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News Headlines & Trends

05.10.10 EU sets massive defense package for embattled Euro

May 10 - EU sets up $1 trillion eurozone/IMF defense package to protect euro from disintegration. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund pledged nearly $1 trillion Monday to defend the embattled euro, hoping to repel relentless speculative attacks on the weakest of Europe's debt-laden nations and prevent the common currency from disintegrating. Central banks around the world joined the coordinated effort to prop up the euro and prevent Europe's debt crisis from derailing the global economic recovery. The US Federal Reserve reopened a currency "swap" program to ship billions of US dollars overseas in a bid to pump more short-term cash into the financial system and ensure banks have the dollars they need. Separately, the ECB jumped into the bond market, saying it is ready to buy debt from the eurozone — EU nations that use the euro — to shore up liquidity in "dysfunctional" markets. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

05.10.10 68 killed in Iraq's bloodiest day this year

May 10 - Twin car bombs at a factory, followed by a suicide blast against emergency workers, and coordinated attacks on security forces killed 68 people on Monday. In Iraq's bloodiest day this year, there were more than 20 attacks nationwide, a surge in violence that came as the country moved closer to forming a new government two months after a general election seen crucial to US combat troops leaving the country by August 31. The deadliest attack saw two explosives-packed vehicles detonated minutes apart in the car park of a textiles factory in the central city of Hilla, 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad, as workers boarded buses to go home. About an hour later, a massive blast, which an interior ministry official said was a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-filled belt, engulfed the area as emergency service workers treated victims at the scene. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

05.10.10 40 militants killed in Orakzai; 4 soldiers martyred

KOHAT, Pakistan, May 10 - Forty militants were killed and over 15 more injured in a fierce clash with security forces in Upper Orakzai while 4 soldiers were martyred, Geo News reported Monday. According to official sources, the security forces are pushing forward towards Dabori. A fierce clash between security forces and militants occurred in Khan Qamar Klay area in which 40 militants were killed and more than 15 wounded. Those killed also included a key militant commander. Four security men embraced Shahadat during the clash. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.10.10 Serbia uncovers 'Kosovo mass grave'

May 10 - A mass grave believed to contain the bodies of 250 ethnic Albanians killed in the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict has been uncovered, Serbian officials have said. Serbia's war crimes prosecutor said the grave had been found in a pond at a quarry in the country's southwestern region of Raska, with the help of the European Union's law and order mission in Kosovo (Eulex). "This is more proof that Serbia does not shy away from its dark past and is ready to bring to justice all those who have committed crimes," Vladimir Vukcevic told the AFP news agency. He said exhumation of the site was expected to begin soon. Thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed in the Kosovo conflict, while more than 1,000 are still missing. [More>>aljazeera.net]

05.10.10 South Korean defense chief confirms explosive chemical found in sunken ship's wreckage

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) May 10 - South Korea's defense minister confirmed Monday that traces of an explosive chemical substance used to make torpedoes were found in the wreckage of a naval ship that sank near the border with North Korea. The 1,200-ton Cheonan went down in the Yellow Sea on March 26 after an explosion tore through the frigate. Fifty-eight sailors were rescued, but 46 were killed. Seoul has not directly blamed North Korea for the sinking, and Pyongyang has denied involvement. However, suspicion has focused on the North, given its history of provocations and attacks. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said earlier that an initial investigation indicated that a torpedo was likely to blame for the disaster. On Monday, he confirmed media reports that traces of a high explosive were found on the ship's wreckage. [More>>foxnews.com]

05.09.10 Holder: Pakistani Taliban behind Times Square attack

May 9 - Attorney General Eric Holder links Faisal Shahzad to Pakistani Taliban. Attorney General Eric Holder says the accused Times Square bomb plotter, Faisal Shahzad, was backed by the Pakistani Taliban. "We've now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack," Holder said in an interview on ABC News' "This Week." "We know that they helped facilitate it," Holder added. "We know that they probably helped finance it and that he was working at their direction." The Pakistani government, Holder said, has been "extremely aggressive" in assisting with the investigation. "They've been cooperative with us, and I think we have been satisfied with the work that they have done," Holder said. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in another "This Week" interview, criticized the Obama administration for reading Shahzad his Miranda rights. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

05.09.10 US missiles kill 10 in Northwestern Pakistan, intelligence officials say

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) May 9 - The missiles struck in North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border where many Taliban-affiliated militant networks are based. Suspected US missiles killed 10 people in a militant-controlled region close to the Afghan border Sunday, the first such strike since an alleged Pakistani-trained extremist was linked to a bombing attempt in Times Square. Last week's failed car bomb in New York City has added to pressure on Pakistan to crack down on al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who have long had safe havens along the Afghan border. A Pakistan-American detained soon after the bomb attempt has allegedly told investigators he received explosives training in the Waziristan area there. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Washington expects more cooperation from Pakistan in fighting terrorism and warned of "severe consequences" if an attack on US soil were traced back to the South Asian country.

..The US missiles hit in North Waziristan, which has been the target of nearly all of the some 30 other American attacks this year. al-Qaeda leaders and jihadis from all over the world congregate in the region, as well as members of the Pakistani Taliban, which has reportedly been linked to the Times Square attempt. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the two missiles hit the house of local tribesman Awal Gul in Enzer Kasa village of the Datta Khel area. Ten people were killed, among them an unknown number of militants who were staying at the home, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. It was not immediately clear whether Gul had any ties to militant groups.
[Full story>>foxnews.com; See other details,

thenews.com.pk, May 9, "US drone strike kills 10 in North Waziristan"
: ...The strike took place in Inzarkas village, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district, known as a hub for Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants..."The compound became suspicious as it was being used by foreigners." Pakistani officials use the term "foreigners" for al-Qaeda linked militants operating in the tribal regions.

05.09.10 Tar blobs hit Alabama as 1st oil diversion aborted

May 9 - Containment dome put over leak site doesn't work; may take a day before BP can try something different. It could be at least a day before BP can make another attempt at putting a lid on a well spewing thousands of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, as a big box meant to siphon away the oil sat idle and encased in ice crystals. The company's first attempt to divert the oil was foiled, its mission now in serious doubt. Meanwhile, thick blobs of tar washed up on Alabama's white sand beaches, yet another sign the spill was spreading. "The containment dome that was put over the leak site developed ice crystals," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schiffer. "The next tactic with be a junk shot. They'll take a bunch of debris, shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up and stop the leak." [More>>cbsnews.com; See related story, wwltv.com, May 9, "Oil spill cleanup important phone numbers and information."]

05.09.10 German flights cancelled, some airports closed by volcanic ash

(AFP) May 9 - The airspace around the southern German city of Munich has been closed since 1300 GMT Sunday due to volcanic ash from Iceland, grounding flights at several airports, authorities said. "Due to the high level of contamination from volcanic ash, there have been no flights taking off or landing at Munich airport," said the country's DFS air safety agency, adding the measures would be in force "until further notice." [More>>france24.com]

05.08.10 New York car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad 'knew key militants'

May 8 - Times Square car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad's family knew at least two key Pakistani militants who were involved in terrorist activities, AFP reports, citing The Los Angeles Times. Citing an unnamed US Government source, the newspaper said the circle of acquaintances included someone who became a Taliban leader and another who took part in the "2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India," in which 166 people died. The newspaper said US officials believe the Pakistani-born Mr. Shahzad's family background may help explain why he grew radicalized and allegedly contacted the Pakistani Taliban on the internet. "What we don't know is if he was actively recruited by these guys or if he recruited himself," the paper quotes a senior US official as saying. [More>>news.com.au; See related story,

indianexpess.com, May 8, "Shahzad close friend of 26/11 mastermind"
: NEW YORK - Times Square terror bombing plot suspect Faisal Shahzad was a childhood friend of one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai massacre, a media report said, as US investigators traced his links to another Pakistani militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad. Quoting sources, ABC news said Shahzad was a close childhood friend of one of the alleged masterminds of the Mumbai carnage, in which more than 166 people were killed. However, the television network did not identify the Pakistani mastermind.

While the lone surviving terror gunman involved in the massacre, Ajmal Amir Kasab, has been sentenced to death by an Indian court, seven other suspects including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, are facing trial in a Pakistani court. The Pakistani Taliban are denying any role in the botched car bombing, but have praised Shahzad for a "brave job done", ABC said, adding that the suspected bomber was also in contact with former Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US missile strike in 2009. "The Mehsuds had been family friends of Shahzad, who is a son of a former high ranking Pakistani military officer," the American television network said quoting Pakistani sources...

05.08.10 Saudi king decries terror funding

JEDDAH, May 8 - Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah said that financing terrorist acts is "as bad as terrorist deeds." "This reprehensible crime is not only as bad as terrorist deeds but also sustains terror, attempts to sabotage our land, destabilizes our security and destroys our resources and our moderate approach," the king said in a message to Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, who is also president of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars. The council last month condemned terror financing. The 20-member council said the terror financing was a crime as big as terrorism itself because it empowers and enables sabotage, insecurity, murder and destruction of property. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.08.10 Canada unveils proposal to resolve conflict over Jerusalem

May 8 - Plan was funded by Canadian government but initiated by University of Windsor, with former top Canadian and US diplomats, the Montreal Gazette reports. Canada has formally unveiled a proposal to resolve the conflict over the future of Jerusalem's Old City, the Montreal Gazette reported on Saturday. The proposal, which was released after seven years of research and planning, calls for a "special regime" comprising Israeli and Palestinian officials headed by "an effective and empowered third-party"" commissioner to oversee a 0.9-square-kilometer district that contains the city's contested Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites. [More>>haaretz.com]

Editorial note:
"There is nothing new under the sun." This was an epiphany of King Solomon, as written in the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes 1.9. The idea of an independent governor of Jerusalem was a critical part of the United Nations Resolution of November 1947 that created the state of Israel. Three things were created in that resolution: The state of Israel, which would take effect after Israel submits a Declaration of Independence to the UN for approval; 2) the state of Palestine, which would take effect after Palestinians submit their Declaration of Independence for UN approval and 3) the Corpus Separatum of Jerusalem which would be under the jurisdiction of, and administered by, the UN. We incorporated this basic structure in "Philistia Triumph thou because of me" (Dec. 1993).The idea of a third, independent party governing Jerusalem after the Children of Israel are restored to the Holy Land is in Isaiah 62.4. We list this and other terms in our recent document, "The Allah Controversy." (March 2010)

As relating to the status of the three entities, The Corpus Separatum of Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine, Israel submitted its Declaration of Independence in May 1948; Palestine did not submit its Declaration of Independence at the time and was occupied by Transjordan in a united Arab war against Israel immediately after Israel's independence. The Corpus Separatum of Jerusalem was also occupied by Transjordan (now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). Israel reoccupied Jerusalem after the 1967 "Three-day War."

Mel Copeland

05.08.10 Palestinians agree to restart indirect peace talks

(Reuters) May 8 - The PLO has authorised the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas (pictured), to restart indirect peace talks with Israel. The "proximity talks" will be mediated by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, Palestinian officials said. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Saturday approved indirect talks with Israel, clearing the way for the first negotiations in 18 months and giving a boost to US peace diplomacy. The PLO executive committee, meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, approved the so-called « proximity » talks, whose launch may be announced later on Saturday and will be mediated by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. The Arab League last week approved four months of indirect negotiations. [More>>france24.com]

05.08.10 Secretary Clinton on Pakistan and The War on Terror

May 8 - Says Pakistan more helpful in War on Terror; warns of "severe consequences" if successful terror attack originated there. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Pakistani government has been warned that if a terror operation like the failed Times Square bombing were to be successful and found to be originated in their country, "there would be very severe consequences." Clinton also acknowledged Pakistan's increased cooperation in the war on terror, but said the US wants and expects even more from the Muslim nation. The interview was conducted in Washington Friday by "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley for a report to be broadcast this Sunday, May 9, at 7pm ET/PT. "We've made it very clear that if, heaven-forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences," Clinton tells Pelley. [More>>cbsnews.com]

05.08.10 Volcanic ash cloud shuts Spanish airports

May 8 - Spain has closed 19 airports as a cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano drifts south over Western Europe. Spain's second biggest airport at Barcelona is among those affected, the National airport management agency Aena said on its website. The restrictions would be in place until at least 1800, Aena added. Most flights between Europe and North America are being diverted because of the ash cloud's latest drifting, officials at Eurocontrol said. Flights are being rerouted north and south of the 1,200 mile (2,000km) long cloud. On average, 600 airliners make the Atlantic crossing every day, correspondents say. Aena said the airports affected were Barcelona, Girona, Sabadell, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria, Zaragoza, Huesca, Pamplona, Logrono, Santiago, La Coruna, Vigo, Asturias, Santander, Leon, Valladolid, Burgos and Salamanca. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.07.10 Rocky start for Wall Street after turbulent day

May 7 - Job growth does little to boost investor optimism as Greece fears continue to weigh down market. Turbulence continued in the stock market Friday, a day after some of the most volatile trading in history. Traders looked past a surprisingly strong report on the US jobs market and focused instead on Europe's spreading debt crisis and Thursday's plunge. The Dow Jones industrial average was down nearly 1,000 points Thursday afternoon its largest one-day drop before recovering most of its losses. The Dow was off about 140 points in late morning trading Friday, paring some of its earlier losses. But stock prices were fluctuating sharply. Traders remained on edge after questions remained about what caused Thursday's sudden drop, which sent the stocks of several companies briefly to zero.

...Meanwhile Europe's debt woes continued to weigh heavily on stocks. Germany's parliament approved Berlin's share of the rescue package after a boisterous debate. However investors still fear that Greece may not make a May 19 deadline to make a debt repayment. Investors' concern goes far beyond the debt problems in Greece, the smallest economy in the European Union. A further loss of confidence in European government debt could have an impact on other weak countries like Portugal, potentially requiring another difficult bailout process. The debt crisis has already badly undermined Europe's shared currency, the euro.
[Full story>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

bbc.co.uk, May 7, "Global shares fall on Greece debt worries"
: Global stock markets have fallen sharply, amid investor fears that Greece's debt crisis could halt the global economic recovery. In the US, the Dow Jones index fell 0.6% in early trading, while France's Cac 40 was down 4%, the UK's FTSE 100 shed 2.6% and Germany's Dax lost 3.3%. Japan's Nikkei index shed 3.1%, having fallen by 4.1% in morning trading. Sterling also fell sharply against the dollar and the euro as results poured in from the UK general election. The pound fell more than 3 cents, or 2.1%, against the dollar, to $1.4633. Against the euro, it fell by 2.6 cents, or 2.2%, to 1.1478 euros. With the majority of results counted, projections showed that no party was on course for an overall majority. This raised concerns among investors that a weak government might not be able to implement policies quickly to reduce the UK's high budget deficit...

05.07.10 Iran belongs to world's 'nuclear club' : cleric

TEHRAN (Reuters) May 7 - Iran has entered the world's "nuclear club" and major powers should accept it, an influential cleric told worshippers on Friday, underlining Tehran's defiance in a dispute with the West over its atomic activities. Ahmad Khatami, a conservative hardliner in the clerical establishment, also warned the major powers that Iran could "endanger your entire world" in any future confrontation. The United States is lobbying UN Security Council members to back a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, to press it into curbing sensitive nuclear work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity and has refused to bow to international pressure to halt it. "In regard to the nuclear issue, you should regard the nuclearisation of Iran as a bygone fact," said Khatami, who is a member of a powerful clerical body, the Assembly of Experts. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

05.07.10 Suspected money courier sought in NYC plot

NEW YORK (AP) May 7 - Investigators are probing possible financing by foreign groups. Investigators of the failed car bombing in Times Square are looking for a money courier they say helped funnel cash from overseas to finance a Pakistani-American's preparations to blow up a crude gasoline-and-propane bomb in the heart of New York, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. Investigators have the name of the courier who they believe helped Faisal Shahzad pay for the used sport utility vehicle and other materials to rig up a car bomb that would have caused a huge fireball in Times Square if it had gone off, the official told the AP. The official didn't know how much money may have changed hands. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]

05.07.10 Uighur leader killed in Pakistan

BEIJING, May 7 - Pakistan and China have "broken the back" of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which China accuses of orchestrating attacks in its restive Xinjiang region, Pakistan's Interior Minister said in Beijing on Friday. An alleged leader of the group, about which little is known, has been killed, Rehman Malik said at the end of a visit to discuss security cooperation between the two countries. China has granted long-standing ally Pakistan a $180 million loan to purchase police equipment, including armored personnel carriers and bullet-proof jackets, Malik told reporters. "I am happy to inform you that their back is broken, it's weakened," Malik said, referring to ETIM. "We treat ETIM not only as an enemy of China but also as an enemy of Pakistan ... Now the other so-called gang leader Haq has been killed recently, I can confirm that." Malik appeared to be referring to Abdul Haq, an ETIM leader also known as Memetiming Memeti, who China says took over leadership of ETIM in 2003 after the death in Pakistan of previous leader Hasan Mahsum.

..."We will ensure with China they are rooted out, eliminated ... the main leadership is eliminated." China is a major diplomatic and financial backer of Pakistan, providing everything from infrastructure investment to nuclear reactors and weapons. It has continued with investments despite a rise in kidnappings and attacks aimed at Chinese nationals, who were once below the radar of militant groups. On a visit to China in June last year, Malik said militants in the mountainous frontier of China and Pakistan have formed a "syndicate," and Beijing and Islamabad were cooperating to stamp them out.
[Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

05.07.10 US carbon emissions down record 7 percent in 2009

(AFP) May 7 - US energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell a record seven percent in 2009, officials said late Wednesday, citing the economic slump and other factors including increased energy efficiency. The drop of 405 million metric tones was the largest absolute and percentage decline since energy data collection began in 1949, the Energy Department said in a statement. "Emissions developments in 2009 reflect a combination of factors, including some particular to the economic downturn, other special circumstances during the year, and other factors that may reflect persistent trends in our economy and our energy use," the agency's Energy Information Administration said. The decline is positive for efforts by the US and other countries to reduce emissions linked to global warming. Officials said that even though some of the decline came from reduced economic activity, the country's so-called energy intensity also fell. Economic activity measured by gross domestic product fell 2.4 percent in 2009, but the population increased an estimated 0.9 percent. [More>>independent.co.uk]

05.07.10 Taliban commander Mullah Atiqullah captured in Afghanistan

(AAP) May 7 - The Australian military says it captured a Taliban commander in a joint operation Afghan police last month. The captured Taliban leader, Mullah Atiqullah, is responsible for the kidnapping of New York Times journalist David Rodhe and two Afghans working with him. "Taliban commander Mullah Atiqullah and two of his close associates were captured on the afternoon of April 3, in an Afghan-led operation," a defence statement said today. Atiqullah is now understood to be in the hands of the Afghan government after being initially passed to Dutch forces. [More>>news.com.au]

05.07.10 12 terrorist suspects arrested in Greater Jakarta: Police

May 7 - Twelve terrorist suspects were arrested at four different locations in Greater Jakarta, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said on Friday. The suspects were arrested in Menteng, Central Jakarta; Petamburan, Central Jakarta, Setu Bekasi in Bekasi, West Java; and Pejaten in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta. However, Edward refused to disclose the identities of the suspects. "Give us time to complete the identifications, we will announce to the public as soon as possible," he told the press. Edward said the suspects were linked with the previously-arrested suspects running a training camp in Seulimun, Aceh Besar, Aceh province. "They are supporting time whose roles are to provide logistic, facilitate escapes, run training camps, and seeking new members," Edward said. [>thejakartapost.com]

05.06.10 Evidence mounts for Taliban role in car bomb plot

WASHINGTON, May 6 - American officials said Wednesday that it was very likely that a radical group once thought unable to attack the United States had played a role in the bombing attempt in Times Square, elevating concerns about whether other militant groups could deliver at least a glancing blow on American soil. Officials said that after two days of intense questioning of the bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad, evidence was mounting that the group, the Pakistani Taliban, had helped inspire and train Mr. Shahzad in the months before he is alleged to have parked an explosives-filled sport utility vehicle in a busy Manhattan intersection on Saturday night.

Officials said Mr. Shahzad had discussed his contacts with the group, and investigators had accumulated other evidence that they would not disclose. On Thursday, interrogators from the United States and Pakistan were questioning four members [of] the banned militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, in connection with the Times Square plot, according to a Pakistani security official. The official did not identify the militants.
[More>>nytimes.com; See related story,

timesofindia.indiatimes.com, May 6, "NY bomb suspect had links with Pakistan Taliban, Kashmir terror group"
: KARACHI / BEIJING - Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday he thought it unlikely that a Pakistani-American arrested over a failed plot to bomb New York's Times Square had acted alone. Investigations in Pakistan have uncovered possible links between Faisal Shahzad, 30, the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group, officials and news reports said. "According to the available information he says it was his individual act," Malik told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Beijing.

"I would not tend to believe that." Pakistani security officials told Reuters that Shahzad, who is suspected of driving an explosives-laden SUV into Times Square on Saturday, was close to Jaish-e-Mohammad, a group fighting Indian forces in the disputed territory of Kashmir and which also has ties to al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. "The people who have been picked up do have links to Jaish and have also been in touch with Shahzad during his visits here," a Pakistani security official in Karachi told Reuters.

The official was referring to Mohammad Rehan, a friend of Shahzad, who was detained on Tuesday after leaving the Bat'ha Mosque in Karachi. Other associates, including Shahzad's father-in-law, have also been detained in Karachi, according to CNN. The mosque is said to have links to Jaish and neighbors tell of visits by its leaders. US investigators are also taking a "hard look" at possible ties between Shahzad and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, a US official said Wednesday. "It is a known fact that the mosque (in Karachi) has been a recruiting ground for Jaish and many people have been sent to the tribal areas (home to the TTP) for training," a second Pakistani security official told Reuters. The official said several men recruited through the mosque had fought against the military during recent offensives against the TTP...

05.06.10 Five militants killed in Orakzai Agency clash

HANGU, May 6 - Five militants were killed in clash between security forces and militants in lower Orakzai Agency. Sources said that militants fired rocket launcher at FC fort in Kalaya area in lower Orakzai. One security man was injured in the attack. Five militants were killed during retaliatory action of the forces. Search operation has begun in the area after the attack. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.06.10 Russian navy retakes oil tanker

May 6 - The Russian navy has retaken an oil tanker that had been hijacked by suspected Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen, officials say. At least one pirate was killed and 10 other captured after marines boarded the MV Moscow University, Russia's state-run RIA news agency reported on Thursday. A Russian defence ministry official said all 23 crew on board the China-bound tanker, which was seized on Wednesday with $52 million worth of crude oil onboard, were alive and well following the rescue.

The European Union's naval force, which was deployed to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden, said the Russian warship Marshal Shaposhnikov had sent in a helicopter that returned fire after being shot at by pirates. "Eventually the pirates surrendered and a boarding team from the Marshal Shaposhnikov arrived on board the tanker, captured all the pirates and freed the crew. All the crew are safe and well," an EU naval statement said. A spokeswoman for the tanker's owner, Novorossiysk Shipping Company, said the crew survived the 20-hour siege by hiding in a safe room that was inaccessible to the hijackers. Russian investigators said that the captured 10 pirates would be transferred to Moscow to face charges.

05.06.10 War crimes suspect arrested in Kosovo

May 6 - A war crimes suspect has been arrested by European Union police officers in Kosovo, officials say. Local media identified the suspect as Sabit Geci, a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The suspect is accused of torturing prisoners between April and June 1999 at a detention facility run by the KLA in the town of Kukes, northern Albania. The suspect was detained after a police raid on a house in the capital Pristina, local media reported. The arrest was made by the European Union Law and Justice Mission (Eulex). The mission did not provide any further details. Sabit Geci, 51, is suspected of torture and mistreatment of prisoners at the Kukes detention facility, which was a key supply point for the KLA during the conflict in the 1990s. War crimes investigations have been carried out by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, by the UN Mission in Kosovo, and most recently by the EU mission, the BBC's Nick Thorpe in Pristina reports. But this is the first arrest related to war crimes which allegedly took place on Albanian territory, our correspondent adds. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.06.10 Robber uses woman's burka as disguise

May 6 - A cross-dressing robber has breached security at a jewellers by wearing a burka and a hijab - before raiding the store with a trio of other masked men. Staff at Capri Jewellers in Bury had buzzed the man into the shop after mistaking him for a woman. The criminal used the full-length garment, favoured by some Muslim women, along with the face veil showing only his eyes, to hide his identity. As soon as the door was open the rest of the gang all wearing balaclavas and one brandishing a shotgun barged in. They stole a large amount of jewelry, including bangles rings and lockets, before making their escape in a waiting getaway car. Detective Constable Chris Jameson said: "The store has very tight security so the ruse used to gain entry shows a level of detailed planning." The burka-clad raider has been described by police as Asian as have the other gang members over 6ft tall and thin. [More>>news.sky.com]

05.06.10 Kasab sentenced to death

MUMBAI, May 6 - Pakistani gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab was sentenced to death for the Mumbai terror attacks by a special court, which said that keeping such a terrorist alive will be a "lingering danger" to the society and the Indian government. The special anti-terror court of M L Tahaliyani pronounced capital punishment for the 22-year-old terrorist on five counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, waging war against the country, abetting murder and committing terrorist activities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. 166 people were killed in the carnage. Kasab was also awarded life imprisonment on five other counts including attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and under the Explosive Substances Act.

"In the court's opinion, Kasab has no chance to reform. Keeping such a terrorist alive will be a lingering danger to the society and the Indian government," Tahaliyani said while pronouncing his verdict, three days after he convicted him for the massacre. The judge cited the example of the Kandahar hijack case in which arrested terrorists were swapped for the passengers held hostage. "If Kasab is kept alive, this situation may occur again," he said. The judge said Kasab had joined terror outfit LeT voluntarily and offered himself to be a "mujahideen" (holy warrior). Kasab, who hails from Fardikot in Pakistan, broke down after hearing the sentence.

05.06.10 Amature images of Cannes and Nice seafronts destroyed by freak weather

May 6 - Waves reaching six to ten metres high hit the Côte d’Azur in southern France on Tuesday. The Cannes coastline and the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice were submerged during the ordeal, leaving some 15 seafront restaurants destroyed. One person was injured after being hit by a wave. With the Cannes Film Festival set to open in just one week, local authorities in both Nice and Cannes have requested that the area be classed as a natural catastrophe zone. [More>>france.24.com]

05.06.10 Brazil Air France crash black boxes found

May 6 - The French navy has closed in on the black boxes of an Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic nearly a year ago raising hope that light will be shed on the disaster that left 228 dead. French officials cautioned however that this breakthrough did not mean that the black box flight recorders will be successfully retrieved from the ocean floor. "It's like trying to find a shoebox in an area the size of Paris, at a depth of 3,000m (9,800ft and in a terrain as rugged as the Alps," said navy spokesman Hugues du Plessis d'Argentre. The flight recorders have been localized within three nautical miles (5km) in an area 200 nautical miles northwest of the Brazilian archipelago of Sao Pedro and Sao Paulo, the navy said. Flight 447 was en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it went down on June 1 in stormy weather, killing all 228 people on board. [More>>telegraph.co.uk]

05.05.10 Pakistan arrests suspects linked to Times Square bomber

ISLAMABAD (Xinhua) May 5 - In the wake of the arrest of a US citizen of Pakistani origin in New York, Pakistani law-enforcement agencies swung into action on Tuesday and nabbed several suspects, local newspapers reported Wednesday. The arrests came when the special investigation group of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was tasked to investigate the car bombing plot in which Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized US citizen arrested Monday late night, was allegedly found guilty. The friend Tausef and father-in-law Iftikhar Mian of Shahzad were picked up by intelligence personnel from a house in southern city Karachi, the DAWN said. According to the report, Faisal's immediate family, his wife Huma Mian and two children are also in Pakistan, but it could not be confirmed if his wife has also been detained. Sources said that Faisal Shahzad had come to Karachi in 2009. He is son of Air Vice Marshal (retd) Baharul Haq, who retired in early 1990s. Later, he got a senior post in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and his family moved to Karachi, the sources said.

...According to the report, security officials in Karachi said they had arrested a Pakistani man who had spent time with Shahzad during a recent visit there. Investigators said they arrested the man, Muhammad Rehan, in Batkha Mosque in the North Nazimabad area just after morning prayers. The mosque is known for its links with the militant group, Jaish-e-Muhammad...In the eastern province of Punjab, police and intelligence personnel picked up a few suspects from different parts in connection with the recovery of explosives from a vehicle in New York, reports said. Informed sources in the Punjab police said that the arrests had been made in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
[Full story>>xinhuanet.com; See related story,

cbsnews.com, May 5, "Faisal Shahzad's motive shrouded in mystery" :
Faisal Shahzad seemed to be following the roadmap for a typical American life, not the blueprint for a domestic terrorist attack. Shahzad, the man accused of trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, spent a decade on the path to respectability before abandoning his house in Connecticut and deciding to supplement his business degrees with explosives training in Pakistan, authorities say. Law enforcement sources tell CBS News motives pursued include religion (did he attend a mosque frequently?), hatred of Americans and money. The source said investigators are trying to figure it out as they continue to track his movements including where he was following the incident and who may have helped him and think there are those they helped Shahzad unwittingly.

..Until recently, his life in the US appeared enviable. He had a master's degree from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, a job as a budget analyst for a marketing firm in Norwalk, Conn., two children and a well-educated wife who posted his smiling picture and lovingly called him "my everything" on a social networking website. But shortly after becoming a US citizen a year ago, he gave up his job, stopped paying his mortgage and told a real estate agent to let the bank take the house because he was returning to Pakistan. Once there, according to investigators, he traveled to the lawless Waziristan region and learned bomb making at a terrorist training camp...

05.05.10 Three killed in Athens bank fire amid strike

May 5 - Three people have died after rioters in Greece set fire to a bank in Athens during a nationwide strike against huge spending cuts aimed at rescuing the country's economy. Greek police clashed with protesters in the capital as tens of thousands of people joined a 24-hour walkout. The three bank workers two women and a man were killed when their branch went up in flames after a protester threw a petrol bomb inside. Firefighters rescued another five people from the balcony. Greek prime minister George Papandreou condemned the killings, saying:

"A demonstration is one thing and murder is quite another." He added: "We will, of course, stand alongside the families who lost loved ones. This is the least we can do. To those who now mourn the loss of three children we say that the perpetrators will be identified and held accountable for what they've done." The general strike was staged as a protest against a new round of draconian austerity measures. Police said as many as 20,000 people took to the streets of Athens as rallies all around the country kicked off. Also in the capital, a large group of people attempted to break through a riot police cordon guarding the parliament building.

05.05.10 New EU growth figures calm fears of debt contagion

(Reuters) May 5 - New European Commission growth figures released on Wednesday have helped calm fears of the Greek debt crisis spreading to the rest of the eurozone, with 0.9 percent growth expected this year, up from the 0.7 percent predicted in February. Fears of contagion from the Greek debt crisis knocked the euro to a 14-month low and sent world stocks reeling as violent protests erupted over Athens' austerity measures and Moody's warned Portugal's debt could be downgraded. US and German bonds surged on investor fears that a massive aid package would not be enough to ensure other fiscally weak euro-zone nations don't spiral down. The euro tumbled 1 percent to $1.2850, its lowest point since mid-March 2009 and steepest one-day loss since June of last year. It is down roughly 3.5 percent against the greenback this week Skepticism that Greece can deliver on its promises of tough austerity measures dominated the markets. [More>>france24.com]

05.05.10 UK: Fall in fish stocks far worse than feared, study shows

May 5 - The dramatic decline of fish stocks around the British Isles is highlighted by a study showing that fishing fleets today have to work 17 times as hard to catch a given amount of fish than the largely sail-powered vessels of the late-19th century. In 1889, Britain's fishing fleets were landing twice as much fish as today's advanced vessels; this catch rose to a peak in 1937 when fishing vessels in England and Wales landed more than 14 times as much by weight as the average annual catch of today. Scientists said that data gathered since the 1880s, when records began, showed a dramatic collapse in stocks of cod, haddock, ling, halibut and other commercial species of fish. "For all its technological sophistication and raw power, today's trawl fishing fleet has far less success than its sail-powered equivalent of the late-19th century because of the sharp declines in fish abundance," said Ruth Thurstan of York University, the lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Communications. [More>>independent.co.uk]

05.05.10 Ahmadinejad defends Iran's seat on UN women's commission

May 4 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday appeared to defend his country's recent re-election to a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, arguing that Iranian women are "highly respected" in his country while 70 percent of European women are physically abused. Speaking at a news conference in New York, Ahmadinejad said that a "woman is the symbol of beauty of God" in his country while there is "no dignity left for women in Europe." The Islamic nation's appointment to the 45-nation group came last week after the US helped prevent Iran from gaining a seat on the Human Rights Council. A week before Iran's re-election to the women's commission, one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar. [More>>foxnews.com; See related stories, Maravot News 04.30.10 Exclusive: UN elects Iran to Commission on Women's Rightsx

05.05.10 Where's Bin Laden? He's in Washington DC, says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

(AFP) May 6 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied reports that Osama bin Laden is in Tehran and insisted that the al-Qaeda leader is, in fact, in Washington DC. "Rest assured that he's in Washington. I think there's a high chance he's there," he said. Without backing up the claim, Mr. Ahmadinejad said he had "heard" that Bin Laden was in the US capital. "Yes, I did. He's there. Because he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush," he said referring to former president George W. Bush.

"They were colleagues, in fact, in the old days. You know that. They were in the oil business together. They worked together. Mr. Bin Laden never cooperated with Iran but he cooperated with Mr. Bush." US officials ought to know the whereabouts of extremist Islamic leaders, he said. "The US Government has invaded Afghanistan in order to arrest Bin Laden. They probably know where Bin Laden is. If they don't know he is, why did they invade? Could we know the intelligence? "First they should have tried to find his location, then invade, those who did not know about his location first they invaded and then they tried to find out where he is, is that logical?"

05.05.10 Giant oil well dome launching soon

NEW ORLEANS (AP) May 5 - Might be best short-term solution to capping undersea gusher. The best short-term solution to bottling up a disastrous oil spill threatening sealife and livelihoods along the Gulf Coast should be headed out to sea Wednesday in the form of a specially built giant concrete-and-steel box designed to siphon the oil away. At about midday, a barge will haul the 100-ton contraption 50 miles offshore to a spot where a mile-deep gusher from a blown-out undersea well has been spewing at least 210,000 gallons of crude a day into the Gulf for two weeks. BP spokesman John Curry said it would be deployed on the seabed by Thursday. It's the latest idea engineers from oil giant BP PLC are trying after an oil rig the company was operating exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. It sank two days later. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]

05.05.10 Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish airports shut by ash

May 5 - Thousands of passengers are facing long delays after airports in Scotland and Ireland closed because of a fresh cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland. Flights have been grounded in Glasgow, Prestwick and Derry since 0700 BST, while the airspace over Dublin, Belfast and Edinburgh has also since closed. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advised passengers to check with airports before travelling. Last month, ash clouds from the same volcano grounded flights for six days. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.05.10 Afghan police kill five would-be suicide bombers

KABUL, May 5 - Afghan officials say police have killed several would-be suicide bombers in western Afghanistan. Zemeri Bashary, spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, says police killed five bombers Wednesday before they could carry out an attack in Nimroz province. The deputy police chief there, Musa Rasooli, said militants were targeting the provincial governor's compound. Nimroz province is in extreme southwestern Afghanistan along the Iranian border. Thousands of US, NATO and Afghan troops conducted an offensive earlier this year to rout the Taliban from neighboring Helmand province. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.05.10 Somali pirates seize Russian tanker in Gulf of Aden

MOSCO (RIA Novosti) May 5 - Somali pirates on Wednesday attacked and seized the Russian tanker Moskovsky Universitet (Moscow University) in the Gulf of Aden, a Navy source said. He earlier said the incident had occurred around 8.00am Moscow time [04:00 GMT], when the tanker was on en route from the Red Sea to China. The pirates attacked the Russian vessel 350 miles east of the Gulf of Aden. There are 23 people on board, all of them Russian citizens. He added that a Russian warship, the RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov, was on its way to help the tanker but would be unable to reach it until Wednesday night, most likely "between 1am and 3am on Thursday." [More>>en.rian.ru]

05.05.10 Taliban hits government compound

May 5 - At least 12 people have been killed, including a provincial council member, during a Taliban attack on a government compound in southwestern Afghanistan, officials said. Nine fighters armed with guns and suicide vests launched the attack in the town of Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province on Wednesday, police and local officials said. Eight of the attackers managed to detonate their explosives at three separate locations in the town the governor's compound, the justice department and the court house, Abdul Jabar Pordeli, the provincial police chief, said. The attack sparked a nearly two-hour-long gun battle with security forces, in which a ninth fighter was shot dead by police, he said. [More>>aljazeera.net]

05.04.10 US, Pakistan make arrests in failed Times Square bomb attempt

May 4 - A 30-year-old US immigrant from Pakistan was arrested late Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in connection with a failed car bombing in Times Square, and a Pakistani intelligence official reported multiple arrests in that country Tuesday as investigators pursued leads overseas. Faisal Shahzad, a recently naturalized US citizen living in Shelton, Conn., was taken off an airliner bound for the Persian Gulf sheikhdom of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates about 48 hours after the attempted bombing, authorities said Tuesday. Investigators believe Shahzad paid cash for a Nissan Pathfinder that was found packed with explosives Saturday night on a tourist-crowded block in Midtown Manhattan. The vehicle was set on fire, but a homemade bomb inside failed to detonate.

In Pakistan, an intelligence official said authorities arrested at least two people in the southern port city of Karachi in connection with the Times Square bombing attempt. The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, identified one of those arrested as Tausif Ahmed, who was picked up in a busy commercial neighborhood called Gulshan-e-Iqbal. He said Ahmed reportedly traveled two months ago to the United States to meet with Shahzad. The official did not have the other suspect's name. Pakistani television stations reported that as many as five other people with links to the alleged plot may have been arrested in the central industrial city of Faisalabad, but those reports could not immediately be confirmed.

A top Karachi police official denied that any arrests have been made there in connection with the case. Shahzad is from Pabbi, the main town of Nowshera District in northwestern Pakistan, near Peshawar, according to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik. A source close to the United Arab Emirates said Shahzad's name was placed on the US government's no-fly list around midday Monday but that the suspect was not stopped before he bought a ticket and checked in for Emirates Airlines Flight 202 to Dubai, where he planned to change planes and fly on to Pakistan. Instead, the airline noted that Shahzad made his reservation on the way to the airport and paid cash for the flight, alerting US Customs and Border Protection, the source said. "The question is, when did they become aware of his presence at the airport, and when was he put on the list?" the source said, describing a dialogue among the US and UAE governments and the airline over responsibility for Shahzad's boarding of the aircraft.

05.04.10 Alleged bin Laden associate arrested in Iraq

BAGHDAD, May 4 - The alleged leader of a militant group responsible for global "jihadist recruitment" was arrested in Baghdad on Monday, the US military said. Iraqi security forces seized Abu Abdullah Al Shafi'l, the emir of Ansar Al Islam, and "seven criminal associates" during raids in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Mansour and Adhamiya, the military said in a statement issued on Monday. Ansar Al Islam "is allegedly responsible for funding and terrorist operations in Europe and the United Kingdom" and the distribution of "extremist propaganda." Al Shafi'l is believed to have served the group since its inception and is believed to be behind attacks against Iraqi civilians, Kurdish police, and Iraqi and coalition forces. Al Shafi'l also is believed to have had an association with Osama Bin Laden and apparently modeled himself after the al-Qaeda leader. The military believes the capture of the militant leader should significantly degrade the country's Ansar Al Islam network, which authorities say "has long been a direct threat" to Iraq's unification. A Kurdish counter-terrorism organization supported by US advisers helped Iraqi security forces search residential buildings in the raids. [>cnn.com]

05.04.10 Police stop Muslim woman wearing veil in Italy

May 4 - A woman visiting a post office in Novara, north-western Italy, has been stopped by police for wearing an Islamic veil covering her face. A police official told the AFP news agency the woman would have to pay a 500-euro (£430) fine. It is the first such police action since Novara brought in a by-law in January banning clothing preventing immediate identification in public. The city is run by the anti-immigration Northern League. The party is a powerful junior coalition partner in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's national government. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

05.02.10 US joins search for Times Square suspect

NEW YORK, May 2 - Federal authorities have joined the search for a suspect who planted a crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of Times Square on Saturday evening, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers on a warm and busy night. Although the device had apparently started to detonate, there was no explosion, and early on Sunday the authorities were reviewing surveillance tapes and forensic evidence as they sought out a motive. "We are very lucky," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a 2:15am press conference. "We avoided what could have been a very deadly event." A large swath of Midtown — from 43rd Street to 48th Street, and from Sixth to Eighth Avenues — was closed for much of the evening after the Pathfinder was discovered just off Broadway on 45th Street. Several theaters and stores, as well as a portion of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, were evacuated. The streets and hotels have since reopened.

Federal authorities said the incident appeared to be an isolated one, and that there was no evidence of an ongoing threat to the city. "We are treating it as if it could be a potential terrorist attack," Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, told CNN, one of several television appearances she made on Sunday morning. The bomb itself was not a sophisticated device, Ms. Napolitano said on ABC's "This Week." She said there was no clear sense about how large the explosion might have been. "Right now, we have no evidence other than it is a one-off," she said. On Sunday, police and F.B.I. officials were also investigating a 911 call placed at around 4am on Sunday, several officials said. The caller, who one official said sounded intelligent, admonished the 911 dispatcher not to interrupt him until he was finished and then said there would be a massive explosion soon and the car in Times Square was only a diversion. The call came from a payphone at West 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue, which detectives have since dusted for fingerprints, the officials said.
[More>>nytimes.com; See also

cbsnews.com, May 2, "Police: Video shows Times Square car bomb suspect"
: A law enforcement source tells CBS News that investigators have video showing someone exiting a vehicle that was left in Times Square Saturday evening filled with explosives. Police said Sunday the "amateurish" but potentially powerful bomb apparently began to detonate but did not explode in the smoking sport utility vehicle. The vehicle contained three propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said...

news.sky.com, May 2, "New York car bomb: 'Fingerprints found.' " :Evidence is being recovered from a potentially deadly car bomb discovered in New York's Times Square, including fingerprints, according to authorities. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the incident is being treated as a potential terrorist attack. She told NBC's Meet The Press that it is too soon to know who is behind the attempted attack...

05.02.10 Oil spill grows, with little success stopping flow

(AP) May 2 - Massive Gulf oil spill creeps outward, while efforts to stop the flow bring little success. BP's chairman defended his company's safety record and said Sunday that "a failed piece of equipment" was to blame for a massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast, where President Barack Obama was headed for a firsthand update on the slick creeping toward American shores. BP PLC chairman Lamar McKay told ABC's "This Week" that he can't say when the well a mile beneath the sea might be plugged. But he said he believes a dome that could be placed over the well is expected to be deployed in six to eight days. The dome has been made and workers are finishing the plan to get it deployed, McKay said. He said BP officials are still working to activate a "blowout preventer" mechanism meant to seal off the geyser of oil. "And as you can imagine, this is like doing open-heart surgery at 5,000 feet, with — in the dark, with robot-controlled submarines," McKay said. [More>>abcnews.go.com]

05.02.10 US assures Palestinians on Jerusalem settlement

CAIRO (AFP) May 2 - The key guarantee given by Washington to the Palestinians to persuade them to enter indirect talks with Israel was a halt to a controversial plan to build 1,600 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, a top official said on Sunday. The Arab League on Saturday said it backed indirect negotiations with Israel after the Palestinians said they received unspecified US guarantees.

"We made a decision on March 2 to support the indirect talks, and then Israel made decisions we objected to. The Americans came back to us and said this will not happen," Hisham Yusef, chief of staff for Arab League chief Amr Mussa, said. "The assurances take us back to the status quo ante before March 2." He did not say whether the assurance covered only the period of the indirect talks and whether the United States had made further guarantees. Mussa on Sunday told reporters: "Our understanding in light of discussions is that the decision to build 1,600 units has been halted."
[More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories,

jpost.com, May 2, "Abbas: 'Many obstacles' for pace"
: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he has already demanded sole control over large sections of the West Bank, including those under total Israeli sovereignty. Abbas said that he demand the Jordan Valley, even though Israelis have made clear that they will not agree to preconditions from the Palestinians. In an interview with the West Bank newspaper Al Ayam, Abbas said that the talks with Israel will begin as soon as the Arab League and the PLO board approve them. He estimated that the sides would hold proximity talks for up to four months, but was pessimistic about their results. "I don't want to lose hope," Abbas said, "even though I see many obstacles and feel that there are many in Israel who are not interested in peace. We still have to try to go on this path until we exhaust it."...

haaretz.com, May 2, "Hamas blasts Arab support for indirect peace talks'
: The Damascus-based leadership of the Palestinian movement Hamas on Sunday condemned the Arab League's backing for the indirect peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. The Arab League signaled its continued support for such talks following a meeting in Cairo late Saturday, saying it had received "positive signs" from the United States, which is acting as mediator and proposed the talks...

foxnews.oom, May 2, "Netanyahu welcomes Arab decision to back indirect Peace Talks with Palestinians"
: JERUSALEM - Israel's prime minister on Sunday welcomed Arab nations' endorsement of indirect, US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians, saying he is ready to restart negotiations "at any time and at any place." Israeli and Palestinian officials said they expect the talks to begin by early next week, and one Israeli official said the dialogue would go beyond formalities and include preliminary discussions on "core issues" in the decades-long conflict. Details on the exact timing and scope of the talks were still being finalized Sunday, a day after the 22-member Arab League gave the Palestinians the green light for negotiations...

05.02.10 Christians targeted in Mosul blasts

May 2 - A shopkeeper has been killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, as two bombs went off near buses carrying Christian students. More than 100 people, including students and other civilians, were injured in the blasts on Sunday morning. Abdul-Rahim al-Shammari, the head of the provincial council's security committee, said a roadside bomb exploded first, followed by a car bomb moments later. The buses were transporting university students from the mainly Christian town of Hamdaniya, 40km east of Mosul. "All of them were Christian students. They go in buses like that to Mosul's university after the troubled times when Christians were targeted in the past," Nissan Karoumi, the mayor of Hamdaniya, said...About 750,000 of Iraq's 30 million population are Christians. The US-based National Council of Churches last week sent a letter to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, calling on her to urge Iraqi officials to do more to protect Iraq's Christian community. [Full story>>aljazeera.net]

05.02.10 Militant positions pounded in Orakzai, 40 killed

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, May 2 - At least 40 militants were killed and their 10 hideouts were destroyed on Sunday in aerial bombing[s] carried out by security forces in Orakzai Agency. According to sources, security forces backed by helicopter gunships pounded militant dens situated in Dabori, Ghalju and Khadzai areas. As a result at least 40 militants were killed and several others injured. In [the] Orakzai offensive, so far over 550 militants were killed and their 75 hideouts were destroyed in more than five weeks. [>thenews.com.pk]

05.02.10 Somali insurgents take hold of pirate haven

MOGADISHU (Reuters) May 2 - Hizbul Islam seize Haradheere, want part in lucrative trade. Somali insurgent group Hizbul Islam took control of the pirate haven of se on Sunday and wants to get involved in the lucrative trade, pirates and residents said. Pirates said Hizbul Islam sent agents to the coastal town demanding a slice of the business. The pirates said they refused and the insurgent group entered Haradheere in armed pickup trucks without a fight. "They have entered the town now. Their fighters are in every street," resident Mohamed Hussein told Reuters. "They came with 14 battlewagons. Many pirates fled with cars from the town," Haradheere, and Hobyo further up the coast, are two of the main bases for pirates operating out of Somalia. The gunmen have made tens of millions of dollars by hijacking merchant vessels, bringing them to the coast and demanding ransoms. [More>>alarabiya.net]

05.01.10 BP says first quarter net profits more than double

(Reuters) May 1 - European oil giant BP reported Tuesday that its first quarter net profits jumped 135 percent from a year earlier to 6.08 billion dollars, thanks to rising energy prices. BP said replacement cost net profit, which strips out unrealized gains related to rises in the value of inventories, was $5.65 billion in the quarter, after Brent crude rose 72 percent to average over $76/barrel. One dealer said the stock was likely to open up 2 percent-3 percent on the results. [More>>france24.com]

05.01.10 Obama to visit Gulf Coast to monitor oil cleanup

May 1 - Weather hampers efforts to stem tide of massive oil spill; all fishing east of Mississippi River closed. The worst US oil spill in decades spread into precious shoreline habitat along the Gulf Coast as documents emerged showing British Petroleum downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at the offshore rig that exploded. Already, at least 1.8 million gallons of oil have leaked from the wreckage of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig since the rig exploded more than a week ago, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. The underwater spill remained unstopped and impossible to measure, raising fears that it could be pouring more oil into the Gulf than estimated. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday ($) that industry experts estimate that as much as 25,000 barrels of oil per day could be emptying into the Gulf — five times the current estimate. [More>>cbsnews.com]

05.01.10 US, Canada, Australia warn citizens of 'imminent' terrorist attacks planned in Indian capital

NEW DELHI (AP) May 1 - The US, Australia and Canada warned Saturday that terror groups were likely planning "imminent attacks" in India's capital and foreigners there should be vigilant. The US Embassy's alert, adding the word "imminent," appeared to be more urgent than an advisory last month that cited increased indications of attacks in New Delhi. The warnings noted that markets and other areas frequented by Westerners in New Delhi have been targeted in past attacks. Militants linked to Pakistan-based Islamic groups have been blamed for previous attacks in the Indian capital. [More>>foxnews.com]

05.01.10 Thirty dead in Somalia mosque bombings

May 1 - At least 30 people have been killed after two bombs exploded at a mosque in the Somalian capital Mogadishu on Saturday. A high-ranking member of Somalia's most powerful militia, who was inside the mosque during the blast, is believed to be the target of the attack. Officials said that at least 30 people, mostly worshippers awaiting noon prayers, were killed and 70 others were inured. Witnesses claim the Abdalla Shideye mosque, in Mogadishu's main market, was hit by two separate explosions....It is believed Fuad Mohamed Kalaf, a prominent member of Islamist al-Shabab militia, was injured in the attack. Kalaf, who recently had his assets frozen by the US for suspected links to terrorism, gives speeches at the mosque every Saturday. [Full story>>timesonline.co.uk]

05.01.10 France plans to jail burka enforcers: report

PARIS (AFP) May 1 - Proposed French law to impose jail term, fine over burka. France will jail and impose huge fines on anyone who forces a Muslim woman to wear a full-face veil, as well as fining the wearer, according to leaked extracts of a proposed law published Friday. While women will face a 150-euro penalty if they choose to don a burka or a niqab, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to slap one-year prison terms and 15,000-euro ($20,000) fines on those who make others wear them. "No-one may wear in public places clothes that are aimed at hiding the face," says the text of a new law that is to be presented to parliament in July, according to a copy seen by the pro-government newspaper Le Figaro.[More>>alarabiya.net; See related story,

gulfnews.com, May 1, German EU lawmaker: Ban burqas across Europe"
: BERLIN - A German lawmaker says full-body veils, or burqas, worn by some Muslim women should be banned across Europe because they rob women of their personalities. Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a member of the European parliament, wrote in an editorial on Saturday that fully covering women "openly supports values that we do not share in Europe." Koch-Mehrin leads Germany's Free Democrats in Brussels. Her editorial for the Bild am Sonntag weekly come after Belgium proposed legislation to ban burqa-type clothing on grounds it violates basic security. Some states in Germany ban public school teachers from wearing head scarves. Koch-Mehrin said personal and religious freedom are to be supported, but should not "go so far as to take away a person's face in public." [end]

05.01.10 Kuwait breaks up Iranian 'spy cell' : paper

KUWAIT CITY, May 1 - Employees of interior, defense ministries among detained. Security agencies in Kuwait have busted a spy cell working for Iran's Revolutionary Guards, feeding information on Kuwaiti and US targets, a newspaper reported on Saturday. Citing high-ranking security sources, al-Qabas daily said Kuwait arrested at least seven men, some of whom served in the interior and defence ministries, while others include bidoon, or stateless Arabs, and other Arabs. Security agencies are still hunting for six to seven other men suspected of being members of the cell, which was broken up in a coordinated effort between the secret service and army intelligence, the paper said. Cell members have taken pictures of Kuwaiti military and other vital targets in addition to US military sites, al-Qabas said. [More>>alarabiya.net]

05.01.10 Four Turkish soldiers killed, 7 wounded in attack in Turkey

ANKARA (AP) May 1 - Members of an outlawed Kurdish group killed four Turkish soldiers and wounded seven others in eastern Turkey in the largest attack on troops in several months, authorities said Saturday. The suspected terrorists attacked a remote military outpost with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons in foggy weather late Friday, private CNNTürk and NTV televisions said. The commander of the outpost was killed along with three other soldiers, authorities said. Two of the seven wounded were in serious condition, according to media reports.

Turkish troops launched a manhunt but helicopter gunships remained grounded due to fog near the outpost, close to the town of Tunceli in the eastern Tunceli province, television reports said Saturday morning. The attack followed a surge in violence by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Another Turkish soldier was killed when he stepped on a mine believed to be planted by the terrorists near the town of Çukurca in the southeastern Hakkari province on Friday, authorities said.

05.01.10 3 civilians, 3 militants killed in Pakistan blast

MINGORA, Pakistan (AP) May 1 - A suicide bomber on Saturday killed three civilians and three other militants in a busy market area in a northwestern Pakistani region wrested from the Taleban last year, an army commander said. Seven soldiers and five civilians were also wounded in the blast. Maj. Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem, who commands military operations in Swat, said the blast happened when security forces with help from two recently captured insurgents traced two other militants in the city of Mingora and asked them to surrender. The pair ignored warning and one of them blew himself up, killing himself and his associate, Nadeem said. The blast also killed the two captured militants who were helping the troops, he said. Nadeem claimed that the military had almost eliminated militants from the Swat Valley. But the latest violence raised fears that the Taleban are returning in a region where the army waged a major offensive against the extremists last year — part of a broader military campaign against militants across the volatile northwest. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,

thenews.com.pk, May 1, "Jets bomb militant dens in Orakzai, 9 killed" 
: PESHAWAR - Nine militants were killed and five other were wounded on Saturday in bombings carried out by jet planes in Orakzai Agency. According to sources, security forces backed by fighter planes carried out bombardment on militants’ dens in Kasha, Sheikhan and Saif Darra. So far more than 500 militants have been killed in the ongoing military operation started some five weeks ago. On the other hand, armed militants stormed a security convoy, leaving a solider, named Phoolzeb injured, who was shifted to a nearby hospital. [end]

04.30.10 Goldman's shares plunge on inquiries and downgrades

April 30 - Already facing investigations on two fronts into its practices in the mortgage market, Goldman Sachs came under pressure from investors as well on Friday. After reports on Thursday evening that federal prosecutors had opened an investigation into trading at Goldman, raising the possibility of criminal charges against the Wall Street giant, the firm's stock was downgraded on Friday by two analysts. Standard & Poor's lowered its rating from hold to sell, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch dropped its rating from buy to neutral, citing the mounting investigations. Investors responded by sending the stock down 9 percent in midday trading, to $145.89, contributing to an overall decline in financial shares on Wall Street. The financial impact of Goldman's troubles continues to mount. Since the Securities and Exchange Commission announced on April 16 that it had filed a civil fraud suit against the firm, its stock is down 20 percent, removing about $20 billion from its market capitalization. The drop is all the more striking given that Goldman delivered a blockbuster quarterly report last week, with first-quarter earnings doubling from last year. [More>>nytimes.com]

04.30.10 Oil hits Louisiana shore, Obama order safety review of offshore drilling

April 30 - White House says no new drilling until 'adequate review;' first damage to wildlife. Oil from a wrecked offshore drilling platform oozed into the marshes of southernmost Louisiana today, coating birds and threatening to create America's worst environmental disaster in two decades. The oil began washing ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Louisiana is home to 40 percent of the United States' wetlands and the oil now threatens some 400 species of animals, from shrimp to pelicans to river otters.

Meanwhile, the White House announced Friday that there will be no new offshore drilling until there is an "adequate review" of what happened. "I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security," said President Obama in a statement from the Rose Garden, "but I've always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment." On ABC's "Good Morning America," White House senior adviser David Axelrod defended the administration's stance, but said it would need a fresh look in light of last week's disaster.

04.30.10 Belgium bans wearing of Islamic burqa in public

(AFP) April 30 - Belgium became Europe's first country to vote for a ban on the full Islamic veil or burqa, sparking dismay today among Muslims and warnings of a dangerous precedent with France set to follow suit. The bill, which also drew fire from human rights group Amnesty International, will not enter force for weeks and may have to be re-examined if early elections are called as Belgium battles a political crisis. "We're the first country to spring the locks that have made a good number of women slaves, and we hope to be followed by France, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands; countries that think," said Liberal Deputy Denis Ducarme. In the lower house of the federal parliament yesterday, 136 deputies supported a nationwide ban on clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the full-face niqab and burqa. There were two abstentions. No one voted against. [More>>news.com.au; See related stories,

khaleejtims.com, April 30, "Saudi king photo with women spices mixing debate"
: RIYADH - Saudi newspapers ran front page pictures on Friday of King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz in a crowd of women with their faces bared, adding fuel to the growing fight over mixing in the kingdom. The undated photograph showed the kingdom's two most powerful men together with more than three dozen smiling women at a seminar on health and the community in the southwestern city of Najran held several weeks ago. The photograph was published in several leading newspapers including Okaz, Ashahrq al-Awsat and Al-Watan, each with a close link to senior members of the ruling royal family. No reason was given for why the picture was published only now; accompanying text gave a routine description of the theme of the conference. But the photo appeared amid a mounting and increasingly open debate over the country's harsh ban on unrelated women and men mixing together enforced by ultra-conservative Saudi Muslim clerics...

04.30.10 Two NY men arrested for trying to help al-Qaeda

April 30 - Two United States citizens residing in New York have been charged with trying to aid al-Qaeda terrorists. According to the indictment obtained by CBS News, the men, Wesam el-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff, are charged with "conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization." Also according to the indictment, "the defendants would and did agree to provide al-Qaeda with, among other things, computer advice and assistance, services, and currency, knowing that al-Qaeda had engaged and was engaging in terrorist activity[.]" Hasanoff also received money from another conspirator, according to the indictment, and el-Hanafi traveled overseas "to Yemen where he met with two members of al-Qaeda who instructed him on operational security measures and directed him to perform tasks for al-Qaeda," according to the indictment. A statement from US Attorney Preet Bharara is expected later Friday. [More / complete indictment>>cbsnews.com]

04.30.10 Video shows Guantanamo detainee building bombs in Afghanistan

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, April 30 - During a pretrial hearing here Thursday, military prosecutors played a 25-minute video that showed Canadian detainee Omar Khadr building roadside bombs in Afghanistan with several reputed al-Qaeda operatives. "Allah willing, we will get a good number of Americans," said a voice on the poor-quality tape, which US forces seized from the rubble of a compound where Khadr was wounded and captured in July 2002. For the government, the video is a key piece of evidence that shows Khadr conspiring to kill US service members. But the defense views it as illustrating Khadr's youth and that he was in thrall to a group of adults. Khadr, who was 15 at the time he was captured, was first taken to Pakistan and Afghanistan when he was 10 by his father, an Osama bin Laden associate. The video cuts among various scenes, including one showing Khadr and others wiring Russian anti-vehicle mines and some that show him sitting in a compound by an AK-47 assault rifle. It also shows mines being planted at night, but Khadr was not seen in those shots. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

04.30.10 Terrorist suspect arrested after two months of manhunt

JAKARTA, April 30 - Police have arrested a suspected terrorist who helped operate a training camp in Jalin Mountain in the Aceh regency of Aceh Besar. National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said on Friday the suspect, identified as Eko Prasetyo, was nabbed in a mosque compound in the East Java town of Lamongan on Monday. "The suspect managed to flee Aceh and run as far as East Java," Edward said.

Following the crackdown on a terrorist network in Aceh early in March, the counterterrorism police squad has arrested 63 people, 50 of them are being detained, eight were shot dead and five were released due to lack of evidence. The police have confiscated 29 arms, over 21,000 live bullets and Rp 100 million in cash from the suspects. Edward said the police investigation found the training camp was part of a plan to build a center of resistance movement and an Islamic state in Aceh.

04.30.10 Ex-ISI official found dead in North Waziristan

ISLAMABAD, April 30 - An ex-intelligence official associated with Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who was abducted last month by militants was found dead on Friday in North Waziristan. On March 26, former spy agents Khalid Khawaja, retired colonel Amir Sultan Tarar, knick-named Colonel Imam and channel 4 journalist Asad Qureshi went missing while travelling to North Waziristan to shoot a documentary and interview Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. Khawaja, one of the abductees, was found dead beside a road near the town of Mir Ali, in North Waziristan, intelligence sources said.

"He was shot in the head and in the chest," said a Pakistani intelligence official in the region. A note was left on his body, saying that Khawaja has been killed for his linkages with the US agency CIA and his role in the Islamabad's Lal Masjid operation. Punjabi Taliban calling themselves "Asian Tigers" claimed responsibility of Khawaja's killing. The outfit is unknown in the area. The name of the outfit was first revealed when it released a video in which Khawaja had admitted to spying.
[More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,

thenews.com.pk, April 30, Suspected would-be-bomber nabbed"
: LAHORE, Pakistan - Two suspected terrorists, including a would-be-bomber, were arrested on Friday from R A Bazaar here. Sources privy to intelligence agencies told Geo that a 22-year-old man named Khalil was picked by security agencies from Hunjarwal area. On his (Khalil) tip off, security agencies arrested another suspected suicide bomber with 25 hand grenades and suicide vest in his possession. According to sources, both accused are said to be involved in twin blasts at the densely populated R A Bazaar, in which around 49 people were killed. Meanwhile, they were shifted to some undisclosed location for further interrogation. [end]

thenews.com.pk, April 30, "10 militants killed in Lower Orakzai"
: HANGU, Pakistan - Ten militants were killed six injured in a clash with security forces in Lower Orakzai. Two militants hideouts were also destroyed. According to the details, forces reacted after coming under militant attack and killed 10 of them. [end]

04.30.10 Ahmadinejad pledges to 'knock teeth out' of any Iranian enemy

MOSCOW, April 30 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described Iran as a "fist" that will "knock teeth out" of anyone who has the courage to attack the Islamic republic, Iranian news agency ISNA said on Friday. The statement came during Ahmadinejad's visit to Kish Island in the Persian Gulf marking National Persian Gulf Day. The Gulf, which hosts large oil deposits, has been an area of increased attention from regional powers, as well as from the United States. "They [the US authorities] want to dominate the Middle East... Though it should be mentioned that they have not reached their goal and will not do it [in the future]," the agency quoted the hard-line Iranian leader as saying.

"Today Iran is the world's most powerful nation. We like all nations and are glad to see their prosperity. We are adherents of friendship and dialogue. However, as opposed to the aggressive intentions, we remain a powerful fist that will knock the teeth out of anyone [who will have courage to attack Iran]," Ahmadinejad said. The US and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran in case it fails to meet a demand by Western powers and halt its controversial uranium enrichment program. The US and other Western nations accuse Iran of attempting to build weapons under the guise of peaceful nuclear generation.

04.30.10 Exclusive: UN elects Iran to Commission on Women's Rights

NEW YORK, April 30 - Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state

in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged "immodest." Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is "dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women," according to its website. Buried 2,000 words deep in a UN press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of "vacancies in subsidiary bodies," was the stark announcement:

Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was "elected by acclamation," meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states — including the United States. The US currently holds one of the 45 seats on the body, a position set to expire in 2012. The US Mission to the UN did not return requests for comment on whether it actively opposed elevating Iran to the women's commission. Iran's election comes just a week after one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar — but little affected their bid to become an international arbiter of women's rights.
[More>>forxnews.com; Video from Maravot News 4.29.10 article "Iranian women on cruel Islam: woman raped and mutilated in Iranian prison."]

04.30.10 Clinton in Middle East warning

April 30 - The US secretary of state has warned Syria and Iran of taking actions that threaten the security of Israel, saying that Washington's commitment to its traditional ally is "unshakeable." Hillary Clinton said that the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas movement by Syria, as well as Iran's nuclear ambitions, could destabilise the region. "These threats to Israel's security are real, they are growing and they must be addressed," she said in a speech to the American Jewish Committee, a US-based advocacy group. Relations between the US and Israel have been strained in recent months over settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jeursalem, but Clinton's comments sought to reassure Israel that ties remain strong. Clinton told the audience in Washington that Israel was currently "confronting some of the toughest challenges in her history", highlighting support for Hezbollah and Hamas from Syria and Iran. "Transferring weapons to these terrorists, especially longer-range missiles, would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel," she said. [More>>aljazeera.net]

04.30.10 'US told Palestinians it would consider allowing UN censure of Israel'

April 30 - The Obama administration would consider allowing the United Nations Security Council to censure Israel over its activity in West Bank settlements in order to encourage the Palestinians to participate in peace talks, a Palestinian source told The Guardian on Friday. According to the source, US special Mideast envoy George Mitchell's deputy, David Hale, told Abbas that the Obama administration views Israeli construction in East Jerusalem as "provocative." Hale reportedly promised Abbas that the US would consider allowing a Security Council condemnation should such activity continue at a significant level though he did not clarify what the Obama administration considered significant. This assurance would mean a US abstention on any resolution, rather than a veto, said The Guardian. [More>>haaretz.com]


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