A resource for historians and journalists, since 2004

Maravot News of the World
04:34 PM
- San Francisco
Sunday, April 05, 2009
(last post

Search Engines & Filters

Trends, Iraq Casualties

Metric Conversion

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
litre: 1.0567 US quarts
hectare: 2.471 acres
– 1 djerib (Turkey)
– 1 jerib (Iran)
– 1 gong qing (China)
0° Celcius: = 32° F

Chart showing National Debt & Annual Deficits with Presidents. Democrat administrations are blue, Republican in Red. Click chart for larger image. and discussion. For old Maravot chart click here, News Trends.html.

2009 update (3.05.09)

Western News
Worth frequent visits
Best nose for news

Village Voice
Newsweek Magazine
Time Magazine
The New Yorker magazine
Vanity Fair
Aviation Week
Arch. & Prehistory news
New Scientist

Aral Sea Disaster
information please
DOD News
Le Monde.fr (
in French)
liberation.fr (
in French)
lefigaro.fr (
in French)
Spiegel Online
La Repubblica.It
PeaceReporter.net (Italy)
expatica.com (Spain)
standartnews.com (Bulgaria)
NIS News (Holland)
BBC News
Sky News (London)

The Independent
Belfast Telegraph
cnews.canoe.ca (Canada)
National Public Radio
New York Times.com
Washington Post
Washington Times
ABC News
Fox News


CBS News
WWLTV – New Orleans
Detroit Free Press (Freep)
LA Times

San Francisco Chronicle
El Paso Times (Texas-Mexico)
Banderas News (Mexico)

Financial Times
ino.com (World Indices)
Radio Free Europe
Radio News America
Democracy Now, radio & TV
The Guardian, Nigeria
Business Day (S. Africa)


International Agencies – News

Osama bin Laden fatwas.
This monster's own words will
lead to his destruction
Definition of fatwa (fatwah)
Maravot News Comment




August 1996

Maps of interest
Click on maps for larger image
Russia, Belarus & neighbors
Israel-Iraq & neighbors
Iran-Afghanistan-Pak.-India; Strait 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.

Middle East Watch

Russia & Ukraine Watch

East Asia Watch

Relevant Works by Mel

News Headlines & Trends

4.04.09 Police, NATO protesters clash in France

STRASBOURG, France, April 4 - Black-clad protesters attacked police and set a hotel and a customs station ablaze Saturday near a bridge linking France and Germany that served hours earlier as the backdrop for a show of unity by NATO leaders. AP photographers saw other protesters storm a nearby Ibis hotel, setting fires and pilfering alcohol from its bar. An AP reporter saw intermittent scuffles between police and demonstrators in black as they gradually made their way back from the Europe Bridge and tried to enter the city center.

Around 2:45pm, the protesters
throwing rocks tried to storm a massive police blockade at the Pont d'Anvers bridge, and were driven back by water cannon, tear gas, flash bombs and rubber bullets. Across the canal, nearly 1,000 people gathered to watch the fracas. Some of the protesters were hurt, but none of the injuries appeared to be serious. Elsewhere, stacks of old tires were also set ablaze, unleashing thick plumes of black smoke that could be seen from across the river. Near the bonfire was a sign welcoming visitors to Strasbourg.

First lady Michelle Obama and other spouses canceled a visit to a cancer hospital out of concern for security, the French president's office said. Some 1,000 protesters were staked out near the hospital they were to visit. Some of the protesters say they want an end to war and call NATO a tool of Western imperialism. Others simply appear bent on causing chaos.

4.04.09 Explosion rocks Islamabad; 1 killed, 15 injured

ISLAMABAD, April 4 - An explosion rocked the heart of the Pakistani capital on Sunday and was followed by an exchange of fire between security forces and suspected militants near a crowded market place. The blast occurred near the Jinnah supermarket in the centre of Islamabad, which was packed with shoppers. Reports said the blast had occurred near a security check post. Several ambulances were seen taking injured persons away from the area. The explosion was followed by an exchange of fire that was continuing. Panicked shoppers rushed out of the supermarket causing traffic snarls on nearby roads. Police and security personnel cordoned off the area. According to the initial reports he blast left one person killed and 15 others injured. [>indianexpress.com]

4.04.09 ISI's links with Haqqani, Hekmatyar a matter of concern: US

WASHINGTON, April 4 - [The] United States has said it was concerned about the ISI's contacts with the extremist groups including those led by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hecmatyar and the Haqqani network. "The ISI's contacts with some of these extremist groups with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Haqqani network, Commander Nazir and others are a real concern to us, and we have made these concerns known directly to the Pakistanis," Defence Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview to Afghan TV.

While top officials of the Obama Administration have now started publicly acknowledging the connection between ISI and extremist networks, this is possibly for the first time in recent times that the Defence Secretary has himself named the terrorist groups that have links with the ISI. According to transcripts of the interview made available by Department of defence, Gates hoped that the Pakistani establishment would put an end to this nexus between ISI and extremist groups.

In response to a question, Gates said the US would continue with its drone attacks. "The President has made clear that we will go after al-Qaeda and their planning cells and their training centers, wherever they are in the world," he said.
[More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; For background information see:

longwarjournal.or, article August 2, 2008, "The Haqqani Network: Reign of terror" : ....The network is based out of a Taliban bastion in neighboring Pakistan; using the village of Dande Darpa Khel near Miramshah (North Waziristan) as its main headquarters, while Zambar village in the northern Sabari district in Khost province, serves as the group's major operations hub. The Haqqani family owned and operated an extremist madrasah in the Dande Darpa Khel village before the Pakistani military launched a raid and shut it down in September 2005. A massive weapons and ammunition cache was discovered and confiscated following the assault on the compound.

The Haqqanis belong to the eastern Zadran tribe, as does the commander of the Taliban's "eastern zone," Maulvi Abdul Kabir, a veteran Taliban official and military commander closely associated with Mullah Omar. The Haqqanis hold major clout on both sides of the border; and through Siraj's leadership, the group provides a "critical bridge" to Pakistani Taliban groups and al-Qaeda linked foreign fighters. The elder Haqqan's past relationship with the Pakistani intelligence apparatus, the Inter-Service Intelligence or ISI, has virtually guaranteed Jalaluddin's freedom of movement on the Pakistan side of the border as several "failed" operations against him have proven. Recent telephonic intercepts by US and Indian intelligence agencies reportedly confirm a link between ISI officers and Haqqani operatives who are said to have jointly planned and executed the deadly suicide car bomb attack against India's embassy in Kabul on July 7...

4.04.09 20 insurgents killed in Taliban stronghold

KABUL, Afghanistan, April 4 - Violence flared in southern Afghanistan, with a NATO-led service member killed Saturday and 20 suspected insurgents slain in Helmand province Friday, authorities said. The violence comes as NATO members meet in Europe to discuss the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the service member died after being wounded by a roadside bomb. It did not specify the province where it happened or the victim's nationality...The fighting in Helmand's Kajaki district happened during operations targeting suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, suspected of bomb-making, weapons smuggling, drug activity and attacks on Afghan and coalition soldiers, the US military said in a statement. [Full story>>cnn.com]

4.04.09 Iraqi forces arrest more US-allied Sunni guards

BAGHDAD (Reuters) April 4 - Iraqi forces have arrested two Sunni Arab neighbourhood guards, a security spokesman said on Saturday, after a string of other arrests in Baghdad that raised tensions. US-backed Sunni Arab fighters who switched sides to fight al-Qaeda in late 2006 have been key to reducing violence in the capital and elsewhere, but many have been dismayed by the past week's arrests and attacks on guards accused of criminal acts. Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said the two were detained in the capital's southern Dora district four days ago. He did not say why.

Last Saturday, Iraqi forces seized Adil al-Mashhadani, head of a patrol unit in central Baghdad's Fadhil neighbourhood, sparking clashes with his supporters that killed three people. Moussawi said 32 others were detained in Fadhil, 11 of them already released, with the others staying in for questioning. The Sunni fighters, who once numbered close to 100,000 across Iraq according to US military statistics, were backed and paid by US forces until the Shi'ite-led government took over their programme, a process they completed this week. Many are former insurgents and have feared they would be arrested for past crimes after the government took control of their programme from US forces late last year. Their treatment by the Iraqi government is being seen as a barometer of reconciliation after years of vicious sectarian warfare.
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

timesonline.co.uk, April 4, "A mutiny among militia threatens peace in Iraq after US airstrike" : A mutiny in the ranks of a key Iraqi militia credited with helping US forces to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq is threatening to plunge the country back into bloody sectarian violence. The rebellion by some members of the Awakening Councils, a Sunni Arab paramilitary force of more than 90,000 men, could unravel the improvements in security since 2007. If left unchecked it threatens to push the country back to the brink of civil war, pitting Sunnis against the Shias. A US airstrike on Thursday night targeted a group of Awakening Council men north of Baghdad who were suspected of planting a roadside bomb. One person was killed and two others were wounded and arrested. The attack came days after some of the worst fighting in Baghdad in two years.

Local Awakening guards clashed with the Iraqi Army after their leader was arrested on criminal and terrorism charges. Iraqi soldiers moved into the Fadhil district on Sunday and ordered fighters to surrender. The crackdown alarmed other Awakening units, who fear that they are being treated unfairly by the Government for sectarian reasons. Scores of guards, many of whom fought as insurgents before switching sides, have been arrested in the past fortnight. Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia Prime Minister, said that the operation in Fadhil came after months of investigation. “The issue was not for political or media purposes,” Mr. al-Maliki said...

4.03.09 Fannie and Freddie detail retention bonuses

April 3 - Just a few weeks after retention bonuses at American International Group became a national scandal, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage-financing giants that the government rescued last fall, have outlined plans to pay an additional $159 million in bonuses to retain employees in 2009 and 2010, on top of the nearly $51 million already paid out last year. James B. Lockhart of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which now oversees the two companies, disclosed the bonus programs in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

In the letter, Mr. Lockhart defended the payouts as a way to “keep key staff without rewarding poor performance.” (Download the full letter below.) Lawmakers have harshly criticized some bailed-out companies that later offered bonuses to workers, and the House passed legislation this week that would seek to limit compensation and bonuses at such firms. Last month, Mr. Grassley called on Fannie and Freddie to justify their bonus retention programs, and demanded they release the names and titles of any employee who received, or was set to receive, a retention bonus of more than $100,000.
[More>>nytimes.com; See related story,

timesonline.co.uk, April 3, "Over 90% of RBS shareholders vote against pay" : More than 90 per cent of shareholders voted against Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) remuneration report in a move that the embattled bank's chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, branded as "clearly disappointing." The ballot at the bank's annual meeting, which included a resolution to pay a pension worth £16.9 million to the former chief executive, Sir Fred Goodwin, is an "advisory" vote, which means the board does not have to change the pay arrangements set out in its annual report. However, the result of 90.4 per cent against the pay report is a huge blow to the troubled lender. As a consequence, Sir Philip today promised that the bank would take steps to review how pay and perks are structured in the future...

4.03.09 Gordon Brown offers 'hundreds' of troops for Afghanistan - if NATO commits its own

April 3 - Gordon Brown has offered hundreds more British troops to provide security during Afghanistan's forthcoming presidential election – if NATO allies can match contributions of their own. Germany, Italy and Spain pledged to send further troops on a temporary basis to cover the volatile election period. But others, like France, have turned down the request flat and Canada, the third largest contributor after Britain, has warned its entire mission may be jeopardized by President Hamid Karzai's support for Taleban-style legislation curtailing women's rights. The crisis in Afghanistan was top of the agenda as leaders gathered for NATO's 60th anniversary summit under a cloud cast by the revelations that Mr. Karzai had signed off on a family law condemning Shia women to a life of sexual serfdom.

President Obama is calling on allies to contribute more troops for an Iraq-style troop "surge" led by 20,000 American soldiers and marines in a bid to halt Afghanistan's slide into anarchy. But NATO's Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, suggested that European countries may be deterred from contributing more in Afghanistan by the furore over Mr. Karzai's actions. Mr. de Hoop Scheffer told the BBC: "How can I defend this, and how can the British defend this, when our boys and girls are dying there in defence of universal values, and here is a law that fundamentally violates human rights?"
[More>>timesonline.co.uk; See related story,

abcnews.go.com, April 3, "Taliban video shows teen girl beaten for 'adultery' " : Clad in a dark blue burka, she is held down by two different men, her face rubbed in the dirt. A third man in a black turban whips her lower back more than 30 times in a minute and a half, her teenage voice screaming out in terror and pain...Her crime, according to the Taliban and local residents, was hosting a man in her house and supposedly having a physical relationship with him. No evidence of such a relationship was ever given, but the rumor of such a relationship, according to the local Taliban spokesman, was actually enough to be stoned to death. The punishment in this case, he told a local TV channel, was "lenient."

For the last seven weeks the provincial government that oversees Pakistan's volatile Northwest Frontier Province has been using a former militant to negotiate with a Taliban that, over the last year and a half, has blown up more than 200 schools and killed more than 100 police and soldiers in Swat. The deal the government hopes to implement would restrict the military to their barracks, allow the Taliban to implement sharia, or Islamic law, and remove armed Taliban in the streets...But Swat's residents say nothing has changed for the better since the peace deal, and even if this video wasn't filmed in the last 7 weeks, the Taliban continue to administer their cruel forms of justice in the streets and continue to keep themselves heavily armed...

4.03.09 Obama sets goal of world without nuclear weapons

(AP) April 3 - Welcomed with thunderous cheers, President Barack Obama told a European audience today that he is setting a dramatic goal of "a world without nuclear weapons." The new American president opened a town-hall style gathering with the declaration, saying he would outline details in Prague in the coming days. "Even with the Cold War now over, the spread of nuclear weapons or the theft of nuclear material could lead to the extermination of any city on the planet," Obama said, previewing a planned speech.

He was in the midst of his first European trip as president as he sought to strengthen the United States' standing in the world while working with foreign counterparts to right the troubled global economy. Obama said the United States shares blame for the crisis, but that "every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead — especially now." Back home, his administration was trying to weather the fallout of another dismal monthly jobs report. The jobless rate jumped to 8.5 per cent, the highest since late 1983.

4.03.09 Wall St. in hover mode after jobless data

NEW YORK (AP) April 3 - Trading Quiet After Report Of 8.5 Percent Unemployment; Stocks Have Surged 20 Percent In Last Month. Stocks fluctuated in quiet trading Friday as investors largely looked past a report that the US unemployment rate jumped in March to its highest level since 1983. The modest ups and downs follow four straight days of gains and suggest the market is taking another time-out from a 20 percent rally over four weeks that has swept stocks off their lowest levels in nearly 12 years. The Labor Department's report that unemployment jumped to 8.5 percent last month wasn't as bad as the worst expectations in the market. The numbers were still grim but didn't derail an emerging sense of optimism over the past four months that the economy may be beginning to right itself.

Major market indicators moved less than 1 percent in midday trading. The Dow Jones industrials fell 27.55 to 7,950.53 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.77 to 835.12. The Nasdaq rose 7.59 to 1,610.22, helped by a surge in shares of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd., which turned in better-than-expected profits. The Dow had surged 2.8 percent on Thursday and spent much of that day above the 8,000 mark for the first time since February.

4.03.09 Afghan battle kills 12 militants, 1 civilian

KABUL (AP) April 3 - Coalition and Afghan forces killed 12 militants and one civilian in a province next to the Afghan capital in a mission that included airstrikes, an Afghan official said Friday, while a member of the NATO-led force was killed in violence in the east. The joint coalition-Afghan mission late Thursday killed the 12 militants in Logar, one province south of Kabul, said Mustafa Mosseini, the provincial police chief. He said that militants forced their way into a civilian home and that a civilian woman was also killed during the battle. Militants commonly use civilian homes for cover, a tactic that puts innocent Afghans in the line of fire. NATO's top general in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, has ordered his ground commanders to consider breaking away from a fight if they think civilians are in danger...In the central Ghazni province, a roadside bomb killed four construction workers, while a battle between militants and police elsewhere in the province killed two militants, said Ghulam Zekria, a police official. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

4.02.09 G-20 pumps $1 trillion into beating recession

LONDON, April 2 - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown heralded the emergence of a "new world order" Thursday as the G-20 issued details of an "unprecedented" package of measures to tackle the global economic crisis. US President Barack Obama called the deal "a turning point in our pursuit of global economic recovery." French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had voiced concerns prior to the summit about the wisdom of pumping further public money into economies already in recession, welcomed Thursday's agreement though hinted at unresolved disagreements behind the scenes.

There had been concerns that a rift was opening up between the approach being championed by the US and Britain
more economic stimulus and that favored by France and Germany more banking regulations. Sarkozy said the agreement represented "great progress" on reform of financial institutions and said "a page had been turned." Merkel described the deal as "a very, very good, almost historic compromise." The six-point plan includes reform of the international banking system and the injection of more than $1 trillion into the world financial system to restore credit, growth and jobs, as well as measures clamping down on tax havens and a commitment to build a green and sustainable economy. [More>>cnn.com]

4.02.09 14 terrorists in Lahore in guise of preachers: Pakistan intel warns

ISLAMABAD, April 2 - An estimated 14 terrorists, in the guise of preache3rs, have sneaked into the federal capital and Larhore to carry out strikes on state targets, Pakistani intelligence agencies have warned authorities. The warnings come just days after Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud said his group planned to carry out more attacks across the country...Officials in Peshawar told the Daily Times newspaper that security agencies had been warned that seven suicide bombers were planning to carry out an attack on government installations in the North West Frontier Province on the lines of the terrorist siege of a police training centre near Lahore on Monday. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related story, i

ndianexpress.com, April 2, "26/11 mastermind surfaces on J&K terror radar" : NEW DELHI - The recent infiltration bids in Jammu and Kashmir came in for some surprise for security agencies when they found Muzamil, one of the main Lashker-e-Taiba mastermind of the Mumbai Terror attack, as the brain behind large-scale intrusion from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Security agencies monitoring wireless intercepts along the Line of Control (LoC) tracked a conversation where Muzamil was asking Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Syed Sallahuddin to push a large number of militant cadres into the state. Muzamil alias Yusuf, whose real identity was yet to be established, has been seen as the brain behind the large-scale infiltration bids from across the border, official sources said, adding the new strategy adopted this time was to push in more and more terrorists before the snow melted at the passes...

4.02.09 Italian police raid homes in anti-terrorism sweep

(Reuters) April 2 - Italian police searched homes in nine cities on today as part of an anti-terrorism sweep to gather evidence on 26 suspects, most of them Algerians...A police investigator said the inquiry began at a mosque in the northern Italian city of Vicenza, near Venice, where Algerian radicals spoke of jihad and martyrdom. [Full story>>news.com.au]

4.02.09 Mexico arrests wanted drug suspect

April 2 - The Mexican authorities have arrested an alleged senior figure in the Juarez drug cartel who was of the government's most wanted criminals. Vicente Carrillo Leyva was spotted in Mexico City exercising in a park near his home, Rodrigo Esparza, the police commissioner, said on Thursday. Carrillo Levya, 32, who allegedly pretended to be a businessman, was presented to the media in Mexico City flanked by armed guards. The announcement came just hours before Mexican security officials were set to meet their US counterparts to discuss ways to combat the cartels.

..The Juarez cartel, which operates in the city of Ciudad Juarez on the US border, is one of the major drug gangs involved in bloody battles over lucrative trafficking routes into the US. More than 1,000 people have been killed so far this year alone in suspected drug attacks, and about 6,000 died in spiraling violence last year.
[Full story>>aljazeera.net; See related story, washingtonpost.com, April 2, "As Mexico batles cartels, the army becomes the law."]

4.02.09 Egyptian villagers torch "deviant" Bahai homes

CAIRO (AFP) April 2 - Bahais accused of links to world Zionism. In the latest outburst of religious tensions in Egypt, dozens of villagers set fire to Bahai homes after hearing on television that the village was "full of Bahais," reports said Thursday. Angry villagers rampaged through Sharoniyah, in southern Egypt, on Monday and Tuesday, setting fire to and damaging four Bahai homes, a security official told AFP, asking not to be named. The fires spread to two Muslim homes which were also damaged, the official said. The villagers also threatened the village's roughly 30 Bahais with death, the official said, after which all of them fled.

..A column in the state-owned al-Gomhuriyah newspaper said on Tuesday that the Bahais, whose world headquarters are in Haifa, Israel, are connected to "world Zionism." Columnist Gamal Abdel Rahim described the Bahai as "a deviant group which seeks to harm Islam to serve the interests of the enemies of the Muslim religion, in particular world Zionism."
[Full story>>alarabiya.net]

4.02.09 Honda offers buyouts, cuts pay in North America

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 2 - Honda Motor Co. is offering voluntary buyouts, cutting workers’ pay and imposing 13 non-production days at its North American plants to reduce its output this summer by 62,000 vehicles. Honda spokesman Ron Lietzke said Tuesday that the buyouts will be offered at most of the Japanese automaker's facilities in the North America, where it employs 35,600 people. Sweetened retirement packages are also being offered, he said. [More>>japantoday.com]

4.02.09 Yacht hijacked by pirates near Seychelles islands

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) April 2 - A tourist yacht and its crew of seven was hijacked by Somali pirates near the Seychelles islands off Africa's east coast Wednesday, said the director of the British agency that books diving tours on the luxury yacht. The Indian Ocean Explorer had just dropped off its contingent of tourists before it was seized, said Kirk Green, director of Aquatours, a London-based tour operator. Green said the British Navy e-mailed him to tell him the boat had been hijacked and would be taken to Harardhere, a pirate stronghold north of Mogadishu. Green said he was told by the navy to expect the ship to be held about three months. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

4.01.09 Welcome to Britain: World leaders gather as economic skies darken

LONDON, April 1 - Latest barometer of global economic situation casts ominous shadow over start of G20 summit in London as Gordon Brown battles to convince sceptical nations of need for further stimulus to pull world out of recession. Gordon Brown will appeal to the world's richest nations tomorrow not to close the door to stimulating their economies further to ensure the world pulls out of recession. As the G20 leaders including Barack Obama arrived in London last night for their historic summit, the scale of the crisis confronting them was illustrated by a gloomy new forecast from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It warned of "economic hemorrhaging" and a "bleak scenario" in which unemployment will rise to 36 million as a result of the "deepest and most synchronised recession in our lifetimes." The 30 most advanced economies in the world will see a slump in GDP of 4.3 per cent in 2009; the IMF says the world economy as a whole will shrink by 2.7 per cent, the worst decline in 60 years. [>independent.co.uk; See related story:

bbc.co.uk, April 1, "France demands tougher G20 rules" : France and Germany have called for tougher regulation for the world's financial system at the G20 summit. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has threatened to walk out of the meeting, said that new financial regulation was a "non-negotiable goal." In London's financial district, police and protesters have clashed and 26 people have been arrested.

The formal summit meeting will take place on Thursday in the Excel Centre in London's docklands. There have been divisions between France and Germany, who want the financial system to be subject to far stricter rules, and the US and the UK, who have emphasized the need for more government spending to boost the world economy. But early signs are that a consensus is emerging and a deal will be reached. The main sticking point may be how much extra money the International Monetary Fund will receive to help countries in trouble, while there is agreement in principle on regulation and government spending...

4.01.09 Israeli minister dismisses peace effort

JERUSALEM, April 1 - In a blunt and belligerent speech on his first day as Israel’s new foreign minister, the hawkish nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, declared Wednesday that "those who want peace should prepare for war" and that Israel was not obligated by understandings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reached at an American-sponsored peace conference in 2007. "Those who think that through concessions they will gain respect and peace are wrong," Mr. Lieberman said during a handover ceremony at the Foreign Ministry. "It is the other way around; it will lead to more wars." [More>>nytimes.com; See also

alarabiya.net, April 1, "Israel's new FM dismisses Annapolis peace deal" : Lieberman says Israel is not bound by past commitments. Israel is not bound by the 2007 relaunch of US-backed peace talks with the Palestinians, new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday, striking a hard line on his first day in office as premier Benjamin Netanyahu began his second term saying he did not support a two-state solution. Lieberman's rejection of the agreement signed in Annapolis, Maryland signaled a hawkish new approach to the peace process that could put Israel's new right-wing government at odds with the international community and main ally the United States.

The Palestinians fired back, warning that Lieberman was an obstacle to peace and urging the international community to pressure Israel into honoring its past commitments. "There is only one document that binds us and it is not the Annapolis conference," Lieberman said at a handover ceremony at the foreign ministry a day after being sworn in by parliament. "Only the roadmap. The Israeli government and the Knesset (parliament) never adopted Annapolis," he said...Israel's new Prime Minister, Netanyahu, said he did not support the two-state solution until the Palestinian economy was improved. Lieberman's comments marked a sharp break with former foreign minister Tzipi Livni who had led the Israeli delegation to the talks, and drew fire from the Palestinians...

4.01.09 North Korea threatens to shoot down US spy planes

SEOUL, South Korea, April 1 - North Korea accused the United States of spying on the site of an impending rocket launch and threatened Wednesday to shoot down any US planes that intrude into its airspace. North Korea says it will send a communications satellite into orbit on a multistage rocket between April 4 and 8. The US, South Korea and Japan think the reclusive country is using the launch to test long-range missile technology, and they warn Pyongyang would face sanctions under a UN Security Council resolution banning the country from ballistic activity. [More>>japantoday.com]

4.01.09 Russia, US enter new phase of relations - Lavrov

LONDON (RIA Novosti) April 1 - Relations between Russia and the United States have a "new quality," with each side ready to give heed to the other's positions, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday. "A new atmosphere of relations has been created," Lavrov said in London after talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama. "There is mutual interest and, most importantly, readiness to listen to each other, something we had lacked for many years." [More.>en.rian.ru]

4.01.09 Suicide attack in Kandahar kills 13

KANDAHAR, April 1 - Seven civilians and six policemen were killed in a suicide and gun attack on the provincial council in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar Wednesday, the government said. Four of the attackers were also killed, the interior ministry said. The insurgent Taliban group claimed responsibility. "The updated information is that we have 13 people killed, six of them police and seven civilians," interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said. Among the dead civilians were the Kandahar provincial education director and the province's deputy health director, Bashary said. Most of the police were killed in an initial suicide car bomb attack at the gate of the compound, he said. Three attackers then entered the yard, where one blew himself up and two others were shot dead by security forces, he said. [>thenews.com.pk; See also:

timesonline.co.uk, April 1, "Brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai escapes as suicide attackers kill 17" : An attack by Taleban suicide bombers and gunmen in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar today left 17 people dead and narrowly missed the brother of the Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In the latest of a string attempted terrorist spectaculars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and using a tactic that is becoming increasingly common, the four man team of bombers dressed in Afghan Army uniform blasted their way into the offices of the Kandahar Provincial Council, an elected local government body which is headed by Ahmad Wali Karzai. Local officials told The Times that seven civilians were killed including several provincial officials while six police also died before police and bodyguards of the politicians inside the building were able to kill the attackers. Another 16 people were injured according to officials from the Public Health Ministry in Kandahar...

thenews.com.pk, April 1, "Five policemen dead in Dirbala attack" :DIRBALA: Five policemen were killed when unknown persons attacked a police mobile van in Shernagal area of Dirbala. The deceased also include a SHO and an ASP. According to details, the assailants first opened fire on the police mobile van before firing rockets on it, killing five police personnel. Later, the attackers escaped along with the weapons of the police. [end]

timesofindia.indiatimes.com (AFP) April 1, "Suspected US strike kills 12 militants in Pakistan" : PESAWAR, Pakistan - A suspected US missile strike hit a suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda training center in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 12 militants, security officials said. Two missiles struck the suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda den, 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of Hangu in the semi-autonomous Orakzai tribal region, an extremist stronghold in northwest Pakistan, a security official said. "Twelve militants were killed in two missile attacks... on a training centre run by Taliban and al-Qaeda militants," said the official on condition of anonymity. "Some foreigners are believed to be among those killed," the official added, adopting a term used to refer to al-Qaeda. Another security official confirmed that 12 militants were killed. [end]

4.01.09 Pakistani investigators make 'significant' arrests

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) April 1 - Pakistani police have made some significant arrests in their investigation into a militant attack this week in the city of Lahore, a police investigator and a security official said on Wednesday. Eight police cadets were killed and scores wounded in the brazen assault that came less than a month after a dozen gunmen attacked Sri Lanka's cricket team in the eastern city. "There's been significant progress," said a senior police investigator. "We have captured seven men who had direct links with the attackers. Two of them were handlers," said the investigator who declined to be identified...The two handlers had provided the gunmen accommodation, arms and ammunition and transport, he said, adding the gang might have more accomplices on the loose...[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

3.31.09 Record drop in January index of home prices

March 31 - It may be spring on the calendar but housing prices are locked into perpetual winter. Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a widely watched measure of 20 metropolitan areas, fell 19 percent in January from a year earlier. That was a record drop, slightly edging out the previous month. The worst hit metropolitan areas have now fallen nearly in half. None of the cities showed month-to-month improvements. Thirteen showed record annual rates of decline. "There's no daylight that I can see in this report," said David Blitzer, chairman of S.& P.'s index committee.

He cited the numbers for Phoenix, the quintessential boomtown, as "gruesome." Prices there fell 5.5 percent from December, and are now down 48.5 percent from its June 2006 peak. Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco and San Diego are not far behind. All have fallen more than 40 percent. The best performing city in the index is Dallas, down a mere 10.8 percent from its peak. Unlike the rest of the Sunbelt and the coasts, Dallas never had a boom, so it did not have as far to fall.

3.31.09 Bankruptcy is now 'more probable,' new GM chief says

DETROIT, March 31 - The new chief executive of General Motors, Frederick A. Henderson, said Tuesday that bankruptcy was "more probable" than ever for the automaker but that he still hoped to successfully restructure the company out of court. "We will get the job done," Mr. Henderson said in his first news conference since succeeding Rick Wagoner, who resigned at the request of the Obama administration over the weekend. "We will either do it out of court or we will do it in court," Mr. Henderson said, "but we will get the job done in terms of recreating and reinventing General Motors as a competitive enterprise, one that wins in the marketplace." [More>>nytimes.com; See related story,

japantoday.com, March 31, "Japanese automakers worry about fate of GM, Chrysler" :
TOKYO - Japanese automakers reacted with anxiety to news that ailing US automakers General Motors and Chrysler had failed to submit acceptable plans to receive more government money, increasing the odds they may have to file for bankruptcy protection. The news also weighed on Asian stock markets. "A healthy US auto industry is in the best interests of everyone," said Alan Buddendeck, corporate vice president of global communications at Nissan Motor Co, Japan's third-biggest carmaker...

3.31.09 Suicide bomber kills 8, injures 12 in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) March 31 - A suicide truck bomber plowed through a sandbag barrier to strike a police station in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and wounding twelve, US and Iraqi officials said. It was yet another sign that security forces have still not managed to stamp out extremists in Mosul, only three months before US troops are due to withdraw from Iraqi cities. The British military, meanwhile, transferred over coalition command of the oil-rich southern province of Basra to the United States on Tuesday. It was the latest step toward the withdrawal of the remaining 4,100 British troops from Iraq by midsummer. The British troops will be withdrawn in phases, with combat operations due to end at the end of May and all but about 400 troops withdrawn by the end of July. Those staying behind will be involved in training Iraqis, according to the British Ministry of Defense. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

3.31.09 Iraq starts policing borders with unmanned planes

BAGHDAD (Reuters) March 31 - Iraq has started flying unmanned aircraft or drones along its borders to stop foreign fighters and arms entering through neighboring countries, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday. Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf said the drones would police all Iraq's borders and their first mission took place two weeks ago. "This is the first time Iraq has used unmanned planes to intensify the monitoring of Iraqi borders," Khalaf told a news conference. "This is a new technique to control our borders, which exceed 3,600 km (2,250 miles)."

Last month US forces shot down an Iranian drone spy plane that ventured inside Iraq in an incursion that angered Iraqi officials deeply suspicious of their more powerful neighbor's regional ambitions. For years Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda militants crossed into Iraq's western deserts through Syria, while Shi'ite militiamen received arms, weapons and training through the mountainous border with Iran. US and Iraqi officials say the flow of foreign fighters through Syria has fallen drastically and tighter border security has forced al-Qaeda to rely on young and inexperienced local recruits.

4.01.09 Update, 3.31.09 Pakistan Taliban claims Lahore raid

March 31 - The leader of Pakistan's Taliban has claimed responsibility for an attack on a police academy in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. Baitullah Mehsud said on Tuesday that his group carried out the attack, which left at least eight policemen dead, and vowed to launch an attack on Washington DC, in the US. "Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," The Associated Press reported Mehsud as saying. A report from the Reuters news agency quoted Mehsud as saying: "We wholeheartedly take responsibility for this [the Lahore] attack and will carry out more such attacks in future."

He said the attack on Monday was "revenge for the [suspected US] drone attacks in Pakistan."...Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, said that the fighters involved in the attack came from the southern province of Waziristan, which is the stronghold of Pakistan's Taliban and said to be a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, and that one of them men captured was an Afghan.
[Full story>>aljazeera.net; See also:

cbsnews.com, March 31, "Taliban leader vows to attack D.C. 'soon' " :The top Taliban commander in Pakistan promised an assault on Washington "soon" one he says will "amaze" the world. "Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," Baitullah Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone. Mehsud also claimed responsibility for Monday's attack on a police academy outside the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, saying it was in retaliation for US missile strikes against militants along the Afghan border...

Related stories from thenews.com.pk, March 31:

Four Afghans among 5 suspects arrested in Bahawalpur

Roadside blast kills Afghan mayor : KHOST: An Afghan city mayor was killed Tuesday when a bomb ripped through his vehicle as he travelled home from work in the east of the country, police said. "The mayor has been killed. Two of his nephews and two civilians were wounded in the blast," Khost province police chief Abdul Qayom Baqizoi said. The mayor, Sakhi Amirullah Amiri, was attacked as he was heading home from work in the city of Khost. The bomb blew up the vehicle in which he was travelling. Provincial public health director Amir Badshah said that one of the mayor's nephews was in critical condition. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. [end]

30 rebels killed in Afghan operation :KABUL: Thirty militants were killed in a police operation in Afghanistan's southern province of Uruzgan, the interior ministry announced Tuesday. The operation was launched Monday in Uruzgan and continued Tuesday in the neighboring province of Helmand, another hotbed of Taliban insurgent activity, the ministry said in a statement. "During this operation 30 enemies of peace and stability were killed and 17 were injured," it said. [end];

April 1 Update: See also: xinhuanet.com, "31 militants killed in Afghan fight" : Afghan police backed by international troops killed 31 militants including one commander in Afghan restive province of Helmand on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday. "In a joint operation of Afghan police and international troops in Kajaki district of Helmand province, one enemy commander along with his 30 fellows were killed and 20 others sustained injures," according to the ministry's press release. The operation came one day after Afghan and foreign troops killed 30 Taliban fighters, including a well- known insurgent member Mullah Mohammad Yaqub, in Uruzgan province. "Mullah Mohammad Yaqub along with 29 other militants was killed and over 17 others sustained injures in an operation which was launched in Deh Rawod district on Monday," the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday...

3.31.09 Iran and US find common ground on Afghanistan

THE HAGUE, March 31 - Hague conference reaches out to "non-violent" Taliban. The United States and Iran found some common ground at an international conference on Afghanistan and agreed on Tuesday that battling the country's drug-trade and rebuilding the war-torn nation were top priorities; the two foes, however, remained at odds over the presence of foreign troops. At The Hague-based conference, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Akhoondzadeh, in a rare meeting of minds, stressed their support for projects to rebuild Afghanistan as well as end its reputation as the epicenter of the global heroin trade. "Trafficking in narcotics, the spread of violent extremism, economic stagnation (in Afghanistan) are regional challenges that will require regional solutions," Clinton told the meeting. Clinton was addressing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and representatives of 90 countries and organizations.

Iran's Akhoondzadeh said the Islamic republic was willing to take part in international efforts for Afghanistan. "Iran is fully prepared to participate in the projects aimed at combatting drug trafficking and the plans in line with developing and reconstructing Afghanistan," he told delegates. Karzai and Clinton both said dialogue with moderate members of the Islamist movement could be the best way to halt the violence. "We must...support efforts by the government of Afghanistan to separate the extremists of al-Qaeda and the Taliban from those who have joined their ranks not out of conviction, but out of desperation," Clinton said.

3.31.09 Bomb explosion kills 1, injures 13 in India

GAUHATI, India (AP) March 31 - A bomb exploded in a busy market place in India's restive northeast Tuesday, killing one person and wounding 13 others, an official said. The victims were shoppers and passers-by in Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, district administrator Prateek Hajela said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion. The attack came one week ahead of the anniversary of the establishment of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom in 1979. The group usually steps up violence around this time every year.

The ULFA wants an independent state for the region's ethnic Assamese and is the largest of the northeast's dozens of militant groups. The separatists accuse the government of exploiting the area's natural resources while doing little for the indigenous people
most of whom are ethnically closer to Burma and China than to the rest of India. More than 10,000 people have died in separatist violence over the past decade. [>khaleejtimes.com]

3.31.09 Why is it O.K. for Arabs to kill their own?

March 31 - The Arab League has some real problems. There are the usual ones in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Mauritania, Somalia, Morocco (Western Sahara), Yemen; and the economic woes of Egypt, and Dubai to a lesser extent. For sure, the Arab League faces some serious PR issues. An Arab summit allows the leaders of this uneasy part of the world to address some of the planet's most urgent topics. Prime among them is the burning issue of Palestine, over which the Arab world has been fighting with Israel in one manner or another for the past 60 years, and counting. And during those six decades, the Arab states have been feuding among themselves almost as much as they have been fighting Israel.

The top item on the Arab League's agenda should have been how they will reconcile the two warring Palestinian factions: Fatah and Hamas. While the Palestinians remain at loggerheads, it remains impossible to engage Israel in meaningful peace talks...So what does the Arab League choose to address on the opening day of their summit meeting? They choose to support a leader who has been indicted by the international community on charges of committing genocide against his own people: Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir. Why is it all right for Arabs to kill their own while the rest of the Arab word remains quiet?
[Full story>>metimes.com]

3.31.09 Spring on Mars: warmer weather and lots of gas

March 31 - Spring on Earth is marked by daffodils and budding leaves. However spring on Mars sees plumes of carbon dioxide vaporizing from solid blocks of dry ice as they warm up in the sunlight towards the end of the Martian winter. The unearthly nature of a Martian spring has been captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite as it circles the Red Planet taking images of dirty plumes of gas carrying dust from the ground up through the openings of the solid carbon dioxide layer covering the Martian poles. The seasonal polar caps on Mars form each winter because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changes directly to frost, which builds up into a thick layer of dry ice as much as a metre thick. As winter ends and spring arrives, the dry ice turns directly from solid into vapor which punches its way to the surface. [More>>independent.co.uk]

3.30.09 Obama issues ultimatum to carmakers

WASHINGTON, March 30 - President Obama announced what amounts to a do-or-die ultimatum for the struggling automobile industry on Monday, laying out strict standards that the carmakers must meet to get more government aid and declaring that the industry must survive because it is "like no other, an emblem of the American spirit." A failure of leadership “from Washington to Detroit” over the years has led the industry to the brink of collapse, the president said, and in more recent days both General Motors and Chrysler have failed to come up with plans adequate to justify the billions more in government help that they are requesting. "And so today, I am announcing that my administration will offer GM and Chrysler a limited period of time to work with creditors, unions and other stakeholders to fundamentally restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional tax dollars; a period during which they must produce plans that would give the American people confidence in their long-term prospects for success," the president said at the White House.

Speaking a day after the White House pushed out the chairman of GM, Mr. Obama said Chrysler has been instructed to form a partnership with the Italian automaker Fiat within 30 days as conditions for receiving another much-needed round of government aid...Other salient features of the latest plan to pull Detroit out of its decadeslong skid include a tax break, being started by the Internal Revenue Service at once, for auto purchases made between Feb. 16 and the end of 2009; incentives for people to turn in older, less fuel-efficient vehicles and buy more energy-efficient cars and government-backed warrants to assure customers that they have nothing to fear by buying a car from GM or Chrysler. While the president's announcement embodies firm government control of the car industry, at least for the time being, he said, "These companies
and this industry must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state." [Full story>>nytimes.com; See also

abcnews.go.com, March 30, "Payday: GM's Rick Wagoner drives away with $20 million retirement": - Critic calls multi-million package "perfect example" of frustration with industry. Rick Wagoner will leave his post as CEO of bailed-out General Motors with a $20 million retirement package, the company's financial filings show. Although the Treasury Department has barred GM from paying severance to Wagoner or any other senior executive, Wagoner is eligible to collect millions in retirement benefits from his former employer, according to the documents reviewed by ABC News. The Obama administration asked for Wagoner to resign Sunday, as part of its restructuring of the auto industry. President Obama said this morning that forcing Wagoner out indicated it was a time for new leadership. Under Wagoner's leadership, GM lost tens of billions of dollars, took billions in taxpayer-financed aid, and announced plans to cut 47,000 employees by the end of 2009...

timesonline.co.uk, March 30, "President Barack Obama toughens conditions for car aid" : President Barack Obama promised that he would not allow America's motor manufacturing industry to vanish but demanded more "painful" concessions from workers at General Motors (GM) and Chrysler. Continuing the tough tone his Administration has taken with the carmakers, President Obama said that some jobs would not be saved and some manufacturing plants would remain closed despite the best efforts to turn the companies around. US carmakers have slashed 400,000 jobs since the recession started, with 47,000 job cuts announced by GM last month, equivalent to 20 per cent of its workforce. About 3,500 people work for Vauxhall, GM's UK subsidiary. Chrysler said last month that it would cut another 3,000 jobs, equivalent to 6 per cent of its staff...

dw-world.de, March 30, "Opel workers welcome GM shake-up" : Employees at General Motors' subsidiary Opel have welcomed the dismissal of the US company's chief executive officer Rick Wagoner as an important step towards securing the troubled German carmaker's future. Klaus Franz, the top employee representative at Opel, said he was surprised that Wagoner was not relieved of his post earlier. "Rick Wagoner stands for an imploded centralist system," he said on Tuesday, March 30, calling the former CEO a symbol of grave mismanagement. Franz said he looked forward to working with Wagoner's temporary replacement, GM president and chief operating officer Fritz Henderson, because he had significant experience with GM's European units. Henderson led a restructuring push at Opel from mid-2004 through to the end of 2005, cutting around 10,000 jobs and making the firm profitable for the first time in nearly five years.

japantoday.com, March 30, "Japan stocks plunge as US auto crisis mounts" : TOKYO - Japan stocks tumbled Monday, hit by mounting concerns about the future of the US auto industry. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average lost 390.89 points, or 4.5%, to 8,236.08. The broader Topix index fell 4.2% to 789.54. Negative sentiment pummeled shares of Japanese automakers after the White House refused to give General Motors Corp. or Chrysler LLC more bailout money...

cbsnews.com, March 30, "Stocks slide amid auto industry anxiety" : Wall Street's big March rally was officially on hold Monday after the White House rejected turnaround plans from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler. All the major indexes fell more than 3.5 percent, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which lost as much as 300 points in midday trading. Fears of an automaker bankruptcy have been looming over investors for months, and the latest developments, which included the removal of GM's CEO Rick Wagoner, made the market even more uneasy about the industry. However analysts said the pullback, which began Friday, wasn't surprising after the Dow surged 21 percent over just 13 days...In midday trading, the Dow tumbled 276.70, or 3.6 percent, to 7,499.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 28.84, or 3.5 percent, to 787.10, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 52.39, or 3.4 percent, to 1,492.81...

3.30.09 France to lay out rules on bonuses amid bailouts

PARIS (AP) March 30 - The French government is due to announce on Monday limits on bonuses and stock options at companies that receive state bailouts, but union leaders said the expected measures don't go far enough. Prime Minister Francois Fillon is scheduled to announce a decree later in the day, and while details remain unclear, French business daily Les Echos said it would limit but not ban executive benefits, and be temporary covering only this year and next. Francois Chereque, leader of the powerful CFDT union, said two years is not long enough. "We have the feeling that once the crisis is past, everything will start again, as before," Chereque told reporters Monday. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

3.30.09 Lahore gunbattle ends; all gunmen killed or captured

LAHORE, March 30 - Terror struck Lahore for the second time in a month on Monday when heavily armed gunmen stormed a police academy near Lahore killing at least 27 policemen in an eight-hour siege that ended with four terrorists being shot dead and six captured alive by security forces. Clad in police uniform, the terrorists, numbering 10, attacked the academy at 7 a.m. and lobbed grenades and opened indiscriminate fire as trainees prepared for the morning drill, killing guards at the gate. The audacious attack comes barely a month after the bus of the Sri Lankan Cricket team was ambushed by terrorists on March 3 here leaving eight people dead.

Six cricketers sustained injuries in the attack. The gunmen moved into a three-storied building in the police academy premises in Manawan, 12 kms from the Indian border, and held unspecified number of policemen as hostages. Elite commandos and security personnel surrounded the premises and used teargas shells to flush the terrorists out. "The operation has ended with overpowering of a number of terrorists. While four were shot dead, several more were arrested," Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said. One of the captured terrorist is 19-20 year old and speaks Pashto. A joint investigation team has been formed to probe the attack, Malik said.
[>indianexpress.com; See also:

the news.com.pk, March 30, "Manawan Police Center siege ends, 4 attackers killed, 4 held" : ...The attack came at a time when the trainee policemen were doing parade at a Police Center situated near Manawan Village on GT Road today morning. The attackers first lobbed hand grenades into the training ground from the outside wall, which spread smoke all over the place. Later, they broke into the building and opened fire on unarmed policemen before taking positions...

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, March 30, "Taliban behind Lahore attacks: Pakistan minister" : ...Terror struck Lahore for the second time in a month on Monday when heavily armed gunmen stormed a police academy near here killing at least 27 policemen in an eight-hour siege that ended with four terrorists being shot dead and six captured alive by security forces. ( Watch ) ...Reports said the suspect was caught with a grenade in his possession and had an Afghan passport, though a cadet who fled the carnage said he heard the attackers speaking a dialect common to southern Punjab. Lahore is the capital of Punjab province...

3.30.09 Gaddafi storms out of Arab League

March 30 - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has stormed out of the Arab League summit in Qatar having denounced the Saudi king for his ties with the West. He disrupted the opening session by criticizing King Abdullah, calling him a British product and an American ally. Col. Gaddafi has angered Arab leaders in the past with sharp remarks at summits. Meanwhile, leaders have been urged to reject an international arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur. Arrest first "those who have committed massacres and atrocities in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon," Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said. The summit is also expected to discuss Iran's influence in the Middle East. A number of countries are particularly concerned about Iran's support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. [More>>bbc.co.uk; See also

alarabiya.net, March 30, "Libya's Gaddafi steals the show at Arab summit" : Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi stole the show at Monday's Arab summit when he verbally attacked Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and proclaimed himself the "king of kings of Africa," before storming out to visit a museum. Sound on the televised transmission of the session was interrupted as Gadaffi began his tirade in which he proclaimed himself to be "the leader of the Arab leaders, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of the Muslims." The Libyan leader has been in power since 1969 and had recently been elected to chair the African Union...At the end of the session he held a landmark reconciliation meeting with King Abdullah after years of dispute...

3.30.09 Afghan suicide blast kills eight: official

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) March 30 - A suicide attack inside a district government compound in southern Afghanistan on Monday killed six civilians and two policemen, a provincial spokesman told AFP. The bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body inside the Andar district headquarters of Kandahar province, said the spokesman, Zalmai Ayobi. "Six civilians and two police were martyred. Four civilians and two police were wounded in the blast," he said. [>khaleejtimes.com]

3.30.09 US-backed Iraqi troops quell Baghdad uprising

BAGHDAD, March 30 - US-backed Iraqi forces swept through a central Baghdad slum Sunday, disarming Sunnis from a government-allied paramilitary group to quell a two-day uprising launched to protest the arrest of their leader. At least four people were killed and 21 wounded in the two days of fighting between government troops and the Awakening Council in Fadhil, a ramshackle warren of narrow, fetid streets on the east side of the Tigris River where al-Qaeda once held sway.

The confrontation in Fadhil could be explosive if it leads to a split between the Shiite-led government and the Awakening Councils, made up of Sunnis who abandoned al-Qaeda and joined forces with the Americans to fight the insurgents. Distrust runs deep between the Shiite-led government and the Awakening Councils, which the US calls Sons of Iraq, because many of them are ex-insurgents. There have been fears that some fighters may return to the insurgency if they feel threatened by the government. That could undermine US plans to remove all combat troops from Baghdad and other cities by the end of June and end the US combat role in Iraq by September 2010.

3.30.09 Ex-Chechen commander Yamadayev dies in Dubai - relatives

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) March 30 - Sulim Yamadayev, the former commander of the Chechen Vostok battalion, died in hospital on Monday following an attack in Dubai over the weekend, a close relative said on the phone. "Sulim died from his wounds in a Dubai hospital Monday," he said. Yamadayev was shot by unknown assailants on Saturday. The Russian consul general in Dubai has so far not confirmed if the victim is Yamadayev. A RIA Novosti correspondent in the city of Gudermes has reported that Yamadayev's relatives in Gudermes are getting ready to pay their last respects.

Russia and the United Arab Emirates have yet to officially comment on the incident. The search for the attackers is ongoing. Yamadayev was officially dismissed from his post as commander of the Defense Ministry's Vostok battalion last August over an alleged involvement in the 1998 abduction and murder of a Chechen businessman. Yamadayev's brother Ruslan Yamadayev, a former member of the Russian parliament's lower house, was gunned down in central Moscow last September. He was a prominent opponent of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who has denied any involvement in the killing.
[>en.rian.ru; See a contrasting report,

alarabiya.net, March 30, "Chechen leader's rival "assasinated" in Dubai" : DUBAI - Ex-rebel chief shot dead in apartment parking lot. Russian authorities on Monday identified a Chechen man as an opponent of pro-Russian President Ramzan Kadyrov after he was shot dead in the emirate of Dubai in what police said appeared to be an assassination. There were conflicting reports about the events that had taken place with Dubai police saying on Saturday that the Chechen, Sulaiman Yamadayev, had been shot dead. "The murder of the Chechen seems to be an assassination because he was shot dead in the parking of the building where he was living," Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, head of Dubai police, said in a statement.

"It seems the 36-year-old victim, called Sulaiman Madov, had been under surveillance for some time," he added. Russian Consul Sergei Krasnogor said the dead man was a former rebel chief, who had challenged the Moscow-backed Kadyrov for control of Chechen security forces until last year, when he was dismissed from the command of an elite battalion and forced to flee."...Everybody knows anyway for whom Sulaiman is like a bone in the throat." Last September, their brother Ruslan was killed by unidentified gunmen in central Moscow. Kadyrov rejected accusations he had been behind the murder and said the killers wanted to discredit him and to destabilize Chechnya. Chechen exiles say three Chechens have been assassinated in the last six months in Istanbul and one in Vienna. Kadyrov has strongly rejected allegations he could be linked to those murders...

3.29.09 Taliban kidnap 11 police

LANDIKOTAL, Pakistan (Reuters) March 29 - Taliban militants have kidnapped 11 Pakistani policemen in an attack on a security post in the Khyber region on the Afghan border. The kidnapping came two days after a suicide bomber killed 37 people in an attack on a mosque in the region, through which pass vital supplies for US and other Western forces in Afghanistan. "Militants came to the Shin Qamar checkpost before dawn and disarmed our policemen and then bundled them into vehicles," said Rahat Gul, a spokesman for the Khyber administration. [More>>news.com.au]

3.29.09 US and Iran open Afghanistan peace talks

March 29 - As Obama unveiled his new strategy on Afghanistan, his officials attended a historic meeting with an old enemy. Iranian and American officials have held their first talks about ending the war in Afghanistan amid signs that President Barack Obama’s efforts to thaw relations with Tehran are paying off. While television cameras focused on Obama in Washington during the unveiling of his strategy for Afghanistan last Friday, US and Iranian diplomats were holding a remarkable meeting in Moscow. The Russian initiative brought together Patrick Moon, the US diplomat in charge of south and central Asia, and Mehdi Akhundzadeh, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, as well as a British diplomat who has been acting as a mediator.

"We’ve turned a page to have Iranians and Americans at the same table all discussing Afghanistan," Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told delegates. A western official who attended the talks said: "For the first time in two years I’m optimistic about Afghanistan." It followed Nato’s first official contact with Iran two weeks ago, when the Iranian ambassador visited Nato’s assistant secretary-general to discuss drugs and refugees.

Friday's meeting was held under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a six-member regional security group including Russia, China and central Asian states, to discuss combating terrorism and drug trafficking in Afghanistan. Those present included Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and senior British diplomats. The US and Iranian officials spoke within minutes of each other. Akhundzadeh told delegates that narcotics represent a serious threat to the region and no country could fight the trade alone. He revealed that Iran seizes three tons of opium on its border every day.

Editorial note: A primary objective of The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is to protect the development and transportation of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea and Central Asian fields. Pipelines present and planned run from Central Asia to Europe and China. A pipeline junction serving Europe is Georgia, with the currently operating "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline" running from Baku, Azerbaijan through several battle zones: the Chechnya and Dagestan regions of Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Turkish Kurdistan.

This pipeline was developed in order to avoid the perennial transit disruptions through Russia and Ukraine (usually in the height of winter), and in order to provide more gas to Europe another pipeline is in work that will deliver gas from Turkmenistan through Baku across Turkey, east to west and across the Hellespont into Europe. A week prior to invading Abkhazia to stop a Georgian assault on the region, Russia had gotten Turkmenistan to agree to run its planned Nabucco pipeline through Russia. The latest developments involving this pipeline seem to favor running the pipeline through Turkey.

The simple route for oil and gas from the Caspian and Central Asian countries would be through Iran to Iran's Kharg island. See Maravot News 1.25.09 article and editorial note
01.24.09 Turkey possible winner in Russia-Ukraine gas dispute - Expert. Plans for pipelines serving India and China through Pakistan have been in work, but the successful deployment of this pipeline hinges on the stabilization of Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where al-Qaeda and the Taliban are entrenched. If the Taliban can be successful in capturing Pakistani soldiers at will, bombing mosques and NATO depots and convoys serving Afghanistan, no doubt prospects for a safe transit of oil and gas from Iran to India and China are at present grim. Iran, in this sense, is caught between a rock and a hard place. To complete its pipeline(s) serving Asia it has to help in the stabilization of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, one can understand the broad interests and greater significance of the US and Iran "Afghanistan Peace Talks."

Pepe Escobar's article, atimes.com, March 29, "Liquid war: Welcome to Pipelineistan," describes the many machinations and region from which the Central Asian oil and gas is produced as "Pipelineistan." He redirects our attention from the "Silk Road," to a new context, as the "Silk Pipelines." His discussion of our new life blood of oil and gas, running through modern trade routes, could also be described as "The Pipe Road." The pipelines follow traditional trade routes, many of which pass through traditional war zones, such as Afghanistan, which may also be called the "bottleneck" of Asia.

Mel Copeland

3.29.09 Eight soldiers, 15 Taliban killed in Afghanistan

KABU:L (DPA) March 29 - Eight members of the Afghan security forces and 15 Taliban militants including two rebel commanders were killed in separate clashes and a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan, officials said Sunday. Taliban militants ambushed a police vehicle in Pashtun Zarghoon district of western Herat province on Sunday morning, killing four policemen, Abdul Raouf Ahmadi, spokesman for police forces in the western region said. He said the attack wounded the district police chief of the Qades district of neighbouring Badghis province, who was en route to Herat city when the ambush took place. Another policeman was killed and two others were wounded when the militants attacked a police post in Rabat Sangi district of the same Herat province on Saturday night, Ahmadi said, adding that three attackers were also killed when police fought back.

Separately, three Afghan soldiers were killed and four others were wounded Saturday when their vehicle was blown up by a remote-controlled roadside bomb in the Zurmat district of south- eastern province of Paktia, the Defence Ministry said in a statement...Rebels also fired rockets at an Afghan army base in Angoor Adah area of neighbouring Paktika province near the Pakistan border but caused no casualties, the ministry statement said. Troops pinpointed the insurgent location and responded with heavy artillery, killing five militants, including their commander Abdul Jabar, and their comrades took the bodies across the border.
[Full story>>khaleejtimes.com; See also thenews.com.pk, March 29, "Policemen among 17 killed in Afghan violence."]

3.29.09 Settlers attack Israeli police disguised as Arabs

CAIRO, March 29 - Israeli police get an Arab makeover to trap settlers. Israeli police dressed in Palestinian garb who have gone under cover to catch violent Jewish settlers got a taste of what Palestinians routinely confront as Jewish settlers attacked undercover officers thinking they were Arabs, Israeli press reported. Six Jewish settlers who mistook under cover Israeli cops for Palestinians attacked them Thursday, throwing stones and damaging a police under cover vehicle, Haaretz reported Saturday after a court ruling on the incident came out Friday.

The settlers also tried to run the disguised police over near an illegal Jewish outpost in the West Bank. Five of the settlers were put under house arrest while one was released Friday. Police spokesman Dany Peleg said the officers who were donned Arab garb were attacked but did not specify the nature of their dress. Disguising as Arabs came as the latest crime tactic for rooting out settler violence.

3.29.09 Shin Bet: Nearly 70 tons of explosives smuggled into Gaza since IDF op

May 29 - Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin on Sunday briefed the cabinet on ongoing efforts to stem the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Dozens of tons of explosives have been smuggled into the Strip since Israel concluded its three-week offensive against the Hamas leadership in January, Diskin said. According to Diskin, Egyptian efforts to curtail the smuggling across its shared border with Gaza have improved, and several successes have been recorded. "When Israel provides intelligence on smuggling that is about to happen, or is happening, they respond quickly and effectively," he said. However, Diskin added, since the end of Operation Cast Lead, the express goal of which was to bring an end to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, 45 tons of raw materials for the production of weapons have been smuggled into the Strip, along with 22 tons of standard explosives, as well as dozens of rockets, mortar shells, and anti-aircraft missiles. [More>>haaretz.com]

3.29.09 Sudan's al-Bashir attends Arab meet

March 29 - Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has arrived in Qatar on the eve of an Arab League summit, defying an arrest warrant issued against him for alleged war crimes in Darfur. Al-Bashir was greeted on a red carpet at the international airport in Doha, the Qatari capital, by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, on Sunday before the pair had coffee with Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League. Al-Bashir's arrival had been the most eagerly anticipated of the delegates attending the two-day conference, after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest three weeks ago.

..His visit to Qatar, which is not a signatory to the ICC and therefore not obliged to arrest him, marks the fourth occasion that he has left Sudan since the court's indictment against him. The Arab League meeting is likely to be dominated by how the Arab world should respond to western pressure to arrest the Sudanese president. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, will attend the opening of the meeting despite al-Bashir's presence, a UN official said.


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


*Visitor statistics on maravot.com from 1&1. com. 46,153 page views in May 2007; monthly visitors in 2008 range between 40,000-45,0000..

Privacy Policy: We do not store any personal data from you. We have no way of knowing any vital information about you not even your name. Third-party distribution: We do not distribute information about your site usage to any third party. We are not responsible for the content of links from our site. Usage data: supplied by our Web Hosting service, 1and1.com, which consists of usage reports, such as page views / impressions and web pages visited, visitors' servers and geographical data (ISP's and country of origin).

Maravot's Homepage

Launched: 10.25.04 / 11.02.04 – | — |
Updated: 3.29.09; 3.30.09; 3.31.09; 4.01.09; 4.02.09; 4.03.09; 4.04.09

Copyright © 1981-2009 Maravot. All rights reserved
Copyright © 1981-2009 Mel Copeland. All rights reserved
Background: tile from Cicero's villa (Marcus Tullius Cicero 106 B.C. - 43 B.C.)