News Headlines & Trends
6.19.05 Rice condemns Iran vote
June 19 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has slammed the last week's presidential elections in Iran as failing to be a legitimate exercise in democracy. Rice criticized the election, saying it "took place with an unelected few having decided who could run, with thousands of people having been disqualified, with women having been disqualified altogether."
"I find it hard to see how this election could certainly contribute to the sense of legitimacy of the Iranian government, and it certainly is out of step with the way that elections are being held in the region," she told America's ABC television.
Tehran's ultra-conservative mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad and moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were the top two finishers in the first round of voting. They will face off in a run-off on Friday. Iranian reformists have said the vote was rigged. [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
Editorial note: Rice's complaint that the "election took place with an unelected few having decided who could run" is like the pot calling the kettle black. We may recall that the election of George W. Bush versus Al Gore was decided by the election in Florida. Florida was then and now run by George Bush's brother, Jeb Bush. Alleged rigging and miscounts relative to "hanging chads" were many complaints concerning the Florida vote in the presidential election. Rather than have an election "run off" in Florida, the election was referred to the US Supreme Court by the Bush team. The election of George W. Bush was decided in the end by an unelected few, the US Supreme Court. In this case, as reported by Margaret Warner, pbs.org December 12, 2000, the Supreme Court interfered in the Florida election, stopping the recount. A portion of the discussion is as follows:
ANTHONY LEWIS: "...I think it's looking totally political to most of the country in what it has done so far, stopping a recount. That comes to your question, Margaret. I don't think there is any federal question in this matter at all. I don't think the Supreme Court has any power whatever to interfere in the Florida election. I've listened to the argument. I've read the briefs; I've thought about it; I've talked to a lot of people and I don't see the federal question. I think that the Supreme Court is just acting in a most extraordinary display of willful power of a kind that conservatives used to accuse the Warren court of doing, but the Warren court was a mere baby compared to what the Supreme Court of the United States and its five more conservative members have done in stopping this recount." Professor John Yoo responded,.." There was a national outcry against Bush who "robbed the presidency from Al Gore.
MARGARET WARNER: John Yoo, a willful display of raw power?
JOHN YOO: I don't think so. I think most people agree there is a federal question involved here. Now, what the right answer to that federal question might be you can have a honest disagreement about, although I might add even Justices Breyer and Souter, who are proposing sending the case back with a new objective standard for a recount, even by suggesting that remedy, they have already accepted that there is a federal question here, and that the federal court does have the power to intervene. But that power comes from the Constitution. The Constitution requires that the state legislature set out the rules for how an election is going to proceed and if someone, anyone, has a question about whether those standards have been violated or not, they can bring a federal case. That is a federal question, whether someone has violated the text of the Constitution or not. MARGARET WARNER: Let me go back to you Tony Lewis. Are you saying then that you think the Supreme Court doesn't have the power to give Gore what he wants, which is to perhaps order a new kind of a recount? I mean, he probably would like old recount to continue or the old standards. But are you saying that you don't think the U.S. Supreme Court has the power, authority, to do the kind of thing that Breyer and Souter were suggesting yesterday?
ANTHONY LEWIS: First of all, I'm not so sure that Justice Breyer was actually suggesting that. He may have been. On the other hand, as I listened, I thought he may have just been testing the reach of each side's argument. But assuming that that is a possibility, maybe it's a good idea. And maybe the Supreme Court will do it and we'll find it out before the morning. But it would be a most unusual thing. I don't know the basis in any federal law or the Constitution for setting up a new system of counting -- for the Supreme Court of the United States to set up a new system of counting votes in Florida. But let me say, Margaret, in answer to Professor Yoo that the language is there in the Constitution. But if you use that to make this a federal question, then every state's vote for presidential electors is potentially a federal question to be taken to the Supreme Court. It's never happened before. I think it's a very, very long reach."
John Yoo was of the Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California, Berkeley and Anthony Lewis, a columnist for the "New York Times." Yoo is involved in the Bush War Crimes controversy.See Maravot News 12.20.2004, "2001 'Yoo memo' justifies war on Iraq & unlimited presidential power."
6.18.05 US says 50 insurgents killed in Iraq operation near Syria
BAGHDAD (AFP) June 18 The US military said Saturday it killed about 50 insurgents since the start of another joint US-Iraqi operation against rebels in Iraq¹s western Al-Anbar province near the Syrian border. In Washington, the Senate approved Zalmay Khalilzad, formerly US ambassador to Afghanistan, as the new envoy to Iraq. Fighting raged for the second day Saturday in Karabilah, near Iraq¹s border with Syria, as US marines and Iraqi soldiers swept through the area in search of insurgents and weapons. ³Approximately 50 insurgents have been killed since the operation began yesterday morning,² said a military statement. ³There have been no additional reports of military or civilian casualties as a result of the operation.²
...Previous offensives killed at least 100 insurgents, including some linked to Iraq¹s most wanted man Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, Al Qaeda leader in the country, the US military said. Hundreds more were arrested. But as the noose was tightened on insurgents around Karabilah, they struck elsewhere in Anbar
In Fallujah, where rebels still operate, a suicide car bomber killed five Iraqis, including three soldiers, in a strike against an Iraqi army convoy Friday afternoon, the US military said. Ten others were wounded in the attack west of the capital, including six soldiers. In nearby Habbaniya, four Iraqis were killed Friday and 15 wounded when a car bomb exploded near a mosque, the military said.
6.18.05 Pakistani tribesmen vow to oust US from region
ISLAMABAD, June 18 Thousands of Pakistani tribesmen Saturday vowed to fight US forces as they marked the first death anniversary of a slain militant leader in a tribal region near Afghanistan. Witnesses said up to 3,000 people, some brandishing assault rifles and some masked, turned up in the remote district of Azam Warsak, in South Waziristan tribal region, to offer prayers at the grave of militant leader Nek Mohammad. Mohammad, a former Taliban commander, was killed in June last year after leading a bloody resistance to the Pakistan army's largest-ever offensive to drive-out Al-Qaeda linked militants in South Waziristan. Pakistan's military said it killed the militant.
"We will complete the mission of our commander Nek Mohammad and we will continue our jihad (holy war) against the US forces in the region," militant leader Maulvi Abdul Aziz told the gathering amid shouts of "Allah-o-Akbar" (God is greatest).
Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan has long been suspected of providing refuge to hundreds of Al-Qaeda-linked and Taliban militants who fled there after the ouster of the extremist Muslim Taliban regime by US-led forces in 2001. [jang.com.pk; See separate story, aljazeera.net, "Taliban capture Afghan district." : A senior police officer in Kandahar has said the main government building in Mian Nishin, headquarters of the district by the same name, is under Taliban control after a Friday night attack. Afghan police said on Saturday that Taliban fighters had attacked a district capital for a second straight night and took 18 policemen prisoner, a day after detaining more than a dozen. "Right now, the district headquarters is under the control of the Taliban, "said the officer, who declined to be named. "The Taliban surrounded the district headquarters and captured 18 officers," he added.
Mian Nishin, in Kandahar province, was the scene of joint operations by Afghan and US-led forces early this week in which government officials said nine fighters were killed. On Thursday, the Taliban had captured 11 police officers, the district police chief and a senior local government official in Mian Nishin. [More>> aljazeera.net]
6.18.05 North Korea willing to return to talks in July
PYONGYANG, June 18 North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told South Korea yesterday that Pyongyang is willing to rejoin international nuclear disarmament negotiations as early as next month but only after the United States shows respect. Kim also said North Korea plans to rejoin the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and accept inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. watchdog, once the nuclear arms issue is resolved in six-party talks involving North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. To help normalize inter-Korean relations, the North's supreme leader said, he will make a return visit to South Korea in an "appropriate time," when the political mood around the Korean Peninsula gets ripe.
Kim, in the highest-level contact with South Korea in three years, also agreed to several inter-Korea measures - resumption of military talks, another round of family reunions and a North Korean delegation to Seoul in Aug. 15 to jointly celebrate liberation from Japanese colonial rule. [More>>koreaherald.co.kr; for background on the meeting click here. See chinadaily.com.cn report, "DPRK 'willing to rejoin six-party talks in July]
6.18.05 China test-fires new submarine-launched missile
6.18.05 China test-fired a new long-range, submarine-launched ballistic missile Thursday, Japanese government sources said Friday. The new missile is believed to be the Ju Lang-2, a modified version of the intercontinental ballistic missile Dong Feng-31 that has a range of about 8,000 kilometers. The new SLBM was believed to be fired from a nuclear submarine in waters off Qingdao and touched down in a desert in China several thousand kilometers away. It has been confirmed that China test-fired an SLBM in 2001. China is believed to possess about 30 ICBMs and has been conducting research on multiple-warhead missiles to counter the U.S. missile defense system. [More>>yomiuri.co.jp]
6.18.05 Rice warns Israel against 'creating facts on the ground'
June 18 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel Saturday morning in a new bid to promote coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Rice is set to meet in Ramallah PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday. Rice warned Israel on Friday not to complicate the path to peace with the Palestinians by building new Jewish settlements just as the date approaches for Israelis to fulfill a promise to leave other, established settlements. "We don't intend that the Israelis try to create facts on the ground," Rice told reporters traveling on the plane with her to Israel. "They simply cannot engage in activities that are supposed to prejudge the final terms of a peace settlement," Rice said. [More>>haaretzdaily.com]
6.18.05 Update The Downing Street memo: the smoking gun to impeach President Bush
June 16 Congressional Hearings on the Downing Street memo are being held in Washington today. Michael Smith, reporter, Sunday Times of London, broke the story May 1, 2005: A SECRET document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification.
The Downing Street minutes, headed ³Secret and strictly personal UK eyes only," detail one of the most important meetings ahead of the invasion.
It was chaired by the prime minister and attended by his inner circle. The document reveals Blair backed ³regime change² by force from the outset, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, that such action could be illegal.
The minutes, published by The Sunday Times today, begins with the warning: ³This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. The paper should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know.² It records a meeting in July 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush¹s plans for ousting Saddam. [More>>timesonline.co.uk; link and more on the memo from Washingtonpost.com;a copy of the memo posted on downingstreetmemo.com; a pdf copy of Congressional letter inquiry May 5, 2005 to President Bush, Bush Secret Memo letter.pdf: "We write because of troubling revelations in the Sunday London Times apparently confirming that the United States and Great Britain had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in the summer of 2002, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action." The Bonifaz memo to Senator Conyers "Bush has committed an impeachable offense." The actual memo published in timesonline.co.uk May 1, 2005. See also Downing Street Memo Index of links by knotmaster.com; related complaint of former UK environment minister Michael Meacher, "Iraq war was about oil" ; afterdowningstreet.com, resource tracking the issue of impeaching President George W. Bush. Another issue is whether George W. Bush can be brought to trial in any of several countries for War Crimes. Both issues can follow this president and anyone connected with him with regard to the alleged criminal acts for many years. Click on Maravot News Trends for news reports on Bush War Crimes. (The story in Maravot News Trends on Bush's arrest (5) in Canada November 29 2004 appears to have been a hoax)]
6.17.05 Just hearsay, or the new Watergate tapes?
6-17-05 The Guardian Unlimited reprinted a Salon.com article by David Paul Kuhn who explains how Democratic representative John Conyers defied Republicans to call for an inquiry into the 'Downing Street memo': Forced to the basement of the US Capitol and prevented from holding an official hearing, Michigan representative John Conyers defied Republicans and held a forum on Thursday calling for a congressional inquiry into the infamous British document known as the "Downing Street memo".
Three dozen Democratic representatives shuffled in and out of a small room to join Mr. Conyers in declaring that the Downing Street memo was the first "primary source" document to report that prewar intelligence was intentionally manipulated in order make a case for invading Iraq. Not only did Republican leaders consign the Democrats to the basement, but Democrats also claimed that the House scheduled 11 votes concurrent with the forum to maximize the difficulty of attending it. Because the forum wasn't an official hearing, it won't become a part of the Congressional record but members worked to make sure that the attending media and activists captured their words for posterity. [More>>guardian.co.uk]
6.17.05 Democrats urge inquiry on Bush, Iraq
(Agencies) June 17 Amid new questions about US President Bush's drive to topple Saddam Hussein, several House Democrats urged lawmakers on Thursday to conduct an official inquiry to determine whether the president intentionally misled Congress.
At a public forum where the word "impeachment" loomed large, Exhibit A was the so-called Downing Street memo, a prewar document leaked from inside the British government to The Sunday Times of London a month and a half ago. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, organized the event. Recounting a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair's national security team, the memo says the Bush administration believed that war was inevitable and was determined to use intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the ouster of Saddam.
"The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," one of the participants was quoted as saying at the meeting, which took place just after British officials returned from Washington.
The president "may have deliberately deceived the United States to get us into a war," Jerrold Nadler said. "Was the president of the United States a fool or a knave?"
The Democratic congressmen were relegated to a tiny room in the bottom of the Capitol and the Republicans who run the House scheduled 11 major votes to coincide with the afternoon event. "We have not been told the truth," Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son was killed in Baghdad a year ago, told the Democrats. "If this administration doesn't have anything to hide, they should be down here testifying."
The White House refuses to respond to a May 5 letter from 122 congressional Democrats about whether there was a coordinated effort to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy, as the Downing Street memo says. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Conyers "is simply trying to rehash old debates." Conyers and a half-dozen other members of Congress were stopped at the White House gate later Thursday when they hand-delivered petitions signed by 560,000 Americans who want Bush to provide a detailed response to the Downing Street memo. When Conyers couldn't get in, an anti-war demonstrator shouted, "Send Bush out!" Eventually, White House aides retrieved the petitions at the gate and took them into the West Wing.
"Quite frankly, evidence that appears to be building up points to whether or not the president has deliberately misled Congress to make the most important decision a president has to make, going to war," Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said earlier at the event on Capitol Hill.
Misleading Congress is an impeachable offense, a point that Rangel underscored by saying he's already been through two impeachments. He referred to the impeachment of President Clinton for an affair with a White House intern and of President Nixon for Watergate, even though Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment.
Conyers pointed to statements by Bush in the run-up to invasion that war would be a last resort. "The veracity of those statements has to put it mildly come into question," he said.
Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson said, "We are having this discussion today because we failed to have it three years ago when we went to war."
"It used to be said that democracies were difficult to mobilize for war precisely because of the debate required," Wilson said, going on to say the lack of debate in this case allowed the war to happen.
Wilson wrote a 2003 newspaper opinion piece criticizing the Bush administration's claim that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger. After the piece appeared someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of Wilson's wife as a CIA operative, exposing her cover. Wilson has said he believes the leak was retaliation for his critical comments. The Justice Department is investigating.
John Bonifaz, a lawyer and cofounder of a new group called AfterDowningStreet.org, said the lack of interest by congressional Republicans in the Downing Street memo is like Congress during Nixon's presidency saying "we don't want" the Watergate tapes. [Story compiled by chinadaily.com.cn]
6.17.05 Update Senator Feinstein against US becoming a 'unilateralist power'
SAN FRANCISCO, June 15 Dianne Feinstein sent the following in response to my letter / concern that "Bush is a mythmaker...The good news is that there are those of us who know history and record it...Would you have any comment on any hope we may share that there will be some review of the Bush propaganda, hopefully before we enter, led by the world's new Kaiser, WWIII? You know, of course, all things today are about oil."
Dear Mr. Copeland:
Thank you for writing to me about U.S. Foreign Policy. I
appreciate your letter and wish to share my own thoughts with you.
I understand your serious concerns regarding U.S. foreign
policy and the Bush Administration's doctrine of preemption. The
Administration's approach in the run up to the conflict in Iraq cost
the United States much of the goodwill shown to us after the
September 11 attacks. We must be on our guard that the U.S. not
be seen as developing into a unilateralist power, undertaking a
series of anticipatory wars. Over the long haul, when facing
challenges like the Middle East, the War on Terror and North
Korea, we cannot go it alone and hope to succeed.
Please know that I value your perspective. The views of
my constituents are important to me and I will keep your letter in
mind when the Senate debates foreign policy over the coming
United States Senator
6.17.05 Update Australian hostage rescued in Iraq
June 17 The American and Iraqi forces that rescued hostage Douglas Wood happened to have been conducting a search in the area, when a resident tipped them off, reports theaustralian.news.com.au: After six emotionally draining weeks, the breakthrough for the emergency response team in Baghdad came early on Wednesday when an Iraqi informant walked in off the street with the vital clues that led Iraqi troops to a suburban house where Douglas Wood was being held.
An exhausted Nick Warner, who had been leading the Australian team around the clock, immediately contacted the US and Iraqi military to pass on the information. As luck would have it, Iraqi army units, aided by US troops, were already in the area conducting systematic cordon and search operations as part of a continuing operation code named Lightning. Within minutes, soldiers from the Iraqi army's 1st Brigade, assisted by the US military, had pinpointed a house in the Sunni-dominated Ghazaliya district.
Warner confirmed yesterday there had been "some specific intelligence and tips that provided a hint at what might be found at that location". [More>>theaustralian.news.com.au]. June 15 Hostage Douglas Wood has been rescued from his captors after being held for six weeks in Iraq, Australian PM John Howard has said. "I am delighted to inform the house the Australian hostage in Iraq, Mr Douglas Wood, is safe from his captors," he told the Australian parliament. He said the engineer, 63, seized in late April, had been rescued in a military operation. His release came as a suicide bomber killed at least 23 Iraqi soldiers.
Dozens were also injured in the town of Khalis, 60km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, when a bomber dressed as an Iraqi soldier blew himself up at an army canteen. At least 900 people have died in attacks since Iraq's new government was formed six weeks ago.[More>>bbc.co.uk]
6.17.05 South Korea unification minister meets Kim Jong-il
PYONGYANG, N. Korea, June 17 South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's point man on North Korea met the communist country's leader Kim Jong-il yesterday, which analysts said brightened prospects for resolving the nuclear dispute and normalizing inter-Korean relations.
Chung and Kim held the closed door discussion followed by a luncheon. Former Unification Minister Lim Dong-won and Park Jae-kyu who helped arrange the summit between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korea's leader Kim also attended.
Unification Minister Chung Dong-young met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang yesterday. [Joint Press Corps]
The meeting came as surprise as South Korean media speculated that there was little chance, as Chung already met late Thursday with the North's figurehead leader Kim Young-nam, ceremonial head of state as chairman of the North's Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. It is rare for South Korean goverment officials to meet the North's supreme leader. Most recently, Kim met Lim Dong-won as a special envoy of foremr President Kim in April 2002 following a meeting with former Unification Minister Park Jae-kyu in September 2000 three months after he held the summit.
Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, in Pyongyang to celebrate the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000, was informed a few hours before he was to return home early in the morning after the four-day festival that Kim wanted to meet "friends" he met in the past.
They discussed ways to normalize inter-Korean relations after almost a 10-month hiatus and the communist state's nuclear weapons program. The meeting came at a critical moment as some Pentagon officials mentioned referring the nuclear issue to U.N. Security Council for possible economic and political sanctions. [More>>koreaherald.co.kr]
6.17.05 update Big quake off California coast
SAN FRANCISCO, 6.17.05 A 6.6 magnitude quake occurred 125 miles off the coast of Eureka, California, 11:12pm. This quake was fourth in a series that rocked California since the 7,9 earthquake off Eureka on June 15: WASHINGTON, June 15 A strong earthquake of 7.0 magnitude had occurred off the coast of northern California, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said today. The earthquake, which the USGS defines as "major" at that magnitude, occurred at 7.50pm on the West coast (1250 AEST today) about 10km deep in the Pacific Ocean. A tsunami warning has been issued for coastal areas from the California-Mexico border to the northern tip of Vancouver in Canada, USGS said. [The tsunami warning was cancelled at 9:29pm San Francisco time; this reporter is in the Bay area and has seen no sign of the tsunami; initial report from theaustralian.news.com.au]
6.17.05 Japan can't back US plan to reform UN, says Koizumi
TOKYO (Kyodo News) June 17 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Friday that Japan cannot support a U.S. proposal for U.N. Security Council reform as it clearly conflicts with a plan Japan, Brazil, Germany and India jointly compiled. "Japan cannot go along with this plan," Koizumi told reporters. "We must think of cooperation in the Group of Four as important and stay united." He said the fact that the United States, Japan's closest ally, made such a proposal has put Japan in a "difficult" situation. But Koizumi said he would do his "utmost" to persuade the United States to at least understand Japan's position. [japantoday.com]
6.17-05 Federal Debt not a concern of the press
SAN FRANCISCO, June 17 Update. While the Federal Reserve continues to increase interest rates, the Exponentially rising Federal Debt is not being reported. What is not being reported is the fact that interest rates are tied to the US National Debt. This year the deficit is expected to exceed $420 billion, and interest on the debt which exceeds $8.2 trillion, is about $1 billion per day. Because the annual deficits are financed via the bond market, and because the amount of the bonds being sold exceeds demand, it is necessary to raise interest rates to attract investors in the US bonds financing the US debt. This routine of increasing debt on an exponential scale was experienced under the administration of George H. W. Bush. I predicted increasing interest rates "to sell bonds" in my conversation with Wm. F. Buckley Jr. at that time, in 1993, and I have repeated the prediction with regard to the current Bush administration's excesses and need to sell more bonds to finance the extraordinary deficits. The rate increases will continue in order to sell the overabundant US bonds. In a few words, George Bush's debt is causing your mortgage rates to increase, and they will continue to increase until the US assumes fiscal responsibility. Click here for details on this trend.
Postscript: If the EU adopts the practice of allowing large budget deficits, the consequence places a strain on the world bond market, since that market is already flooded with US bonds to the tune of some $9 trillion. Those who are allowing budget deficits also own some of the US debt. It's not a good situation, heralding a world economic collapse. That Greenspan has not reigned in the Bush administration on the US debt is a travesty.
Rising interest rates began with a Federal Reserve declaration of the "fear of inflation": WASHINGTON, March 22 The Federal Reserve raised new worries about inflation on Tuesday, setting off alarms in the stock and bond markets that the central bank might drive up interest rates faster than investors had been expecting. The Fed nudged up short-term interest rates for the seventh time in the last year, raising the federal funds rate on overnight loans between banks to 2.75 percent from 2.5 percent. It restated its intention to keep raising them at a "measured" pace in the months ahead.
But in a departure from previous declarations, the central bank said there were rising inflationary pressures beyond those tied directly to the recent jumps in oil prices. [More>>nytimes.com]
6.17-05 Russia's far-eastern residents demand prohibition against shelf oil production
PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY (RIA Novosti, Oksana Guseva) June 17 Over 6,300 signatures were collected in Kamchatka (Russia's Far East) to demand a referendum against oil production on the Western Kamchatka shelf. The local election commission checked the signatures and found 6,100 of them valid.
Deputies of the regional council will fix the date of the referendum at an extraordinary session on June 21. It is expected to coincide with the referendum on the unification of Kamchatka and Koryakia scheduled for October 23.
According to ecologists, the survey of shelf oil fields poses real threat to the ecological system of the Sea of Okhotsk.
Head of the Kamchatka Ecology Institute Robert Moiseyev said that there were five regions of high fish and crab reproduction in the world, with Kamchatka being one of them. The destruction of the ecological system of the Sea of Okhotsk will inflict inevitable damage on Far Eastern economy. Ecologists and economists should evaluate possible consequences before staring oil survey and production on the shelf of the Sea of Okhotsk, the scientists said. However, Kamchatka governor Mikhail Mashkovtsev comes out for producing oil on the Western Kamchatka shelf. [More>>rian.ru]
6.17-05 Iran votes in cliffhanger presidential election
TEHRAN (AFP) June 17 Iranians voted on Friday in a presidential election that appeared too close to call, with reformists claiming they could score a stunning upset against front-running top cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Iran¹s interior minister, in charge of organizing a poll criticized by the United States as undemocratic, said the race looked set to go into a two man run-off.
³The competition is very close,² Abdolvahed Moussavi-Lari told AFP, as estimates put voter turnout at around 55 percent -- lower than previous presidential polls but higher than last year¹s parliamentary elections.
Outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami was clearly relieved his difficult eight years in office were coming to an end, and also said a surprise could be in store. ³The Iranian nation has usually defied predictions,² Khatami said as he voted with an ear-to-ear grin.
The election had been painted as a one-horse race for Rafsanjani, who is hoping his image as a business-savvy moderate with clout can woo voters tired of political deadlock, economic stagnation, a nuclear crisis and international isolation. But he appeared to be facing a tough challenge from leftist reformer Mostafa Moin and hardliner Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. There were also indications that Tehran¹s ultra-conservative mayor, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, could also make a late charge. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story in dailystar.com.lb, "Iran's presidential race ends with blast from Bush."
6.17-05 EU leaders call on Israel to stop new settlement building
BRUSSELS, June 17 European Union leaders pressed Israel to stop building new settlements in the Palestinian territories, according to a draft of their summit conclusions obtained on Friday. There should be a ³complete halt to the building of houses and new infrastructure,² they said, according to a French-language draft of a special EU declaration.
The settlement policy is an ³obstacle to peace and threatens to make it practically impossible to find a solution based on the peaceful coexistence of two states,² the draft said. Palestinians were urged to fulfill their security obligations. The Palestinian Authority must do everything in its power to ³combat terrorism and reorganize its security forces,² the EU leaders said. The declaration is expected to be attached to the final statement from a two-day EU summit, due to conclude later Friday. [khaleejtimes.com; See also haaretzdaily.com, "EU to Palestinians: Show determination in fighting terror" (AP) European Union leaders on Friday were to urge the Palestinian Authority to demonstrate their determination to combat terrorism and reorganize its security services, according to a draft statement. The text, which is to be adopted at the EU summit, also calls on Israel to halt all building in settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The EU leaders are to call on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill all its security obligations and set as soon as possible a date for free and fair parliamentary elections.
The peaceful transition of power that followed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death last year and Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza in August have created an opportunity to move toward a resolution, the statement says. "It is crucial that the parties of the conflict make every effort to ... avoid a new escalation of violence," it reads.
With the statement, EU leaders are also to urge Israel to halt settlement activities in the Palestinian territories, including a total cessation of construction of homes and new infrastructure. The statement also calls for the abolition of financial incentives and subsidies for the settlements and their residents..]
Editorial note: See related article(s) on "Barrier Fence."
6.17-05 Israel to build sea barrier off Gaza
June 17 The Israeli navy plans to build a sea barrier off the coast of northern Gaza, saying it will keep out potential attackers once Israel pulls back from occupied land this summer, military officials say. The navy said the barrier, stretching 950m into the sea, is necessary because of the expected loss of surveillance systems in the planned pullout, military officials told an Israeli reporter in Gaza, requesting that their names not be used because the project is still being discussed. The barrier's first 100m will consist of cement pilings buried into the sandy bottom, The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported on Friday. [More>>aljazeera.net; See also Jerusalem Post article, "Navy builds anti-terror barrier off Gaza coast."
6.17-05 Gingrich: US should abandon roadmap in the quest for peace
June 17 The US should abandon the road map in its quest for Middle East peace, former House speaker Newt Gingrich argued in the recently published summer edition of the Middle East Quarterly. In a paper entitled, "Defeat Terror, Not Road map Diplomacy," the high-profile Republican leader insisted that civil negotiations and Oslo-like diplomacy should not continue until the Palestinian Authority dismantles all terrorist infrastructures. "Diplomacy is important and has a vital role to play, but its function must be different than the Oslo process and the road map suggest," he wrote. "The focus on Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy cannot work when one side has a leadership that does not deliver on its word." [More>>haaretzdaily.com]
6.17-05 Ankara blasts German calls to re-examine massacres
June 17 Turkey strongly condemned a German Parliament resolution marking the killings of Armenians during World War I and warned that the move would have consequences for bilateral ties between the two allies. "We regret and strongly condemn the resolution," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We are saddened to see the German Parliament fail to listen to Turkey's warnings that the resolution would deeply hurt the Turkish people and have a negative impact on bilateral ties," it added.
The resolution passed by the Bundestag Lower House earlier in the day marked the massacres of Armenians by Turks in the early 20th century but stopped short of condemning it as genocide. The Turkish statement argued domestic political concerns played a part in the resolution and charged that it was "irresponsible and narrow-minded to use such a sensitive subject for petty political calculations." [More>>dailystar.com.lb]
6.17-05 EU plunges into budget crisis as charter plans unravel
BRUSSELS (AFP) June 17 Britain locked itself into a collision course with its EU partners Friday over the bloc's future budget, heightening the sense of turmoil after a first-ever constitution was put on hold. The budget standoff moved to centre stage on the second day of a momentous summit, battling to deal with one of the deepest crises in the European project's half-century history.
As European Union leaders braced for what could be marathon talks on the budget, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reiterated London's refusal to abandon its budget rebate, at the heart of the high-stakes row.
"We continue to believe it is wholly justified," he told reporters after Blair met for 30 to 45 minutes with Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, who as summit president is struggling for a breakthrough. The furious financial wrangling highlights an anguished debate over bloc's future direction, between those such as Britain wanting a looser, economically liberal union and others, including France, keen to keep its social heritage. [More>>turkishpress.com]
STILL IN THE NEWS
6.03.05 Rally staged against Israeli barrier
June 3 Residents of a Palestinian village have staged a protest against the separation barrier being built by Israel in the West Bank. Israeli occupation troops confronted the protesters on Friday. The two sides clashed when the demonstrators tried to advance towards the territories being razed in preparation for extending the barrier wall.
Some demonstrators were injured while others were arrested by Israeli troops. The demonstration coincided with the 38th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza, and also marked the 100th day of the beginning of popular resistance in the village against the occupation. Many Palestinians describe the structure as an "apartheid wall" while Israel calls it a security barrier. [More>>aljazeera.net]
Editorial note: A view of the wall is at the aljazeera.net link.A map and another photo are in our sidebar.
05.21.05 British lawmaker: Iraq war was for oil
LISBON, May 21 Adam Porter reports: Labour politician and former UK environment minister Michael Meacher has slammed Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush for starting a war, he says, to secure oil interests.
Speaking on Friday on the sidelines of the fourth International Workshop on Oil and Gas Depletion in Lisbon, Portugal, Meacher, a member of the British parliament, said: "The reason they attacked Iraq is nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, it was nothing to do with democracy in Iraq, it was nothing to do with the human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein."
..."It was principally, totally and comprehensively to do with oil," Meacher continued. "This was about assuming control over the Middle East and over Iraq, the second largest producer and also over Saudi Arabia next door.
"It was about securing as much as possible of the remaining supplies of oil and also over the Caspian basin, which of course is Afghanistan." [More>>aljazeera.net]
(2) The name, Allah, in Arabic is an expression of surprise. It is not unusual for the God of the Bible to be known by many names. Jewish Midrash quotes passages in the Old Testament (Torah) that cite as many as seventy names of God (and more). But they can all be reduced down to one name.
(3) Ronald L. Conte Jr., biblicalchronology.com. has an interesting analyses of comets and eclipses as they relate to Roman times and Biblical Chronology. His estimate of 54 A.D. for the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, rather than 70 A.D., is controversial, to say the least.
(4) In comparing the Hogenberg, Adrichem and Josephus maps, it appears that the structure noted as "Solomon's Temple" is, in fact, Pilate's palace, and the Antonia fortress and Strotion Tower. This leaves the adjacent "squared complex" in all three maps as the Temple of Herod. This leaves to be explained the mountain peak underneath the Dome of the Rock, whether the height of the Temple Mount was above that point, since no mountain peak is indicated in the area of the "squared complex." King Solomon's palace and stables were adjacent to the Temple Mount, and there may be confusion here with the "squared complex" on the maps. The image of "Solomon's Temple" on the Josephus map does match the description of the actual temple. The thesis that the Temple did not sit atop the peak underneath the Dome of the Rock still must be answered, since both those who advocate restoration of the Temple and those who resist it (Palestinians, who oversee the Temple Mount) have presumed that in order to restore the Temple the Dome of the Rock would have to be torn down.
(5) I saw the story on Bush's arrest in Canada November 29, 2004 on a CNN link:
This appears to be a hoax originated by Paul K. J, http://informationclearinghouse.info/article7390.htm. According to an article by Sam Varghese at www.smh.com.au: "A satirical article about Canada arresting US President George W. Bush in Ottawa and charging him with war crimes appeared as the top story on Google News without the editor's note that identified it as satire. The article was up on Google's US news page on November 30, according to Zone-H.org, a website that tracks web defacements." A blog on wolverinemalaya.com recorded the story coming from an (AP) Associated Press article: ""OTTAWA, CANADA (AP) -- On the first of his two-day planned visit to Canada, George W. Bush was taken into custody by Canadian authorities citing war crime charges. The arrest claims that President Bush has been "party to the crime of torturing prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib." Under Canadian law, even a non-citizen can be charged for crimes committed outside of Canada once that individual enters the country..." Nick Farrel, theinquirer.net, explains how Google picked up the story. The wolvierinemalaya.com story, as I recall, was the same report as carried in the CNN report. Dave at www.immunitysec.com provides more information regarding the story. I was not aware of the hoax (assuming it was a hoax) until 6.19.05, when I revisited the issue.
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