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kilometer: 0.6214 mile
meter: 39.37 inches
centimetre: 0.3937 inch
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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.
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Definition of fatwa (fatwah)
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August 1996

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Historical map of Israel. Figure 2 shows the area allocated to
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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

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News Headlines & Trends

04.08.07 Bomb kills 17 in Iraqi town, destroys shops

MAHMUDIYA, Iraq (Reuters) April 8 – A car bomb killed up to 17 people and wounded two dozen in a town south of Baghdad on Sunday, the latest in a spate of attacks outside the Iraqi capital since a new security plan there took effect. The mayor of Mahmudiya, Muaid al-Amiri, said the car bomb targeted industrial workshops and had killed 17 people and completely demolished a three-storey building. Many smaller shops had been levelled and a number of cars destroyed. North of Baghdad, four U.S. soldiers were killed in an explosion near their vehicle on Saturday, the military said. It said the blast took place in Diyala province, another area where violence has spiked since the start of the security crackdown in Baghdad. [More>>] ; See also, April 8, "21 killed in 4 bombs, rocket attack in Iraq Sunday" – with special report, "Tension escalates in Iraq."]

04.08.07 Iraq cleric says fight in Diwaniyahis 'trap' by US

NAJAF, Iraq (AFP) April 8 – Iraqıs radical Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr on Sunday urged his militiamen and security forces to end their three-day-long fight in Diwaniyah, saying it was a "trap" by US-led forces. "He (Sadr) appeals to the Iraqi army and the Mahdi militia not to fall into Americaıs trap by fighting in Diwaniyah,ı" said a statement stamped and issued by the clericıs office in the holy city of Najaf. US and Iraqi soldiers have clashed with Shia militiamen, including from Sadrıs Mahdi Army, in the central city of Diwaniyah since Friday.

Calling for unity against US troops, Sadr urged local forces not to support the "occupier because it is your enemy." Accusing the US authorities of sowing dissent between the Iraqis, the statement said the foreign forces planned to divide the people in Diwaniyah. Iraq has had enough bloodshed. The occupation forces led by the biggest evil, America, is working to sow dissent either directly or through its agents,ı said the statement. Sadr, whom the US military believes is in self-exile in Iran, led two bloody rebellions against US forces in 2004 before entering the political process.

He calls repeatedly for foreign troops to leave Iraq, while his militia is accused by the US military of launching attacks on minority Sunni Arabs. His office insists that Sadr is in Iraq. The cleric has not been seen in Iran nor in Iraq since before a major Iraqi-US security crackdown began in Baghdad on February 14.
[> ; See more details, expressindia (AP) April 8, "Al-Sadr calls for attacks on US troops."]

04.08.07 Ultra-Orthodox youths clash with police in Jerusalem hametz protest

April 8 – Some 100 Ultra-Orthodox Jewish youths clashed with police in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, protesting the sale of hametz (leavened bread) during the week of Passover in Jerusalem restaurants. The conflict began after a rally that took place near Shabbat Square in the Mea Shearim neighborhood. At the end of the rally, the protestors sought to march towards Hillel Street, an area which contains a number of restaurants that sell hametz and non-kosher meat. Police refused to allow the march and instructed the protestors to disperse. Some youngsters succeeded in blocking the street with trash cans and piles of wood. The police then tried to disperse the crowd by force, which led a few iltra-Orthdox Jews to throw rocks at the police. [More>>]

04.08.07 Iran 'bars Iraq PM from airspace'

April 8 – Iran has refused to allow an aircraft carrying Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, on a trip to Asia to cross its airspace overnight, a senior adviser to the Iraqi leader has said. Sadiq al-Rikabi, who is accompanying al-Maliki on the trip to Japan and South Korea, said the jet had entered Iranian airspace on Saturday evening. Al-Rikabi said: "Suddenly the Iranian aviation authorities ordered the pilot to go back. We were obliged to fly to Dubai where we stayed for more than three hours to file a new (flight) plan." He said it was unclear why Iran had barred al-Maliki's jet from crossing its territory. [More>>]

04.08.07 Thai web crackdown continues

April 8 – Thailand's government has shut down a popular political online chat room just days after YouTube was blocked for videos deemed insulting to the king. The political page of said in a notice on Sunday it was closed for national security reasons at the request of the information communication and technology (ICT) ministry. [More>> ; See also, April 8, "Censors extend Internet bans."]

04.08.07 Kuwait warns against Iran nuclear crisis escalating

DUBAI (AFP) April 8 – Kuwait's foreign minister warned in an interview published Sunday that wrangling in the stand off over Iran's controversial nuclear program must not be allowed to escalate. "The situation is moving towards escalation and confrontation in the region," Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah told the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat newspaper. The UN Security Council has imposed two packages of sanctions against Iran over its failure to heed international ultimatums calling on it to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

The latest resolution placed a "timeline of escalation against Tehran," Sheikh Mohammed said, adding that he feared "what happened to Saddam Hussein might happen to the Iranians." The United States fears Iran is secretly developing an atomic weapon, a charge Tehran strongly denies.

04.08.07 Iran laughs at Easter 'gift' of humiliation

April 8 – The Iranian hostage crisis ended on Thursday with the 15 sailors and marines returned unharmed as a Œgiftı to Britain. Sarah Baxter, Michael Smith and David Cracknell on how Iran played our government and military for fools. In his crisply ironed uniform, Simon Massey described how he thought he was going to die. His mother Carol and sister Hannah listened with quiet pride as he recalled his ordeal: "It was going through my head I was never going to see my family again."

After he was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Massey was blindfolded and flown to Tehran with his hands tied behind his back with plastic cable. The most terrifying moment came when he was lined up against the wall with his crewmates and "everybodyıs imagination started going." One of the crew members vomited. Unable to see through their blindfolds, the other British captives feared his throat was being cut. Behind them, they heard weapons being cocked. "It was just crazy, we were sat there with our heads up against the wall, still blindfolded and handcuffed, and I just thought, that was it, that was going to be it for the 15 of us."

Massey and his crewmates continued to suffer during their imprisonment. They spent days in isolation in small stone cells, 8ft by 6ft, and were interrogated at night. Massey, 22, was held in solitary confinement for eight days, although he managed to communicate with a fellow seaman by tapping with his knuckles in Morse code...INFURIATED by the disappearance of Ali Reza Asgari, a former commander of the elite Quds force in Lebanon, and by the Americansı capture of five members of that unit in Arbil, northern Iraq, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards made sure the seizure of the British sailors and marines was a well planned affair.

Days before the crisis broke, The Sunday Times revealed that the Revolutionary Guards were boasting of their intention "to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks."

...As the 15 British sailors and marines released as an Easter ³gift² by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew home on Thursday clutching Iranian goody bags and clad in poorly tailored Iranian suits, the postmortem into their conduct began. Under the Geneva conventions, captured service personnel need only give their name, rank, serial number and date of birth ("the big four"). However, todayıs recruits are told to cooperate, short of revealing secrets, and present a human face if taken prisoner.

But "were they just too cooperative?" asked one newspaper across two pages. Itıs a debate everyone had a view on. Here are the highlights:

— They did exactly as they should have done from start to finish and we are proud of them — Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, Britainıs top military officer

— The international image of Britain as Churchillian bulldog has for ever been replaced by this bunch of hapless stooges grinning and waving for the cameras like [game show] contestants . . . I donıt blame the unfortunate human ingredients in this pawn cocktail. They were only obeying orders — which, ludicrously, amount to 'surrender first and apologize laterı' — Richard Littlejohn, newspaper columnist.

[Full story>>]

04.08.07 One killed in a blast as PM arrives in Guwahati

GUWAHATI, India (PTI) April 8 –  One person was killed and 14 others were injured in a bomb blast carried out by suspected ULFA militants in Kumarpara minutes before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in the city to lay the foundation for a bridge over the Brahmaputra river. The blast occurred near a mosque in Kumarpara, Additional Superintendent of Police Rajen Singh said. The bomb was hidden in a motorcycle in the busy area and exploded at about 5.45 p.m. One person died on way to the hospital while 14 others were seriously injured. [>]

04.08.07 Taliban claim to have killed reporter

KABUL, April 8 – The Taliban in Afghanistan say they have killed an Afghan reporter who was abducted last month with an Italian journalist. The group said it had killed Ajmal Naqshbandi because the government had refused to meet their demands to release senior figures from prison. The Italian reporter, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, was released after five Taliban members were freed in exchange. Mr. Naqshbandi had been working as an interpreter for the Italian[s]. The Italian news outlet Peace Reporter however has cast doubt on the reported execution by Taliban militants of the Afghan reporter. [More>>]

04.08.07 US inks border management pact with Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (PTI) April 8 – The US has signed a border management pact with Pakistan to check the movement of Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in the restive northern areas bordering Afghanistan. The two countries signed a USD 1 million pact as part of a joint plan to bolster the capabilities of Pakistan's border security forces and enhance the Frontier Corps (FC) by raising an additional 50 platoons to protect the 286-kilometre Frontier Regions border from infiltration by the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants. [More>>]

04.08.07 Smoking while pregnant raises the likelihood of having a girl

April 8 – And the chance of giving birth to a boy drops by almost half if both parents are smokers, study shows. Parents who are smokers when they conceive a child are far more likely to have girls than boys, an extensive study by pediatricians has found. The chance of having a male baby drops by almost half if both parents smoke during early pregnancy, amid fresh evidence that smoking could "kill" male foetuses in the womb. Smoking not only reduces the chances of conceiving a male child, but could stop male embryos implanting in the womb and cause miscarriages.

While almost 52 per cent of all new-born babies are male in the western world, the proportion of female offspring rises dramatically among smokers. The study into 9,000 pregnancies in Liverpool found a startling imbalance in the number of girl babies among parents who smoke. Mothers who smoked during pregnancy were one-third less likely to have male children than mothers who did not smoke. If the father also smoked, and if factors such as the health and age of the mother were accounted for, the chances of having a male child reduces by almost half.

04.08.07 Delayed benefits frustrate veterans

April 8 – Hundreds of thousands of disability claims pending at VA; Current wars likely to strain system further. In his last years, World War II veteran Seymour D. Lewis would stand at the door of his home in Savannah, Ga., waiting for a letter that never arrived. The family of the former Army private, who lost the hearing in his right ear to a grenade explosion in basic training in 1944, spent years wrestling with the federal bureaucracy for his disability benefits, at one point waiting more than a year just to be told to fill out more forms. In 2001, the Department of Veterans Affairs started sending Lewis a monthly check for $200, an amount he appealed as too little and too late for the lasting physical sacrifice he made for his country, his family said. The appeal was still pending when Lewis died last year at age 80.

...Hundreds of thousands of veterans, many approaching the winter of their lives, await VA disability claim decisions that will provide or deny a key source of income. The monthly payments, which range from $115 to $2,471 for individuals, are available to veterans of any age whose disability is "a result of disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service," according to the Veterans Benefits Administration...
[Full story>>]

04.08.07 Africa's poisoned inheritance

April 2 – About 50,000 tons of deteriorated pesticides contaminate the continent. Africa is one of the main rubbish bins of the world. However, not many people know that besides the toxic waste coming from the West, there also are tens of thousands of tons of deteriorated pesticides in the continent, which were bought in huge quantities over the last 40 years and were never used. According to the World Health Organization, 200.000 people die every year because of the effects caused by the deterioration of agricultural pesticides, and 750.000 people resort to medical aid. [More>>]

04.07.07 Outcry over slain Mexico reporter

April 7 – Journalists and relatives have called for a probe into the murder of a prominent television reporter in the Mexican resort of Acapulco. Amado Ramirez, a correspondent for TV news network Televisa, was shot dead on Friday as he left a radio station. Security officials said two gunmen were waiting for him as he neared his car. In recent months, Acapulco has been hit by a wave of violence believed linked to the drug trade and control of key coastal smuggling routes. [More>>]

04.07.07 Saudi Arabia wants Iran to hand over suspects

RIYADH (Reuters) April 7 – Saudi Arabia has asked Iran to hand over suspected militants plotting against the kingdom's security, the Saudi interior minister said in remarks published on Saturday. "We have information on ... wanted people, they are Saudis and they (Iranians) have them and we reiterate to our brothers in Iran to hand them over to us," al-Riyadh newspaper quoted Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz as saying.

"We have a list and a formal demand, and we always reiterate to our Iranian brothers that they have to hand over any Saudi or anybody who is targeting the kingdom," he added. He did not elaborate. Interior Ministry officials could not be reached for comment. Iran has extradited a number of Saudi suspects to the kingdom since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. Some of the suspects have been released after being cleared.

04.07.07 Sectarian violence kills dozens in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) April 7 – Gunmen opened fire on Shiite Muslims in a remote town in northwestern Pakistan, triggering gunbattles between majority Sunni and minority Shiites that left at least 40 people dead and 43 wounded, officials said Saturday. The trouble began Friday when unidentified people began shooting at Shiites near their mosque in Parachinar, about 150 miles southwest of Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier province bordering Afghanistan. Some of the Shiites blamed rival Sunni Muslims for the violence, and burned down Sunni-owned shops and homes. The ensuing riots left at least 40 people dead, said a security official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. [More>>]

04.07.07 Released Iranian diplomat accuses CIA of torture – news agency

TEHRAN (RIA Novosti) April 7 – An Iranian diplomat abducted in Baghdad in early February and released earlier this week claims he has been interrogated and tortured by the CIA agents, an Iran's news agency reported Saturday. Jalal Sharafi, the second secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, was released and repatriated on Tuesday following what he claims an abduction by Iraqi special services working under US control. [More>>]

04.07.07 Israel in deadly air raid against Gaza militants

GAZA CITY, Gaza (AFP) April 7 – Israel launched an air strike against suspected Gaza militants Saturday, killing one and wounding two, as it made good on threats to get tough over persistent rocket fire from the territory. Israeli fire also wounded a Palestinian militant commander on its most wanted list in the West Bank town of Jenin in what the militant group called a deliberate assassination attempt. Palestinian medics named the militant killed in the Gaza raid as Fuad Maaruf, 22, an activist of the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). [More>>]

04.07.07 Seven killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan

KABUL, April 7 – Taliban killed Saturday seven people as they attacked a team cleaning the land mines in Afghanistan. According to Afghan police, Taliban attacked the team deputed to clean the land mines in Farrukh province, killing three team members, their three guards and one Afghan woman. Five people including three women were injured in the attack. [> ; See related stories, (AFP) April 7, "Two French confirmed kidnapped in Afghanistan", April 7, "NATO retakes Taliban-held town"

04.07.07 Attackers set Mosque on fire, locking worshippers in

SANAA, Yemen (Reuters) April 7 – Attackers poured fuel over worshippers at a mosque in northern Yemen, locked the doors and set fire to it, wounding 30 people, the official Saba news agency reported. The attack took place on Friday in the northern province of Amran, south of Saada, where troops are battling Shia Muslim rebels who the government says want to install clerical rule in the Sunni-dominated country. It was not immediately clear if the mosque was used by Sunni or Shia worshippers. "Security authorities are investigating to identify the assailants and the motives of this criminal act," Saba quoted Amran Governor Taha Hajar as saying. [More>>]

04.07.07 US air strike hits volatile Iraqi city

DIWANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) April 7 – US forces launched an air strike in Diwaniya on Saturday as US and Iraqi troops fought for a second day to overcome Shi'ite militias and bring the city back under government control. A local hospital source and a resident said six people, including two children and a woman, were killed in the missile strike on a home in the centre of the city, 180 km south of Baghdad.

US military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl said one person had been killed when a warplane fired on gunmen carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers. "The engagement was initiated by a tip that was called in by a local citizen. We had visual confirmation that there was a hostile target. There was no collateral damage," he said.
[More>> ; See related story, (AFP) April 6, "Iraq, US troops capture 27 in latest crackdown."]

04.07.07 Quake lifts Solomons island metres from the sea

RANONGGA, Solomon Islands (AFP) April 7 – The force of this week's Solomons earthquake has lifted an island in the South Pacific archipelago and pushed out its shoreline by tens of metres, exposing surrounding reefs. The remote island of Ranongga in the western Solomon Islands used to have submerged coral reefs that attracted scuba divers from around the world. But since Monday's massive earthquake in the Solomon Islands, the reefs are now exposed above the water and are dying, an AFP reporter and photographer have seen. [More>>]

04.07.07 Scientists walk out in protest at China's intransigence

BRUSSELS, April 7 – Some of the world's best-informed climate change scientists walked out of an all-night drafting session of yesterday's report on global warming, as tempers flared. The protest, which included a prominent US scientist, took place after Chinese diplomats sought to water down a section spelling out the degree of certainty researchers attach to the impact of climate change. During a fractious night of negotiation, China and Saudi Arabia were identified as the countries which sought most systematically to dilute the text. [More>>]

04.07.07 An archive of despair

BAGHDAD, April 7 – (By Sudarsan Raghavan) Saad Eskander Works To Protect Iraq Library From Bombs and Mold. Saad Eskander sat behind his chocolate-colored desk, another day in a promising, but broken, place. Sunlight peeked through bullet holes in the shattered bathroom window of his top floor office at the Iraq National Library and Archive, where he is director. Downstairs, power cuts took a toll on books. And earlier on the morning of March 5, he said farewell to an employee who was fleeing the capital. Her brother had been murdered.

To his right, glass bookcases contained the rarest books and manuscripts in the building. To his left, floor-to-ceiling windows provided a view of the world outside. At 11:40 a.m. the windows shook. "Every day we hear this," said Eskander, his soft voice hardening. Calmly, he stood up and gazed out at the fog of black smoke and white paper drifting toward the sky, half a mile away. "This is not the closest one. I've lost count of the bombs."

After the US-led invasion in 2003, looters pillaged and burned the library. Now, on the brink of the fourth anniversary of Saddam Hussein's fall, and several weeks into a new security offensive, Eskander and his staff are struggling to preserve the fragments of Iraq's ancient heritage at a place he calls the "historical memory of the country."

04.07.07 A top aide to Gonzales resigns, becoming latest fallout casualty

WASHINGTON, April 7 – A top aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales resigned on Friday, becoming another casualty of the political storm that has rocked the Justice Department in the aftermath of last yearıs dismissals of eight United States attorneys. The aide, Monica Goodling, had helped to coordinate those dismissals with the White House, an episode that has provoked demands for Mr. Gonzalesıs dismissal. Even Mr. Gonzalesıs allies, including President Bush, say the dismissals were bungled from a public relations and political standpoint.

Ms. Goodling, who has been on leave as the Justice Departmentıs liaison to the White House, notified the Senate Judiciary Committee through her lawyer on March 26 that she would invoke her constitutional right not to testify in the panelıs inquiry about the dismissals — not because she had anything to hide, the lawyer said, but because she did not expect fair treatment in the current climate of political hostility.

04.06.07 Freed captives describe Iranian threats and pressure

April 6 – The 15 Royal Navy personnel captured by Iran described today how they were blindfolded, bound and subjected to ³constant psychological pressure² during their 13 days in captivity. In their first public appearance since their release, two members of the group read out a dramatic statement at a Royal Marines base in Devon in which they vigorously defended both their decision to surrender to the Iranians who ambushed them in the northern Gulf.

After a routine boarding operation of a merchant vessel inside Iraqi waters, the group found themselves blocked by two heavily armed Iranian speedboats. Although they prepared to use their weapons, they soon decided that if they used them there would be a major fight - which they could not have won - and the consequences would have a major strategic impact...Instead her colleagues told how they were kept blindfolded in solitary confinement in small stone cells and told during nightly interrogations that they faced seven years in prison if they did not admit that they had strayed into Iranian waters...Lieutenant Felix Carman, 26, of Swansea, South Wales, told how they were taken by the Iranians, on Friday March 23. He stressed the sailors and marines were on a routine operation when they boarded a merchant vessel in an area south of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. "I can clearly state we were 1.7 nautical miles from Iranian waters," he said.
[Full story>> ; See related story,, April 6, "Blair attacks Iran as Basra deaths overshadow the hostages' return" : It was meant to be a day to celebrate the homecoming of the hostages from Iran. "Rejoice" said Tony Blair. But then came the dark shadow of Iraq, four British soldiers - two of them women - killed and another severely wounded in a roadside ambush in Basra. The attack, in which a Kuwaiti interpreter was also killed, shattered whatever hopes had emerged of better relations with Iran following the release of the British prisoners. The Prime Minister directly linked the Tehran regime to killings of British soldiers in Iraq, accusing it of "backing, financing, arming terrorism." ...

04.06.07 Cheney accuses Pelosi of 'bad behavior' on Middle East trip

(Reuters) April 6 – Vice President Dick Cheney accused U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday of "bad behavior" on her Middle East trip, saying she bungled a message for Syria's president that was later clarified by Israel. Cheney harshly criticized Pelosi's visit to Syria this week and declared in an interview, "The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House." [More>>]

04.06.07 US, UK, France pushing for UN Committee to examine Lebanon arms smuggling

NEW YORK, April 6 – The United States, Great Britain, and France are pushing for the formation of a special United Nations expert committee to examine claims of ongoing weapons smuggling through the Syria-Lebanon border. The initiative is part of a draft presidential statement that has already been circulated among UN Security Council members, and will be discussed beginning Monday. According to sources at the UN headquarters, the initiative includes a proposal for the committee to tour the Syrian-Lebanon border. The committee will be asked to make recommendations regarding how to effectively prevent the arms smuggling. [More>>]

04.06.07 Maliki restores Saddam officers' jobs or pensions

BAGHDAD (AFP) April 6 – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has ordered that officers of Saddam Husseinıs dissolved armed forces get back either their job or their pension, his office said on Friday. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting on March 20, a statement said, in the latest bid to wean members of the ousted regime away from the persistent Sunni Arab insurgency. All officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel or above will be offered a pension. Those with the rank of major or below will be absorbed into the armed forces of the US-backed government or into government ministries. [More>>]

04.06.07 Al-Qaeda warned on Iraq activity

BAGHDAD (Reuters) April 6 – AN influential Sunni Arab insurgent group has called on al-Qaeda in Iraq to "review" its behaviour in what is evidence of a growing rift between home- grown insurgents and al-Qaeda. The Islamic Army in Iraq, believed to be the largest group of former Baathists and military officers fighting Iraqi and US forces, said it had dealt with al-Qaeda militants with "patience and wisdom" to keep a united ³resistance front. But this was not fruitful," the group said, the first public criticism from the Islamic Army, which is believed to have been operating under the umbrella of Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda in Iraq.

"Killing Sunnis has become a legitimate target for them, especially rich ones. Either they pay them what they want or they kill them," the group said. "They would kill any critic or whoever tries to show them their mistakes. Assaulting people's homes became permitted and calling people infidels also became popular." The growing tension coincides with a struggle for power between al-Qaeda and traditionally minded Sunni tribal leaders who are angered by al-Qaeda in Iraq's indiscriminate killing of civilians and severe interpretation of Sunni Islam. Al-Qaeda in Iraq wields wide influence in several western and central provinces, particularly in the vast Anbar region that stretches to Syria.
[More>> ; see related stories:, April 6, "Saddam, documents show no Iraq-Al Qaeda cooperation.", April 6, "Hussein's prewar ties to Al-Qaeda discounted' : Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the US invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday. The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February..., April 6, "Cheney reasserts Al-Qaeda-Saddam connection"

04.06.07 Saudi police kill suspect in death of 4 French

RIYADH, April 6 – A suspect in the killing of four Frenchmen in Saudi Arabia was shot dead by police Friday, and a policeman was killed, in a shootout in the holy city of Medina, the interior ministry said. The official news agency SPA quoted a ministry source as saying "this person implicated in the foul crime perpetrated against the four French citizens ... had been hunted by the security services and is called Walid Motlaq Al Raddadi." Raddadi was tracked down to a northern residential area. "When the security forces arrived and began to evacuate residents they came under intense fire from a machine gun and grenades," SPA quoted the source as saying. [More>>]

04.06.07 Duma voices concern over NATO buildup near Russia's borders

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) April 6 – Russia's lower house of parliament unanimously issued a statement Friday expressing concern over NATO military buildup near Russia's borders, accusing the alliance of blocking an updated version of Europe's main arms control treaty. "The consistent and unjustifiable obstruction of the adapted version of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty by the North Atlantic alliance's member states is creating conditions for uncontrolled military buildup near Russian borders, and [poses] a direct threat to the security and stability of the whole of Europe," the State Duma said in its statement. [More>>]

04.06.07 Four killed in Kabul blast

April 6 – A suicide bomber has killed three civilians and a policeman near Afghanistan's parliament in Kabul. Police said four other people were wounded in the blast early on Friday. Police had stopped the bomber in his car when he blew himself up, a policeman at the scene said. The attack was the third suicide blast in the heavily-secured city this year amid a raging insurgency by the Taliban, ousted by US-led forces in late 2001. [More>>]

04.06.07 Musharraf says imposition of thinking with force not real Islam

ISLAMABAD, April 6 – President General Pervez Musharraf, on the situation at the Hafsa Madrasa in Islamabad, regretted the rigid attitude of the people of the madrisa. The President said the expression of thoughts is not bad but a group could not impose their system of Islam with force. He said imposing the thinking of a specified group with force was not real Islam, adding that suicide bombing is unIslamic. He was addressing the National Lady Health Visitors' Convention here Friday to celebrate the world Health Day observed on Friday. [More>> ; See related story, (Reuters) April 6, "Suicide bomb threat rings out in Pakistan capital" : ISLAMABAD – The chief cleric of a radical mosque in Pakistanıs capital trumpeted plans on Friday to set up vigilante Islamic courts and exhorted followers to become suicide bombers if their Taleban-style movement was forcibly suppressed. "Our youths will shake their palaces with their suicide attacks," Maulana Abdul Aziz warned the government in a fiery sermon delivered to thousands of followers at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in central Islamabad...

04.06.07 YouTube asked to delete video posts on Tokyo governor candidates

TOKYO, April 6 – The Tokyo metropolitan election management committee on Thursday asked the YouTube video posting website to delete posts of official campaign broadcasts by some candidates for the gubernatorial election slated for Sunday, citing "fairness" in election campaigning. The popular carries an unedited broadcast version of a certain candidate who made radical political statements aired on TV in Japan as well as posts of the broadcast edited with music and subtitles added. [>]

04.06.07 Suicide bomber explodes chlorine truck

(AFP) April 6 – A suicide bomber exploded a truck full of chlorine near a police station killing at least 27 people in the restive western city of Ramadi. "At least 27 people, many of them women and children, have been killed in the attack," an officer said, specifying that another 30 were wounded. He said the bomber was targeting a police station, but blew himself up "200m away from it near the residental area of Al-Tamim." The explosion occurred next to a market and residential buildings, he said. [More>> ; See also, April 6, "Chlorine attack kills 20 in Iraqi town."]

04.06.07 Bird flu kills teenager, raising country's toll to 73

JAKARTA (AP) April 6 – An Indonesian teenager died of bird flu in the bustling capital, bringing the toll in the country hardest hit by the virus to 73, a health ministry official and doctor said Friday. The 15-year-old girl was admitted to the Sulianti Saroso Hospital for Infectious Diseases on Monday and died late Thursday, said Sardikin Giriputro, a doctor at the facility. "By the time she arrived, it was too late," he said. "She died after experiencing multi-organ failure." Health Ministry official Muhammad Nadirin confirmed that the girl's lab tests showed she had contracted the H5N1 virus, apparently after coming into contact with infected pet birds at her home in central Jakarta. [More>> ; See related story,, (AP) April 6, "Cambodian girl dies from bird flu."]

04.05.07 Report: Syria promised Pelosi to help mediate on captured IDF troops' fate

(AP) April 5 – Syrian officials promised visiting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to assist in the mediation efforts between Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah over the fate of captured Israel Defense Forces troops, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Thursday. According to the newspaper, the officials promised to "exert the maximum effort" in order to help the sides reach a prisoner exchange agreement. It was also agreed that US Congressman Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), himself of Lebanese descent, would act as a mediator on the issue. [More>> ; See related story,, April 5, "I was right to have talks with Assad, insists Pelosi" : ...Earlier this week, Mr. Bush had criticised Mrs. Pelosi's trip, saying such delegations had little impact. "Sending delegations doesn't work. It's simply been counterproductive," he said. But members of Mrs. Pelosi's delegation disagreed. Congressman Tom Lantos, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the meeting strongly reinforced the potential benefits of talking to Syria. "This is only the beginning of our constructive dialogue with Syria and we hope to build on this visit," he said.

04.05.07 Iran hostages are back in Britain

April 5 – Fifteen Royal Navy personnel detained at gunpoint in the Gulf touched down back at home in Britain today, arriving at Heathrow on a British Airways flight from Tehran just after midday. The eight sailors and seven Marines, who had swapped their shiny new Iranian suits for their naval uniforms during the flight, posed briefly for photographs before crossing to two Sea King helicopters waiting to take them to a Royal Marine base in Devon.

The 15 were released yesterday in a stunning piece of political theatre by President Ahmandinejad, who brought a bizarre but welcome end to a 13-day hostage drama that had held out the possibility of violent escalation. The group, which includes one woman, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, left Tehran at about 8.30am local time and arrived at Heathrow at 12.02pm. They were not due to meet up with their relatives, however, until their arrival at Royal Marines Base Chivenor, near Barnstaple.

04.05.07 New measures to tackle extremist preachers

April 5 – The Government could use Asbos in a fresh effort to tackle extremist preachers and other "radicalisers," he Attorney General announced today. According to new guidance drawn up by Lord Goldsmith, extremists who preach hate and violence should be made to "face the full force of the law," with more efforts to prosecute them under existing legislation and to use Anti Social Behavior Orders (Asbos) to prevent them holding meetings and leading young people astray. The attempt to invigorate the legal fight against radical extremists coincides with the publication today of a six-point plan by the Department of Communities and Local Government aimed at reining in power of violent ideologies across society.

Police are also encouraging the public to use the national terror hotline to report suspicious preachers, while Scotland Yardıs counter terrorism command has set up a new unit to coordinate efforts to limit their influence. The Crown Prosecution Service has established a team of lawyers to bring the cases to court. "This is not about stopping preachers going to their mosques, this is not about stopping people being able to express lawfully their opinions," said Lord Goldsmith. "Lets not look at this initiative from the wrong end of the telescope.

"The right end of the telescope is having a crackdown really focusing on the extremists who are breaking the law in terms of serious criminal offences: inciting violence, encouraging people to take part in terrorism, inciting hatred against particular groups in our community..."

04.05.07 Iran's air defense can repel US air strikes – Russian brass

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) April 5 – Iran has air defense systems capable of repelling possible United States air strikes, a high-ranking Russian military official said Thursday. A Kuwaiti newspaper warned Wednesday that the United States was planning a missile strike against Iran some time in April. In an editorial citing unnamed Washington sources, As-Siyasa said air-to-surface missiles could be used in US strikes against Iran, but that no ground operation would be launched to avoid casualties among US service personnel.

"In line with my assessment, Iran's air defense system is strong enough," Colonel General Yury Solovyov, commander of the Air Defense Forces Special Command (former Moscow Military District Air Defense Command), said. "Currently Iran has our [Russian] air defense missile systems, which are capable of tackling US combat aircraft. Iran also has French and other countries' [defense] systems."

04.05.07 Ten British, US troops killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD, April 5 – Six American and four British soldiers were killed in separate attacks in Iraq, coalition forces announced on Thursday, as Britain prepared to transfer security for another province to local troops. Following one of the bloodiest recent 24-hour periods for foreign troops in Iraq, the US military announced that a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter had crashed south of Baghdad, injuring four personnel.

The four British soldiers and a civilian interpreter in the same vehicle were killed outside the southern city of Basra in a complex attack involving a roadside bomb, small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Another soldier was seriously wounded.

04.05.07 YouTube website blocked in Thailand for clip "offending" Thai king

BANGKOK (Xinhua) April 5 – Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has blocked the popular video-sharing website YouTube indefinitely until a video clip considered insulting to the highly-revered Thai King is removed from the website. The ICT minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom was quoted by the state media Thai News Agency as saying on Thursday that the ministry ordered state-owned CAT Telecom to block the website ( after its owner, Google Inc, failed to remove the clip as requested by Thai authorities.

"The authorities told them (Google) that the Thai public is offended by the clip, but they said the clip was not considered a big deal and they took no action," Sitthichai said. As Internet users outside the country can still view the clip, said Sitthichai, the ICT ministry would coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urgently conduct talks to seek Google's cooperation in removing the offending images as fast as possible.

All Internet provider services in Thailand were instructed to strictly block the website, said the ICT Minister, who also warned people who downloaded and saved the file in question in their computers to delete it immediately as distributing the clip was against the law. The King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej, who turns 80 this December and has be in reign for 60 years, enjoys high moral authority among Thais. Criticizing or offending the royalty is a serious crime in Thailand, with up to 15-year jail term for those convicted of lese majeste.

04.05.07 Playboy Indonesia 'not pornography'

April 5 – The editor-in-chief of Playboy Indonesia has been found innocent of violating indecency laws in the world's most populous Muslim nation and will not face time behind bars. Erwin Arnada had faced a maximum punishment of more than two years in prison in a case closely watched by conservative Muslim groups. Arnada, who had vowed to continue publishing the magazine whatever the court's decision, later described the verdict as victory for press freedom. [More>> ; See also, April 5, " 'Playboy' editor-in-chief found not guilty."]

04.05.07 Tamiflu banned for teenagers

SEOUL, Korea April 5 – The government yesterday banned medical doctors and pharmacists from prescribing the anti-flu drug Tamiflu to teenagers following recent reports that several patients in Japan exhibited suicidal behavior after taking the medication. The Korea Food and Drug Administration said it has prohibited prescriptions of the drug to those aged between 10 and 19 except for patients who are at high risk of developing serious flu-related symptoms. The agency has been preparing measures to tackle the potential side-effects of the influenza-fighting drug after several young patients who took the drug committed suicide or harmed themselves in Japan last month. [More>>]

04.04.07 Pakistan tribal assault leaves 250 dead in a month

WANA, Pakistan (AFP) April 4 – Pakistani tribesmen beating war drums Wednesday launched their biggest assault yet against foreign Al-Qaeda militants in a border region after weeks of fighting that have left 250 people dead. Islamabad says the offensive by about 1,000 conservative local tribesmen will cut cross-border attacks in Afghanistan, and shows the success of a peace deal in the lawless South Waziristan region that was criticized by the West. Forty-four Uzbek, Chechen and Arab Islamic rebels were killed on Wednesday along with five tribesmen in heavy rocket and mortar clashes, the mountainous region's top administrator Hussainzada Khan told AFP. "Intense fighting is still going on," he said. [More>>]

04.04.07 Pelosi: Israel wants Syria talks

April 4 – Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, has told Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, that Israel is ready for peace talks. Pelosi passed on the message from Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, during talks with the Syrian leader in Damascus. "[Our] meeting with the president enabled us to communicate a message from Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks," Pelosi said.

She added that al-Assad assured her that was ready to restart peace talks with Israel. "He was ready to engage in negotiations [for] peace with Israel." Pelosi spoke to journalists at the end of a two-day visit to Syria, which the White House had criticized as undermining US efforts to isolate Syria..George Bush, the US president, has said Pelosi's trip signals that the al-Assad government is part of the international mainstream when it is not.
[More>> ; See more details,, April 4, "Pelosi defies Bush, meets Syrian leader." and, April 5, "US House speaker wraps up 'productive' visit to Syria.' "]

04.04.07 Fox-in-the-henhouse government

April 4 (Editorial by Ruth Marcus) – The Bush administration's House of Straw seems to be blowing apart, buffeted by alternating gusts of scandal and incompetence. The tornado of disastrous headlines – a Pentagon that can't take proper care of its wounded, a Justice Department that can't be trusted to follow the law or tell the truth to Congress, a top White House aide who lied to a grand jury – has been so overpowering that the day-to-day outrages of life in the Bush administration tend get overlooked.

So it's worth pausing to pay attention to some recent events that similarly underscore the failings of this administration and illuminate one of their root causes: a contemptuous attitude toward government itself. These episodes illustrate the administration's fox-guarding-the-henhouse personnel plan, the disdain of its appointees for the laws they are sworn to enforce and their spoils-of-war attitude toward the government they are entrusted with overseeing:

04.04.07 Iran will release hostages as Easter present

April 4 – Iran will release the 15 British military personnel seized in the Gulf 12 days ago as an Easter present to the British people, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced today. After decorating the members of the Iranian coast guard that captured seven Royal Navy sailors and eight Royal Marines on March 23, Mr. Ahmadinejad said he was prepared to forgive Britain for trespassing into Iranian territorial waters and would release the personnel in time for Easter.

In an eagerly anticipated news conference in Tehran, which came after 24 hours of apparent progress in the delicate negotiations aimed at securing the release of the captured personnel, Iran's hardline President said Britain was not "brave enough" to apologize but that he would forgive them anyway.

04.04.07 Gunmen kidnap 22 Iraqi shepherds

KARBALA, Iraq (AFP) April 4 – Gunmen wearing police uniforms seized 22 shepherds and their sheep in southern Iraq Wednesday in the latest mass abduction of Shiite workers by presumed Sunni insurgents. Traveling in three cars, the kidnappers swooped on the shepherds in an isolated desert area north of the Shiite shrine city of Karbala and took their truck, herd, and weapons, said Karbala police spokesman Rahman Mushawi. The victims were forced into vehicles and driven toward the neighboring Sunni province of Anbar, a hotbed of Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents opposed to the Shiite-led government and its US backers. [More>>]

04.04.07 Kuwaiti media warns of planned US strike against Iran in April

ABU DHABI (RIA Novosti) April 4 – A Kuwaiti newspaper warned Wednesday that the United States is planning a missile strike against Iran some time in April. In an editorial citing unnamed Washington sources, As-Siyasa said air-to-surface missiles could be used in US strikes against Iran, but that no ground operation would be launched to avoid casualties among US service personnel.

A political statement announcing the strike will be delivered by President George W. Bush later this month, the newspaper said. It will justify the military action against Iran by the need to enhance security, peace and stability in the Gulf region and in the Middle East, and will reemphasize the danger of Tehran's nuclear program to the United States and its allies.

04.04.07 Pakistan, India agree to implement IPI gas pipeline project

NEW DELHI, April 4 – Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and his Indian counterpart Dr. Manmohan Singh have agreed to implement the Iran, Pakistan, India gas pipeline in a meeting Wednesday on the sidelines of South Asian summit here. [More>>]

04.04.07 Bird flu kills Indonesian woman, raising toll to 72

JAKARTA (AP) April 4 – A woman died of bird flu in Indonesia's bustling capital, a Health Ministry official said Wednesday, raising the country's toll to 72. The 23-year-old maid died almost immediately after arriving at Persahabatan hospital on Sunday, said Muhammad Nadirin after lab tests came back positive for the H5N1 virus. Bird flu has killed at least 170 people since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in 2003, hitting Indonesia the hardest, according to the World Health Organization. It remains hard for people to catch, and most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds. But experts fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic that could kill millions. [> ; See related story,, April 4, "Bird flu tests on four Asians in Kuwait 'positive.' "]

04.04.07 Loss of coral may cause food supply crisis

April 4 – More than half of the tropical coral reefs in the world where governments collect data on fishing levels are being degraded beyond repair, according to a global survey of reef fisheries. The findings suggest that it would take an additional area of tropical coral four times the size of the Great Barrier Reef – the biggest reef system in the world – to sustain current fishing levels.

If the commercial exploitation of tropical corals continues at present rates, many reefs will be irreversibly degraded and millions of people will have to look for other sources of food, scientists said. "Millions of people are dependent on coral reef fisheries. We are facing a global crisis among communities which have limited alternative livelihoods or major food sources," said Katie Newton of the University of East Anglia in Norwich. "We're facing a food-security crisis – 30 million people on the planet depend entirely on coral reefs for their income and for their food," Ms Newton said.

04.03.07 Pirates seize merchant ship and crew

LONDON (Reuters) April 3 – Pirates have hijacked an Indian-flagged merchant ship in Somali waters, the second ship to be seized in the region in five weeks. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said today pirates seized the ship and its crew close to Mogadishu late yesterday. "We are seeking confirmation of the name of the ship and details of the crew from its owners," IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said. Trade press reports named the vessel as the Nimatulah or N'imatullah with 14 Indian crew members aboard. The latest hijacking follows the capture of a UN-chartered freighter, the Rozen, with its crew of six Kenyans and six Sri Lankans in late February. The crew are still being held off the coast of the semi-autonomous Puntland region. [More>>]

04.03.07 US House speaker in controversial Syria trip

DAMASCUS (AFP) April 3 – US House speaker Nancy Pelosi is due in Syria on Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking American politician to visit in years, on a mission slammed by the White House as undermining US policy. The leading Democrat said in Beirut on Monday that her planned visit to Damascus was important, despite the anger it has stirred in the administration of President George W. Bush. "We think itıs a good idea, thatıs why weıre doing it," Pelosi told journalists before leaving for Amman, from where she was to fly to Damascus.

"Our trip to Syria is one that is ... also important to the Iraq Study Group which encourages such diplomacy and engagement," she said in reference to a bipartisan US group that last year recommended engaging US foes Syria and Iran in a bid to calm war-torn Iraq. "The purpose of this trip is a part of our responsibility for the national security of the United States," Pelosi said. While the visit has been welcomed in Damascus, which has been keen to renew contacts with Washington, the White House says she risks undermining US-led efforts to isolate Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

04.03.07 Bush criticizes Democrats over war funds

WASHINGTON (AP) April 3 – President Bush expressed frustration on Tuesday with the congressional debate on Iraq war spending and accused majority-party Democrats of being "more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than providing our troops what they need." Bush, speaking with reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House, renewed his veto threats on both a House and Senate spending bills.

Bush and Congress have been wrestling for the upper hand in the Iraq war debate, with neither side willing to back down and a top Democrat saying for the first time he wants to yank money for combat. The president's remarks come one day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who previously has stopped short of saying he would support measures to cut off funds, announced he would try to eliminate money for the war if Bush rejects Congress' proposal to set a deadline to end combat.

04.03.07 US denies doing preparation of war with Iran

WASHINGTON (Xinhua) April 2 – The White House renewed on Monday its denial of increasing rhetoric that the United States is preparing for war against Iran. "We reject any notion that suggests that we are ratcheting up the language in terms of trying to prepare to go to war with Iran. That is certainly not the case," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said at a news briefing. The reiteration by the White House occurred at the time when US aircraft carrier Nimitz and its support ships are leaving for the Persian Gulf to join another aircraft carrier strike group already in that region. [More>> ; See related stories,, April 3, "US must think twice before striking Iran – Russian brass." and, April 3, "Iran: If Russia won't deliver atomic fuel we will make it ourselves."]

04.03.07 Abducted Iran diplomat freed in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) April 3 – A senior Iranian diplomat who was seized at gunpoint from a Baghdad street two months ago has been released, an embassy official said Tuesday. Jalal Sharafi, second secretary in Iran's mission to the world's most dangerous capital, was released by his captors Monday, the official said. The 40-year-old was seized in Karrada, a predominantly Shiite southeastern district of Baghdad, February 4 by gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms outside a branch of the Iranian state-owned Bank Melli.

His abduction came amid increasing tension between Iran and the United States, which arrested five Iranians January 11 in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on suspicion of aiding anti-US militants. But Tuesday the US military expressed ignorance about Sharafi's release.

04.03.07 The botched US raid that led to the hostage crisis

April 3 – A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines. Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds. In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment.

Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil – and the angry Iranian response to it - should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realize that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf. The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.

The two men were in Kurdistan on an official visit during which they met the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and later saw Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), at his mountain headquarters overlooking Arbil. "They were after Jafari," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, told The Independent. [

04.03.07 381 civilians killed in Somalia battles

MOGADISHU, April 3 – The United States, Europe and African countries pushed for peace in Somalia on Tuesday after heavy fighting in Mogadishu that killed 381 civilians and wounded up to 700. Diplomats from an International Contact Group on Somalia met in Cairo to discuss how to stop the fighting and staunch a torrent of refugees. More bodies were expected to be unearthed in crumpled buildings after four days of battles that ended on Sunday and which aid agencies say were the bloodiest for 15 years. [More>>]

04.03.07 French set new rail speed record

April 3 – A French high-speed train (TGV) has smashed the world record for a train on conventional rails by a big margin, reaching 574.8km/h (356mph). The previous TGV record was 515km/h (320mph), set in 1990. The record attempt by a modified TGV took place on a track between Paris and the eastern city of Strasbourg.

The absolute train speed record was set by a Japanese magnetic levitation train – Maglev – in 2003. It reached a top speed of 581km/h (361mph). The TGV set the new record at 1314 (1114GMT) on Tuesday. It was a modified version called V150, with larger wheels than usual and two engines driving three double-decker cars. The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby said the three train drivers were seen grinning on French TV after they realized they had broken the record.
[More>> ; See also, April 3, "TGV: nouveau record du monde de vitesse sur rail à 574,7 km/h."]

04.03.07 Justices say E.P.A. has power to act on harmful gases

WASHINGTON, April 3 – In one of its most important environmental decisions in years, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases in automobile emissions. The court further ruled that the agency could not sidestep its authority to regulate the greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change unless it could provide a scientific basis for its refusal. [More>> ; See also, March 31, "Bush loses power over greenhouse gas emissions."]

04.03.07 Tsunami death toll rises higher

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (AP) April 3 – Survivors scavenged for food and drinking water in towns hammered by a tsunami on the Solomon Islands' west coast, while officials said the death toll was at 28 and would rise higher as they struggled to reach remote communities. The first television footage of the devastated region taken by helicopter after Monday's double-hit disaster – a huge undersea earthquake followed minutes later by a surging wall of water – showed building after tin-and-thatched-roof building collapsed along a muddy foreshore.

Men, some shirtless and wearing shorts, picked through the debris. Some buildings leaned awkwardly on broken stilts. Arnold Moveni, chairman of the disaster committee in the Solomons' hardest-hit Western Province, said 28 people were confirmed dead, and that the toll was expected to keep rising. Most bodies were found by residents as they searched through rubble for missing relatives, he said. Five unconfirmed deaths were reported in neighboring Papua New Guinea.

The government lifted a tsunami warning imposed since Monday's disaster, despite powerful aftershocks that continued to rattle nerves, and was encouraging people to return to their homes. National Disaster Management Office spokesman Julian Makaa told Australian Broadcasting Corp. an initial damage assessment was "around 916 houses, and a very rough estimate of the people affected is around 5,000 people."


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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