under emergency rule since 1981. Others, however, are new and ominous, including the removal of judicial supervision of elections, which is meant to prevent vote-rigging.

03.16.07 Riot police smash up TV studio as protests grow against Musharraf

March 17 – President Pervez Musharraf's regime in Pakistan is resorting to increasingly heavy-handed methods to quell protests against him that are growing by the day. In Islamabad yesterday hundreds of police fought protesters outside the Supreme Court. And as the protests continued, riot police stormed the Geo private television station, which was broadcasting pictures of the protests, tear-gassed the staff and smashed up the studio. Several high-profile figures were arrested for taking part in demonstrations around the country, including a former president and the leader of one of the main opposition parties. An MP claimed he had been beaten by police at the demonstrations. [More>>]

03.16.07 Iraqis killed by chlorine bombs

March 17 – Three chlorine gas attacks in Iraq are reported to have killed eight people and left hundreds injured, including six US troops. Two of the attacks were near the city of Falluja, the third near Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Both areas are hotbeds of al-Qaeda militants. Chlorine gas can cause severe burns to the throat and lungs and can kill after only a few breaths. There were at least three such attacks in Iraq in February...Our correspondent says that chlorine is easy to obtain as it is widely used as a cleaner and a water purifier. After an explosion outside a restaurant near Baghdad last month, as well as the six people killed, dozens of others were left coughing and choking and needing medical treatment. [More>>Full story>>]

03.16.07 Fatah Al Islam chief denies Al Qaeda link

BEIRUT, March 17 – The chief of a small Palestinian Islamist group has denied allegations that it is linked with the Al Qaeda terror network and that it was responsible for deadly recent bombings in Lebanon. "Our movement is not allied with any regime, nor with any organization on earth," Fatah Al Islam leader Shaker Abssi was quoted as saying in Friday's edition of L'Orient Le Jour daily.

Earlier this week, a Lebanese government official said that members of an Al Qaeda-linked Palestinian splinter group had admitted carrying out the February 13 deadly Lebanon bus bombings. Lebanese interior minister Hassan Al Sabeh and police chief General Ashraf Rifi also said this week that Fatah Al Islam was an alias for Fatah-Intifada, a radical Palestinian group that they said works closely with Syrian intelligence.

03.16.07 China raises benchmark interest rates by 0.27 percentage points

BEIJING (Xinua) March 17 – China's central bank announced on Saturday that the one-year benchmark interest rates are raised by 0.27 percentage points as of March 18. The one-year rate for deposits is increased to 2.79 percent and that for loans to 6.39 percent, according to the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank. The central bank raised the rates for both deposits and loans by the same margin in August last year.

China's economy surged by 10.7 percent last year, the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth, driven by hefty investment and rocketing foreign trade. Both of them registered a 24 percent year-on-year growth last year. The central bank raised commercial banks' deposit reserve ration late February by 0.5 percentage points to rein in excessive bank lending. Raising the interest rates will help rationalize the growth of investment and lending, maintain price stability and promote healthy and fast development of the economy, the bank said in a statement on its website. [More>>]

03.16.07 Ahmadinejad determined to address UN

TEHRAN (Xinuhua) March 16 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday voiced his determination to address a UN Security Council meeting to defend his country's disputed nuclear program. "In case the US administration issues my entry visa, I will definitely attend the UN Security Council meeting to defend Iran's nuclear rights," he told the Iranian Fars News Agency after a visit to Iran's central province of Yazd. "I do not view any probable consensus among the member states of the group 5+1 as a deterrent to this trip and I do stress the need for my presence at the UN Security Council meeting," Ahmadinejad said. The "5+1" refers to the five permanent UN Security Council members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – plus Germany, which on Thursday reached agreement on a draft council resolution imposing tougher sanctions against Tehran on its unyielding nuclear ambitions. [More>>]

03.16.07 US influence in world affairs weakening – Russian FM

MOSCOW REGION (RIa Novosti) March 17 – The United States have failed to impose a unipolar world order, as its influence on the global politics has weakened, Russia's foreign minister said Saturday. Speaking at a Foreign and Defense Policy Council meeting, Sergei Lavrov said military, political and economic resources of one power were not enough to solve global problems. "The current state of affairs shows that the unipolar world order has not and could not be developed," the minister said.

Lavrov said that the US disproportionate influence on the global situation was declining, and benefits of a multi-polar world came to the fore although some in the US could not accept the idea. He said new power centers had emerged, as the West was losing its globalization monopoly.
[More>> ; See related story, ", March 17, Russia says US must engage Iran in Iraq solution."]

03.16.07 Parliament okays new Hamas-Fatah unity government

March 17 – The new Hamas-Fatah coalition won overwhelming parliament approval Saturday, clearing a final formal hurdle before taking on the challenge of persuading a skeptical world to end a crippling year-long boycott of the Palestinian government. After the 83-3 vote was announced, lawmakers jumped up for a standing ovation. In all, parliament has 132 members, but 41 are in Israeli detention. Shortly after the vote, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas swore in the new Hamas-Fatah coalition government. [More>>]

03.16.07 India state drops SEZ hub plan after protests

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) March 17 – Communists in Indiaıs West Bengal state on Saturday shelved plans to build an industrial hub on farm land, three days after deadly clashes between police and villagers, triggering celebrations and fresh protests. Ruling communists and their allies said the proposed low-tax special economic zone (SEZ) and chemicals hub would no longer be built at Nandigram, 150 km (90 miles) south of state capital Kolkata, and would be shifted elsewhere in the state. [More>>]


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


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