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05.31.10 Netanyahu: I regret Gaza flotilla deaths, but Israeli troops had right to self-defense
May 31 - PM cancels meeting with Obama, promises to keep him updated on developments in aftermath of incident; Barak: Organizers of Gaza flotilla to blame for deadly clashes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he regretted the loss of life sustained by international activists after Israel Navy commandos stormed a flotilla bringing aid to the Gaza Strip, but said the Israeli troops who opened fire were justified for defending themselves. Netanyahu, who earlier in the day canceled his planned visit to Washington where he was to meet with US President Barack Obama, said that Israel was prepared to bring all humanitarian aid carried on the ship to civilians in Gaza. He also said that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip would continue.
05.31.10 Pakistani law fuels hatred of Ahmadis: UN experts
(Reuters) May 31 - Official discrimination in Pakistan against the Ahmadi Muslim sect fuels hatred of the community and prompts violent attacks against them. In a statement issued by the three human rights investigators of United Nations in Geneva on Monday following deadly bombings last Friday of two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, the three said the authorities had failed to head off the attacks despite many signs that they were coming. "Members of this (Ahmadi) religious community have faced continuous threats, discrimination and violent attacks in Pakistan," said the experts, who included Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir. The fact that Ahmadis were officially declared non-Muslims and had been subjected to restrictions and institutionalized discrimination "emboldens opinion makers who wish to fuel hatred and perpetrators of attacks against religious minorities," the statement declared...Members of the sect say hundreds of its adherents are in Pakistani jails for violating the law by insisting they are Muslims. They say hundreds more have died in other incidents. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com; See background stories, Maravot News article 05.30.10 Banned Pak groups joining hands with al-Qaeda: Rehman Malik x
05.31.10 Taliban number two in Kandahar dead: NATO
May 31 - NATO said today that the second most senior Taliban commander in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar had been killed in an air strike. The man, identified as Haji Amir, was targeted in the province's restive Panjwayi district Sunday, NATO'ss International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said. "An Afghan-international force used a precision air strike to kill Taliban commander Haji Amir, one of the two most senior Taliban leaders in Kandahar province," an ISAF statement said. Several of his fighters were also killed in the raid, it said. Kandahar province is the hub of the Taliban's insurgency, and was the informal capital of their brutal 1996-2001 regime. An operation against the insurgents is building, with new deployments of US and NATO troops heading to Kandahar as Western commanders hope to neutralise the Taliban by the end of the year. The statement said Amir had escaped from prison in Kandahar in 2008. He had been tracked for “several days” before he was targeted in a mud hut in Zangabad village, it said. NATO said Amir operated in Kandahar's Dand, Zhari and Panjwayi districts, all badly hit by the Taliban insurgency. [>indianexpress.com]
05.31.10 Afghanistan suspends two Christian aid groups
KABUL (Reuters) May 31 - Western aid groups suspected of proselytizing. Afghan authorities suspended two Christian foreign aid groups Monday on suspicion of proselytizing in the strictly Islamic nation and said a follow-up investigation would include whether other groups were trying to convert Muslims. US-based Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid will not be allowed to operate while the allegations, aired Sunday on Afghan television, are investigated, said Mohammad Hashim Mayar, the deputy director of the Afghan government office that oversees nongovernment organizations, known as NGOs. A spokesman for the Ministry of Economy, Sediq Amarkhil, said the government had no evidence against either organization, which started operating in the country during the rule of the Islamist Taliban, in the late 1990s. [More>>alarabiya.net]
05.31.10 Rocket attack kills Turkish troops
May 31 - Six Turkish soldiers have been killed in a rocket attack on a navy base in the southern city of Iskenderun, local media has reported. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but state media put the blame on members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who are fighting for autonomy in the region. Soldiers at the base say they fired at the attackers, but it was unclear whether any of them were injured. Seven other soldiers were wounded in Monday's attack, which targeted a military vehicle that was carrying troops for the changing of the guard. PKK fighters have stepped up attacks on Turkish army posts in the southeast in recent weeks, with warmer weather allowing them to leave their mountain hideouts. [More>>aljazeera.net]
05.31.10 Officials: 4 killed in separate Iraq attacks
BAGHDAD (AP) May 31 - Four people were killed and several others wounded in separate attacks in Iraq, police and hospital officials said Monday. Among the dead was a prominent local leader of anti-insurgent Sunni forces known as Awakening Councils who was shot by two gunmen armed with silenced pistols. The attackers fled the scene after attacking Nael al-Azami near a popular cafe in Baghdad's northern Azamiyah district Monday morning. Elsewhere in the capital, a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi police patrol in the capital's Ghadir neighborhood, killing one policeman and wounding 10 bystanders and officers nearby. [>msnbc.msn.com]
05.31.10 Marine killed by blast in Helmand province
May 31 - A member of 40 Commando Royal Marines has been killed by an explosion while on foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.He was hit by the blast on Sunday evening, the Ministry of Defence has revealed. Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "It is with sadness I must inform you that a marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines was killed last night in an explosion near Sangin in northern Helmand. [More>>news.sky.com]
05.31.10 You would never eat it, why drink it?
May 31 - On May 24, a new study published in the journal Circulation found a link between avoiding sugary drinks and lowering blood pressure. If you knew the dietary equivalent of your favorite drinks — including waters, teas, smoothies — you may rethink every sip. Since the April 12 launch of Kentucky Fried chicken's (KFC) Double Down Sandwich (described as a "one-of-a-kind sandwich with two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets, two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce"), comparison charts have popped up all over the web in search of the ‘unhealthiest sandwich ever' and efforts to increase its unhealthiness inspired by the book This Is Why You Are Fat ($9.99/€8.06). With an intense eye on the global effort to fight obesity, calorie, fat, sugar and sodium charts are popping up everywhere. More>>independent.co.uk]
05.30.10 Report: Israel to deploy nuclear submarines off Iran coast
May 30 - Sunday Times quotes IDF official saying the 3 German-made long range submarines will gather intelligence, act as deterrent and potentially land Mossad agents. Israel is to deploy three submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday. According to the Times report, one submarine had been sent over Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, and in the possession of Syria and Hezbollah, could be used to hit strategic sites within Israel, such as air bases and missile launchers. Dolphin, Tekuma, and Leviathan, all German-made Dolphin class submarines of the 7th navy Flotilla, have been reported as frequenting the Gulf in the past, however, according to the Sunday Times report, this new deployment is meant to ensure a permanent naval presence near the Iranian coastline.
05.30.10 Israel denounces call for Middle East nuclear conference
(AFP) May 30 - Israel on Saturday denounced as "hypocritical" a UN resolution by members of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty calling for a conference on a nuclear-free Middle East and said it would not participate. "This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical. It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world," said a statement issued by the Israeli government in Toronto, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Canada. "It singles out Israel, the Middle East's only true democracy and the only country threatened with annihilation," the statement added. "Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation." The Jewish state has reacted furiously to the agreement reached Friday at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, which called for a regional conference in 2012 to advance the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East.
05.30.10 Six Palestinians killed in Gaza tunnel blast
GAZA CITY (AFP) May 30 - Six Palestinians were killed and 12 others injured as a Gaza smuggling tunnel collapse after contraband gas canisters exploded on Saturday, medics in the coastal enclave said. The accident occurred as the canisters were being smuggled through the tunnel under the Egyptian border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the medics and witnesses said. The explosion caused the tunnel to collapse, they said, adding that one of the wounded was in critical condition. An earlier report said two Palestinians were killed and 11 wounded. The impoverished territory of 1.5 million people has largely relied on the vast network of tunnels since Israel and Egypt sealed Gaza off to all but what it says is vital aid after the Islamist Hamas seized power in June 2007. Most of the tunnels are used to bring in basic goods like food, household appliances and livestock, but Hamas and other militant groups reportedly use their own more secret tunnels to bring in arms and money. More than 130 Palestinians have died in cave-ins or been killed by Israeli military operations aimed at the tunnels since the Hamas takeover, medics say. [More>>blog comments, alarabiya.net; See related stories,
05.30.10 Muslim preacher of hate is let into Britain
LONDON, May 30 - The home secretary, Theresa May, is facing a stiff test of the Conservative party's claims to oppose radical Islam after her officials chose to allow a misogynist Muslim preacher into Britain. Zakir Naik, an Indian televangelist described as a "hate-monger" by moderate Muslims and one Tory MP, says western women make themselves "more susceptible to rape" by wearing revealing clothing. Naik, who proselytizes on Peace TV, a satellite television channel, is reported to have called for the execution of Muslims who change their faith, described Americans as "pigs" and said that "every Muslim should be a terrorist." In a recent lecture, he said he was "with" Osama Bin Laden over the attacks on "terrorist America," adding that the 9/11 hijackings were an inside job by President George W. Bush.
LAHORE, Pakistan, May 30 - Banned militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba have joined hands with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to destabilise Pakistan, interior minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday. The Taliban and its allied groups had adopted a new strategy after the successful military operations in the Swat valley and the tribal areas and were now trying to "spread anarchy" and trigger infighting among different sects, Malik told reporters after visiting one of two Ahmedi mosques that were attacked by heavily armed terrorists in Lahore on Friday.
05.30.10 US drone kills 18 suspected militants in northwest Pakistan
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) May 30 - A US drone attack has killed at least 18 suspected militants in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border, local authorities said on Sunday. All the 18 militants were killed on Sunday in the Orakzai tribal region. On Saturday, two soldiers were killed in the area after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb, the authorities said. Violence surged in the country in 2009, with Taliban militants staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and civilians and planting roadside devices as part of their fight against US and NATO troops. Over 600 militants, including several influential Taliban commanders, were killed in drone airstrikes in the country's restive tribal belt in 2009. [>en.rian.ru]
05.30.10 Taliban in turmoil over leadership issue: report
NEW YORK, May 30 - As they await a major onslaught from the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban are reported to be in turmoil with dissensions breaking out among the top ranks. As Mullah Omar, the group's living symbol and spiritual leader, stays safely hidden from Americans, big infighting has riven the top ranks on who will emerge as the working head in place of apprehended Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to run Taliban's day-to-day affairs. The man at the centre of the storm, Newsweek magazine reported, was Mullah Gul Agha Akhund, who is an in-law and long time confident of Mullah Omar. Akhund is brandishing a handwritten letter from Mullah Omar to claim to be the new second-in-command of the Afghan Taliban.
05.30.10 US plans 'for worst' in gulf, seeing risk in leak strategy
May 30 - After the failure of an effort to seal off a well spewing oil one mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico, a top Obama administration environmental official said the government is “prepared for the worst” in case new attempts do not succeed in fully containing the gusher until relief wells are finished sometime in August. The chance that some oil will continue to leak for months was underscored by the managing director of BP, Robert Dudley, who described plans to put in place a second version of a containment dome, a strategy that failed earlier this month. Mr. Dudley, speaking on ABC's “This Week” program, said lessons from that attempt had given the company's engineers valuable lessons that would be applied to the new dome. But he added that even if it worked, some oil would seep out until the relief wells provided an “end point” by cutting off the flow beneath the seabed. [More>>nytimes.com]
05.30.10 10 million face famine in West Africa
May 30 - At this time of year, the Gadabeji Reserve should be a refuge for the nomadic tribes who travel across a moonscape on the edge of the Sahara to graze their cattle. But the grass is meagre after a drought killed off last year's crops. Now the cattle are too weak to stand and too skinny to sell, leaving the poor without any way to buy grain to feed their families.The threat of famine is again stalking the Sahel, a band of semi-arid land stretching across Africa south of the Sahara. Its countries constitute a virtual list of the worst famines in recent decades: Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. The UN World Food Programme is warning that some 10 million people face hunger over the next three months before the harvest in September — if it comes. Thomas Yanga, WFP's regional director for West Africa, said: "People have lost crops, livestock, and the ability to cope on their own, and the levels of malnutrition among women and children have already risen to very high levels." [More>>independent.co.uk]
05.30.10 Mexican pirates attack Texas fishermen on Falcon Lake, which straddles border
ZAPATA, Texas, May 30 - Falcon Lake is famous for its monster bass and for the maniacal obsession of the fishermen who come from all over Texas — and the world — to stalk them. Now this remote reservoir that straddles the international boundary is known for something else: pirates. In the past month, crews of outlaws in a small armada of banged-up skiffs and high-powered bass boats launched from the Mexican shore have ambushed bass anglers from the Texas side innocently casting their plastic worms over favorite spots. The buccaneers have struck in Mexican waters but within sight of the Texas shore.
05.30.10 Students ditch the books in favor of new iPad technology
May 30 - Schools are moving to get rid of textbooks and replace them with hi-tech devices such as the new iPad. Several state and private schools have started testing the iPad amid concerns that students' bags are being overloaded with books. The launch of Apple's new product on Friday caused huge excitement with thousands of iPads bought over the weekend. But Melbourne's Brighton Grammar has had one for two months as part of a research project on e-learning. The school's community education director, John Phillips, said yesterday that the long-term goal was to phase out textbooks. "With the one device we've replaced textbooks, we've replaced the student diary, we've replaced the need for a graphics calculator," he said. Mr. Phillips said that a Melbourne IT firm and senior students were working on education applications to deliver course material through the iPad. [More>>news.com.au; See related story,
May 28 - At least 70 people were killed and over 90 injured after gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed two mosques in Pakistan's second-biggest city. Squads of militants stormed into prayer halls firing guns, throwing grenades and taking hostages in the deadliest attack on Lahore - increasingly hit by Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked violence Officials quoted by Sky News said the death toll could climb to 80. In the first of two coordinated attacks, four unknown gunmen ran into a mosque in the heavily congested Garhi Shahu area of the city and threw hand grenades, according to eye witnesses. Chaotic live TV footage showed a gunman brandishing a semi-automatic weapon on the minaret tower of the mosque, with destroyed motorcycles lying on nearby streets. An earlier report from Pakistani broadcaster Geo TV said that between 1500 and 2000 people worshiping inside the mosque were taken hostage.
05.28.10 Assad: Iran supports Syria-Israel peace talks
May 28 - Syrian president tells US television that Syria would not stop support of Hamas, Hezbollah until Israel stops occupation. Iran was supportive of Syria's indirect peace talks with Israel, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a interview to US television on Thursday, saying that Damascus would not cut its support of Hamas and Hezbollah as long as Israeli aggression and the occupation persist. Speaking to Charlie Rose's PBS show, Assad said that Iran had both privately and publicly voiced support of Syria's informal talks with Israel, adding that "I feel that they said it inwards, they say publicly we support you. They said it twice during negotiations informally."
05.28.10 US drone strike kills 11 in SWA
WANA. Pakistan, May 28 - At least 11 militants were killed, and three injured in a missile strike carried out by a US unmanned plane in South Waziristan Agency Friday. According to sources, the pilotless spy plane targeted the suspected militant hideouts located in Nezai Narai area along [the] Afghan border, in which 11 militants were killed. Following the attack, [the] US drone plane continue[d] to hover over the targeted area. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.28.10 80 militants killed in Orakzai blitz
HANGU, Pakistan, May 28 - At least 80 militants were killed and 60 others wounded on Friday after security forces backed by jet fighters carried out a massive operation in Orakzai Agency. According to sources, jet planes pounded militant hideouts located in different parts of Orakzi Agency, killing 80 militants and injuring several others. Eight militant hideouts were also destroyed in the bombings. In addition, security forces also bombed and destroyed 15 explosive-laden vehicle and 15 mules that were in the use of militants. After aerial bombardment, troops regained control of many areas. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.28.10 Hamas faces rising anger after bulldozing Gaza homes
RAFAH (AFP) May 28 - Huddled in a tent near the mound of rubble that used to be his home, Eissa al-Sidudi says out loud what many Gazans would only mutter in private: Hamas has gone too far. On May 16 Hamas police dragged his wife and eight children out of their squat cement house and pummelled him with wooden batons as bulldozers razed the building along with nearly 20 other homes. "They didn't come here as a government, they came as an enemy power," he said, surrounded by several nodding neighbors who are also camping out at the site, an outcrop of sand dunes on the edge of the town. "Whoever destroys my house is my enemy," he said. Hamas authorities said they demolished the homes under a court order because they were illegally built on government land.
05.28.10 Man gets woman's cancer from kidney transplant
NEW YORK (AP) May 28 - Donor didn't know she had cancer; transplant surgeon said man's chances of getting cancer were slim. The scenario was unique, as far as doctors could tell: A man had gotten a transplanted kidney from a woman who had uterine cancer and didn't know it. Vincent Liew decided to keep the kidney after his transplant surgeon concluded there was only a slim chance he could be sickened by the feminine cancer - advice that gambled with Liew's life and lost, a lawyer for his widow told jurors Thursday in what experts say may be the only known case of uterine cancer being transmitted by transplant. Jurors began deliberating the case against NYU Langone Medical Center Thursday afternoon and were to return on Friday. Langone should be held responsible "for taking a huge risk with Vincent Liew's life" by not urging him to have the kidney removed at once, Daniel Buttafuoco said during closing arguments in the medical-malpractice case, which is refreshing longstanding questions about organ transplant risks and rewards. [More>>cbsnews.com]
05.28.10 Obama visits threatened Louisiana beach
NEW ORLEANS (AP) May 28 - Intent on showing firm command of the deepening Gulf Coast crisis, President Barack Obama flew to Louisiana Friday and personally inspected a beach jeopardized by America’s largest-ever oil spill...Obama called reporters traveling with him to the water’s edge to point out some pebble-sized tar balls. [Full story>>msnbc.msn.com]
05.27.10 Lehman Brothers estate sues JPMorgan Chase
NEW YORK (AP) May 27 - The estate of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. claims that JPMorgan Chase & Co. helped drive Lehman into bankruptcy by forcing it to give up billions of dollars in cash reserves that it otherwise could have used to stay afloat. The Lehman estate alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that JPMorgan forced the now-failed bank to put up collateral that sapped Lehman of cash that, at the least, would have enabled it to wind down operations in an orderly process. Lehman filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, helping spark one of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. It was the largest bankruptcy filing in US history. JPMorgan spokesman Joe Evangelisti said, "the lawsuit is ill-conceived and meritless." JPMorgan will defend itself against the claims, he added. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
05.27.10 BP used cheaper casing on oil well to save money, Congress papers show
May 27 - The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that precipitated the vast Gulf of Mexico oil spill came after the well was capped with a relatively cheap type of casing, BP papers have revealed. The decision to use the riskier method to finish its Macondo well was taken partly on cost grounds, according to the document. In the days before the blast, the oil giant selected a casing that provided only a single layer of protection to prevent gas from leaking into the well, according the details obtained by The New York Times from a Congressional investigator. Workers on the rig and from BP have said that gas bubbled into the well and was a key factor in causing the April 20 blowout, which killed 11 people.
05.27.10 Obama defends oil spill response, cites mistakes
May 27 - President Obama today said that the unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been his administration's highest priority since the day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20. "The day the rig collapsed... I had my team in the Oval Office in the first day," Mr. Obama said. "This has been our highest priority since this crises occurred." The administration has come under fire for appearing to let oil company BP take the lead in the clean up and containment efforts as millions of gallons of oil pour into the Gulf. The president himself has been criticized for not giving enough attention to the issue; tomorrow will be just his second trip to the affected region since the rig explosion.
05.27.10 2nd Iceland volcano issues ominous warning
LONDON, May 27 - Scientists say a more powerful Katla volcano is 'close to failure.' A second, much larger volcano in Iceland is showing signs that it may be about to erupt, scientists have warned. Since the start of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused cancellations of thousands of flights in Europe because of a giant ash cloud, there has been much speculation about neighboring Katia. An initial research paper by the University College of London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction said: "Analysis of the seismic energy released around Katla over the last decade or so is interpreted as providing evidence of a rising ... intrusive magma body on the western flank of the volcano."... Icelandic President Ólafur
05.27.10 Protests across France against higher pension
PARIS (Reuters) May 27 - Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets in cities across France on Thursday to protest against government plans to raise the minimum retirement age of 60 as part of a reform of the costly pension system. Trade union leaders said the marches were the first step in a long struggle to defend the retirement age, a trademark reform of the late Socialist President Francois Mitterrand, against the current government which says it has no alternative. Transport was working almost normally and between 10 and 20 percent of public service workers went on strike in schools, the post office and France Telecom. A poll for the Le Parisien daily said 62 percent of those responding were ready to demonstrate. One of the earliest marches, in Marseille, drew a larger turnout than a previous protest day in March. Unions estimated the crowd at 80,000 while police gave a figure of 12,000. [More>>thestar.com.my]
05.27.10 Afghans probe reports Pakistani militant leader killed
ASADABAD, Pakistan, May 27 - Afghan authorities were Thursday investigating reports that a Pakistani militant commander was killed while fighting in eastern Afghanistan, police said. Border police units in Nuristan province reported that Maulana Fazlullah, a hardline Taliban cleric who masterminded a two-year uprising in Pakistan's Swat valley, was among seven militants killed in fighting earlier this week. "Our units have reported that Fazlullah has been killed. We don't yet know if it's true or not. We're investigating this right now," senior police official General Mohammad Zaman told [a] foreign news agency. His men killed seven militants in fierce clashes in the troubled Bargi Matal district, he said. The bodies were recovered by the police, he said, adding: "We're investigating to find out if Maulana's body is among those seven." [>thenews.com.pk]
05.27.10 Feds issue terror watch for the Texas / Mexico border
May 27 - The Department of Homeland Security is alerting Texas authorities to be on the lookout for a suspected member of the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group who might be attempting to travel to the US through Mexico, a security expert who has seen the memo tells FOXNews.com. The warning follows an indictment unsealed this month in Texas federal court that accuses a Somali man in Texas of running a "large-scale smuggling enterprise" responsible for bringing hundreds of Somalis from Brazil through South America and eventually across the Mexican border. Many of the illegal immigrants, who court records say were given fake IDs, are alleged to have ties to other now-defunct Somalian terror organizations that have merged with active organizations like Al Shabaab, al-Barakat and Al-Ittihad Al-Islami.
05.27.10 Report: Mexican drug lord killed in shootout
May 27 - The alleged leader of the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization was killed in a shootout with federal forces in northern Mexico, state media reported. Pedro Roberto Velazquez Amador, alias "La Pina," was killed in a shootout Wednesday morning, hours after a military convoy patrolling the San Pedro area in Monterrey was attacked by gunmen. Velazquez was killed in the subsequent shootout, state-run Notimex news agency reported. Pictures from a local newspaper showed the body of a man believed to be in his 30s and said to be Velazquez, lying in a puddle of water with a firearm in his hand. Velazquez is the alleged leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel in San Pedro, according to the National Defense Secretary of Mexico. [More>>cnn.com]
05.27.10 Jihadists challenge Hamas western approach
GAZA, May 27 - Analysts warn they will not simply go away. Bandleader Jamal Al-Bayouk said he and his musicians would not risk performing in the southern Gaza Strip any more after extremists threatened to kill them at a wedding party. They had just finished performing east of Khan Younis when armed militants burst in, set fire to $40,000 worth of instruments and fired shots between the legs of band members...He said several other singers and members of bands had been beaten up by Qaeda style jihadists who disapprove of their music and added that in his opinion there could be further attacks as summer begins and people hold weddings and parties.
05.27.10 USAF jet breaks record for hypersonic flight
WASHINGTON (AP) May 27 - An experimental aircraft has set a record for hypersonic flight, flying more than 3 minutes at Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound. The X-51A Waverider was released from a B-52 Stratofortress off the southern California coast Wednesday morning, the Air Force reported on its website. Its scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6, and it flew autonomously for 200 seconds before losing acceleration. At that point the test was terminated. The Air Force said the previous record for a hypersonic scramjet burn was 12 seconds. "We are ecstatic to have accomplished many of the X-51A test points during its first hypersonic mission," said Charlie Brink, an X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. [More>>cbsnews.com]
05.26.10 'Political stupidity' : Democrat James Carville slams Obama's response to BP oil spill
May 26 - Democratic strategist said White House should've acted quickly:' We're about to die down here.'The White House is seemingly making an increased show of pressuring BP, but President Obama is facing political heat from within his own party for what some say has been a lackluster response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The "political stupidity is unbelievable," Democratic strategist James Carville said on "Good Morning America" today. "The president doesn't get down here in the middle of this. ... I have no idea of why they didn't seize this thing. I have no idea of why their attitude was so hands off here."
05.26.10 Anger as Ground Zero 'mega' mosque backed
May 26 - A "mega" mosque could soon be built near Ground Zero in New York City after controversial plans were backed by a community board. A vote, during an unruly meeting on Tuesday, passed 29-to-1 in favour of the proposals. Ground Zero, in the city borough of Manhattan, is the site of one of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks that left thousands dead. Board member Rob Townley said: "The mosque is a seed of peace. We believe that this is significant step in the Muslim community to counteract the hate and fanaticism in the minority of the community." But the vote sparked uproar, with protesters jeering: "You're building over a Christian cemetery," and waving banners saying: "Show respect for 3,000," referring to 9/11 victims.
05.26.10 'Palestinians are hijacked by Iran'
May 26 - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came out against Iran on Wednesday, calling his people "hijacked, at the hands of the Iranians. The decision-making power is not in our hands," he told Egyptian television station Nile TV, possibly referring to Hamas's refusal to reconcile with Fatah at Teheran's behest. "The Palestinian people's unity... is not in our hands." Hamas announced on Monday that it would boycott the Palestinian municipal elections, saying the elections were being held under the supervision of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's "unconstitutional government." On Tuesday, PA security forces arrested dozens of Hamas men in the West Bank in response to the boycott. Abbas went on to say that the Second Intifada was "one of the biggest mistakes of our lives. [Former PA chief Yasser] Arafat did not want the Second Intifada to spread, but he was unable to stop it."
05.26.10 Rahm Emanuel invites Netanyahu to discuss shared 'security interests' with Obama
May 26 - White House chief of staff gives prime minister official invitation to Washington during Jerusalem trip. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington for talks with the US President Obama on regional peace and security. "On behalf of the President I am happy to extend an invitation to come and visit President Obama in the White House for a working meeting to discuss our shared security interests, as well as our close cooperation in achieving peace between Israel and its neighbors," Emanuel told Netanyahu at the prime minister's Jerusalem office. Emanuel's reference to "security interests" will be widely interpreted as an allusion to Iran, which the allies accuse of using a civilian nuclear program to mask designs on a bomb — a charge the Iranians deny.
In the run-up to the planned meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, Jewish leaders scrambled to set up meetings with members of senior US officials and congressional leaders on America's position on both Israel and Iran. Israeli sources said that Obama's snap decision to invite Netanyahu to Washington was an attempt to obliterate the memory of the two leaders' previous White House meeting in March, when the press was barred and the White House did not even release a joint photo of the two leaders. This treatment — so different from the warm and well-publicized meetings Obama had held with various Arab leaders who visited Washington — was viewed by many as a deliberate snub. [More>>haaretz.com]
05.26.10 Israeli warplanes hit Gaza targets, 15 wounded
GAZA, May 26 - Hamas training camp targeted by Israeli airstrikes. Fifteen people were wounded in overnight Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian hospital officials said early Wednesday. The airstrikes came after the Israeli military reported that Palestinian fighters on Tuesday had blown up a donkey cart filled with dynamite near the concrete wall that separates Gaza from Israel and fired several mortar rounds into Israel. No Israelis were injured. Officials at the hospital in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza say 15 people, mostly civilians, were injured when Israeli warplanes targeted a Hamas training camp in the area. An Israeli defense spokesman confirmed the raids. Palestinian sources say Israeli F-16's carried out another airstrike against the inoperative Yasser Arafat International Airport in Rafah. No injuries were reported in this attack. [More>>alarabiya.net]
05.26.10 Explosion rocks Afghan city
May 26 - A large explosion has rocked the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, injuring two people and destroying several vehicles in front of a building used by NATO forces. "It was a car bomb," Mohammed Shah Farouqi, a city police official, said on Wednesday. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Shafiq Afzali, the Kandahar police chief, said that the blast was in a parking lot used by Afghans visiting Camp Nathan Smith — a base that houses hundreds of US and Canadian soldiers and government employees. [More>>aljazeera.net]
05.26.10 Russian lawmaker warns US, NATO on failure to tackle Afghan drugs
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) May 26 - Russia should close the cargo transit for the United States and NATO to Afghanistan until they start destroying poppy plantations there, a Russian lawmaker said on Wednesday. "NATO and the United States are not interested in combating drug trafficking in Afghanistan," said Semyon Bagdasarov, a member of the State Duma International Affairs Committee. Moscow has criticized US-led forces in Afghanistan for failing to eradicate heroin production and warned over the weekend that drug trafficking was endangering Russia's national security. Russia says production of heroin in Afghanistan has increased almost tenfold since the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban began in 2001.
05.26.10 Kremlin tells Iran to stop 'political demagoguery'
MOSCOW (Reuters) May 26 - The Kremlin's chief foreign policy adviser on Wednesday told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to refrain from "political demagoguery" after Tehran admonished Russia for supporting new sanctions. The public clash came after Ahmadinejad chided Russia for bowing to US pressure over new sanctions against Tehran and bluntly warned Kremlin chief Dmitry Medvedev to be more cautious. But Medvedev's top foreign policy advisor, Sergei Prikhodko, dismissed the criticism, saying Russia was neither pro-American nor pro-Iranian and that Moscow's policy was governed by the national interest. "No one has ever managed to preserve one's authority with political demagoguery. I am convinced, the thousand-year history of Iran itself is evidence of this," Prikhodko said in a statement. [More>>thestar.com.my]
05.26.10 Space shuttle Atlantis lands for final time
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida, May 26 - After logging more than 120 million miles, shuttle safely back on earth following space station mission. Space shuttle Atlantis returned from orbit for the last time Wednesday, closing out a 25-year flying career and safely bringing back six astronauts who boosted the International Space Station's power and size. The smooth landing was indicative of the entire 12-day mission — NASA's third-to-last shuttle flight. "That was pretty sweet," Mission Control radioed after Atlantis glided through a clear morning sky and rolled down the runway. "That was a suiting end to an incredible mission." [More>>cbsnews.com]
05.26.10 Madagascan bird declared extinct
LONDON, May 26 - The Alaotra Grebe, a small diving bird native to Madagascar has been officially classified extinct, according to a leading bird conservation organization. BirdLife International reported that the species, once found on Lake Alaotra, the largest lake in Madagascar, declined rapidly due to carnivorous fish being introduced to the lake and the use of nylon gill nets by local fishermen. "No hope now remains for this species. It is another example of how human actions can have unforeseen consequences," Dr. Leon Bennun, BirdLife International's director of science, policy and information said in a statement. Invasive alien species are causing extinctions around the globe, Bennun says, and are one of the major threats not just to birds but to other wildlife.
05.25.10 Risk-averse investors send stocks sliding on debt fears
May 25 - Shares on Wall Street and in Europe skidded Tuesday and the euro resumed its fall as concerns about public sector finances in Europe escalated. In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 194.30 points or 1.9 percent; the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index declined 1.9 percent; and the Nasdaq dropped 1.9 percent. In Europe, the Euro Stoxx 50 index of euro-zone blue chips fell 2.7 percent, led lower by the Spanish bank, Santander, which fell 4.8 percent. The FTSE 100 index in London fell 2.5 percent. Most major markets across Europe were down at least 2 percent, with the main Spanish and Italian indexes down about 4 percent at one point. [More>>nytimes.com]
05.25.10 BP shareholders hit management board with lawsuit
(Reuters) May 25 - Adding to mounting pressure from the US public and the Obama administration, BP was slapped with a lawsuit from its own shareholders Monday. The plaintiffs claim that the company's safety negligence has already exposed it to $40 billion in losses. Shareholders have sued the board of BP Plc for failing to monitor safety and exposing the company to potentially enormous liability related to the Deepwater spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to court documents. A month ago a rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and sending heavy oil into fragile marshlands on the fringes of the Mississippi Delta.
May 25 - Demanding a permanent ban on Facebook, over two dozen Pakistani religious groups working under the umbrella of the JuD have decided to contact the UN for enacting a global law "against blasphemy of prophets and awarding death penalty to violators." The decision to contact the UN and envoys from Muslims and non-Muslim states was made at a meeting of clerics belonging to the JuD, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Tanzeem-e-Islami, Markaz-e-Ahlesunnat, Muslim Conference, Jamat-e-Ahlehadis, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Pakistan Ulema Council and International Katham-e-Nabuwat. The meeting, held yesterday at the JuD's headquarters Markaz Alqaadsia in Chawburji, was presided over by JuD chief Hafiz Mohd Saeed.
A discussion on the status of "unbelievers," according to the Koran and Islamic scholars, is at Maravot News 4.09.09 "Koran advocates violence against unbelievers (kuffars) / enemies." A recent work of Maravot News, "The Allah Controversy," addresses the outreach of a large number of Muslim scholars in attempting to reconcile Islam with other faiths.
05.25.10 NATO installs surveillance system near Chaman border
CHAMAN, Pakistan, May 25 - NATO forces in Afghanistan have installed a sophisticated surveillance system along the Pak-Afghan border to monitor the movement of insurgents in the area. Equipped with more than half a dozen security cameras, the sprawling three hundred yards tall balloon type satellite tower has been installed at Spin Boldak town and can easily be seen from Chaman town, which lies about a kilometre south of Spin Boldak. An Afghan security official told on the conditions of anonymity that the tower would be instrumental to monitor the border especially during the Nato operation against the Taliban in Kandahar. He added that if needed, more such towers would be installed inside The Afghan territory adjoining Pakistan. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.25.10 North Korean troops 'prepare for combat'
May 25 - North Korea's armed forces have reportedly been ordered to prepare for combat as tensions mount with the South over the deadly sinking of a warship. The North's leader Kim Jong-Il is thought to have told his military to be braced for war, as Seoul blares out its own propaganda into the neighbouring rival country. As part of psychological warfare operations, South Korea is placing loudspeakers at the border and is also using radio to broadcast messages into the North. South Korea is slashing trade and denying permission for the North's cargo ships to pass through the South's waters. The tensions also spooked global markets, with the FTSE 100 index of leading British companies falling by more than 2%. Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for a torpedo strike that sank the warship Cheonan and killed 46 sailors on March 26. A team of international investigators concluded last week that a torpedo from a North Korean submarine tore the Cheonan apart. [More>>news.sky.com]
05.25.10 Dozens killed in Jamaican violence
May 25 - Twenty-seven people have been killed and 31 wounded in an assault on a suspected drug lord's compound in the Jamaican capital of Kingston, police said Tuesday. Security forces have been fighting some residents who want to prevent the extradition to the United States of Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who was charged last year in US federal court with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine and with conspiracy to traffic in firearms illegally. Police on Monday launched the assault on Coke's stronghold in downtown Kingston, and police are now battling his supporters there. One Jamaican Defense Force member was among the fatalities; 25 civilians and six defense force members were injured, police said.
05.25.10 Court issues Thaksin terror warrant
BANGKOK, May 25 - The Criminal Court on Tuesday approved the Department of Special Investigation's request for an arrest warrant for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on terrorism charges. The court approved the warrant after examining testimony given by DSI chief Tharit Pengdit, his deputy Pol Col Narat Savetanant and Pol Lt-Col Thawal Mangkhang, the DSI chief investigator, on Monday. The three presented the court with additional documents and clips of Thaksin speaking from abroad via video link to red-shirt rallies. The court examination on Monday was held in camera. No reporters were allowed in the courtroom. Pol Col Narat said after the court approved the warrant that the DSI would find out Thaksin's whereabouts. After that the Office of the Attorney General would contact the countries concerned to seek Thaksin's extradition. [More>>bangkokpost.com]
May 25 - Israel warns it would block a fleet of nine ships carrying some 700 international pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian supplies from reaching Gaza. Turkey urged Israel on Tuesday to lift its blockade of Gaza and allow a Turkish-led convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to enter the Hamas-controlled enclave. Israel and Egypt closed Gaza's borders after Hamas took control of the territory in 2007 and refused to forswear violence against the Jewish state. Gaza's 1.5 million people face shortages of water and medicine. An international flotilla carrying some 10,000 tons of medical equipment, housing material and other supplies is expected to reach Israeli waters by Friday, according to a Turkey-based humanitarian aid group leading the effort. Speaking to reporters at a news conference during a UN meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his government had been in touch with Israel about the aid convoy. [More>>haaretz.com]
05.25.10 Nine dishes to avoid in chain restaurants
May 25 - Nutrition group highlights high-calorie, fatty menu items found in popular restaurants Across US. Just in time for the unofficial beginning of summer, when Americans pile into cars for Memorial Day weekend road trips, an organization Tuesday announced its annual list of foods in chain restaurants that travelers would be better off passing on US highways. The Center for Science in the Public Interest's "dishonorees" were picked for their high caloric intake and lack of nutrition. Americans are advised to consume about 2,000 calories per day and no more than 20 grams of saturated fat. The organization used those measures to pick the nine dishes as the worst diners could eat in 2010.
05.25.10 Hubble telescope catches planet eaten by star
BEIJING (Xinhuanet) May 25 - The Hubble space telescope has observed a planet in the Milky Way galaxy being devoured by its parent star, media reports said Tuesday. The doomed planet, dubbed WASP-12b, is to be found about 600 light-years away in the winter constellation Auriga, and is the hottest known planet in the galaxy with a surface temperature at around 1,500 degrees Celsius, researchers said. The planet is so close to its parent star that it can make the orbit around the star in slightly more than 24 hours, and is being stretched into the shape of an ellipse by enormous tidal forces. Previously, scientists had concluded in theory that planets can get absorbed by stars when they get too near to each other. However, it is the first time the phenomenon has been observed so clearly. Researchers made the observation by using a new instrument called the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph that was installed on Hubble last year. [>xinhuanet.com]
05.23.10 Oil mars more than 50 miles of Louisiana shore
NEW ORLEANS (AP) May 23 - Officials Fear Aggressive Cleanup of Oil-Soaked Marshlands May Be Impossible. The gooey oil washing into the maze of marshes along the Gulf Coast could prove impossible to remove, leaving a toxic stew lethal to fish and wildlife, government officials and independent scientists said. Officials are considering some drastic and risky solutions: They could set the wetlands on fire or flood areas in hopes of floating out the oil. But they warn an aggressive cleanup could ruin the marshes and do more harm than good. The only viable option for many impacted areas is to do nothing and let nature break down the spill. More than 50 miles of Louisiana's delicate shoreline already have been soiled by the massive slick unleashed after BP's Deepwater Horizon burned and sank last month. Officials fear oil eventually could invade wetlands and beaches from Texas to Florida. Louisiana is expected to be hit hardest. On Saturday, a major pelican rookery was awash in oil off Louisiana's coast. Hundreds of birds nest on the island, and an Associated Press photographer saw some birds and their eggs stained with the ooze. Nests were perched in mangroves directly above patches of crude. [More>>cbsnews.com]
05.23.10 Edible powder to contain oil spill
BEIJING, May 23 - Now that thick amounts of oil have washed up in areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs are pitching their ideas for cleaning up the massive spill. Bob Ozer, a Turkish born, German educated engineer, claims to have a solution to the oil spill problem. Ozer's product is a food additive by-product that is non-hazardous, non-flammable and edible. He maintains that when his product is added to the oil-tainted water, it encapsulates the oil which can later be separated from the additive and can then be recycled...Since the spill occurred in late April, Ozer says he has devoted more than 15 thousand dollars and countless hours trying to market the benefits of his compound to BP and government officials. He also claims his product has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. [Full story>>xinhuanet.com]
05.23.10 Fixing US oil spill is "no feat," say Iranians
TEHRAN (Reuters) May 23 - Plugging the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is no great challenge compared to what Iran has dealt with in the past, an official at Iran's drilling company said on Sunday. A long-standing adversary of the United States, oil producer Iran has offered to help fight the spill — a gesture unlikely to be taken up by Washington which is pushing for new UN sanctions against Tehran's nuclear programme. Two US cabinet members were to visit the Gulf Coast on Sunday, underscoring serious concerns over what some believe may be the worst oil spill in the United States.
05.23.10 Taliban earns 1,600 pound bounty for each NATO soldier killed
WASHINGTON, May 23 - Taliban rebels are reportedly earning a bounty of up to 1,660 pounds for each NATO soldier they kill. According to insurgent commanders, the money comes from protection rackets, taxes imposed on opium farmers, donors in the Gulf states who channel money through Dubai and from the senior Taliban leadership in Pakistan. They said the bounty had more than doubled since the beginning of last year. "We can't lie to our commanders: they can check to see if there was a fight in that area. We get money if we capture equipment too. A gun can fetch 690 pounds," The Times Online quoted a commander from Khost province, as saying. "It's a lot of money for us. We don't care if we kill foreigners: their blood allows us to feed our families and the more we kill, the more we weaken them. Of course we are going to celebrate this," another commander added. So far 213 NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year, including 41 British troops, bringing the potential rewards for the Taliban to 350,000 pounds. [>indianexpress.com]
05.23.10 US cleric urges Muslims to kill American troops
DUBAI, May 23 - Awlaki urges to step up attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan. A US-born militant cleric has urged Muslims to kill US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and vowed to step up attacks against the US military, according to a videotape released on Sunday. Anwar al-Awlaki, wanted dead or alive by US authorities, is a leading figure linked to al-Qaeda's Yemen-based wing. He is believed to be on the run in the impoverished Gulf Arab state. "Muslims should object to what's going on either verbally or by physical action," Awlaki said in the 45-minute interview posted on an Islamist website. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the recording. Awlaki praised the actions of US Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan who shot dead 13 people at Fort Hood, a Texas army base, in November. "Nidal was my student ... I'm proud of Nidal Hasan and this was a heroic act," he said, adding: "Who can object to what he did? He killed soldiers on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan." [More>>alarabiya.net]
05.23.10 Troops kill 50 militants in Orakzai
ORAKZAI AGENCY, Pakistan, May 23 - At least 50 militant were killed and dozens other wounded in fresh aerial strikes here on Sunday. According to sources, helicopter gunships and jet planes pounded militant dens in Upper Orakzai areas of Khadizai and Mamozai, killing 50 fighters and injuring 20 others. As a result of the shelling, a training facility and six hideouts being used by Taliban militants were destroyed. So far more than 900 militants were killed in Orakzai operation started by security forces some two months back. In addition, more than 100 hideouts used by militants were also destroyed in the offensive. [>thenews.com.pk]
05.23.10 Syria calls for West to reconsider its approaches on Middle East as region has changed
May 23 - Syria has called for the West to reconsider its approaches on the Middle East as the region has changed, Syrian Arab News Agency reported citing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "The West must understand that the region has changed and that the language, policy and approach used by the countries in the past in regards to the region are no longer acceptable, as is a silence towards Israel's violations and its attempts to spark wars and conflicts," Syrian president said during his meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Damascus on Sunday. "It is also no longer acceptable to keep silent over Israel's violations and its sowing the seeds of sedition in the region," he continued.