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06.25.10 Pakistan scours websites for anti-Islam content
ISLAMABAD, June 25 - After a site calls for posting images of the Prophet. Pakistan's government ordered the monitoring of websites including Google, Yahoo and YouTube for "anti-Islam content" Friday, an official said, as tensions over the Internet continued. The moves follow a temporary ban imposed on Facebook in May that drew both praise and condemnation in a country that has long struggled to figure out how strict a version of Islam it should follow. Both the Facebook ban and the move announced Friday were in response to court orders. The sites to be monitored include Yahoo, Google, MSN, Hotmail, YouTube, Amazon and Bing, said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority spokesman Khurram Mehran. "If any particular link with offensive content appears on these websites, the (link) shall be blocked immediately without disturbing the main website," Mehran said. An example of one of the 17 sites being blocked include islamexposed.blogspot.com, Mehran said. That site features postings with headlines such as "Islam: The Ultimate Hypocrisy" and links to anti-Islam online petitions. [More>>alarabiya.net; See also (AP) thejakartapost.com]
What is Allah's cause? His cause is to make Islam dominate the world. How do I know this? By Allah's word and hadith.
Related article, Maravot News, "The Allah Controversy" involving conflicts between Islam and Western cultures, the origins of which descend upon Israel and Palestine. The document addresses the chairman of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) — to which there has been no reply.]
06.25.10 Toxins found in whales bode ill for humans: report
AGADIR, Morocco (AP) June 25 - Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth's oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood. A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said. "These contaminants, I think, are threatening the human food supply.
06.25.10 Pakistan is said to pursue foothold in Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD, June 25 - Pakistan is exploiting the troubled United States military effort in Afghanistan to drive home a political settlement with Afghanistan that would give Pakistan important influence there but is likely to undermine United States interests, Pakistani and American officials said. The dismissal of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal will almost certainly embolden the Pakistanis in their plan as they detect increasing American uncertainty, Pakistani officials said. The Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, preferred General McChrystal to his successor, Gen. David H. Petraeus, whom he considers more of a politician than a military strategist, said people who had spoken recently with General Kayani. Pakistan is presenting itself as the new viable partner for Afghanistan to President Hamid Karzai, who has soured on the Americans.
06.25.10 Bodies found beheaded in southern Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 25 - Three American troops were reported killed and the bodies of 11 men, some beheaded, were found Friday in rising violence across Afghanistan. Mohammad Khan, deputy police chief in Uruzgan province, said a villager in the Bagh Char area of Khas Uruzgan district spotted the bodies in a field and called police. "They were killed because the Taliban said they were spying for the government, working for the government," he said. The acting Uruzgan governor, Khudia Rahim, said five or six of the 11 victims had been beheaded. Meanwhile, NATO reported that a US service member was killed in an insurgent attack Friday in eastern Afghanistan and another American died following a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan on Thursday. NATO did not provide the exact location of the attacks. A third service member died in an explosion Friday in southern Afghanistan, NATO said. The US command said he was American. Their deaths brought to 83 the number of international service members killed so far in June, which is already the deadliest month of the nearly 9-year-old war. At least 49 were Americans. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
06.25.10 Iran cancels blockade-busting ship bound for Gaza
June 25 - Iran canceled sending an aid ship to the Gaza Strip which was supposed to set sail for the Palestinian territory on Sunday, state news agency IRNA reported. "The trip is not going to happen," Hossein Sheikholeslam, secretary general of the International Conference for the Support of the Palestinian Intifada, an Iranian body set up by parliament, told reporters on Thursday, IRNA said. He said the ship had originally been due to depart on Thursday, but "due to restrictions from the occupying Zionist regime, it was decided that this ship would leave on Sunday. But now the trip is not going to happen." Sheikholeslam, speaking in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, said that the aid supplies that had been collected for the voyage will be sent by other means to Gaza. "The Zionist regime has made the blockade a political issue and we do not wish to politicize this kind of humanitarian aid because the most important thing for us is to break the blockade of Gaza," he said. He said the voyage was canceled as Israel "had sent a letter to the United Nations saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war on that regime and it will confront it," IRNA quoted him as saying. [More>>foxnews.com]
06.25.10 Yemen forces clash with al-Qaeda
June 25 - Yemen's security forces have clashed with suspected members of al-Qaeda as they hunted fighters behind a deadly attack on a government intelligence compound in the southern city of Aden. A security official told the Reuters news agency that fighting had broken out during a search of houses in the port city's Saada district following the attack last Saturday that left 11 people dead. Gunmen wearing military fatigues attacked the police intelligence building on Saturday, killing seven security officers, three women and a seven-year old boy, and freeing several detainees being held there. Friday's fighting ended in several arrests, the security official said, but declined to give further details. Yemen's interior ministry has called for a security alert in Aden to prevent arms or fighters entering the city, which is the impoverished country's economic hub. [More>>aljazeera.net]
06.25.10 Palestinians: Two killed in IAF Gaza strike
June 25 - Air Force hits two smuggling tunnels in the south and and an arms cache in the north. Two Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical workers said on Friday. They said they recovered the body of a man from a tunnel in the south of the coastal territory and the body of a second man remained under rubble. The Israeli army said in a statement it had carried out air strikes against two tunnels dug by Palestinian militants in the southern Gaza Strip. Another air strike targeted a weapons storage building in northern Gaza. Israel Air Force planes attacked targets in the Gaza Strip before dawn Friday, a day after Palestinian militants in the coastal territory fired mortar shells at the western Negev. [More>>haaretz.com]
06.25.10 Google's YouTube wins copyright battle with Viacom
June 25 - The first chapter in a battle between two very different media giants —YouTube and Viacom — has come to a close after a judge ruled that YouTube had acted within the law when users posted copyrighted material to the site. A US judge threw out a copyright lawsuit filed against YouTube by US entertainment giant Viacom on Wednesday, giving Google, which owns the video site, a major legal victory in a closely watched case. US District Court Judge Louis Stanton said that YouTube was protected against Viacom's claims of "massive copyright infringement" by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
06.25.10 After 112 years, Lake Michigan shipwreck found
MILWAUKEE, Mi. (AP) June 25 - L.R. Doty, ship that sank in Lake Michigan 112 years ago, found largely intact near Milwaukee. A great wooden steamship that sank more than a century ago in a violent Lake Michigan storm has been found off the Milwaukee-area shoreline, and divers say the intact vessel appears to have been perfectly preserved by the cold fresh waters. Finding the 300-foot-long L.R. Doty was important because it was the largest wooden ship that remained unaccounted for, said Brendon Baillod, the president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association. "It's the biggest one I've been involved with," said Baillod, who has taken part in about a dozen such finds. "It was really exhilarating." The Doty was carrying a cargo of corn from South Chicago to Ontario, Canada in October 1898 when it sailed into a terrible storm, Baillod said. Along with snow and sleet, there were heavy winds that whipped up waves of up to 30 feet. The Doty should have been able to handle the weather. The ship was only five years old, and the 300-foot wooden behemoth's hull was reinforced with steel arches...Divers found the ship upright and intact, settled into the clay at the lake's bottom. Even the ship's cargo of corn was still in its hold. [Full story>>cbsnews.com]
June 24 - Beirut reportedly wants to stop Gaza-bound ships to ease tensions. The Lebanese government is working towards canceling the planned flotillas to Gaza, Lebanese newspaper Al-Liwaa reported Thursday, according Israel Radio. The newspaper reported that the Lebanese government was interested in stopping the flotillas from reaching Gaza in order to calm down recent tensions in the area. Beirut fears an eruption in activity in South Lebanon due to the planned aid-ships. Sources cited in the newspaper claimed that Iran may also cancel a flotilla it was planning on sending to the Strip, Israel Radio reported. Al-Liwaa newspaper also reported that Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah will not visit Turkey, due to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's refusal to increase tensions between Washington and Jerusalem. [>jpost.com; See related stories,
06.24.10 Jon Voight to Obama: You are harming Israel and promoting anti-Semitism
June 24 - In an open letter in The Washington Times, staunch Republican actor writes: You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel. American actor and staunch Republican Jon Voight has submitted a public letter to The Washington Times, in which he accused President Barack Obama of putting Israel in harm's way and promoting anti-Semitism across the world. "You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only Democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies," wrote Voight, who last year called Obama a false prophet. "You have done just the opposite.
06.24.10 BP is pursuing Alaska drilling some call risky
June 24 - The future of BP's offshore oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico has been thrown into doubt by the recent drilling disaster and court wrangling over a moratorium. But about three miles off the coast of Alaska, BP is moving ahead with a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters. All other new projects in the Arctic have been halted by the Obama administration's moratorium on offshore drilling, including more traditional projects like Shell Oil's plans to drill three wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort. But BP's project, called Liberty, has been exempted as regulators have granted it status as an "onshore" project even though it is about three miles off the coast in the Beaufort Sea. The reason: it sits on an artificial island — a 31-acre pile of gravel in about 22 feet of water — built by BP. [More>>nytimes.com]
06.24.10 BP oil disaster: Containment cap reattached; two involved in clean-up die, one a suicide
June 24 - Gulf of Mexico well had been at nearly full force until repairs were made. BP says it has reattached the containment cap that was knocked off the Gulf oil leak in a submarine accident earlier Wednesday. Oil from the BP spill disaster had been spewing again into the Gulf of Mexico at nearly full force after a venting system connected to the so-called containment cap over the blown-out wellhead was damaged in an accident with a robot sub, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the commander in charge of the government's effort to control the 65-day-old spill. The cap "was successfully reinstalled on the Deepwater Horizon's failed blow-out preventer" at 6:30pm local time, BP said in a statement, adding that "the system resumed collecting oil and gas" a half hour later. Separately, Allen said two people tied to the clean-up died over the past day in the Gulf region. One of the deaths was of a charter boat captain who apparently committed suicide, depressed as his business suffered after the blowout, ABC News has confirmed. [More>>abcnews.go.com]
06.24.10 Judge paves way for deepwater drilling in Gulf
NEW Orleans, Louisiana, June 24 - Paving the way for deepwater drilling to resume in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal judge on Thursday denied a request to keep a moratorium in place pending a government appeal. US District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans, Louisiana, had issued a preliminary injunction against the six-month ban Tuesday. The government had asked Feldman to delay lifting the ban until an appeals court reviewed the issue later this summer. The moratorium was imposed by President Barack Obama after an April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of Louisiana triggered an underwater oil gusher. It prohibited drilling in more than 500 feet of water and prevented new permits from being issued. In an emergency hearing Thursday, the judge denied the government's motion to stay his decision pending appeal "for the same reasons given" Tuesday for issuing the injunction. [More>>cnn.com]
06.24.10 Jewish dance group attacked in Germany
June 24 - A Jewish dance group was attacked with stones by a group of children and teenagers during a performance at a street festival in the Germany city of Hannover. One dancer suffered a leg injury and the group then cancelled their performance. The teenagers also used a megaphone to shout anti-Semitic slurs during the Saturday afternoon attack, Hannover police spokesman Thorsten Schiewe said. Police said the incident is under investigation and that they do not have an exact number of attackers yet. Mr. Schiewe said there were several Muslim immigrant youths among the attackers. Two suspects, a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old, were being questioned, he said. [More>>news.com.au]
06.24.10 Pakistani court sentences Americans for terrorism
SARGODHA, Pakistan (Reuters) June 24 - Five American students were on Thursday sentenced to 10 years in jail for contacting militants online and plotting attacks by a court in Pakistan, fighting its own battle with Islamist radicals. The students, in their 20s, were detained in December in Pakistan's central city of Sargodha, 190 km (120 miles) southeast of Islamabad. Deputy Prosecutor Rana Bakhtiar said the men were convicted on two counts each, with one carrying a 10-year sentence and the other carrying five years, to be served concurrently. They were also fined a total of 70,000 rupees ($821). "Both these sentences will begin concurrently and in practice they will spend 10 years in jail. We will appeal in the high court to enhance the sentence," Bakhtiar told reporters. Waqar Hussain Khan, Ahmed Minni, Ramy Zamzam, Aman Yemer and Umar Farooq were each charged with five counts of conspiracy, raising funds for terrorist acts, planning war against Pakistan, directing others to launch attacks and attempting to cross the Afghan border illegally. Deputy prosecutor Bakhtiar said the court issued the 10-year sentences for conspiracy and five years for raising funds. The other charges were dropped. [More>>thestar.com.my]
06.24.10 Suicide bombers target Iraq troops, police; kill 4
MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) June 24 - Three suicide bombers killed at least four policemen and wounded nine police and army personnel in two separate attacks in Iraq's restive northern city of Mosul on Thursday, security officials said. The first attack occurred when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint, killing four policemen and wounding four others, in a western part of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Two other suicide bombers attacked the main gate of an Iraqi army base in eastern Mosul, wounding five soldiers, an army source said. Mosul is on the frontline of a longstanding feud between Iraq's Arabs and minority Kurds over land, power and oil wealth. The region is also a hub for Sunni Islamist insurgents linked to al-Qaeda. Iraq is on high alert for insurgent attacks after a March 7 national election produced no clear winner and left the country adrift in political uncertainty. Overall violence has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian carnage in 2006-7. But daily bombings and killings continue, and civilian deaths since the vote have risen slightly, suggesting insurgents are trying to exploit the vacuum as political rivals jostle for power. [>khaleejtimes.com; See more details, alarabiya.net, June 24, "Attacks targeting Iraqi forces kill at least 10."]
06.24.10 McChrystal resigns Afghan command
June 23 - Petraeus tapped as replacement following interview controversy. President Obama said Wednesday he had accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, bringing to an ignominious end the storied but sometimes controversial career of one of the country's top soldiers. Mr. Obama, who angrily summoned Gen. McChrystal to Washington after the general and several aides disparaged senior members of the administration in a series of interviews with Rolling Stone magazine, said he had accepted the resignation "with considerable regret, but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military and for our country." The president said he was nominating Gen. David H. Petraeus, the current head of US Central Command, to take over from Gen. McChrystal "which will allow us to maintain the momentum and leadership that we need to succeed." A White House official told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity that Gen. Petraeus, to whom Gen. McChrystal reported as US Afghan commander, would step down as head of Centcom to take on his new role, but denied that the move was a demotion. [More>>washingtontimes.com]
06.20.10 Zahar: 'The solution is resistance'
June 20 - Hamas official calls for shooting rockets from the West Bank. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud a-Zahar called for West Bank residents to fire rockets into Israel, Israel Radio reported Sunday. "There is no escaping from these rockets in the West Bank," Zahar said to the east Jerusalem newspaper al-Quds. "Why should they only be in the Gaza Strip?" He added that Hamas policy will not change no matter how long the blockade of Gaza continues, and whether or not Hamas will win the next elections in the West Bank. In the past, Zahar has called accused those firing rockets of being "collaborators," that are trying to torpedo Hamas-Israel negotiations. He was part the team working on a prisoner exchange deal to secure the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, and accused the US for their failure when he quit the effort.
06.20.10 Israel to allow all 'civilian' goods into Gaza
(AFP) June 20 - Israel will allow all "civilian" goods into the Gaza Strip while still preventing weapons from entering the Hamas-run territory, a senior Israeli official said Sunday. "We are committed to enable the flow of civilian goods to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip," a senior official in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told AFP. "From today, there is a green light for all goods to enter Gaza except for military items and material that can strengthen the Hamas military machine," the official said as Netanyahu was meeting with Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair to discuss easing the blockade. [>khaleejtimes.com]
06.20.10 Ex-Guantanamo inmates 'fail rehab'
June 20 - About 25 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to violence after going through a rehabilitation programme in Saudi Arabia, a senior Saudi official has said. Abdulrahman al-Hadlaq, the director of the interior ministry's ideological security administration, said on Saturday that about 20 percent of the 120 repatriated former prisoners have returned to radical activity after graduation from a rehab centre in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. "It's about a 9.5-percent relapse" for all 300 Saudi men, including fighters arrested by Saudi authorities, who have undergone a programme at what is known as the "Care Centre," al-Hadlaq said. "But it's more than 20 [percent] among Guantanamo guys." General Mansour al-Turki, the interior ministry spokesman, said that 10 or 11 of those released are believed to have re-joined al-Qaeda in Yemen. Another four have been killed in operations against al-Qaeda and the remainder have been rearrested, al-Turki said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
06.20.10 Yemen arrests mastermind of deadly Aden attack
SANAA (AFP) June 20 - Authorities say captured man member of al-Qaeda. Yemeni authorities have captured the mastermind of a suspected al-Qaeda attack on the intelligence headquarters in the southern city of Aden that killed 11 people, the defense ministry said on Sunday. "The security services have ... (captured) the leader of the terrorist gang that attacked the intelligence headquarters costing the lives of intelligence agents, women and children," the ministry said on its 26sep.net website. It identified the captured man as Goudol Mohammed Ali Naji, and said he was a member of al-Qaeda. Seven military personnel, three women and a child were killed in Saturday's attack in the port city of Aden, officials said...The website said Naji had a long record of terrorist and criminal activities, and was involved in an attack late last year on the central bank in Aden in which 100 million riyals (460,000 dollars, 388,000 euros) was stolen. Saturday's deadly attack was apparently intended to free prisoners, but authorities said none were in the building at the time. [Full story>>alarabiya.net]
06.20.10 US cautions Pakistan over gas pipeline deal with Iran
ISLAMABAD, June 20 - The US special envoy to Pakistan said on Sunday he had warned Islamabad against signing a deal with Iran on a gas pipeline, saying the US was preparing laws that could affect the project. "We cautioned the Pakistanis not to over-commit themselves until we know the legislation," Richard Holbrooke, US President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, told reporters. "Pakistan has an obvious major energy problem. We are very sympathetic to it. In regard to the specific project, legislation is now being prepared which may apply to this project," said Holbrooke. He declined to give details, saying he was not involved in drawing up the legislation, but cautioned that it could be "comprehensive." [More>>indianexpress.com; See related story,
06.20.10 16 militants killed, 3 hideouts wiped out in Orakzai
HANGU, Pakistan, June 20 - An aerial offensive by security forces in Orakzai Agency killed sixteen militants and wounded several others while 3 of their hideouts were destroyed, Geo News reported Sunday. Fighter jets bombarded militants' hideouts in Torsamt and Ghaut Kazai areas, destroying 3 dens and killing 13 militants while several others were injured. In Shekhan area four militants including a key commander of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan were killed and four others injured when explosives kept in a hideout went off. The explosion also destroyed arms and weapons stored in the hideout which was used for attaching security forces. [>thenew.com.pk]
06.20.10 Suicide blasts kill 26 at Iraqi state-sector bank
BAGHDAD (Reuters) June 20 - Two suicide bombers detonated cars laden with explosives outside the Trade Bank of Iraq on Sunday, killing 26 people in the latest attack to raise concerns about the nation's stability after an inconclusive election. Fifty-three people were wounded in the blasts that blew in the windows of the bank, one of the public sector's most active financial institutions and at the forefront of efforts to encourage foreign investment as the sectarian bloodshed set off after the 2003 US-led invasion fades. A week earlier, gunmen and suicide bombers laid siege to the central bank in Baghdad, killing 18 people and fueling fears that insurgents are trying to exploit a political vacuum that followed the March 7 election which produced no outright winner. Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said two cars packed with around 80 kilograms of ammonium nitrate each were driven at the gates of the Trade Bank of Iraq and detonated on striking blastwalls protecting the building. He put the initial death toll at 18, but an Interior Ministry source said later it had risen to 26. [More>>thestar.com.my]
06.20.10 Iranians biggest drug smugglers to Indonesia
June 20 - The Indonesian government has said that Iranian nationals are the most common smugglers of class-A drugs into the country as of January this year. Malaysians were the next-highest group, with eight suspects arrested so far this year, followed by India with six suspects, tempointeraktif.com reported. The Customs and Excise Office at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, has arrested 15 Iranian nationals this year linked to 22 cases. It has also seized a total 115 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as shabu-shabu), ketamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. "All of the evidence together is worth Rp 278 billion (US$30.5 million) at market value," the office's head Baduri Wijayanta said Sunday. All of the arrested Iranian smugglers were believed to be part of an Iran-based international drug syndicate, he added. The office's head of prosecutions Gatot Sugeng Wibowo said the Iran-based drug mafia might not have been aware that Indonesia enforced the death penalty for drug smuggling. The 2009 Narcotics Law carries the death penalty and a Rp 10 billion fine for anyone in possession of more than 5 grams of drugs. [>thejakartapost.com]
06.19.10 Strenger than fiction / Israel should consider a one-state solution - it might soon be its only solution
June 19 (Editorial by Carlo Strenger) Israel would do well to apply some of the features of the one-state solution: to become a truly liberal, secular state without ethnic dominance in which subgroups no longer try to impose their way of life on each other. In a recent op-ed, Moshe Arens suggested that Israel seriously consider the option of a single state west of the Jordan, in which Palestinians be granted full citizenship. The one-state solution is advocated by a number of Palestinian intellectuals and is becoming rather popular within the European left. Their reason is generally that the one-state solution would give more justice to the Palestinians — this position is mostly seen as anti-Israeli. Israel's extreme right favors holding onto the greater land of Israel, generally on theological grounds. Arens raises his idea from a different standpoint, because he is a secular liberal who indeed believes in full equality for Israel's Arabs.
Editorial note: "The one-state solution has strong legal foundations." We explored both secular and non secular approaches to the violence that plagues Israel, Jerusalem and (therefore) the world. Our document, The Allah Controversy
06.19.10 Partner puts blame on BP as spill costs grow
GRAND ISLE, La (Reuters) June 19 - BP Plc's costs for the worst spill in U.S. history appeared set to rise as a partner in the out-of-control well laid the blame at BP's feet and the new federal czar overseeing damage claims said BP would pay more if $20 billion was not enough. The British oil company said it would not be distracted by a dispute with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. The owner of a quarter of the well gushing into the Gulf broke its near-silence on the spill to squarely pin blame — and financial responsibility — on BP. "There appears to be gross negligence or willful misconduct," Houston-based Anadarko Chairman and CEO Jim Hackett said in an interview that helped to drive his company's shares up 2.2 percent in after-hours trading on the hopes it could avoid multi-billion-dollar liabilities. BP said it "strongly disagrees" with the assessment of gross negligence but would keep its focus squarely on the Gulf, cleaning up the spill and plugging the well. [More>>thestar.com.my]
06.19.10 France signs on to South Stream gas pipeline project
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (RIA Novosti) June 19 - Russian gas giant Gazprom, Italian gas company Eni, and France's Electricite de France (EdF) signed a memorandum of understanding, bringing the French company into the South Stream gas pipeline. The document was signed on Saturday at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg in the presence of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Russian and Italian companies will each give Edf 10% of their shares, or 20% of the South Stream gas pipeline project. South Stream, with an estimated price tag of 25 million euros, will connect Russia and the EU across the Black Sea and the Balkans, bypassing Ukraine. Gazprom said last week it was ready to start South Stream's construction in 2013 and should begin pumping gas to Europe by 2015. [>en.rian.ru]
06.19.10 US missile strike kills 12 in Pakistan
MIRANSHAH, June 19 - A US drone aircraft fired two missiles in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Saturday, killing 12 militants, intelligence officials said. The missile attack took place hours after the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, landed in Islamabad for talks as part of the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue initiated in March. The drone targeted a suspected militant compound in Sokhel village, about 25 km (16 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town of the region and known as a hotbed of Taliban and al-Qaida militants, the intelligence officials said. "Twelve militants have been killed and three wounded in the attack on a compound which is linked to Taliban and al- Qaeda," one intelligence official said. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
06.19.10 Turkish jets raid northern Iraq, clashes kill 20
June 19 - Turkish warplanes launched air raids at suspected Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq in Saturday, after a rebel attack on a military outpost in Turkey touched off clashes in which eight soldiers and 12 rebel fighters died, Turkey's military said. Special forces were also immediately sent to reinforce the border area where the clashes occurred and Turkish warplanes bombed detected Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq, the military said, without providing any further details. Fourteen other soldiers were wounded in the fighting, it said. Kurdish rebels have dramatically stepped up attacks in Turkey in recent months, threatening a government attempt to end one of the world's longest guerrilla wars. The military said on Friday more than 40 soldiers had been killed since March, including six who died in a rocket attack on a vehicle near a naval base in southern Turkey, and warned it anticipated more attacks. Turkey's military has responded by sending warplanes across the border for raids on suspected rebel bases while elite commandos crossed the border in pursuit of the rebels in a day-long incursion earlier this week. [>indianexpress.com]
06.19.10 Militants kill NATO soldier in Afghanistan: alliance
KABUL, June 19 - Militants killed a NATO soldier in eastern Afghanistan, the alliance said Saturday, as the death toll for foreign troops in the country mounted. The latest death takes to 274 the number of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year, according to an AFP tally based on figures kept by the independent icasualties.org website. "An ISAF service member died following an insurgent attack" on Friday, NATO said in a statement, referring to its International Security Assistance Force. ISAF had announced on Friday the deaths of four other NATO soldiers in Afghanistan's south. Two died in a militant attack while the other two, including a Briton, died in separate blasts from roadside bombs, the Taliban's weapon of choice. [More>>thenews.com.pk; See related story,
06.19.10 13 killed in suspected al-Qaeda attack in Yemen
June 19 - Thirteen people, including 10 members of the Yemeni security forces, were killed today and a number of suspected al-Qaeda prisoners were freed in an attack on an intelligence headquarters in the southern port city of Aden. A building housing the intelligence services in the Al-Tawahi district near the port came under fire from a group of men armed with rocket-propelled grenades, grenades and machine guns. An unknown number of prisoners suspected of being members of al-Qaeda were also set free, officials said on condition of anonymity, adding that the attack may have been the work of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Witnesses also said the assailants "were seen leaving the building in a bus, taking people who had been detained there with them," in what appeared to be a coordinated and well-planned operation. There were no casualties among the attackers, the witnesses said. [More>>news.com.au; See related story,
06.19.10 Jewish, Muslim tensions rise at UC Irvine after suspension of Muslim group
June 19 - Tensions are high at the University of California-Irvine after the school recommended suspending a Muslim student group for its role in the disruption of an Israeli ambassador's speech earlier this year. Students at the university say Jews and Muslims have been accusing each other of discrimination and harassment, as both sides have embraced campus speakers seen as hostile to Israel or Islam. Now the proposed suspension of the Muslim Student Union for at least a year has made an already hostile situation worse. The school revealed this week that it had recommended suspending the Muslim group after 11 students were arrested in February for repeatedly disrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who was repeatedly interrupted and called "murderer" and "war criminal" by pro-Palestinian students as he gave a talk on the Middle East peace process. [More>>foxnews.com]
06.19.10 Iran cleric issues fatwa against 'unclean' dogs
TEHRAN (Reuters) June 19 - A senior Iranian cleric has decreed dogs are "unclean" and should not be kept as pets — a move aimed at discouraging Western-style dog ownership in the Islamic state, a newspaper reported on Saturday. Dogs are considered "unclean" under Islamic tradition but, while relatively rare in Iran, some people do keep them as pets. By issuing a fatwa — a religious ruling — Grand Ayatollah Naser
06.19.10 At least 27 killed, including translator for US, in Iraq
BAGHDAD, June 19 - An Iraqi interpreter for the US military was gunned down on Friday by his son and nephew north of the capital after he refused their demands to quit his job, a police official said. The attack occurred as at least 27 people were killed nationwide, a grim reminder of the dangers facing Iraqis despite a sharp drop in violence over the past few years. In the deadliest attack, insurgents ambushed a checkpoint near the Syrian border, killing seven Iraqi soldiers and wounding an eighth. Hameed al-Daraji, who had worked as a translator for the US military since 2003 against the wishes of his family, was shot in the chest in his house in Samarra, 95 kilometers north of Baghdad, police Lt. Emad Muhsin said. He said al-Daraji was constantly fighting with his relatives over his job, but he ignored their pleas for him to quit. Al-Daraji's son and nephew were arrested after the attack and confessed to being members of an al-Qaeda-linked group that sanctioned the killing, Muhsin said, adding that police were searching for a second son suspected of being an accomplice. [More>>japantoday.com; See related story,
06.18.10 Israel announces let-up to Gaza siege - but only in English
June 18 - Prime Minister's office issues two statements, one in English announcing plan to ease blockade, one in Hebrew omitting to mention the decision. The Prime Minister's Office announced on Thursday that the security cabinet had agreed to relax Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, but as it turns out, no binding decision was ever made during the cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister's Office issued a press release in English following the meeting, which was also sent to foreign diplomats, was substantially different than the Hebrew announcement — according to the English text, a decision was made to ease the blockade, but in the Hebrew text there was no mention of any such decision. It is not clear whether this discrepancy was a deliberate attempt to buy time in the face of international pressure, or a clerical omission on behalf of the Prime Minister's Office. The cabinet ministers held a long discussion on Wednesday and another one Thursday morning on the topic of altering Israel's policy following the three-year siege on the Hamas ruled territory. The siege was imposed after Hamas violently seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. [More>>haaretz.com]
06.18.10 Medvedev urges 'stronger efforts' in Mideast peace process
June 18 - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday tensions in the Middle East had not eased and called for further efforts to advance the peace process. "Strong efforts are needed just to improve the situation, let alone resolve it," Medvedev said. He said the situation in the Middle East had not improved since his visit to the Arab League headquarters in June 2009. "The Palestinian issue is very complicated. The Gaza Strip is in a critical condition. It is deteriorating more and more each day. Therefore, much depends on the position of our countries," Medvedev said in reference to Russia and Arab League countries during a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who is also participating in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Moussa said the situation in the Middle East is going round in "a vicious circle." "Israel is not ready for peace and proximity talks between Israel and Palestine have not given any results. [More>>en.rian.ru]
June 18 - IHH head calls for violence, "martyrdom" in new 'Marmara' footage. New footage from the Mavi Marmara was released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday afternoon, this time showing IHH head Bülent Yildirim inciting to violence against Israeli commandos hours before the encounter that claimed the lives of nine Turkish passengers. "We follow in the footsteps of the martyrs," Yildirim could be seen declaring to a large crowd of activists. "You shall see, we will definitely claim one or two victories." Yildirim went on to urge the ship's passengers not to turn back as other flotillas had done, but rather to resist the attempt to divert the ship. "We don't want to be recorded in Allah's book as cowards," he said in Turkish and Arabic. An Egyptian parliamentarian who was also present led the activists in the room in a chant, "Martyrs marching into Gaza by the millions." Yildirim then threatened, "If you send the commandos, we will throw you down from here and you will be humiliated in front of the whole world." He added, "If they board our ship, we will throw them into the sea, Allah willing!" He later called Israel "weak," saying it resorted to propaganda to combat the activists' determination to reach Gaza. "We thought [Israel] considered itself a state," he could be heard saying. "It's not a state." [>jpost.com; YouTube video, IHH Leader urges violence.]
06.18.10 Many countries support military action on Iran
June 18 - Majorities in many Western and some Muslim countries are willing to consider military action against Iran to prevent the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons, a global poll showed Thursday. The Pew Research Center’s poll conducted in 22 countries found majorities or pluralities in 16 countries endorsing the possibility of military intervention. Americans are among the most supportive of a military option to deal with Iran with 66 percent of those who oppose a nuclear-armed Iran saying they would consider the use of force, a figure second only to Nigeria’s 71 percent. Among Europeans, the views are more mixed. In France, 59 percent said they would consider the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but a sizeable minority of 41 percent rejected this option.
06.18.10 N. Korea lifts ban on private markets to prevent famine
SEOUL, June 18 - Bowing to reality, the North Korean government has lifted all restrictions on private markets — a last-resort option for a regime desperate to prevent its people from starving. In recent weeks, according to North Korea observers and defector groups with sources in the country, Kim Jong Il's government admitted its inability to solve the current food shortage and encouraged its people to rely on private markets for the purchase of goods. Though the policy reversal will not alter daily patterns — North Koreans have depended on such markets for more than 15 years — the latest order from Pyongyang abandons all pretense of a central, planned economy. With November's currency revaluation, Kim wiped out his citizens' personal savings and struck a blow against the food distribution system sustaining his country. The North's latest policy reversal, though, stands as an admission that the currency change was a failure and that only capitalist-style trading can prevent widespread famine. "The North Korean government has tried all possible ways [for a planned economy] and failed, and it now has to resort to the last option," said Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
06.18.10 Gulf oil full of methane, adding new concerns
(AP) June 18 - Crude leaking from seafloor contains higher amounts of methane which could deplete oxygen in gulf waters, create "dead zones." It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem. The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill. That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives. "This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said. [More>>cbsnews.com]
06.18.10 Hindu community in Pakistan's northwest demands basic rights
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, June 18 - The minority Hindu community in northwest Pakistan has demanded that it should be provided the same basic rights as Christians living in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Hindus in northwest Pakistan have no cremation grounds, scholarships for students or special schools in the entire tribal belt, community leader Pandit Jay Gopal said during a dialogue on the rights of minorities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The seminar held here yesterday was also addressed by the Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Pakistan, Ernest Jacob, and people from different walks of life. They stressed that the rights of Christians must be protected. Minority community leader Arshad Masih argued that minorities living in the tribal areas are not issued domicile certificates and this negates their basic human rights. The children of minority communities are not admitted to schools and youths are not given jobs because they do not have domicile certificates, he contended. [>indianexpress.com]
06.18.10 Israel jails Ultra-Orthodox fathers
June 18 - Dozens of Israeli fathers have been jailed, a day after a protest by Ultra-Orthodox Jews in support of the men, who have defied a supreme court ruling on school integration. Meanwhile, 22 mothers of pupils at an Ultra-Orthodox girls' school in an illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank have been given a stay of arrest while the court considers a plea to let them stay at home to care for their young families. The settlers' news website Channel 7 and public radio said Judge Edmund Levy decided that the court would reconvene on Sunday to discuss the request. Israeli media said that some of the mothers were pregnant, while others had children with special needs. The 35 fathers who turned themselves in at the Jerusalem police headquarters on Thursday evening were taken to Maasiyahu prison in the central Israeli city of Ramle to serve an initial two-week jail sentence for contempt of court. Around 100,000 Ultra-Orthodox Jews protested in occupied Jerusalem on Thursday against the high court's decision to jail the parents — all of European origin, or Ashkenazis — for refusing to send their daughters to a school with Jewish girls whose families originate from Arab countries, known as Sephardis. It was the biggest demonstration by the Ultra-Orthodox since February 1999 when at least 250,000 protesters declared their opposition to supreme court rulings challenging the Orthodox establishment's monopoly on marriage, divorce and other religious and social issues. [More>>aljazeera.net]
06.18.10 Iraq car bombs kill six, wound 82
KIRKUK, Iraq (AfP) June 18 - Two car bombs targeting a provincial councillor and a police officer north of Baghdad on Friday killed six people and wounded 82, many of them women or children, police said. The six dead came in a bombing in the town of Tuz Khurmatu and targeted the home of Niazar Nomaroglu, a Shiite Turkmen councillor in mainly Sunni Arab Salaheddin province, police Colonel Hussein al-Bayati said. Women and children were among the 50 people wounded in the 3:45pm (1245 GMT) bombing, which severely damaged several surrounding houses as well as Nomaroglu's home, Bayati said. It was unclear whether the councillor was among the casualties. "This attack bears all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda," the police colonel said. Salaheddin province has its headquarters in heavily Sunni Arab Tikrit, hometown of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein, but the province also has Kurdish and Shiite Turkmen minorities, particularly on its eastern margins. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
06.18.10 Two American troops killed in Afghan insurgent attack
June 18 - Two coalition service members died in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan on Friday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said. The ISAF said the two troops were American. [>cnn.com]
06.18.10 Turkey: May air raid killed 100 Kurdish rebels
ANKARA, June 18 - Kurdish rebels declare expanded war on Turkey. Turkey's military said Friday it killed as many as 120 Kurdish rebels in an air raid on rebel hideouts in northern Iraq last month and a day long incursion by elite commandos into Iraq this week. Kurdish rebels have dramatically stepped up attacks in Turkey in recent months in an escalation that poses a dire threat to a remarkable attempt at ending one of the world's longest guerrilla wars. The Turkish military responded to the rebels by sending its warplanes across the Iraqi border to bomb Kurdish rebel positions after acquiring intelligence, apparently from the United States and recently purchased drones from Israel. The rebels have long used northern Iraq as a springboard for hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets in a campaign for autonomy in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast. Several past Turkish air raids and incursions have failed to stop rebel infiltration through the mountainous border. Maj. Gen. Fahri Kir, the head of the military's internal security operations, said another 30 Kurdish rebels were killed inside Turkey since March in anti-rebel operations. He said the Turkish losses were 43 in the same period.
06.18.10 Thousands protest in Kosovo against hijab ban
PRISTINA (Reuters) June 18 - Kosovo govt bans pupils from wearing hijab in schools. Around 5,000 people protested in Kosovo on Friday against a government decision to ban pupils from wearing Muslim headscarves (hijab) in public schools. Around 90 percent of Kosovo's population are Muslims but the former Serbian province, which declared independence in 2008, remains a largely secular country. Protesters, who came to the capital from all over the country, urged the government to withdraw its decision and not to "discriminate against Muslims." "We will continue the protests until they will allow our daughters to go to school with headscarves," said organizer Halil Kastrati. Angry protesters with banners that read "Don't use our state against us" and "Communism is over" marched to the ministry of education, which had approved the ban. "This is not a uniform but my religious obligation. I respect my religion but I also want to go to my faculty," said student Fitore Abazi. Kosovo has so far been recognized by 69 countries, mainly in Western Europe, the United States and a few Muslim countries, but has not become a member of the United Nations. Serbia opposes its independence and has filed a suit to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. [>alarabiya.net]
06.16.10 BP not winning friends among 'the small people' of the Gulf
VENICE, La. (AP) June 16 - The "small people" of the Gulf Coast have a humongous message for oil giant BP: They're tired of the company's big-time executives making insensitive comments. On Wednesday, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told reporters in Washington: "I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people." He later said he was very sorry for speaking "clumsily." Orange Beach, Ala., Mayor Tony Kennon laughed when he heard Svanberg's remark. "They can call me small, miniature, they can call me anything they want. Just write the check and send it to us," he said.
06.16.10 US Congressmen express ire toward Turkey
WASHINGTON, June 16 - "Turkey is responsible for the deaths" in Gaza flotilla incident. US Congressmen ratcheted up their criticism of Turkey Wednesday, warning that Ankara was risking its historically warm ties with Congress by reaching toward Iran and breaking with Israel. In a press conference defending Israel’s raid on a Turkish-flagged aid ship trying to break the Gaza blockade, several dozen of whose passengers had ties to terror organizations, numerous members of Congress turned their ire toward Turkey. "Turkey is responsible for the nine deaths aboard that ship. It is not Israel that’s responsible," declared Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nevada), who pointed to Turkish funding and support for the expedition. "If Israel is at fault in any way, it’s by falling into the trap that was set for them by Turkey."
haaretz.com, June 16, "Israel adds Turkish organizers of Gaza flotilla to terror watch list" : Israel calls Lebanese and Iranian attempts to break siege 'hostile'; IHH tells European Parliament members it has assembled six ships for flotilla to sail next month. Israel on Wednesday added to its terror watch list the Turkish pro-Palestinian group that sent an aid flotilla to Gaza last month, and issued stern warnings to Lebanese and Iranian organizers of similar aid ships, Israeli media reported. The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH) told members of the European Parliament it had assembled six ships for the next flotilla and put out an appeal for others to join its bid to break the Israeli blockade after its last convoy was the target of the Israeli raid in May.
khaleejtimes.com (AFP) June 16, "Turkish flotilla organizers to send more Gaza ships" : BRUSSELS - A Turkish pro-Palestinian group said on Wednesday it will send another aid flotilla to Gaza next month, again trying to break an Israeli blockade after its last convoy was the target of a deadly Israeli raid in May. The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH) told members of the European Parliament it had assembled six ships for the next flotilla and put out an appeal for others to join. Its last flotilla was intercepted off the coast of Gaza on May 31. Clashes broke out on one of the ships as Israeli commandos boarded it to enforce a blockade, and in fighting that followed Israeli forces shot dead nine Turkish men. The next flotilla is due to sail in the second half of July, IHH said. The group invited the international media to inspect all goods on board before the convoy sails to "demonstrate their commitment to total transparency." Israel says the IHH has links to Muslim militants, which the group denies...
06.16.10 Turkish troops enter northern Iraq
June 16 - Turkey has sent hundreds of troops into northern Iraq to chase fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in an operation likely to increase tensions within the region. The soldiers killed four fighters escaping after a failed attack on a Turkish unit near the border, Turkey's military said. The army did not say when their troops would withdraw, saying the soldiers were remaining in northern Iraq, supported by Turkish warplanes. The Kurdistan regional goverment in northern Iraq has condemned similar cross-border attacks in the past, saying they violate Iraq's sovereignty...More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in violence since the PKK launched its armed struggle against the Turkish state in 1984. [Full story>>aljazeera.net]
06.16.10 Iran tests Iraqi resolve at the border
ALI RASH, Iraq, June 16 - This remote village high in the rugged mountains between Iraq and Iran has been deserted, its people having fled Iranian air and artillery bombardments with everything they could carry and whatever livestock that could be coaxed down the steep mountain trails. Now the hundreds of Kurds who left Ali Rash and other mountain villages are living in sweltering refugee camp tents. They are at the center of questions about whether Iraq is willing or able to defend its borders with Iran — which has repeatedly breached the frontier in recent months. The attacks on Ali Rash and at least a dozen other Kurdish villages have continued for more than a month and have included a foray by Iranian tanks one mile into Iraqi territory. But they have elicited only a tepid protest from Iraq's government, including the release of a statement pleading with neighboring countries to honor its borders. The Iranian government has said its bombing campaigns are necessary to weaken Kurdish guerrillas that strike in Iran and take refuge in Iraq. The only confirmed casualty has been a 14-year-old girl. [More>>nytimes.com]
06.16.10 US Treasury imposes new sanctions on Iran
WASHINGTON (Reuters) June 16 - The US Treasury on Wednesday announced new sanctions on Iran to curb its nuclear program, including blacklisting a state-controlled bank, companies that are fronts for the state shipping line, and the air force and missile commands of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. The actions are the first set of US measures to implement the latest round of United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran approved last week. They prohibit US transactions with the blacklisted entities and seek to freeze any assets they may have under US jurisdiction. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a news briefing that more actions to increase financial pressure on Iran would be taken in coming weeks. "We will continue to target Iran's support for terrorist organizations. We will continue to focus on Iran's Revolutionary Guard," he said. "And we will continue to expose Iran's efforts to evade international sanctions."
06.16.10 OIC wants UN action on West's 'islamophobia'
GENEVA (Reuters) June 16 - States want investigation into Western media on religion. Muslim states said on Wednesday that what they call "islamophobia" is sweeping the West and its media and demanded that the United Nations take tougher action against it. Delegates from Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Egypt, told the United Nations Human Rights Council that treatment of Muslims in Western countries amounted to racism and discrimination and must be fought. "People of Arab origin face new forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance and experience discrimination and marginalization," an Egyptian delegate said, according to a UN summary. And Pakistan, speaking for the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the council's special investigator into religious freedom should look into such racism "especially in Western societies." Acting for the OIC, Pakistan has tabled a resolution at the council instructing its special investigator on religious freedom "to work closely with mass media organizations to ensure that they create and promote an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for religious and cultural diversity." The OIC — and its allies in the 47-nation council including Russia, China and Cuba — dub criticism of Muslim practices and linking of terrorism waged under the proclaimed banner of Islamism as "islamophobia" that pillories all Muslims. [More>>alarabiya.net; See related stories,
06.16.10 French base in Abu Dhabi seeks exemption from Sharia law
June 16 -The French military base in Abu Dhabi has been hailed as a historic first in a region of strategic importance. But the question of whether Sharia laws should apply on it has left French and Emirati officials bogged down in frantic negotiations. Dubbed the "Peace Camp," the French military base is situated in Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE (United Arab Emirates). In terms of geopolitical real estate, the French military could not have secured a more strategic site: the base lies on the banks of the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, through which 40 percent of the region's oil shipments pass. More critically, across the narrow waterway lies Iran, a country that has expressed its strong disapproval over the French military presence in its backyard. But a year after its much celebrated inauguration, a problem seems to have arisen between the French military officials and their new hosts, one that is still being frantically resolved. On Wednesday, the leading French daily, Le Monde, reported that intense negotiations between French and Abu Dhabi officials were underway to ensure that Abu Dhabi laws, essentially Islamic or Sharia laws, do not apply to French military personnel and their families stationed on the base. [More>>france24.com]
ANKARA (AFP) June 14 - Turkey dismissed on Monday a commission set up by Israel to probe the deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships, warning of unspecified measures if a UN-led inquiry was not carried out. "We have no trust at all that Israel, a country that has carried out such an attack on a civilian convoy in international waters, will conduct an impartial investigation," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters. "Any investigation conducted unilaterally by Israel will have no value for us," he said. Turkey insists that the May 31 raid, in which eight Turks and a dual Turkish-US national were killed, be investigated by a commission "under the direct control of the United Nations... an impartial one with the participation of Turkey and Israel," he said. "To have a defendant acting simultaneously as both prosecutor and judge is not compatible with any principle of law.
06.14.10 US finds vast Afghan mineral riches
June 14 - Afghanistan has nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits, according to a US study. A report in the New York Times said previously unknown reserves of lithium, iron, gold, niobium, cobalt and other minerals could transform the impoverished country into one of the world's most lucrative mining centres. "There is stunning potential here," General David Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, told the paper in an article published on Monday. "There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant." The New York Times was reporting the final results of a study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and a Pentagon task force, initiated in 2006. It quoted a Pentagon memo as saying Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and mobile phones. Afghanistan's potential lithium deposits are as large of those of Bolivia, which currently has the world's largest known reserves of the metal. The iron and copper deposits are also large enough to make Afghanistan one of the world's leading producers, US officials said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
06.14.10 Barcelona to ban burqa in municipal buildings
MADRID (AP) June 14 - Mayor says decision not specifically religious. Barcelona is to become the first major Spanish city to bar the use of face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings. City Mayor Jordi Hereu announced the measure Monday but insisted it was not specifically religious. He says it is aimed at all dress that impedes identification, and thus includes motorcycle helmets and ski masks. Lleida, also in the Spanish region of Catalonia, last month became the first Spanish city to regulate use of body-covering burqas or face-covering niqab garments. Authorities in several European countries have been debating regulating the use of burqas in recent months. Barcelona town hall said the measure was largely symbolic given that it is unusual to see women wearing burqas or niqabs in the city, which has a population of 1.5 million. [>alarabiya.net]
06.14.10 World Blog: Pakistani wanted by US is killed by explosives
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, June 14 - Pakistani militant commander, Qari Zafar, who was allegedly involved in the attack on the US consulate in Karachi on March 2, 2002, was killed by an explosive in North Waziristan a few days ago. The United States had announced $5 million award for his capture. Zafar belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and was wanted by the government for several terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including masterminding the Marriott Hotel bombing. His close aides confirmed he was killed as he touched some explosives dumped inside his guesthouse. Militant sources said a meeting of Punjabi Taliban was in progress in North Waziristan to choose his replacement. [>worldblog.msnbc.msn.com]
06.14.10 Ten extremists killed in Orakzai
HANGU, JUne 14 - At least ten extremists were killed in the bombardment by the security forces’ fighter jets in various areas of Orakzai Agency, Geo News reported Monday. According to sources, the fighter aircrafts pounded the hideouts of extremists in the Orakzai Agency's areas of Shahdala, Ghandai Mela and Nek Kot, killing at least ten extremists and injuring various others. Also, three hideouts were destroyed in the action. It should be mentioned that the security forces are busy with the operation in the Agency against the extremists with a total death toll of 1300 extremists thus far. [>thenews.com.pk]
06.14.10 Colombian troops rescue fourth rebel-held hostage
June 14 - A Colombian police officer seized 12 years ago by rebels has been found alive in the jungle, hours after three fellow hostages were rescued. Lt. Col. William Donato had fled in the confusion as troops attacked a Farc guerrilla camp to free the hostages in southern Guaviare province. The four men, all held since 1998, were due to be flown to Bogota later in the day. Their rescue came just days before the second round of the presidential poll. It is believed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) are still holding 19 members of the security forces whom they want to swap for some 500 jailed guerrillas. [More>>bbc.co.uk]