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07.30.10 Will punish WikiLeaks informers: Taliban
LONDON, July 30 - The Taliban in Afghanistan has threatened to behead informers who have been revealed following the explosive disclosure by WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has put out over 90,000 uncensored intelligence documents, causing a security scare. Countries which have their forces fighting in Afghanistan are poring over the documents to see the extent of the damage. The Taliban Thursday night responded for the first time since the WikiLeaks expose of the names and locations of anti-Taliban informers, Daily Mail reported on Friday. The terror group said, "We know how to punish them," a reference to beheading that is a punishment for those whom they consider traitors. The reaction came as officials in Britain said they were worried for those who had helped the British military in Afghanistan. British officials in Kabul on Thursday said the publication was "in the best case compromising informants and in the worst, putting their lives at risk." [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See related stories,
07.30.10 Military kills Mexican drug lord Ignacio Coronel
July 30 - The Mexican government says security forces have killed Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a top member of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. Coronel was believed to be the right-hand man of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most-wanted drug lord. His death is a major coup for President Felipe Calderon, who has declared "war" on the country's drug cartels. The security forces say Coronel died in a shoot-out with an elite army group near the western city of Guadalajara. Nacho Coronel was known as the "King of Crystal" for his control over the production and smuggling of methamphetamine to the United States. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
07.30.10 Terror group: 'We'll make Greece a war zone'
July 30 - A terrorist group has warned tourists not to travel to Greece, saying it is preparing to turn the country into a 'war zone.' In the middle of a busy holiday season, the left-wing group, calling itself Sect of Revolutionaries, said in a statement: "Tourists must learn that Greece is no longer a safe haven for capitalism. We intend to turn it into a war zone of revolutionary activity with arson, sabotage, violent demonstrations, bombings and assassinations." The militant group also claimed responsibility for the murder of Socrates Giolias, 37, an investigative journalist who was shot outside his home earlier this month. It says it will wage a campaign of attacks against police, businessmen, prison staff and journalists it considers corrupt. The militants, however, said they would not carry out indiscriminate attacks, and made no direct threat to tourists. A CD passed to an Athens newspaper contained also a photograph of the group's arsenal: 17 handguns and automatic weapons, assorted gun-magazines and ammunition, a knife and knuckle. [More>>news.sky.com]
07.30.10 Sarkozy looks to strip citizenship from those who threaten police
(AFP) July 30 - President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday that he would look into stripping French citizenship from anyone of foreign origin who "threatened the life of a police officer" following a spate of riots around Grenoble earlier this month. President Nicolas Sarkozy warned on Friday that France would strip foreign-born criminals of their French nationality if they use violence against police or public officials. Struggling in the opinion polls after his government was implicated in a financial scandal and in the wake of a spate of violent unrest, Sarkozy announced a headline-grabbing package of security measures. Top of the list, in a week when Sarkozy had already threatened to expel foreign Roma minorities who commit crimes back to Eastern Europe, was a vow to tighten nationality rules for other non-French-born criminals. "Nationality should be stripped from anyone of foreign origin who deliberately endangers the life of a police officer, a soldier or a gendarme or anyone else holding public authority," Sarkozy said. [More>>france24.com]
07.30.10 Hamas slams Arab backing for Israel talks
DOHA (AFP) July 30 - Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal slammed Arab leaders for endorsing the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, in comments published by Al-Jazeera on Friday. Meshaal described the Arab Peace Initiative committee's decision to support negotiations with Israel as an "attempt to mitigate the negativity of Arab political positions." "It seems that the embarrassment Arab leaders are feeling at this time is greater" than before, the Doha-based satellite channel's website quoted the exiled Hamas leader as saying. "They do not want to show that they’re shying away from their decisions, so they came up with a vague result, saying neither 'yes' nor 'no' to an immediate resumption of direct negotiations" with Israel. Arab officials agreed in principle on Thursday to holding direct Middle East peace negotiations, but left it up to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to decide when the talks with Israel should start. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
07.30.10 Israel to lodge complaint with UN about rocket attack on Ashkelon
July 30 - Grad-type rocket explodes near apartment building in coastal city just after 8:30am, causing no casualties but some damage to structure and parked cars; two mortar shells hit western Negev hours later. The Foreign Ministry on Friday said that Israel would lodge a protest with the United Nations for a Grad rocket attack on Ashkelon earlier in the day. The Foreign Ministry said that attack clearly targeted civilians and was a grave violation of international law. A Grad-type Katyusha rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip struck close to an apartment building in a residential area of Ashkelon on Friday morning, while two mortar shells exploded in the western Negev just a few hours later. The Katyusha rocket hit the populated neighborhood just after 8:30am, causing some damage to the nearby building and to a number of parked cars. There were no casualties in the incident, but at least two people were treated for shock. Residents said that the Color Red rocket alert sounded prior to the explosion. At around 12:30pm, two mortar shells hit the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. [More>>haaretz.com]
07.30.10 3 US troops die in deadliest month of Afghan war
KABUL, July 30 - South Afghan motorbike bomb kills woman, child. Three US service members have been killed in Afghanistan, bringing the toll for July to at least 63 and making it the deadliest month for American forces in the nearly 9-year-war. A NATO statement Friday said the three died in two separate blasts in southern Afghanistan on Thursday. The statement gives no nationalities but US officials say they were all Americans. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending notification of kin. That brings the US death toll for the month to at least 63 according to an Associated Press count. June had been the deadliest month for the US with 60 deaths and for the overall NATO led force with 104 fatalities. [More>>alarabiya.net]
07.30.10 Bangladesh SC bans religious parties, upholds secularism
DHAKA, Bangladesh, July 30 - Islamist parties in Bangladesh face a ban from politics after the controversial 1979 Fifth Amendment was struck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling that also paved the way for ensuring secularism as the "cornerstone" of the country's constitution. Following the Appellate Division's decision upholding the High Court's landmark verdict that declared the Constitution's 1979 Fifth Amendment illegal, restrictions on formation of organizations based on religion were restored. "Carrying out activities of any political party based on religion is now punishable offence under the Special Powers Act," Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said. "Their activities are now punishable offence," he said. Political parties and other organizations using religion as their guidelines now stand banned with cancellation of the Fifth Amendment to the constitution, he said. [More>>indianexpress.com]
07.30.10 Expo shows illegal pet trade rampant in Indonesia
JAKARTA (AP) July 30 - The most threatened tortoise in the world is being sold openly at a plant and animal exposition in the heart of Indonesia's capital, highlighting concerns about the rampant — and growing — illegal pet trade. The country has become a major trading hub for endangered tortoise and freshwater turtles, including species from Africa, South America and Asia, said Chris Shepherd of TRAFFIC, a British-based international wildlife monitoring network He said the government has failed to follow up on repeated promises to crackdown. Those found Friday at Jakarta's annual flora and fauna expo — held from July 2 until Aug. 2 — included the world's most threatened ploughshare tortoise and the critically endangered radiated tortoises, both from Madagascar and fetching around US$150. Cages also were filled with rare Indian star tortoises, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species, known as CITES, and the endangered pig-nose tortoise, from Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua, both selling for $1,500. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
07.29.10 Muscovites rush to buy fans and water guns as heat breaks new records
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) July 29 - Moscow's heat record was broken for the second time in a week on Thursday causing sales of fans and waters guns to shoot up and birds to flee the city. On Thursday temperatures in the Russian capital soared to 37.7 degrees Celsius (99.86 degrees Fahrenheit), beating Monday's record of 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5) and securing July 2010's place as Moscow's hottest ever month. But not everyone is suffering: street vendors are cashing in on selling hand-held fans to drivers forced to sweat it out in Moscow's notorious traffic jams, many of whom drive Russian-made cars without air conditioning. Meanwhile, toy shops and online stores are doing a roaring trade in water guns and inflatable pools...The Moscow Region has suffered from the worst drought in almost three decades and peat fires have broken out causing heavy smog in the capital. Moscow environmentalists say the fires have forced birds to leave the region. "The birds are affected by the heat and the smoke from peat fires; most are trying to migrate to cleaner places," a spokesman for the Russian Birds Protection Union said. [Full story>>en.rian.ru; See related stories,
07.29.10 Citigroup said to pay $75 million in subprime case
July 29 - Citigroup has agreed to pay $75 million to settle federal claims that it failed to disclose vast holdings of subprime mortgage investments that crippled the bank during the financial crisis, according to two people briefed on the settlement. In an unusual move, the Securities and Exchange Commission has also singled out two Citigroup executives — Gary L. Crittenden, the former chief financial officer, and Arthur Tildesley, the former head of investor relations — for omitting material information in disclosures to shareholders, according to the two people briefed on the deal. Mr. Crittenden has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine; Mr. Tildesley will pay $80,000. The settlement, which was expected to be announced later on Thursday, centers on events in 2007 and 2008, when Citigroup's reported losses abruptly cascaded, eventually prompting the federal government to rescue the bank. The case is the first to focus on whether banks adequately disclosed the increasingly precarious state of their finances. [More>>nytimes.com]
07.29.10 Foreclosures up in 75% of top US metro areas
(Reuters) July 29 - Foreclosures rose in 3 of every four large US metro areas in this year's first half, likely ruling out sustained home price gains until 2013, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday. Unemployment was the main culprit driving foreclosure actions on more than 1.6 million properties, the company said. "We're not going to see meaningful, sustainable home price appreciation while we're seeing 75 percent of the markets have increases in foreclosures," RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick Sharga said in an interview. Foreclosure actions — which include notice of default, scheduled auction and repossession — in the first half rose in 154 of the 206 metro areas with populations 200,000 or more. [More>>foxbusiness.com]
07.29.10 Karzai urges action against militants in Pakistan
KABUL (AFP) July 29 - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday urged his Western allies to destroy Islamist militant sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan after thousands of secret US files were leaked. "The time has come for our international allies to know that the war against terrorism is not in Afghanistan's homes and villages," Karzai told a news conference in the Afghan capital. "But rather this war is in the sanctuaries, funding centres and training places of terrorism which are outside Afghanistan. Whether we are able to destroy these sanctuaries or not is another question. We will try what we can. Our international allies have this ability, but the question is why they are not doing it."
07.29.10 Oil tanker 'attacked' off Oman
July 29 - A suspected explosion that damaged a Japanese oil tanker in the Straits of Hormuz, between Iran and Oman, could have been caused by an "attack", the ship's owners have said. The ship was diverted to a port in the United Arab Emirates after it "suffered damage to its hull caused by an explosion which seemed to be an attack from external sources," Mitsui O.S.K Lines Ltd said in a statement on Thursday. Japan's transport ministry confirmed that Mitsui O.S.K Lines Ltd had reported the incident as a possible attack. "A crew member saw light on the horizon just before the explosion, so [ship owner Mitsui O.S.K.] believes there is a possibility it was caused by an outside attack," it said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
07.29.10 Sixteen killed & 4 wounded in Baghdad attacks
BAGHDAD, July 29 - US Biden bets on no explosion of violence in Iraq. Sixteen people, including nine security force members, were killed and 14 wounded on Thursday in a string of attacks in the Iraqi capital's Sunni district of al-Adhamiyah, the interior ministry said. Assailants set ablaze the bodies of three soldiers in al-Adhamiyah after shooting them dead, the ministry said. Three homemade bomb attacks on different routes to the scene of the shooting killed 13 more people, including three soldiers and three policemen, and wounded 14, among them seven police and two civil defense members, it said. The ministry said the attacks all took place within a 15-minute timeframe.
07.29.10 Body of second missing US sailor found, military sources say
(AFP) July 29 - The body of a second US sailor who went missing in Afghanistan's Logar province last week has been recovered, a US military official said on Thursday. The remains of the other sailor were found on Sunday. The body of a second US sailor who went missing in Afghanistan last week has been recovered, a US military official told AFP on Thursday. The discovery confirmed suspicions that both the American sailors who went missing in eastern Logar province last Friday were dead. The Taliban earlier said their fighters had ambushed the pair, killing one and taking the other captive. [>france24.com]
07.28.10 Alleged cyber virus mastermind arrested
July 28 - A hacker accused of creating one the world's biggest ever viruses — which infected up to 12 million computers, including those of banks and major corporations — has been arrested. The 23-year-old Slovenian, who goes by the name Iserdo, was detained in Slovenia after a lengthy investigation by Slovenian police, the FBI and Spanish authorities. His arrest is said to be a major breakthrough in the investigation into a giant cyber scam which used software known as the Mariposa botnet to steal information such as credit card and online banking credentials. The botnet, which is a network of infected computers, appeared in December 2008. It infected more than half of the largest 1,000 American companies listed by Fortune magazine and at least 40 major banks.
07.28.10 Egypt denies Iranian MPs Gaza entry visas
TEHRAN (AFP) July 28 - Four Iranian MPs not allowed to cross to Gaza.
07.28.10 WikiLeaks: We don't know who leaked documents
LONDON, July 28 - Founder Julian Assange says informant sent material anonymously, website set up to hide source. WikiLeaks' chief claims his organization doesn't know who sent it some 91,000 secret US military documents, telling journalists that the website is set up to hide the source of its data from those who receive it. Editor-in-chief Julian Assange says the added layer of secrecy helps protect the site's sources from spy agencies and hostile corporations. He acknowledged that the site's anonymous submissions raised concerns about the authenticity of the material, but said the site has not yet been fooled by a bogus document.
07.28.10 US basically at war with Pak elements in Afghan
WASHINGTON, July 28 - The leaked Pentagon documents reveal the increasing American frustration with Islamabad's ambiguous policy toward terrorism and how the US is basically at war in Afghanistan with elements of the Pakistani establishment, US experts feel. "The leaked documents do reveal a level of US frustration with Pakistan's dual policy of fighting some extremists while harbouring others that is not always apparent in US official statements praising Pakistan as a steadfast ally in the war on terrorism," noted South Asian expert, Lisa Curtis, of the Heritage Foundation..
07.28.10 Pakistan must not be allowed to promote export of terror, says David Cameron
July 28 - British PM makes speech in Bangalore that comes close to endorsing the Indian government's view that the authorities in Pakistan have a hand in exporting terrorism. David Cameron risked provoking a diplomatic row with Pakistan today when he came close to accusing Islamabad of exporting terrorism. In a speech to Indian business leaders in Bangalore, the prime minister spoke of his horror when terrorists attacked Mumbai in 2008, for which Delhi blamed the Pakistani authorities. Cameron said he had discussed the terror threat from Pakistan with the US president, Barack Obama last week. He will also discuss it tomorrow in Delhi with Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister.
07.28.10 Gulf slick dissipates, but where's oil going?
(AP) July 28 - Less crude visible on water's surface, leading scientists to question how far it has been dispersed. In the nearly two weeks since a temporary cap stopped BP's gusher at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, not much oil has been showing up on the surface of the water. Scientists caution that doesn't mean the crude is gone. There's still a lot of it in the Gulf, though no one is sure quite how much or exactly where it is. "You know it didn't just disappear," said Ernst Peebles, a biological oceanographer at the University of South Florida. "We expect that is has been dispersed pretty far by now."
07.28.10 Massive asteroid could hit Earth in 2182, warn scientists
July 28 - A massive asteroid might crash into Earth in the year 2182, scientists have warned. The asteroid, called 1999 RQ36, has a 1-in-1,000 chance of actually hitting the Earth at some point before the year 2200, but is most likely to hit us on 24th September 2182. It was first discovered in 1999 and is more than 1,800 feet across. If an asteroid of this size hit the Earth it would cause widespread devastation and possible mass extinction. And scientists say that any attempt to try and divert the asteroid will have to take place more than 100 years before it is due to hit to have any chance of success. If the asteroid had not been spotted until after 2080 it would be impossible to divert it from its target, they warned in a new research paper. While the odds may seem long, they are far shorter than that of the asteroid Apophis, which currently has a 1 in 250,000 chance of striking Earth in 2036. [More>>dailymail.co.uk]
07.28.10 Deadly blast hits Afghan bus
July 28 - At least 25 civilians have been killed and another 27 injured in a roadside bombing in southwestern Afghanistan. The explosion struck a bus travelling on a highway in Nimroz province around 7am Wednesday (02:30 GMT), officials said. "The bomb had been planted by the enemies because this morning a [NATO] convoy was supposed to cross the area," Ghulam Dastgir Azad, the provincial governor, said. "Afghanistan once again saw a day of bloodshed of innocent civilian lives." The bus was passing through the Delaram district, around 700km from the Afghan capital of Kabul, when it was struck. Roadside bombs, often called improvised explosive devices (IEDs), have proven to be a scourge of the war in Afghanistan.
07.28.10 Catalonia bullfighting ban: a breeder fights back
July 28 - The Catalan parliament voted on Wednesday to outlaw the controversial practice of bullfighting across the region, making Catalonia the first Spanish province to end the centuries-old tradition. The tight and bitter vote pitted animal rights activists, who produced a petition of 180,000 signatures in favor of the ban, against fans of the national symbol. Last January, when the voting process began, a breeder told us us why he thought the law was more about politics than animal rights. Alejandro Melgarejo is a toros bravos breeder whose family has been raising bulls for bullfighting for two centuries. They own a ranch in La Mancha (the central region south of Madrid). The problem in Catalonia has nothing to do with animal rights; it's more about politics.
07.28.10 Al-Qaeda no. 2 slams France's ban on Islamic veils
CAIRO (AP) July 28 - Al-Qaeda's No. 2 has slammed France's push to ban the Islamic full-face veil and urged Muslim women in a new audio message on the Internet to defend their headdress in a holy war against the "secular Western crusade." Ayman al-Zawahri says the drive by France and some other European nations is a discrimination against Muslim women. In the 47-minute recording released on militant websites on Wednesday, al-Qaeda's deputy leader also eulogized the terror network's reputed No. 3 official, who was killed with his family in a US strike in Pakistan in May. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
07.27.10 New leak found on gulf coast
July 27 - The Coast Guard is responding to a new oil leak on the Gulf Coast. This spill involves a well in a portion of Barataria Bay known as Mud Lake, near Bayou St. Dennis about 10 miles south of Lafitte, Louisiana. Although this latest spill is unrelated to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it's blocking vessels of opportunity based in Lafitte from accessing the Gulf, as officials assess air quality and other health and safety issues at the site. (Boats staged in other areas are unaffected). "It's apparent that some type of vessel has hit the well head, has laid it over," said Donald Nalty, COO of oil spill cleanup contractor ES&H, who just returned from a flyover of the site in single engine seaplane. "It's probably about a four inch casing and it's spewing out oil and natural gas." Nalty said the oil was coming out as a mist and was dusting nearby marshes. [>foxnews.com; See more details,
07.27.10 US 'fails to account' for Iraq reconstruction billions
July 27 - A US federal watchdog has criticized the US military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the money. Out of just over $9bn (£5.8bn), $8.7bn is unaccounted for, the inspector says. The US military said the funds were not necessarily missing, but that spending records might have been archived. In a response attached to the report, it said attempting to account for the money might require "significant archival retrieval efforts." The funds are separate from the $53bn allocated by the US Congress for rebuilding Iraq. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
07.27.10 Hamas calls on Abbas to reject direct talks
GAZA CITY / AMMAN (AFP) July 27 - Israeli PM meets Jordan king on surprise visit to Amman. Hamas on Tuesday warned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas not to re-launch direct peace talks with Israel, which it said "would only serve the Zionist occupation." "We warn (Abbas) of the consequences of returning to negotiations, either with Arab cover or under pressure from America, because this will deepen the divide and put our cause on the brink of collapse," senior Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil said in a statement. Abbas was to meet with Arab League ministers on Thursday to discuss whether to bow to months of US pressure to re-launch face-to-face talks with Israel last suspended after the December 2008 outbreak of the Gaza war.
07.27.10 David Cameron: Israeli blockade has turned Gaza Strip into a 'prison camp'
July 27 - Prime minister intervenes in Middle East dispute and hopes Turkey can stop Iran's nuclear weapons programme. David Cameron used a visit to Turkey to make his strongest intervention yet in the intractable Middle East conflict today when he likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to that of a "prison camp." Although he has made similar remarks before, his decision to repeat them on a world stage in Turkey, whose relations with Israel have deteriorated sharply since it mounted a deadly assault on the Gaza flotilla, gave them much greater diplomatic significance. Cameron's comments, in a speech to business leaders in Ankara, prompted the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to issue another strong condemnation of how Israel dealt with the flotilla. Erdogan likened the behavior of Israeli commandos, who shot dead nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists, to Somali pirates. Cameron's criticism of Tel Aviv came when he called for Israel to relax its restrictions on Gaza. "The situation in Gaza has to change," he said. "Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp." [More>>guardian.co.uk; background stories on the Turkish flotilla:
07.27.10 Israel demolishes Bedouin village
July 27 - Israeli authorities have demolished the homes of about 300 Bedouins in a village in the southern Negev desert. The entire village of al-Arakib was bulldozed on Tuesday, with many of the former residents' cattle, trees and belongings lost. Al-Arakib, which had about 40 homes, is one of 45 Bedouin villages not recognized by Israeli authorities. Haia Noach, director of the Negev Co-existence Forum, was present at al-Arakib during the demolition and said that at least five Israeli bulldozers arrived around 5:30am (0230GMT). "It took them about three or four hours to destroy all the houses," she said, describing the scene as "appalling." Scuffles erupted as the villagers and around 150 rights activists tried to stop the police from carrying out the demolitions, with several people wounded and a handful arrested, activists said. [More>>aljazeera.net]
07.27.10 AU leaders talk tough on Al-Shebab
July 27 - At the African Union summit in Uganda, leaders from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), held a mini-summit on Monday on how to respond to the security crisis in Somalia, following recent terrorists attacks in Kampala claimed by Al-Shebab. The meeting was attended by presidents from the east and Horn of Africa as well as representatives of the United States, France and Britain, who continue to back the African Union mission in Somalia as well as the beleaguered transitional federal government. The transitional president of Somalia, Sheikh Shariff Ahmed, was also here to plead his case.
07.27.10 French PM declares 'war' on al-Qaeda after hostage killed
(Reuters) July 27 - France is now at war with al-Qaeda, France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon (pictured) said Tuesday, after the group's North African branch executed 78-year old French national Michel Germaneau. France is at war with al-Qaeda's North African branch and will intensify military support for governments in the region combating the Islamist fighters, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Tuesday. He was speaking in a radio interview a day after President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that a 78-year-old French hostage kidnapped in Niger and held by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had been killed following a failed French rescue mission. "We are at war with al-Qaeda and that's why we have been supporting Mauritanian forces fighting al-Qaeda for months," Fillon told Europe 1 radio, saying that AQIM consisted of about 400 fighters operating in a desert area the size of Europe. Asked what Sarkozy meant when he said the killing of retired engineer Michel Germaneau would not go unpunished, the prime minister said: "It means the fight against terrorism will continue and will be reinforced." [More>>france24.com]
07.27.10 US lawmakers challenge Obama after Afghan leak
WASHINGTON (AFP) July 27 - US lawmakers opposed to the Afghan war, emboldened by a huge leak of military files on the conflict, pushed Tuesday for pulling US forces from Pakistan in a blunt challenge to President Barack Obama. The House of Representatives was expected to vote on both an emergency spending bill to pay for Obama's strategy to turn around the faltering Afghan campaign and on a measure calling for a withdrawal under a Vietnam-era law. "Wake Up America. WikiLeaks' release of secret war documents gave us 92,000 reasons to end the wars. Pick one," Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich, author of the Pakistan measure, said as debate began.
07.27.10 Lawsuit claims college ordered student to alter religious views on homosexuality, or be dismissed
July 27 - A graduate student in Georgia is suing her university after she was told she must undergo a remediation program due to her beliefs on homosexuality and transgendered persons. The student, Jennifer Keeton, 24, has been pursuing a master's degree in school counseling at Augusta State University since 2009, but school officials have informed her that she'll be dismissed from the program unless she alters her "central religious beliefs on human nature and conduct," according to a civil complaint filed last week.
07.27.10 US to attack two countries in the Middle East: Ahmadinejad
TEHRAN, July 27 - Iran expects the United States to launch a military strike on "at least two countries" in the Middle East in the next three months, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state-run Press TV. In an interview recorded on Monday, Ahmadinejad did not specify whether he thought Iran itself would be attacked nor did he say what intelligence led him to expect such a move. The United States and Israel have refused to rule out military action against Iran's nuclear programme which they fear could lead to it making a bomb, something Iran denies. "They have decided to attack at least two countries in the region in the next three months," Ahmadinejad said in excerpts broadcast on the rolling news channel on Tuesday. [More>>gulfnews.com]
07.26.10 Broke Bank Mountain - TARP inspector lists slew of deadbeats
July 26 - More than 100 bailed out banks can't meet minimum scheduled loan payments to US Treasury. When ordinary borrowers miss a minimum scheduled payment, whether on a mortgage or credit card balance, banks tend to get impatient. Any number of unpleasant outcomes, including foreclosure proceedings, can ensue. But when a bailed-out bank skips a minimum scheduled payment to the United States Treasury? They end up in a chart buried in a 282-page government report. Some 105 financial institutions, including many small community banks, as of the end of June have missed scheduled payments totaling $160 million, according to a report presented to Congress July 21 by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. You can find the full list of banks behind in their payments here, starting on page 71. One bank, Westminster, Calif.-based Saigon National Bank, has missed six consecutive quarterly dividend payments totaling $117,700. Loc Huynh, senior vice president of Saigon National, the only federally chartered Vietnamese community bank in the country, insisted that red tape is preventing the institution from making its payments. "We're willing to pay but not allowed to because the [Office of the Comptroller of Currency] won't let us." [More>>abcnews.go.com]
07.26.10 Wikileaks cries war crimes
(AP) July 26 - Documents illuminate Pakistani's destabilizing role in Afghanistan. The founder of Wikileaks claimed Monday there was evidence of war crimes among the 91,000 classified US documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, which were posted on the Wikileaks website Monday. Afghan government spokesman Waheed Omar said Monday that government officials were studying the papers, especially those about civilian casualties and what role the Pakistani intelligence service has played in destabilizing activities inside Afghanistan. The reactions came after WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing group, posted US military records over the past six years about the war online, including unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings and covert operations against Taliban figures.
07.26.10 8 killed, 25 injured in Pak suicide attack
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, July 26 - At least eight people were killed and 25 injured when a suicide bomber struck near the home of Pakistan's provincial minister whose only son was killed two days earlier by Islamist militants, officials said. The attacker struck on foot near the home [of] Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister of Khyber Pukhtunkhawa province, in the town of Pabbi, 20 kilometres east of Peshawar. The dead included four police officials who were on duty into provide security to the high-ups, coming to offer their condolences on the brutal killing of the son of Mian Iftikhar Hussain. Mian Iftikhar's 28-year-old son Mian Rashid was gunned down by Taliban militants on Saturday. Several top officials and key political figures, including Baluchistan's chief minister, Nawab Aslam Raisani, were present at the minister's residence at the time of the attack..."The bomber was a young boy. He was trying to cross the check post but when our policemen caught him, he exploded himself," senior police officer Liaquat Ali said...Since the Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad in July 2007, bombs and attacks blamed on Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants have killed more than 3,500 people across Pakistan. [Full story>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
07.26.10 Times Square bomber met Pak Taliban chief: Pakistan
PESHAWAR, July 26 - Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty to a botched car bomb attack in New York, visited Pakistan seven times and met local Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, the interior minister said on Monday. "He (Shahzad) visited Pakistan seven times in the last few years and he met Hakimullah Mehsud and also met other people, (including) leaders of the Taliban," Rahman Malik told reporters in Pabbi town in the country's northwest. The acknowledgement came just days after the emergence of a video that showed 30-year-old Shahzad, son of a retired air vice marshal, shaking hands with and hugging Mehsud, the chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Mehsud had claimed responsibility for the failed car bombing in New York on behalf of the Taliban and warned that his group would carry out more such attacks. Shahzad pleaded guilty to the bomb plot in a New York court last month and warned of more attacks on the US. [>indianexpress.com]
07.26.10 Security forces action in Orakzai kills 14 militants
PARACHINAR, Pakistan, July 26 - Security forces backed by jet fighters targeted two vehicles of militants in Orakzai Agency, killing 14 militants. According to sources, the security forces with help of jet fighters pounded suspected hideouts of militants near Dogar area in Orakzai Agency. Two militants' vehicles were also targeted in the area in which 14 militants were killed including their key commander identified as Amjad Farooqui. Several other militants were also injured in the action. The offensive against militants continues in the area where militants' suspected hideouts and vehicles are being searched. [>thenews.com.pk]
07.26.10 'Scores die' in Afghan village raid
July 26 - A NATO rocket attack on a village in Afghanistan last week killed 52 civilians, including women and children, the office of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has said in a statement. Based on reports from the Afghan National Directorate of Security, a house in Regey village in Sangin district of the southern Helmand province was hit with a rocket launched by NATO troops on Friday. Karzai has offered his condolences via telephone to the mourning families and called on NATO troops to "put into practice every possible measure to avoid harming civilians during military operations." The Afghan president has ordered the National Security Council to investigate the incident, Sediq Sediqqi, head of media relations at the presidency, said earlier. [More>>aljazeera.net; See also
07.26.10 EU hits Iran with new sanctions, urges nuclear talks
BRUSSELS (AFP) July 26 - The European Union hammered Iran on Monday with fresh sanctions against its vital energy sector as Brussels cranked up pressure on Tehran to resume talks on its disputed nuclear programme. Foreign ministers formally adopted punitive measures which were approved last month by EU leaders, going beyond a fourth set of UN sanctions imposed over Tehran's refusal to freeze nuclear work, diplomats said. The European sanctions are part of a dual-track approach, with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton seeking to revive moribund talks between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US. "We want to see dialogue on nuclear weapons capability to start as soon as possible in order to reach an agreement," Ashton told reporters ahead of a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
07.26.10 4 killed, 10 injured in Al Arabiya suicide bombing
BAGHDAD, July 26 - Baghdad suicide bomber targets Al Arabiya office. Four people were killed and more than 10 others wounded in Baghdad on Monday when a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle by the offices of Al Arabiya, its correspondent in Baghdad and interior ministry officials said. The bomber struck at around 9:30am (06:30 GMT) in front of the station's bureau in the city center, leaving a massive crater and sending a plume of smoke into the air that could be seen from several kilometers (miles) away. Majid Hamid, a journalist for Al Arabiya, said four people had been killed in the attack — three security guards and a female office assistant. That toll was confirmed by an official at al-Yarmuk hospital in west Baghdad. An interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity said that former deputy prime minister Salam al-Zawbayi and two of his guards were among the wounded...Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said that the explosives-laden vehicle had passed through a checkpoint, and charged that there may have been "cooperation" between the car's driver and the guards. [Full story>>alarabiya.net; See another report,
07.26.10 Ahmadinejad's statements unacceptable - Russian Foreign Ministry
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) July 26 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements are unacceptable, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday. Ahmadinejad recently said Moscow is taking its cue from Western countries whose policies are aimed at isolating the Islamic Republic. "The recent public statements by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, which distort Russia's objective approach and our independent, constructive policy towards the Iranian nuclear program... are absolutely unacceptable to us," the ministry said. "We believe that instead of fruitless and irresponsible rhetoric, the Iranian leadership should take specific, constructive steps towards settling the situation as soon as possible, which Russia and the Iran Six have been insistently calling for," it said. [>en.rian.ru]
07.26.10 Sarkozy condemns French hostage 'assassination'
July 26 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy has condemned the killing of French hostage Michel Germaneau, held captive since April by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, confirming the group's claim on Sunday that they killed the 78-year-old aid worker. French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed on Monday the death of French aid worker Michel Germaneau, held captive by Islamic militants in North Africa since April. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abu Zayd, released an audio recording on Sunday claiming his group had killed Germaneau to avenge the killing of six group members in a joint military raid on Friday. In the French government's first acknowledgment of the raid, Sarkozy condemned the “assassination” and has urged French travellers to avoid travel to the Sahel, a region stretching across North Africa, south of the Sahara desert. [More>>france24.com]
07.26.10 Qaeda leader among 3 killed in Yemen clashes
SANAA, July 26 - Six Yemen soldiers killed by Qaeda suspects. Yemeni troops killed three suspected al-Qaeda suspects, one of them believed to be a senior one, in clashes late on Sunday in Shabwa province, a jihadist stronghold, a security official said. "Three al-Qaeda members, one of them a top leader, were killed" in the deadly exchanges with troops guarding an oilfield in the province, the official told AFP. The suspects killed six soldiers in the firefight, a local official told AFP on Sunday. [More>>alarabiya.net]
07.25.10 Obama's friend raising funds for new Gaza aid ship
WASHINGTON, July 25 - Rashid Khalidi, a well-known critic of Israel, hopes to raise at least $370,000 in the next month. A fundraising campaign is currently underway in the United States to finance the purchase of an American ship in an effort to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in the early autumn. The ship is to be named after US President Barack Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope." If that isn't enough to stir the ghosts of the 2008 American presidential election, one of the prominent figures to support the initiative is Columbia University history professor Rashid Khalidi, a well-known critic of Israel whose friendship with the American president from their days together in Chicago engendered criticism of Obama.
07.25.10 Nobel Peace Prizes 'are being awarded illegally'
July 25 - Norwegian author claims the committee behind the coveted award routinely violates the terms of Alfred Nobel's will. Can we have our Nobel Peace Prize back, please? We got most of our decisions wrong. We should have laid much more emphasis on abolishing the military and outlawing wars, but we didn't. Such is the message about to go out to the more undeserving winners of one of the world's most coveted awards. More than half the Nobel Peace Prizes awarded since 1946 have been awarded illegally, says Fredrik Heffermehl, a Norwegian lawyer and peace activist because they do not follow the expressed will of the millionaire inventor of dynamite. He says all but one of 10 prizes awarded since 1999 are illegitimate under Norwegian and Swedish law.
07.25.10 Influential Saudi cleric says Muslim women can respect veil bans
(NewsCore) July 27 - A leading Saudi cleric has condemned France for moving to ban Muslim face veils, but approved of Muslim women foregoing veils when visiting a country which outlaws them. "It is illogical and unreasonable that the French government undertakes such a thing, which is condemned by neutral people, not just Muslims, because the secular state assures freedom of religion," Sheikh Aed al-Qarni told Saudi paper Al-Hayat. "The state has to respect religious rituals and beliefs, including those of Muslims," he said in an interview. However, he added, if Muslim women are in a country that has banned the niqab, or full-face veil, or if they face harassment in such a place, "it is better that the Muslim woman uncovers her face." [More>>news.com.au; See related story,
07.25.10 Iraq arrests three suspected Qaeda leaders
BAGHDAD, July 25 - Qaeda minister of defense reportedly among detained. Authorities have arrested three suspected senior leaders of al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq, including its self-styled minister of defense, a spokesman said on Sunday. Also among the group detained were two brothers suspected of masterminding major attacks in the central Iraqi province of Diyala, defense ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari told AFP. "Iraqi soldiers arrested Saleem Khalid al-Zawbayi, the minister of defense for the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)," Askari said. "He was arrested on Thursday evening south of Baghdad," he added.
07.25.10 US drone attack kills four in SWA
WANA, Pakistan, July 25 - At least four people were killed and five others injured in a drone attack by a US surveillance plane in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) area of Shaktoi Algad, Geo News reported Sunday. According to sources, the US spy planes fired at least four missiles on the hideouts of militants in Mehsud area of Shaktoi Algad, where four people were killed and another five injured. The tribes kick-started relief activities after the attack. The flights of drone planes are still afoot in the area. [>thenews.com.pk; See also
07.25.10 Talaban seize key district in Afghan east
KABUL, Afghanistan, July 25 - Taliban guerrillas have captured a strategic district from the Afghan government after days of clashes in eastern Nuristan province, officials said on Sunday. Separately, the Afghan government said it was checking reports by locals saying some 40 Afghan civilians were killed in a raid by foreign forces in Sangin district of southern Helmand province on Friday. In Nuristan's Barg-e Matal, dozens of Taliban fighters and up to six Afghan police were killed during days of clashes before the district fell to the Taliban overnight. Barg-e-Matal is important for the government and militants because of its location and has regularly changed hands. Lying near the border with Pakistan, the rugged district has been used as a supply route for arms and fighters for the Taliban in three provinces, most importantly for Badakhshan where the Taliban have mounted a series of deadly attacks recently.
07.25.10 Local officials: 1 of 2 abducted US service members killed
KABUL, Afghanistan, July 25 - One of two American service members who were abducted in Afghanistan on Friday has been killed, provincial government officials said Sunday. Den Mohammad Darwish, the spokesman for the governor of Logar province, said he learned from locals that the service member was killed. He said the body was found in the Patanak Mountains of Charkh district. He also said the vehicle the men were driving was located Sunday. A Taliban spokesman confirmed that the killed American died in a firefight and the other is being held by the group. [More>>cnn.com]
07.25.10 Two militants, allegedly involved in Baksan hydropower plant, killed
NALCHIK, Russia (RIA Novosti) July 25 - Two militants, who may be involved in Wednesday's bombing of a hydropower plant in Russia's North Caucasus, were killed in a special operation on Sunday, a local police spokesman said. A group of at least six gunmen set off five bombs with an estimated total of up to 3 kg of TNT at the Baksan Hydropower Plant in the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, killing two police officers. The blaze from the blast covered an area of 250 square meters. "The criminals, who were driving a Volga car, offered armed resistance and were eliminated," the spokesman said. He added that the militants, Orshokdugov and Seyunov, were on a wanted list. They were, allegedly, involved in a number of grave crimes, including the bombings of the Baksan plant. He also said that the police seized guns and ammunition from the killed militants. [More>>en.rian.ru]