05.29.05 Priest stops Amazon logging; oil company fined for polluting Peru's Corrientes river
May 29 Hugh O'Shaughnessy and Colleen Toomey report: A mild-looking, bespectacled Catholic priest, born in Portsmouth, educated at Oxford and now working in the Peruvian rainforest, is behind an important victory for local people over the logging companies laying waste to large stretches of Amazonia. A year ago Father Paul McAuley, now 57, helped some 70 of his parishioners in the little settlement of Mazan, on one of the Amazon's main tributaries, to seek an injunction to protect large swathes of rainforest, containing valuable tropical timber. Last week a court in Iquitos, the capital of Peruvian Amazonia, ordered a halt to the government's sale of 40-year leases of forest land for only 22p an acre.
...Since April last year the government in Lima and the local authorities of the department of Loreto in Iquitos have decreed the sale of concessions over 12 million acres. Timber merchants bought 7.3 million acres. In the next round, 23 million acres were due to be put under the hammer.
Tropical timber was piled high on the quayside at Iquitos last week, ready to be shipped down the Amazon for export. "This is a very sad sight," said Fr McAuley, adding that in the first three months of this year, loggers felled more than five times as many trees as in the first three months of 2004...Fr McAuley said the privatization of the rainforest was part of a scheme demanded by the World Bank and other financial institutions of the Peruvian President, Alejandro Toledo, a former World Bank employee, as a condition for loans...
Recently Peru fined Pluspetrol, an Argentine oil company, more than $1m for its pollution of the Corrientes, an Amazon tributary, and ordered it to shut 14 of its wells. The river is estimated to have received vast quantities of pollutants every day for the past 34 years from Pluspetrol and its predecessors. [Full story>>independent.co.uk]
05.27.05 Voyager enters Solar System's final frontier
May 27 Yesterday, May 26, according to the Voyager team, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2were expected to reach the edge of the Solar System, a distance twice as far away as Pluto. The space crafts have been traveling for 26 years, heading to different parts of the Milky Way Galaxy. Voyager 1 is about 8.7 billion miles from the Sun and traveling at a speed of 3.6 AU per year while Voyager 2 is about 6.5 billion miles away and moving at about 3.3 AU per year. One 'AU' equals the distance between the Sun and Earth, or 93 million miles.
As both vehicles reach the Galactic sphere, a bow wave is experienced. Says NASA, "The strongest evidence that Voyager 1 has passed through the termination shock into the slower, denser wind beyond is its measurement of an increase in the strength of the magnetic field carried by the solar wind and the inferred decrease in its speed. Physically, this must happen whenever the solar wind slows down, as it does at the termination shock. Consider a highway with moderate traffic. If something makes the drivers slow down, say a puddle of water, the cars pile up - their density increases. In the same way, the density (intensity) of the magnetic field carried by the solar wind will increase if the solar wind slows down. In December 2004, Voyager 1 observed the magnetic field strength increasing by a factor of two and a half, as expected when the solar wind slows down. The magnetic field has remained at these high levels from December until now." [More>>nasa.gov]
Voyager I and 2 reaching the edge of the Solar System. From nasa.gov.
Update 05.27.05, 05.25.05 Azerbaijan: oil pipeline, Americans, Wahhabites
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti, Editorial by Alexei Makarkin) May 25 Recently, the expansion of ties between Washington and Baku has become obvious. The opening on May 25 of the oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, by-passing Russia, is one of the best examples of the recent trend. According to many experts, this project bears clearly geopolitical rather than economic significance. It fits perfectly in the framework of other projects related to the US military presence in that strategically important region.
From time to time, information leaks into the media about the US plans to deploy its military contingents in Azerbaijan. The sources hint at the possibility of "temporarily deploying mobile forces," which might stay in the region for a rather prolonged period. These forces are supposed to provide security for the pipeline and exert pressure on Iran and Russia.
Officials in Baku denied these rumors, although it does not mean Azerbaijan would not contemplate the possibility of talks on the issue. The Azeri Defense Ministry took a different position on another issue, though. It did not confirm or deny information about the possible creation of a military bloc consisting of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, a sort of NATO "subsidiary." Some sources assume Ukraine might become a member of the new alliance later.
...At the same time, such a solution will increase Turkey's role in NATO as a compensation for the delay in its integration with the European Union. In the future US military bases might be deployed in Georgia, as well. It is worth mentioning that the pipeline passing through the territory of the three states will become a foundation of the future military bloc.
Such a development will certainly hurt Russia's interests. That is why Russia attempts to delay the withdrawal of its military bases from Georgia for as long as possible and receive guarantees that the US bases will not replace them in the future. Political risks for Armenia and Iran will increase as well. Armenia still remembers the Turkish genocide during World War I, and Iran remains a potential target of the US invasion.
...The Americans cooperate both with the official regime and the opposition in Azerbaijan, trying to avoid laying eggs in one basket. However, there is a "third force" in the country that gradually gains popularity. It unites representatives of radical Islam, popularly called Wahhabites on post-Soviet territory. [Full story>>rian.ru; See also separate stories: turkishpress.com, May 25, "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline gets first oil flow"; bbc.co.uk, "Giant Caspian oil pipeline opens." See 5.28.05 article, dailystar.com.lb, "Oil prices continue to rise despite peat output and new pipelines": '....What could cause the price of oil to go down? The significance of the U.S.-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is that it undercuts Russia's longtime grip on Central Asia's vast energy sources, and OPEC's quotas. What's more, Central Asia is awash with light crude which is far easier to refine and get to the gas station than OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabian heavy crude. But the pipeline will only ship 1 million bpd to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, only around 1 percent of global oil production. Equally, a planned $880 million trans-Balkan pipeline that intends to bypass the Bosphorous straits bottleneck, announced yesterday, will not become operational until late 2008 or early 2009. By then, that extra output may have only a minimal effect on oil prices.']
Another interesting analysis of the world oil supply problem is at: http://www.egoproject.nl/
05.27.05 Many killed in Pakistan shrine blast
May 27 At least 20 people have been killed by a suspected bomber at a Muslim shrine in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, an intelligence official and a witness said. But the number of dead could be more than 30, other witnesses told Aljazeera's correspondent in Pakistan. The blast occurred at 11.20am (0620 GMT) on Friday at the Bari Imam shrine, which is close to Pakistan's main government buildings and the diplomatic enclave, where many embassies and diplomatic residences are. Thousands of devotees from the majority Sunni Muslim and minority Shia Muslim sects gathered to mark the anniversary of a Sufi holy man's death in the area at the time of the explosion, the private Geo television station said. The shrine was seen as a symbol of harmony between the two communities. An AP photographer at the scene counted at least 20 bodies, many of them in pieces, making it hard to give an exact figure. An intelligence official said at least 20 were killed and 150 wounded. [More>>aljazeera.net]; See also jang.com.pk]
05.26.05 China develops bird flu vaccines
(Agencies) May 26 China has developed vaccines that block the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu among birds and mammals, Xinhua news agency reported, as scientists in the west warned of a possible global pandemic killing millions.
Scientists fear that avian flu, which is infectious in birds but does not spread easily among humans, could mutate into a form more capable of passing from animals to people. The H5N1 strain first surfaced in poultry in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland eight years ago and has killed 37 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four in Cambodia.
Global health officials fear it could mutate into a strain that could rival the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed between 20 and 40 million people. [More>>Chinadaily.com.cn]
05.26.05 Russian law enforcement officials cut off another channel of Afghan heroin supply to Russia
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) May 26 "Some time ago Moscow's organized crime police department received information from Perm region (the Urals) colleagues that a woman had left for Moscow to get a large batch of heroin and was going to sell it in Perm," the press service of the Organized Crime Department of the Russian Interior Ministry reported.
During a special operation, a member of a Tajik organized criminal group, 24-year-old female resident of Perm, was detained in Moscow. The police confiscated from the woman more than five kilograms of heroin packed in two plastic bags. Experts estimated the heroin batch of Afghan origin, marked 777, exceeded $200,000 on the illegal market.
According to the UN Drug Control Commission, Afghanistan accounts for 75% of the world's raw opium production. By experts' estimates, some 3,600 tones of raw opium produced there make 360 tones of heroin. The Russian Drug Control Agency reported that about a half of Afghan drugs was transferred to Europe through Iran and Pakistan, and up to 35% through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, with the remainder crossing Tajikistan. Over 90% of the total volume of drugs and almost 100% of heroin recently confiscated by Russian border guards were seized on the Tajik-Afghan and Russian Kazakh borders. [rian.ru]
05.25.05 US leads global attack on human rights: Amnesty
LONDON (Reuters, Jeremy Lovell) May 25 Four years after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, human rights are in retreat worldwide and the United States bears most responsibility, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Wednesday. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe the picture is bleak. Governments are increasingly rolling back the rule of law, taking their cue from the US-led war on terror, it said.
"The USA as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power sets the tone for governmental behavior worldwide," Secretary General Irene Khan said in the foreword to Amnesty International's 2005 annual report. "When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity," she said. [More>>hindustantimes.com; See also khaleejtimes.com, "Amnesty takes aim at US in human rights report" and bbc.co.uk, "Amnesty accuses US over 'torture.'"
05.25.05 Zarqawi has fled Iraq, suffering lung injury but stable: website
AMMAN, May 25 A website statement claimed Wednesday that Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaedaıs point man in Iraq, has fled to an unidentified ³neighboring country² with two Arab doctors treating him for gunshot wounds to his lung.
There was no way to verify the authenticity of the claim. The site used to carry Al Qaeda postings, but has fallen out of use recently. Soon, the posting appeared on another militant site, where it quickly came under attack from other posters as untrue and unauthorized by Al Qaeda.
The statement from somebody identified only as al-Khalidi - the same name as a regular poster for the site in the past - said the information was based on accounts of ³brothers close to the holy warriors in Iraq and who are in contact with them.² He did not elaborate. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See also dailystar.com.lb, "Zarqawil reported wounded in Iraq."
05.25.05 US troops launch Iraq offensive
May 25 About 1000 US marines, sailors and soldiers have encircled Haditha in the troubled al-Anbar province, killing at least three fighters. The killings came after the US on Wednesday launched its second major anti-resistance operation in Iraq's vast western region in less than a month. The offensive is aimed at uprooting fighters who have killed more than 620 people since a new Iraqi government was announced on 28 April. [More>>aljazeera.net]; See also AP article, "1,000 US troops launch offensive in Iraq."
05.25.05 Watchdog slams Israel rights abuse
May 25 An international human rights group has accused Israel of committing abuses that constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. The annual report by the human rights watchdog group Amnesty International (AI) criticised the Israeli use of Palestinians as human shields, extra-judicial killings, systematic house demolitions, torture, collective punishment and closures and deliberate killing of civilians. Some 700 Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupying forces last year alone, an increase from last year's figure of 600, according to the report. 150 of these were children, many killed deliberately, most unlawfully, charged the watchdog group. [More>>aljazeera.net]
05.25.05 Car bomb in Spanish capital injures 34
MADRID (Reuters) May 25 A car bomb injured at least 34 people in the Spanish capital on Wednesday in an apparent rebuff by Basque separatist guerrillas ETA to government peace overtures. The bomb, in a stolen car, blew up in an industrial zone in northeastern Madrid 45 minutes after a Basque newspaper received a warning in the name of ETA, officials said.
The warning gave police time to seal off the area, but dozens were hurt by flying glass or the force of the blast. Black smoke rose into the air as fire engines and police vehicles blocked the street in the San Blas district. The blast wrecked about five cars and smashed windows in nearby buildings, including an Opel car dealership, witnesses and news reports said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
05.25.05 Experts: Russian-Belarussian union likely
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) May 25 The Kremlin has given the go-ahead to a unified Russia and Belarus, a political project stuck in controversy for the last decade, the Russian weekly Politichesky Zhurnal reported. Below are Russian analysts' comments on the prospects of unification.
Mark Urnov, president of the Ekspertiza foundation:
"The project of a united Russian and Belarussian state loosens soil for a new state system extending the terms of office of incumbent leaders. This is a 2008-oriented project [in 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin's term limit will expire]. To implement it, however, an agreement between Vladimir Putin and [Belarussian President] Alexander Lukashenko is needed since the latter will hardly keep a high profile in a union state. Lukashenko faces certain problems in domestic, as well as foreign policy, since Putin cannot determine a successor. This could drive the presidents towards a deal. "Moreover, most Russians will surely approve a merger with Belarus. The people just aren't thinking about how it will affect Russia financially."
Pavel Borodin, state secretary of the Union State of Russia and Belarus:
"A recent series of meetings between the Russian and Belarussian presidents has demonstrated not only our approval of, but also our overwhelming support for, interstate integration into a united country. Issues like a united currency, union property and united customs services are likely to be resolved before the year is out."
Sergei Markov, Director of the Institute for Political Studies:
"Relations between Russia and Belarus have been much stimulated lately by processes outside both of these states. Now there is a threat of an anti-Russian regime coming to power in Belarus to involve the country into an anti-Russian coalition and block Russia. This gave a new impetus to the integration of the two countries, clearly seen in a raised union budget and recent work on a united currency. If Lukashenko's dealings with Putin result in securing a place for the Belarussian elite in a new state, Russia and Belarus will definitely become a unified state. The decision may have been made already." [More>>rian.ru]
Editorial note: See map in sidebar showing the proximity of Belarus to Poland, the Baltic States and the Ukraine.
05.25.05 Balloon reaches North Pole for first time
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) May 25 A hot air balloon managed to reach The North Pole for the first time in the history of Arctic exploration Monday. The Svyataya Rus (Holy Russia) crew named their expedition "A Flight to the Summit of the Globe". It took the men 38 days to cover 980 km starting from Cape Arktichesky in the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago.
The crew was also given unprecedented aviation support while implementing the project. The crew also did research that will help update current scientific information on the environment, the Earth's climate and man's vital activity in extreme conditions. [More>>rian.ru]
05.25.05 Indonesia to tender 26 new oil and gas concessions
JAKARTA, Antara, May 25 Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Wednesday the government would tender 26 new oil and gas concessions early next month. Speaking after a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Purnomo said the 26 concessions were part of 70 new blocks to be tendered by the end of this year.
"The tender for the 26 blocks will be announced within the next one to two weeks," he said. Without giving details of the locations of the concessions, he said the new blocks were spread across the entire country, from Aceh in the west to Papua in the east. It is hoped the announcement of the new tenders will help revive investment in the energy sector, thereby increasing the country's oil and gas production. [thejakartapost.com]
05.25.05 LUKOIL to Explore a giant deposit in Iraq
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) May 25 Russian oil giant LUKOIL is planning to begin joint exploration of the West Qurna-2 oil deposit in Iraq with U.S. company ConocoPhillips, LUKOIL President Vagit Alekperov announced Tuesday, Vremya Novostei, a daily, reported.
This deposit has estimated recoverable resources (according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates) at 11.3 billion barrels and is in third place in Iraq. "All conditions have currently been met in Iraq that are needed to start project implementation," Alekperov said. "In the near future, LUKOIL Overseas head Andrei Kuzyaev will fly to Baghdad and at the end of the year I might go there as well."
Alekperov is certain the Iraqi side sees the project's validity and assumes that Baghdad will not demand the revision of existing agreements. He stressed that LUKOIL never closed its office in Baghdad. Alekperov's confidence could be based on ConocoPhillips' acquisition of a stake in LUKOIL last September, which it plans to increase to 20%. ConocoPhillips joined the West Qurna-2 project after acquiring 17.5% of the stake in the project from LUKOIL, which still has a controlling bloc of shares. [More>>rian.ru]
05.25.05 Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan talk about strengthening alliance in trade and oil
May 25 The President of Kazakhstan began an official visit to Azerbaijan. The Presidents discussed the important issues of Kazakhstani-Azerbaijani relations in a narrow circle. They paid a special attention to economic cooperation...Goods turnover between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan for the last year rose more than twice and exceeded $300 million. The Oil and gas industry is one of the perspective branches for cooperation. The Presidents agreed to widen cooperation in tourism, oil machine building, trade and strengthening security. The treaty of strategic partnership and allied relations, which was signed by Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, became one of the main documents.
"This treaty is unique, we havenıt yet signed the document of strategic character, which shows the roots of our friendship and our allied relations in 21st century. I think that Kazakhstan is the main state in Central Asia for Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan is the main state for us in the Caucasus. We are kindred peoples who have common great ancestors, common language, history, culture and traditions. I personally love and respect the Azerbaijani people. I grew together with them, there was a large diaspora in our village. Now the Caspian Sea unites us. Now two states in this region are the main producers of oil at the world market, we can work together," said Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of RK (Kazakhstan). [More.>khabar.kz]
05.25.05 More Polio cases detected in Indonesia
JAKARTA (Agencies) May 25 Indonesian health authorities confirmed on Wednesday that six additional polio cases have been detected in the country, bringing the total infected to 14. The new illnesses came from the same district in West Java province where the first case was detected in April, and in the nearby province of Banten, according to Dr. Yusharmen, an official at the health ministry's directorate general of contagious disease control. "This is not something surprising because that has been expected since we had a case in an area where there was low immunization," Yusharmen told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
A 20-month-old girl was diagnosed with polio in Sukabumi on April 21, becoming the country's first case since 1995.Authorities believe she came in contact with a migrant worker or tourist who was infected abroad. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
05.22.05 Laura Bush heckled on Temple Mount
May 22 Adam Entous reports: Jewish and Muslim protesters heckled US first lady Laura Bush when she visited a flash point Jerusalem holy site today during a Middle East goodwill tour. Dozens of nationalist Jews demanding Washington free a convicted Israeli spy shouted at Mrs. Bush as she visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. They were kept back by Israeli police and US Secret Service agents.
A crowd jostled Mrs. Bush as she entered the adjacent Dome of the Rock mosque afterward and an elderly Palestinian worshipper cried at her: "You are not welcome here. Why are you hassling our Muslims? How dare you come in here?" Mrs. Bush did not respond to him or an old woman who shouted "Koran, Koran" at her in Arabic, and held a white scarf - donned in religious respect - tightly on her head as she exited with police linking arms around her to ward off the crowd.
Laura Bush began a Middle East trip on Friday acknowledging that the US image in the Muslim world had been badly damaged by a prisoner abuse scandal and a magazine report, since retracted, that US interrogators desecrated the Koran... It is Islam's third holiest site, home to the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The shrine has been a frequent scene of violence and tension in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A truce now prevails.
In April, Israeli police enforcing a ban on non-Muslim worshippers in the mosque compound sealed it off to foil a rightist Jewish march, part of a campaign to re-ignite violence aimed at blocking Israel's plan to withdraw from occupied Gaza. [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au; See also Jerusalem Post story.
Editorial note: The Temple Mount controversy is really not over the land settlements. Jews robbing lands and properties that were occupied by Palestinians reflects a problem in its own right: simple theft, which is repulsive to all sensibilities. The theft of property in Israel is justified by what Jews believe to be their "right of inheritance" from God. A dominant thread of the Bible and Jewish Oral Teachings is the scattering of the Jews from Israel and their restoration from the nations where they had been scattered to their Holy Land. The prophesies, however, that govern the restoration to their land do not provide for the displacement of the occupants on the land. In fact, the prophesies provide that all people living in Jerusalem (sic. the Holy Land) will be called Holy and "the Lord's people" and shall be one. In fact both the Jews and Israel will be renamed, according to Isaiah:
Isaiah 62.2 : And the Gentiles shall see thy
righteousness, and all kings thy glory:
and thou shalt be called by a new name,
which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
62.3 Thou shalt also be a crown of
glory in the hand of the Lord, and
a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
62.4 Thou shalt no more be termed
Forsaken; neither shall thy land
any more be termed Desolate: but
thou shalt be called Hephzibah,
and thy land Beulah: for the LORD
delighteth in thee, and thy land
shall be married.
It is ironic that many of the Jewish settlers don't believe in the Bible, but they use the Biblical Promise to justify the removal of Palestinians from Israel. This has been a common concern among Moslems in the Middle East, since the Promise in Genesis involves a restoration involving the land from the "River of Egypt" approximately the current southern border of Israel to the Euphrates River. See
Philistia Triumph thou because of me
on these promises and the concerns over them.
The Temple Mount controversy has to do with the Promise involving the return of the Jewish Messiah, confirming the blessing of the redemption of the Jews (Marriage). The Jews believe that the Messiah will enter the Temple Mount through the Golden Gate (a gate sealed against that possibility) and restore the Jewish Temple. It is believed by Jews and feared by Moslems that the Dome of the Rock will be torn down to provide space for the Temple. So at issue is the feared destruction of the Dome of the Rock which happens to relate to Bush's Crusade and allegations of American troops desecrating the holy Koran.
The people who the Israeli government prevented from going up to the Temple Mount were affiliated with a movement to restore the Temple. Laura Bush commented with regard to the tour that the Dome of the Mount "was beautiful." Click here or scroll down for more on the Temple Mount controversy.
05.22.05 UN joins row over US Afghan abuse
May 22 The United Nations has renewed its calls for the US to open up its controversial Bagram air base to Afghan human rights investigators. The call follows the leaking of a US army report detailing abuses including the torture and killing of two Afghans. The UN's special representative in Afghanistan said such abuses were "utterly unacceptable". Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was shocked by the report. The US says those responsible will be dealt with. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
05.22.05 Thousands of Muslims protest alleged desecratiion of Koran by US soldiers
JAKARTA (Agencies) May 22 Thousands of Indonesian Muslims protested on Sunday outside the US Embassy in Jakarta, condemning the alleged desecration of the Muslim holy book Koran by American troops at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
About 7,000 activists held anti-American banners and posters while chanting "Allahu Akbar!" or "God is great!" along the 2-kilometer march from the Welcome Monument to the embassy. "As Muslims, we unite here to warn the U.S. that the bad behavior of its soldiers has humiliated all Islamic followers around the world," protest leader Ridwan Saidi was quoted as saying by AP.
According to the May 9 edition of Newsweek magazine, interrogators at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, placed copies of the Koran in washrooms to unsettle suspects, and in one case "flushed a holy book down the toilet." Newsweek has since retracted the report, which sparked three days of violent anti-US protests in Afghanistan that killed at least 15 people.
Hard line Indonesian Muslims at a rally vowed to wage war against America and said those who desecrate the Koran should be killed. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
05.22.05 Coal mine blasts in northern China kill at least 60 workers within at least 48 hours
BEIJING (AP) May 22 A gas blast at a coal mine in northern China killed 20 people and the death toll from an explosion at another mine rose to 40, the government said Sunday, in the latest spate of accidents to strike the country's notoriously dangerous industry. A blast Friday in the Hougou Coal Mine in Puxian in Shanxi province killed 14 miners working underground and triggered an explosion at the neighboring Shapingzi Coal Mine that killed six more people, the official Xinhua News Agency said. [More>>thestar.com.my]
05.22.05 Pakistani armed force to man Iran-India gas pipeline
NEW DELHI (PTI) May 22 Pakistani armed forces may be given a contract for the security of the 760-km stretch of the Iran-India gas pipeline transiting through Pakistan for an annual fee of $100 million. The fee would be in addition to the transit fee Islamabad would earn for allowing the $4.16 billion pipeline to pass through its territory.
At the meeting of the Task Force on Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline in Tehran on May 2-4, the Iranian side proposed that "the entire security of the pipeline be handed over to the Pakistan armed forces for a fee of $100 million per year," a senior government official said. Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is likely to take up the transit issues like route of the pipeline, transit fee and security of the line when he visits Islamabad next month. [More>>hindustantimes.com]
05.22.05 Saddam to sue Sun, daily publishes new pics
LONDON (PTI) May 22 A British tabloid published new pictures of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and two top lieutenants, a day after it showed him in his underpants. Saddam plans to take legal action. The new picture shows Saddam clad in white robes behind prison wire apparently in conversation with someone. It follows a front-page cover of a bare-chested Saddam standing in his underwear.
We will sue the newspaper and everyone who helped in showing these pictures,ıı said Saddam Husseinıs chief lawyer Ziad al-Khasawneh, speaking from Jordan, the BBC reported today. The Sun said it would fight any legal action and said it planned to publish more photos. [More>>expressindia.com]
05.22.05 Study to transfer water from Red Sea to Dead Sea
SHUNEH, Jordan, May 22 Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority said Sunday they had agreed terms for a feasibility study on transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, to save the world's lowest sea from vanishing. The two-year study, costing 15 million dollars, will investigate the social and environmental impact of conveying large quantities of water through a 200-kilometer (120-mile) conduit between the two seas.
Experts at a discussion panel warned earlier in the day that the Dead Sea has been losing large quantities of water, posing a serious environmental disaster to the whole area. The project, if proven feasible, involves the building of a small canal on the Red Sea between Jordan and Israel and then pumping water to the Dead Sea through a 180-kilometer (110-mile) pipe or several pipes. The agreement was announced at a joint press conference on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) between Jordan's Minister of Water and Irrigation, Raed Abu Saoud, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Palestinian planning minister Ghassan al-Khatib. [jang.com.pk]
05.22.05 Kazakhstan diversifies oil exports
BAKU (RIA Novosti, Gerai Dadashev) May 22 Kazakhstan intends to join the widely advertised "oil pipeline of the century" project - Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (a Turkish oil terminal in the Mediterranean). The relevant agreement was discussed during the third meeting of the Azeri-Kazakh intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation in Baku on Sunday.
The draft of the agreement is among the series of documents planned to be signed during the upcoming visit of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Azerbaijan on May 24.
"We have been working on the draft of the agreement for several days. It is basically ready and initialed. I believe its signing will be an event of historic importance," First Vice-Premier of the Azeri Cabinet Abbas Abbasov, who serves as co-chairman of the committee on the Azeri side, told the journalists.
He said, more than 3 million tons of Kazakh oil was exported through the Azeri territory in 2004. The expanding transport potential of the two countries will ensure the future increase in the volume of transported goods, including the transportation of Kazakh oil along the Aktau (an oil terminal on the east coast of the Caspian Sea) - Baku route.
...The major problem facing the major opponent of the new oil pipeline project - the Oil Pipeline Consortium (OPC) where Russia plays the leading role - is the insufficient capacity of the existing pipeline. At present, the OPC transports about 28 million tons of oil to the Russian town of Novorossiisk on the Black Sea annually. However, the profitability of its pipeline under current tariffs ($27 per ton) is very low. While waiting for the expansion of the OPC pipeline capacity, the major OPC client, the American Tengizchevroil whose production volume is expected to increase drastically by 2006 (by 10-15 million tons annually) has practically re-oriented its future supplies on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which is almost ready to become operational (all works are completed by 95%). [Full story>>rian.ru]
05.22.05 UK scientists say embryo cloned
May 20 Scientists who were awarded Britain's first licence for human cloning say they have succeeded in creating the country's first cloned embryo. The Newcastle University scientists said on Thursday that they had produced an early stage embryo cloned from a human cell using nuclear transfer.
Britain, which four years ago became the world's first country to license cloning to create stem cells, is aiming to join South Korea on the leading edge of the research, which many scientists think might lead to new treatments for a range of diseases. A team of South Korean scientists, who last year were the first to clone a human embryo, announced they had dramatically sped up the creation of human embryonic stem cells, growing 11 new batches that for the first time were a genetic match for injured or sick patients. [More>>aljazeera.net]