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07.09.10 PM: Peace plan possible by end of '11

July 9 - Netanyahu: We need Palestinian partnership; Obama woos on channel 2. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Council of Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday that all core issues could be discussed in direct negotiations, and that if it were up to him, a peace deal with the Palestinians could be signed by the end of 2011. "If it's up to me, we'll have an agreement," Netanyahu said. But he stressed that an accord would require a willing and able partner in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. While he expressed a reluctance to criticize Abbas, Netanyahu said, "I tend to confound the critics and the skeptics, but I need a partner. You can't go out on a trapeze, hold out your hand and not have a partner on the other side."

Netanyahu implied he would not extend the moratorium on settlements, due to expire on September 26, saying Israel had already shown its good faith, and  decried the position that a moratorium extension should be a precondition for peace talks. "Nobody's going to deliver an agreement or a settlement from the outset," the prime minister said. "If they're waiting for that, I think that's a big mistake. We're prepared to talk about everything."

...Obama said Netanyahu would attest “that the US under my administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any administration in history, and we have greater security cooperation between our two countries than at any time in our history. And the single most important threat to Israel — Iran — has been my No. 1 foreign policy priority over the last 18 months. So it's hard, I think, to look at that track record, and look at my public statements, and in any way think my passion for Israel's survival, security and its people are in any way diminished."

...In an answer to a question about peace negotiations, Netanyahu alluded obliquely to a possibility that neighborhoods within Jerusalem itself would be up for discussion in the context of peace talks. "Everybody knows that there are Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that under any peace plan will remain where they are," Netanyahu said, implying that there could be Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem that might not remain under Israeli rule.

Netanyahu said he had told Obama that he wanted to see a demilitarized Palestinian state that would recognize the State of Israel. "We don't want to govern the Palestinians," Netanyahu said he had stated to Obama. "We want to make sure that they have their own independent, dignified life, but that they don't threaten the State of Israel." He told the group that he had expressed his concern to Obama that areas previously vacated in an attempt to make peace were now being used as staging grounds for terror attacks against Israel.
“Strike one was withdrawal from Lebanon. Strike two: withdrawal from Gaza,” Netanyahu said. “We cannot have a strike three.” [More>>jpost.com; other details affecting the peace of Jerusalem are listed in Maravot News, "The Allah Controversy."

07.09.10 Israeli military publishes images of alleged Hezbollah arms cache

(AFP) July 9 - The Israeli military has published a series of images that it claims proves Lebanon's Shiite militant group Hezbollah is stockpiling weapons in towns and villages along the border. The Israeli military has published a series of aerial photographs of south Lebanon showing what it says is evidence of Hezbollah stockpiling weapons in towns and villages near the border. Israel declassified the intelligence just days ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Lebanon war, in what a military official said was a move to expose the Lebanese militia's "use of civilians as human shields." The images and maps show what the military says are bunkers and arms caches located in the middle of Al-Khiam village, only four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the border.

One heavily marked up aerial photograph shows 15 buildings in the middle of the village which the military says are being used as weapons stores, bunkers and operational headquarters for the Shiite militant group. Also marked on the map are schools, hospitals and other public buildings, some just a few hundred metres (yards) from the alleged weapons caches. "They have warehouses of rockets near mosques, schools, medical centres, in the middle of villages, and they look like any other building," Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovitz told AFP on Thursday. "They have taken the term human shields to a new extreme." Leibovitz said the intelligence material showed a shift in tactics by Hezbollah which, during the war, largely stored its arms in rural areas or forests along the border.

07.09.10 Libyan ship to sail for Gaza

July 9 - Organization headed by Gaddafi's son to send blockade busting vessel. The Libyan Embassy in Greece announced that a ship carrying humanitarian aid from Libya and Greece to Gaza is scheduled to set sail from Greece on Friday, AFP reported. The ship, which will carry large amounts of food and medicine, is being funded by an organization headed by the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Moldova-flagged cargo ship Amalthea will leave no later than Saturday from the port of Lavrio, south of Athens, carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies, officials from the organization told The Associated Press. There will be 27 people on board.

Amalthea's journey to Gaza is expected to take up to 80 hours. Aid on the Amalthea included sacks of rice and sugar, and corn oil and olive paste mostly donated from Greek companies and charities, organizers said. The ship will also carry pro-Palestinian activists who are interested in breaking the blockade of Gaza. "I am scared, but our lives are in God's hands," head volunteer Adburaufel Jaziri said. "Our job is to help anyone who needs it. We don't care if they are Catholics or Muslims or whatever. Now we are helping the people of Gaza who are suffering." Israel "can check our cargo and certificates, of course they are free to do this," Jaziri said. "If we cannot deliver the aid, we will let (Israel) deliver it."

07.09.10 176 kg of explosives found at Let hideout in Kashmir

JAMMU, July 9 - Security forces on Friday recovered a huge dump of explosives weighing 176 kgs from a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) hideout unearthed in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the biggest cache of explosives recovered in the state this year, an army officer said. Acting on a tip-off, troops of 11 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Task Force launched a search operation in Chatroo in Kishtwar district and busted the LeT hideout, he said. The troops recovered 176 kgs of explosives from there, which included 75 kgs of explosive material packed in two bags, six IEDs weighing 15 kgs each (90 kgs of explosives), 75 gelatin sticks, 23 grenades, 12 bore rifles and various other materials, the officer said. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,

indianexpress.com, July 9, "LeT a potent threat to US: Report" : WASHINGTON - Raised by Pakistan's ISI for its proxy operations against India, Lashkar-e-Taiba has now become the largest terror group operating in the sub-continent and it also poses a potent threat to the United States, an American think-tank has said. "Its threat stems from the large and diverse pool of recruits willing and able to engage in acts of terrorism, its increasing cooperation with other global terrorist groups, and its ability to operate virtually unfettered by Pakistani authorities," said Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) in its latest report on LeT. It said while Americans may be shocked to see a naturalized citizen so deeply involved in wanton bloodletting, but the prosecution of David Headley is merely the latest in a string of cases tied to LeT since 2001.

"While all the cases vary in terms of targets and means, they are bound by Lashkar's willingness to train Westerners in violent jihad. And the threat is only exacerbated by the fact that Westerners are increasingly interested in joining ranks with Islamist militants," IPT said in its 51-page investigative report. Demonstrative of the growing reach of Lashkar is a series of criminal prosecutions of Americans for their involvement with the terrorist group, it said. LeT was designed to provide Pakistan's military with a proxy force of militant recruits to augment the Islamic insurgency in Kashmir. Even today, the primary focus of the organization remains the "liberation" of Kashmir, it said. Ever since its creation, Lashkar has relied on an extensive network of private and public backers for financial support and political cover. [end]

Maravot News stories: 07.09.10 3 NATO troops and Afghan police official killed and related story on capture of Taliban commander; and 7.06.10 Pakistan bans 23 militant outfits.

07.09.10 France denies citizenship to Muslim man

PARIS (AFP) July 9 - Man failed to assimilate into French society: authorities. A Moroccan man who refused to shake hands with a French female official and whose wife wears the full Islamic veil has been denied French citizenship, the immigration ministry said Friday. The man, who has been living in France since 1999 and married a French woman in 2004, failed to "assimilate into French society" and displayed a "discriminatory attitude toward women," said the ministry. He "refused to shake the hand of a female official whom he met at the state prefecture because it was 'against his religion,' " said a statement. The man's wife wore the full veil and only agreed to uncover herself in a room where no men would be present, the statement added. The decision was announced a few days before the National Assembly is to vote on a bill banning the full-face Islamic veil as part of what the government has described as an effort to assert French values. [>alarabiya.net]

07.09.10 Norway claims al-Qaeda cell had links to New York subway bomb plot

July 9 - Alleged operatives were arrested earlier than planned for fear of the investigation being revealed in the media. Three suspected members of al-Qaeda were arrested in Norway and Germany yesterday in connection with what Norwegian police said was a bomb plot organized by the same planners behind attempts to target the New York subway and a shopping centre in Manchester. Police believe that the suspects were intending to use bombs made out of peroxide to produce a powerful explosive that could be easily carried to a target. Officials would not say what the suspected target was. US prosecutors said the Norwegian case is linked to failed bomb plots last year in Manchester and against the New York underground transport system.

Forces in both countries claim that the Norwegian plot was organized by Saale al-Somali, named as al-Qaeda's late chief of foreign operations. He was killed by a drone strike in north-west Pakistan last year, but was mentioned in US court documents as being behind the US subway plot. Two men have pleaded guilty of planning to detonate explosives during the rush hour. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has called it one of the most serious plots since 9/11. Two of the three men, whose names have not been released, were arrested near Oslo, and one was held in Duisburg, Germany, according to the head of the Norwegian security police, Janne Kristiansen. She said the suspects had been under surveillance for a year and were all Norwegian residents. Even though it was not clear if Norway was the target, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, has called for attacks on Norway, among other countries.

07.09.10 Human rights court halts Hamza extradition

July 9 - Human rights judges today ordered a halt to the extraditions of Babar Ahmad and radical preacher Abu Hamza, both wanted in the US on terror charges. The Strasbourg court said it wanted more time to examine possible human rights breaches if the men face trial on charges which could mean life sentences without parole. Ahmad, a 36-year old computer expert, has been in a UK prison without trial for nearly six years, refused bail since his arrest in August 2004 on a US extradition warrant. Radical preacher Hamza is also wanted on terror charges in the US. [More>>independent.co.uk]

07.09.10 Prisoner swap in Vienna ends US-Russia espionage case

VIENNA, July 9 - In a seeming flashback to the cold war, Russian and American officials traded prisoners in the bright sunlight on the tarmac of Vienna’s international airport on Friday, bringing to a quick end an episode that had threatened to disrupt relations between the countries. Planes carrying 10 convicted Russian sleeper agents and 4 men accused by Moscow of spying for the West swooped into the Austrian capital, once a hub of clandestine East-West maneuvering, and the men and women were transferred, the Justice Department said. The planes soon took off again in a coda fitting of an espionage novel. The first sign that the exchange — one of the biggest in over two decades — was under way came as a Vision Airlines jet carrying the Russian agents deported from the United States touched down and taxied to park only a matter of yards from the Russian plane from Moscow’s Emergencies Ministry... Then, more than an hour later, with little fanfare and no formal announcement from either side, the Russian-flagged plane took off into clear blue skies, closely followed by the American airplane. News reports on Friday said that the American plane had landed at a British military base in central England and later that the Russian plane had arrived in Moscow. [More>>nytimes.com]

07.09.10 Woman convicted of adultery will not be stoned but may still be put to death, Iran says

July 8 - An Iranian woman convicted of adultery will not be stoned to death but may still face execution in the Islamic Republic, Iran's embassy in London announced Thursday. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 42, a mother of two, was found guilty of adultery in 2006. She has already spent five years in prison and endured 99 lashes for her illicit relationship with two men, but she still is condemned to be put to death. On Thursday, Iran's embassy in the UK issued a press release saying Ashtiani will not be stoned, but it gave no indication that her life will be spared. [More>>foxnews.com; See related stories,

cnn.com, July 9, "Quran doesn't call for stoning, experts insist" : International outcry - and the pleas of a devoted son - seem to have saved an Iranian woman from being stoned to death for adultery. But while Sakineh Mohammedie Ashitani has been granted a reprieve, she is not the only woman sentenced to be stoned for adultery in Iran. There have been at least six sentences carried out since 2006, says Ann Harrison, an Iran expert at Amnesty International in London. Adultery is the only crime that carries such a penalty in Iranian law, she said. Only a handful of countries have laws calling for stoning, and Iran is the only one that carries out executions that way, Amnesty International records suggest. That is because Islam doesn't really want the punishment to be carried out, says Ziba Mir-Hosseini, an Iranian-born campaigner against the practice.

"Stoning is not a Quranic punishment, it is Islamic jurisprudence. It happened later," says Mir-Hosseini, an expert on Iranian family law at London's School of Oriental and African Studies. "The punishment for any kind of sexual relations (outside of marriage) in the Quran is 100 lashes," she says. Stoning is based on sayings from the Prophet Mohammed, known collectively as the hadith, says Mohammed Ali Musawi, a research fellow at the Quilliam Foundation, which describes itself as an "anti-extremist think tank." Under the letter of Islamic law, it's nearly impossible to prove adultery, he says. "How you prove adultery or fornication is to have four male witnesses
or two women for every male equivalent all of them known to be upright, with no questions about their moral character, who witnessed the actual act of intercourse between the male and the female," he says...

guardian.co.uk, July 9, 'Iran imposes media blackout over stoning sentence woman"
: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani will not be stoned, the regime has said, but family fear she will be hanged instead. Iran has imposed a media blackout over the case of a 43-year-old mother of two who was sentenced to be stoned to death and whose fate is still unclear despite an apparent "reprieve." Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is still facing execution by hanging after being convicted of adultery, her son told the Guardian today. Newspapers, agencies and TV channels in Iran have been banned from reporting Mohammadi Ashtiani's death sentence, despite an international campaign launched by her children, which has been joined by politicians and celebrities from all over the world...

Related hadith: [USC Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement]: The Book Pertaining to Punishments Prescribed by Islam (Kitab Al-Hudud)


'Ubada b. as-Samit reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Receive (teaching) from me, receive (teaching) from me. Allah has ordained a way for those (women). When an unmarried male commits adultery with an unmarried female (they should receive) one hundred lashes and banishment for one year. And in case of married male committing adultery with a married female, they shall receive one hundred lashes and be stoned to death.

07.09.10 Scores dead in Pakistan bomb blasts

July 9 - A suicide attack outside the office of a senior government official in Pakistan's northwest has killed up to 62 people and wounded at least 107 more, government and hospital officials say. Rasool Khan, the region's assistant political agent, said two bombers struck on Friday after people had gathered around his office, in the Mohmand tribal area along the Afghanistan border. The attack, which took place in a commercial neighbourhood, follows fresh campaigns by security forces against Pakistani Taliban fighters in recent weeks. "There were two blasts. The first one was small but the second was a big one," Khan told the Reuters news agency. An administration official, Mehraj Khan, had earlier described the incident as a suicide attack, but there were no details available on how the second blast happened. [More>>aljazeera.net; See other details,

alarabiya.net, July 9, "Suicide attacks kill 55 in Pakistan tribal areas" : PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A suicide bomber and a suspected car bomb caused carnage outside the office of a senior government official in Pakistan's northwest on Friday, killing 55 people and burying victims under pulverized shops. The devastation struck Yakaghund town in the district of Mohmand, one of seven that make up Pakistan's northwest tribal belt that Washington has branded a global headquarters of al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth...

thenews.com.pk, July 9, "Mohmand suicide attack claims 65 lives" : PESHAWAR: The death toll of Mohmand Agency suicide attack has mounted to 65 whereas more than 73 sustained injuries...Four personnel of [the] Khasadar Force are also included among the dead. According to sources, several prisoners have..escaped after the blast that damaged the jail building...

07.09.10 3 NATO troops and Afghan police official killed

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 9 - Three international troops died in insurgent attacks and a senior Afghan police official was assassinated, officials said Thursday as violence spiraled across the country. NATO also said it captured a suspected Taliban-linked supplier of bomb-making materials overnight in an eastern province, as the international security force steps up operations in the south and east, boosted by thousands of new American troops sent to try to turn around the nearly 9-year-old war. The force said an American service member was killed by an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday. Two other service members, whose nationalities were not released, died in separate roadside bomb attacks in the south. No other details were available. So far this month, 22 international troops have died in Afghanistan. Last month was the deadliest for foreign forces since the war began, with 103 killed, including 60 Americans. [More>>japantoday.com; See related story,

khaleejtimes.com (AP) July 9, "Taleban commandere captured as NATO ramps up raids"
: KABUL - International and Afghan troops captured a Taliban commander responsible for bringing Pakistani militants across the border to launch attacks, the alliance said Friday as US-led forces ratchet up their pursuit of insurgent leaders. The coalition is touting a string of successes in capturing or killing dozens of key militant leaders since April, but so far it has not managed to reduce violent insurgent attacks across the country. On Friday, an explosion ripped into a convoy of NATO and Afghan forces in an eastern province, killing one civilian and wounding nine others. Last month was also the most deadly of the nearly 9-year-old war for international troops, with 103 foreign forces killed.

President Barack Obama has sent 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan to carry out the war’s counterinsurgency strategy, which focuses on securing the Afghan population and reversing Taliban gains. While international forces patrol new areas to try to protect the population, their comrades in special forces, working with elite Afghan commandos, have been staging raids almost every night trying to weaken the insurgents’ operational capacity. On Tuesday, coalition and Afghan special forces arrested a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Nangarhar, NATO said Friday. The alliance said the man — whom it would not identify for security reasons — facilitated a recent influx of operatives for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militia accused in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and suspected in a string of more recent attacks in Afghanistan...

07.09.10 Baghdad attacks kill 12 Shiite pilgrims

BAGHDAD, July 9 - Iraq Shiite pilgrims trudge on as bombs continue. At least 12 people were killed by bombs targeting pilgrims taking part in the final day of a Shiite religious holiday that draws hundreds of thousands of people to Baghdad, Iraqi officials said. The attacks followed a suicide bombing and roadside bombs on Wednesday evening which killed 36 and wounded hundreds, many of them as they passed through Sunni areas of the Iraqi capital to the shrine in a northern district for a religious rite. "These explosions are expected," said Farqad Faiq, 21, a college student. "We know we will be targeted but that will not prevent us from affirming our faith and insisting on visiting the shrines of our imams. These explosions will increase our determination to stick to our principles." Hundreds of thousands of Shiites, Iraq's majority sect, have been streaming through Baghdad for days to commemorate the death of the Shiites holy man, Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. The rite peaks on Thursday. [More>>alarabiya.net]

07.09.10 UN condemns attack on S. Korean ship

July 9 - The UN Security Council has adopted a president's statement condemning a deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors, but the statement did not directly blame North Korea. "The Security Council condemns the attack which led to the sinking of the Cheonan," said the presidential statement. Consequently, it calls for "appropriate and peaceful measures to be taken against those responsible for the incident." But the statement fails to identify exactly who is responsible, although it mentions that it expresses concern in view of the findings of an investigation that South Korea led concluding that North Korea was culpable for the Cheonan incident. [More>>koreaherald.com]

07.09.10 Viva Espana! Paul picks Spain to win World Cup

July 9 - Paul the 'psychic' octopus has predicted Spain will triumph in the World Cup final against the Dutch. The animal oracle, who has correctly forecast the winner of every match played by Germany, has backed the side to win Sunday's much anticipated game in Johannesburg. From his home at an aquarium in the German city of Oberhausen, he made his prediction by picking a mussel from a choice of two boxes, each emblazoned with a team's flag. Predicting who will take third place, Paul confidently chose Germany to beat Uruguay. However, the octopus faces growing competition from Singapore's animal oracle, a parakeet named Mani. The 13-year-old bird has become something of a local celebrity after his owner claimed he correctly predicted the winners for the four quarter-final places. Mani also forecast Spain's semi-final win over Germany by choosing between cards printed with the countries' flags, said his owner M Muniyappan, who runs a fortune-telling stall. Crucially, the parakeet has picked the Netherlands as the World Cup final winner. [More w/ videos>>news.sky.com]

07.09.10 Traces found of the earliest Britons from 900,000 years ago

July 9 - Mammoths trampled the undergrowth, giant elk stalked the land, and hyenas and sabre-toothed cats took no hostages. This was normal for Norfolk 800,000 years ago, according to scientists who have found the earliest evidence of human settlement in Britian. Excavations on a Norfolk beach near the village of Happisburgh have unearthed more than 70 flint tools that had been honed by the first-known prehistoric people to live in Britain. The stone tools have been dated to between 1 million and 800,000 years old. Scientists said the flint tools were probably used by these early Britons for cutting meat or piercing animal skins. Until the discovery of the tools, there was little evidence to suggest that prehistoric humans of this period lived further north than the Alps and the Pyrenees. No human fossils have yet been uncovered from the site so scientists do not yet know which species of prehistoric human lived there, but they believe the most likely candidate was homo antecessor, or "Pioneer Man," who was living at about the same time in caves on the Iberian peninsula. [More>>independent.co.uk]

07.07.10 Scottish sheep farms finally free of Chernobyl fallout

July 7 - It happened 24 years ago and more than 1,300 miles away from the UK. But, for the sheep farmers of Scotland, the effects from the fallout from Chernobyl have only just ended. An announcement that the industry is finally free of the radioactive material which forced many of its upland farms to be placed under Food Standards Agency (FSA) restrictions has been hailed as "a blessed relief." Some Scottish farmers have been unable to slaughter, sell or even move their livestock without stringent testing and government pre-approval for the past 24 years. Many of the owners of the original 9,700 UK farms affected are, even now, reluctant to talk about their fight to survive in the aftermath of the 1986 disaster, because of the possible stigma attached. But one, Robert Morris-Eyton, 48, whose family has owned Beckside Farm on the Furness Peninsula for more than 50 years, told The Independent of the strains caused by restrictions he could not be sure would ever be lifted.

"There was considerable uncertainty following the incident because we did not know when or even if we would be able to sell livestock again. It was a worrying time; the whole concept was new to us and it took a lot of adjustment on my farm. Imagine facing the possibility of your livelihood effectively being suspended," he said. The FSA announced a couple of weeks ago that the last Scottish farm had been declared free of radioactive material. But in north Wales, 330 farms remain restricted, along with eight in Cumbria. Before farmers in restricted areas can sell or move any of their livestock, they must have each animal tested. David Ellwood, 53, who owns Baskell Farm in western Cumbria, is still under FSA restrictions. "I was told they would only last a week, but 24 years later we are still dealing with it," he said.

"It has been going on long enough now and really does seem ridiculous. The other farmers are tired of it, too. But I'm hopeful that because Scotland has had the restrictions lifted we will soon follow. "It has been a real struggle for us because our daily lives are just that much harder; I can't take my sheep to auction as others can. Instead, I have to ring the FSA two or three days in advance. They take three readings of each sheep I want to take to auction, which seems excessive to me," he said.

Concern was raised after heavy rain was thought to have washed the radioactive substance caesium-137 on to upland farms in western Scotland, north-west England and Wales. In the Chernobyl disaster, a series of explosions in a nuclear power plant in what is now the Ukraine sent plumes of radioactive material spewing out over the surrounding area. Large parts of the Ukraine and nearby Belarus were evacuated and a 19-mile "Zone of Alienation" was set up to keep people away from the worst-affected areas. The city of Chernobyl is said to be the largest ghost town in the world. The UK government's food watchdog monitored the levels of radioactivity in live sheep and began lifting restrictions where it was was deemed there was a low enough risk to the public, set at 1,000 becquerels per kilogram in sheep meat.

...Two factors led to the imposition of restrictions on the sale and movement of some flocks of sheep in Britain soon after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, which sent a radioactive plume over much of north-west Europe. First, heavy rain over the uplands of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England led to the radioactive elements in the plume being washed to the ground. Secondly, the poor, peaty soils of these upland areas meant that radioactive caesium-137 in the fallout cloud was taken up by plants rather than being locked safely away in the structure of the soil itself.

* Caesium-137 is considered a health hazard because it can easily enter the food chain and be taken up by the body. Sheep grazing on upland grass especially in the summer months are likely in the worst-affected regions to build up levels of caesium-137 that exceed the limit of 1,000 Becquerels per kilogram of sheep meat set by the European Commission in 1986.
[Full story>>independent.co.uk]

07.07.10 27,000 abandoned Gulf oil wells may be leaking

NEW ORLEANS (AP) July 7 - AP investigation reveals Feds' lax monitoring of old wells, thousands of which only have temporary plugs. More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one not industry, not government is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows. The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing. The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells those characterized in federal government records as "temporarily abandoned."

Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s
even though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.

As a forceful reminder of the potential harm, the well beneath BP's Deepwater Horizon rig was being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment when it blew April 20, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation's history. BP alone has abandoned about 600 wells in the Gulf, according to government data... records reviewed by the AP show that some offshore wells have failed...at abandoned wells in shallow state waters of Louisiana and Texas. The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
which oversees wells in federal waters also acknowledged Tuesday that it has dealt with "a few" failed abandoned wells farther out in the Gulf. [Full story>>cbsnews.com]

07.07.10 UAE. diplomat mulls hit on Iran's nukes

ASPEN, Colo. July 7- Prefers strike to armed foe. The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the benefits of bombing Iran's nuclear program outweigh the short-term costs such an attack would impose. In unusually blunt remarks, Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba publicly endorsed the use of the military option for countering Iran's nuclear program, if sanctions fail to stop the country's quest for nuclear weapons. "I think it's a cost-benefit analysis," Mr. al-Otaiba said. "I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion ... "If you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?,' my answer is still the same: 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.' I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the UAE." Mr. al-Otaiba made his comments in response to a question after a public interview session with the Atlantic magazine at the Aspen Ideas Festival here. They echo those of some Arab diplomats who have said similar things in private to their American counterparts but never this bluntly in public. The remarks surprised many in the audience. [More>>washingtontimes.com;See related stories,

alarabiya.net, July 7, "Iran to limit trade with UAE: official"
: TEHRAN - Decision in response to bank accounts freeze. The Iran-UAE Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday that Iran reduced its trade ties with the UAE following the latter's decision to freeze 41 Iranian bank accounts. Masoud Daneshmand, Head of Iran-UAE Chamber of Commerce, said trade ties with the UAE would be significantly reduced following the Gulf country's announcement of freezing any accounts belonging to firms listed in the latest UN sanctions against Iran. "The UAE has gone beyond the Security Council resolutions on Iran, so Iran scales down trade ties with the UAE in coming months," Daneshmand told the Iranian news agency ISNA. The entities and individuals that own the frozen bank accounts, declared by the UAE Central bank and reported by Emirates Business Journal, are allegedly assisting in the development of Iran's controversial nuclear program.

gulfnews.com, July 7, "UAE envoy's Iran statements 'taken out of context' " : UAE Foreign Ministry official says statements by the UAE ambassador to Iran were "inaccurate." ABU DHABI - The UAE yesterday reaffirmed its historical ties with Iran and stressed its respect for the sovereignty of the neighboring Islamic republic. "Iran is a neighboring country and we maintain historic relations with it," WAM quoted UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Tarek Al Haidan as saying. "The UAE respects and believes in the sovereignty of other states and in the principle of non-interference, of all forms, in their internal affairs," he added. He was commenting on a report published yesterday by US daily The Washington Times, which quoted UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousuf Al Otaiba as telling an American audience on Tuesday that his country would support an American attack on Iran to stop Tehran's nuclear programme. Al Haidan said the ambassador's statements "came as part of general discussions held on the sidelines of an unofficial gathering and were taken out of their context in which [Al] Otaiba was speaking," he said.

..."The UAE totally rejects the use of force as a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and rather calls for a solution through political means that are based on international legitimacy, transparency as well as the need to work through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the right of all states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The UAE, at the same time, believes in the need to keep the Gulf region free from nuclear weapons," Al Haidan noted...

07.07.10 Biden in Iraq: US influence shrinks, Iran gains

July 7 - In his visit to Iraq his 17th Biden seemed not to care who forms a government in Iraq. The United States isn't abandoning Iraq. Quite the reverse: Iraq is abandoning the United States, in favor of closer ties with Iran, notes Robert Dreyfuss. The good news from Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Iraq for the Fourth of July is that the United States has reaffirmed its commitment to reducing US forces to 50,000 by next month, ending the US combat role, and pulling all of its remaining forces out of Iraq by the end of next year.

That's despite pressure from hawks and neoconservatives to slow the drawdown. Of course, there is still talk about renegotiating the terms of the US withdrawal in 2011 by establishing some kind of long-term US-Iraq military agreement. Such an agreement, however, is not up to the United States alone. It will also depend on what the Iraqis think, and if Iranian influence in Iraq continues to gain strength as the US departs
as seems likely and if the United States and Iran continue to engage in a confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program and Iran's regional role, then the likelihood of a lasting US-Iraq alliance vanishes. In fact, Iraq has become a battleground for competing US and Iranian influence, and Iran has the upper hand.

In his visit to Iraq his 17th Biden seemed not to care who forms a government in Iraq. "He made it very clear that we have no candidates, we have no preferred outcomes, we have no plan," said an aide to Biden, on background, briefing reporters in Baghdad. Pressed repeatedly by reporters, the administration officials conducting the briefing refused to say anything about the kind of government they'd like to see take shape. All things being equal, however, it's clear that the United States would prefer that Iyad Allawi's secular, nationalist, and anti-Iran bloc, Iraqiya, have a major role, either leading the next government or in some sort of grand coalition with Prime Minister Maliki's State of Law/Dawa Party bloc. [More>>middle-east-online.com]

07.07.10 Terror suspect Abid Naseer held on US warrant

July 7 - The alleged leader of an al-Qaeda plot to bomb British targets, who won the right to stay in the UK, has been arrested. Abid Naseer was held after the United States issued a warrant for his arrest. A special immigration court had said Mr. Naseer, 24, was an al-Qaeda operative but could not be deported because he faced torture or death in Pakistan. He was arrested last year as part of a massive counter-terrorism operation in Liverpool and Manchester. He was among 10 Pakistani nationals arrested. The security services believed the men were planning to attack within days of their arrest, but Mr. Naseer was not charged. He is due to appear before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court later on Wednesday after the US authorities requested his extradition so that he can face trial. Mr. Naseer, who used to live in Manchester, is accused of supporting a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to use a destructive device.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Extradition Unit and the North East Counter Terrorism Unit have this afternoon arrested a man in the north-east of England. Abid Naseer, 24, has been arrested in the United Kingdom pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant issued on July 7, 2010, at the request of the United States government. Naseer's extradition is sought by the United States government for the purposes of standing trial."...he had been sending e-mails to an "al-Qaeda operative" in Pakistan
the e-mails were said to be at the heart of a plot to bomb targets in north-west England. [Full story>>bbc.co.uk; See other details,

nytimes.com, July 7, "Al-Qaeda fiigure to be indicted in subway plot"
: Federal authorities in Washington were expected to announce charges later Wednesday against an elusive and feared senior al-Qaeda figure in connection with a suicide bomb plot to attack New York City's subways, several people briefed on the matter said. The senior figure, Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah, a United States citizen who has been sought by federal authorities for seven years, and at least three other operatives will be charged in a superceding indictment expected to be unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, the people said. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because the charges had not yet been announced. In addition to Mr. Shukrijumah, three other new defendants are named in the indictment, including a man in custody in the United Kingdom, Abid Naseer. He was one of 11 men, including 10 Pakistanis, who were arrested in April 2009 in one of Britain's most extensive counterterrorism operations since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

...Another man arrested but apparently released in that April 2009 case was one of the four new defendants named in the indictment; his name was not immediately available...Law enforcement officials recently disclosed that Mr. Zazi had made contact with Mr. Shukrijumah — who spent his youth in Brooklyn — around the time he was in Pakistan's tribal areas receiving training in weapons and explosives in late 2008 and early 2009. Earlier, they had said in court that he and his co-defendants had also met with two senior Qaeda leaders in Pakistan: Saleh al-Somali, the group's head of external operations, and Rashid Rauf, a key operative. They sent the men back to New York to carry out a suicide strike...

france24.com, July 7, "New York subway bomb plot directed by al-Qaeda Pakistan leadership" : Al-Qaeda's top leadership in Pakistan directed confessed agent Najibullah Zazi in his plot to bomb the New York subway, US officials said Wednesday. In an indictment against five alleged militants, the US Justice Department revealed Zazi's plan was "directly related to a scheme by al-Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United Kingdom." The new charges "underscore the global nature of the terrorist threat we face," said prosecutor David Kris...The only al-Qaeda leader named in the new indictment is Adnan El Shukrijumah. At the time, he was key in al-Qaeda's "external operations" program and recruited Zazi for the New York operation through another of the defendants, a facilitator known alternatively as "Ahmad," "Sohaib" or "Zahid." El Shukrijumah remains a fugitive and the Justice Department noted there was a five-million-dollar reward for information leading to his arrest...

07.07.10 Pilgrims die in Iraq suicide attack

July 7 - A suicide bomber has struck a crowd of Shia pilgrims en route to a shrine, killing at least 28 people and wounding 62 others in Iraq's capital, Baghdad. Police said Wednesday's attack took place near a bridge where 1,000 Shia pilgrims died in a stampede during the same rite in 2005, after hearing rumors of a bomb. The attack occurred around 7:45pm (1645 GMT) as the pilgrims passed through the Adhamiyah neighbourhood on their way to the mausoleum of Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shia Islam. Tens of thousands of Shia worshippers streamed into the Iraqi capital earlier in the day amid heavy security for the pilgrimage, a day after six people were killed in violence. [More>>aljazeera.net]

07.07.10 Soothsayer octopus: Spain to beat Germany in World Cup semifinal

July 7 - German football fans should brace themselves for disappointment in Wednesday's World Cup semifinal against Spain, according to the latest prediction of an octopus with a knack for picking winners. Paul the octopus, a psychic cephalopod at Sea Life in Oberhausen, western Germany, has become a World Cup phenomenon after correctly predicting the victors in all five of Germany's matches so far. Tuesday's ceremony was carried live on German television. Sea Life staff help Paul make his prediction by lowering two boxes of food into his tank, one carrying a German flag and the other bearing that of their opponents. The case he opens first is adjudged to be his predicted winner. [More w/video>>cnn.com]

07.07.10 Quake victims protest in Italy, clash with police

ROME (Reuters) July 7 - Demonstrators from the quake-stricken city of L'Aquila clashed with police on Wednesday as they tried to get close to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office to demand more state help to rebuild their lives. The protest by some 5,000 people paralysed the centre of the capital and was a blow for Berlusconi, who has repeatedly presented his hands-on response to the April 2009 quake as one of the main successes of his two-year-old government. At least one person was injured as police in riot gear tried to control the crowd, which later was allowed to get closer to Berlusconi's office. Residents of L'Aquila, where more than 300 people were killed in the disaster, complain about the slow reconstruction of their medieval city and want the government to extend tax exemptions for the victims. Berlusconi, who has built his political career as Italy's "Mr. Fix It," often boasts on television that new houses in the devastated city were built in record time. He hosted last year's G8 summit in L'Aquila in a show of solidarity for the victims..."The “House Project" is a joke. Only a few people were given new homes. The rest of us are still in the same situation. [Full story>>khaleejtimes.com]

07.07.10 Kenya's constitutional vote on sharia courts pits Muslims against Christians

NAIROBI, July 7 - For 13 years, Judge Mudhar Ahmed has worked in relative obscurity, issuing Muslim marriage certificates, divorcing Muslim couples and weighing in on Muslim inheritance disputes. Now, he's facing an issue unlike any he has seen. He has one word to describe it: "Islamophobia." Ahmed is the head of Nairobi's Kadhis Court, one of 17 judicial bodies that administer sharia, or Islamic law, to Kenya's Muslim minority. The courts were enshrined in the nation's constitution decades ago, but Christian leaders are seeking to remove them from a proposed new constitution, scheduled for a referendum Aug. 4. They argue that Kenya is a secular state and that Muslims should not receive special privileges. Muslim leaders say the maneuvers are part of an agenda to deny their community rights and undermine their beliefs. "They are creating hatred between Muslims and Christians," said Ahmed, his soft voice hardening.

The tussle portends a larger collision between Islam and Christianity in Kenya, a vital US ally in a region where Washington is quietly fighting the growth of Islamic radicalism. Many Kenyans are concerned that the tensions, if not contained, could deepen political fissures and spawn the sort of communal upheaval that left more than 1,000 people dead in 2008 after elections. In this predominantly Christian nation, Christians are worried about a Muslim community that is growing in numbers and influence, and they have been vocally backed by US-based Christian groups. Muslims are wary of the rising power of fundamentalist Christian organizations backed by American Christians. The 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania frayed relations between Christians and Muslims. Those links have further eroded in the decade since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as concerns about Islamic radicalization and terrorism grew in this East African country. Many Kenyans today fear that the civil war in neighboring Somalia, where the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militia is seeking to overthrow the US-backed government, could spread into Kenya. A massive influx of Somali refugees, almost all Muslim, has spawned xenophobia and extended misconceptions of Islam.

07.07.10 The anatomy of an e-mail hack

July 7 - How do email viruses spread? How should you protect yourself? Delivery notices from the post office, messages from out-of-touch friends and headlines from seasonal sporting events look innocent enough when they arrive in e-mailform. But they all can bear malicious links ready to unleash computer-enabled chaos with just a single click. Most of us have received the horrified e-mail: "My e-mail was hacked!!! I'm so sorry!" Some of us have even sent one ourselves. But how exactly do e-mail viruses spread? And what should you do if one ensnares you? "The goal of a computer virus, really, is to self-propagate," said Aaron Higbee, chief technology officer of the New York-based computer security firm Intrepidus Group. "You have to look at the motivation of the people these days and, most of the time, it's money."

Written by a programmer or purchased by a criminal, an e-mail virus is a piece of computer code transmitted via email and intended to run on any computer. Sometimes, the code is embedded in an attachment and installed after the victim opens it up. But increasingly, Higbee said, the code is installed when the victim clicks on a Web link and is directed to an infected site. Once it gets its hooks into your computer, the virus can scan word documents, spreadsheets and address books, on the prowl for other active e-mail addresses to target. "Usually, that initial attack is just to set-up and maintain access. They just want to turn your computer into an infected bot that just waits for instructions," Higbee said. Without your knowledge, he said, a hacker could use your so-called "zombie computer" as part of a greater network of machines to do their nefarious bidding.

Some hackers could sell or rent time with your computer, others might install code that logs keystrokes and steals passwords so that when you go to your online banking site, it learns how to sign in as you to siphon money out of your account. For some victims, the telltale sign of a computer hijack is when the confused e-mail arrives from an estranged ex. But for most, Higbee said, "The bounceback [e-mails] will usually be the first clue that the computer is infected." If you start seeing messages letting you know that e-mails you didn't send didn't reach their intended recipients, it's time to start making sure your anti-virus software is installed and up-to-date, he said.

07.07.10 Manuel Noriega jailed for seven years in France

July 7 - Former Panamanian dictator found guilty of laundering €2.3m worth of drug profits during his time in power. Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian dictator, was sentenced to seven years in jail today after a French court found him guilty of laundering €2.3m (£1.9m) worth of drug profits during his time in power. Noriega, who was ousted by Washington in 1989 and has spent the past 20 years in jail the United States, looked startled as the verdict was read out in the austere Tribunal correctionnel in Paris and had to be helped from the court by gendarmes. During his trial last week, the general insisted he was innocent of the charges, which he said were the "imaginary" creations of a US-led conspiracy. A former ally of Washington, who for years was on the payroll of the CIA, the former strongman nicknamed Pineapple Face became an enemy whose clutch on power George Bush Senior became determined to end. [More>>guardian.co.uk]

07.06.10 Mexico thwarts Hezbollah bid to set up South American network

July 6 - Militant group employed Mexican nationals with ties to Lebanon to target Israel and the West, Kuwaiti newspaper reports. Mexico foiled an attempt by Hezbollah to establish a network in South America, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Tuesday. Hezbollah operatives employed Mexicans nationals with family ties to Lebanon to set up the network, designed to target Israel and the West, the Al-Seyassah daily said. According to the report, Mexican police mounted a surveillance operation on the group's leader, Jameel Nasr, who traveled frequently to Lebanon to receive information and instructions  from Hezbollah commanders there. Police say Nasr also made frequent trips to other countries in Latin America, including a two-month stay in  Venezuela in the summer of 2008. Nasr was living in Tijuana, Mexico at the time of his arrest, the report said. The report follows warnings from the United States that Hezbollah and its backer Iran are stepping up operations in the region. [More>>haaretz.com; See other details,

jpost.com, July 6, "Report: Hizbullah on US-Mexico border"
: A Hizbullah terror cell may be operating among drugs cartels around the US-Mexican border, announced US Republican National Committee Representative Sue Myrick, according to a Fox News report. Myrick requested US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano create a special team to further investigate the potential problem and threat...Myrick cited the warming relationship between Iran and Venzuela as proof that Hizbullah members may be collaborating with Latin American drug cartels, who may be utilizing Hizbullah's ability to dig underground tunnels for drug smuggling and in turn, providing funding, document forging and false identities. The Fox News report referenced Anthony Placido, assistant administrator for intelligence at the Drug Enforcement Administration, testifying at a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee in March this year, that some drug smugglers in the US-Mexico region have had relationships with Hizbullah between the 1980s and 1990s...

07.06.10 In responding to West, Iran stresses its naval abilities in Persian Gulf

TEHRAN, July 6 - Inspections of Iranian vessels by the United States and its allies in accordance with a new UN sanctions regime could worsen tensions in the Persian Gulf, Iranian leaders and commanders have warned in recent days. "Anybody who insists on implementing [searches] will regret them very harshly," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said June 28, echoing avowals by other senior Iranian officials that inspections would not go unanswered. The resolution adopted last month by the UN Security Council calls on states to allow inspections of ships on the high seas if there "are reasonable grounds" to believe they are carrying weapons or other banned materials, a request Iran would reject as a violation of its sovereignty, analysts said.

A similar UN provision that was passed last year to encourage the boarding of North Korean vessels has not led to a single interdiction of banned cargo on the high seas. But it has led to the seizure of North Korean weapons at foreign ports, according to a UN monitoring panel. The prospect of inspections has led several key Iranian officials to emphasize their country's growing clout in the Persian Gulf
the likeliest theater for countermeasures, Iranian commanders say. "The Guard's navy has the capacity to respond appropriately and adequately to actions against Iranian ships," Revolutionary Guard Corps Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi said June 26, according to the government newspaper Iran. "The Persian Gulf is the center and most sensitive point of the world. . . . At any time, we can exert as much pressure in this strait as we may wish to." Iran has threatened for years to choke off the Hormuz Strait, the narrow passage at the entrance to the gulf through which a daily caravan of tankers transports nearly 30 percent of the world's oil and gas. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

07.06.10 Imam entangled in NYC terror case leaves US

NEW YORK, JUly 6 - Ahmad Wais Afzali leaves US after admitting he lied to FBI; last words were "God bless America," lawyer says. The imam entangled in the investigation into a suicide bomb plot against New York City subway stations left the US Monday on court orders after admitting he lied to the FBI. Among his final words on US soil, his lawyer says, were "God bless America." Ahmad Wais Afzali and his wife Fatima took off on a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight to Jeddah and then will go on to Mecca, where Fatima got a job teaching English, said the lawyer, Ron Kuby. Afzali, who was born in Afghanistan but spent most of his life in Queens, isn't sure what he's going to do there, Kuby said. Most of his family lives in Virginia, including two children from a previous marriage. Afzali, under the terms of his plea April 15, was sentenced to time served four days but ordered to leave the country in 90 days.

Authorities sought help last fall from the imam, a previously reliable police source, as they scrambled to thwart the plot by Najibullah Zazi, an airport van driver who pleaded guilty in the case. The 38-year-old imam said he had wanted to help authorities in the investigation of the threat but lied under grilling by the FBI about his phone conversations Zazi. Afzali lied when he said he never told Zazi that he was under surveillance in New York. Afzali said that he never meant to aide Zazi or deceive the government. "It was not just something he said at sentencing, he genuinely loves this country very much," Kuby said. "Unfortunately he was caught in a turf battle between the NYPD and the FBI."

07.06.10 CIA, Pakistan locked in aggressive spy battles

WASHINGTON (AP) July 6 - A Pakistani man approached CIA officers in Islamabad last year, offering to give up secrets of his country's closely guarded nuclear program. To prove he was a trustworthy source, he claimed he had spent nuclear fuel rods. But the CIA had its doubts. Before long, the suspicious officers had concluded that Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, was trying to run a double agent against the them. CIA officers alerted their Pakistani counterparts. Pakistan promised to look into the matter and, with neither side acknowledging the man was a double agent, the affair came to a polite, quiet end.

The incident, recounted by former US officials, underscores the schizophrenic relationship with one of America's most crucial counterterrorism allies. Publicly, officials credit Pakistani collaboration with helping kill and capture numerous al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. Privately, that relationship is often marked by mistrust as the two countries wage an aggressive spy battle against each other. The CIA has repeatedly tried to penetrate the ISI and learn more about Pakistan's nuclear program; and the ISI has mounted its own operations to gather intelligence on the CIA's counterterrorism activities in the tribal lands and figure out what the CIA knows about the nuclear program.

07.06.10 Turkish troops and PKK clash leaves 13 dead

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, July 6 - Kurdish guerrillas attacked a military outpost in southeast Turkey overnight, triggering a clash in which 10 militants and three Turkish soldiers were killed, security sources said on Tuesday. The assault was part of an upsurge in attacks on the armed forces since the rebels ended a 14-month ceasefire at the start of June. More than 80 soldiers have been killed so far this year, exceeding the death toll in 2009.

The increased violence has undermined an attempt by the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to boost Kurdish minority rights and investment in the impoverished southeast in a bid to end a 26-year separatist conflict. Military helicopters flew in troop reinforcements to search for the remaining Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels who launched the attack in the mountainous Semdinli district of Hakkari province, near the border with Iraq. Three soldiers were also wounded in the fighting.

The army operation was focused on the area around the Iraqi border, across which the militants frequently cross from bases in northern Iraq to attack the Turkish military. In response to the upsurge in attacks, the military has carried out air strikes on rebel targets in northern Iraq, where several thousand PKK guerrillas are based.

07.06.10 Pakistan bans 23 militant outfits

ISLAMABAD, July 6 - In the wake of twin-suicide blasts on the shrine of Data Ganj Baksh in Lahore, Pakistan has banned 23 militant organizations, except Jammat ud Dawa (JuD), which were operating under new names after having been outlawed by the previous military regime and put the name of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed on the Exit Control List (ECL). The Punjab government has directed police to keep a strict vigil on 1,690 office-bearers and workers of the banned outfits. Sipah-i-Sahaba, Jaish-i-Muhammad, Laskar-e-Taiba, Tehrik-i-Jafria, Harkatul Jihad Islami, Harkatul Mujahideen, Hizbul Tahrir, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Muhammad had been banned by the Musharraf government in 2002, but most of them started their activities with new names.

Sipah-i-Sahaba was renamed as Millat-i-Islamia Pakistan, Jaish-i-Muhammad as Alfurqan and Khuddamul Islam and Tehrik-i-Jafria as Islami Tehrik Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba as Jamaatud Dawa. However, Hizbul Tehrir did not change its name. According to the Punjab's home department, Jamaat ud Dawa of Hafiz Saeed has not been restricted like others, but Mr. Saeed and his two associates have been barred from travelling abroad. Their accounts have been frozen and they will not be able to get arms licenses.

Punjab's home department said that action will be taken against Jamatud Dawa, Al-Rasheed Trust and Al-Akhtar Trust in the light of UN resolutions. In June it emerged that the Punjab government gave about $1million last year to institutions linked to the Jamaat-ud Dawa charity, which is on a UN terror blacklist. However, crackdowns and arrests against suspected militants continue in Lahore. Lahore's police chief Aslam Tareen said to have taken into custody a group of militants in connection with all major attacks in Lahore and other parts of the country.

He said the arrested militants were involved in recruiting terrorists, planning, gathering information and storing explosives and sophisticated weapons at different places in the city and its outskirts and providing logistic support to other groups. "All of them belong to Lahore," Tareen said. The terror suspects were identified as Rizwan, Abbas, Haroon Saeed, Umair, Umer and Haji Javed Alam were detained from different localities of the city by teams of Crimes Investigation Agency (CIA).

He said all of them got training in Afghanistan and a majority of them acted as facilitators. The suspects informed the investigators that five to six separate militant groups were carrying out terror attacks in Pakistan. According to Lahore's police chief, the suspects disclosed that they were involved in terror attacks on Rawalpindi's Parade Lane Mosque, Karachi's Ashura procession, worship places of Ahmadis in Lahore's Garhi Shahu and Model Town and Lahore's Moon Market, Jinnah Hospital, Gulshan-i-Iqbal and Samanabad.

07.05.10 BP's costs for oil spill response passes $3b

NEW ORLEANS, July 5 - Weather restricts deployment of giant new skimming vessel, but drilling of relief wells has continued uninterrupted. BP's costs for the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill climbed nearly half a billion dollars in the past week, raising the oil giant's tab to just over $3 billion for work on cleaning and capping the gusher and payouts to individuals, businesses and governments. London-based BP PLC, the largest oil and gas producer in the Gulf, released its latest tally of response costs Monday. The total of $3.12 billion was up from $2.65 billion a week earlier. The figure does not include a $20 billion fund for Gulf damages BP created last month.

As BP continued drilling relief wells that are the best hope for plugging the blown-out well, a giant new oil skimming vessel was tested in the Gulf. But lousy weather means it may be longer than first hoped before officials know if it can work full-time sucking crude from the sea. The Taiwanese skimmer dubbed ""A Whale" has been able to show off its maneuverability during a weekend test in a 25-mile-square patch of water just north of the site where an April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and started the worst oil spill in Gulf history. TMT, the shipping firm that owns the vessel, had hoped to test a containment boom system designed to direct greater volumes of oily water into the 12 vents or "jaws" that the ship uses to suck it in, according to spokesman Bob Grantham.
[More>>cbsnews.com; See related story,

news.com.au, "More bad news for BP as arsenic levels rise in seawater around the Gulf of Mexico"
: Beleaguered energy giant BP was hit with further bad news this morning as it emerged dangerous arsenic levels have been found in seawater around the Gulf of Mexico. British scientists warned that the oil spill is increasing the level of arsenic in the ocean, and could further add to the devastating impact on the already sensitive environment. BP's Deepwater Horizon rig has been spilling between 3,681,500 liters and 911,454,000 liters of oil into the sea per day since it exploded on April 22. The spill is already being labeled as America's worst environmental disaster and has turned into a economic and PR nightmare for the British company. Seventy-five days into the spill, the oil has fouled some 715km of shoreline in four southeastern US states, killed wildlife and put a massive dent in the region's multi-billion-dollar fishing industry...

07.05.10 Iran says its passenger jets were refused fuel abroad

July 5 - Iran has accused the UK, Germany and the UAE of refusing to provide fuel to Iranian passenger planes. The allegation came days after the US enacted unilateral sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme, to penalise foreign companies trading with Tehran. Britain said it was not aware of any refusal to refuel Iranian planes, and Germany stressed there was no ban. Oil firms contacted by the BBC said they could not comment on individual contracts. Tehran says its nuclear industry is for peaceful purposes but Western powers fear it is trying to develop a bomb. "Since last week, our planes have been refused fuel at airports in Britain, Germany and UAE because of the sanctions imposed by America," Mehdi Aliyari, secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union, told Iranian media. [More>>bbc.co.uk]

07.05.10 Activist: Iranian mother of two to be stone to death

July 5 - An Iranian human rights activist warns Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, could be stoned to death at any moment under the terms of a death sentence handed down by Iranian authorities. Only an international campaign designed to pressure the regime in Tehran can save her life, according to Mina Ahadi, head of the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty. "Legally it's all over," Ahadi said Sunday. "It's a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute." "That is why we have decided to start a very broad, international public movement. Only that can help." Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately. [More>>cnn.com]

07.05.10 Indian teacher's hand cut off for alleged Muhammed slight

July 5 - Two Indian men have been arrested over an attack on a college teacher who had his hand cut off for setting an exam question that allegedly insulted Muslims. T. J. Joseph, 52, had his right arm severed at the wrist as he was returning home from church with his mother and sister on Sunday, and since underwent an operation to have the limb sown back on. Mr. Joseph, a lecturer at a private Christian-run college in the southern state of Kerala, was on bail since April after being arrested over a question in internal exams that some Muslim groups claimed included an insulting reference to the Prophet Muhammad. "An eight-member gang blocked his vehicle and chopped off his right arm," B. Sandya, inspector general of the local police said. [More>>news.com.au]

07.05.10 Woman and daughter stripped, thrashed in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, July 5 - A mother along with her 14-year-old daughter was stripped naked in Pakistan's Mirwala town of Punjab by 14 people and both were thrashed in the presence of a large number of people. The suspects got hold of 50-year-old Allah Wasai and her 14-year-old daughter Ashraf Mai when they came out of their home to go to their fields. The incident took place in Birwali village of Punjab's Mirwala town, the Dawn newspaper reported. Police official Mahboob Tangwani said the main accused, Safdar, alleged that Allah Wasai's son Saddam Husain had an affair with his daughter.

He and his 13 accomplices held the woman and her daughter at gunpoint, stripped them naked and thrashed them. We wanted to teach the women a lesson for the wrongdoing of Allah Wasai's son, one of the accused Haji Afzal told the police. A large number of people were there but none of them came forward to rescue the women from the assailants. Later, a local resident Allah Ditta informed the police. A police team freed the women from the accused and gave them clothes. A case was registered against the 14 accused.

07.05.10 Clinton slams Russian 'occupation' of disputed enclaves on Georgia visit

(AFP) July 5 - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (right) called on Russia to end its "occupation" of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after talks with President Mikheil Saakashvili (left) during a visit to Tbilisi. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reassured Georgia on Monday with a pledge of steadfast support and called on Russia to end its "occupation" of two breakaway Georgian regions. "The United States is steadfast in its commitment to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Clinton said at a joint news conference with President Mikheil Saakashvili during a visit to Tbilisi. Clinton also urged Moscow to abide by a ceasefire agreement that stipulates its forces must return to positions held before the 2008 Georgia-Russia war over the rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. [More>>france24.com]

07.05.10 Rockets fired at US embassy as Biden visits Iraq

July 4 - Rockets were fired at the US embassy in Baghdad while Vice President Biden visits Iraq. The rockets were fired at the embassy, located inside the International Zone. Vice President Biden is currently in the country to meet with US troops and talk to Iraqi political leaders. Two soldiers inside the compound reported there was an impact from the incoming fire. An all clear was given after the attack. [More>>foxnews.com]

07.05.10 Most Islamist terrorists in UK are born here

July 5 - The majority of Islamist terrorists in the UK are British-born, under the age of 30, educated and likely to be employed, according to a statistical analysis of all terror plots uncovered over the past ten years. The Centre for Social Cohesion has spent two years compiling a database of individuals convicted of Islamist-inspired terrorism offences over the past decade. The report, released today, comes as Britain prepares to mark the fifth anniversary of the July 7, 2005 bombings, the most deadly terrorist attack on UK soil. Despite the ongoing threat posed by terrorism, there is still no government database listing basic information on convictions in the UK. Researchers at the Centre for Social Cohesion had to dig up court and press reports to compile the database, which reveals that between 1999 and 2009, 119 individuals — British and foreign nationals — were convicted of "Islamism inspired terrorism offences." The Government's lack of data on such offences was heavily criticized last year by the Intelligence and Security Committee inquiry into the 7/7 London bombings. "This is basic information that should have been being analyzed to assess how well aspects of the [anti-terror] strategy were working and what changes needed to be made particularly in terms of legislation," the committee said. [More>>independent.co.uk]

07.05.10 Arrested for bibles, North Korean dies in prison

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) July 4 - Defector returned as a Christian; brother believes he was tortured to death. Like most North Koreans, Son Jong Nam knew next to nothing about Christianity when he fled to neighboring China in 1998. Eleven years later, he died back in North Korea in prison, reportedly tortured to death for trying to spread the Gospel in his native land, armed with 20 bibles and 10 cassette tapes of hymns. He was 50. His story, pieced together by his younger brother, a defector who lives in South Korea, sheds light on a little-discussed practice: the sending back of North Korean converts to evangelize in their home country — a risky move, but one of the few ways to penetrate a country that bars most citizens from outside TV or radio and the Internet. [More>>msnbc.msn.com]

07.05.10 Drugs submarine: Smugglers build vessel to transport tons of narcotics from Ecuador

July 5 - A submarine built to smuggle tons of drugs to the US has been discovered in Ecuador. The twin-propeller, 30-metre (98ft) craft, was being readied for its maiden voyage at a secret shipyard in the jungle. Partly made of fibreglass, it has a conning tower, periscope and air conditioning system, and has the capacity for about 10 metric tons of cargo, a crew of up to six and is able to submerge fully. Authorities described the yard where it was being built as "sophisticated" constructed on a jungle estuary several miles from the Colombian border and had living quarters for at least 50 people. For years, US and South American law enforcement officials have battled against smugglers using semi-submersible craft that travel just below the surface to avoid detection. [More>>news.sky.com]

07.05.10 Lieberman: no apology to Turkey

July 5 - FM responds to Ankara's threat to break diplomatic ties with Israel. Israel has "no intention of apologizing to Turkey" over the IDF's interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla last month, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday. Speaking during a visit to Lithuania, Lieberman said that, "The opposite was true." Lieberman's remarks came after a warning from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that Turkey would cut ties with Israel unless a formal apology was issued for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara during Israel's raid of the ship. [More>>jpost.com; See Maravot News 6.25.10 article 06.16.10 US Congressmen express ire toward Turkey for background stories.]

07.05.10 Israel 'black-lists' chemicals and weapons-making tools from Gaza

July 5 - Official list published Monday includes certain fertilizers which could be used in the manufacture of explosives, parachutes, gliders, flares and fireworks. Israel published Monday its "black list" of goods it will not allow into the Gaza Strip, under a new policy whereby its four-year-old siege of the coastal territory will now be defined by a list of goods to be kept out, rather than by those allowed in. The banned products include arms and munitions and items which could be used to develop, produce or enhance the military capabilities of the Gaza militias, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. [More>>haartez.com]

07.05.10 Assad: US administration is weak

July 5 - Syrian president disappointed with lack of progress on ME peace. The Obama administration's failure to facilitate change in the Middle East shows that it is weak, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday during a visit to Latin America amid rising regional tensions over last month's Gaza flotilla incident and increasing efforts to defuse the Iranian threat. Assad was quoted Monday in the Argentine daily Clarín as saying that Washington did not "seem to be able to manage a peace process from beginning to end." He added that while the US was capable of pulling "all its weight" to support a peace process, the current administration has so far proved to be impractical and unable to gain the backing of Congress. [More>>jpost.com]

07.05.10 Lahore mosque assault suspects held

July 5 - Pakistani police have arrested six people allegedly linked to attacks on two mosques in May that killed at least 80 people in Lahore. Authorities said on Monday that they seized almost 18 tones of explosives, 21 grenades, six-47s and a lot of bomb-making material from the the group. Aslam Tareen, Lahore's police chief, said the suspects were running "a sort of bomb-making factory." He said four of the suspects provided logistical support to the attackers by purchasing motorcycles, cell phones and SIM cards. On May 28, 2010, attackers and suicide bombers stormed two mosques belonging to the minority Ahmadi sect in Lahore shortly after Friday prayers. It was the deadliest attack on Pakistan's second biggest city.

Tareen said the arrested suspects belong to the banned armed group Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami, as do those who carried out the attacks. Just days after the Ahmadi mosques were attacked, suicide bombers struck a Sufi shrine in eastern Lahore, killing at least 42 people and injuring about 180 others. Thousands of people were visiting the Data Darbar shrine, where the famous Sufi saint Syed Ali Hajwairi is buried, at the time of the attack on Thursday. The Lahore arrests were announced on the same day that authorities said a Pakistani Taliban commander with a $234,000 bounty on his head had been killed in a shootout with troops in the country's northwest.

Ameerullah Mehsud was one of the high-level commanders of the group, military officials said. He was reportedly shot dead at a checkpoint in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, where Pakistani commanders have felt under increasing US pressure to launch a decisive military campaign against Taliban strongholds. Mehsud was listed 11 out of 19 most-wanted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders for whom the government last November posted combined rewards worth $5 million for information leading to their capture, dead or alive. The TTP is blamed for some of the deadliest bomb attacks in the country. Mehsud was wanted for attacking security forces, kidnapping for ransom and "other anti-state activities," the authorities said. "Two soldiers were also wounded in the shootout," the Pakistan military said in a statement. It was not immediately clear whether anyone would be rewarded in connection with Mehsud's death.

07.05.10 'Chinese Islamic militants setting up bases in Pakistan

July 5 - An increasing number of militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement fighting for separation from China's Muslim majority Xinjiang province were "fleeing to Pakistan and settling down there for future plots," a state-run newspaper reported on Monday. "According to latest reports, the ETIM has been in close collaboration with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden," the China Daily said in its lead story on the first anniversary of the bloody riots in Xinjiang capital Urumqi in which an estimated 200 people were killed. It said an ETIM leader is also reported to be hiding in Pakistan and there are also reports of a "Chinese battalion" made up of about 320 ETIM members in the Taliban forces. It said a number of ETIM fighters were "fleeing to Pakistan and settling down there for future plots." "It is not hard for them (ETIM members) to hide in Pakistan. They have similar religious beliefs, appearances and languages as the locals," the report said. [More>>indianexpress.com]

07.05.10 10 killed in Orakzai offensive

PARACHINAR, Pakistan, July 5 - Ten militants were killed and six others wounded during security forces offensive in different areas of Orakzai Agency. Sources said security forces killed 10 militants and wounded six others during ongoing operation against militants in different areas of Orakzai. Meanwhile, fighter jets pounded militants’ positions in Jabba area destroying five hideouts as search operation is underway in the area. [>thenews.com.pk]

07.05.10 PA passes protest resolution against terrorism

LAHORE, Pakistan, July 5 - Punjab Assembly Monday passed a protest resolution unanimously against recent acts of terrorism in the province. It was resolved that the terrorists will never be allowed to succeed in their nefarious designs. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah presented the resolution which termed the attacks on Data Darbar as an assault against entire humanity which deserves strongest condemnation. The resolution also denounced attacks on worship places of Ahmedis. It said the whole house is united to fight the war against terrorists with full commitment and to win the same. The resolution was passed with full consensus, as not a single member showed any opposition. [More>>thenews.com.pk]

07.05.10 Turkey to cut ties unless Israel apologizes over Gaza flotilla raid

ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) July 5 - Turkey warned Israel on Monday it will cut ties unless it gets an apology for a deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships, but the Jewish state said it will never say sorry for defending itself. Ankara had already closed its airspace to all Israeli military aircraft in reaction to the May 31 bloodshed on a Turkish ship in which nine Turks were killed, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the daily Hurriyet. The Israelis had three options, Davutoglu said in remarks published on Monday. "Either they apologies, or accept an international (inquiry) commission and its report, or relations will be broken," he said. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]

07.05.10 Yemeni rights group vows to combat slavery

SANAA, Yemen (AFP) July 5 - Hundreds believed to live in slavery in impoverished country. A Yemeni rights organization said on Sunday it has launched a campaign against slavery, which was abolished in 1962 but still appears to be the lot of hundreds of people in the impoverished country. Hood "will work with its partners in civil society ... to end this crime," the non-governmental organization's coordinator Mohammed Naji Allaw said on its website. "A committee of dignitaries will visit the regions where those who practice slavery live, in order to explain to them the gravity of their crime," he said. He also warned that the organization would "prosecute those who install themselves as masters and enslave other citizens, in criminal acts that the Yemeni law punishes by 10 years imprisonment." The campaign follows a series of articles on al-Masdaronline news website on practices which affect "500 slaves" across the country. [More>>alarabiya.net]

07.04.10 Shalit family and 5,000 supporters march into Tel Aviv

July 4 - Demonstration calling for release of captured IDF soldier has already caused severe traffic disturbances during the morning rush hour. The family of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was joined by nearly 5,000 supporters as they walked toward Tel Aviv, on the eighth day of a protest march aimed at pressing the government to secure a prisoner swap deal with Hamas. Traffic was backed up along the Ayalon and coastal highways as the demonstrators made their way to the Halacha Bridge in the north of the city, which they reached at around 6pm. Demonstrators are calling for a deal between Israel and Hamas to free Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in exchange for Shalit, captured in a cross-border raid in 2006. [More>>haaretz.com]

07.04.10 Egypt FM: Arab League will declare Palestinian state if peace talks fail

July 4 - Top Palestinian negotiator Erekat refutes reports claiming that Abbas had offered Israel a West Bank land swap as part of a final status peace agreement. The Arab League will turn to the United Nations Security Council to declare an independent Palestinian state if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians do not bear fruit by September, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm on Saturday. According to the al-Masry al-Youm report, the Arab League decision was based on UNSC resolution 1515, which calls for regional Middle East peace, based on the two-state solution.

Aboul Gheit said that Palestinian Authority President Abbas had delivered a series of written proposals to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including concrete steps to reach final-status agreements on contentious issues such as borders and security arrangements. On Sunday, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed that Abbas did not offer Israel a possible West Bank land swap as part of a final status peace agreement, told Israel Radio on Sunday. Erakat's comments contradict a report in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al Hayat, according to which Abbas proposed a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with a possible land swap of 2.3 percent of the West Bank to ensure a fair solution for Israeli settlement blocs.

07.04.10 Air attacks over Orakzai region, Pakistan kill 20 militants

July 4 - At least 20 militants were killed and their six hideouts were destroyed when combat jets struck Taliban positions in the restive Orakzai tribal region in northwest Pakistan, officials said. The jets pounded militant positions at Dabori, Ghiljo, Mulla Patti, Mamozai and Khadezai areas of Orakzai Agency on Saturday, which borders Afghanistan. Pakistani troops launched an operation in mid-March in Orakzai region against Taliban fighters who fled an army offensive in South Waziristan last year. The army says it has killed hundreds of militants in the operation. [>indianexpres.com]

07.04.10 Roadside bomb kills 2; hurts 5 in Kohat

KOHAT, Pakistan, July 4 - At least two persons lost their lives while another five sustained injuries when they came under explosion caused by a roadside bomb in Ibrahim Khel locality in Kohat district on Sunday morning, Geo news reported. Police sources told media, a 10-kg bomb planted on a roadside went off all of a sudden, killing two persons and injuring five others in Ibrahim Khel Village in Kohat. The bomb ripped through a passenger pickup van, which was passing closely with seven persons onboard. Two among them died on the spot who have been identified as Shah Wali and Nasir, police sources told media. [The] injured have been shifted to hospital. Two among them have been declared in critical condition, hospital sources said. Security forces and political administration have placed [a] strict cordon around the blast site, witnesses confirmed to media. [>thenews.com.pk]

07.04.10 Four killed, six injured in terror attack in south Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (RIA Novosti) July 4 - At least four people were killed and six injured in a terror attack carried out in southern Afghanistan, the local authorities said on Sunday. The attack occurred on Sunday afternoon in the central marketplace in the town of Musa Kala in the Helmand province, when a motorbike parked at the roadside exploded. The bomb could have been planted on the motorcycle by Taliban militants, the local authorities said. The bomb exploded as a military convoy passed by; however, almost all those killed and injured in the blast were civilians, the local authorities said. Violence has surged in Afghanistan in recent months, with the radical Islamic Taliban group, which was toppled in a 2001 US-led campaign, staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and civilians and planting roadside bombs to target Afghan, US and NATO troops. [>en.rian.ru]

07.04.10 Four die in Iraq attack by female suicide bomber

RAMADI, Iraq (AFP) July 4 - A female suicide bomber blew herself up at the entrance to government offices in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Sunday killing at least four people, an interior ministry official said. The attack comes amid a surge in violence which in past weeks has swept the province of Anbar and its capital Ramadi, shattering a long period of relative calm in what was once the epicenter of al-Qaeda activity and Sunni insurgency. "At least four people were killed and 23 others wounded, including women and children, by a female suicide bomber at the entrance to the provincial government building," an interior ministry official said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

07.01.10 Religious intolerance the new racism

(AFP) July 1 - Religious intolerance is "the new racism" and one of the main causes of persecution of minorities across the world, according to the annual Minority Rights Group International report published today. In an overview of government policies, global trends and personal accounts, the campaign group argues that counter-terrorism efforts and economic marginalization are increasingly being associated with religion, not ethnicity. "Religious intolerance is the new racism," said Mark Lattimer, director of Minority Rights Group International.

"Many communities that have faced racial discrimination for decades are now being targeted because of their religion." The report notes that Muslims have been increasingly targeted by authorities in Europe and the United States as part of counter-terrorism measures. This is evident from police stop-and-searches to the US restrictions introduced after a Nigerian Muslim was accused of trying to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day 2009. The restrictions applied to citizens from 14 countries
13 of them predominantly Muslim, the report notes. It also highlighted how religious groups can be the focus of nationalist campaigns, such as in Switzerland, where voters chose in a referendum to ban the construction of new minarets after a campaign by a far-right party.

Meanwhile in Iraq and Pakistan, which are on the frontline of the so-called "war on terror," attacks against religious minorities have also escalated in recent years, the report said. It notes religious groups in Iraq such as the Christians, Mandaeans, Baha'i and Yezidis have become targets of violence since the US-led invasion in 2003. And in Pakistan, the Taliban have targeted Christians for attack through killings, torture, forcible conversions and burning of churches, it says. Other discrimination occurs through government registration schemes for religious groups, a practice used in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan since 2001. In Egypt, all identification papers must list religious affiliation - but the choice is restricted to Islam, Christianity and Judaism. This means the Baha'i cannot get ID papers, and therefore cannot work or access healthcare.

07.01.10 Al-Qaeda launches English propaganda magazine

NEW YORK, July 1 - Al-Qaeda launched its first online propaganda magazine in English on Tuesday, a move that could help the terror group recruit inside the US and Europe. The magazine, called Inspire, is being run by al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, which has been linked to the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt of a US-bound airliner. The launch suggests that, as al-Qaeda's core has been weakened by CIA drone airstrikes, the group hopes to broaden its reach inside the US, where officials have seen a spate of homegrown terrorists. "This new magazine is clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the US or UK who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber," Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution scholar and former CIA officer, said. [More>>japantoday.com]

07.01.10 Tory MP seeks ban on 'burqa'

July 1 - An MP belonging to UK's ruling coalition has moved legislation in the House of Commons to ban the 'burqa' or Islamic veil in public places on the ground that it is 'against the British way of life.' Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP from Kettering, has moved a private members bill called the Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill, which had its first reading in the House yesterday. The legislation seeks to regulate the use of "certain facial coverings" in public. He said this "would obviously have a big impact for those who wear full-face Islamic veils." He has previously described the 'burqa' as being "against the British way of life." Explaining the bill, Hollobone said: "I think it's inappropriate to cover your face in public, whether it's a burqa, a balaclava or anything else. We are never going to get along with having a fully integrated society if a substantial minority insists on concealing their identity from everyone else." [More>>indianexpress.com]


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